Having recently reformed, Fightstar were well overdue a tour, and where better to start than in Birmingham. Tonight sees Fightstar’s four date tour start at The Institute with support from SHVPES, More Dangerous Animal and Moose Blood.
Local boys SHVPES, formally Cytota, are opening the show tonight with their heavy rock/metalcore crossover sound. With sub drops a plenty, the quintet put their all into the show doing an excellent job at waking the crowd up and prompting the first pit of the night. Vocalist Griffin Dickinson deserves an honourable mention for not only filling the shoes of the ex-Cytota vocalist but for doing it with such skill and excellence. Performing both old and new tracks, SHVPES have no qualms with either. Their penultimate track sees Dickinson get in the crowd to re-instigate the pit. Ending their set with Generation Scared, the Birmingham lads have done a stellar job at opening the show, leaving the stage for More Dangerous Animal.
Being relatively unknown and being second on stage at a show like this is odd. However formed from the ashes of Brigade, More Dangerous Animal are no strangers to playing shows and this comes across in their energetic stage presence. The heavy rock sound produced by the quintet is well polished, tight and somewhat anthemic. With the vocal duties being shared between James Plant and Will Simpson, both of whom play guitar too, a unique sound is created which allows the band to stand out from others within their genre. That being said, not all of the notes could be reached successfully, which let them down slightly. All in all their set was an average one that allowed them to do what they needed to do.
Moose Blood provided main support tonight and opening with Bukowski, they established their emo/grunge sound very quickly. With only a few nodding heads dotted around the room it was evident that not everyone was a fan; but this never held them back. Speeding through their set that was compiled of tracks from their latest album, it becomes clear that Moose Blood, having played Birmingham recently, know what works and what doesn’t. There was no messing around with clichÃ©s during their set as vocalist Eddy Brewerton kept the talking to a minimum, allowing for a packed setlist; which, in my opinion is exactly what live music is about. Bringing their set to a close with Boston, Moose Blood had won over a select few in the crowd, but did not manage to convince everyone. For me though, they belong on stages as big as that and in the coming years, that is most definitely where they will be.
The Fightstar reunion has been four years worth of waiting so the fact they’ve sold over 1000 tickets on this date is no surprise at all. As they take to the stage the entire crowd, for the first time tonight, wake up and appear to be enjoying themselves. Opening with Paint Your Target it’s like they’ve never been away. The bridge sees the entire room sing the words back at the quartet, sending shivers down my spine. Continuing with the set after a short hello, track three is Grand Unification Part 1, giving an excellent opportunity for the largest pit of the night, which the crowd take with open arms. With Fightstar being one of three successful musical ventures that vocalist/guitarist Charlie Simpson has made, he is no stranger to being on stage and this really comes across as he prowls from side to side making excellent use of the ego risers at the front of stage also. Top marks on use of space. In addition to knowing his way around the stage, his vocals are also excellent, particularly his transition from cleans to screams as he makes it look easy. Six tracks in and the crowd are already chanting the band’s name, this group of people really do like Fightstar. They weren’t bothered about the supports and they aren’t just here because their mate had a spare ticket. They all love Fightstar and an awful lot too. In track eight, Colours Bleed To Red, Alex Westaway, the other vocalist/guitarist gets his time to shine as his share of vocals increases; he proves himself too. Track nine, Deathcar, sees Simpson’s brother and More Dangerous Animal guitarist, Will Simpson take guitar duty whilst Charlie Simpson boasts his vocal ability. This setup continues for track ten, Tannhauser Gate.
A lot of the time, drummers go unnoticed and are just known as the one that keeps everyone in time, however, track eleven, Chemical Blood allows drummer, Omar Abidi, to show what he’s made of with it’s heart pounding pedal work and intricate, off tempo beats. Thirteen songs in and nothing has slowed down, but it doesn’t need to. The crowd are enjoying every second of it, and with the seemingly relentless effort that the band are putting in, they don’t need to slow down either. Going all the way back to their first EP for the second time tonight, track fourteen, Lost Like Tears In The Rain, gets a great reception and is certainly one of the biggest sing-alongs of the night. It is followed by an even better received track, Palanuiks Laughter, to which the entire room sing the chorus back to the band. It’s quite possibly wrong, but I bench how good metal performances are by crowd surfers. If the crowd surf, it’s good. If not, it’s bad. Thankfully, the crowd antics reflected the performance and the surfers were there, riding the crowd like a wave quickly passing the shores of the Australian coastline. The encore begins with an acoustic track, Amethyst, which Simpson agrees he will sing, if the crowd sing the chorus. They do. Completing the night by playing the rest of their debut EP in its entirety, Speak Up is track seventeen. Fightstar, are masters of the ‘build-up’. Each one they play gets more intense, the pit gets bigger and the breakdown gets heavier. Their final track, Mono, is a sombre one. The catchy riffs, Simpson’s gravelly voice and the raw emotion encapsulates Fightstar in a song.
Four years we have had to wait for this band to reappear. It has not been easy, but it was definitely worth the wait and with the promise of new music in the works for this year, I am certainly excited to see what lies in store for the future of Fightstar.
Paint Your Target
Build an Army
Grand Unification, Part I
We Apologise for Nothing
The English Way
Colours Bleed to Red
Deathcar (with Will Simpson)
TannhÃ¤user Gate (with Will Simpson)
I Am the Message
Sleep Well Tonight
Lost Like Tears in Rain
Amethyst (Charlie and Alex only)
Review: Dan Wilson
Photos: Steve Kilmister