Gojira & Guests – Live @ O2 Academy Bristol (18/3/17)

The metalheads are out in full force tonight as the French powerhouses Gojira took over the Academy venue alongside another technical mathcore veteran and one of the heaviest upcoming bands of this decade. With this being their last date of their UK part of the EU tour, its time to see how they send themselves off in this part of the world.

Opening up first were mathcore/technica metal juggernauts Car Bomb (8) who, with the room already near enough at full capacity, were here to confuse and blow away the crowd right out of the gate. Coming right out of the gate with ‘Best Intentions’ which showcases the bands older material which is full of destructive and mechanical sounds that have quite a few people in the crowd looking in disbelief and perplexed in some parts of their set. As they proceed to current album material such as ‘Black Blood’ and ‘Gratitude’ which show off the crazy versatility that the band has on offer with them, as well as their closer ‘Secrets Within’ which only heightens the intrigue that surrounded them in the first place. They made plenty of new fans at by the end of the set, had won a lot of critics over.

When you saw that Code Orange (10) were going to be support, it was hard to see how well received a band more known for hardcore/beatdown shows would be at a more metal showing, but the band absolutely showed the world why they are one of the most talked about groups of recent years. Coming straight into destruction mode with ‘Forever’, the band throw themselves about like rag dolls and the crowd follow suit with the moshpits coming into fruition. The band then proceed to give you an onslaught of sound with tracks like ‘I Am King’, ‘My World’ and ‘Kill The Creator’ just bringing the best out of everyone in the room. The whole planning of their set gave you areas of breath with the more slower pacing of tracks such as ‘Bleeding In The Blur’ showing off Reba Meyers powerful clean vocals and accentuating the bands versatility. This 10 song set proved to Bristol that these guys are one of the best bands at what they do and that it doesn’t matter what genre you are, you always have the power to transfix the crowd, and that is what they did for the entirety of their set.

It was hard to see how Gojira (9) were going to be able to follow that, but they pulled it out of the bag with full force. With their latest album ‘Magma’ being the forefront of this bands tour, it was safe to say that a majority of the set was going to be songs from this record. Opening with ‘Only Pain’, the band pounded through the song and set the wheels in motion for the rest of their set. The back screen helped provide a nice discography pleasing set and showed a off a great live experience that the band provided on all their aspects. Tracks such as ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ and ‘Toxic Garbage Island’ gave you other showing of the band that they were able to bring with the projector adding a certain mood towards each track, heightening its experience. The band came on for a 2 song encore, which was proceeded by a guitar solo, that helped solidify them as one of the more enjoyable and unique bands in their field and will only just push them further into the stratosphere due to their craft and ability to capture the fans attention.

Deaf Havana + Guests – Live @ Bristol O2 Academy (20/2/17)

It’s time for alternative rock to shine again with Deaf Havana giving you all the good times and good vibes with the new album-centric tour. With their new album being a strong staple in this new stage of their career and being supported by two great rising stars in UK artists, it’s time to see how well this pays off for all of the bands.

Opening the night were alternative rock band from Leeds who were ready to bring their strong mainstay into the venue. Dinosaur Pile Up (7) are a trio who have a great old school knack in their sound which was portrayed pretty well in the venue. With 3 albums of music to smash your heads with, they split the duties between their most recent two for a much more vibrant and fresh set. It didn’t provide much of a stage presence for the group, but when they smashed through tracks such as ‘Friend Of Mine’ and their set closer ’11:11’ it gave them a newer chance to show off their latest material. The band did very strong and despite being dealt with the ‘open band syndrome’, they pulled it off well and opened the night quite strongly.

Picking up the pace a bit more were the mysterious London band Dead! (8) who are definitely pushing themselves harder than ever before. With this bands mystique from their social media it is safe to say that they are a group who will have their work cut out for them when they hit the stage supporting someone like Deaf Havana, but they pulled it out of the bag! Showing off different sides of their bands character from the onslaught of ‘We Are Dead’ to the calmer and more anthem-like track ‘Alaska’, it made their set feel much more dynamic and exciting. Whilst the sound came through as a bit hit and miss during their set, their closer ‘You’re So Cheap’ made everything feel that much more rounder and ended another set on another high note.

To bring the night to its close with a showcase of their amazing new release, Deaf Havana (9) brought so much passion and a gripping live show that spans a lot of their career. With James Veck-Gilodi’s vocals running through so strongly throughout the entire set, whether it be through the more emotional tracks like ‘Anemophobia’ to the more bouncy and crowd moving tracks like ‘Sing’. The band also showed how much they can push through their sound with an alternate version of ‘The Past Six Years’ which, in comparison to the original sound that the track has, gives it a bit more of an acoustic and somewhat folksy life-force behind the song and shows more of the bands versatility when it comes to their writing. Overall, the band brought a tonne of different elements to the stage and made the entire night worth it with over an hour of material to smile, dance and cry to.

