Live Review: Parkway Drive w/ Polar | Camden Underworld, London | 16/03/18

Photo Credit: Elliot Grimme

The year is 2008, Parkway Drive are about to play their biggest headline set to date at the Underworld in Camden, London... except wait, it isn’t 2008 at all, it is in fact 2018 and the Australian metalcore titans have announced a string of intimate shows returning to smaller venues across Europe in support of announcing their latest upcoming album Reverence. Given that the band has headlined the 5000 capacity Brixton Academy twice now, going back to such an intimate setting with a crowd only 500 strong hallows back to their early days before the band became one of the most well known and respected names in the genre.

They’ve brought with them London based hardcore rowdy boys Polar [8] for the entirety of the tour, each show only being announced a matter of days before it happens. For most bands, this may seem like a daunting disadvantage, but Polar have enough fans present to be able to treat this as one of their own headline slots. Barely three songs into their set and there’s already stage-divers, crowd-surfers, pits and headbanging aplenty, and a good portion of people in the room know the songs well enough to scream along. Vocalist Adam Woodford even got himself down and dirty with the crowd a few times, soaring through the air into a more than complicit crowd waiting to catch him before chucking him back up onstage.

With the convergence of attendees suitably warmed up, the slow, sinister build up to ‘Wishing Wells’, the first single taken from the upcoming Reverence starts to play over the speakers as Parkway Drive [9.5] appear abruptly onstage. Front-man Winston McCall greets the crowd with a deafening “UNTIL I’M DONE” as the song reaches the peak of its intro build-up, and from that moment on the crowd is an unrelenting sea of insanity, the stage-divers are endless, the pit opens up on almost every song on the set, as Parkway blister through their music catalogue, with sing-along moments to ‘Carrion’, fist pumping to ‘Vice Grip’, absolute chaos during the breakdown to ‘Romance Is Dead’ and choir like whoa-ing to ‘Wild Eyes’, and a particular set highlight comes from latest anthemic single ‘The Void’, with its meaty guitar tones and colossal chorus giving them a stage presence ten times larger than the space they are currently playing.

Photo Credit: Elliot Grimmie

It’s interesting to note that not a single song from seminal album Deep Blue has made the cut onto the setlist tonight. If this were any other band, missing out fan favourite songs from one of the key albums of your career might seem like a strange choice or a misstep leading to harsh criticism from the gig goers for not including them in the set, but Parkway Drive are not just any band, consistently outputting remarkable albums, even more remarkable live performances and stepping up their game year after year to earn the reputation they have today as a must see live act within the heavy music scene already set to dominate the headline slot on the Zippo Encore stage at Download Festival later this year.

The band spent a good chunk of last year touring in celebration of the ten year anniversary of their second album Horizons, so including a fair few songs from that album in the set is a no brainer given that they’d be fairly well rehearsed by now, with Winston pulling members of the crowd onstage during ‘Breaking Point’ and ‘Dead Mans Chest’ only to have them dive back off into the depths of the surging horde.

The final two songs for the night are 5th album nu-metal esque bangers ‘Crushed’ and ‘Bottom Feeder’, everyone in the room is drenched in sweat, and as the final moments inch in with chants of ‘no mercy, no peace’ McCall bellows “you can’t escape now snap your neck to this” the room erupts with such velocity that not a single able bodied person could possibly have been standing still. Parkway Drive are unfaltering and it’s surely just a matter of time now before they’ll be big enough to headline arena’s around the UK.