Unseasonable warmth descended upon London on Friday, as locals dared to believe that spring has begun to stir us from the Arctic winter we so love. Layers have been shed and the streets in Chalk Farm bustle with the weekend thrum as a vast queue snakes its way down the side of the Roundhouse. Trivium are in town, and even the most oblivious pop Top 40 consumer cannot fail to notice it.
As home-grown talent SHVPES take the stage, there’s a bubbling sense of confidence about the group. There’s no sense of fear or nerves as they take their positions to rip into opener “False Teeth”. They have a colourful palette of sounds, incorporating a wide-ranging set of influences from all across the metal (and even wider) spectrum’s that makes for a rather entertaining listen. It’s made all the better from the band’s youthful energy, with Griffin Dickinson the center of the maelstrom, headbanging whilst spitting and roaring into his (annoyingly intermittent) microphone.
It’s a strong set, featuring cuts from debut album ‘Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair.’ and stokes the slowly-amassing crowd into life. Even the back-line issues don’t put much of a damper on spirits (the band suffered a power –cut midway through their set), and the swift, expletive-laden dispatch of a heckler from Dickinson was joyous to behold for two reasons. Firstly, the stream of thought volley the frontman delivered demonstrated an almost-scripted level of articulation; and secondly, said heckler was interrupting Dickinson’s charitable contribution to cancer and Aleppo charities by having his locks cut live on-stage. With one loudmouth successfully put in place and shorne of hair, they don’t miss a beat. Dickinson and his merry men blast through the remaining set, with Dickinson diving into the ferocious circle pit to hang with the fans – a riot in more ways than one.
Following such a raucous set is the reformed SikTh, and fans will know that these revered metal masters can more than match a riot in musica. Tearing into opener “Philistine Philosophies”, the twin vocal attack of Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser is less Jekyll & Hyde, more general descent into insanity. It brings a certain fun factor to the proggy metal mash, especially with the bonkers spoken-word “When Will The Forest Speak…?” Yet there just seemed to be something staid about these Watford-natives tonight.
Whether it was down to Graham “Pin” Pinney’s absence (with a backing track his substitution), or the fact that the majority of the crowd appeared unaware of the band’s material is up for debate, but there was something a little flat about their set. Sure, there were fan-favorites like “Flogging The Horses” and “Pussyfoot”, and Goodman did stack it during one of his frequent bursts of spasmodic energy, but the proof was in the audience interaction. Attempts to incite a clap-along were met with a lukewarm response, so you could forgive SikTh for not busting a gut thereafter. It’s unfortunate as the band’s back-catalogue is worth so much more and the anticipation for the upcoming album is reaching a frothing fever-pitch (almost mirroring the vocal interplay…). Sadly an off-night for the Watford wonders, but one would expect things a little crazier for the album launch party.
As the time drew closer to Florida’s Trivium taking to the stage, you could easily tell whose crowd this belonged to. Chants of “Tri-vi-um! Tri-vi-um!” filled the room as the lights went down and the opening strains of Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills” echoed around, and the band themselves were greeted to an almighty roar as they stepped onto the boards with the final notes of “The End Of Everything” fading away. What followed was a simply faultless evening of high-octane metal.
Featuring favorites from the entire span of the band’s career, they opened the show in hard-hitting fashion with the irrepressible “Rain” and, immediately, the love and adulation in the room is palpably obvious. Trivium have the crowd in their back pocket; no need to incite clap-alongs, singing or circle pits, the crowd are already doing it with as much verve as the band dedicates to every note. Matt Heafy’s declaration of his belief that Trivium are more a British band owing to our shores accepting them first damn near brings the ceiling down, and with tracks like “Dying In Your Arms” alongside new belter “Until The World Goes Cold” being dedicated to UK fans and Trivium fans respectively , it’s clear to see why the band are so beloved.
Recent years have seen a few minor speed bumps along the road for Trivium, with Heafy requiring a change of vocal technique to prevent his voice blowing and their well-documented change of drummers, but based on tonight’s evidence, neither has caused much concern. Heafy’s singing was on-point and his screams were rich and plentiful, whilst Alex Bent has taken up the drum throne with nary a beat skipped. In fact, the performance of the Floridian foursome were on fire tonight, with every riff, solo and beat played with precision and sheer enjoyment. Rounding off the night’s proceedings with rousing renditions of concert-staple “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr” and “In Waves”, the curtain was brought down delectably (along with the ceiling), and the guys will have left the stage to ringing in their ears from the roars of the crowd. If those same, oblivious pop Top 40 consumers failed to notice who was in town, then they most definitely will have noticed now. Sublime.
Based on tonight’s frivolities, London’s Roundhouse ought to be used far more for metal shows – the venue itself is a delight and acoustically sound (geddit?), whilst it has played home to some of the greats down the years. Tonight’s show should rank rather highly among that list as Trivium virtually shook it to the ground, with their henchmen in SHVPES and SikTh in-tow. There may have been a few niggly microphone issues during the opening sets, but not even these could detract from a crushing evening.
A.N. Best wishes to the chap who was nursing a very painful leg injury that warranted an ambulance call out – those Trivium pits were on fire.