Billy Talent / Cancer Bats - live in London (Cover Artwork)

Billy Talent / Cancer Bats

live in London (2009)

live show

Is it just me, or are bands getting younger? Opening act Canterbury hit the stage with the effect of making me feel old beyond my 21 years, with five fresh faces that would easily ring alarm bells in any liquor store. The band themselves are certainly a bit different, with a dual vocal approach shared between lead guitar and keys. The group were tight and energetic with their upbeat and poppy sound and were not overly taken aback despite the fact they were playing in a somewhat huge, 2,000-capacity venue with very little crowd support. Both vocalists can certainly sing, but they both sound very similar, which immediately begs the question -- why bother? Furthermore, the keys were almost indistinguishable amongst the rest of the sound. Again, why bother? There's talent but, in my opinion, the band's sound doesn't work at the moment.

Cancer Bats followed and absolutely bombed for three tracks. Sound issues blighted opening track "Hail Destroyer," the title track and lead single off their most recent album and the crowd seemed somewhat uninterested as a result. But vocalist Liam Cornier, never a man to be deterred from having a good time, eventually managed to whip the large crowd up into a frenzy, leaving it punctuated with mosh pits. With the sound issues fixed and the huge guitar riffs that are almost the band's trademark booming appropriately off the walls, a thoroughly enjoyable sense of chaos embedded itself for the rest of their set. It was a great save on behalf of the band, for which I must doth my hat and almost certainly picked them up more fans to add to their increasing cult following in the UK. Standouts were "Sorceress" and "Lucifer's Rocking Chair," whilst they also previewed a track from their upcoming 2010 album.

Headlining act Billy Talent, after a slightly over-long wait, then took to the stage. Billy Talent are, in my opinion, an enigma to the 'punk community.' Their first album certainly had some very punk rock moments, but their last two releases have moved much more to an 'alternative rock' style and sound.

Their live show, however, is punk rock through and through. The energy, the passion, the aggression and the crowd itself all epitomised to my expectations for an excellent gig. The set list meandered its way across all three of their studio albums and represented the many sides to the band's sound. From the aggressive and head-banging style of opener "The Dead Can't Testify" (arguably the best track off their new record), through to the slow, almost ballad-esque "Surrender," the band had 2,000 people eating out of the palm of their hand, whilst the faster punk tunes such as "The Ex" almost blew the roof off.

The band finished with an encore of "Fallen Leaves" and "Red Flag," two of their most aggressive tracks, sending hundreds of bodies flying around in all directions and into a huge anthemic sing-along.

Not punk rock? Whatever.