So north we went. Up into Kentucky. Through the Cumberland Gap and across the mountain tops to Lexington’s RUPP ARENA to cover AVENGED SEVENFOLD. It was the first time Moe and I took a road trip without taking a wrong turn leading into HELL. A success from the beginning ! We arrived a little early, as per usual, to work out the inevitable “issues” that arise at a venue of this size. RUPP is a 23,500 seat facility and supplies all the room one NEEDS to have a truly epic experience. More space = better everything, from lighting to the magnitude of the stage show. It can mean the difference in seeing “full show” vs. a “protracted stage show.” It was this that caused us to wait a couple of nights to cover this band a scant 3 hours from our front door. There’s also something about getting out of your normal environment that adds to the mystery and excitement, not to mention a sense of freedom , in that, well....”we don’t know anybody here.” kinda feelin’ :o) We exercised that latitude ;o) Like I said, it started out, as usual, with the old “where’s my pass” routine, but Rupp is a different environment, a truly professional environment. I’m on the phone with the promoter and before I know it, and while still on the phone, a uniformed female shows up in front of me and says “Mr. Skip?”...I said “Yes.” and she said, “would you come this way so we can accommodate you?” Now folks ...that’s SERVICE and yes, she was smiling. I was escorted down to the “photography reserve area”, also known as the security office, which was basically “the backstage area” office complex that led out to the bus compound; a handy place to be to have a great encounter with some of our favorites. Our escort, a very attentive and aware young man named Matt, made the experience the better. I shall call him our “Handler” because that’s what he was and he did a great job getting all of us to where we needed to be, when we needed to be there, kept us apprised of the time table, and directed us on how much time we had if we were accomplish outside tasks, not to mention that he was most fun and courteous. Then...Things got even better. AVENGED SEVENFOLD the stage complete with a HANGING VICTIM and massive FLAMES. Gotta tip my hat to the entrance....simply wicked. They played their hearts out for the crowd and the crowd returned the sentiment, particularly on the tribute song (for their recently deceased drummer). R.I.P. Brother. It was a moving experience as the crowd all illuminated their lighters and cells phones to honor our fallen comrade. It presented, once again to me, the undying devotion of the METAL FAN ! The love we share, the bond we have in our positive expression of normally negative energy. We OVERCOME ! AVENGE SEVENFOLD exemplified this feature in every respect. They are a band that overcame tragic loss to produce and tur the number one album in the country ! The rest is in the pictures. ENJOY !!!