Date: November 11th 2018
Venue: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Support: SHVPES / Nothing More / Of Mice & Men
Having been poster boys of the British metal scene for almost 15 years, Bullet For My Valentine have been fighting an uphill battle for regained popularity since releasing ‘The Poison’ and ‘Scream Aim Fire’ in 2005 and 2008 respectively.
A handful of albums later, and the band have just released their sixth and most diverse record yet, ‘Gravity’, and are now ending their European tour in support of it tonight in Cardiff.
Opening up are SHVPES , the standout of tonight’s support. Their eclectic mix of metal, electronics, and hip-hop gives a very strong whiff of filling the void that letlive. left behind. Vocalist Griffin Dickinson bounces around the stage with a charismatic energy that every frontman desires to have. Musically it’s tight and unexpectedly accomplished, and, though it’s a short but sweet set, SHVPES can be sure that they’ve won a fair few fans tonight.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Nothing More . Lead singer Jonny Hawkins walks onto the stage already topless with an almost pompous and arrogant attitude. The music for the entire set is sloppy and disjointed, and Hawkins sounds absolutely dreadful. The one positive is that their onstage energy is infectious, and that’s being lapped up by the crowd, but beyond that there’s nothing of interest here.
Of Mice & Men  follow-up and they fair slightly better, but only slightly. The metalcore quartet turn up and play through a 7-song set of blandness that’s void of identity. The sound problems may testify to a part of this, but when things are running smoothly its riddled with mediocrity. Instrumentally everything is spot on and impressive, but the blend of sound just isn’t there. It all sounds muddy and unrefined, but one thing is apparent – it’s heavy.
Lead singer and bassist Aaron Pauley sounds great throughout the set, with his clean vocals and screams coming through the microphone in clear definition. Pauley‘s performance is certainly a set highlight, that is until he bids the crowd farewell by telling them to “Keep it metal.” A bit cheesy, Aaron.
As the clock strikes 9:00pm, the lights dim and Matt Tuck and co. walk onstage, and Bullet For My Valentine  rip through a set packed with over a decade of material. Focusing mainly on cuts from ‘Gravity’ and ‘Venom’, the newer material goes down a treat. Opening with ‘Leap Of Faith’, its electronic elements work incredibly well in an arena setting with an 80s inspired neon backdrop that acts as the perfect compliment. Tuck has never quite mastered the art of showmanship, and his urge to address the crowd as “my friends” after every song starts to grate quickly, and begins to feel like we’ve joined a cult.
Golden oldie ‘4 Words (To Choke Upon)’ brings roaring cheers as the band take it back to 2006 and your inner angsty teenage self. ‘Not Dead Yet’ is a highlight of their more recent material, with a chorus that feels like it was made for nights like tonight in an arena of this size, though admittedly midway through their set becomes a bit of a slog.
While Bullet For My Valentine have set a path for themselves and created a back catalogue that they can be proud of. The inclusion of ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ has been a mainstay in their set since its conception, and it’s clear that it’ll never leave. It opens their encore, sending the place into pandemonium while confetti canons and mass sing-alongs prove that the band have a right to be here. Following up with ‘Waking The Demon’ feels like a bit of an anti-climax, but they execute the mosh filled anthem with pin point precision and bring an end to a night of mixed emotions.
While it’s always important to look forward, it’s also important to never forget where you came from and how you got to where you are. Bullet For My Valentine provide a triumphant hometown show, and prove they still have some oomph in them 20 years into their career.