With a reformed Blink 182 planning huge gigs thrughout 2011, it’s encouraging to see frontman Tom DeLonge still giving time to his other project and, tonight, Angels & Airwaves have pretty much sold out the 3000 capacity Academy with an eager, and very loud, crowd.
Neon Trees provide the only support tonight and they do what every great support act should do, get the crowd warmed up nicely. And they needed it tonight, it’s cold and windy outside! With a mixture of catchy synth/pop/rock songs, a charming front man and some sing-a-long crowd participation moments by the end of the set, Neon Trees have the Academy in the palm of their hands. Expect big things from them.
As the house lights go down for the main act, the O2 Academy is plunged into darkness but we have to wait a little while for Angels & Airwaves to take to the stage. Starting off with spacey reverb synth sounds and warped guitar swells the band are far from Blink 182’s pop/punk sound. In fact if it wasn’t for Tom DeLonge’s distinctive nasal vocals you would never guess they shared the same frontman. Songs seem far more thought about and musically constructed in Angels & Airwaves, but given the band has been tarred with the “super group” brush that should be perhaps expected.
When DeLonge finally addresses the Birmingham crowd he doffs his hat to the musical roots Birmingham have provided for rock and seems extremely thankful that everyone is there to support a band with no record contract and little radio and TV airplay.
Other members of the band seem much more reserved compared to DeLonge who prances and dances around the stage and continually interacts with the audience.
The set flows nicely with the atmospheric first few songs leading into a more straight rock middle and a heavier ,anthemic ending. They also provide a huge sounding song with 3 members playing different sets of drums. There’s no mosh pits or dancing throughout the set but plenty of raised arms clearly show the crowd are enjoying what Angels has to offer. With lots of instrumental intros to songs it was hard to tell when songs had started and ended, I’m not sure the photographers were sure either, having at least a 20min shooting window rather than the usual 3 songs. Those waving keyboard sounds can become a little boring after a while and my mind did begin to wander on occasion, but that is a minor complaint.
Review & Photos – James Harrison