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Kerrang! Tour 2013 featuring Black Veil Brides + Chiodos + Tonight Alive + Fearless Vampire Killers @ 02 Academy Birmingham, 14 February 2013

So this Valentine’s night, we’ve given up a romantic meal for a night at the O2 Academy for a bit of up-and-coming rock, we’re at the Kerrang! Tour 2013. An eclectic mix of punk rock, in your face screaming and goth glam rock…

Kerrang! was once the place of denim, leather, spiral perms and Iron Maiden. Thirty odd years on, as the rock genre has spread and merged with other genres, the music that Kerrang! plays and promotes has followed suit.  So this 2013 tour is all about new talent and if it’s objective is about bringing the next generation into the world of rock n’ roll than it’s obviously worked. Because the crowd is made up of little people – max age of 15 if I’m being generous, kids with face-paint everywhere and the odd parent in tow.

Couldn’t make the 7pm start – so didn’t catch the band first up on the line-up. The Fearless Vampire Killers – great name for a band, though unfortunately I can’t tell you if they are fearless and how many vampires they may have killed during their set. But, if you fancy a listen, check them out on all their differing media platforms and on their website.

Next up Tonight Alive, with female vocalist Jenna McDougall. Think Paramore and Avril with sweary bits between songs. Commercial punk pop from down under (Australia) which goes down with lots of screaming adulation from the crowd.  “Thank you very much! Lets make some noise! We hear that Birmingham is the place to play this song on the radio – really good to be back.” And now to that song that’s getting the airplay – ‘Listening’ with incredibly loud opening drums.  If the future of rock is 15-year-olds jumping up and down giving the rock fingers than it is indeed very alive and well. As the crowd sing back – “Are you listening?” she goes into the pit to sing with the kiddies before standing on the barrier leaning over them all, slamming her fist into the air. Great rendition, followed by a big scream from the kids – Tonight Alive tonight live, go down well.

So, just before 8.45pm we have Chiodos. Formed in 2001, they undergone some substantial line-up changes and their original vocalist, Craig Owens (and one time frontman of D.R.U.G.S., who co-incidentally supported Black Veil Brides on their tour last year), has returned. We get a handful of tracks from the lads.  “We are Chiodos and we want to see everyone moving….” Chiodos are a post-hardcore metal band, hailing for Michigan, USA. Screamy like Slipknot, mixed with more traditional, pretty hard-core rock this is adult rock for the kids.

“Everybody get your hands in the air – I want to see everyone’s hands in the air – I want to see everyone go crazy in Birmingham!” Must be a tad weird playing to such a young audience, they appear to be slightly thrown by this. Owens is a charismatic frontman, the rest of the guys hugely energetic on stage, and while not many kids here have heard of them,Owens gives them no choice but to get involved. “You guys ready to have a good time tonight?”

“Happy Valentine’s day m******f*****s! This song is about dirty dirty sex!’ Interesting, if somewhat disturbing, given the average age of the audience. “How many of you hate Valentine’s day? Valentine’s day is all about f*****g anyway.” A few dragged along parents go grey… Owens spend time just standing there and the kids scream. Very loudly. Apparently he fits in with everyone here tonight – erm – okay.

“After the gig we’ll be walking round – cos we’re just a bunch of guys who give a shit about what we play…”. Owens does indeed appear within the crowd while we wait in the interval. The kids gather and he disappears to backstage equally as quickly.

As we wait for the headliners – the kids periodically chanting ‘Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides…’  a lad walks past in a onesy. Water is being handed out to the audience, as we continue to wait.

A good 45 minutes after Chiodos, bang on 10pm, the lights go out, the stage is draped in dry ice. It’s Black Veil Brides led on by ‘Exordium’; the opening spoken word interlude from their new album ‘The Wretched and the Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones.’ “The Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you. Not in a mansion of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and God is there. Lift a stone and you will find God. ” …. erm…okay.

