Sunday, 29 November 2015

Bring Me The Horizon - Alexandra Palace, 28/11/15

I realised last week this show was going to be the fourth time I'd seen all of the bands on the bill in the last twelve months! With a line-up this brilliant, there was no way I was going to pass up on the opportunity to attend (I mean, come on, nothing's ever beaten this line-up, apart from the You Me At Six/Kids In Glass Houses/The Blackout/Deaf Havana Halloween show extravaganza) and I've been highly anticipating this show for months. 

Playing Alexandra Palace as their second London show ever is a huge achievement, so I was ecstatic that PVRIS received the crowd reaction that they did. In the year since they've released their debut album 'White Noise' huge things have happened for the band, and with the crowd singing and dancing along at every possible moment throughout their set, it's inspiring to see their hard work paying off.
Because I'd already seen them quite a few times this year there were no big surprises in their set - still six songs, still fabulously performed - but I still enjoyed every second. Their blend of pop and rock sensibilities gives their sound the chance to accrue a large fan base, and that's definitely in the midst of happening.
The reaction to 'Mirrors' and 'St. Patrick' was especially vibrant, and seeing a large majority of the crowd jumping along to this kind of music is not what you would have expected at a Bring Me The Horizon show a few years ago. You also wouldn't have expected to see a support band whose lead singer shouted "Have you all got your party pants on?" but that's exactly what we received, and I don't think anyone was disappointed with their show. PVRIS aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they make it very difficult to dislike them.
I'm finally seeing a PVRIS headline show in April - my birthday present to myself - and I'm hoping they'll take the opportunity to really break out of the mold and own their live show. They play the role of supporting band extremely well (with having supported Sleeping With Sirens, Pierce the Veil and soon to be supporting Fall Out Boy, they must have been doing something right!) but it'll be brilliant to see them stand on their own.

White Noise
St. Patrick
My House

In some strange twist of fate I've gone from being begrudgingly accepting of Neck Deep to being more excited about their set than any of the other bands. For a while there it seemed as though everything that we were attending had Neck Deep on the line-up: Slam Dunk, Reading, All Time Low, which was nice and all, but I wasn't a huge fan of their music so it didn't get me jumping up and down with anticipation. But that started changing at Reading festival, when they began turning my opinion of them around: it finally looked as though they were becoming something special.
I still haven't listened to 'Life's Not Out To Get You' in full (when I'm excited about an album I normally wait, out of fear that it won't meet my expectations) but the songs that I'd heard from it - 'Can't Kick Up The Roots' and 'Gold Steps' specifically - were exciting and a huge advance from the music that they'd put out earlier in their career. You could feel a change in the air, and that change finally struck me last night.
With the setlist comprising of three songs I'd never heard before, this was certainly the most varied Neck Deep show I'd seen this year. In the past I've complained about the fact that all of their songs sound the same, but this is a complaint I have with a lot of pop punk bands of late. As Neck Deep say it best, with their slogan t-shirt 'Generic Pop Punk', it sounded as though every band was releasing the same music for a while there. But Neck Deep have finally found that development that was necessary to lead the genre to a more exciting place.
Starting off with 'Citizens of Earth', I was struck by the difference in their technique. The music was heavier, and there was shouting, unclean vocals?
Wait, that can't be right. This is Neck Deep. They don't have an unclean vocalist. Were Fil or Dani taking a (microphone) stand? From where I was, stuck behind a lot of tall people right in the centre of the crowd, I wasn't sure what was going on; no clue in the slightest, and a lot of the people around me looked equally concerned.
It was only when, after 'Losing Teeth', vocalist Ben Barlow shouted out to their "friend Sam Carter from Architects" that I realised why the sound had been so revolutionary. Who'd have thought that Neck Deep with a heavier sound could work that well? And who'd have thought I'd be completely able to miss a guest vocal spot that exciting? This is why you read my reviews, kids. I'm observant as shit.
But from the slightly confusing and extremely different opening song, Neck Deep didn't revert back to their old patterns. None of the songs sounded the same: all of their intricacies (lyrics, guitar lines, drum patterns) sounding so vastly different from each other that they all stood out for me. 'Kali Ma', a song about Indiana Jones, and 'Serpents', a slowed down, heart-wrenching moment, stood out the most for me, but what really impressed me the most was Neck Deep's new found ability to craft a setlist.
Whereas before the songs blended in together, the complete changes between the songs surprisingly still managed to sound cohesive. It didn't feel like a band shoving a lot of random songs together, as though they were playing their set on shuffle; it felt considered, deliberate... Amazing. From the dance-y bouncefest that is 'Can't Kick Up The Roots', into the melancholy 'Serpents', down to the acoustic ballad 'A Part of Me'... Each song was 180 degrees different from the one before it, but they all felt like Neck Deep.
'What Did You Expect?'. Well, I never expected to think Neck Deep were the highlight of this show: PVRIS are one of my favourite bands, while Bring Me The Horizon are always brilliant... But neither of them could hold a torch to Neck Deep. This band have really come into their own with their second full length album, and I'm excited to see where they can go next. The only way is up.

Citizens of Earth (ft. Sam Carter)
Losing Teeth
Gold Steps
Kali Ma
Can't Kick Up The Roots
A Part of Me
What Did You Expect?

Bring Me The Horizon are always going to put on an amazing show. It's a fact of life, like the sky being blue or needing oxygen to breathe. Performing is in their blood, and they've never let me down in a live environment. So when I say I was expecting brilliant things from this show, I'm not exaggerating.
Unsurprisingly, Bring Me The Horizon did not let me down. I will admit that I was a little bit disappointed that they only added two new songs into their setlist (well, four, but I'd already heard 'Happy Song' and 'Throne' live), because I'd been excited to see a wider range of the songs from 'That's The Spirit', but the two they played were both excellent. Starting off with 'Doomed' was inspired, because it set the tone for the rest of the show - brilliant singalongs with a darker lyrical edge - but 'True Friends' was my highlight of the set: it's just so damn catchy. I've been unable to stop listening to it since the album came out, and it's been stuck in my head for what feels like months.
I'm not sure why, but this show did feel less organic to me than the other Bring Me The Horizon shows I'd experienced. It might have been the venue - the ceilings are high and if you're not stood in the right place the sound can seem distorted - but I'm not sure if that's exactly what it was. It meant that this wasn't the best that I'd seen Bring Me The Horizon perform this year. The backing track was a bit overpowering at points, and while Oli's vocal was good it just didn't seem to have that extra something that has made it stand out in the past. That might be because they've done nothing but tour for months now, but it just didn't feel right.
That being said, the band still performed live better than almost any other band that I've seen, and that's extremely commendable. Guitarist Lee Malia was amazing as usual, and Matt Nicholls seemed to be putting more into his drumming than I'd ever witnessed before. Oli's energy is constantly unflappable, and he kept it up throughout the entire set: it's just a shame that the set was so short, because I'd been hoping for a bit more from the band. After seeing them perform at Wembley Arena last year, where they played a large variety of material both old and new, I'd been expecting a little bit more from a headline show of this magnitude, but beggars can't be choosers.
This was still an extremely fun show, and it definitely proved that Bring Me The Horizon are at the top of their game and are pushing the boundaries in the genre. Considering the fact that they sold this show out in just over two hours, it's pretty obvious that they're popular and will be selling out venues of this size just as quickly for a long time to come. It does make you wonder if a headline slot at the O2 Arena could be on its way...
I just hope that whatever they do, the next time I see them they do something different; something that will impress me that little bit more and prove they're undefeatable. I think their supports might have had them beaten at this show.

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

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