I’ve been to two gigs this week, that seem polar opposites on first inspection. On Tuesday I attended a concert at the O2 with my family. We would be enjoying 60 years of music by Maestro Ennio Morricone, one of my favourtie film composers (alongside Dario Marianelli, Aaron Zigman, Hans Zimmer). As predicted, my sight became restricted by a regular influx of tears, courtesy of the likes of Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission, and Once Upon A Time in America – even the moments lacking in sadness had me welling purely because the harmonies were just so joyous. A live orchestra and choir, and the swell of strings in particular, doesn’t just yank my heartstrings, it results in it needing to be completely re-strung.
As I sat there, with my heart hurting in that good way, I coudln’t help but ponder what Bring Me The Horizon’s show at The Albert Hall would be like. Their music already has the ability to make you feel impassioned, riled, vitriolic – combine that with that extra emotive element of soaring strings….well, I think it’s going to be pretty unforgettable (damn me not getting a ticket). As I write this, I notice Jordan Fish post on Instagram, an image featuring a glimpse at some very complex staves. For any doubters that people in rock/metal realms aren’t ‘proper’ musicians, I think this will act as a sufficient muter.
Another link as I listened to Ennio’s unforgettable musical legacy, was the cinematic aspect, the ability to create mood, atmosphere, tension. When I first listened to BMTH latest album, ‘That’s the Spirit’, in a little meeting room before our interview, there were more than a few moments, intros, interludes and undercurrents, that made me conjur up moving images to accompany. They took part in Zane Lowe’s risky Drive soundtrack experiment, but I’d love to see them delve into film scores and soundtracks some more, because I believe they’d be able to deliver such scene enhancing soundscapes. They wouldn’t be the first to make the crossover, Trent Reznor’s certainly done ok out of it!
So back to the point of this article. I was lucky enough to be able to attend their intimate (by their standards) show at Electric Brixton, a gig in associated with The Brits and War Child. The night prior they’d performed at the NME Awards…well, I think by now, we all know what happened there.For those that quite sensibly avoid social media and contemporary culture, in brief, vocalist Oli stood on/broke Coldplay’s table during a performance of Happy Song. Hysterical reactions ensued.
I’m not going to pretend I know the guys well enough to know how they tick, or how their decision processes work. However, they are a band that has found longevity in a climate of music where sustainability is hard. Their ability to get bigger and better proves they not only have the musical prowess, but also the knowledge of how to use the ever changing music industry landscape to their advantage. Using the adaptations, in a way that is befitting the band ethos, and using it artfully propell them even further (with integrity).
In short, they’re intelligent guys, and probably extremely savvy, as are their team.
Incorporating one of the biggest bands in the world (Coldplay) and a devisive band that many people dislike, in the same way that people have issue with school prefects (and Bono), well… it’s a great strategy.
( According to the latest interview I’ve read it wasn’t planned out, so it’s just a ruddy brilliant case of spontaneous decision making. )
Who comes up when you search NME Awards 2016? Who/What will be remembered and churned out whenever there is a flashback article/video about the NME Awards? Think how many people search for Coldplay paraphernaila in a day, who will now come across BMTH….Well done Bring Me, well done.
Bring Me The Horizon’s latest album did incredibly well. But, with any band that evolves, or switches up their style in some way, there will be a mass of people longing for the ‘old sound’. Apparently to many so called music fans, having pop sensabilities, catchy melodies, and soft vocals can make you a ‘pussy’…who knew? This reaction is far more prevelent when you see a band renowned for riffs, breakdowns, ‘heavy elements’, or being ‘alternative’, start to feature more mainstream attributes.
This event was a great platform for the band to say, ‘Oi, we’re still us, we can still eff things up’. NME has, by many, been viewed as a frenemy of the metal/alt world, and I’m sure some die hard BMTH fans would have questioned the bands decision to attend and in turn support the publication. By causing a ruckus, and by bringing some metal attitude to the awards, they are acknowleding the fact that they sort of an anomoly in the room, but also letting their fans know they know where they came from and that they won’t ever forget it.
To all those commenters who were blasting Oli for his behaviour, lets get real. It was a table, and a few drinks. If you really put it in persepctive it’s not exactly the most shocking thing you’ve ever seen. He was performing, and you should always try and make a performance memorable, create a ‘moment.’ Coldplay appeared to be amused during the hoo haa too. I certainly don’t think it ruined their night (but if it did, you may suggest they need to man up a bit and get in to the spirit). Also a lot of reactions have been created due to speculation regarding what drove Oli to do it. I highly doubt publications like the Daily Mail and The Sun are going to offering accurate insight into this, so why people are letting their ‘quotes’ or imagined truths dictate opinion on the event is boggling.
It has become somewhat cool to proclaim how much you hate Coldplay, citing the words bland or boring when reasoning. I’m far too long in tooth to pretend to like/dislike a band to enhance my non existent image, so I’ll say here that I think they’re great (at what they do). I’ve loved a number of their tracks over the years – Politik has the Morricone wobbly chin effect on me – and I’ve even seem them live. So there’s no anti Coldplay vibes in this feature. My appreciation for what they create doesn’t diminish my appreciation for BMTH’s music and their fun move at the NME’s. On a side note why do us Brits love to detract from our success stories. Do we think it will bring them back to earth because we favour self deprecation, or do we find it easier to support the underdog….worthy of a debate I reckon.
