It was a cold, wet and windy night in Manchester and the parking was relatively quiet. One quick hop up the stairs to the M.E.N Arena gave the reason for the great parking spot as the outer ring of the building was free from atmosphere. A handful of people made their way around the collection of bars, eateries and candy-floss sellers (yes candy floss), and the merchandise stall was free from the usual push and shove. My first thought was the rest of the audience must be in the arena itself, but as I took my seat with relative ease, the view of a sparse and three quarter empty Arena gave me the realisation that seven o'clock was not only too early for a band to start on a week night, but also Iced Earth had failed to draw much of a crowd.
This is perhaps an unfair statement as Iced Earth would probably pack out the Academy 3 or even Academy 2. There were enough loyal fans at the front giving it the horns to make the band's trip worthwhile, but the rest of the watching public looked disinterested. We were treated to a handful of songs from their new album, 'Framing Armageddon,' which all sounded hackneyed and bitty. Even with Tim Owen's souring voice the music sounded flat and lifeless. Only 'Ten Thousand Strong' had any sort of hook that made me look up from my mobile phone to which I had resorted to amuse myself with. I am a Tim Owens fan but not even he could breathe any sort of energy into the proceedings. By 7:27pm their work was done and if it wasn't for my commitment to Room Thirteen I would have joined my friends at the bar who'd left after the second song.