With four bands on the bill, the first support hit the stage just fifteen minutes after the doors open, yet with the majority of the crowd being made up of enthusiastic teenagers, the room is already about as full as it is going to get by the time their set starts. Edinburgh boys Serpico get the crowd rocking from the start, receiving an impressive reaction from the young fans who are clearly keen to be amongst the first to experience a new and upcoming band. Singer Mikey Serpico clearly has a great deal of passion, tearing around the stage throughout the whole set, however at times they sound a little inexperienced, a problem that can soon be overcome if their constant touring continues.
British rock band, Brigade are next up, giving a polished performance which is reminiscent of bands such as Hundred Reasons, except for singer Will Simpson’s voice, which sounds more pop than rock. New single, ‘Pilot’ receives a decent reaction, the crowd seeming to like their style, despite it being very different to that of the headliners. Brigade could well be a band to look out for in the future, however they may be better appreciated by more of a rock or indie crowd.
There is definitely a sense of excitement and anticipation during the build up to Chicago’s Kill Hannah, who have found themselves rising fast in the UK since their appearance at Give It A Name last April. From the moment they appear with their green laser fitted guitars for instrumental ‘Life In The Arctic’, the crowd are hooked on their 80’s inspired pop rock, the electronic beats and catchy riffs continuing through the dark and dirty ‘Kennedy’.
Singer Mat Devine clearly has a lot of appreciation for Birmingham, the band have played in the Midlands four times over the last year, their upcoming appearance at the Barfly soon to make it five. The reminder of their Academy 2 headline gig last September highlights the fact that their performance seems to lack the intensity of the more intimate shows, yet the upbeat ‘Crazy Angel’ and single ‘Lips Like Morphine’ still get the crowd dancing and jumping right to the end, their growing fan base and media recognition setting them up to be a big thing in 2008.
At first glance, tonight should be a disappointing night for Aiden, the Academy looking very empty in comparison to the numbers they have played to at previous gigs. However, the fans that do attend more than make up for the absence of others, throwing themselves into circle pits and singing along with everything the band give them, both old and new. Frontman Wil Francis has lost the white make-up and gothic outfits, instead going for a shirt and jeans, a change perhaps intended to mirror the band’s change in direction with 2007 album ‘Conviction’.
Aiden may have grown up and moved on to a more melodic sound with the new album, but they haven’t left behind the furious, energetic nature of their live shows, Wil’s microphone constantly flying around the stage throughout the frantic, ‘The Last Sunrise’ and ‘Die Romantic’. The crowd obviously know what to expect from Aiden live, diving into the trademark wall of death that accompanies ‘I Set My Friends On Fire’, despite the singer telling them that he can’t ask them to do it. Aiden clearly recognise the influence they have over their younger teenage audience and use this in a positive way, with Francis sending out a message against teen suicide, an issue close to the frontman’s heart.
Wil’s cover of The Smiths’, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ provides a break from the carnage, which despite being a little lost on the younger fans, shows a more mellow side to the singer and gives insight into the band’s early influences. The pace is picked up again for final song ‘The World By Storm’ leaving the crowd singing back the final lines ‘It’s in our heads, It’s in our hearts, The world by storm.’ as the band leave the stage. Some fans may not have appreciated the new direction that Aiden have taken, but tonight has shown that they still have a dedicated fan base who will grow with them and come back to see them time and time again.
Review – Helen Catchpowle
Photos – Lucy Pryor