Bullet For My Valentine

support As I Lay Dying + Gallows
author PP date 08/01/07 venue Hammersmith Apollo, London, UK

I don't think I've ever seen a line as long as it was for Bullet For My Valentine's post-poned show at the Hammersmith Apollo, the biggest venue the band has ever played on a headlining tour. The over eight-thousand capacity venue had been sold out for weeks if not months before the show, partly due to the massive success of the band in the UK and elsehwere, and partly due to the great support bands on the bill today. Metalcore/Hardcore kings As I Lay Dying guaranteed a large part of the crowd showing up just to see them, and the UK-based newcomers The Gallows were sure to stir up the crowd with their eccentric and over-the-top aggressive live set. Unfortunately the queue, extending almost 5-6 blocks from the entrance five minutes before the doors (increasing every second), also meant that there was no way myself and DY could make it on time to watch Gallows tear the place apart. It is a shame, as they're renowned as one of those bands who will always, always get the crowd going from the very moment they arrive on stage.

As I Lay Dying

My only experience of Hammersmith Apollo was from over a year ago, when I witnessed HIM sell out this very venue and play one of the best shows of their career. Needless to say the sound quality wasn't in my immediate memory, but I had my suspicions given the size of the venue, and they proved right especially for As I Lay Dying's support set. As soon as the band kicked off to "Confined", many of us near the front of the crowd were wondering why the hell it was so silent? Why was I able to hear the 10+ teenage girls giggling and laughing as they were being harshly pushed around near the mosh pit, all while As I Lay Dying's monstrously heavy sound was supposed to tear new arseholes to those daring near the front of the venue? It was as if the front-speakers had been completely turned off (which actually happened during Bullet, more about that later on), taking most of the the crush-factor and heavyness away from their set. I tried the front, the back, and the sides, but the sound was equally bad everywhere on the floor, but strangely enough DY was reporting the sound was next to perfect upstairs. Prioritising from the venue perhaps? Keeping this in mind, normally massive songs like "Meaning In Tragedy" and the closing song "Forever" sounded far too tame for my taste. In fact, the only track reaching anywhere near acceptable sound levels was one of the last ones, "A Long March" (? hard to tell because of the sound, but from their debut), and it managed this only because of its nonexistent melodic parts and it's brutal growls. It was a great shame, because the band otherwise was once again superb in their showmanship, with vocalist Tim Lambesis jumping across the stage like a madman and engaging different parts of the crowd by extending over the barrier from side to side.

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Bullet For My Valentine

And like from a touch of the magic wand, all sound problems were gone as soon as Bullet For My Valentine walked on stage accompanied by a massive explosion and pyro-effects on both sides of the stage. These guys have grown into humongous size since I last saw them, as they took onto the stage in the best rock star manner. The stage was elevated towards the back, so that the drumset was a few metres above the front, and a microphone stand had been placed a couple of extra meters above and behind the drumset as well. Not surprisingly, Matt ventured up onto the highest point of the stage to scream his "YEAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!" scream of "Her Voice Resides" continued directly from the introduction, and spent numerous other songs up there as well, as if to show off he was the one and only frontman of the band. Accompanied by an almost crystal clear sound, the band strolled through their most known songs (that being nearly their entire album) to the cherish of the fans, whose loud singalongs surrounded the large theatre-style venue with high enough volume to painfully penetrate through my otherwise great earplug system. I would say there wasn't a single member of the crowd who wasn't singing along to every lyric of "Suffocating Under Words Of Sorrow" and "Four Words To Choke Upon", and intense mosh pits blossomed all around the venue (though never becoming as large or as dreadful as the As I Lay Dying pits).

To much delight of the crowd, the band debuted a new song called "Scream. Aim. And Fire", and as rare as it may seem, I loved it from the first listen. If you've ever heard Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law", just imagine its chorus done about three-four times faster and in a metalcore way, accompanied by the best solo Bullet For My Valentine has written to date and you're there. While before I wasn't too excited for the prospect of their new album this year, this song definitely made me think "why can't it come out next week?". Great song, which both sounded like "The Poison" and a logical progression from it at the same time.

We need not to speak about the non-existent intimacy caused by the barrier separating the stage and the crowd by almost four metres, because even when this is considered the band held the crowd at the palm of their hand. That is until their coversong of "Creeping Death" by Metallica, when the front speakers suddenly turned off seconds before the band broke into the song, causing them to look desperate to finish it while the crowd was chanting "TURN IT UP! TURN IT UP!" as nobody could hear a word what Matt & co were playing or singing about. Afterwards, the mosh pits never gained the kind of energy they possessed before, and not even "Tears Don't Fall" could recover the crowd from the slump they were thrown into by the mess up from the crew, regardless of the spark-shower initiated by the ending of the song or the explosions on stage.

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Setlist:

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Her Voice Resides
  • 3. Suffocating Under Words Of Sorrow
  • 4. Scream. Aim. And Fire (New song)
  • 5. All These Things I Hate Revolve Around Me
  • 6. Four Words To Choke Upon
  • 7. Room 409
  • 8. Cries In Vain
  • 9. Metallica - Creeping Death cover

--Encore--

  • 10. The End
  • 11. Spit You Out
  • 12. Tears Don't Fall

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