Somehow, Danish rockers Volbeat managed to slip across the U.S. border and go on tour … no small feat given the complicated travel restrictions that persist in this COVID world. New Noise caught up with the band on a blustery Sunday night in Oakland where they appeared to be the only thing happening in an otherwise unusually quiet evening downtown.

Opener Twin Temple were the poster child for why you always get to a show early to check out the opening act.  Satanic verses in the style of ’60s rock ‘n’ roll with a healthy dose of ritualistic camp gets you their signature sound of Satanic doo-wop and a super-entertaining 30-minute set to warm things up. Sure, they came nowhere near Volbeat’s genre of music but starting the set with a rousing “hail Satan” was an attention grabber for the crowd.

Twin Temple

The crew made quick work of the stage, clearing Twin Temple’s gear in 10 minutes flat, leaving the crowd to ponder the massive drum riser and LED screens waiting for Volbeat to be ushered onto the stage by Motorhead’s “Born to Raise Hell” at 8:30 sharp. Since being introduced to most of their U.S. fans through extensive touring with Metallica in 2009 in support of Death Magnetic, Volbeat has been able to reach headlining status through relentless touring but has yet to reach the the size of audience that they can command in Europe.

Some might blame former-Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano who joined the band in 2013 for steering away from their metal roots towards a poppier sound with Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, but it was clear from the Oakland setlist that the band had no intention of abandoning those long-time fans. However, first came the newer material with set opener “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” followed by “Pelvis on Fire” (someone should notify the band that they make a cream for that) getting to “Sad Man’s Tongue” (after a tease of Johnny Cash) and the first pit of the evening.

While the turnout was far from capacity, those who did turn out opted to pile up in front of the stage and sing along, proving that it’s not the size of the crowd that matters but the passion in the room. Clearly the band noticed, and frontman Michael Poulsen commented a few times, “You’re doing good out there … you’re making Volbeat very happy!”

An interesting add to the setlist was a cover of Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me,” which was recorded for their Black Album anniversary. They definitely made it their own, adding a healthy does of that signature Volbeat swing so that the more casual fan might not have even noticed that it was a cover. To keep things fresh, the band even threw in some material from their upcoming album Servant of the Mind, which promises to harken back to the heavier material from their first four albums with “Shotgun Blues.”

After a brief break, the band returned with “Hallelujah Goat” much to the crowd’s delight and eventually wrapping up the evening with their longtime set closer, “Still Counting.”  Here’s to hoping that their new album (out December 3) does indeed meet the high expectations of those early fans.

Setlist:

  • The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
  • Pelvis on Fire
  • Doc Holliday
  • Lola Montez
  • A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
  • Sad Man’s Tongue
  • Last Day Under the Sun
  • Wait a Minute My Girl
  • Leviathan
  • Black Rose
  • Don’t Tread on Me (Metallica cover)
  • Slaytan
  • Dead but Rising
  • Fallen
  • Shotgun Blues

Encore:

  • Hallelujah Goat
  • Die to Live
  • Seal the Deal
  • Still Counting

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