Billy Talent- Live Review- 02 Academy Leeds

Last headlining the  02 Academy Leeds in 2012 the Canadian punk rockers Billy Talent return to the venue on the ‘Afraid of Heights’ tour. Tonight’s opening band Say Yes take to a rather smoke filled stage. This band also hails from Canada including members of Alexisonfire, Jersey and Saint Alvia. The crowd is currently thin on the ground with the mere front couple of rows filled up and a few people lingering in. They kick the set off with track You’re Mine. As the floor starts to fill up the band seem to become more energised. An almost unsure start seems to pick up towards the end. (6)

Say Yes- Lauren Stead Photography
Say Yes- Lauren Stead Photography

UK’s own Young Guns are up next. Frontman Gustav Wood rarely spends a moment of the set stood still, kicking the set off to an instant high energy start with Rising Up. The crowd seems to have filled up and are automatically engaged. A mixture of songs from current release Echoes, which was released last month sees Wood and the band provide a constant energy, engaging with the crowd who are singing along. I Want Out is a highlight ensuring the crowd are truly warmed up and ready for the headline act. (8)

Young Guns- Lauren Stead Photography
Young Guns- Lauren Stead Photography


Headliners Billy Talent start their set with hit Devil in a Midnight Mass as vocalist Benjamin Kowalewicz bounds to the front of the stage and the crowd explode. Billy Talent are known for their distinctive sound and fill the set with a great mixture of hits and new tracks from the latest album. Session and touring drummer Jordan Hastings from Say Yes helps the band in absence of drummer Aaron Solowoniuk who is on current hiatus due to his ongoing fight with MS. Kowalewicz mentions the drummer to a deafening applause from the crowd and they launch straight back into the set.  The end of Viking Death March sees the band leave the stage to chants and applause awaiting an encore. They return to the stage with Try Honesty, Fallen Leaves and ending on well-known track Red Flag. Constant high energy, crowd interaction and  endless talent from guitarist Ian D’Sa sees the band return to the UK in style. (10)

Billy Talent- Lauren Stead Photography
Billy Talent- Lauren Stead Photography

Photo  Credit: Lauren Stead Photography. Taken at Leeds

LIVE : Less Than Jake – 02 Academy Sheffield – 04.10.16

The general public strolling down Arundel Gate this evening look on as a swarm of old and young alike queue to get into Sheffield’s 02 Academy. Its quite the turnout for the Ska-Punk legends, but at Ten English pounds for a line up as varied and brimming with dancability as this, you’d be a fool to be a rock fan in Sheffield tonight and not be in attendance.

Mariachi El Bronx, for those unaware, is the alter ego of LA punk n’ rollers The Bronx. An eight-piece Mariachi band, they are the most fun anyone could have at a rock show, without actually watching a rock band. Frontman Matt Caughthran embraces his role as band leader with a sly wink, encouraging the audience to dance along to would- be-classics Revolution Girls and 48 Roses with all the charm of a genuine Mexican troubadour. As odd as Mariachi El Bronx seem at first glance on any bill, they certainly capture the hearts of the crowd here, and with gloriously celebratory numbers like High Tide, it’s no surprise at all. [8/10]

Londoner’s The Skints are a fine choice for tonight’s show, balancing out the cultural tones on offer with their own brand of soulful reggae. Live, the band lock into a solid groove that the audience finds hard to resist. Heads nod and feet tap to the addictive hooks of Mindless, which showcase the vocal duo of drummer Jamie Kyriakides and multi instrumentalist Marcia Richards. Guitarist Joshua Rudge commands the stage with cocky energy, adding grime overtones to the funky likes of Rat-a-tat. With the Bob Marley vibes of Forest For The Trees being a mellow highlight, The Skints are a true UK treasure and continue to bring it live. [8/10]

Tonight’s main event, all the way from Gainesville, Florida are veteran Ska-Punkers Less Than Jake and judging by the sea of early 00’s band tees on display, they are the main attraction. They hit the stage and launch into a riotous Last One Out Of Liberty City. The crowd is already surging back and forth before the two-tone ska of Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts rockets past in less than two minutes. If you’ve ever attended a Less Than Jake show, you will of course be familiar with their particular brand of sophomoric humor, and tonight is no different, vocalists Chris DeMakes and Roger Lima hurling insults at each other much to the audiences delight. With an ever-growing back catalog to draw on, the band plow through oldies and newies alike, the brass section of Buddy Schaub and J.R showcasing their knack for massive hooks on the frantic Scott Farcas Takes It On The Chin and newer number Good Enough.

Its hard deny the infectious atmosphere of a Less Than Jake show and the Steel City crowd are no exception. They embrace every ounce of  the band’s goofball antics, from toilet-roll launching guns to inviting a topless, middle-aged gentleman named ‘John’ onstage for Anthem classic The Ghost Of Me & You. Not ones to disappoint their fans, the band finish up with a manic version of All My Best Friends Are Metalheads, which judging by the audience participation, will lead to some sore throats in the morning. It seems these days, many bands are cashing in revivals and one-off comebacks. Less Than Jake need not worry about such things however, as long as they keep putting on shows as entertaining as tonight’s. [9/10]