Love it or loathe it, Bring Me The Horizon’s mutable approach to metalcore has certainly made its impact. From sold-out arena tours, to headlining Download, and even hosting their own festival, there’s no denying that people can’t resist their anthemic charms. And tonight, stood in a sold-out crowd of 21,000, it is clear that Bring Me The Horizon fans are still eager for more.
The jagged howl of emo-revivalists Static Dress kicks the night off in style, frontman Olli Appleyard’s scrappy, post-hardcore vitriol translating well in the immense space. Alt-pop darling Cassyette follows soon after, her gorgeous voice faultless as she confidently parades round the stage barefoot belting out pop-rock hooks.
Virginia rockers Bad Omens undoubtedly kick things up a notch. As Noah Sebastian jokingly notes, the band have often been called “diet Bring Me The Horizon” - and it’s clear why. With their own light set up, striking visuals and bucketloads of charisma, Bad Omens command the stage as if it were there own sold-out crowd. The spirit of the NeX GEn tour is embodied in their set - they truly do feel like the future of the genre. With ever oozing, electro-infused metalcore breakdown, they dig their claws in - and, by the time they have to leave the stage, you’re almost sad to see them go.
But the sorrow is quickly forgotten when ‘Post Human [Press Start Button]’ pops up on the screens. Before Bring Me take to the stage, AI hostess EVE ‘scans the crowd for mosh pits’ - and fans politely heed EVE’s request, before all hell breaks loose for opener DArkSide. And the energy only spikes even higher when Sempiternal cut Empire (Let Them Sing) follows, fans desperately howling “it's the start of the end! Surrender the throne!” as the track rumbles into action.
Much like their innovative Download Festival headline set, tonight builds on Bring Me’s valiant effort to revolutionise the live experience. From EVE, to disorienting, stage-altering use of screens and lighting, the evening is designed to immerse you entirely. And every stop is pulled out - tracks like MANTRA welcome on back-up dancers, while the magnitude of Shadow Moses is bolstered by ‘snow’ falling down over the crowd.
And, while the live experience is a delight in its own right, Bring Me are also on top form. Despite no longer having Jordan Fish on board, the group are thriving in his wake. Frontman Oli Sykes sounds fabulous, gutturals triumphant, rumbling through the floor and deep in your chest. The transformation from the early Bring Me days is evident not only in his fashionable suit and coifed hair, but even in how he moves - there’s a staggering confidence, a tongue-in-cheek charm and sense that Sykes has well and truly become a bona fide rockstar.
With the patchwork of different genres they play into, it’s no shock that different fanbases want different live experiences - Sykes' requests a pit for Teardrops or Diamonds Aren’t Forever produce scenes that are a far cry from the walls of death Bring Me would garner a decade ago. However, while moshpit-hungry older fans may not get their kicks in a Bring Me crowd nowadays, it’s clear that the band themselves are as strong as ever. As Sykes jokes himself at one point: "we know you might hate it, but give it a chance and you might enjoy it." Change is good - and bold transformation is exactly what has allowed the metalcore collective to stay relevant over the years. Bring Me are going from strength to strength, with absolutely zero sign of slowing down any time soon.
Bring Me The Horizon setlist Manchester AO Arena January 13 2024
2. Empire (Let Them Sing)
7. Shadow Moses
12. Diamonds Aren't Forever
13. Parasite Eve
16. Can You Feel My Heart?