Bullet For My Valentine with support from Bring Me The Horizon & Gojira
26th August 2013 – Custom House Square, Belfast
For the final evening of Belsonic 2013, Custom House Square looks rather different to its usual stark grandiosity: in honour of tonight’s metal lineup, it is awash with black. Black clothes, black hair, black eyeliner…it’s a beautiful sight! All three bands tonight have their own, quite different fanbases, so bringing them all together has resulted in a wide range of people here. But, hey! We’re metalheads. No fighting here! (Perhaps the odd disdainful look, but no fighting…)
Up first are French metal powerhouse Gojira. Returning for their first visit to these shores since 2009, their short set of just seven songs nonetheless delivers a powerful aural punch that really gets proceedings started with a bang. Their industrial-tinged metal sounds huge and just right in this grandest of settings, and the crowd duly go wild, roaring, cheering and headbanging. Vocalist Joe Duplantier establishes a good connection with the crowd early on, asking “are you with us, Belfast?” in his (sexy Gallic) accent, before they launch into set opener ‘Explosia’. They play four songs from 2012’s ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’, including a blistering rendition of the title track, and a few older numbers. Final song ‘The Gift of Guilt’, with its stomach-dropping riff, is the perfect ending to a fantastic set, and one is left to hope that Gojira will remember Belfast for their next tour.
Aaand now for something completely different…currently basking in the critical acclaim being lavished on new album ‘Sempiternal’, Sheffield’s Bring Me the Horizon have certainly created a fever pitch in this young crowd. In fact, one wonders if there will be anyone who stays behind for Bullet, such is the excitement level!
A deafening scream heralds the band’s arrival, followed by an ever louder scream for the manchild himself, Mr Oli Sykes. Looking like a teeny doll (at least from where Chordblossom was standing), he immediately clambers into the crowd for set opener ‘Sempiternal’, which sounds just stunning. Oli onstage is a restless, energetic wee sprite – albeit a rather cheeky, foulmouthed one! He commands the crowd to do his bidding (“get the f**k up”, “sit the f**k down”, “climb on someone’s shoulders!”), and beams with delight at the results.
The band rattle through a set which relies heavily on ‘Sempiternal’ (‘Got to Hell, For Heaven’s Sake’, ‘Sleepwalking’, ‘Shadow Moses’) as well as a few crowd favourites (‘Chelsea Smile’, ‘Blessed With a Curse’). In between songs, Sykes chats amiably with the crowd in his (adorable accent alert! again!) broad Sheffield brogue, asking “how we feeling Belfast?” and informing them that “you guys make me feel happy” and that this is “the best gig ever”, to their ecstatic delight.
Their metalcore grooves sit perfectly in the atmospheric setting and dying light, and apart from a few microphone issues they sound magnificent: bold, brash and flawless. They finish with the blazing ‘Antivist’ , with its snarling vocals and ‘f**k yeah’ singalong ending (not before Sykes makes someone’s night by complimenting a picture they’ve drawn of him). It’s a high energy, crowd-pleasing set.
By the time headliners Bullet For My Valentine are ready to rock, it’s fully dark. They begin with an ambitious airing of Queen’s ‘We will Rock You’, before the strains of ‘Carmina Burana’ fill the air, the stage lights go all melodramatic and Moose ambles over to his drumkit. The screams of the crowd assuredly demonstrate that plenty of people have stuck around! Then – suddenly – the band are all on-stage and blasting out latest single ‘Breaking Point’.
The band play a definite ‘fan favourite’ set, including tracks such as ‘Waking the Demon’, ‘4Words (To Choke Upon)’ and ‘’Scream Aim Fire’. Latest album ‘Temper Temper’ gets a hefty outing too.
Singer Matt Tuck has chosen to complement his new Elvis hairdo with rockstar sunglasses (possibly to shield his eyes from the normally present pyro they weren’t allowed to bring to Belfast?) and turned-up Michael Jackson jeans. Hmm…he is ably backed vocally by bassist ‘Jay’ James (more than ably in fact; James has a rich, powerful voice and a charisma all of his own). Tuck is a consummate frontman, smiling and at ease onstage and engaging well with the crowd. He informs everyone that it’s his stag do this weekend and “you’re all invited”, much to their delight. Having said that, he can at times be a bit too slick, and certainly less organic and free-spirited than Mr Sykes. He also frustratingly falls victim to the same mike problems as BMTH.
They also, rather indulgently, include both an instrumental number (‘Intro’) and a guitar solo from Padge. Surely they now have enough material that such extravagances aren’t necessary? Still, they give Belsonic another “favourite gig” speech, before launching into a strangely almost unrecognisable ‘Scream Aim Fire’ and leaving the stage.
The inevitable encore duly arrives as the band literally JUMP back onstage for the ‘one, two punch’ of ‘Pleasure and Pain’ and set highlight ‘Tears Don’t Fall’. The rest of the set was admirable but strangely underwhelming and clocked in at a very compact 1hr 10mins. A bit more enthusiasm and ‘oomph’ wouldn’t have gone astray to be honest…less ‘We Will Rock You’, more ‘We’re Alright’.