First time I’ve heard of HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD was late 2009, when SONIC SYNDICATE announced a German tour with them. SoSy–Robin was so stoked about it that I had to check them out. But I was unimpressed at the time. Not that I thought they were bad, but even if I like a wide assortment of teas, this one didn’t make it to my cup back then.
A couple of years later, however, someone (maybe Robin himself, can’t really recall) shared “Hear Me Now” and this one I loved right away. Something was different and quite striking – “something” being new member Danny Murillo‘s voice, as I would soon find out. Then “Been To Hell” was also mind-blowing… and that was it. None of the other tracks in “American Tragedy” said anything to me, although I admit having listened to it just once. My bad.
In a nut-shell: I missed the release of “Notes From The Underground” completely; with “Day Of The Dead” it was something similar to “American Tragedy” (two or three awesome songs and nothing more); but “Five” gave me a whole new perspective on HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD and made me give a second chance to those other albums (except “Swan Songs” – apart from “Undead”, and only the live version, with Danny on it, that album definitely doesn’t rock my boat).
There was a time in my life where I would travel through Europe to attend concerts, but my current day job made it more difficult in the past three years. I was determined to change that in 2020 (HA! – thanks a lot, COVID-19…) and when I learnt about “New Empire – Vol. 1” and that HU would tour Europe with PAPA ROACH, I didn’t think twice about booking the trip to Madrid (I know they have a more solid fan-base in the UK and that the London show would probably be better, but since BREXIT brought to light so many xenophobes, I thought travelling to the country of “nuestros hermanos” would be safer).
I had both this show and the new album on my expectations-for-2020 list, and they were all met, if not surpassed. I’ve had the chance to listen to “New Empire” prior to its release, so I was more than ready to jump up and scream along the lyrics to the new songs, which were “Time Bomb”, “Heart Of A Champion” and “Empire” (although the first and the last had been rolling on YouTube for quite a while and lots of people sang them as well). I had so much fun! Even “Everywhere I Go”, that I still consider annoying as hell, felt right in the heat of the moment!
Before “Comin’ In Hot”, Charlie Scene asked if anyone in the audience played guitar and they got a fan on stage to do it (I saw a video from a German gig where they did the same thing, so I’m guessing they did it on every date of this tour). The guy was good enough, but of course Charlie treated him like he was extraordinary, even telling J-Dog that he was fired. And in “Day Of The Dead”, Funny Man raised a Spanish flag, getting loud cries of satisfaction from everyone. Yes, even from me – I’m not Spanish but I can appreciate the gesture. “Hear Me Now”, the very first HU song that I’d loved, wrapped up an experience that I most certainly want to repeat. I don’t like PAPA ROACH (not a particular fan of ICE NINE KILLS either, but those played first, I didn’t have a choice but to see them if I wanted to keep a spot in the front row), and I wasn’t planning on staying anyway, but even if I was, after such an amazing show by HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD, anything else would pale in comparison. So I headed to my hotel, happy beyond words.
Now, would I have stayed for PAPA ROACH if I’d known what the near future of live music would turn out to be? Nah! I’m all quality-over-quantity, and if this was my last concert for how-don’t-know-how-long, it better be something grand – like HU was.