The Amity Affliction + Fit For A King + SeeYouSpaceCowboy + Gideon @ O2 Institute, Birmingham 17th January 2023

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On a bitterly cold evening, tonight’s openers Gideon set about raising the temperature a few degrees with their hefty, groove laden sound. Taking to the stage like a gang of grizzly bears, there’s a few present who’re taken aback by their sheer force of nature, but they soon get the crowd bopping in unison. With a beard you could lose a badger in, vocalist Daniel McWhorter cuts an impressive figure while guitarist Tyler Riley gets extra marks for sporting a Queen T-shirt. New song ‘Respect’ signposts a bright future and the band’s energetic set is rewarded with the first pit of the evening.

Lots of different tags have been thrown at San Diego’s SeeYouSpaceCowboy, they’re a band who defiantly resist easy categorisation but could slip into the sasscore genre and their expansive sound gives them a lot of freedom. If Gideon were the burning fuse, then SeeYouSpaceCowboy are the explosion and the energy they radiate is highly contagious with things get pretty hectic, pretty quick. Singer Connie Sgarbossa pulsates with electricity and pulls some impossible shapes, but the whole band is on fire and demonstrate their style with leaps, jumps and faux karate moves. All kinds of mayhem erupts in the pit (but it’s all in the best spirit) as the crowd becomes a swirling whirlpool and surfers crash over the barrier at regular intervals. It’s a musical blitzkrieg that raises the bar for Fit For A King.

Riding on the back of their critically-acclaimed album The Hell We Create, Texan metalcore crew Fit For A King are a band simply oozing confidence and it’s the title track from said album that gets things off to a typically rowdy start. Some minor equipment issues make for a stuttering start, but the band soon hit top gear and ‘The Price Of Agony’ makes for a mid-set highlight and has the whole crowd jumping as one. Picking up the gauntlet thrown down by SeeYouSpaceCowboy, FFAK provide the perfect soundtrack for the coming apocalypse. If your only concept of Christian metal is the kind of soft variety peddled by the likes of Stryper then FFAK are here to smash your preconceived ideas with a ten-ton hammer and the pairing of ‘The Path’ with ‘Times Like This’ make the perfect one-two punch. The aptly-titled ‘God Of Fire’ makes for an apocalyptic closer and the band leave a smoking stage in their wake.

As a genre metalcore has proved to be pretty robust and has stood the test of time while various fads have come and gone. Its longevity is due in no small part to tonight’s headliners, Australian heavyweights The Amity Affliction. Throughout their 20-year history the band have had numerous line-up changes, but they’re currently enjoying a period of stability and it has resulted in some of their strongest material to date. However, it’s ‘Pittsburg’ from 2014’s Let The Ocean Take Me that opens their set and the tension that’s been building for the past 20 minutes is finally released and causes all sorts of mayhem in the pit. In fact, such is the over exuberance that takes hold of the crowd that next track (‘All My Friends Are dead’) is aborted due to an audience member lying prostate due to some ferocious moshing. Normal service is soon resumed with ‘Like Love’ as vocalist Joel Birch commandeers centre stage and leads the band like troops into battle. Joel’s gruff vocals are perfectly counterpointed by bassist Ahren Stringer’s clean singing and the two rise and fall like a ship on a stormy sea, but the whole band are on fire and lock in tightly to deliver tracks like ‘Shine On’ with machine-like precision. Latest single ‘Show Me Your God’ is a welcome return to the band’s heavy roots and judging by the crowd’s reaction, it’s a wise move. With a discography comprising of 7 LP’s and 4 EP’s, someone was always going to be disappointed by the set list selection, especially with the majority of the songs culled from post-2012, but no one is complaining as the band barrel through a strong, 70-minute set. Visibly drained, The Amity Affliction have thrown everything into tonight’s show and ‘Death’s Hand’ makes for a rebel-rousing conclusion. Of course, they return for a well-deserved encore and ‘Soak Me In Bleach’ brings the curtain down in style.

The Amity Affliction Set List:

  1. Pittsburg
  2. All My Friends Are Dead*
  3. Like Love
  4. Drag The Lake
  5. Death Is All Around
  6. Shine On
  7. All Fucked Up
  8. Ivy (Doomsday)
  9. Show Me Your God
  10. Don’t Lean On Me
  11. Chasing Ghosts
  12. I Bring The Weather With Me
  13. Death’s Hand

Encore:

  1. Soak Me In Bleach

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