Fightstar

support The Xcerts
author BL date 11/05/09 venue Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, UK

Ah, my first gig review for Rockfreaks, just so happens to be of one of my favourite bands. Also the first gig that I went with AP, who was only going mainly to annoy TL who is a) a bigger fan of Fightstar and b) who is in Denmark. AP had only heard a couple of songs and having known that the lead singer used to be in Busted (much to his intial surprise of the transition from girly pop rock to the hardcore tinged alt rock), wondered if they'll play Year 3000.

The build-up to the gig itself probably couldn't have been much worse, firstly having the intial date postponed for six days due to Fightstar's frontman Charlie suffering Laryngitis, then on the actual day when meeting AP on the bus to the train station, I realised I had no money on me to pay the fare. Fortunately I was able to acquire a free bus ride after convincing the driver I had to catch a train, which incidentally was late and had been moved to a different platform. By now we were joking that things probably couldn't get any worse and just hoped to get to the venue, see a good show and come back in one piece.

The Xcerts

Due to the fact that tonight was the postponed date of the original planned show, In Case Of Fire and Larusso (the original planned support) were not present and their place was taken rather last minute by Scottish pop rock 3-piece The Xcerts. Neither myself or AP had any previous experience with this band, but I must admit they put on a fairly decent performance for being such a last ditch replacement. The sound was good, lead singer and guitarist Murray played some catchy, heartfelt walls of power chords while his rather emo strained singing provided some what would have been sing-a-long choruses had the crowd been a bit more familiar with them (not disapproving with the amount of applause they got, but the audience barely moved). While most well known support acts tend to suffer slightly with a small slot of around half an hour, these guys probably couldn't have done with any more time. Most of their songs that they played on the advent of releasing their new album "In The Cold We Smile" all sounded quite similar: have some clean guitar intro, then massive guitar chords, a catchy and loud chorus, then quiet interlude before building a crescendo to a finish. Still, all things aside they weren't bad and I said to myself to have a look at their debut full length when I would get home.

6

Fightstar

Onto the main attraction of the night, everybody anxious with excitement as evident by the roar of the crowd as the band moved onto the stage. Having apologised for missing the planned date for being ill, Charlie sounded in good shape as things kicked off with "Colours Bleed To Red" off the new album Be Human which has only been out for just over 2 weeks, his vocal performance convincing in both his excellent clean singing and his powerful, high pitched screams during the heavy parts of the song. Indeed it was during the climatic breakdown finish of the song that the crowd truly erupted with a mosh pit in the middle. The difference in the crowd while The Xcerts were on and this was stark.

Next on the list was the excellent first single from the new album "The English Way", almost every person in the crowd sang their hearts out along with the band for every word. Indeed this was the case throughout the night, everybody was in high spirits and Fightstar even acknowledged the extra amount of love they received. Fan favourite "Palahniuk's Laughter" from the first EP followed, along with songs from both the EP and their debut "Grand Unification" ("Paint Your Target", "Lost Like Tears In The Rain") to a unique song from that album "Grand Unification (Part 1)". Then "We Apologize For Nothing" and "Floods" from "One Day Son.." and the some big numbers in the new record like "War Machine", "Mercury Summer" and "Never Change" followed in a nice mixed order, nicely representing their overall discography and in a way their achievements up till now. For one thing, they have always been a band I respected for having to deal with the burden Charlie carries for being part of Busted, often being referred to as "Charlie from Busted's new band" or that "Busted rip-off" (which doesn't even make any sense) and their early troubles making a name for themselves. Now it seems to be a distant memory away and I am glad to say AP did not follow on his words to shout "Play Year 3000!" in between every song (as amusing as that would have been).

With the set coming to a close the people were not satisfied yet and so the band came back on for an acoustic version of the rather soft "Amethyst" from the EP, with Charlie and Alex picking up the acoustic-electric guitars they had left on stage the whole night (I had wondered what they were for). But the one song missing the whole night that pretty much every Fightstar fan wants to hear and one that even AP knew was the final parting gift from the band, as they all got back together for the brutal yet melodic "Deathcar" to close what had been a great set. The sheer volume as Charlie paused the crowed before getting everyone to scream with him the post chorus words "You make me ******* sick!" was spectacular for such a small venue. And pausing once again before letting the mosh pit loose in the final outro of the song was a great way to send their fans home chuffed.

All in all, a good day in the office for them, the sound was good, the crowd were energetic, a delight to see Charlie let their tech guy ,who had earlier also been called in while Charlie did the piano for "Floods", take guitar duties once again for "Deathcar" so he could rock out and pretty much go nuts on stage while just doing vocals. And to AP's positive surprise, a lack of karate and emo backpack moshers spoiling the fun for those around them. Our only real disappointment was the long and very cold train journey home.

Setlist:

01. Colours Bleed To Red

02. The English Way

03. Palahniuk's Laughter

04. Calling On All Stations

05. Grand Unification (Part 1)

06. Mercury Summer

07. Paint Your Target

08. War Machine

09. Never Change

10. We Apologize For Nothing

11. Floods

12. Lost Like Tears In Rain

--Encore--

13. Amethyst

14. Deathcar

Photos courtesy of Benji Walker.

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