It wouldn’t be too surprising if black foxxes find themselves at this level after a couple of albums. At this early stage in their career a few of their songs sounded the same, but when they have a few releases under their belt that will cease to be a problem.
That being said, they still had a nice range of styles weaved throughout their set, from ‘Waking Up’ with its Royal Blood-esque vibe and strong vocal performance, to ‘Whatever Lets You Cope’ which started off stripped back but quickly kicked itself up to high gear.
New song ‘Saela’ was the highlight of the set, and points towards impressive things in their future. It’s atmospheric, well-suited to the grand halls of Alexandra Palace, and will work perfectly on the festival circuit (making them ones to watch at Slam Dunk festival next month).
The only song that didn’t seem to fit in their set was ‘River’, the first song that the band wrote together “in a scout hut in Plymouth, which is a shithole”. With an echoing vocal reminiscent of Deftones is should have been hauntingly beautiful, but instead just sounded bland.
Closing with the title track of the album, they made the most of their last few minutes on stage by playing around with feedback, Mark swaggering across stage oozing the confidence that will one day make them the perfect headline band. Despite the disinterest in the start of their set, the crowd were screaming for them by the end: black foxxes definitely made their mark at this show.
Tonight Alive haven’t been back to the UK since their appearance at Reading and Leeds festival last year, but they’ve been busy. Having recently been signed to Hopeless Records, the Australian five-piece are writing the songs that will make their fourth full-length album, the first of which – ‘World Away’ – received its live debut on this tour.
Introducing the song with a piece of powerful spoken word poetry (“We are easier to manipulate if we believe that we are weak. It’s easier to sell us things if our lives are incomplete”) which changed the vibe of the proceedings, it’s obvious that Tonight Alive are not toning down the outspoken and inspirational attitude they honed while touring third album ‘Limitless’. As for the song itself, ‘World Away’ isn’t just catchy as heck – it’s a battle cry. If this had been a headline show it would have received a better reaction, but a surprisingly large chunk of the crowd already knew every word despite the fact that it was released just over a week before this show.
Vocalist Jenna McDougall isn’t afraid to make a statement, whether by wearing wings on stage (at earlier shows on the tour) or announcing that Tonight Alive “stand for personal power and emotional freedom”. She made the most of every moment, making people throw their horns in the air if they’d seen Tonight Alive before, then closing the set by encouraging everyone in the room to put their middle fingers up. With a cheeky grin on her face, she paraded up and down the stage looking over the crowd with pride: a moment I’m sure she’s never going to forget.
Tonight Alive always put on a hell of a show. Their choice of setlist was unconvincing (some of the songs are similar, so wouldn’t appeal to someone brand new to the band) but their passion for performing is a delight to watch, and it’s impossible not to have fun with them. The band return to the UK at the end of May to headline a stage at Slam Dunk festival: I think they’re going to be a highlight of the day.
The last time You Me At Six played Alexandra Palace, the show was underwhelming. They couldn’t compete with the boisterous boys in Don Broco, the songs from ‘Cavalier Youth’ were too safe to make an impact, and it felt like they just weren’t ready to move into a venue of this size.
Everything has changed with the arrival of new album ‘Night People’.
The power that they lost during their adventure into indie territory has been rediscovered. Impressive tracks ‘Spell It Out’ and ‘Swear’ are both filled with vitriolic lyrics only rivaled in their back catalogue by the ferocity of ‘Bite My Tongue’, embodying the passion that the new album has imbued them with.
The follow-up to a number one album is always going to be a make-or-break one, and it’s obvious just by watching the boys up on stage that they’ve been reinvigorated in the last three years. They no longer seem bored and complacent: they’re fighting to impress.
With vocalist Josh Franceschi roaring the repetitive bridge of ‘Spell It Out’ in the lead up to the crashing crescendo – the closest thing to a breakdown the band have released so far – it perfectly demonstrates how far they’ve come. It’s more developed than any of their other songs: instead of relying on Josh’s vocal and a catchy singalong, it’s all about the music. If there were ever any doubts about their credibility as an arena rock band, they’re all quashed in just four minutes.
Despite this being the Night People tour, they didn’t neglect their old albums. They took risks with the setlist, including old favourites ‘The Swarm’ and ‘Save It For The Bedroom’ and making this tour one of the first times they’ve represented all of their previous releases. With Josh introducing ‘Save It For The Bedroom’ by screaming “if you want a high five, let’s go back to 2005 right now!”, it was no surprise that they had a surge of crowdsurfers fighting to get closer to him and showing that there’s still so much love for their debut album despite it being almost ten years old.
With this tour the five lads from Surrey have torn up the rulebook, choosing instead to do what they want to do. Yes, all of their set staples still appeared: it wouldn’t be a You Me At Six show without ‘Underdog’, ‘Loverboy’ and ‘Reckless’, but this was the least predictable the band have ever been. With multi-coloured fire sparking up throughout the night and Easter jokes galore, this night was utterly unforgettable. Main set closer ‘Take On the World’ was a particular highlight: Josh took a moment to express his disgust for current US President Donald Trump, encouraging the crowd, “Don’t ever judge somebody you don’t know. Period.” before imploring, “Love who you want, endlessly. Enjoy it. Breathe it in. Think every day, ‘Fuck me, I’m lucky’, like I do when I look at my fianceé.” It was a tender moment and a beautiful tribute, and with the echoing “oh, oh, oh” chant being sang back by every person in the room as confetti rained down upon them, it was concrete proof that You Me At Six are exactly where they should be.
By the end of the set Josh was hardly able to speak to the crowd – a thirty-date tour around the UK and Europe will put a strain on even the most experienced of singers – but he shared that “this was like an injection of adrenaline”. Even though he was quite obviously struggling, he pushed himself to finish the show with a bang: ‘Room To Breathe’ has never sounded so good.
Just before headlining Wembley Arena for ‘The Final Night of Sin’ back in 2012, bassist Matt Barnes said
“Are we a pop-punk band, a pop-rock band, emo-pop-rockers? We want to be a rock band.”
It might have taken them five years, but they’ve finally nailed it.
You Me At Six are headlining the NME stage at Reading and Leeds festival this year, but it won’t be long until their name sits at the very top of the bill.