Date: Friday 20th December 2019
Venue: Manchester Academy, Manchester
Supports: Blood Youth, Employed To Serve
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So I feel like I can’t start this review off without mentioning how much the universe didn’t want me to attend this gig, with friends losing tickets last minute and a journey across in which calling it “The Drive from Hell” would make it seem like a pleasant Sunday drive in comparison. Luckily however thanks to a wonderful guy on twitter and the power of road diversions we eventually made it into Manchester after a whopping 3 hour journey and oh boy was it worth it to see the spectacle that was Bury Tomorrow headlining this huge venue.
Unfortunately due to the aforementioned travel issues we weren’t able to catch opening act Blood Youth which was a real shame as having seen them 8 times in the last few years I can confirm that they always put on an incredible show. For anyone in a similar boat who wants to hear me rave about just how good they are check out the review I wrote on their March headline show at The Key Club in Leeds here. Or for those that don’t, just listen give their music a spin and I promise you’ll be blown away with top recommendations being earlier track ‘Failure’ and recently released ‘Playing the Victim’
Luckily for us it was only the single act that we missed as the moment we finally go into Manchester Academy, Employed To Serve crashed onto the stage with title track from their new album ‘Eternal Forward Motion’ leading the charge. As starting points go it was certainly an impressive one and had the crowd banging their heads along from the beginning. Not content with the crowd only rocking on the spot the band continued to build energy up in the room and with the huge sounding ‘Good for Mothing’ and newer track ‘Beneath It All’ it was no surprise that the pit opened up nicely in the middle of Manchester Academy. Props do need to be given to guitarist Sammy Unwin who decided that the best way to build the energy was to try and crowd surf into the front few rows. Unfortunately it didn’t end too well with the first few rows not being too tightly packed and him dropping down pretty quickly however the effects were felt across the whole crowd and as the band went into ‘Force Fed’ the central mosh pit opened up nicely for the carnage to continue. With one final hurrah the band launched into their biggest track with ‘I Spend My Days (Wishing Them Away)’ continuing the explosive reaction from the mosh pit. And as the song came to an end it was clear that Employed to Serve had been received very well by the huge crowd tonight. With the recent announcement of a headline tour later this year with Palm Reader, hopefully it won’t be too long before a lot of tonight’s crowd are seeing them play live again. I know I certainly will.
With the crowd well and truly warmed up it was time for tonight’s headliners Bury Tomorrow to take to the stage and perform the amazing ‘Black Flame’ album in full. Being an album performance meant that there was not much surprise from the setlist however given that I hadn’t spent nearly enough time with ‘Black Flame’ as I had for every other Bury Tomorrow album it worked brilliantly as a proper introduction and play through to the incredible heights that the band have now reached with their latest album. All thoughts that I would be lost for the majority of the set went down when the opening notes of ‘No Less Violent’ rang out it was clear that tonight really was going to be a step up from every other time I’d seem. Having steadily grown over the years it was clear that the band have honed their craft and become one of the most reliable bands in Metalcore and true stalwarts of the genres. To listen to Bury Tomorrow really conjures up a sense of epicenes and this runs through all the songs from the soaring highs that guitarist Jason Cameron’s clean vocals provide to the crushing breakdowns and screams from Vocalist Dani Winter-Bates. With the rest of the band tying everything together into one incredible package it really is no surprise that they are finally at the level to play huge venues like Manchester Academy. Showing off this incredible ability to its best the band launch into title track and the first single ‘Black Flame’ early on to a roaring reaction from the crowd. Within seconds the crowd are bouncing along and the shouts of “Black Flame” as fists rise into the air it really is a sight to behold and one that is kept up for the rest of the night. Standout tracks for me personally came in the form of the brutal ‘Knife of Gold’ which saw the pit engulf most of the front half of the venue with its incredible riffs and ‘Stormbringer’ which not only brought dizzying performances from lead guitarist Kristian Dawson but kept the energy in the crowd at peak levels when most usual gigs would be starting to slump off a little before their big finish.
Finishing off the last of the tracks from ‘Black Flame’, the band ended off nicely with final track ‘Peacekeeper’, it was then time for Bury Tomorrow to play not one or two but a four song encore to complete the ‘Black Flame’ experience. Opening the encore up was ‘Glasswalk’. As the sole added new track on the deluxe edition of ‘Black Flame’ it would have been wrong not to include it in the set but this was perfect placement and kept it in its own separate little bubble from the rest of the album. With all the tracks from both versions of ‘Black Flame’ now played through in full it was time for Bury Tomorrow to end the night in their own incredible way. Next up was the unbeatable new track ‘The Grey (VIXI)’ which had clearly been a regular play on most of the audience’s playlists as despite being out for only a month, the crowd were shouting along through the chorus. As an indicator for what the band were doing next it’s definitely a very positive sign and with the not so subtle announcements that they may or may not have new tracks out early this year and that they may or may not have both a festival and a tour announcement soon as well, it’s certainly a good time to be a Bury Tomorrow fan. As the band took a break to thank the crowd for letting them play in such a huge venue they then introduced the next track by saying that it was a track that had been played in all three of the smaller Manchester Academy venues and that it was finally going to be played in the main Manchester Academy. As ‘You and I’ filled the room it was clear that the track from debut album ‘Portraits’ was still a fan favourite and sounded incredible. The fact that the band had played all academy venues also showed off the steady rise that the band had and the hard work that has gone in to creating and moulding Bury Tomorrow into what it is today. With that said and done there was only one track remaining and there was no surprise at all in the fact that ‘Man of Fire’ was tonight’s closing track. After one last burst of catharsis and shouting along it was finally time to end the night and as everyone filtered out of the venue it was clear that this sold out show had been a real triumph for the band and showed just why they were so well appreciated even stealing a few “Show of the Years” at the very end.
For this set to get such an appreciation from the crowd really showed just how fantastic this record really is. For a Bury Tomorrow set to be this well received despite not including their most well-known tracks like ‘Earthbound’, ‘Cemetery’, or even ‘Lionheart’ really shows just how much of a performance that the band can put on. With no one putting a foot wrong tonight it really was them at the top of the game. Tie in two of the best upcoming metalcore acts as their supports and it is no wonder why people were calling this a Show of The Year. With their surprise festival announcement being Slam Dunk Festival 2020 I can’t wait to be in Temple Newsam to see these guys yet again in an even bigger setting.