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Five Finger Death Punch / Skindred / As Lions

Vegas’s metal champions unite the faithful

Despite all the rumours of cancellations and hasty retreats after the horrors of Paris, it never seemed that likely that Five Finger Death Punch would miss this chance to headline Wembley for the first time.

Their support slot with Avenged Sevenfold here in 2014 proved how well-equipped they are for big occasions and how perfect their big, brash and knowingly dumb anthems are for the arena circuit. Tonight, they’ve sold this venue out and now look like the bona fide festival headliners that our world so desperately craves. Unfortunately, not everyone from the original bill made it this far.

Papa Roach have reluctantly returned to the US: a decision that could easily have robbed this gig of its allure had someone not made the inspired decision to ask SKINDRED [9] if they fancied another night out in the capital. Tickets were sold long before the lineup changed, but if Wembley is unfamiliar with Skindred’s tunes, they’ve got a funny way of showing it. Absolute bedlam erupts when Benji leads the band through Ninja, Pressure, Nobody and a final, fiery Warning. It hardly needs repeating at this point, but Skindred are one of the best live bands on the planet.

Wembley: full to bursting

Wembley: full to bursting (Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Playing beforehand, AS LIONS [7] go down extremely well too, partly because they have energy in abundance, but also because, as Benji puts it, we really are “all in this together”. It’s a sentiment that FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH [8] harnessed very early on, and it’s their everyman humility and straightforward approach that have seen the Las Vegas quintet rise so steadily but powerfully to the top of the metal pile. Tonight they keep it simple, thundering through their biggest anthems and a smattering of newer tunes, throwing in acoustic interludes, that inspired cover of Bad Company and lashings of audience participation, Ivan Moody conducting proceedings with a big, ‘How the fuck did I get here?’ grin on his face and his rich but rasping baritone sounding more impressive than ever.

From opener Lift Me Up to a final, celebratory The Bleeding, this feels like a victory for everyone here: the people’s metal band rising to new heights, the people themselves revelling in the chance to scream along with every word. 5FDP will never be fashionable or cool and, in truth, that’s exactly why they’ve triumphed.