Sunday, 29 March 2015

Of Mice and Men - Brixton O2 Academy, 29/03/15

I didn't manage to hear much of the set from opening band Volumes, because the queue for Of Mice and Men was so long that we didn't get in until much before the end of their set, but what I saw I most definitely enjoyed. Much heavier than I expected, Volumes definitely have something special, and I'm going to have to listen to more of their music in the future, as this was the first time that I'd actually heard of them. If the crowd had been completely in the building before the majority of their set was over, I can imagine that they would have gotten an amazing reaction, but from where I was the response seemed muted but polite, which isn't what these guys deserved. 

It felt as though a lot of people in the room were only there to see the support act, The Amity Affliction, Australian metalcore heroes. As soon as they walked out on to the stage, the crowd started going utterly crazy, and that didn't change throughout the entirety of their set. I hadn't listened to The Amity Affliction before (don't hate me, I'm just not very good at listening to heavier music) but at the start of their set I was extremely impressed. 'Pittsburgh' was a brilliant display of their style - as well as being a band with a clean vocalist and a screamer, you could understand nearly every word coming out of the screamers mouth. This might not seem like a big deal, but one of the most important things to me is lyrical content, so it was brilliant to really get a feel for their emotionally charged songs. I can definitely understand why so many people are so affected and appreciative of this band. Too often in heavy, metalcore music, I find that it feels too dense. This might sound like a strange way to describe it, but that's what it is: instead of being a well written piece of music, it comes out sounding like a wall of noise, making it impossible to decipher one guitar from another. This is not the case with The Amity Affliction, whose songs are less a wall of noise and more a finely crafted blanket of sound, which means it's really refreshing in such a heavy genre.
However, by the end of the set I just felt as though I'd heard the same song a few times, which left me with a disappointing feeling. Don't think that I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but it got quite old quite fast, which is a shame. There were some stand out moments, most notably 'Chasing Ghosts' and 'Never Alone' (which, bizarrely, had an intro that reminded me of 'Shameless' by Kids In Glass Houses), and during the latter, with a call to "Get up on your partner's shoulders and fucking boogie!" really getting the crowd going. But the memorable moments were few and far between, making it hard for me to really recall any of them even a day later. I think it could take a while before The Amity Affliction have enough material to create a setlist that will include both rises and falls and will be able to hold the attention of an entire audience of this size, but they're well on their way. 

Greens Avenue
Lost & Fading
Chasing Ghosts
Death's Hand
The Weigh Down
Never Alone
Open Letter
Don't Lean On Me

But of course, most of the crowd were in attendance to see Of Mice and Men play their biggest headline show to date. With this being a part of the tour supporting the release of the deluxe reissue of their latest album, 'Restoring Force: Full Circle', it wasn't a surprise that most of the songs played were off of the newest album, but it was brilliant to hear a few old gems thrown into the mix. This is my third time seeing Of Mice and Men in the last year, and I had been disappointed with their set structure, wanting to hear more of a mixture of their new and old material, but this show most definitely fulfilled that wish. Kicking off with 'Public Service Announcement' wasn't a surprise, but the audience screamed back every word and this brilliant response continued throughout the rest of the show, during new song 'Broken Generation' and older song 'O. G. Loko'. 
The only low point of the entire set to me was quite early on, and it was 'Let Live'. I'm not sure why I was so disillusioned with it, because the rest of the set was practically flawless, but it just didn't seem to translate as well into the live environment. I know clean vocalist Aaron Pauley isn't the one that sang on the original track, and as it's one of my favourite 'Of Mice and Men' songs this might be why I wasn't so convinced by it, because it didn't seem as powerful and captivating as the recorded version.
However, I'm happy to say that this was only an issue with that one song. The rest of the set was brilliantly performed, with no other hitches in the set, and the energy didn't let up for a single moment. Running through nearly the entirety of their newest album, songs like 'Feels Like Forever', 'Bones Exposed' and 'Would You Still Be There?' were all received with adoration from all of the fans, proving that Of Mice and Men are just going from strength to strength with every album that they release. With these being their only UK tour dates in 2015, it's definitely pointing towards the fact that work on their fourth album will be starting soon, and it's going to be very interesting indeed to see what they decide to do with it. Being able to perform in venues as big as Brixton O2 Academy is a brilliant sign, but if the next album goes as well as I think it will, I won't be surprised if they can sell out this venue one or two nights in a row. 
My personal highlight of the set was 'Second and Sebring', the song that really did catapult Of Mice and Men into public awareness. With Austin Carlile encouraging everyone to scream along at the top of their lungs, it was unsurprising when everyone willingly participated, leading to one of the most goosebump-inducing moments of the night; the band completely stopping to allow the crowd to lead them through the final chorus. After such an electrifying moment, it was actually a relief for the band to go off stage before their encore, and with the crowd screaming "One more song" for a good few minutes, it was fabulous when Austin bounced back out onstage and declared that they were going to be doing two more. If you've been to an Of Mice and Men show before, you'll know that they nearly always finish with 'The Depths' and 'You're Not Alone', so this setlist wasn't really surprising, but it doesn't really matter when the songs sound this good. If you haven't been to an Of Mice and Men show before, what are you doing with yourself? They're one of the tightest live bands, particularly out of those with two singers, and the songs are all so catchy that you'll be humming them under your breath for days afterwards. If you live near any of the venues that they're hitting towards the end of this tour, and the tickets haven't sold out yet, I'd passionately recommend you go along - you will not be disappointed.

Public Service Announcement
Glass Hearts
Broken Generation
O. G. Loko
Let Live
You Make Me Sick
This One's For You
Feels Like Forever
Bones Exposed
Would You Still Be There?
Another You
Identity Disorder
Second and Sebring
The Depths
You're Not Alone

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