Billy Talent - Manchester Academy 15.10.2016
The night opens with Canadian trio Say Yes. The band have the always daunting and sometimes unforgiving task of opening tonights show. Straight off the bat the crowd don't seem all that interested, the slowly filling room just doesn't appear engaged, which is a crying shame because Say Yes are incredible. Despite only being a 3 piece they sound huge, with perfect 2 part harmonies and excellent playing all round the band catch my attention straight away and as their set continues and the room starts to fill out more, the attention of the crowd slowly starts to centre on the band as well. By the time they're done playing they have turned some heads and added some new fans to their roster. Say Yes stand as proof that arriving for doors can be rewarding. As much as stopping for some cheap pre show drinks may seem appealing, the cost of a ticket covers the whole show not just the main so why not pop on down and enjoy the full show. I always do and the rewards speak for themselves.
Next up we have the always amazing Young Guns and tonight is no different for the now quartet. I had the pleasure of witnessing the band last year in Chester at The Live Rooms, it was a more intimate setting for the band who were at that point touring their album 'Ones And Zeroes' one of my favourite releases of 2015. They played with passion to a criminally small crowd, the 500 capacity venue was barely half full but it didn't stop the band giving it their all. Despite their album receiving nothing but praise from reviewers all over, the tour felt too small for a band that were ready to seriously break out. Then everything went a bit quiet. They parted ways with drummer Ben Jolliffe and wrote and recorded their 4th studio album, 'Echoes'. After a summer of touring we arrive at tonight and their main support run with Billy Talent. It takes no time at all to see a band revitalised, present is the same passion I'd previously witnessed but there is also a renewed sense of purpose. The new album, much like its predecessors, has received great praise and it is clear to see the band are incredibly proud of their release. Tonight rather than playing to 200 odd they are playing to 2000, their set consists of both songs new and old and while notably the older songs hit harder than the newer ones, it doesn't stop the room singing along. The new songs sound great and songs like 'I Want Out and 'Bones' remain fan favourites. Lead singer Gustav Wood moves like a man possessed, his voice on point. He states their job is to make sure the room is warmed up and ready for Billy Talent and I believe they successfully achieve just that. It was a pleasure to see them last year and it was an even greater pleasure to see them tonight. They deserve to be headlining rooms this size on their own merit and with the strength of songs they continue to release I really do believe they are finally on their way to achieving that.
Billy Talent are known for always giving their all during a live show and tonight is no different. Their energy is captivating and it's impossible to take your eyes off them as they tear through their set. Touring the highly acclaimed new album 'Afraid Of Heights' tonight sees the band pulling out all the stops to ensure those in attendance walk away with giant smiles on their faces. Lead singer Benjamin Kowalewicz just doesn't stop, how he maintains his energy level throughout is beyond me. Never standing in one spot, he is never left breathless, he doesn't skip a beat or drop a note, his unique vocals are on point in every way. The band have been together since 1993 and, bar the fill in drumming of Jordan Hastings (Alexisonfire, Say Yes) due to the sad circumstances of the bands official Drummer Aaron Solowoniuk having to step down for the time being due to a multiple sclerosis relapse, there has never been a line up change. They play tight and they play well together and it shows through the quality of their songs and the strength of their live show. Their music is infectious and you can feel it in the room tonight. The Canadian four piece were absent from our shores for far too long and this run of tours was long overdue, but tonight proves they were well worth the wait. Hopefully it won't be long until we see them again, but if it is it will be worth it.
Billy Talent - https://www.facebook.com/billytalent/?fref=ts
Young Guns - https://www.facebook.com/younggunsuk/?fref=ts
Say Yes - https://www.facebook.com/sayyesofficial/
Photos - Friswell Photography