Asking Alexandria with support from Motionless In White and While She Sleeps
Wednesday 16th January 2013 – Mandela Hall, Belfast
The hormone-laden excitement of the youthful crowd hangs thick in the air as all eyes remain fixed on the ominously lit stage. Even roadie appearances incite squeals of ecstasy/agony. The fact that tonight is sold out, coupled with the anticipation in the room, suggests that Pennysylvanian metalcore misfits Motionless In White are a huge draw for this young crowd. If all goes well tonight they could be a position to come back as headliners, so there is a lot riding on this gig. The lights dip, the industrial-sounding intro begins – cue the screams and moshpits! MIW charge onto the stage, men on a mission. Vocalist Chris bellows a welcome before the band steam into ‘If It’s Dead, We’ll Kill It’. Chris snarls and roars the aggressive, pained lyrics. He immediately engages the crowd, shouting, “make some noise for me!”, and grinning delightedly at the response. The band is a polished, unified entity, with Chris as Messianic leader. He constantly addresses the crowd (referring often to Belfast – nice touch), and his habit of constantly, fussily, smoothing down his hair is rather endearing. MIW are a rather incongruous prospect; they look like Black Veil Bride’s meaner older brothers, write lyrics charged with pain and rage, and roar and snap like a rabid dog. Somehow though, it all works. Watching them give their all during final song ‘Devil’s Night’, one gets the distinct impression that this is a band on the rise and making their mark in their own exciting way.
While She Sleeps are more established, particularly in the UK, but you’ll see no complacency tonight! Introduced by a wailing siren, they fire straight into ‘Until the Death’ and pour everything into their performance. Singer ‘Loz’ Taylor in particular is like a man possessed, disappearing under a sheaf of hair whilst headbanging like it’s an Olympic sport, pointing at and eyeballing the crowd, outlined against an apocalyptic background of lights and dry ice. He belts out every number like it’s his last, and is in VERY fine form tonight. His unique voice sounds like 2 voices harmonising, a la Janis Joplin; it’s very pleasing to the ear. Whether he is singing or barking at the crowd in that Sheffield accent – demanding a wall of death, telling people who know the words to “get the fuck to the front”. Crowd favourites ‘Our Courage, Our Cancer’ and of course ‘This Is The Six’ sound amazing, as well as lesser known tracks such as ‘Seven Hills’ and ‘Trophies’. Old fans were delighted; new fans were undoubtedly created. It was a triumphant set, marred only by the fact that it was too short! Headline tour next, yeah guys?
Headliners Asking Alexandria have had a wild ride since their formation. Their ‘sex, drugs, rock n roll’ lifestyle has overshadowed their music really. With vocalist Danny Worsnop now clean, it’s time to see if the music can endure the scrutiny! Sauntering onstage like returning champs, the band launch into ‘Closure’, a crowd-pleasing track if ever there’s been one, all ‘woah-oh’ choruses and party lyrics. Danny looks…rather scruffy actually, and a bit knackered. His well-documented recent vocal problems are evident tonight, as he struggles with strength and the higher notes, having more success with the growled vocals. Nonetheless, the show is slick and well-rehearsed (Danny: “we’ve been doing this shit for four years!”), with standard stage banter and obligatory sexual content (Danny gyrating, a bra hanging from the mike stand).
Their hour and a quarter long set contains a good mix of songs from 2009’s Stand Up and Scream (‘Not the American Average’, ‘A Prophecy’), and 2011’s Reckless and Relentless (‘To the Stage’, ‘Breathless’). They even introduce a new, unnamed track, which causes much excitement. Interestingly, in sounds quite similar to tourmates WSS, indicating a possible less sleaze-rock direction for the band? The obligatory ‘Final Episode’ encore is slightly spoiled by the band NOT singing the ‘Oh. My. GOD!’ section. Apart from that, it and ‘To The Stage’, their most technically competent song, were the most well received. In all, a reasonably successful outing for AA. The fans went home happy, they got to hear a new song…all good! One gets the impression though that, unlike MIW and WSS, they did not recruit any new fans. Worsnop seemed strangely unenthusiastic, the set was a bit formulaic, the songs a bit same-y…perhaps they need to just rest and (ironically) get their mojo back. It would be a shame if their cleaner lifestyle prompts the demise of Asking Alexandria.