Five Finger Death Punch and Brantley Gilbert at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI

Hard rock band Five Finger Death Punch and country star Brantley Gilbert kick off co-headlining tour with support from Cory Marks.

Rising country artist Cory Marks gets the early arriving fans fired up with a short but great set starting with “Devil’s Grin.” It does not take long to get the fans moving to the music. He follows that with “Keep Doing What I Do” and “In Me I Trust,” before playing a fast-rocking cover of Steve Miller’s “Jet Airliner.” Next up is “Burn It Up” from his new EP I Rise, which was also featured on the soundtrack for the movie The Retaliators. It is a hard-rocking song that would be at home on rock radio. “Blame It on the Double” has the crowd cheering and raising their hands in the air and waving. It features a great jam at the end with the guitarist, bassist, and drummer. He closes out his set with “Outlaws & Outsiders,” which has the crowd on their feet, horns in the air, and Cody leading them with fist pumps. The fans show their appreciation with huge cheers and clapping. It certainly has the fans warmed up for the headliners to come.

The fans let loose when Brantley Gilbert and his band hit the stage. He immediately has them dancing, singing, and rocking with the opening medley of “Kick It in the Sticks,” “Hell on Wheels,” and part of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Plush.” Following “The Weekend,” he introduces a song he recorded with Jason Aldean called “Rolex On a Redneck” which is on his recently released album So Help Me God. “My Kinda Party” kicks it into high gear with some awesome jamming at center stage with Brantley and his three guitarists, plus plenty of pyro to wow the fans. It has them hoisting their drinks in the air and cheering loudly. Brantley has surrounded himself with a top-notch group of musicians including guitarists Noah Henson and Jess Franklin, and drummer Ben Sims

He slows it down a bit with “Dirt Road Anthem” which has the crowd singing along including the ending by themselves. After “Small Town Throwdown,” he brings out a guest to sing the song “Son of the Dirty South” which also has the video featuring Jelly Roll, who recorded it with him, playing on the large screen behind the band. The next song is a great cover of Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “Blue on Black” which Brantley had done in collaboration with Five Finger Death Punch, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Brian May for the Gary Sinise Foundation back in 2019. The crowd loves it, especially when Noah Henson jams on the guitar.

Before “One Hell of an Amen,” Brantley takes time to recognize the veterans and current active-duty men and women. He tells a story about his three-year-old daughter and soon-to-be five-year-old son who watch cartoon heroes but wants them to grow up and view the veterans and active duty as real-world heroes. It is a touching moment that draws huge cheers.

After introducing his band, Brantley asks the crowd, “where are my drinkers?” and then launches into “Bottoms Up.” Following the new song “Heaven By Then” from his new album, he plays “Take It Outside.” During the song, he gets the crowd engaged by asking them to “get ’em up on the right side, get ’em up on the left side, get ’em up in the middle,” and, of course, they play along. He wraps it up with “Read Me My Rights” which leaves the crowd cheering and wanting more. Before leaving the stage, Brantley proclaims, “Michigan, you are badasses.”

After a lengthy break, the lights dim, and music starts playing before the curtain drops and Five Finger Death Punch cranks it up with “Inside Out.” Energetic lead singer Ivan Moody moves about the stage from side to side and uses various platforms along the front. He has the fans amped up as they fist pump and put up their horns. Following “Trouble” and “Wash It All Away,” Ivan comes out with a hat and cane, and they play “Jekyll and Hyde” which has tons of pyro and smoke. It has the crowd singing along out loud. During the song, Ivan tosses his hat to a young girl in the front row. Next up is “Sham Pain” which features several cannons up front that shower the general admission section up front with confetti. The fans love it.

Ivan brings out a USA flag and holds it up at center stage, which gets the crowd chanting “USA.” The band members then all autograph it and Ivan presents it to a military person up front and gives a salute. The next song, “IOU” from their current release AfterLife, is a ripper that features Andy James tearing it up on guitar. Rhythm guitarist Zoltan Bathory and bassist Chris Kael are both highly active and add to the killer sound. Chris is a sight to see as he thrashes his beard dreads around. Ivan begins singing a cappella while dimly lit at center stage. It has the crowd entranced as he runs through parts of “All I Know” and “Judgment Day.” It shows off Ivan’s vocal ability and leaves the crowd in awe. They then play “Wrong Side of Heaven” which has the fans singing along.

During “Burn MF,” a mosh pit is in full force on the floor, and the stage is awash in lots of smoke, pyro, and cool lighting. Following a killer drum solo by Charlie Engen, they play the rocking new song “Welcome to the Circus” and follow that with the hit “Lift Me Up” which starts with a loud explosion. After the song, Ivan brings a young boy and his father on stage for a photo. Ivan really has a great connection with the fans. The band leaves the stage and then returns for some encores starting with the highly popular “Under and Over It” which features tons of pyro and some pummeling drums and thunderous bass. They finish off the evening by going back to where it began with the hit “The Bleeding.” Before leaving, Ivan tells the crowd, “Thank you all for coming. We love you.”

When this tour was announced back in August, it had many people shaking their heads and wondering about the strange lineup. Given that both Cory Marks and Brantley Gilbert have collaborated with Ivan Moody, it was not as odd as it may seem. Based on the way the fans reacted, it looks like it certainly worked. Be sure to catch the tour in a nearby city as it continues across the US into mid-December.

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About Gary Pahlow 62 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.