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Live Review: Billy Talent – Cardiff Univesity, Cardiff – 18/11/2012

HTF check out the Canadian punks as they return to our shores on the Rock Sound Riot tour, full verdict inside.

Band: Billy Talent
Support: Don Broco, Awolnation
Venue: Cardiff University, Cardiff
Date: 18/11/12

Tonight’s proceedings are kicked off in fine style with Don Broco opening. We have been long time Broco fans here at HTF and tonight’s performance is just further proof as to why. Despite a somewhat shaky start due to some technical difficulties, the band remain unphased and it is not long until guitarist Simon Delaney is back in action and leaping all over the stage with his bandmates. Facing a crowd that is largely unfamiliar with them results in a few of the expected crowd participation moments being sadly absent (no push ups or people getting on each other’s shoulders tonight unfortunately) however everything else that make them such a fun live proposition is still present and correct. Front man Rob Damiani leads the band through tongue in cheek choreographed dance moves and huge rock hits in the making, and ‘Thug Workout’ welcomes the first huge mosh pit of the night. The lads can’t help but put a smile on your face and the band take to the larger stage like they’ve been doing it all their lives. It would be no surprise at all if Don Broco are headlining stages of this size in their own right sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately AWOLNATION fail to build on this momentum, make no mistakes it’s a set that certainly has its moments with the likes of ‘It’s Not Your Fault’ and ‘Kill Your Heroes’ sounding huge. However the vast majority of the set falls flat with an indifferent crowd that barely move and seems largely bored. The band don’t help matters either when they take off on long drawn out, and what feels like self indulgent jam sessions. Furthermore despite front man Aaron Bruno’s repeated pleas for the crowd to go crazy he remains largely static bar a few head bobs throughout the set. The band do however pull things together towards the end of their set with a brilliant rendition of ‘Sail’ which sounds nothing short of majestic and ‘Burn It Down’ finally inspiring the movement in the crowd Bruno was striving for. AWOLNATION’s unique sound make them an odd placement on this bill and while they may fair far better in their own environment they unfortunately fall a bit flat tonight.

Despite some sloppy and out if time chanting the anticipation for headliners Billy Talent is clearly huge and when the band take to the stage, the crowd unsurprisingly lap it up in an instant and go appropriately bonkers. Kicking things off with latest album ‘Dead Silence’ opener ‘Lonely Road To Absolution’ before tearing into ‘Viking Death March’ with rapid intent. Being a band who have always been a medium sized venue, middle tier band it would be easy to forget how many hits Billy Talent had, or it would be easy if they didn’t play a set that contained banger after banger. Playing a career spanning set that includes big hits such as ‘Devil In A Midnight Mass’ and ‘Rusted From The Rain’, album tracks such as ‘Line & Sinker’ and ‘Diamond On A Landmine’ and even new songs such as ‘Love Was Still Around’ and ‘Cure For The Enemy’, all are greeted with devoted hands in their sing alongs and furious mosh pits.

As the band turn out a diverse and impeccably tight set it becomes immediately apparent that there has been no dip in quality from them in ten years. Furthermore Ben Kowalewicz proves himself as one of the greatest unsung rock frontmen in the world today. Dripping and sweat and gripping to his microphone for dear life, his schizophrenic vocals are even more intense live and he remains a figure it’s hard to take your eyes off. By the time the band reach ‘Try Honesty’ and ‘Devil On My Shoulder’ the crowd devotion has reached fever pitch. The band returns to a hero’s welcome to play an encore that includes heavy hitters ‘Fallen Leaves’, ‘Surprise Surprise’ and ‘Red Flag‘ that send the crowd predictably ballistic and drain every last ounce of energy out of them. It remains something of a mystery why they aren’t even bigger than they are already on the strength of tonight’s performance, however for those in the know have witnessed yet another stunning gig from Billy Talent.


Reviewer: Gavin Lloyd

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