Black Veil Brides + D.R.U.G.S + Reckless Love
Leeds O2 Academy
By George Osborne
The atmosphere surrounding the academy in central Leeds is electric tonight. The dedication of the fans (at least one in three is wearing copycat BVB makeup) is quite startling, and reminiscent of those who followed My Chemical Romance at the beginning of their career, or the masses who pined for Aiden at the peak of their fame. Either way, the expectations are sky high, and the band will have to deliver.
It is slightly worrying then that the first band, RECKLESS LOVE [4/10] go down like a lead balloon. Whilst they manage to instigate two clap-alongs in their 30 minute set, they largely fail to impress. The thing with modern hair metal is that it has to be ridiculously over the top (e.g. The Darkness, Airbourne) to differentiate itself from the bloated first ride that was the 1980s. However Reckless Love just don’t quite put themselves out there enough, and frontman Olli Herman comes off as arrogant and preening rather than confident and strutting.
Of course the most important thing is the music, and unfortunately this is where they are most lacking – it really is quite basic, and lacks any sort of invention or ingenuity.
Stodgy verses, floaty choruses (which always change key during the final reprise, presumably for the ‘wow’ factor) and self-indulgent solos combine to make this quite a flaccid experience.
Thankfully D.R.U.G.S. [8/10] get things back on track, to such a degree that they very almost steal the show tonight. From the moment Craig Owens emerges with a mischievous grin and a menacing prowl, the crowd collectively senses that something explosive is about to happen. Bursting into ‘The Only Thing You talk About’ they don’t let the pace drop below full throttle for the entirety of their 8 song set.
Calling for mosh pits, crowdsurfing and pogoing, D.R.U.G.S. pull out every stop. The music is tight, with guitarist Matt Good thrashing about the stage like a man demented, and the electronic elements add a mature and at times creepy aura to their set.
The star of course is Owens who makes the band’s live show a real sight to behold, spending most of the set climbing the rigging or in the crowd. Finishing with a storming rendition of ‘If You Think This Song Is About You, It Probably Is’, D.R.U.G.S. leave the stage triumphant, having set the bar very high.
If they were nervous walking onstage, it didn’t show, and within 30 seconds BLACK VEIL BRIDES [8/10] establish that this is their show, and they’ll play by their rules. Before they even get the proceedings underway with ‘New Religion’ frontman Andy Biersack stands triumphantly atop a speaker stack for a good 2 minutes, just imbibing the ear-splitting screams of every single person in the venue. The band play professionally and cohesively, and really come across as a single unit, firing out their distinctive glam metalcore with precision.
Plus the sound is a cut above both the two previous bands, with basslines oozing through the venue and drumbeats cracking off the rafters. Covering Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’ only 3 songs in is a bit of an odd decision and slows the pace a bit prematurely, but other than this the band are faultless.
Biersack stalks the stage, and knows exactly how to work the audience tonight; a truly captivating frontman. The only complaint is not actually about the band themselves, but the crowd – it just seems strange that for an audience that seemed so dedicated outside, most view tonight’s gig through poor quality camera phones. Maybe it’s just a mark of the age we live in, but no-one really seems to just let rip and enjoy themselves, there is a palpable need to electronically document it. Well, either way, at least they’ll have some sort of a reminder of how good Black Veil Brides were tonight.