But the over-reaction to this event, only serves to draw attention to how boring and stale the music industry has become. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m an old fart, and that getting nostalgic and lamenting about how good everything used to be has become a ferquent past time, but I’m sure there used to be more colour, character, opinion, shock and debate, from musicians of the past.
I don’t want something like this to be deemed shocking. So thank you BMTH, for reminding rock bands that it’s ok to act rock and roll too….
Wow, I didn’t know I had so much to say about it…..Let’s get back to this week’s Electric Brixton gig.
After the aforementioned events, and the resulting amount of fuss, we were almost expecting a lacklustre show. Afterall. you’d completely forgive the band for feeling less than prime ahead of the peformance.
They opened with the ‘Doomed’, the first track of their latest album, which is also one of my personal favourites. This song perfectly backs up my previous comment regarding their cinemeatic sound. The breaths and groans at the beginning instantly drawing horror film comparisons. The verse also has a momentum which builds suspense, even nerves, like something big is about to happen. It does…the chorus. You can’t help but risk your vocal chords when Oli’s more raspy vocals kick in. The use of dynamics and contrast between soft and hardened vocals is partcularly effective in this track. A steller start to a gig….
Happy Song follows, which will now hold some association to ‘that moment’. Those cheerleader chants at the beginning seem so iconic you can’t believe we’ve only had this song in our lives since last year.
Go To Hell for Heavens Sake starts, and it dawns on just how many classic songs, and new favourites they have to pick from when curating a set list. With a catalogue as weighty in anthems as theirs, it would be nigh on impossible to put together a bad list. What a nice position to be in, but it must make the task a daunting one. House of Wolves follows and continues the crowd momentum, with Oli encouraging a circle pit.
The chaos is now interrupted by a little bit or romance. Follow You get’s its first ever live outing, which makes the crowd jubilent but mellow. The shout-out to his lovely wife Hannah, makes even the hardened metal heads go a bit mushy. The love song serves as sweet breather between the two gnarlier songs flanking it.
Chelsea Smile takes things back to that hefty notch again. I always think of that Warped Tour video when I hear this track, and that guy the camera zooms in on who is chanting the lyrics with such gusto. Even from my seat I was giving it some attitude…I’m starting feel like that embarrassing parent that thinks she’s still ‘down with the kids’ though. During the quiet interlude of graning guitars before it builds into the last hoorah Oli spoke to the crowd insisting they ‘sit the fuck down’ so they can rise and rampage for the last part.
I will admit to the fact that I haven’t been a fan of BMTH’s music since the beginning. In part because I am a bit of an anomoly within my close friendship group with my love of heavier music, so I was never introduced to bands/songs by friends. I’d often have to seek it out and disover myself. I remember hearing some songs from ‘There is a Hell…’ and thinking it was something I could get on board with. The release of Sempiternal cemented this opinion firmly, Shadow Moses being my favourite. I think that album confirmed that they were willing to take risks, but maintain enough balance in their musical elements that it wouldn’t be still be embraced by the alt community/scene.
Songs like this, that allow me to feel like I’m venting and unlelashing some sort of pent up venom, while also delivering a sequence or melody I can sing along to, are my perfect formula. Another single from the same album, comes with Sleepwalking – another firm fan favourite.
True Friends is the fist pumper of the set list. I think the topic of this song is extremely relateble to a lot of people so there’s a lot of enthisiatic and hardy arm thrusts and crunching of hands at this point.
Can You Feel my Heart is preceded by a shoutout to their management team. Then the relentless momentum of Throne creates one of the bounciest crowd movements of the night. Another song made for a live setting, and one which works incredibly well with the backdrop of perfectly timed screen edits.
Blessed with a Curse was Lee Malia’s time to shine, scrap that he almost glittered….but in a manly way of course. That guitar sang, it was beautifully haunting.
Drown, a song which was created with their Wembley sized performance in mind, served as the perfect outro to the night. They certainly managed to construct a song incredibly condusive to uniting a crowd in vocal participation. The way the song ends, with all focus on Oli’s lyric also creates the perfect climatic punctuation, although on this occasion the crowd were allowed to have the last word.
I was sad not to hear Avalanche, but that’s just a personal preference thing. No one set list is going to be perfect for everyone’s tastes, but with their back catalogue it’s now impossible for them to put together a bad one.
The band have now set a precedent for production, so even in these smaller venues we expect cool screen visuals, kinetic lighting and more than a few shots of CO2. BMTH, Slipknot and Enter Shikari are at the helm of these sorts of theatrics. So while other bands play catch up, I wonder how they will up the ante for their next album’s shows. How can they elevate it even further…it’s a challenge for sure.
Much like my evening at The Hippodrome, we all left the venue wondering how many more times we’d be able to see the guys in a venue of this size. I’m sure there will be instances and occasions where they’ll perform in more compact spaces, but as their domination continues to the likelyhood of us being there to witness the spectacle will sadly diminish. Bloody great to see a UK band of this nature being able to command and master in such a way, which will hopefully lead the way for many more acts.
I’m so excited not just for the band, but for UK rock, to see where they dare to go next.
P.S Before anyone else feels compelled to tell me how crap my photos are, don’t trouble yourself, I am fully aware. I was just using my little cutie LUMIXGM1 and trying to get what I could from the balcony. I thought I’d still post as some of the colour combinations, and lights/smoke make for some interesting images, to me at least.