Bring Me the Horizon, You Me at Six, Nova Twins – Birmingham Utilita Arena – Saturday 25th September
Review by Kristal Harpur | Photos by Jack Barker
Now, I know it’s been a while since events of this size have taken place, but honestly, the queue management at Birmingham Utilita Arena was shockingly bad. No one seemed to have a clue what was going on and each different member of staff we spoke to contradicted the last. When the queues finally started shifting, one of the security personnel tried to make a joke saying, “The quicker you all get in, the quicker I can sit down!”, however, I think the humour was lost as the fans were all getting a bit impatient at this point.
After a stressful time that seemed to take forever, I finally made it to my seat as the lights were dimming for Nova Twins to take the stage. I was one of the lucky ones as the venue was still half empty.
Somehow, I hadn’t listened to Nova Twin’s until their collaboration song with Bring Me the Horizon, “1×1”. I must have been living under a rock as the crowd that had managed to gather were clapping along and singing along to most of their set. Lead vocalist and guitarist Amy Love’s energy was off the chart with an incredibly confident stage presence. The duo has such a unique style that clearly works for them, with Georgia South’s talent on bass guitar and backing vocals complimenting Love’s vocals perfectly.
Love’s encouragement of “That’s how you fucking do a mosh pit Birmingham, you’re outstanding!” only added to the already heightened atmosphere, before announcing they were about to perform an exclusive called “Antagonist”. As soon as they began the intro to “Taxi”, I could tell this was a crowd favourite as the headbanging started instantly. Declaring they are touring next year before their final song of the set, the duo went all-in on the final song, leaving the crowd eager for more, the night only having just begun.
As soon as the lights dimmed for the second time, the number of phones that were raised in the air ready to record You Me At Six’s first song was crazy! We live in a world focused on technology rather than living in the moment! Opening with “Nice to me” off their recently released album SUCKAPUNCH, proved how loyal their fans are, as instantly they were jumping along. Lead vocalist Josh Franceschi asked the crowd “Who’s feeling reckless tonight” and the sheer volume of the cheers answered his question before the band began “Reckless”.
Franceschi introduced “Bite my Tongue” by dedicating it to “Anyone who feel misunderstood, misrepresented and to be quite honest, sick of the Tory government” which received a massive cheer from the crowd, who then seemed to sing along to every word of the song. One simple mention of starting a circle pit and before long three had appeared. The crowd was honestly the most energetic I think I have ever experience at a gig which was a sign of things to come for the main event.
Judging by the amount of security that were in the pit in front of the stage, I’m guessing they were aware of the impending crowd surfers that come as standard at a You Me at Six show, especially during “Lived a Lie” with encouragement from Franceschi. With further comments about how amazing the rock and metal community is and acknowledging Birmingham’s Pride festival that took place the same day, “Take on the World” gave me goosebumps with the emotion in Franceschi’s voice”. Finishing their set with arguably one of their biggest hits “Underdog” and a new song “Beautiful Way”, even people in the seats were on their feet.
The atmosphere in the arena was absolutely buzzing after the incredible performance from You Me at Six, however, this only increased when the lights dimmed for the final time and Bring Me the Horizon appeared on the stage. Looking very dapper in their matching suits, (although I’m not sure Lead singer Oli Sykes got the memo about the shirt at tie!), the band from Yorkshire began “Teardrops” through screams from thousands of fans. As soon as the music kicked in, streamers fired towards the crowd and everyone around me in the seats were on their feet and remained that way for the rest of the night.
Joined on stage by two dancers who appeared throughout the set, Sykes could have had just pointed the mic at the crowd and had them sing the entirety of “Mantra”. After introducing each band member, Skyes announced they were going to “Rock your f***ing world tonight”, which they 100% achieved.
With encouragement from Sykes asking “who knows what a circle pit is? I want to see three”, he was not disappointed when at least 5 appeared in seconds. With mental health being a topic that has come out of the shadows recently, introducing “Medicine” with “As soon as you start asking yourself do you deserve better, let me tell you, you F***ing do!” received a huge cheer and you can feel the respect for Skyes’ words in the room.
The production of the set was mesmerising, with the cages of light surrounding the band adding to the already intensified atmosphere in the arena. I always think it’s such a skill what the stage crew can achieve in such a small amount of time between shows (especially after more than a year off due to Covid19!). Laughter erupted from the crowd when Skyes started “Little girl, do not stand in the middle or you will die!” before “Happy Song”, and I have honestly never seen a mosh pit so big, it was basically the entire standing floor.
Although this is a tour for their new EP Post Human: Survival Horror, the selection of songs from arguably their most popular albums had the crowd wild with excitement throughout the entire gig. Classic songs like “Shadow Moses”, “The House of Wolves” and “Drown” complimented their newer, ever-changing musical direction, which to me, shows how talented this band is with being able to combine so many genres.
“Parasite Eve” may as well be the song of 2020 with how the year unfolded, with the opening line “I’ve got a fever, don’t breathe on me” being very relevant. Skyes stating “You’re all infected, this is not a drill, you must be cleansed” was the perfect opening for the dancers to shoot smoke guns towards the crowd. I had to chuckle when Skyes asked the crowd “What the f*ck are you lot on tonight?” as I was thinking the same about him as he has barely stood still for the entire performance! We found out later in the show that this is one of their first tours in a long time that he has completed totally sober and with the fact that it is also their biggest headline tour ever, you could hear the emotion in his voice.
When the Nova Twins returned to the stage again to perform “1×1”, the crowd seemed to reenergise (not that they needed it), and the party that was Saturday night continued. A very true statement from Sykes of “Broken people fix broken people” followed by “You’ve fixed me so many times, you have no idea how many times you have saved my life” gave me goosebumps as you could hear the raw emotion in his voice. This was the introduction for their brand new single “DIE4u” released on the 16th of September, which I am sure is now a crowd favourite as they were already singing every word back to the stage.
I wasn’t sure if they would perform the other collaborations from the new EP without the co-stars, however as soon as the into to “Kingslayer” began, it was clear they had made a good choice with the techno/ dance sounds, the crowd didn’t stop jumping until the song ended. Chants of “Oly Sykes” from the crowd when the stage crew were bringing a piano onto the stage ready to slow things down for an acoustic version of “Follow You”, when Sykes joked “We’re going to have to slow it down, we’re old and knackered” before stating that the band had been together for 16 years.
With only one song remaining of the main set “Drown”, the crowd surfing became a constant flow of bodies drifting across the crowd. As soon as the band left the stage, cheers of “One more song” echoed through the arena. The crowd were treated to not one, but three more massive hits “Obey”, “Throne” and “Can You Feel My Heart”, proving once again that their die-hard fans love all eras of Bring Me the Horizon’s musical timeline. During “Throne” Skyes prompted the crowd to get down, and upon his command, the jump was an impressive sight.
I can honestly say, having never seen Bring Me the Horizon live before, I am very happy that they were my first arena gig back after the pandemic. The entire show’s energy was off the charts, and it really made me realise what we have been missing out on over the past couple of years, which also made the evening a little bit more special.
To finish the night, the light screens read “BMTH just rocked my f***ing world” and I think those words were very true.
Photos by Jack Barker