LIVE REVIEW: Billy Talent, Young Guns, O2 ABC, Glasgow, 16/10/2016
Canadian punk quartet Billy Talent are no strangers to playing excellent shows in the UK, having been a favourite of festivals such as Download and Reading & Leeds since they first started playing shows over here over a decade ago. Tonight they were in Glasgow in support of their fifth album Afraid of Heights.
First up were Buckinghamshire quintet Young Guns who delivered a rather drab set of forgettable, radio-friendly rock songs. Whilst they might have been seen as an exciting band when they were darlings of the mainstream rock press in 2010 when they broke with their debut album, it’s clear to see they’ve been left as a bit of a relic in 2016 with half an hour of songs which really do nothing particularly original and have nothing interesting to say.
Thankfully a Billy Talent show is the perfect remedy to the mind numbing effect of having to sit through Young Guns with the band opening their set with the relentless Billy Talent II offering Devil in a Midnight Mass, which instantly sends the whole ABC into a frenzy. The blistering energy of vocalist Ben Kowalewicz was clear for all to see, with the Canadian constantly running around the stage to ensure the energy of the songs is reflected in how they play these songs live.
The band proceeded to rip through hits across their back catalogue including River Below, Surprise Surprise and Rusted from the Rain with the occasional song from Afraid of Heights making an appearance; it’s a credit to the new record that fans will enthusiastically sing along to an album track such as Big Red Gun just as much as they would Surrender or This Suffering. One of the most enjoyable things about tonight’s show was how much time the band have to delve into some rarer cuts from their back catalogue. Given the band just put out a greatest hits record it’d be easy to presume everyone just wants to hear the singles, but songs such as the seldom played ballad Pins & Needles from the band’s second record and White Sparrows (which was dedicated to victims of the Bataclan attacks that took place last year) receive rapturous sing-alongs.
After closing the main set with Viking Death March the band return to the stage to play an encore of three of their biggest songs in Try Honesty, Red Flag and Fallen Leaves, to ensure the end of this set was brought to a frantic and brilliant end.
Tonight Billy Talent lived up to their reputation as one of the finest live bands of this century, and it’s a testament to how many good songs this band have written that the album tracks from their back catalogue were met with every bit as much enthusiasm from the audience as the hits. They may not be as musically relevant as they were in the last decade, but Billy Talent are still one of the finest live acts around today.
Written by: Cameron Law
Photos by: Julian Bailey