It had been a year and half since I had last seen Bring Me The Horizon (at Download festival in 2014). Since then the band has undergone a considerable metamorphosis. The change had already begun when the band replaced their outgoing rhythm guitarist Jona Weinhofen with keyboard and synths player Jordan Fish in 2012, culminating in more electronically driven Sempiternal in 2013. With 2015’s release of That’s The spirit the revolution was complete. I was intrigued on the night, not entirely sure of what to expect.
That’s The Spirit is fantastic, as every record they’ve released before has been, but similar to many others I worried frontman Oli Sykes wouldn’t be able to replicate the album’s singing, given a couple of years ago he exclusively dealt in death growls. I should have known better though, as previous to every other time I have seen the band live there have been question marks over Oli’s vocals and every time he has delivered. There was absolutely no whiff of the backing track that some people detected at Reading and Leeds and his singing had clearly improved immensely since the last time I had watched him perform tracks like ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ and ‘Sleepwalking’ live. I would even go as far to say that this was the most musically tight that I had seen the whole band, testament to their professionalism and drive to improve after nearly 12 years as a band.
On the night they were too big for the O2 in Birmingham, which sounds ridiculous, given its 3000 person capacity, but it was ludicrously tight for space inside the venue. I’m fairly certain that it was oversold or that people had gained entry illicitly as it was by far the more crammed and close up that venue has ever been when sold out. It was special seeing them in, what is now for them, a small venue again, after seeing them play Koko in Camden nearly three years ago. Bring Me have been big business for a while now, drawing huge crowds at their festival sets for quite some time. They have now reached the point as a band where a stadium tour is more necessary than it is presumptuous.
This was the most musically tight that I had seen the whole band, testament to their professionalism and drive to improve after nearly 12 years as a band
Their two latest albums, despite being less heavy, have a bigger sound live, due to the absolutely massive production on them, meaning that their new set-list suites bigger venues too. This is not to say that the new set-list is entirely popular with Bring Me’s long term fans, who miss hearing the bands older heavier songs live. Granted, I was disappointed to hear only one track off of Suicide Season and There Is a Hell…¸ but even without those mosh anthems the crowd was plenty rowdy enough. However with only eleven songs on the main set-list and two for the encore the set felt short. Similar to the fact that they should be rocking stadiums, they need to bring a proper headliner set-list.
Bring Me perhaps needed to bring more ambition to their set-list, as the choices were safe. The set-list was an equal amalgamation of singles and popular tracks from That’s The Spirit and Sempiternal, showing that the band still respect how much their 2013 album did for their reputation. All their [slightly] older stuff still sounds as energetic and brilliant as when I first heard it live, really getting the crowd going. That said, my personal favourite of the night was ‘Throne’ off the latest album which was absolutely incredible live, the chorus is a belter and landing right in the middle of the set it helped to keep the energy up till the end. ‘Drown’ similarly was awesome to hear live for the first time, capped off entertainingly by a confetti shower, being their last song of the night.
Granted, I was disappointed to hear only one track off of Suicide Season and There Is a Hell…¸ but even without those mosh anthems the crowd was plenty rowdy enough
Bring Me should be given credit for showing ambition with their stage-show. Whilst the smoke plumes and the huge LED display behind the band were simple, they added a lot to the atmosphere and brought a lot more than the bog-standard light show most bands use these days. Combined with a confetti shower, they were onto a winner. Whilst not a deluge of effects, this gives me confidence that they would have some fun with their stage setup should they go on that stadium tour.
Neck Deep were sole supports for the evening and they did a solid job. I didn’t know much about them before the gig but they got the crowd going and I can see why they’re considered by some as the next big thing in pop punk. Neck Deep were a good call for tapping into Bring Me’s ever-growing and diversifying fan-base. This decision embraced the changes the band has gone through and clearly appealed to most punters as a strong double bill.
To wrap it all up, Bring Me have seemingly irreversibly changed, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see some of my favourite songs live again. Yet their live show just keeps getting tighter and better, making for an excellent night and I definitely want to see Bring Me live again and preferably sooner rather than later!