Thursday, 27 August 2015

Bring Me The Horizon - Oxford O2 Academy, 27/08/15

This is going to be a short review, because I'm heading off to Reading festival in mere hours, but I had to do a quick write-up about the show I just saw Bring Me The Horizon play. As one of two warm-ups for their performances at Reading and Leeds festival this weekend, this show was unmissable, and it's one of the highest quality concerts I've ever attended. 

Opening up were Turbowolf, who are also playing Reading and Leeds this weekend, but in a much smaller slot. 
At the start of their set I was blown away - they have a frenetic energy that was completely palpable, and vocalist Chris Georgiadis was bounding around the stage in a nonstop flurry of movement. 'Rabbit's Foot' was the only Turbowolf song that I knew prior to attending their set, and while it didn't completely blow me away it definitely got me moving and singing along. It didn't feel as effortless as the recorded version, which is a flawless track, but perhaps it was more charming because of this difference.
I was surprised by how brilliant the crowd reaction was - when you're opening for someone of Bring Me The Horizon's status, it's always going to be touch and go seeing how the crowd react to an lesser known band, but they really seemed to get on board and put a lot of effort into their responses. The banter between the band and the crowd was a bit lacking, with Chris telling the audience "the name of our band is Turbowolf, so if I say 'what is the name of our band?' you will say..." and then asking us if we could count to eight - I think it was supposed to come across as funny, but seemed patronising instead which made the encounter a little uncomfortable. However, when mentioning the fact that he wanted the crowd to boogie, it was easy to have a giggle along with Chris, and it made the crowd dance that little bit better.
On the whole I enjoyed Turbowolf, even if their songs did all start to sound the same aroundabout halfway through their set. If I can get to see them at Reading, I'll definitely try to, because I can imagine their festival performance might feel more relaxed - they were a little bit out of their depth with the size of the crowd tonight. 

Rabbit's Foot
American Mirrors
The Big Cut
Good Hand
Solid Gold
A Rose For The Crows
Read + Write
Let's Die

Unfortunately I didn't know the first song on the setlist! 

Now, for the main event. After seeing Bring Me The Horizon headline Wembley Arena way back in December, I was ecstatic to finally experience one of their smaller shows - because of how popular they are now, they hardly ever perform in venues of this size. 
Kicking off with 'Happy Song' was a stroke of genius! Playing one of their most recent songs first really sucked the crowd in, and the fact that it was the second ever performance of the song live made it feel extremely special. If it sounds good on recordings, it sounds as good - if not better - live, and I could tell that once again I was going to be blown away by their show. And I wasn't wrong. 
The majority of the songs performed were from 'Sempiternal' (with one song each from 'Suicide Season' and 'There Is A Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let's Keep It A Secret' respectively) and that album is their best by far, so it's not surprising when the songs sound so perfect live. But with 'That's The Spirit' coming out in two weeks time, I'm thinking it could surpass 'Sempiternal' as their best release - if it gets to number one on the album charts, that will not be a surprise at all. 'Happy Song' and 'Throne' were both performed to such a high calibre and I fell in love with them more than I had just hearing them on the radio. The crowd reaction to both songs was also immense: when songs have only been out for a handful of weeks, and the majority of the room already knows all the words to both? That's a well-loved band, right there.
Despite the fact that this was a warm-up show for a much bigger festival performance, the band really did throw everything they had into every song. I couldn't fault their energy, because they didn't let up through the entire hour of their set, and it's amazing to see that from a band who haven't done any performances at all in the last eight months. If you can see a band live, hear and potentially feel the nuances of each individual instrument (therefore proving that it's being performed live) and still think it sounds exactly like the album recordings - that is the sign of a damn good band. And there wasn't a single moment that made me wince, or fell flat, or didn't come across as well as it could have - they were all brilliant. There were times when the crowd seemed to be lacking (for example when vocalist Oli Sykes was attempting to get the crowd to sit down and jump back up, there was quite a bit of refusal) but I think that's the only issue when a very heavy, mosh-orientated band start leaning towards a more pop sound - some fans will only like the lighter music and will not want to get involved in the crowd antics, and I think it might take the band some time to come to terms with that development.
The only complaint I have is that the set was much too short, but that was to be expected - you can't play four 20 song sets in a weekend and expect to survive! Due to the length of their set, it was much more about cramming as many songs in as possible, rather than interacting with the crowd. It meant that it might have felt a bit too professional and polished - there wasn't really any opportunity for the members to shine as people instead of just musically. 
However, other than that this was one of, if not the best concert that I've ever been to. If you've seen Bring Me The Horizon live in a larger venue, you'll know what to expect: the fact that the energy never lets up, that the crowd is absolutely insane and the sing alongs don't stop coming. If you put that under a magnifying glass and increase it by a thousand, you'll be able to understand what this show was like. The intro to 'Shadow Moses' was spine-tingling, as were 'Can You Feel My Heart?' and 'Sleepwalking'. The vicious and malevolent sentiments portrayed in 'House Of Wolves' and 'Antivist' were made much more effective, and it was brilliant to see everyone singing along and putting their middle fingers up in the air. 
I don't even care that I saw Bring Me The Horizon tonight - I'm still looking forward to seeing them perform again at Reading festival on Saturday. You can keep an eye out for my review of that show, and I'm betting it's going to be a fabulous one. 

Happy Song
Shadow Moses
House of Wolves
Go To Hell For Heaven's Sake
Chelsea Smile
Can You Feel My Heart?
Blessed With A Curse

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