Toledo, Ohio (December 5, 2019) – When Five Finger Death Punch announced their fall 2019 North American Tour with Three Days Grace and Bad Wolves and Fire From The Gods, most fans assumed it was a tune-up for something big in 2020. With a new album on the horizon that lead singer, Ivan Moody, boldly stated was, “the most important album of their career,” it was a given we would be privy to a few new cuts from it. But that wasn’t going to be the case this night, but instead we saw a something that was much more important to their career, a new and improved FFDP.
It has been well documented that Ivan Moody and other members of the band have struggled with addiction throughout their careers. Yes, it has affected their performances and social interactions at times, but they persevered and one by one conquered their demons. Let’s just say sobriety looks fantastic on FFDP. Moody seems focused and energetic, while appearing a bit lighter on stage. Jason Hook, who handles the leads on guitar, and according to Moody, is “celebrating 660 days of being sober tonight”, seems to be more precise in his progressions and his overall presentation than ever before. Even the newest member of the band, drummer Charlie Engen, is finally looking comfortable behind the kit.
Right from the opening guitar licks of “Lift Me Up” the feeling in the arena was different from previous FFDP shows. Wrapping up 2019 in support or their seventh studio release, And Justice for None, the hard-rocking wrecking crew wasted no time bringing the energy and theatrics they are known for to the Huntington Center stage. During the performance of “Trouble,” huge plumes of fire shot towards the roof while a huge skull, suspended from the rafters, was illuminated in shades of purple and blue. That alone was enough to excite the crowd, but Moody prancing across the stage in between the fiery plumes while waving to his fans certainly didn’t hurt matters, either!
Moody’s showmanship was evident at every turn throughout the 90 minute set. While either leaping off the drum riser or striking a discerning pose at his skull laden microphone stand, it was hard to decide what was more commanding; stage presence or the multi faceted delivery. Moody‘s steadfast vocals effortlessly transitioned between shouts and singing with a few screams mixed in for measure. Among other mainstream artists it would be frowned upon, but for FFDP they are the basis to the unique sound that has developed during their 15 year discography. Fan favorites like “Sham Pain,” “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Never Enough” each highlighted its own distinct lyrical style while simultaneously allowing each member of the band to have a few moments in the spotlight to stretch their musical chops. Even the two covers in the set, Bad Company’s, “Bad Company” and Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s, “Blue on Black” were flawless in the presentation both musically and lyrically, highlighted the scintillating guitar work of both Jason Hook and Zoltan Bathory.
Another FFDP trademark moment is the acoustic set that features Moody handing out trinkets to the young kids lining the back of the stage. Unfortunately the tours production didn’t allow the kids onstage in Toledo, so Moody did the next best thing, passed the candy and stuff out at the front of the stage. Visibly irritated by the restriction, Moody had a couple kids up anyway and celebrated them as the “future of rock and roll“ much to the dismay of the tour manager. No matter, it was short-lived and finally ended when Jason Hook strummed the first few chords to “Wrong Side of Heaven” which instantly melted any of the tension. Always a memorable moment in a FFDP show, the performance had the crowd singing back at the pair sitting on stage word for word, concluding with a cell phone salute by the near capacity crowd.
Five Finger Death Punch is also well known for identifying someone in the crowd at each show that has overcome adversity or aided others in one way or another. Tonight Moody singled out a Marine that he met during a pre-show meet and greet. He found the individual in the crowd and then personally thanked him for his sacrifices in protecting our great nation. The fans responded with a round of thunderous ovations thanking the individual and anyone in the building who served in the military. The emotionally charged scene concluded when FFDP dedicated “Battle Born” to the Marine and to all four branches of the United States Military.
As the technically-challenged, yet wildly-entertaining night approached the venues hard curfew, FFDP stepped up one more time and delivered the final knockout punch, “Under and Over It”and “The Bleeding”. By the look on the crowd’s faces and the audible murmur heard throughout the arena after the band left the stage, Five Finger Death Punch delivered on what they set out to do from the start –Burn the MF’er Down!!
If tonight is any indication what is in store from Five Finger Death Punch in 2020, get ready!! A brand new album, a recently announced arena tour and a completely sober lineup for the first time in their career have allowed FFDP to position themselves for success and continued viability in the world of Heavy Metal. It’s up to them now to remain focused and driven to achieve these lofty goals. If the performance we saw tonight is any indication, it just might happen. Grab a drink and strap in, 2020 is going to be a wild ride! Are you ready?