The host for the evening was Tim Lovejoy, best known for being one half of the presenting team for Sunday Brunch on Channel 4. He shared the fact that his brother died from cancer at the age of just 37 and asked the crowd if they could imagine being a teenager and going through something like that: his introduction, combined with the wonderful and uplifting footage of Teenage Cancer Trust patients and nurses shown later in the night, really brought home the real reason we were all there. Yes, it’s great to go to rock shows, but when it’s for a good cause (including all of the proceeds from merchandise sales made on the night) it means a hell of a lot more.
Teenage Cancer Trust have been putting on gigs for 16 years, and this is the first one that I’ve been able to attend, but I’m definitely going to continue supporting them in the future, and I’d suggest that you do as well.
I was overjoyed when PVRIS were announced as the opening act. I only saw their headline show in London two weeks ago, but I adore this band – I can’t get enough of them. After seeing such a long set last time, it felt strange going back to only hearing a handful of songs, but the band made the most of every moment they spent on the stage.
There’s no denying that Lynn Gunn’s voice is spectacular, but in a venue such as this it’s really elevated. Their brand of pop-infused rock was the perfect way to introduce the evening: it appeals to rock fans, but it also segues beautifully into the more polished music of the orchestra. I’d been hoping (but not expecting) that new song ‘Empty’ – from the just released deluxe edition of ‘White Noise’ – would make it into their set: I haven’t heard it yet, but seeing that there’s a harpist on the personnel list it would have been interesting to hear it in this evening.
Only a handful of bands from their genre will ever get to grace these hallowed halls, and it feels appropriate that PVRIS are one of them: their rise has been meteoric and shows no signs of slowing down, so they deserve once-in-a-lifetime moments like these. As you can see by these photos on Rock Sound’s website, the band looked so at home on the stage, and at this point you’d genuinely believe they’d been together much longer than they have, because they rise to every challenge. Festival appearances? Easy. Playing Madison Square Gardens and Alexandra Palace? No big deal. So a legendary venue like the Royal Albert Hall is just another exclusive name to add to what’s quickly become a very lengthy list.
I was surprised at the inclusion of ‘Eyelids’, but I loved the fact that the band were still surprising me. I’ve seen them as supports and at festival appearances four times in the last year, and they’ve always played six songs: it was obvious that new single ‘You and I’ was going to become one of the chosen ones, but they know that their fans appreciate all of their music so they aren’t afraid to pick and choose from the album as they feel like it.
This is the first time in 18 months that I haven’t had my next PVRIS show lined up on the horizon, so I’m feeling a little bit anxious. They’ve quickly become one of my favourite live bands, and while I know they need to take some time off to record the highly anticipated album number two, I’m already waiting for them to come back and blow me away again.
You and I
Of course, the band that everyone was waiting for was Bring Me The Horizon. The tickets for this show went on sale nearly six months ago, so it’s certainly been a long time coming: everyone wanted to know whether the band could successfully pull off something of this magnitude, or whether they would crash and burn under the pressure of the evening.
When Tim Lovejoy announced that there were going to be over sixty people on stage, I’d assumed he was joking, but seeing the orchestra and the choir file out and into position, I finally appreciated the magnitude of what was about to happen. As you can tell, I don’t normally attend shows with orchestras, so it was a first for me: I hadn’t quite realised how many bodies it took to put on an event such as this one.
Anyone who had doubts would have had them proven unfounded within the first two songs of the set. As it was a performance with an orchestra, I’d assumed that it was going to be a more subdued affair compared to the sets that I’d seen the band perform recently: I was completely incorrect. ‘Doomed’ was a wonderful opener, because it gave the opportunity for the orchestra to introduce the band and establish what we could expect from the rest of the evening, but when – halfway through ‘Happy Song’, the second track in their set – vocalist Oli Sykes screamed “It’s time for the first wall of death!”… That moment really elevated the show to another level.
Come on, how many wall of deaths do you think the Royal Albert Hall had seen before this evening?! (Speaking of which: how many times do you think “cunt” had been screamed in this venue, until the band played ‘Antivist’?! Pushing boundaries.)
I was up in the seats with quite a bird’s eye view over the stage, but it meant that as well as seeing the band in a way I never had before, I also had the chance to watch the crowd in action throughout the evening. That was certainly a sight to behold. After releasing ‘That’s The Spirit’, their most pop-influenced album to date, the audience members that you encounter at Bring Me The Horizon headline shows are often much less energetic, and the crazy moshing days of the past seemed to be over. However, due to the limited ticket numbers and the fact that this was a show for hardcore fans, the crowd didn’t stop moving the entire evening: I lost track of the number of mosh pits and wall of deaths that popped up (though there was only one incidence of a line of people sitting down and starting to “row, row, row the boat” …Yeah, I wasn’t sure either). This really felt like a Bring Me The Horizon show.
Reintroducing ‘Empire (Let Them Sing)’ and ‘It Never Ends’ to their set (playing them both for the first time since their headline show at Wembley Arena) cemented this feeling. ‘It Never Ends’ was the oldest song that they put in, which surprised me: I’d been hoping for a couple of surprising, reworked versions of songs from ‘Count Your Blessings’ or ‘Suicide Season’. It had to be included though, just for the “Take my hand, show me the way” bridge: it’s choral on the original recording, and I’ve never thought that it sounded right live, so it was good to finally experience it how it should be.
I’ve seen the band play effectively the same set four times in the past six months, so I was grateful for the change of pace and the few surprises that they included. Finally hearing ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Oh No’ live was certainly a memorable moment! Debuting songs live in an environment like this is a brave move: it makes it difficult to put the song into a set again, because it’ll be hard to surpass a first play like this! They both worked brilliantly though, particularly ‘Oh No’ as a closer. It was a surprise to hear that as the encore, as it’s normally one of the more well-known and radio released tracks, but with the “oh, oh oh, oh oh” singalong it complemented the band, the orchestra, and the crowd, who didn’t stop singing the chant even while walking down the road after the show. I’ve only had a moment like that twice before (both times with ‘Best of You’ by Foo Fighters) and if Bring Me The Horizon have something in common with legends like that? It bodes well for the future.
Compared to how busy they’ve been over the last six months, the next six months look a bit quieter for the band. With the announcement that keyboardist and programmer Jordan Fish is going to be a father (congratulations, by the way!) I think it’s about time that the band let themselves have a break: they took over the world in 2015, and it doesn’t look like their domination is going to stop any time soon. I’m seeing them again in November, when they finally headline the O2 Arena, and I’m already looking forward to experiencing another one of their sets. If you haven’t seen a Bring Me The Horizon live show, you’re missing a spectacle.
Go To Hell, For Heaven’s Sake
Avalanche (live debut)
It Never Ends
Empire (Let Them Sing)
Can You Feel My Heart?
Oh No (live debut)
The band are releasing this show on DVD (their second live DVD in twelve months!) with all of the proceeds going towards the Teenage Cancer Trust: I’d highly recommend you purchase a copy, because it’s certainly worth it. You can also see some kickass photos of their set over at Rock Sound.