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Live Review + Gallery: Bullet For My Valentine, Australia 2016

Cane Hill / Atreyu / Bullet For My Valentine
Review: Kris Peters – Eatons Hill, Brisbane 28/10/2016

Gallery: Peter Zaluzny – Big Top, Sydney 27/10/2016

On their first visit back to Australia since Soundwave in 2015, Atreyu played like they were here to prove a point. They attacked their set with ferocious intent, belying their support spot status and treating their performance like a headlining show. Exploding out of the blocks with “Doomsday”, Atreyu seemed hell-bent on converting Bullet’s crowd into their own, playing songs from each album except Congregation Of The Damned. New songs “Right Side Of The Bed” and “Do You Know Who You Are?” from the Long Live album were well received. Vocalist Alex Varkatzas and bass player Porter McKnight ensured that the band connected with the crowd, both leaving the stage and mingling with their fans mid-song at various stages.

Their cover of Bon Jovi‘s “You Give Love A Bad Name”, although lapped up by the crowd, was still a puzzling choice. Sure, it allows people who may not be familiar with the band an abstract connection, but surely 45 minutes of stage time would be better served playing your own material. That said, Atreyu raised the bar to its maximum, challenging headliners Bullet For My Valentine to bring their A game… And as usual, the Welsh boys were equal to the task.

Paying homage to Motörhead by announcing their arrival with “Ace Of Spades”, Bullet wasted no time in proving why their name was at the top of the bill. Launching into “No Way Out” and “Skin” from their latest album, VenomMatt Tuck and co. were the consummate professionals, encouraging sing-alongs and crowd participation at every opportunity. Nearly every song was custom built for the live arena, with catchy hooks and crowd-friendly choruses providing their fans an opportunity to contribute their vocals at regular intervals. New bassist Jamie Mathias has settled seamlessly into the role, his screaming layers the perfect folly for Tuck’s clean vocals.

Since undergoing throat surgery in 2008, Tuck has had to scale back on singing the harsher vocals. Still, the bands early songs, including “4 Words (To Choke Upon) and “The Poison” sounded just as they did back in 2005, with Mathias shouldering the bulk of the backing duties. Material from debut album The Poison and 2015’s Venom dominated the set, with “Your Betrayal”, “You Want A Battle (Here’s A War)” and closer “Tears Don’t Fall” almost drowning out the stage vocals with fans hanging off every note. The biggest and loudest performance of the night came with “Hand Of Blood” from their hard-to-come-by debut EP of the same name, but judging from the crowd response, the majority of them somehow found a copy.

Bullet For My Valentine have honed their craft perfectly throughout their career, becoming one of the genre’s leading live acts. The band know how to deliver, but more importantly, they play to their audience, providing not just a concert but a memorable performance that invites their audience into the live experience.

Guitarist Michael Paget was his usual mesmerising self, while Michael Thomas proved himself an effortless slot in a ‘Top 10’ drummers list. His solo after “Venom” was precision drumming at its finest, with each member of the band bringing their own talent to the overall performance. Bullet are better known as a stadium band, but after tonight’s show, it’s fair to say they would sound great on training wheels. “Professional” isn’t usually a word that is associated with touring acts, but they’ve managed to find the perfect blend of that, showmanship, and excitement to churn out memorable concerts with regularity.

Mention must also be made of the venue, Eatons Hill, for once again opening the doors up to underage fans with the upstairs area put aside for under 18’s. It is refreshing to see venues encouraging the next generation to appreciate live music, and if the number of younger fans is any indication, metal is going to live long into the future.

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