On the road to Reading and Leeds, The Blackout have stopped off to play some largely intimate warm-up shows; tonight they’re in York, where a crowd has been gathered since the early morning, a usual occurrence for the Merthyr sextet.
First up tonight are Blackburn’s Middle Finger Salute. According to tonight’s headliners, the band were plucked by Kevin Lyman to appear on Warped Tour, and usually only play in pubs, a statement that is somewhat criminal given the talent the quartet have. Playing straight up melodic punk music, their songs all have that very similar feel, but they’re all quality tunes and the crowd really seem to agree; moshpits erupting in a matter of just a few minutes, and even one crowdsurfer to boot. They really start the floor-shaking with a cover of the Spice Girls’ If You Wanna Be My Lover, cementing their reputation almost single handedly. Middle Finger Salute play to win, and they’ve gone down very well tonight.
The Blackout have brought their friends in The Guns up with them for the show; Hawaiian shirt wearing frontman Alex Wiltshire looks strangely similar to Gavin Butler and Elvis Presley’s lovechild, and the band immediately bursts out in a rock ‘n’ roll come-screamo approach. They go down better than their predecessors, sounding a lot more similar to The Blackout, and with an early appearance from Sean Smith for a song, they’ve gartered their audience’s support, and done it well – pits once more opening up, and really heating the venue to boiling point. The Guns’ sound really maintains the “sound” that has become familiar with a lot of Welsh bands, and they surely have to be going on to bigger and better things, as they seemingly gain a lot of new fans tonight.
The Blackout take the stage tonight to a crowd that are so warmed up, so ready for them, that they barely play a chord before the whole room erupts into cheer. Starting things off strangely slowly with new track Silent (When We Speak), the attendance shout back every word in unison. Vocalist Gavin Butler’s singing is top notch tonight, hitting great notes all around whilst rifting through the front barrier of kids in front of him.
Things really pick up when new favourite STFUppercut literally tears the venue down; moshes start, sweat drips, and The Blackout sound incredible. Co-frontman Sean Smith‘s harsher screaming vocal talent is the perfect foil for Gavin’s singing, and both trade lines in perfect sync and harmony. The Welshmen are all laughs and smiles tonight; conducting the crowd to do whatever they could honestly want – this includes many in attendance even getting topless, such is the party mood of the self-described “South Wales’ Resident Paedophile Band”, which gets a lot of laughs for the remainder of the night.
Older tracks fit in perfectly with the new; It’s High Tide Baby! and The Beijing Cocktail, to name a few, garter a great deal of sweaty unison jumps and moshpits respectively, and tracks like the awesomely poppy This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things ensure the atmosphere that The Blackout are genuinely making sure everyone has the best time they can tonight. The energy doesn’t stop throughout the entire set, and a brilliant crowd-participating Children Of The Night and new single Save Our Selves round-up The Best In Town played in it’s entirety tonight.
Things come to an end, but not necessarily a dull moment, when old crowd-pleaser I’m A Riot? You’re A Fucking Riot’s opening chords are played, and the room once more erupts into mass hysteria. The 6-piece have done themselves proud tonight; it goes to show intimate shows remain the best kind, and The Blackout (and their crowd) come away well and truly warmed up for their incoming Reading and Leeds festival appearances.