Ridiculously loud ear-piecing screams from the kids accompany the first track, ‘I Am Bulletproof,’ and nearly drowns out the band.  BVB are heavily inspired by KISS – they are probably their bastard offspring; this clearly shows. Musicianship-wise they are very talented. Phones they be a’recording, as always at gigs these days and someone has their iPad mini in the air too.

BVB are Andy Biersack on vocal duties, Ashley Purdy on bass, Jack Pitts lead guitar, Jinxx on guitar and Christian “C.C.” Coma on drums. Biersack: “How are you crazy m******f*****s doing tonight? …. This is ‘The Church of the Wild Ones'” (aka the name of their tour. When it’s not the Kerrang! tour). Next up – ‘New Religion.’ Biersack: “This is a fun tour – one of my favourite gigs so far…” he says, clearly playing to the adoring crowd.

New album plug and we’re into ‘The Wretched and Divine.’ Clap clap clap go the audience as the band play around before going into the track. Bizarrely, as they have just released this concept album, all 19 tracks and 1 hour of rock opera story telling, they are not performing this in its entirety – tracks are intermittent between older songs. The sound on this track the sound is spot on. The band’s vocals are harmoniously in-sync and in perfect kilter to the album. Almost exactly the same.

Next up BVB’s rendition of Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’, the adoring fans are clearly well immersed in everything BVB. ‘Overture’ onto the stage comes F.E.A.R. (aka Wil Francis (of Aiden and William Control)). F.E.A.R. turns up quite a lot on the album, as intermittent spoken word Orwellian interludes.  The premise of ‘The Wretched and the Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones’ is the BVB and their fans, ‘The Wild Ones,’ overcoming these baddies (the F.E.A.R.) who seek to destroy free will and thought. (That’s it in a snapshot anyway). Biersack: “Black Veil Brides are just a bunch of guys who love playing music… You have all the power you ever need in your own heart. Do not worship false Gods.” Well Biersack – you are clearly being worshipped tonight.

‘Nobody’s Heroes’ and ‘Resurrect the Sun’ are too perfectly delivered – the anthems bellowing out to the young masses. “Last song of the night…” ‘Fallen Angels” gets the crowd singing: “We scream, we shout, we are the fallen angels”, before the encore of current single, the anthemic ‘In the End.’

As we leave the entrance to the O2 is surrounded by numerous, slightly bored parents collecting their kiddies (late night for a school night) and as I walk away one parent, walking fast encouraging his daughters to do so, and who was clearly at the gig, not outside, has “…had enough rock for tonight – we’ve a long motorway drive.”

So what of the Kerrang! 2013 Tour? While it may not have brought new to the table, it did bring rock to the new generation. Tonight Alive gave a great set, female lead Jenna McDougall was ballsy, gave it some and really got the crowd going, culminating in their current hit. Good set.

Chiodos I liked although you could say are work in progress. Owens is charismatic and the band good looking enough to gain adulation from this very young audience. They a band that are re-bonding, so clearly could do with time to build their act back together. They seemed a tad confused and clearly played such a young audience up. They’d do better playing to an older bunch and it’ll be interesting to see what they do with their impending album.

Black Veil Brides. For all their detailed creative construction of their new album, of their image of goth, glam and make-up, their technical prowess and all that goes BVB, I was disappointed. Against last year’s gig, when they returned from Biersack’s on stage accident where they delivered and then some and were out to prove a point, tonight’s gig was a promotional billboard – it could have been much more. From the make-up, the glam rock n roll persona for the ladies and smaltzy expletive ridden “are you having a f****** good time?” – BVB have taken the template that made the original bands multi-millionaires. However, amongst many rock fans they are loathed in equal measure for this lack of originality. Performance-wise, tonight, they were professional and the new generation of screaming hordes clearly adored them.

On this form they may sell their radio savvy tracks in bucket loads, they clearly continue to gather momentum – new single ‘In the End’ has nigh on 6 million You Tube views. But is this all to BVB? Will they burn brightly yet briefly? At some stage the make-up will have to go – and I guess only time will tell, as their adoring fans grow up.

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Listening:

Black Veil Brides: Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones  [2013]

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Review for Birmingham Live! Pictures by Katja Orgin