The nights are drawing in, the temperature is dropping and somewhere in an animated world a gothic city is preparing to sing ‘This is Halloween’ all over again. Curiously, this is the first show at the Fleece in a good number of months where the audience are queuing round the venue a good 30 minutes before doors are meant to open; maybe it’s true that metalheads will stay out of the sun and warmth for as long as possible. All manner of piercings, coloured hair and leather jackets adorn the punters tonight, although the star is a girl of no more than ten years old carrying a messenger bag, emblazoned with tonight’s headliners, that’s nearly as big as her. N’awww.
Doors are late opening due to a sizeable number of people who bought meet and greet upgrades and this has a sizeable effect on the proceedings of tonight, as London’s Stereo Juggernaut (4) open up ten minutes behind schedule, a time that is never recovered. Not that Stereo Juggernaut are anything to write home about, mind you. True, the sound is messy and that’s not going to be their fault, but musically they offer very little. Imagine the very dregs of the nu-metal coffee pot cobbled together with backing tracks from a poor man’s version of smash hit series Stranger Things, then add a budget Brian Molko as frontman and you’re not far off their sound. Of the songs they play, only ‘Defeated by the Sea’ has any real bite about it and finishing the set by saying “There’s merch over there, we’re skint as fuck so anything helps.” comes across as desperate rather than highlight the minimal profit gained from touring nowadays. Still, they’re not the worst band of the evening; the best thing about The Dead Betas (3) was them pratting around at the beginning to ‘What Is Love’ by Haddaway before they’d even played a note. Again, the sound was against them, the electronics far too high in the mix, but the Devon outfit’s attempt to marry them with punk a la Enter Shikari falls fifty feet off a cliff incredibly quickly. Bland and devoid of any substance, the vocalist and guitarist swap roles for one song and the latter puts on a far more convincing performance, which sums everything up. Songs like ‘The Ego Song’ and ‘The King’ fail to move a wholly unimpressed audience and the general consensus is ‘It can’t get any worse, can it?’. Well, yes. Almost. Main support Among the Echoes (6) fluff their lines on their two opening numbers and at this point the ship is sinking fast. But the band rally brilliantly and the second half of their set is much stronger. Moody and atmospheric, channeling the works of The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim, they might have only been together for four years but the promise is certainly present; ‘Control’ certainly gets things moving and an impressive cover of Gary Numan’s ‘Pure’ does much to pick the mood up. By the time they finish with the upbeat ‘Fracture’, things have warmed up considerably.
It would be interesting to see what the average song length for a headliner set is nowadays, but the chances are it would be nowhere close to the twenty-one that The Birthday Massacre (7) give us tonight. Every studio album gets exposure and there’s even two tracks from 2011 EP Imaginary Monsters aired tonight as the Canadians lead the party atmosphere with panache, with a stunning rendition of ‘Pins and Needles’ proving the overall highlight. However, the sound issues that plagued the supports turn into tech issues this time around, with both guitar and mic issues halting proceedings early on, although the awkward banter that results (‘We’re more of a comedy band nowadays anyway’ quips Chibi) keeps the momentum going nicely and adds to The Birthday Massacre’s overall charm and appearance. What isn’t so charming is that pesky time delay, which has somehow grown to 25 minutes over the course of the night and results in final song ‘Midnight’ being played fifteen minutes before we’re actually into a new day; on a Monday night, that’s a bit much. The Birthday Massacre do enough to leave smiles on the faces of everyone that leaves though, and that’s the main thing at the end of it all.
The Birthday Massacre setlist
Pins And Needles
In the Dark