Theatrical rock group Fearless Vampire Killers played to a packed out Joiners Arms on Saturday 22nd May. The band – Laurence Beveridge and Kier Kemp, vocals and rhythm guitar; Drew Woolnough, bass guitar; Cyrus Barrone, lead guitar; Luke Illingworth, drums – toured in support of Black Veil Brides across the UK and Europe through most of March before embarking on their own headline tour of the UK at the start of May. The Southampton date was the final show of the Unbreakable Hearts Tour and went off with a bang.
First up were support act Glimpse of Misfortune, a local band from Bournemouth added to the bill in early April. They drew quite a crowd, seemingly friends and family of the band, and launched into a strange amalgamation of emo punk and theatrical rock that I am still struggling to process. The set was heavily marred by overloaded bass guitar and vain attempts at shredding that would have been improved by the guitarist repeatedly curb stomping the fret board. Credit must be given to vocalist Ellen Hill though, whose elegant and tuneful harmonies added some musicality to the set, but by-and-large there was much that needed improving. The band could do with sitting down and figuring out their genre and getting used to performing on large stages like the one at Joiners before accepting the invitation to such a show. Despite the generally unprofessional tone of the first support act, the crowd seemed to love them.
Next on stage were Myth City who picked up the pace and the quality of the evening. Their opening was solid, with plenty of energy building up to a crescendo of flailing bodies and meaty riffs by the third and fourth tracks. Vocalist Maz carried this energy with his on-stage enthusiasm, crowd interaction and snappy rap-influenced vocals – layered over throaty percussion and guitar this band sound like a younger, lighter and more erratic Hacktivist. This band sounds great in the recording studio and just as good on stage. It wouldn’t be a surprise if in a year or two’s time they are headlining their own show.
Following this were London-based group Zoax. Right from the start they gave off an air of absolute professionalism, seeming completely at home on stage as they ripped into the first few songs. If most of the audience members didn’t know who Zoax were before, you wouldn’t have been able to tell – they were at their most excitable, spurred on by front man Adam Carroll’s superb energy. Between songs he was cracking jokes, talking with the crowd, and being an all-round decent bloke. It is rare to see a vocalist of a little known band, particularly in a metal band, with such charisma as Carroll. He does more than simply sing and scream for you – he makes you want to sing and scream along as well. They’re set just got better and better, cranking out tracks from their recent release Is Everybody Listening? with zeal. If Zoax aren’t headlining major venues and festivals within the next few years then the music industry will have failed me, and I shall hang up my hat as a music journalist.
The headline act came on stage under heavy lighting, despite taking a little longer than expected to set themselves up. Fearless Vampire Killers had excellent stage presence, sweeping between songs and riding a wave of palpable excitement from the crowd – if there’s one thing that this band and its fan-base do well, it’s devotion to each other. The audience provided vocals enough for almost every track, chanting each chorus in unison and if that’s not a sign of a band that’s made it I don’t know what is. They performed superbly but were somewhat undermined by the two previous support acts, who completely stole the show.