@ Newcastle O2 Academy 2, February 7 2012

Often tagged as disposable or juvenile, metalcore has a major PR problem.

Nevertheless, the scene boasts a slew of acts that offer far more than generic mosh-fodder… and the wheat is slowly being separated from the chaff.

Step forward The Devil Wears Prada. 

With 2010’s Zombie EP and last year’s Dead Throne, the Ohio sextet laid a benchmark for quality, state-of-the-art metalcore. A huge leap forward for the band, the new material is more focused and more brutal than that found on earlier albums. The guitars are beefier, the songwriting sharper and keyboards which previously jarred now add a subtle undercurrent.

This show, a stop on The Devil Wears Prada’s first ever UK headline tour, saw them pull a very healthy crowd in from the freezing Tyneside night. And credit to them for taking two young British bands – Brotherhood of the Lake and Last Witness – on the jaunt with them.

A pity then, that these support acts, who both delivered some fine metallic hardcore, only garnered ripples of polite applause. Sadly, some of the largely youthful audience seemed more interested in comparing GHD-sculpted haircuts than appreciating the opening acts.

The Devil Wears Prada, in contrast, were greeted as heroes: choruses were sung back with gusto, circle pits raged… you get the picture.

Songs such as Dez Moines, from 2009’s With Roots Above and Branches Below, were rapturously received, with the melodic vocals of guitarist Jeremy DePoyster particularly impressive. But it was more recent work that really showed the band at their best: the opening brace of Dead Throne and Untidaled was utterly crushing, while Chicago, a dramatic slow burner, brought a welcome change of pace.

The Devil Wears Prada are committed Christians and some heartfelt words from lead vocalist Mike Hranica reinforced this: but as far as their music’s concerned, they were already preaching to the converted.

Having offered a passionate performance that brimmed with energy, they had all the hallmarks of a band on the up.

Richard Holmes