Live Reviews

LIVE REVIEW: Black Veil Brides, Lilith Czar, Cemetery Sun, O2 Guildhall, Southampton, 24/02/2023

Photo Credit: Abbi Draper-Scott (Rock City, Nottingham, 21st February 2023)

As Friday night kicked off in Southampton, fans of Black Veil Brides geared up for an exciting night. Fans began to queue around early afternoon outside the O2 Guildhall Southampton as they anticipated this sold-out tour. As Southampton was the second to last date on their tour, support acts Lilith Czar and Cemetery Sun were here to show the city that rock is certainly not dead.

Kicking off the night was Cemetery Sun. Hailing from Los Angeles, it was jarring to hear Josh Doty (vocals) talk between songs that blend screaming, singing and a little bit of melodic rap. However, the crowd was vibing with them. Doty’s screams were clear and clean and switching to strong vocals is nothing less than impressive. In particular, Codeine, 19, Diamonds and Misery’s Company stood out as songs that the audiences were getting down to. Doty noted that 19 is a very personal song for the band. In an interview for When The Horn Blows, Doty notes the impact of the pandemic on people and the longing for the world to return to normal, whilst simultaneously appreciating those around you during the difficult time faced by all. Likewise, this alt-pop song has a similar vibe to the likes of Machine Gun Kelly as he moved away from rap and more into the pop-punk world. Cemetery Sun is one to watch. 7/10

Although Lilith Czar may not be a recognisable name to the masses, the name Juliet Simms will be to those who are familiar with Black Veil Brides or if they like Remembering Sunday by All Time Low. As the wife of Black Veil Brides’ lead singer, Andy Biersack, it’s clear that the band influenced her. From the theatrical entrance with smoke machines and the sound of radio transmissions, she took a leap out of her husband’s book. Now going by the stage name Lilith Czar, Simms is very impressive with her stage presence and vocals. The closest way to describe her vocals is the grit and growl of Lizzy Hale to meet the controlled airiness of Stevie Nicks.

Czar is very feminist in nature as she talks to the crowd about what it is like to be a woman in a man’s world. The lyrics ‘rising from the flame’ from Anarchy reflects how strong she is as an individual and about standing up for yourself, a similar sentiment that Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless brought to the stage at the O2 Guildhall Southampton in November 2022. Both women are paving the way to show that women are here to rewrite what society expects of women and to never conform. Later in her set, she covers Edge of Seventeen originally performed by Nicks. Czar makes it her own though as her band turns up the bass, gives the song more drums and turns it up altogether. Nicks would be proud.

There were even more inspiring moments as Czar spoke about dreams not always going to plan and to keep fighting for them. Coming from first-hand experience, she encouraged the crows to never give up before launching into a softer song which eventually picks up with the drums, backup vocals and a second guitar. Furthermore, her last speech pertained to the women in the crowd and lifting all who identify as one to never let men treat them as inferior. 8/10

Finally, the headliner takes to the stage, Black Veil Brides. Hailing from Cincinnati, the band consists of Biersack (vocals), Jinxx (rhythm guitar and violin), Christian Coma (drums), Lonny Eagleton (bassist) and Jake Pitts (lead guitar) and the UK is not new territory for them. With the release of their latest EP, The Mourning in 2022, they headed out on a nine day spectacle across the UK. They knew how to please were hits from their 2010 debut album, We Stitch These Wounds, to their 2022 EP, The Mourning, Black Veil Brides were treating us to the old and new. With a seventeen song setlist, old and new fans had something to sing and dance to.

Coming onto the intro to Phantom of the Opera was an interesting choice. Many were unsure as to why, but it did not stop the fans from becoming hyped. Each member of the band was greeted with cheers and claps and they kicked off their set with Crimson Skies from The Phantom Tomorrow. After the song, Biersack began to ask how we were doing and informed the crowd that he was a little ill, but did not want to cancel the show. Despite this, he did not disappoint; he put everything into the show.

Around three quarters into their set, Biersack knew how to take it up a notch by announcing it was time for a Shadows Die and Wretched and Divine, off their 2013 album, Wretched and Divine: The Story of The Wild Ones. Shadows Die shines a particular light on the classical influence on Jinxx. He cleverly weaves the violin melody into rock music, something that you would imagine to be conflicting genres but complement each other well. Watching him perform this live is very impressive as he concentrates on the instrument, and interacts with fans as well as the rest of the band.  

Although not the most successful song off this album, to include Wretched and Divine in the setlist is a statement. Playing the song reminds the audience that the band and the crowd are indeed a community. With the message ‘I am the spoken, the one they left behind. Fearless, fight until we die. I am broken, the wretched and divine’ sung loud and clear, Biersack reminds us that everyone in the crowd is unique. After all, the audience has many things in common, including an admiration for Biersack’s ability to craft songs about alienation and refusing to give into societal pressures to be/look a certain way. Although Biersack, Coma, Jinxx, Pitts, and Eagleton no longer wear war paint that the band was once known for (and there had been a change in the line up as of 2020), they still stand for being true to who you are as a person. A sentiment that is apparent in their interactions with the crowd. The audience is part of the ‘fearless, fight until we die.’

This notion of belonging despite being an outcast remained prominent from then on as they played Knives and Pens – a song that Biersack wrote about his own alienation as a teenager. With the iconic riff played by Pitts, everyone was pumped to sing and scream along. Although this song was released in 2009, they re-recorded the song as well as the rest of the album, We Stitch These Wounds, in 2020. Biersack is still impressive with his screaming on the track and in person too. With lyrics such as ‘everyday it’s still the same dull, stab it through and justify your pride’, the crowd could see how much pain Biersack felt at the time of writing the song. It’s deeply personal and as the hit that launched Black Veil Brides, playing this song is a testament to the band and their fans for continuing to thrive as individuals. Furthermore, including the song in their repertoire, demonstrates that music is a powerful tool to unite those who have felt like an outcast.

Of course, they could not end the show without playing the very fitting In The End. There is no other way to describe how crazy the crowd went as Biersack announced it. Many sang, danced and headbanged to this crowd-pleaser and Coma showed off his cool drum tricks as he fantastically kept pace. In the end, he threw his drumsticks into the crowd and so many hands went up. Whoever caught them was very lucky.               

The night was a testament to the outcast and nostalgia. Opening up for Black Veil Brides must be a highlight for Lilith Czar and Cemetery Sun, but they are both incredible on their own merit. Both support acts are going places and were a great addition to the tour. As for the main act, the songs may lack some imagination – every song does consist of a lot of ‘woah’s and ‘ohh’s, but it allowed for fan participation and even parents could join in! Black Veil Brides have a very loyal fan base and to sell out O2 Guildhall Southampton says it all. Biersack promised to be back, so keep an eye out as we anticipate welcoming them back along the south coast soon. 8/10

Written By: Jo Lisney

Photo Credit: Abbi Draper-Scott (Rock City, Nottingham, 21st February 2023)

Jo Lisney
Working in marketing to fuel my travels and concert-going.