Bullet For My Valentine + Asking Alexandria + Young Guns @ NIA Birmingham – Tuesday 3rd December 2013

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Review by Andy Boden

Although I have seen Bullet For My Valentine on a number of occasions, the thought of being crammed into the NIA with a million teenagers still strikes fear into this ol’ heart of mine. The line-up tonight is essentially a modern day Kerrang! readers wet dream, with Asking Alexandria and Young Guns on the undercard, from that you can pretty much guess the demograph the tour is aimed at.

Young Guns were a pleasant surprise, a bit poppy, a bit bouncy, plenty of energy, a decent opening band. Whether it’s ‘rock’ in the traditional sense or just pop played loudly is hard to say on the strength of this one performance, but the jingley-jangley guitars carry well enough live, but tend to wear thin and grate a little otherwise. Opening bands traditionally get a raw deal with the sound quality and volume, Young Guns were no exception and would have benefitted by having the volume turned up a couple of notches.

Asking Alexandria. I was looking forward to seeing them to see what all of the fuss was about. To tell the truth, I still don’t know what all of the fuss is about. Dripping with samples and digital fills, and with simplistic, repetitive guitar chords, it’s impossible to see where the effects end and the talent starts. Danny Worsnop switches between menacing growls and standard melodic crooning, and there is a decent amount of energy and onstage presence across the width of the stage, but the whole package lacks substance and any real entertainment value.

The BFMV management team must have had a bit of a brainstorm when planning this years live dates. Having played at the O2 in Birmingham back in March, the (potentially) 12,500 seater NIA may, to some, seem a little ambitious. Indeed, the fact that there were probably no more than 4,000 people in the venue would seem to bear this thought out. Not that the paucity of numbers matters to those inside, nor indeed to the band, as Bullet hit the stage with the swagger and the confidence of a band who know that they are at the top their game. From the first strains of ‘Raising Hell’, Bullet are out of the traps and running, belting out a distinguished set of accessible metal-core songs from their four album back catalogue. Sure, comparisons are bound to be drawn in terms of styles and influence, but purely in terms of entertainment value, Bullet are up there with the best. If there were to be any criticisms, and it is a minor one in context of an excellent show, it is that after most songs the whole band left the stage, most often to change guitars (Mike Paget using no less than six flying V’s throughout the set), but the minute-and-a-half of silence and blue-lit stage every 5 minutes or so just seemed to break the rhythm and tempo of the gig.

Bullet For My Valentine
Bullet For My Valentine

Highlights of the set included sterling renditions of standards ‘Scream Aim Fire’, title track of the current album ‘Temper Temper’, the somewhat slower but haunting ‘Bittersweet Memories’, and a medley of tracks from all of the albums. The four song encore upped the pace yet further, with a corking version of ‘Ace Of Spades’, with ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ bringing the curtain down with a flurry of fire, smoke and confetti.

With the UK having been well serviced by Bullet For My Valentine in recent times it may be a while before they tour these shores again. That’s okay boys, I can wait.

Setlist:
1. Raising Hell
2. Scream Aim Fire
3. Your Betrayal
4. All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)
5. 4 Words (To Choke Upon)
6. Temper Temper
7. The Last Fight
8. Suffocating Under Words Of Sorrow (What Can I Do)
9. Bittersweet Memories
10. Dirty Little Secret
11. Hand Of Blood/Room 409/Hearts Burst Into Fire/Begging For Mercy/Riot (medley)
12. Alone

Encore:
13. Waking The Demon
14. Pleasure And Pain
15. Ace Of Spades
16. Tears Don’t Fall