@ Middlesbrough The Empire, October 13 2015
On paper, the Coldrain/While She Sleeps/Bullet For My Valentine triple-header should have been a barnstormer. And it was right in my back yard as well. Middlesbrough – hardly a hive of live music – finally had a show to put on that could really do well with numbers through the door. To that extent it succeeded. But a barnstormer from the bands? More like a damp squib.
Coldrain first. On record they sound fantastic, technically they were outstanding, but crowd engagement? Nope. I’ll be filing this lot in the ‘metalcore by numbers’ category.
Onto WSS and arguably one of the bands I’ve most wanted to watch in 2015. There’s a massive industry buzz around new album Brainwashed and it’s full credit to Loz that he has recovered successfully from throat surgery to put on a performance like this night after night.
‘Have you heard about this band?’ the security guard asked? ‘They go into the crowd a lot, so be careful you don’t get hit.”
‘Yeah I’ve heard of them. And hit ? I’ll be going in the crowd with them mate.’
And so I did. Less than halfway through second song This Is Yhe Six, I dived off after Loz as he jumped over the photo pit, onto the barrier and into the punters. It was epic stuff – only beaten by the stage dive from the balcony later on.
This is a band that gets it. They do not stand still on stage and they pummel the audience into becoming their new best friends. THIS is how you want live music.
Which brings me to Bullet. A band that has headlined the biggest venues of all with pyro blasting and hair whips ahoy, and with an album that should have arguably notched them a number one earlier this year. Venom made up most of the set.
And so it should. It’s a very, very good return to form and utterly eclipses the terrible Temper Temper. With Moose stating on record that album ‘failed miserably’ and with Matt Tuck rolling out desires to still headline Download, I was expecting…something.
I felt like I got nothing. The band came on looking calm and focused – fair enough. They’d billed this as an ‘intimate’ tour but the reality of the situation is that this is probably closer to their level.
Some shows like this were late sell-outs and the crowd were insatiable. Mosh pits, sweat off the ceiling, pick any cliche you like – the Empire had it in abundance at crowd level. Singalong anthems, huge choruses? Yep, the songs were there. Sadly, the band weren’t.
New boy Jamie Mathias aside, the band simply did not give the impression of caring one jot. Tuck, donning his backwards cap, very rarely moved from the mic stand. There was no energy, there was no fire, no passion. It’s there for them to take if they want it, but on this form they just don’t.
I wondered if this show was a one off. Maybe I’d caught them on a bad night? I’ve searched around and some people say their backdrop on stage is very ‘nice’. It’s really ‘nice’ they are playing smaller venues. It’s very ‘nice’ that they got an extended guitar solo from Moose.
But I don’t want ‘nice’. I want to be entertained. The irony is when they attempted something different – the clean, solo start to Fever for instance – it was absolutely glorious.
At this level, ‘nice’ is perfectly fine. But BFMV owe themselves more than that. ‘Nice’ isn’t going to get them back up to arenas. This is a crossroads, and they need to make up their mind which way they are heading.