Bring me the horizon live plus support Belsonic .2016
BRING ME THE HORIZON AT BELSONIC
Belsonic, Belfast’s premier boutique festival, has a knack for putting together a lineup virtually guaranteed to have something for everyone every year: be it dance music, rock, pop or metal, they manage to cover a lot of bases every year. This year, Friday June 17th was ‘the one that mainly catered to young metalheads’ with Sheffield’s Bring Me the Horizon heading up a rather eclectic bill.
First up was smooth rockers Don Broco, who took to the stage under a dazzling canopy of blue skies and blazing sunshine. The several hundred young fans at the front immediately go mad, screaming with excitement as the band bound onstage. “Belfast! How we doing?”, greets frontman Rob Damiani. “I wanna see everyone on their feet, jumping!” The crowd instantly obey and soon the whole area is awash with youthful energy and enthusiasm as they’re swept away by the band’s inoffensive and catchy rock. The heavy use of bass guitar lends tracks like opener ‘You Wanna Know’ and ‘Automatic’ a slinky, almost reggae vibe, while Damiani’s vocals are as rich and seductive as black coffee. They end with a brash and effervescent ‘Money Power Fame’ and leave to a volley of screams, having thoroughly warmed the crowd up.
The rather ‘odd man out’ band on the bill, local rockers And So I Watch You From Afar, are next. The crowd that gather, it has to be said, are more curious than converted – ASIWYFA are not only an older band, but a largely instrumental one, too. After an atmospheric intro they launch into their opening track, which has a whiff of AC/DC to it. At times pure rock, at others expansive and almost cinematic, and filled with whirling riffs and whip-like guitar licks, ASIWYFA’s music manages to be both muscular yet emotive, even beautiful at times. The lack of lyrics to sing along to means that many of the young crowd miss that vital connection; the many who stay behind are treated to some stunning guitar work and a palpable sense of unity between the band members. With little crowd banter bar the odd quick sentence and almost no breaks between songs, theirs is an immersive set that undoubtedly wins them new fans.
An expectant crowd of several thousand gather at the stage for 9pm, and are rewarded when the house music abruptly stops, the big screen begins flashing geometrical images – culminating in Bring Me the Horizon’s umbrella logo, which raises a huge cheer. Then vocalist Oli Sykes walks out…and the crowd simply explode. “Belfast! Let’s f**king do this!”, he demands in his thick Sheffield accent, as they launch into ‘Doomed’ from their most recent album That’s the Spirit. The newer songs have a richer and more layered sound than anything they’ve done previously, but they recreate that fuller sound superbly tonight, offering up flawless renditions of tracks such as ‘Happy Song’, ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Follow You’.
Their set relies heavily on both …Spirit and prior album Sempiternal, with just two tracks from their earlier work making the setlist: ‘Chelsea Smile’ is simply a live staple by now, while encore number ‘Blessed With a Curse’ is an outstanding track and certainly fits in amongst the newer material effortlessly.
Sykes is a mesmerisingly charismatic leader: he both cajoles and chides the crowd into doing exactly what he wants them to (circle pits, sit-down-jump-up’s, bellowing singalongs) in often quite fruity language (“Pull the f**king tampon out!”, he demands just before the breakdown in ‘Chelsea Smile’), but although he may get on like a sort of profane sprite, it’s all done without overt aggression or attitude – post-drug addiction, this is a new Oli; a more humble Oli. He certainly has no problem holding the audience in the palm of his hand all night; such is the fervour of the crowd that they often threaten to drown out his vocals.
He also opens up during several short chats with the audience, explaining that ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ is a song “about depression” and thanking them most sincerely for coming and supporting them (albeit laced with more profanity!). It’s not all sweetness and light however: he still leads the crowd through the most enthusiastically received song of the night ‘Antivist’, all middle fingers and C bombs (Google it if you don’t know it!).
As the sun (and warmth) disappear behind the stunning Titanic Building , the band return for an encore that consists of ‘True Friends’, ‘Blessed With a Curse’ and an epic ‘Drown’, which leaves everyone breathless and astonished and stunned that it’s over already.
Bring Me the Horizon may have smoothed out some of the jagged edges of their music of late – they may not even be a ‘proper metal’ band anymore – but tonight proved they are certainly capable of filling three thousand odd young (and not so young) metalheads with awe and delight. Shows like this are a sort of ‘trial run’ for bands like BMTH, with the rock and metal world watching to see if they can headline festivals in the future. On the evidence presented here, the answer is a definite “oh hell yes”. Excellent choice, Belsonic.
Review by Melanie Black
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