Kerrang! Tour, 17th February 2012.
New Found Glory/The Blackout/Letlive/While She Sleeps.
Several integral factors must come together to make a truly perfect, memorable show. Firstly, an atmospheric venue steeped in history. The decision to stage the anchor leg of the 2012 Kerrang! Tour within the walls of North London’s iconic Roundhouse was a stroke of genius by the booking boffins in charge of promoting a tour that, in all reality, requires very little in the way of promotion at all.
The recently renovated venue boasts fantastic sight lines, wonderful amenities and world class sound while not jeopardising the history that oozes from its bricks. Secondly, wall to wall rock solid bands covering the bill.
This sounds like an obvious one but with tonight’s openers Sheffield’s newest shitkickers While She Sleeps, the ethereal Letlive., Welsh boyos The Blackout and pop punk stalwarts and evergreen headliners New Found Glory, for any ticket holders in attendance it is clear from the moment you walk in the door there will be little time to catch your breath, let alone take five and go to the bar. The third factor is of course the audience. Bright, loud and together holding the pop punk and post hardcore banners high above the London skyline. This is their last chance to dance before the amps and lighting rigs are packed into their cases and the doors are closed on another world class Kerrang! Tour.
Over the last year, the momentum of While She Sleeps has been seemingly unstoppable. The last time While She Sleeps descended upon the Capital the Camden underworld was witness to a truly career defining headline show. Now just a few short months later a trip up Camden High Street to the comparatively Gargantuan Roundhouse is on the cards. While She Sleeps have an intensely loyal fan base, out in force emblazoned with the WSS logo. The band seems settled and content on the large stage and pro circuit. The dual vocals coming from guttural Lawrence Taylor and guitarist Matt Welsh stir the early evening crowd up admirably. ‘The North Stands For Nothing’ and ‘Be(lie)ve’ are particularly memorable and epitomise the dark and industrial metalcore sound which Sheffield is becoming famous for. While She Sleeps throw down gigantic breakdowns mixed with crunchy and upsetting dischord and knock the show out of the park. The performance is all substance and acres of heart, undaunted by the scale of the show breathing new life into British metalcore and ensuring all faces are suitably melted before they have left the stage. [4/5]
Letlive. Are the best live band in the world at the moment. If it was mathematically possible to give 6/5 I would. Spectacular. Letlive sound like a post apocalyptic jazz quintet or the mutated conglomeration of the heaviest Norma Jean riffs with the heart and soul of Glassjaw. The texture of their sound is light years ahead of other bands attempting the similar and no one can touch them on the stage.
Vocalist Jason Aalen Butler re defines the position as the show goes on, it is tantamount to his performance that a full time ‘handler’ needs to be on stage throughout the set to untangle mic cables from the audience and clear up the path of destruction left in Butlers wake. His vocal style combines Daryl Palumbo perfect pitch with the raw, visceral moves of Frank Carter. Even with these general comparisons one still comes up short. He spends more time climbing speaker stacks, in the pit, writhing on stage or inside a metal dustbin than centre stage. Their opener ‘Le Prologue’ tears the room in two before the bone shatteringly colossal ‘The Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion’ riff kicks in. Thirty seconds into the show and Butler is in the pit, despite this every word is audible from the baying crowd.
Lurking under the radar for years letlive have largely been somewhat average until Fake History, their latest record, was released. Fake History is a masterpiece worthy to stand next to the Worship and Tributes and Relationship of Commands of this world as genre staples. Muther is letlive’s most audacious and progressive track which fills the room with rich and intense intersecting lines while the sea of clenched fists dance with a purity seldom seen. There is no rock posturing, no out of the box rehearsed stage moves from letlive. It is cathartic, beat, stream of consciousness music. As the set comes to an end a stage of smashed equipment and a gallon of sweat is all that is left. A truly classic show and one that will be impossible to forget. [5/5]
I would hate to be the band that follows letlive. The Blackout notably came off the bench to substitute in for Sum 41 who were forced to cancel the tour so right off the bat The Blackout have something to prove. The booking of this band was a stroke of genius from the Kerrang chaps as it bridges the gap between letlive and New Found Glory perfectly with an all together more relevant band. After all, who wants to sit and wait half an hour before you hear Sum 41 play Fat Lip (covered by The Blackout) for the billionth time? Unfazed by the bands before, The Blackout put in a tremendously positive set. They stick to their game plan, a tight set steeped in humility and a great sense of humour. The double headed vocalist is something seldom pulled off well but Shaun Smith and Gavin Butler put in the hours and know their craft and put on a great show for the extremely vocal crowd who lap up the extremely infectious emo pop. Welsh bands have always been ace at creating such special live atmospheres and The Blackout are no different, The volume of voices for ‘Higher and Higher’ was deafening. However, the seemingly by the numbers stage moves and impeccable haircuts detract slightly from their set due to the previous two bands rawness. Songs such as ‘The Storm’ have great pace but no great live hook, it all feels very predictable, enjoyed intensely by half the crowd and completely forgotten by the rest. [3/5]
What can be written about New Found Glory that has not been written before? The scene veterans have been around the block a few times and their live show screams experience. A set pushing nearly 20 songs in such a short period of time spans the decades from 2002’s ‘Dressed to Kill’ right up to the present day with ‘Radiosurgery’. The set is blitzed through at a wonderful pace and keeps the haggard bearded dudes at the back as happy as the kids in the front row getting the pop punk virus for the first time. ‘All Down Hill from Here’ is a wonderful opener and shows that the band now into its fifteenth year is still brimming with energy.
New Found Glory are known for busting out the crowd pleasing covers on the road and tonight was to be no different. ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ leaves a few younger faces a little confused but the grin inducing cover of Green Days ‘Basket case’ has Camden in fine voice. A New Found Glory show is all about fun and a level of childlike delight, a chance to cut loose and just have a great time, pure and simple. The band knows what they do and they do it well and tonight was no different. [4/5]
It is always somewhat bittersweet seeing the last night of a tour and the final stage invasion of the other bands and audience alike in Camden was no exception. These musicians have spilled pint after pint of blood for fans every night up and down the UK. ‘My Friends over You’ shows the relief that it is over and a desire for it to never end. For the audience the latter is definitely the case.
Now off! Last trains are calling, tour buses and after parties and a well deserved rest for everyone involved, ticket holders to front men, bar staff to bouncers. That was one of the best shows of the year!