Punk rock giants Billy Talent take the stage at the biggest venue in Southampton, the O2 guildhall. Having performed at The Roundhouse in London a few nights before, the five-piece are not new at captivating large audiences and tonight proves them as experts at keeping the crowd entertained.
With ex Alexisonfire and Saint Alvia members, Say Yes are the first support act of the show. They throw every bit of their energy into their aggressive power chords and rich vocals. The crowd never fails to make this band feel welcomed on stage, nodding and smiling to each sound Say Yes gives to them. The trio’s short but sweet set ends with ‘Once Forward,’ its catchy bass guitar licks and melodic chords perfect at warming the crowd for the next band to appear on stage.
The moment the audience set their eyes on Young Gun’s Vocalist Gustav Wood, their high-pitched screams swoon over him. Wood’s strong stage presence is made apparent as he shouts “hands in the air,” hundreds of people following his command as the band explodes with energy, hitting the crowd with their distorted riffs and pounding percussions and making the room shake furiously. Wood’s constant stage spitting was a let down to their performance, but the band’s vitality over shines this. From ‘Bulletproof’ to ‘Bones’, Young Guns keep their crowd hyped, appealing to fans both old and new.
Now trembling, the crowd waits in anticipation for the main act to arise in front of them. As the lights start to dim, ecstatic roars greet each member of Billy Talent as they make their grand entrance. Although the release of their latest album Afraid of Heights is the reason why the band are here, the flawless mix of old and new tracks enraptures fans both old and new. When the first note from ‘The Devil In The Midnight Mass’ is struck, all hands are instantly up and waving in the air, frontman Benjamin Kowalewicz delivering his distinct, raspy vocals passionately in every tune. From his funky dance moves to dedicating ‘Viking Death March’ to Donald Trump, Kowalewicz did a fantastic job at keeping the audience entertained.
After headbanging along to every percussion hit and every chord strummed, the band are called back onstage for an oncore, resuming the performance with their greatest hits ‘Try Honestly’, ‘Fallen Leaves’ and ‘Red Flag’. The catchy melodies keep the crowd bouncing and singing along to every word.
Billy Talent have come a long way in the 26 years they have been a band, and tonight proves that they can deliver an engaging performance – even for those who haven’t heard their name before.
Words by Angel Laura