684 days after the original date they were due to play here, tonight melodic death metal legends In Flames hit Concorde 2 in Brighton as the first leg of a reasonably extensive UK run. What was due to be a tour in support of 2019’s I, The Mask just over a year following its release has now developed into one with a three-year gap since there was new music from the band, with the drought of live music over the prior years leading to fervent excitement for a sell-out show.
Opening tonight’s concert are Defects, who work within the tried, tested and extremely effective metalcore formula of neck-snapping riffs combined with choruses that feel catchy even on first listen. With only two singles released as a band thus far, they are about as far from In Flames’ 32 years of experience as you can get, but the superb growls and cleans of frontman Tony Maue backed by a consummate and tight instrumental section quickly get the audience involved in their high-paced and passionately delivered set.
Main support on the tour comes from Vexed who, interestingly for the genre of the night’s headliners, step further towards core with deathcore-style beatdowns and slamming rhythms being the primary theme of their music. Their set begins with bundles of energy driven by vocalist Megan Targett bounding across the stage, however, the group suffer from a crucial flaw of lack of variability – across a 35-minute set not one track was notably different from another, which meant that despite their powerful opening the performance felt to drag quite quickly. Throughout the crowd, there are several existing fans, but on the back of their disparity with the evening’s headliners and some lack of polish in performance, it’s unlikely they’ll have won many more.
The roar which greets tonight’s legendary headliners as they enter the stage is exponentially greater than any reaction of the show thus far, and as the band rip into the thrashing “Everything’s Gone” the crowd waste no time in parting and pitting and giving the melodeath royalty the welcome they deserve. “Call My Name” from most recent release I, The Mask kicks the energy up yet further, but it’s when a true classic of their catalogue in “Cloud Connected” is played that the atmosphere reaches more frenzied levels.
With the inimitable vocals of frontman Anders Friden driving their performance forward, In Flames burn flawlessly through their curated set that even delves as far back into their career as “Behind Space” (from debut album Lunar Strain dating back to 1994). Björn Gelotte and Chris Broderick are exceptional on guitar, carrying the stage presence and performance levels you’d expect from such high-profile musicians, whilst Bryce Paul on bass (and contributing backing vocals live too) and Tanner Wayne behind the kit provides endless momentum to propel the group forward with no let-up in tempo.
As their performance strides towards its conclusion, there’s some consternation from the band and audience that their set is cut short due to a club night at the venue following the show, meaning the end of the set is not “The End,” and there’s nothing on show from A Sense of Purpose. Despite this, the closing track of “Take This Life” (what else?) is met with the crowd drowning out the group through the chorus, and there’d be few, if any, fans leaving disappointed with the variety found across the setlist spanning all genres of the ever-evolving band. 30+ years since founding, and almost 2 years since they were due to play, In Flames show they burn as bright in 2022 as they ever did, and demonstrate they’re the melodeath legends in the flesh their career on record supports.
In Flames’ Brighton Setlist:
1. Everything’s Gone
2. Call My Name
3. Where The Dead Ships Dwell
4. Cloud Connected
5. All For Me
6. Behind Space
8. The Hive
10. Pinball Map
11. The Chosen Pessimist
12. Monsters In The Ballroom
14. I Am Above
15. Take This Life
*”The Mirror’s Truth” and “The End” on original setlist but cut due to time.