(photography by Max Fairclough, you should check him out because he is absolutely amazing!)
If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you will know that something I very often do is miss support bands due to my own terrible timing, not an innate desire to turn up late like an ass. Despite the fact that I was beyond excited about seeing one of Sleepwave’s very first UK shows and seeing Issues for the same time, I sadly missed most of both sets, only getting to the arena to hear Issues play ‘Mad At Myself’ and ‘Hooligans’. I have a brilliant excuse in the form of meeting McBusted (I know, I know, judge me all you want but it’s still gonna be one of the most amazing things that’s ever happened to me) but I will say that when I saw Issues at Reading they were superb and if you haven’t listened to them yet it’s something you should probably get to doing, because with their support slot for Sleeping With Sirens and Pierce The Veil on the World Tour next year, they are going to take over UK and they’re going to do it fast. Hopefully (saying that with all of my fingers and toes crossed) Sleepwave will be announced for either Slam Dunk or Reading Festival, because I’m attending both next year and I really want to see what Spencer Chamberlain’s new band sounds like in a live environment, because I was never able to see Underoath live.
This was the third time I’d seen Young Guns in the last six months – the other two being their headline Reading warm-up show at Gloucester Guildhall and Reading Festival – but sadly this was also the worst time out of the three. I’m not sure if the venue was too big for them or they were nervous about performing to such a large crowd after the break they’ve taken to write their third album, but they just fell short for me and in all honesty it broke my heart a little bit. I’m not a humongous Young Guns fan, but, since the first time I saw them in a tiny little bar in Swindon when I’d only heard the song ‘Winter Kiss’, I’ve always trusted that they will put on an amazing and absorbing live show, and it’s a shame to get that assumption dashed. Kicking off with ‘Bones’ was unexpected but it was exciting to see them doing something so different with their set structure, and for the entirety of that song I found myself genuinely pondering whether Young Guns could be in a position to headline Wembley Arena themselves following the release of their third album, but from there it mostly went downhill. Moments of the set were still successful: the crowd surfers flooding over the barrier at the start of ‘Towers (On My Way)’, the reaction to new song ‘Rising Up’ was surprisingly energetic and the lighters and phones being held up at their request filling the arena was a moment that most of the guys will not forget for what I can guarantee is a long time. Playing ‘Winter Kiss’ for the first time in a long time gave it the triumphant return to their set list that it deserved, but playing ‘Bones’ first in their set seemed like a mistake, as it meant that the set seemed to drag throughout in a way that I had not been anticipating. The second new song slotted in before ‘I Want Out’ was beautifully haunting, but to start to finish a support slot at Wembley with an undeclared unknown song seemed like an odd choice that meant the energy tapered out a lot earlier than it would have with a more popular choice. Finishing with ‘I Want Out’ was an obvious decision that got the energy back up quite a bit – especially during vocalist Gustav Wood getting the crowd to crouch down to then bounce back up, which worked on a massive section of the front of the audience – but it didn’t seem to be able to recapture the excitement that was thrumming throughout the crowd at the beginning, and I couldn’t help but find myself wondering if the set would have been more successful with the inclusion of ‘You Are Not’ or ‘Dearly Departed’, both songs that received amazing reactions at Reading Festival and could have incited brilliant crowd responses in an environment like Wembley.
Towers (On My Way)
Hymn For All I’ve Lost
I Want Out
However, the complete opposite can be said for Bring Me The Horizon. I’ve seen them once before, last year, and I couldn’t help but notice how much more passionate and committed vocalist Oli Sykes seemed to be to the performance. Bursting out on to stage with ‘Shadow Moses’, the entire crowd erupted into action, screaming back the lyrics “This is Sempiternal” with a vigour that was completely deserved at the final show in this albums touring cycle. It’s hardly debated that ‘Sempiternal’ is the best album Bring Me The Horizon have ever released, with them finally finding a middle ground between screaming and singing that has enabled them to start to take over the mainstream in a way that could not have been imagined at the time that they were releasing ‘Count Your Blessings’, and it couldn’t have happened to a more hard working band. They’ve faced their difficulties, with the respective departures of Curtis Ward and Jona Weinhofen and the accusation of Oli peeing on a fan peppered with issues with drugs and depression, but it’s this show and the culmination of all that they’ve done with ‘Sempiternal’ that states unquestionably that Bring Me The Horizon are in a better place than they’ve ever been before, and that place is leading them directly to world domination.
