Date: Sunday 26th January 2020
Venue: Manchester Academy, Manchester
Supports: Vein, Every Time I Die
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Since becoming an independent band alongside the release of 2017’s ‘You Are We’, While She Sleeps seem to have gone from strength to strength and this is no more apparent than tonight as they play to a sold out Manchester Academy. Being one of only two UK dates to start of the year it’s no surprise that people from all over have made their way to witness what was set to be an amazing show from a band who are one of the best UK metalcore bands out there at the moment. With bands as crazy as Vein and Every Time I Die along for the ride as well it certainly set the scene for a wild Sunday night.
First to take to the stage tonight to a surprisingly full crowd were Massachusetts punks Vein. Having seen these guys in an article on a Kerrang! as part of a list of bands doing something different within their genre, they instantly piqued my interest as a must see act for tonight’s show. As they came onto the stage they left no time in going straight for the jugular and with their noisy raw and fast hardcore it left much of the audience wondering what had hit them. Not content with being just a regular hardcore band, the added electronic elements and vocals provided by Benno really added another level to the sounds coming from the stage. With so much going on up on the stage at once sometimes parts got a little lost in the mix. Unfortunately the vocals were the most likely candidate for this with Anthony DiDio throwing himself all across the stage and into the crowd at every opportunity. Regardless of this though Vein flew through songs with no real pause for the 30 minutes they played. Huge pits opened up throughout the set and really gave a great impression on what was to come on the rest of the night! DiDio Spent most of his time in the crowd getting up close and personal, whether that was surfing across the top of them or hanging on to the front row which really added another layer to the performance and showed the energy that the band were bringing. After a nonstop performance it was no surprise that the band had a rapid ending. With no warning as the final track finished the band left the stage almost instantly. Having not had chance to check out Vein prior to tonight’s show, they’re definitely one that I’ll be having on the playlist and seeing again in the future at any possible opportunity.
Following on from Vein’s wild set was never going to be an easy task for any regular band but then again Every Time I Die are no regular band. With the crowd already full of hell all it took were guitarist Andy Williams playing the opening riffs of ‘Roman Holiday’ to start the chaos and by the time the rest of the band took to the stage the crowd were already bouncing. Every Time I Die are one of those bands that are always impressive to see live and with a varied back catalogue over the last 20 years, it’s always a fun surprise to see what they’ll play. Early plays of both ‘Glitches’ and ‘We’rewolf’ sounded incredible and had the crowd in full voice partying along with the band. With a mid-set announcement that the band were heading back to the studio as soon as they were back home to record another album, it lead to unreleased track ‘Planet Shit’ being played next and with heavy fast bursts of energy it’s definitely is going to be a release I’m looking forward to. The carnage from earlier continued throughout the set and with back to back hits of ‘The Coin had a Say’ and ‘Thirst’ it’s no surprise that the pits were in full swing. Not content with just keeping the carnage in the crowd, Every Time I Die took every available opportunity to cause chaos on the stage with kits and amps being climbed on to really give the audience an authentic experience. With the set nearing the end there was no let up for the crowd with the band dropping the big hitters of ‘Decayin with the Boys’ and ‘Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space’ and getting huge reactions from the crowd. As the band left the stage the crowd finally had a second to breathe and it was clear that there were a lot of Every Time I Die fans in the room, whether they were the hardcore fans of many years or the brand new fans after tonight. The band clearly know how to put on a show and hopefully once their new record is done it won’t be too long before they’re back and headlining rooms this size all on their own.
Any band that can sell out Manchester Academy and bring the likes of Every Time I Die along as supports are clearly something special and that’s very accurate for tonight’s headliners While She Sleeps are up there as one of the best UK Metalcore bands at the moment and despite me saying that about a bunch of bands it really hits home when you look at the progress they have made over the last couple of years.
Opening up tonight with the incredible ‘ANTI-SOCIAL’ left no room for interpretation about how good tonight’s show was going to be and with the crowd shouting along throughout, there were going to be a lot of sore throats come Monday morning. Following up not to long after with ‘INSPIRE’ really showed off that tonight While She Sleeps were really on top of their game. Usually in a review I’ll look at the members of the band that stood out or played particularly well but in this case there is no separating the good from the average as everyone played perfectly. From the thundering bass and drums to the meaty riffs and soaring lead guitar solos everything sounded perfect tonight and with everything tied together with the gut wrenching vocals provided by Loz Taylor it really was a show to remember. This was shown when halfway through the set the band dropped into ‘Brainwashed’ and the crowd went wild, with circle pits filling the floor and what felt like hundreds of people passing over the barrier it really filled the room with energy. This continued through newer track ‘FAKERS PLAGUE’ as well with the huge Academy becoming what felt like a tiny sweatbox venue in a matter of minutes as everyone bounced along. Taking a step back in time While She Sleeps treated the crowd to ‘Death Toll’ from ‘This Is The Six’ which was incredible to hear before ‘Four Walls’ filled the venue back up again with the crowd shouting every word back at the stage. Ending the main set with a band the band had saved two of the best with ‘THE GUILTY PARTY’ starting a riot in the crowd before ‘Hurricane’ brought everything to a head to finish the show with a bang. I think anyone would have been content if the show had ended there but for the lucky crowd there was much more to come in the encore.
After a short break the band returned to the stage for one last encore to see the tour out. After telling the crowd that this was the best show to end the tour with, the band launched straight into things with ‘HAUNT ME’ before the monumental ‘Silence Speaks’ blew everything that came before it out of the water. With only one track left to play for the night it was only right that the band finished with what had become it’s mantra over the years and as cries of ‘You Are We’ rang out across the academy one final time the show was finally at an end. There are many words to describe tonight’s show but somehow triumphant seems to be the most appropriate one in my eyes. Taking the step up to playing venues this size is crazy and to do so as a completely independent band is even wilder so it’s one hell of an achievement for the band to be where they are at currently. With ‘SO WHAT?’ placing in my Top 10 albums of 2019 its will come as no surprise for me to say how good While She Sleeps are but after tonight’s performance I’d even go as far as saying right now they are the best UK Metalcore band out there.