Friday, 11 November 2016

Bring Me The Horizon - O2 Arena, 05/11/16

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I actually got to the venue on time (for once!) but the queue for bag checks was so long that I still missed over half of Basement's opening slot. 
Honestly? I'm not sad about that at all. 
I sincerely appreciate the fact that an underground American hardcore band had the opportunity to perform on large UK arena stages, but Basement didn't make the most of it. The first half of the set might have been different, but the last 3 songs were dull, dreary and didn't hold my interest at all. 
I had the same problem when I saw them at Reading festival. I was so unimpressed that I didn't even bother to mention them in my lengthy review, despite seeing their full half an hour set. They're just so forgettable. 
Based off of the crowd reaction at this show, a lot of people in attendance felt the same. Scanning the standing area from where I was up in the seats, I could see one person enthusiastically waving their arm around. One. The O2 Arena is a 20,000 capacity venue (which, admittedly, was only a quarter full at this early stage of the evening, but that's still only one out of 5,000 people visibly enjoying themselves). 
Reminiscent of Faith No More and Pearl Jam, if you like your rock music to be bland and boring, Basement are the band for you. 

Whole (*)
Aquasun (*)
Bad Apple (*) 
Spoiled (*)
For You the Moon (*)
Earl Grey (*)
Brother's Keeper
Promise Everything

(*) setlist according to

I'm always going to be biased when it comes to Don Broco, so it's no surprise that I enjoyed every moment of their set. After seeing them on Halloween dressed as zombie cowboys I knew this set wasn't going to impress me quite as much, but having them on stage for longer more than made up for the lack of costume.
The tour definitely seemed to be taking its toll on vocalist Rob Damiani. He struggled to hit the high notes during 'What You Do To Me' and 'Nerve', with drummer and co-vocalist Matt Donnelly seeming to take a much bigger role in the songs. It wasn't until the end of 'Actors' that Rob explained the problem, admitting "I don't know if you can tell tonight - say you can't, and say I'm nailing it - but I'm losing my voice. [...] I'm on my ginger and lemon. I'm hoping it's a sexy 'Phoebe from Friends' vibe".
It certainly explained the vocal problems, but he more than made up for it with his energetic way of owning the stage. He might not have been able to sing as well as he normally could, but he sprinted up and down the stage heedless of the fact that he was almost colliding with the other members, climbing down towards the crowd at multiple points. I've seen plenty of Don Broco shows before, but it's been a long time since I've seen one so enthusiastic.
They're not a band that will rest on their laurels. Rob convinced the crowd to participate at multiple points, treating them as though they'd never heard of the band before when in reality I think quite a few people were only here to see their set. Introducing 'Actors', he shouted that it was "a good one to mosh to, if anyone feels like moshing in the moshpit tonight!" and then after admitting his voice was struggling asked people to sing along to 'Fire', joking "If you don't know the chorus, it's just fire. Over and over again. It's very easy!".
By the end of the stage time, they had as many people joining in as at the previous show, impressive when the start of their set received a much damper reaction. Despite the fact that they've been supporting Bring Me The Horizon for the best part of a year now (following their European support slot back in April) they still seem almost in awe that they band have chosen to take them on the road, and Rob showed that appreciation by making the crowd give it up for the headliners. Congratulating them on their "crazy ass arena tour", he called it "absolutely fucking mental", and that couldn't be more true.
With 'Automatic' receiving its US release this week, it won't be long until Don Broco are touring American shores. I just hope they don't forget about the UK, and that we get a headline tour announced at some point in 2017!  

You Wanna Know
What You Do To Me
Money Power Fame

I'm starting to think I might have been too harsh on Bring Me The Horizon.
I'm not saying I was wrong, because all of my points have been valid. They have gotten lazy in crafting their setlists, and they're always repetitive and unsurprising. Now I'm thinking that it's not necessarily a bad thing.
Because I'd already attended the Halloween show, my expectations were fairly low. I didn't think they'd be putting any surprises in the setlist, because they'd already proved that it was going to be a slightly updated version of the one that they've been touring for the last twelve months. They'd also been plagued by technical issues on the first night of their tour, Oli's microphone cutting out at multiple times and Jordan Fish's backing vocal so loud that it was verging on over-powering.
Thankfully, the sound issues had almost all been resolved, making Halloween seem like a dress rehearsal without the costumes (yes, I'm still bitter about that!). And once the sound issues were gone and I knew what setlist they'd be playing, I found myself relaxing and enjoying the show.
At this point in their career, Bring Me The Horizon are definitely more about the production than the performance.
Oli swaggers around the stage, occasionally falling to his knees and singing with a renewed passion, but it feels more like he's just going through the motions: it's just yet another arena show, after all. It's only when you combine the image him on his knees on the floor, looking defeated and powerless, with the projection screens showing men shooting themselves, bullets dropping to the ground and bombs falling from the sky, that you really find the moral behind the show. The world is ending; fuck it.
I'm not sure if I enjoyed this so much because I was in a brilliant mood after seeing Don Broco or if it is because I stopped hoping that they would surprise me, but this was the most fun I'd had at a Bring Me The Horizon show since they headlined Wembley Arena back in 2014. I've been slowly but surely falling out of love with them since 'That's The Spirit' was released - it's really not my cup of tea - but at moments during this set I could see the band that I used to loved starting to shine through once more.
I've never seen a man smile wider than Oli did during 'Follow You' - the song which he once admitted to writing about his ex-wife, Hannah Snowdon, but now states is written for someone he "hasn't met yet" - when the crowd were singing louder than even he could on the chorus. That's proof that the new album has become a fast favourite for a huge number of fans: I'm definitely in the minority when I say that I don't like it.
But the most touching moment of the night was when Oli paused the set for a moment after the song finished, looking at the crowd with a mixture of awe and gratitude. He admitted "I don't like to be a soppy bastard, so I'll keep this short. It if wasn't for you guys, I'd be dead. You guys saved my fucking life.". Oli hasn't been afraid to discuss his depression in the past, and that's one of the things that makes them attract fans in droves: they're honest and fearless when it comes to talking about their demons, including addiction and mental health problems. There's also the new introduction to 'Doomed', which I referenced briefly in my Halloween review - Oli Sykes has had one hell of a year, but he's coming through the other side stronger than ever, hugely thanks to the unquestioning support of his fans.
Bring Me The Horizon have announced a huge tour in America next year, with support from Beartooth and Underoath. I'm hoping that means they'll take a break from touring the UK for a while (perhaps with a festival appearance or two sprinkled through the summer) and will come back better than ever before. They're successful and they're very good, but with a bit more effort this band could be legendary.

Happy Song
Go To Hell, For Heaven's Sake
House of Wolves
Shadow Moses
Chelsea Smile
Follow You
Can You Feel My Heart?
True Friends
Oh No

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