Remember 2009? The year that saw Bring Me the Horizon emerge from the deepest, darkest depths of Sheffield’s underground scene? Yes? Good. Because for a very brief moment last night (2o November), it felt like Amsterdam had turned into the Leadmill as Oli Sykes and co. dusted off songs which they hadn’t played in nearly a decade. And all of that in honour of Sykes’ 32nd birthday, which fell on the day that Bring Me the Horizon’s First Love tour stopped off at Amsterdam’s sold-out AFAS Live. For a band whose sonic direction has changed so drastically over the years, you’d have been forgiven for assuming that the band simply didn’t like their older output. On the contrary, though, it seems.
The night saw Sheffield’s finest hellraisers bring two special guests with them, the first of which – Brighton’s Yonaka – looked and sounded ready to take over the world. That’s obviously a very broad compliment which you could apply to any half-decent new band, but Yonaka mean business, and they hit hard. Fierce frontwoman Theresa Jarvis is a force to be reckoned with onstage, bounding up and down the catwalk with utmost vigour as her and her band treated a packed room to cuts from recent EPs Teach Me to Fight (August, featuring the standout title track) and Creature (last week). There’s something quite captivating about Yonaka and their ability to keep a room of potential new fans in the palm of their hands, but when you hear their stadium-ready choruses (Teach Me to Fight) and gritty riffs you’re sure to be won over in an instant. Second special guests The Fever 333 are no strangers to going wild (wild being a major understatement), but this shouldn’t be a surprise when you realise that former letlive. vocalist Jason Butler is at the helm. Taking to the stage with a black bag over his head, Butler stood motionless as police recordings played through the PA. Once his band (guitarist Stephen Harrison and drummer Aric Improta) joined the stage, Butler ripped the bag off his head and sprung into full-on maniac mode. Set opener Burn It allowed Butler to show Amsterdam what he was made of, ravaging the stage before inevitably making his way down the catwalk and into the crowd. He made it to the sound desk before taking up a spot at the barrier, eventually taking a bucket and pouring it over his head. A normal day at the office for Butler and his men, it seemed. Double-whammy Made An America and We’re Coming In served as a highlight in the set, setting the bar incredibly high for the rest of the night, at least in terms of energy.
Where the production for 2016’s That’s the Spirit tour centred on big video screens, raised platforms and enthralling visuals, Bring Me the Horizon’s First Love tour is quite the opposite. The stage is, save for a catwalk, as good as bare, with a stripped-back lighting rig relying heavily on strobes for the duration of 75 minutes. Half-tape/half-live opener I Apologise If You Feel Something serves as the introduction to new album amo (due in January), leading straight into comeback single Mantra‘s policing riffs and arena-sized chorus. It was the first track Sykes and co. shared with the world in anticipation of amo, sounding exactly how you’d expect this band to sound anno 2018. The House of Wolves‘ blistering screams and pulsating rhythms followed as Avalanche and Go to Hell, For Heaven’s Sake rounded out a powerful opening salvo. The entire show hits hard from start to finish, something largely down to the band’s choice to focus on recent albums Sempiternal and That’s the Spirit. Both records are filled with bona fide bangers, and nearly all of them passed in quick succession last night. Slow-burning Sleepwalking and monstrous Wonderful Life preceded the brutal Shadow Moses and pounding Happy Song, making way for a moment in the show which quite literally no one saw coming. As it was Oli Sykes’ 32nd birthday, the band decided to pull out four old-school fan favourites, mashing them up into a concise medley just long enough to make your average early days fan drop their jaw to the ground. The Comedown, (I Used to Make Out With) Medusa, Diamonds Aren’t Forever and Re: They Have No Reflections made up this medley, with the tracks respectively not featuring in the band’s live show since 2011, 2009, 2014 and 2008. Quite the treat for your average old school fan, then.
A fists-in-the-air double-whammy of Can You Feel My Heart and Follow You allowed the main set to reach an end with utmost sincerity and vigour, before Antivist gave fans an opportunity to thrust their middle fingers into the skies. Although it was noticeable throughout that Sykes occasionally lacks the vocal strength we’ve come to expect from him, he does make up for it with his ability to hype up an entire room (even if a faint backing track pops up). You’ve got to give him that. Drown closed out the main set, making way for a brief encore which brought the entire night to a blistering end. Doomed‘s haunting undertones and Throne‘s hyper-energised outbursts ensured that at least 90% of the room went home satisfied, even if it is a shame that the band are touring Europe with a mere two new songs to their name. Mantra and Wonderful Life are great tracks, but with amo not due until January it felt like the tour had come somewhat prematurely for fans who saw a near-identical live show two years ago. No doubt the band will return once amo is out, but when you’re out on a huge tour with just two new songs, the set ends up feeling pretty bare. With the exception of their incredibly rare throwback, of course. Amo is one of 2019’s most anticipated new albums, and it isn’t hard to see why. Criticisms aside, Bring Me the Horizon still do put on a great show all the while proving that there’s nothing wrong with onstage simplicity if the music is as powerful as theirs.
amo is due on 25 January, 2019 via Sony. You can find a gallery from last night’s show below.