I understand that many people don’t like Bring Me The Horizon, but when the DVD of this show is released in March I will dare any of you to watch it and not feel even slightly impressed. The enthusiasm and dedication emanating from every pore of Oli’s body is palpable, with him spending more time singing and screaming on his knees to the crowd than he does stood up. The crowd is eating out of the palm of his hand in a way that not many frontmen can boast to achieve, and managing to get at least a thousand people to sit down on the floor during ‘Chelsea Smile’ to then jump up and mosh like crazy was astounding to watch. I had seating tickets and at times I found myself watching the crowd rather than the stage, because seeing four consecutive circle pits maintaining themselves for a good ten or so minutes is a sight I’ve never seen before and most likely won’t ever see again. The audience was receptive and responsive to every request, performing multiple wall of deaths, and it’s a credit to Oli that he can ask for anything and get it unquestioningly.
The two main highlights of the evening were the performance of ‘Pray For Plagues’ featuring ex-guitarist Curtis Ward, and the second ever live performance of ‘Drown’, their recent single which has one of the coolest music videos Bring Me The Horizon have ever released. After performing ‘Pray For Plagues’ with Curtis at their Camden Underworld warm-up show a couple of days prior, I wasn’t so surprised by his appearance, but it was amazing to see the original line-up performing in a way that they haven’t for the last three years (and it was really sweet at the end of the show that, while taking a group photo with the crowd in the background, Oli called Curtis back on stage so that he could join them on the photo, pictured above). I also thought it was extremely respectful of newest addition Jordan Fish to vacate the stage for those few minutes, letting the original line-up have their moment in a way that was nostalgic and an amazing celebration of what five boys from Sheffield managed to create. Similarly, ‘Drown’ also felt like a massive celebration – ‘Sempiternal’ as an album was so far removed from anything that Bring Me The Horizon had released in the past, and the fact that ‘Drown’ possibly includes more singing than any of their other songs, ever, shows that even though their style is changing and some people are accusing them of selling out, their core fans are embracing the change in a way that fills me with warmth. If someone didn’t know, and they had witnessed this live show without knowing that ‘Drown’ had only been out for a matter of weeks, I genuinely think people would believe it was one of their older songs, because the response was effusive and impressive.
Bring Me The Horizon can craft a setlist in a way that many other bands can’t. This show was a brilliant run through of their greatest hits, playing an older song that people had been begging for for years but also managing to squeeze in the majority of ‘Sempiternal’ and a good selection of songs off of both ‘Suicide Season’ and ‘There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let’s Keep It A Secret’ respectively. Choosing to introduce ‘Hospital For Souls’ into this playlist was a stroke of genius that most bands wouldn’t even consider, and using it as the first song in the encore was inspired – despite the fact that this was only the second time it was ever played live the crowd loved the inclusion of it, and Oli’s violently impassioned screaming of the words “Hold me close, don’t let go, watch me burn” at the end of the song gave me goosebumps in a way I hardly ever experience live.
I can’t endorse a Bring Me The Horizon live show more. All of the singalongs are amazing, musically they are one of the tightest bands in a live environment, and the inclusion of intros and outros to segue the songs into one another both makes the set feel effortlessly crafted and shows off Jordan’s in a way that is subtle but note worthy. I don’t care what bad things you’ve heard about Bring Me The Horizon in the past, because ‘Sempiternal’ was a new chapter in their careers, and with this being the show that closes that chapter, I cannot wait to see what they do with the next one.
Go To Hell For Heaven’s Sake
House of Wolves
Diamonds Aren’t Forever
It Never Ends
…And The Snakes Start To Sing
Empire (Let Them Sing)
Pray For Plagues
Blessed With A Curse
Hospital For Souls
Can You Feel My Heart?