LIVE REVIEW: August Burns Red, Christmas Burns Red (Live Stream), 12/12/2020
August Burns Red are a band that have always enjoyed Christmas. The quintet have always performed a yearly show to celebrate and have also released a collection of themed songs previously to great acclaim. With that in mind it would have been foolish to have assumed that the band would not do something to celebrate the festive season, even with the world going to hell in a handcart and this is it; a stage dressed up to the nines in Christmas decorations, with snowy trees at either end of it and as many coloured lights as you could hope to see. This is Christmas Burns Red.
Following a brief introduction from NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, August Burns Red hit the stage and unleash the instrumental track Flurries. They aren’t here to mess around; sounding as tight as ever and as heavy as you could hope them to be, the production is clean as a whistle and the lights are as good as they would be on a regular tour. Kingdom of Sorrow is vocalist Jake Luhrs’ first participation in the proceedings and he sounds as emotionally charged and sonically punishing as ever, taking songs as physically demanding as Provision and Paramount in his stride and soaring over the top of his virtuoso band mates as they really start to hit their stride.
The drumming from Matt Greiner is as mind-bending as ever, as he shifts from awkward pattern to machine gun blasting and everything inbetween, with JB Brubaker and Brent Rambler pushing through limits of what’s humanly possible over six strings and Dustin Davidson holding everything together with the bass (as well as being one of the best backing vocalists in the game).
August Burns Red take from every one of their studio albums, from their commercial breakthrough Messengers right up to this year’s gargantuan Guardians, ensuring that there is something for everyone to sink their teeth into. Tracks such as Defender and Ties That Bind sit snuggly in the setlist with classics such as Mariana’s Trench and Composure from their earlier outings. This is a real testament to the high level of music that the band have created over the past fifteen years and their real knack for piecing them together to create a killer show.
There are plenty of neck-snapping moments that will no doubt leave plenty of members in the audience destroying their living rooms, in ill-fated attempts to recreate the live experience. There are even more examples of the band’s penchant for writing monolithic hooks; the formula works and it is one that they have stuck to pretty religiously from the get go.
One of the highlights from the set is the inclusion of the song Ghosts from the band’s highly acclaimed seventh album Found in Far Away Places. The track is one of the rare occasions that includes clean vocals, with the original including a guest appearance from A Day To Remember’s own Jeremy McKinnon. However, in this instance, Davidson takes on the task himself and does a stellar job, with raw emotion and projection adding that extra spice to an already well-written section.
The band then exit off the stage except for Greiner, who continues to prove to the world that he is one of the finest drummers we have ever been privileged to witness. He delivers a drum solo that dumbfounds you, not only in his technical prowess, but with the seemingly endless stockpile of energy that he possesses, by being able to perform this sort of feat at this late stage of an already physically demanding set. The rest of the band then join him onstage (including Davidson wearing a full Santa costume) and then run through their tremendous version of the Christmas song Carol of the Bells which sounds absolutely brilliant when converted to a technical metal track.
The five-piece then close on their classic track White Washed. This song is already a heavier hitter, but the highly energetic and emotive performance shows exactly what August Burns Red are capable of. The moment is bittersweet to say the least. As entertaining and impressive as everything has been up to this point it makes the heart ache for the days when crowds can be at shows as normal and enjoy these kinds of moments for real, rather than streaming them from their front room. However, if bands of this calibre continue to put on shows of this quality then it will serve as a pretty good warm-up for when the world gets back to normal.
Written by: Rich Webb