It’s difficult to comprehend that the Kerrang! Tour is now in its 12th year, and suffice to say we’ve seen a plethora of incredible acts (including BRING ME THE HORIZON, LIMP BIZKIT and BIFFY CLYRO) grace the bill since its inception. And 2017 promises to be just as stacked with the very best purveyors of pop-punk, rock and alternative music all on hand in support of this year’s headliners – Aussie metalcore/post-hardcore collective THE AMITY AFFLICTION. Birmingham’s O2 Institute is playing host to the first night of the eight-date run, and fingers crossed that the sonic fire of the four bands hitting the stage can defrost this bone-chilling venue as well as warming our black hearts.
Welsh alt five-piece CASEY have the unenviable task of kicking the aural festivities off, but their unwavering commitment to crafting music that is as poignant as it is brutally stoic enables them to capture (and retain) this crowd’s attention. Tom Weaver’s impassioned vocals sit alongside ethereal melodies on tracks like Fluorescents, but these are juxtaposed by visceral shouts and an abundance of penetrating riffs.
Harnessing insatiable energy and charisma, VUKOVI front-woman Janine Shilstone is akin to an unstoppable rebel force who struts and stalks her way across every square inch of stage tonight. There’s an undeniable confidence to the Scottish rockers’ sound – which has inevitably grown during that recent European tour run with alt-stalwarts PVRIS – and every track they drop explodes like a supersonic rocket on Bonfire Night. From the infectious grooves of And He Lost His Mind to the unashamedly banger Boy George, the quartet can expect to leave here with new fans and the hits to match when it comes to their whirlwind self-titled debut.
Modern-day anthems and emotive sincerity collide to create a winning formula when it comes to Blackpool’s BOSTON MANOR, and the outfit’s honest blend of emo, hardcore and pop-punk has these revellers losing their minds along with numerous overpriced pints unable to withstand the eruption of feverish circle pits and proliferation of bouncing bodies. On the command of vocalist Henry Cox, the number of crowd surfers hurtling across the venue rapidly increases and members of the audience narrowly avoiding several consecutive dropkicks to the face. Remaining as humble as ever, the band make sure they take the time to thank the previous supports and anyone here who has picked up a copy of debut record Be Nothing. A ferocious outing that strikes a chord with those watching due to its wanton intensity.
With a career in excess of a decade (and more shows and festival appearances than you can shake a stick at) tucked firmly under their belts, THE AMITY AFFLICTION step out to a returning heroes’ welcome, and exude the effortless confidence gained after years of toil and unrelenting determination. The satisfying chill of opener I Bring The Weather With Me sends arms skywards; inciting the first venue-wide singalong as soon as clean vocalist/bassist Ahren Stringer starts to croon “will you miss me when I’m gone?” whilst a blistering salvo of Open Letter, Lost & Fading and Never Alone lays waste to a swelling Institute as a second, third and fourth wave of perspiring bodies fly overhead towards the rattling barrier. There are instances where Stringer’s vocals can border on saccharine – particularly during the aforementioned track – but the intensity of Joel Birch’s scathing low-end barks combined with that skull-rattling breakdown around the 2:50 mark tempers the over-earnest nuances. Amity’s admission that tonight is “quite easily the best show we’ve ever played here” simply drives the rabid throng towards ever higher realms of ecstasy and they ultimately render the band inaudible during acoustic-tinged ear-worm All Fucked Up. One of the most crushing moments of the set comes in the form of anthem Death’s Hand (from 2014’s Let The Ocean Take Me) – pummelling riffs, caustic vitriol “You gave me the strength to say, hey death, get fucked” and the dynamic vocal interplay between Stringer and Birch cause bodies to pulsate to the point of combustion. As the heavy yet hopeful strains of title track/current album This Could Be Heartbreak slowly fade to black, it signals the end of another boisterous Kerrang! Tour, but these Aussies look set to continue their march towards artistic transcendence.
Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in Birmingham from Jamie Vann-Watson here: