Billy Talent at Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth (16/11/12)


Billy Talent are now veterans in the music industry as they’re swiftly approaching the 20 year mark. The four piece from Toronto, Canada, have been a band since high school in one form or another. The first Billy Talent record was released 10 years ago and I distinctly remember picking it up many years after this and loving every second. We were lucky enough to interview front man Ben Kowalewicz and bassist Jonathan Gallant before their show. Even after 19 years in the industry they were so humble and gracious of our interest.

Don Broco and AWOLNATION were the worthy support acts. The first having a Fightstar-esque vibe, mainly because vocalist Rob Damiani sounded very much like Charlie Simpson. The latter were a five piece from Los Angeles. They played a delightful mix of rock and electro. There were times in which we got a bit complacent with the constant rock then a wonderful electronic element would emerge and lift the song into another dimension. Front man Aaron Bruno had a great stage presence and he appeared to be going for the Kurt Cobain look in terms of his hairstyle. You may recognise AWOLNATION from their inclusion on a BMW advert with their song ‘Sail‘. I’m not going to lie I had been waiting to hear this live throughout their whole set. After selling almost a million copies in the US the song was very pleasing on the ears and I can see why it was so successful.

Billy Talent, the headliners, were next. Their set was a whopping 17 songs long and was a delightful mix of old and new. The crowd was made up of dedicated Billy Talent fans, the array of tour tees spanned from way back in ’04 to the current ones fans were pulling over their heads at the show on this ‘Dead Silence Tour’. They opened with one of their greatest hits ‘Devil in a Midnight Mass’. The ripping guitar opening and screaming from frontman Ben Kowalewicz sent me straight back to being a 15 year old. They played tracks from their new album Dead Silence including first single from it ‘Viking Death March’ and their latest single ‘Surprise, Surprise’. I couldn’t help enjoying the older tracks more but I guess this is due to nostalgia and the fact that I haven’t been as dedicated to Billy Talent over the last few years as I used to be.

When the likes of ‘Surrender’ were played the Pyramid Centre erupted with cheers. They finished the initial part of the set with perhaps their most famous track ‘Try Honesty’. I shamelessly sang along to every word along with everyone else in the room. The three song encore was filled with ‘Devil on My Shoulder’ and the fantastic ‘Fallen Leaves’ from Billy Talent II. The last track was an obvious choice for rock veterans, it had to be ‘Red Flag’. The opening drum beat is so synonymous with the band that it went without introduction and was a perfect way to end a brilliant night of rock music.



About Author


I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

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