The fifth date on Fightstar‘s tour for their new album, Be Human, tonight the Academy 2 is sold out and it shows. There are people spilling across the merch area and the top bar, turning the top floor of the venue into a sweatbox and one wonders why the band isn’t playing downstairs in the bigger room. When the pit opens it eats any remaining space quicker than an illicit midnight supper disappears at fat camp, shoving people out into the surrounds.
Anyhow, In Case Of Fire play second, and open with what was their debut single This Time We Stand. With a long summer of gigs to go, energy levels seem conservative tonight, not helped by the way Robinson’s vocals are occasionally swallowed up by the thrashy noise of guitars and overpowered by the drums, which are solid, if unimaginative, throughout the set.
They play The Cleansing and Landslides, among other tracks from their debut album, Align the Planets, released later this year. Overall, their sound seems a little unfocused and, from what I can hear, I’m not sure the three band members are always playing the same song. They’ve been receiving rave reviews hither and yon so there’s absolutely something there, but tonight it was not entirely in evidence.
Fightstar enter the stage with a bellow and are greet by shouts. They open with Colours Bleed to Red and are almost immediately overwhelmed with girlish screaming, which only gets louder for The English Way, taken from their new album.
For those unaccustomed to post-hardcore, the tracks don’t usually have a bit you can clap along with, and there’s not a great amount of hooks. This cannot be said of the majority of Be Human: Fightstar have definitely crossed into melodic hardcore sometime in the night. The crowd here don’t mind in the least.
Tonight’s set is a mix of tracks from the new album interspersed with older material, with two songs from their 2005 EP, They Liked You Better When You Were Dead, and Lost Like Tears In Rain apparently brought into the set by fan requests.
Simpson’s vocals are lazy, the crowd louder throughout much of the set, but production standard when he can get the energy. Tracks like Grand Unification (Part 1) are crowd favourites, but some of Be Human – notably Never Change, the next single – are greeted apathetically.
For the encore, Fightstar play Amethyst, which actually bears more resemblance to the sound of Be Human than the two albums between, and is the first time Simpson sings the lyrics without crutching on the crowd. The man next to me shrieks at a level only dogs can hear in joyous response.
They end on Deathcar, which prompts a panicked crush of bodies to the pit. The song is theatrical and absurd, as hardcore is theatrical and absurd, and is a good end to the night.
Colours Bleed to Red
The English Way
Paint Your Target
Calling All Stations
Grand Unification (Part 1)
We Apologise For Nothing
Lost Like Tears In Rain
Photos – Ursula Roxy Aitchison