When I saw Soulfly coming to Leuven the very following day after Sepultura playing in Antwerp, I said to myself: “This is a coincidence that cannot be missed.” I must admit, a Sepultura concert on the Women’s Day was a nice gift from providence. But seeing also Max Cavalera less than 24 hours afterwards, was like a Christmas present. Leading actor: Het Depot, which made this beautiful experience possible on 9 March.
What a week-end: Saturday trip by train to Antwerp, attending 5 hours of metal show, then wandering around downtown with friends for food and drinks, talking, talking, talking about music until 5 o’clock in the morning, realizing that at that hour it was better to head back to Brussels to get some sleep, arriving home at 8 am, sleeping, waking up on Sunday afternoon with neck and body pain from headbanging, pulling myself together to start off to Leuven. Not well together enough as I was about to lose my train, but again probably thanks to Santa Claus, the Belgium railways came up with a nice 29 minutes delay. Enough though to get me worried that I wouldn’t be on time for the opening act, but here I am, finally entering the venue, pleased to have missed only 5 minutes of beginning and literally throwing myself on one of those comfortable red chairs: “I made it!”
My plan was to get a grip while peacefully listen to the opening band. That was one of those plans which gloriously failed: Massis is a band which gets your complete attention in like … 5 seconds. I cannot say what combination exactly made my eyes big and my hearing so acute all of a sudden: their instrumental style is both technical and so fun. Or maybe it was their attitude on stage. It was obviously that these guys enjoyed so much playing and moreover playing together. Definitely not amateurs, highly mastering their instruments (Andy Heurckmans/guitar – Erwin Reynders/bass – Bernard Van Hecke/guitar – Jo Reynders/drums), including inspirational voice recordings, they were a great and energetic presence, high quality and very enjoyable noise rock.
During the short break, as the announced time for Soulfly was approaching and the tension was escalating in the venue, the public was getting anxious and started chanting: “Ole! Ole, ole, oleee, Soulfly! Soulfly!” reacting even to Max Cavalera’s shadow from backstage.
Soulfly kicked off with “Bloodshed” and “Cannibal Holocaust” and it took impressively little for the audience to start the circle pit and crowd chaos, which was continuously encouraged by Max Cavalera throughout the entire show: move around, stand up, put you hands in the air, everybody scream! The connection with the public was instant and continuous. But both sides were equally looking for it: Max Cavalera was smiling in contentment each time he got a response in lyrics, chanting, gestures from the fans. The audience was jumping, screaming, fighting at his smallest sign. „Um, dois, três, quatro!” Old school ambiance, at its best.
The setlist was smartly and generously put together: “Prophecy” followed by “Back to the Primitive”. “Fire”, “Bring It” and “Defeat U” in a mad breathless sequence, “Seek ‘N’ Strike” together with “Babylon”. Then, “Living Sacrifice” and a small tiny break, just a ready-made occasion to leave Zyon Cavalera alone on the stage to beat the intro rhythms of “Territory” which set the venue back in motion. Was it the song, the nostalgia, the sight of his infamous green and yellow guitar? Who knows… And who cares! But what could follow to such a moment, considering that everyone would save Roots Bloody Roots for later and it was not yet the time for ending the show … “What do you wanna hear next?” was also the question asked by Max Cavalera. “Plata o Plomo” just before “Master of Savagery”. And only then the glorious ending with the iconic opening track from the 1996 album, Roots.
The encore was pure madness. “How many more songs do you want to hear? Well, ok, I’ll do my best here…” and there came a beautiful metal medley of Rise of the Fallen, Jumpdafuckup, Eye for an Eye, No.
Soulfly, one long standing successful projects emerged after a band break-up. Max Cavalera currently shares the stage with Tony Campos at bass and the impressive guitarist Marc Rizzo. Plus Zyon Cavalera, his son, who totally kicked ass at only 21 years old. The end of the show was unexpected, Max left the stage while the others blasted out the virtuoso instrumental part of … Iron Maiden’s Trooper. Just because they can.
Old Sepultura was a cult band, new Sepultura awesomely reinvented itself but after all these so many years, Max Cavalera still represents Sepultura for me. And obviously, he’s not. And yet … In Soulfly, there is something more than a simple Metallica/Megadeth, Guns’n’Roses/Slash or Pink Floyd/Roger Waters ugly break-up stories. And I personally find this mystification so seductive and completely irresistible. Many thanks to Het Depot for making it possible to listening “Refuse/Resist”, “Arise”, “Territory” and “Roots Bloody Roots” twice live in the same week-end. Highly appreciated.