The Kerrang Tour 2013 was always going to be controversial, with a band as polarising as Black Veil Brides headlining and an eclectic support line-up including the recently reformed Chiodos, Australian pop punk band Tonight Alive and rising stars Fearless Vampire Killers, with William Control handling DJ duties. Despite the controversy surrounding them, Black Veil Brides star has never been higher, with their most recent album ‘Wretched and Divine: The Story of The Wild Ones’ making it into the UK album top 20. Certainly, for the legions of young teenage fans that descended on the Guildhall, they are definitely the main draw and the teenage hysteria was at fever point before many of those queuing were even in the door.
First up are the Fearless Vampire Killers, with a sound that combines the best of My Chemical Romance and Queen, but still manages to be completely unique. They manage to escape the curse of crowd apathy and deliver a set of catchy, well performed songs to an enthusiastic, bordering on hysterical, crowd. Particular highlights were a hard rocking cover of I’m Still Standing, which got the entire crowd jumping up and down and singing along, and the closing number ‘Could We Burn Darling?’, a near perfect slice of operatic rock goodness.
Next on the bill are the Australian pop punks Tonight Alive. They are often dismissed as an Australian version of Paramore, but in person this comparison does not do them justice. Their live sound is raw and powerful, and owes as much to hard garage rock as it does to pop punk. They dived straight into a blistering set with ‘Breaking and Entering’ and managed to keep the crowd hyped up with a set of upbeat anthems, tightly performed. The decision to try and start a crowd sing-along on one of the newer, less well known songs was a brave one. The crowd were enthusiastic, but clearly didn’t know the words, and maybe next time they should pick something more well-known.
Following Tonight Alive were Chiodos, playing their first major shows since the return of original singer Craig Owens in early 2012. Chiodos are undeniably a talented band; they play the complicated metal riffs of their songs with precision and the strong vocals of engaging frontman Craig Owens sweep from high pitched, eerie clean vocals to guttural screams with ease. However, their wordy metal epics soon blend into each other and the overall effect was a little like watching an exorcism, with the constant switches between ethereal and crushingly heavy sound. Ultimately, the choice of Chiodos on this bill was an interesting one, and despite the best efforts of Owens, not always a comfortable fit, as his X-rated stage banter probably went over the heads of most of his young audience.
Finally, after an hour wait, during which William Control’s excellent choice of music just about kept the crowd from rushing the stage and physically dragging Black Veil Brides out to perform, the headliners arrived. Immediately the screams of the crowd became utterly deafening, with some of the young girls on the front row actually passing out from a combination of extreme excitement and the sheer heat of the packed guildhall. However, from the first note they played there was no way anyone in the room was paying attention to anything but the Black Veil Brides themselves. Opener ‘I Am Bulletproof’ begun in a deafening swirl of guitar riffs reminiscent of Avenged Sevenfold at their best and progressed into a superb, anthemic rock song. The incredibly charismatic lead singer Andy Biersack held the unwavering attention and devotion of the crowd from the first note he sung, with the adoring audience singing along passionately with every lyric. When his powerful, deep vocals were combined with the flawless guitar work of guitarists Jake Pitts and Jinxx every song sounded ten times as powerful and raw live as they do on the record, and made this more of a true rock and roll experience than a mere concert. The set was mostly made up of songs from their new album, with a few old numbers mixed in, including a brilliant metal cover of ‘Rebel Yell’. Highlights of the gig included the whole crowd holding lighters and phones in the air for slower number ‘Resurrect the Sun’ and William Control’s crowd pleasing cameos for both ‘Shadows Die’ and encore ‘In the End’. This was a truly amazing concert, full of raw musical energy and it shows Black Veil Brides certainly deserve better than being written off as the ‘boy band of metal’. If you can look past the music snobbery and rabid teenage fans, it’s easy to see they’re a band playing anthemic hard rock as it should be played.