One half of a Vans Warped UK co-headline double-whammy with Black Veil Brides, ASKING ALEXANDRIA’s  first UK outing with new frontman Denis Stoff was always going to be a defining moment, but it’s clear Denis is taking it in his stride.
Rather than trying to live up to predecessor Danny Worsnop – who’s taken on a rather Lord Voldemort-esque notoriety with Ben Bruce in recent interviews as the baddie who must not be named – Denis makes the songs his own, screaming with the power and volume of a man three times his size. They open with the first of two new singles, I Won’t Give In, which marks the band’s return to a heavier sound. The crowd’s reaction shows that, rather than missing Danny’s penchant for hair-metal antics, they’re welcoming the return to screamo, and obey Denis’s every command to sit down, jump up and form a pit. Ever the joker, Ben gets the crowd to chant the Power Rangers theme song, before making a dick joke that falls spectacularly flat when he realises the woman his words are aimed at is, in fact, a man. Older material like The Final Episode (Let’s Change The Channel) and If You Can’t Ride Two Horses At Once… are tackled by Denis with as much gusto as the heavier tracks, and he never once looks like the new guy.
A more predictable show comes from BLACK VEIL BRIDES , who battle acoustics determined to suck the mid-frequencies out of their sound. It’s not as if the crowd have noticed, though; from the moment they open with Faithless, thousands of voices are chanting along with them. They are nothing if not consistent – every show provides an opportunity to play BVB bingo. There’s some earnest thanks from Andy Biersack, back-to-back riff-offs between Jinxx and Jake Pitts, pyrotechnics, and a strong possibility that Andy’s bare chest will make an appearance.
It’s BVB by numbers, but they give it their all. Andy is a reviewer’s dream, shouting the name of every song before they play it, but their setlist – with Coffin, Wretched And Divine and Knives And Pens cropping up mid-gig – has been altered little in recent months, so it’s not like he needs to. This crowd haven’t come for surprises, though – they want to hear the tracks they love and see the onstage posturing, and BVB give them what they want every time.