Flames, lasers, smoke, awesome lighting, giant video screens, crystal clear sound…all on the wish list of any discerning rock fan shelling out for a ticket for an arena show of their fave band, maybe. Well, Sheffield’s finest BMTH brought it all and more to Cardiff, on the first night of the UK and Ireland leg of their world tour.
An early start with the first of three support acts on stage at 6.30pm, and it was pretty full even at that time, with fans queuing around the block way before doors opened for the 7,500 capacity sold out gig.
Static Dress are from Leeds and had very little light on stage for their early seven-song set [hence no pix of them here.] Formed in 2018, singer Olli Appleyard, drummer Sam Ogden, bassist George Holding and masked guitarist ‘Contrast’ have released one album, three EPs and a bunch of singles.
Not really my cup of tea, but they had warm applause and the bar was empty for their set. Mind you it was a predominantly young -audience tonight, so some would probably not get served at the bar!!
Bang on 7.10pm, UK singer songwriter Cassyette was next up, and a lot of the crowd knew the words to much of her very decent seven song set. The Brighton-based artist has dropped nine singles since she arrived on the scene in 2021, launching her career with “Dear Goth”, and the latest track is “Boom”, both on her set list tonight.
She threw in some new stuff from her forthcoming album. In 2022 she toured Europe with Sum 42 and supported My Chemical Romance on their comeback tour. Cassyette began her career as a DJ and songwriter. She is well worth catching live and is surely destined to break through commercially some day soon. Talented girl. Very decent set.
Just before 8pm, we have the last of the three opening acts, Bad Omens. The American rock band from Richmond, Virginia, formed in 2015 by vocalist, frontman and producer Noah Sebastian, guitarist Nicholas Ruffilo, and bassist Vincent Riquier. The band was later joined by guitarist Joakim “Jolly” Karlsson and drummer Nick Folio, releasing their critically acclaimed debut self-titled album in 2016 via Sumerian Records.
Their second full-length album, “Finding God Before God Finds Me”, was released in 2019, with a deluxe version released in 2020. Their third album, “The Death Of Peace of Mind”, was released in 2022, and spawned the hit “Just Pretend”, which has become Bad Omens’ biggest track to date.
Mr Riquier has left and the band is now a four-piece. Strangely, accredited photographers were asked NOT to take pictures of Bad Omens at all during their 10-song set, hence no pix of them at all here. Go figure!
The headliners hit the stage at 9.20pm for 19 songs, including the three-song encore. [Full setlist can be seen at the bottom of the page]
Cardiff the first of nine UK dates and a stop in Dublin, with tonight and most dates sold out [Liverpool and Dublin are the only shows with a few tickets left at the time of writing – 10th Jan].
The NX_GN tour takes in Cardiff, Bournemouth, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and the 02 in London, followed by the last date, Dublin on 23rd Jan.
The band headlined Download for the first time last summer, and absolutely bloody smashed it. For many, they were the best band of the entire festival. The single “Kool-Aid” dropped a few days ago on Friday 5th Jan, and may well be about to give the band their highest ever chart position on Friday of this week.
Getting its live debut tonight at song # six in the set, but it had to be cut short when there was a medical emergency in the crowd after someone apparently collapsed. Also in the set tonight is “Kingslayer”, a track BMTH collaborate on with Japanese band Baby Metal. The track “Happier” – that Yungblud and Ollie Sykes joined forces on – was absent.
Now in their 20th year since forming in 2004 in Steel City, Sheffield, the line-up is minus just one original member, keyboard man Jordan Fish, whose departure was announced towards the end of December 2023.
Current line-up is front man Oliver “Oli” Sykes, guitarist Lee Malia, bassist Matt Kean and drummer Matt Nicholls. With touring musician John Jones on rhythm guitar and backing vocals on stage with them since 2014.
A three year wait for their major label debut, “Sempiternal”, in 2013, which achieved Gold certification in Australia and Silver in the UK.
Fifth album “That’s the Spirit” debuted at number two in the UK Album chart in 2015, and it made the the US Billboard chart. Sixth studio album “Amo” dropped in 2019 and delivered their first UK # 1. Also in 2019, they released “Music to Listen To…” – “Post Human: Survival Horror” followed in 2020, the first in a planned series of four projects under the “Post Human” name. [ Next instalment due this summer].
They have also released two EPs and two live albums and were nominated for a Grammy in 2019 and 2020. BMTH have shifted more than five million records worldwide. They topped the UK rock & metal singles chart with fan favourites “Throne”, “Drown”, “MANTRA” and “Parasite Eve”, all of which were in the set tonight. [Couple of dancers joined the band for part of MANTRA – later they donned Hazmat suits.]
Tonight we got 16 songs before a three-song encore – opening with “DArkSide” [stylised] and closing proceedings with the triple treat encore of “Doomed” [first time they have performed this song live since 2019], “LosT” and Throne”.
A quick stock-take of their Spotify stats is impressive reading: In excess of 1.1 billion streams. In excess of 46.3 million listeners. More than 61 million hours. 184 countries. Bravo. Who said rock/guitar bands are dead?
For “Antivist” they bring on Bad Omens singer Noah Sebastian to duet with Oliver. “Stranger” is in acoustic mode, a nice break from the more rambunctious and loud stuff. Newer songs “LosT” and “AmEN!” get a loud and rapturous welcome from the fans. “AmEN!” dropped as a single in June last year, which featured Lil Uzi Vert, Daryl Palumbo & Glassjaw.
So. Any first night nerves? Do they under or over-deliver? Are they firing on all cylinders being a man down? Is their latest material as strong and fresh as previous output after two decades? Well…That is easily answered.
This band are on fire live and as hungry and powerful today as they would have been two decades ago, when they set out to conquer the world. It is most definitely an ensemble effort and a collaborative affair; the chemistry is palpable between the lads. But they do have one major USP compared to many other rock bands: a weapon of mass attraction…
Oli Sykes is without doubt one of the very best frontmen of any UK band around today. Fact.
A bona fide rock star. His vocals are faultless and he doesn’t hide the emotional connection he has to the lyrics, not afraid to show some vulnerability. But his raw power and energy; combining his obvious vocal skills as a singer with the guttural and raucous screaming he does so well, is pretty awesome. How he can keep that up for a full tour and not wake up in the hotel one day with no voice is beyond me.
This band are still very much a force to be reckoned with after two decades and still at the top of their game – despite Oli telling the Cardiff fans they thought the band would last maybe five years, not 20!!! Based on this blistering performance, they are gonna be around for a long time yet.
Their star still very much on the ascent, especially overseas and in new territories where rock fans are still discovering BMTH for the first time and loving ’em.
World domination – probably joked about in their early days rehearsing back in Sheffield and dreaming about their future – was not beyond the realms of possibility at all, it turns out. BMTH is one of the UK’s finest exports and we should be dead proud they are ours…
Photos by Rowen Lawrence [Except posed promo shot]
Words by Lou Williams
BMTH Setlist Cardiff:
Empire (Let Them Sing)
* The Best Is Yet To Come [ taped]
* Itch for the Cure (When Will We Be Free?) [taped]
Diamonds Aren’t Forever
Can You Feel My Heart
* Some titles are stylized