Five Finger Death Punch Brings The Afterlife Tour To Amalie Arena With Special Guest Brantley Gilbert And Corey Marks
Tampa Fl., (November 22, 2022)
Some of the best music and performances are dripping with bravado and attitude. No matter the genre, fans are drawn to the posturing and mien, after all it helps to create that larger than life appearance befitting of rock stars. When it comes to attitude and larger than life Five Finger Death Punch is the embodiment of it. In a current time when hard rock is absent from the arena world it takes a special kind of bombast that Ivan Moody and his cohorts possess to fill up an arena. When the Afterlife tour was announced it was no surprise that arenas would be selling out. But the surprise would be in the form of support acts. Instead of following the formula of bringing along the usual up and coming rock acts, country star Brantley Gilbert was tabbed for the spot as well Cory Marks as the nights opener.
While many may question this unusual pairing, after all you don’t see country musicians going on tour with one of the biggest hard rock acts on the planet. It isn’t the strong southern rock influence that both Marks and Gilbert have, but it’s the attitude and tenacity that is in their music and their stage presence that all three bands have and the common thread they share.
First up was Cory Marks. When he hit the stage it was obvious by the look on his face that he was just as excited as the fans to be there. With his acoustic guitar slung across him he ran from side to side of Amalie arena’s stage getting the fans fired up. He kicked things off with “Devils Grin” an up-tempo country number from his 2020 release Who I Am. While the fans may be biased towards hard rock, this was a good introduction to Marks music. When he played a straight up version of the Steve Miller Band staple “Jet Airliner” he was able to find common ground and really connect with everyone. “Blame It On The Double” off of The Retaliators soundtrack made a huge impression and had the fans rocking along with the band.
When the arena lights dimmed to let everyone know that Brantley Gilbert was coming on, his band headed out first with each thunderous drumbeat, the strobe lights would follow along creating a dramatic effect worthy of any rock show. When Brantley hit the stage the second they launched into “Kick It In The Sticks”, flames shot up at the back of the stage. He followed things up with a mash up of “Hell On Wheels” and “The Weekend” with a little bit of Stone Temple Pilots “Plush” thrown in for good measure separating both songs. At one point during the show Gilbert said to the audience he normally tells the audience its about to get rowdy but touring with Five Finger Death Punch he doesn’t have to say it. He went on to introduce the next song “Son Of The Dirty South”, then brought out his brother to fill in for the part that Jelly Roll normally performs.
Gilbert served up heaping’s of country music with songs like “A Country Boy Can Survive”, a Hank Williams Jr. cover song and “Dirt Road Anthem”. While he is rightfully known for his country music roots as his songs certainly show this, Gilbert also has a wicked streak of rock to him as well. Gilbert was talking about all the country artists he has met and recorded with. He went on to say that he made a new friend named Ivan Moody front man for a band you might know called Five Finger Death Punch. He continued on saying that Moody asked if he wanted to record a cover of the Kenny Wayne Sheppherd hit song “Blue On Black”. Of course he said yes. Brantley and his band performed a rip roaring version of the song. He also flexed his rock chops during “Bottoms Up” by inserting some of Metallica’s “Sad But True” and some Pantera as well. He closed out his portion of the show with “Read Me My Rights”.
As the house lights went down, all eyes were on the stage. When the curtain dropped and the house lights came alive, smoke shooting out of the stage and the band roared into “Inside Out”. The band was fired up and sounded great. New guitarist Andy James clearly has the chops to be the lead guitarist in the band. Much to the joy of the fans at Amalie Arena and the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, Ivan Moody came back on stage in a Lightning hockey jersey to perform “Trouble”. He left the jersey on and picked up a cane for a swaggering performance of “Jekyll and Hyde”. During all of this smoke and pyro were wowing all the fans. After ripping through Five Finger staples “Sham Pain” and the Bad Company cover “Bad Company”.
As the band left the stage, Ivan Moody stayed. As he talked to the audience, He said he liked to do some A cappella songs and asked the audience what they wanted to hear. Laughingly he said that there was always someone that screamed FREEBIRD!. So to everyone’s enjoyment he actually sang a verse from it. He even mentioned singing Justin Bieber which got a half hearted laugh and he said that whenever he says that name the room goes flat. He then said how about Nickleback before anyone could react he went on to say you know all you guys are big fans when the lights are off, and they are a great band. He then performed a couple verses of “How You Remind Me”.
Finally, the band rejoined Ivan on stage. With the stage lights turning a dark blue, guitarist Zoltan Bathory started in with the opening notes of “Wrong Side Of Heaven”. In a complete change of tempo, they shifted into high gear with a wicked version of “Burn MF”. The band had pyro going full tilt throughout the song. To bring it over the top drummer Charlie Engen played a killer drum solo that wowed everyone. For the final song of the night, Ivan said to everyone they were going to take it all the way back to the beginning and they launched into “The Bleeding”. They put on a powerful performance of this classic song. And they even fired off the confetti cannons as well.
With the release of Afterlife, Five Finger Death Punches new album everyone finally got a chance to see their latest songs live. While many have questioned whether the bands all belong on the same bill, once you actually see them all together, it actually works. Cory Marks and Brantley Gilbert come from a country background and Five Finger Death Punch is hard rock what all three bands share is intensity and powerful stage presence. This is definitely a tour that should be caught as not many bands have the guts like Five Finger Death Punch has to bring along top notch country acts like Brantley Gilbert and Cory Marks along for the ride.
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