For a band that can only be described as a cross between System Of A Down and a circus jingle, Avatar’s crowd is proof that being off-the-wall is no barrier to attracting fans; in Avatar’s case, it’s worked in their favour. Johannes Eckerstrom is a reliable showman for whom performance and theatrics are as important as the music.
Tonight, a cylindrical striped tent is rigged up on the stage as roadies scurry about setting the scene for Sweden’s rocking ringmasters. The lights dim, and in an explosion of smoke and and a roar of electronic samples, the tent falls to reveal Johannes, statue-still and drinking in the applause. For The Swarm kicks off the set, the marching grunt of its verses setting the crowd’s heads banging. Tracks from their 2014 album Hail The Apocalypse follow before their unofficial anthem, The Eagle Has Landed from 2016’s Feathers And Flesh, is unleashed to a rapturous reaction. Johannes waxes lyrical about his love for London, snarling and heavy breathing into the mic in well-rehearsed sinister character, before declaring London “Avatar country”. Well, it’s an improvement on Brexit. Paint Me Red and Smells Like A Freakshow stand out among their newer material, before Sky Burial makes an impassioned ending that could rival any West End finale. Avatar have more than earned their reputation for a guaranteed spectacle.