Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, SIXX A.M., As Lions – Cross Insurance Arena, Portland, Maine, November 27th, 2016

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The line outside the newly renovated Cross Insurance Arena was incredibly long with fans lined up around the block. I knew this was going to be a good show. I had only seen one of the four bands on the bill before and was really looking forward to shooting something new.

Opening the show, from London, England, As Lions. I really enjoyed their set, it was short and the lighting and staging were nothing compared to what would follow, but the songs and musicianship were strong. They reminded me of another English band I really like called Heaven’s Basement. As a matter of fact I enjoyed them so much that after the set I went out to buy a tour shirt, but unfortunately they were out of my size in two of the styles I wanted. I went back in and talked with some of my fellow photographers, all praising the band, and one of my friends told me that the singer is the son of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickenson. I truly did enjoy his voice and the songs. I look forward in seeing them again.

Next up was the band I was really looking forward in seeing. SIXX A.M. is former Motely Crue members Nikki Sixx’s project. As expected, they did not disappoint. They had great energy and musicianship, and the songs were great. Guitarist D.J. Ashba was fun to watch. It’s funny – this guy has been a gun for hire, working with so many bands for a long time, yet this was my first time seeing him. Singer/front man James Michael has an excellent voice and really owned the stage. It’s good to see Nikki behind someone who can actually sing. Drummer Dustin Steinke is a nice addition to the band, although not listed as a full-fledged member of SIXX A.M., he is listed as the touring member. Steinke proves live that he has what it takes. Last but certainly not least, the namesake of the band, Nikki Sixx, has always been my favorite member of Motley Crue, so much so we named our son Nikolas after him. Nikki is a strong presence on stage yet secure enough to allow the others around him to share the limelight. I came to this show hoping this band would blow me away and they did.

Shinedown came on next. I had shot this act once before, and although the music is just outside of my normal taste in metal, they were quite good. The music, what I call new metal, is extremely popular now with the 20-30somethings, including both of my kids, who love them. The band’s live show is on fire, literally. The band uses as much pyro as a KISS show, and so much that you can feel the heat half way across the venue. Shinedown’s energy was good, although I don’t think bassist Eric Bass did as many aerials as he did the last time I photographed him. Even so, they were fun to watch and played a strong set that had the audience singing along. Another cool thing about this band is that they all seem like really nice guys who care about their fans and recognize that they are on that stage due to the fans’ support. The band also gave a nice shout out to those in the military, which is always nice to see.

Last up were Five Finger Death Punch. Now I must admit, I really don’t know much about this band, I have always liked seeing photos of them, as many of my friends have photographed their shows, but I guess because of the name and the look of the members, I had envisioned a band with cookie monster vocals…which I really dislike. However, that was not the case at all, and I found that not only did I enjoy photographing the band but really liked the music as well. Because of the 5FDP photos I have seen for years I knew that I wanted to get some good frames of the bassist, Chris Kael, who resembles something out of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Chris did not disappoint, giving me the one finger salute a couple of times and posing for the camera. The entire band, sans drummer Jeremy Spencer who was on a 20 foot drum riser, were fun to shoot and all played well with the cameras. I was told by my fellow photographers that singer, Ivan Moody, can be true to his name however this night he was on point and like the others was great to photograph. (Less than a week following the show, Ivan left the tour dealing with some personal issues, which have not been fully revealed, Maine Music News and I send good vibes to Ivan and his family)

As Lions setlist: The Fall – White Flags – The Suffering – Deathless – Aftermath – The Great Escape

SIXX A.M. setlist: This is Gonna Hurt – Rise – When We Were Gods – We Will Not Go Quietly – Everything Went to Hell – Prayers for the Damned – Lies of the Beautiful People – Stars – Life is Beautiful

Shinedown setlist: Adrenaline – Fly From the Inside – Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom) – Unity – How Did You Love – Enemies – Call Me – State of my Head – Second Chance – Cut the Chord – Simple Man ( Lynyrd Skynyrd cover) – Sound of Madness

Five Finger Death Punch setlist: Lift Me Up – Never Enough – Wash it all Away – Got Your Six – Bad Company (Bad Company cover) – Jekyll and Hyde – Burn M.F. – Wrong Side of Heaven – Remember Everything – Coming Down – Under and Over it – The Bleeding

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