Review by Sophie Maughan, Photos by Russ Tierney
The wind is howling and it is bloody freezing outside but none of that matters. Why? Because Sheffield’s finest five-piece Bring Me The Horizon are back in Brum tonight for night two of the Crooked Young tour. The show is sold-out again and judging by the queue of excitable punters snaking all the way back to the Queensway, it promises to be a sweaty, hormone raging affair in the Academy.
Kicking off proceedings this evening are Canadian quartet Sights and Sounds, who treat us to a preview of material from soon to be released EP Silver Door. It’s a short but relatively sweet thirty minute set and the guys do a great job of warming up the crowd with their impressive blend of post-hardcore and punk rock. Whilst there is no denying the enthusiastic reception received by Andrew Neufeld et al, it almost pales into insignificance compared to the furore that San Diego boys Pierce The Veil create as they hit the stage running.
Deafening screams fill the dense air and a pit quickly opens up as the rumbling intro to ‘Bulls in the Bronx’ rings out. They are a band who I cannot profess to be particularly au fait with, but I am truly astonished by the amorous greeting they receive. Frontman Vic Fuentes has many a young female heart fluttering and when he approaches the rattling barrier to interact with the fans, the hopeful throng are literally hurling themselves against the barrier in an attempt to touch their idol’s hand / face / whatever comes their way. Fuentes dedicates ‘Hold On Till May’ to “anybody out there who can say that music has saved their life”. It is a genuine (albeit slightly saccharine in its delivery) sentiment and it seems to strike an emotional chord with the largely adolescent demographic. Smartphones are held aloft and bodies are jumping in time to the stomp of ‘Caraphernalia’ and closing track ‘King For A Day’ incites what is perhaps the millionth singalong of the set. A frenzied finish to a stylish and energetic performance.
There is the standard half hour wait before the main attraction and good god, it is excruciating. The tension fizzing in the air is infectious and by 9.20pm the atmosphere is absolutely electric. The house lights dim and my retinas take a hit as a blinding blaze of blue spotlights illuminate each member of the band in turn. The opening strains of anthemic ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ ripple through the venue and as the irrepressible Oli Sykes comes into view and bellows “WHAT’S UP BIRMINGHAM? WHERE THE FUCK ARE YEH?” the entire place goes batshit mental. Cannons explode and confetti showers the delighted sea of bodies bouncing up and down. En masse, they scream virtually every lyric to the song back at the Bring Me The Horizon collective and need zero prompting when Sykes asks “does anyone know the words?” In fact, his belligerent rasp is practically inaudible over the subsequent cacophony.
The driving momentum is not lost for even a second as BMTH drop lead single ‘Shadow Moses’ into the mix. The haunting synth refrains have an almost hypnotic quality to them in a live capacity and the crowd immediately erupts into the opening verse (“Can you tell from the look in our eyes/ We’re going nowhere!”) until Oli regains some control – his exact words being “let’s do this properly, get the fuck up!” I am grinning from ear to ear when the relentless blast beats of ‘Diamonds Aren’t Forever’ (from sophomore release Suicide Season) fill my eardrums and with four consecutive songs from latest album Sempiternal, it really demonstrates both the musical growth and range of this band as a whole. There’s no denying Mr Sykes’ appeal or charisma as a lead vocalist / talisman but this aint a one man show. Dismiss the rhythm section at your absolute peril – Lee Malia’s melody infused guitar solos really shine through on slower tempo numbers like ‘And The Snakes Start To Sing’, drummer Matt Nicholls does not miss a single roll all night and the introduction of Jordan Fish’s synth drenched programming brings a more atmospheric dimension to the proverbial table.
The Steel City boys continue to mix things up with the inclusion of older material including the mosh inducing ‘It Never Ends’ and ‘Deathbeds’. And when we are invited to pick what song we’d like to hear next, cult favourite ‘Chelsea Smile’ is requested and it is delivered with fervour. Plumes of smoke are launched into the air as the pummelling riffs and storming mid-track breakdown open up the floor from side to side and front to back.
A blistering rendition of ‘Antivist’ rounds off the set with many a middle finger up (‘coz we don’t give a fuck) before the band return for a two song encore. This is comprised of ‘Blessed With A Curse’ and ‘Sleepwalking’ – prior to the start of the latter Ollie offers a heartfelt thank you to the fans here tonight whom he states saved his life. Unsurprisingly, the resounding cheers that follow almost lift the Academy roof clean off and once again, the band are eclipsed by the sheer volume of the word for word singalong. I am picking confetti out of my eyes as the stage cannons explode yet again and it is a rousing finish to a spectacular display of musicianship. Bring Me The Horizon are a band who have polarised public opinion from the beginning, whether it be their attitude, off-stage antics or the latest shift in musical direction. The one thing that remains constant for this young bunch of Yorkshire urchins is this simple and most important fact – they know how to put on a show. That is a no-brainer.
See more of Russ’s photos here: