The Blackout have gained a somewhat misplaced reputation as the hardcore/metal act for teeny boppers far and wide – aside from being fronted by a charming and attractive Welshman, I can see no evidence as to why this should be the case. Despite supporting nearly every British band there is on the rock and metal scene currently, The Blackout are a great outfit in their own right, and deserve to be taken a little more seriously than their reputation as the little brothers of hardcore allows. And The Old Firestation Bournemouth is a great arena to showcase this fact, alongside their brand new record Hope.
Opening for them were two very different acts – Hyro Da Hero, and The Swellers – both of whom brought the house down with their varying styles and approaches. Hyro Da Hero is an astounding hip-hop artist and he was so at home in front of a crowd, it was difficult to believe that he hasn’t been around for all that long. He received such an astounding reaction, I wondered if he didn’t warrant a headline slot some when in the very near future. Accelerate six months time, and no doubt I will be telling you something you already know. Hyro Da Hero is set to be a real superstar, and what’s more, he shall be a star that deserves it.
The Swellers on the other hand, embrace a kind of melodic rock that had its heyday with the likes of Yellowcard and Story of the Year in the early 2000s, whilst still sounding relevant. They were chipper and enticing, with a stage presence that was solid and very self aware. Yet, I couldn’t help feel that this was the completely wrong crowd for the foursome – the average age of the audience could not have been much higher than 17, meaning most of the crowd had next to no musical awareness of the bands they were nodding to. Nonetheless, it was a musically secure and enjoyable set, which acted as a perfect prelude to The Blackout.
And despite two solid and sensational support slots, nothing could come close to the show that the six piece exhibited. As The Blackout pounced onto the stage and launched into ‘Ambition is Critical’ from new album Hope, the crowd absolutely exploded. Hope has been criticised for being a slightly darker offering than fans are used to from The Blackout, but this opening was astounding – starting thin and accelerating into dense and explosive sounds, The Blackout grabbed their listeners by the haunches, capturing the ears, eyes and hearts of every person in the room.
And as the set went on, the Welsh six-piece gave more and more reasons to impress. Musically, they were near on perfect – the pairing of vocalists Sean Smith and Gavin Butler was brilliantly negotiated on stage, whilst the complicated yet subtle guitar work of Matthew and James Davies kept the whole band together modestly and brilliantly. What is more, the Old Firestation is the perfect venue for the dense and gritty sound that reverberated from the walls, filling the small venue with thick guitars and heavy bass that made The Blackout‘s live performance truly awe-inspiring.
And if that wasn’t enough, The Blackout have a stage presence rock and metal demi-gods such as Lost Prophets and Bring Me The Horizon are still left grappling with. They were charming and funny, in total command of the stage and the audience, invoking mass sit-ins and walls of death that were unexpected from an act who largely appeal to, what Sean Smith calls, ‘little gothy kids’.
The set as a whole was a great mix, and was a perfect opportunity to showcase their new and more complicated material, with personal highlights coming in the form of ‘This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ and ‘Save Ourselves (The Warning)’ that acted as a perfect and epic close to an astounding set. The Blackout are an act totally conceived for the stage – they were cheeky, charming and quite frankly, bloody brilliant. Do not make the mistake of resigning them to the hackneyed umbrella term of ‘juvenile metal/hardcore’ – their refusal to grow up contributes to their charm, and they are a band who warrant much greater appreciation outside of gushing tweets about how totally gorgeous Sean Smith’s hair is.
It is a nice do, though.
Good: Fantastic atmosphere, with music and banter tuned to perfection
Bad: Sometimes the crowd were a little apathetic, which had a lot to do with the copious amounts of cider consumed by an underage audience