Review by Sophie Maughan, photos by Alex Peace
Midlands Rocks are in Wolverhampton tonight for the fourth date of LA metalcore maestros In This Moment’s The Black Widow: European Invasion tour. It is also support act Fearless Vampire Killers’ first time playing in mainland Europe – which presents an excellent opportunity for the home-grown five-piece to showcase material from current record Unbreakable Hearts and build their fanbase to boot.
A brief glance around the half-full Wulfrun may suggest that the London lads have quite the proverbial mountain to climb, but the welcoming applause that erupts following Kier Kemp’s bellow of “Get your hands up!” is a testament to the band’s burgeoning popularity. I’ll also give kudos for their innate ability to perform on the stage precipice given the extent of the ITM setup in the foreground! An engaging salvo of ‘Say What You Want From Me’ and ‘Bite Down On My Winchester’ has the crowd bouncing along in no time and puts me in mind of My Chemical Romance circa Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge.
Frontman Kemp (who could easily be mistaken for a young Gerard Way with those mannerisms and sharp black blazer) does an admirable job of commanding our attention and this is evident during a cheeky version of the Elton John hit ‘I’m Still Standing’. We are invited to “have a little darnce” and as that blazer is whipped off, it’s safe to say that EJ would probably have a coronary. As my biographical knowledge is less than au fait, I’m surprised (albeit pleasantly) to see Laurence jump on vocals for infectious debut single ‘Neon In The Dance Halls’. There’s no mistaking the camaraderie between these guys and as the goth-tinged ‘Unbreakable Hearts’ rounds off an impressive set, it’s safe to say that Fearless Vampire Killers are going to be here for a long time rather than a good time.
As the clock ticks around to 9.40 and cult film classic ‘Cry Little Sister’ booms out across a packed out venue, I’m starting to wonder if a certain someone is having a dilemma of the aesthetic variety. Thankfully, any fears are put to bed mere moments later as the house lights dim and dramatic swirls of dry ice envelope the stage. All eyes are immediately fixed centre stage as a resplendent-in-latex chanteuse Maria Brink comes into full view. Flanked either side by scantily clad and swaying ‘Blood’ dancers, it is quite a sight to behold. The wonderfully eerie strains of ‘The Infection’ segue into an absolutely thunderous rendition of industrial stomper ‘Sick Like Me’ and the gathered throng go suitably batshit. Whilst the theatrics are impossible to ignore – synchronised hair tossing, inflatable syringes and the inordinate amount of costume changes – the simple fact of the matter is that In This Moment possess the musical chops to eclipse these with panache. The perfectly juxtaposed vocals veer effortlessly from the raw and visceral on songs like ‘Sex Metal Barbie’ and ‘Burn’, to the stripped down beauty of ‘Into The Light’ – the latter of which receives a rapturous ovation from the mesmerised crowd.
You could be forgiven for believing that tonight is nothing more than the Maria show, but there’s no disputing the admiration in her voice for her fellow band members. All of whom are warmly introduced mid-set and subsequently treat us to an on point thrash homage comprised of Metallica, Slayer and Pantera classics. This brief respite allows just enough time for some cages to appear and a good ol’ fashioned drum solo which is the jump off for most recent single and carnal colossus ‘Big Bad Wolf’. Retinas are scorched to the core via some truly blinding strobes, before a white-hot performance of fan fave ‘Whore’ brings a scorching end to a blistering outing.
The cacophony of feet stamping and the rabid “we want Blood!” chants are the cue for In This Moment to delight the baying masses just one more time tonight – yep its encore time and Brink’s request of “I need to feel you!” is duly answered as the one and only ‘Blood’ rings out. We’ve been witness to a rock show of epically ambitious proportions this evening, but I dare say that the best is yet to come. Expect to see these California guys and girl bringing their cabaret of the damned to many a festival / arena stage in the near future. Stunning stuff.
1. The Infection
2. Sick Like Me
3. Black Widow
5. Sex Metal Barbie
7. Into The Light
8. Fallen Heroes (Metallica, Slayer and Pantera tributes)
9. Drum Solo
10. Big Bad Wolf