Date: January 14th, 2012
Venue: The Ritz, Manchester
Support: blessthefall, Chelsea Grin, With One Last Breath
With only two weeks into January, the Asking Alexandria tour easily stands as one of the most anticipated UK headline runs that 2012 will see. Ever since their first trek on these shores back in December 2010, their British fanbase has grown and strengthened, even further so following the release of sophomore record ‘Reckless & Relentless’ last April. Now, back again and with several dates sold out months in advance including tonight’s date in Manchester, does their live show justify the hype?
York’s With One Last Breath (***) open things up to an almost half-filled room, and whilst their material is generally well received it is admittedly a little formulaic and within the boundries of generic metal, it doesn’t sound all that stale. One of the main setbacks however is the meshing between the vocals and instrumentation, with a lot of Spencer Costello‘s roars getting lost throughout the riffs and blasts. Some potential wasn’t allowed to shine through.
The undeniably heavier Chelsea Grin (**) however just sound a little too bland and don’t really provide a presence along with them to support the brutal nature of their songs. Those without already knowing some of the band’s material would be forgiven for getting lost when one song ends and another begins. Credit should be given to the vocal performance of Alex Koehler however, who seems to go from grunts, screeches and squeals with very little effort.
After the often inaudiable onslaught that was Chelsea Grin, it’s nice to return to something with a little melodicy with blessthefall (***). The band take to the stage one by one, each member rising the decibles of screaming fans, reaching its peak once frontman Beau Bokan shows his face. Mainly sticking with material from latest offering ‘Awakening’ such as ‘Promised Ones’ and ‘The Reign’, their switching from screams to high pitched harmonies go down a treat. It’s the older numbers that receive the best reaction though, with ‘Hey Baby, Here’s That Song You Wanted’ and golden oldie ‘Guys Like You Make Us Look Bad’ receiving some the best singalongs so far that night.
The amount of screams and cheers must’ve at least tripled for when headliners Asking Alexandria (***) finally took to the stage themselves. Since their first headline UK stint just over a year prior in December 2010, it’s nice to see the guys have vastly improved their live performance. Basing the vast majority of their set on new record ‘Reckless & Relentless’ is a testament to how proud they are of their latest work, and the odd insert of first album material like ‘Not The American Average’ and ‘I Was Once, Possibly, Maybe, Perhaps A Cowboy King’ ensures all levels of fans are appeased. Though the sing-a-long opportunities of ‘Breathless’ and ‘To The Stage’ are a clear sign of the band’s growth over the past 12 months, it’s encore and set closer ‘Final Episode (Let’s Change The Channel)’ that truly stole the show in its final minutes.
It’s unavoidable that Asking Alexandria are going to split opinions, whether or not you enjoy their live show is of course entirely subjective as is whether you think they’re worth all the hype that’s being delivered to them consistently. One thing that cannot be denied however is they have clearly improved their live presence to survive the flood of fans that would otherwise surely drown them.
Written by Zach Redrup