The Blackout

While the music industry today is more readily accessible to teenage prodigies, it is at the same time distorted by new artists lacking the sufficient talent needed for the success they so greedily desire. It is therefore both refreshing and relieving to encounter hard working musicians with the skills and hardship to justify their dreams. _The Blackout_, by all means, belong to the latter category. Being one of three bands to sell out the 2000-capacity Astoria venue in London as unsigned artists, it is clear The Blackout have earned their following, their unbreakable reputation and their relentless success purely by their own merit. Perhaps the greatest factor in securing their longevity and popularity is the invigorating and stimulating live show which they nail repeatedly to worldwide audiences; tonight being no exception.

The slick yet overwhelmingly energetic performance that is now a trademark of _The Blackout_ is placed in a higher class of its own because of the poor, amateur efforts of the American support acts invited on tour with them. Neither opening band stylistically complemented _The Blackout_ in any way, which created a somewhat unsettling initial ambience. Opening act _Hyro Da Hero_, an artist who claims to ‘load rock ‘n’ roll attitude into explosive, engaging and enthralling rap music’, appeared to be the polar opposite to the headliners. While it is important that support acts are not merely carbon copies, _Hyro Da Hero_, was a step too far in the wrong direction. _HDH_ declares to be innovative and daring by laying hip hop rhymes over a gritty rock soundscape, but he fails to acknowledge that numerous predecessors have already set the bar high for this melange, such as _Linkin Park_ and to an extent, _Rage Against the Machine_. _HDH’s_ songs are wildly untamed and not in a raw sense which may give them a punk edge, but instead they are made up of simplistic power chords, unoriginal speedy guitar licks and topped off by the unlike-able frontman screaming “Dirty South Rock!” leaving a bitter taste.

Second support act _The Swellers_ attracted a far greater crowd reaction as they succeed almost everywhere that _HDH_ fails. Despite the fact that they have crafted their pop-punk sound through a user’s manual, it is impossible to deny their bright, uplifting, soaring guitar and vocal melodies against a pumping rhythm section. Most importantly, their professionalism, gauged well against their laid-back and spontaneous on-stage presence, got the crowd beaming excitedly and paved the way perfectly for _The Blackout’s_ impending set.

Their undeniably ground-breaking set was explosive from the comic opening of a party popper to the grand finale leaving everyone in the audience feeling like they have just witnessed one of the greatest live bands in this current decade. Opener ‘Ambition is Critical’, from latest album _Hope_, with its anthemic guitar melodies, raised the energy levels of Koko to unprecedented heights which for the rest of the show never faltered. The band then leads effortlessly into ‘Children of the Night’ with faultless precision, which encouraged the devoted fan base to match the onstage enthusiasm. In fact, the energy that _The Blackout_ triumphantly exude, throughout their set, appears almost magnetic. As they reel off undeniable hits such as ‘It’s High Tide Baby’, ‘Said and Done’ and ‘I Don’t Care’, the audience are simply drawn in closer and closer to the whirlpool riot that is _The Blackout_. Arguably, the band’s secret weapon is their dual vocalists; Sean Smith and Gavin Butler who are the ringleaders of said riot. They throw the audience’s devotion back and forth between themselves, mixed in with their teasing and playful wit, that leaves the fans without a moment to gasp for breath. Guitarists Matthew Davies and James Davies equally bounced their intricately skilled solos off each other with beauty and simplicity suggesting their art to be finely crafted. Bassist Rhys Lewis and drummer Gareth Lawrence also provided the confident, stable groundwork needed to create such a successful musical uprising.

This is an overall stellar performance from a band that not only possesses the tools for standout live performances, but uses them unremittingly. _The Blackout_ have captured the essence of their band in their song title ‘The Children of the Night’. Just as this statement suggests, they enchant audiences with a dark, brooding energy that is carefully crafted and executed, but with an overall playfulness and childish excitement that make them a joy to watch again and again.


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