Aiden – The Key Club, Leeds (20th January 2016) – LIVE REVIEW

This Aiden article was written by Evie Myers, a GIGsoup contributor. Lead photo by kafb photography.

Cast your minds back four years ago, to 2012: the world may not have come to an end, but the future of Goth rock band Aiden were thrown into disarray. At the end of the “Something Wicked This Way Comes” tour, the band went on hiatus after guitarist Angel Ibarra left. While this left the void open for vocalist Wil Francis to focus on his side project William Control, it left fans wondering if the debonair rockers would ever return. Luckily, with the release of their self-titled album in late 2015, the prayers of a final tour were also answered.

After an impressive, energetic introduction from their four supporting acts, the room darkened and “Fly Me to the Moon” played, adding a touch of timeless class to proceedings. Blasting onstage with “Crawling up from Hell” in the intimate venue, Aiden had as much energy and drive as they did ten years ago. Digging through a cavernous back catalogue to find the right mixture of bouncy tunes and punky head bangers was effortlessly achieved. It was like hearing the soundtrack to a noughties, troubled teen’s diary.

Aiden’s members may have changed over the years, but the constant anchor is one Wil Francis. His ability as a frontman to command an audience in a friendly and humble manner is wondrous to behold. His insanely, bewitching eyes invite the audience in, his voice remains as captivating as it ever was. While guitarist Ian MacWilliams and bassist Kenneth Fletcher remained slightly static onstage, Francis used the small space to his advantage, getting close and personal with the audience. Interacting with crowd surfers while playing guitar and singing is multitasking this singer was more than capable of, in fact Francis embraced the chaos.

Ashestoangels vocalist Adam Crilly joined forced with Francis in “New Grave”, embracing like brothers and each having a subtly unique style to their voice. It’s like Crilly was the insane little brother Aiden never had. He kept making sneaky appearances throughout the rest of the set, which no one seemed to mind. Never Found singer Daniel Barnes also provided guest vocals on “Goodbye, We’re Falling Fast”. At this point, it didn’t matter that this show was set in a pokey, underground club in Leeds. For the reception that Aiden received, it might as well have been Wembley and they seemed eternally grateful for the appreciation.

Playing the entirety of Nightmare Anatomy was a highlight that brought the room roaring to life. Powerful Aiden classics “Die Romantic” and “Knife Blood Nightmare” revived the dream of aging outcasts everywhere, with fans enthusiastically chanting back every word. Backing screaming vocals from the rest of the band accompanied Francis’ voice perfectly. In all honesty, he might as well have put the microphone down and relaxed while the devoted audience did the hard work for him. Hearing Francis’ stripped back, raw vocals on the introduction to “Breathless” was a pleasure to hear in particular.

After an exhausting smattering of Aiden tracks, Francis conceded and left the stage. Almost immediately the crowd began chanting: It’s in our heads, it’s in our hearts. The world by storm”. While these seemed like fitting, parting words, it was clear that the show was not done. The encore was very much a family affair, ending with “I Set My Friends on Fire”/“World By Storm” outro, the stage crammed with various members from Ashestoangels, The Dead XIII, Never Found and RUNoffthestatic. What a way to cap off the night, with all the friends that Aiden have made along the way on this tour.

Gracing the stage for one last hurrah was a privilege to witness and truly marks the end of an emo era. And while this is goodbye for the Gothic Godfathers, Wil Francis’ parting words immortalise every fan’s thoughts and memories: “Aiden is yours forever, to keep.”

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