Smells Like a Freakshow, Avatar came to The Marquee Theatre

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Avatar at Marquee Theater, Tempe, Arizona

Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Lucky Man
Venue: Marquee Theatre, Tempe, Arizona
Date: Tuesday October 1st, 2019

The last time Avatar was here they were doing the “Avatar Country Tour”.  The stage then was more elaborate with a throne for the king.  This time, the stage had an extensive light show setup but no throne.  It was done since they were not the headliner for this part of the tour.  They also were limited in the length of time for their set, only 40 minutes.  Avatar consists of lead singer Johannes Michael Gustaf Eckerström, John Alfredsson on drums, Tim Öhrström on guitar, bass player Henrik Sandelin and of course the King of Avatar Country himself, guitarist Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby.

Avatar at Marquee Theater, Tempe, Arizona

They started the show with “Hail the Apocalypse”.  From the very start about half of the audience was really into it, the rest seemed to be there for the headlining band.  But by the end of the set, almost everyone in the audience was singing along.  The set was a mixture of all of their albums except their latest, Avatar Country.

Johannes Michael Gustaf Eckerström, lead singer for Avatar at Marquee Theater, Tempe, Arizona

At the start of the show, Johannes strutted around the stage in his top hat and cane.  Later he lost the hat and cane and just continued swaggering around on the stage.  Johannes had his face painted like a circus clown and his clothing and mannerisms reminded me a lot of Alice Cooper (this is really high praise since I am a huge Alice fan).  Tim, Henrik and Kungen roamed all over the stage, playing to the audience.  As with almost all metal bands, that all did the head banging, hair spinning.  It still amazes me that they can do this, not get dizzy and still keep their rhythm and also not get their hair caught in the guitars.  When they played “The Eagle Has Landed” there are parts where Johannes sings a chorus with “Ladies and Gentlemen” and waved his hands back and forth over his heads.  At this point we had a sea of people in the audience mimics the hand swaying and singing along, it was truly spectacular.

Johannes Michael Gustaf Eckerström, lead singer for Avatar at Marquee Theater, Tempe, Arizona

Before the final song of the set, the band left the stage and only the lead singer, Johannes remained.  He talked for a little bit about how important it was for us to supporting the band and how much they appreciated it.  He then introduced the last song of the set by saying, “Can you smell it, the Freakshow!!”.  The band comes out and powered into “Smells like a Freakshow”.  At this point the audience was going crazy and singing along.

Avatar came back to the valley of the sun to the Marquee Theatre as the leadup group for Babymetal.  I am a huge fan of Avatar having seen them headline a show here last year.  Babymetal is really not my cup of tea.  Yes, Babymetal brought in a larger crowd, but personally, “There is no giggling in metal”.  I understand that this was one of the last shows of Avatar’s North American tour, but I hope that they come back.  But the next time they need to headline the show even if they play at a smaller venue or tour with another Scandinavian metal band.

Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2019, All Rights Reserved


I have included this setlist which I believe is correct.  If there is something I missed or is wrong, please let me know at fkuhlman@beneathadesertsky.com and I will correct it.

Avatar Setlist:                                   (Album)
Hail the Apocalypse                        (Hail the Apocalypse)
Paint Me Red                                     (Black Waltz)
Ready for the Ride                           (Black Waltz)
Bloody Angel                                     (Hail the Apocalypse)
The Eagle Has Landed                    (Feathers & Flesh)
Puppet Show                                     (Hail the Apocalypse)
Smells Like a Freakshow                 (Black Waltz)

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