This GIGsoup article was written by Rachael Smith, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Hazel Webster. Lead photo by dannypaynephotography.com
The York Barbican welcomed heavy metal into the heart of the city as it opened its doors to the Welsh metallers Bullet for My Valentine and their metalcore associates, Coldrain and While She Sleeps. The cumulative capacity of The Barbican is around 3,400 spectators and this was predominantly filled, creating a lively and excited atmosphere amongst the eagerly awaiting fans. Undeniably, the headlining band had procured very popular support acts in Coldrain and While She Sleeps, however judging by the sea of Bullet t-shirts that were visible within the room, there was no doubt whatsoever who the majority of those spectators were here to see.
As expected, both support bands delivered impressive sets that engaged the crowd from the onset. Coldrain were the first to the stage and so administered the first metal injection of the evening. Heavy guitar riffs, a combination of melodic and screamo vocal styles and an unrelenting bass pedal – really everything that you would expect from the Japanese rockers. The proceedings were then kicked up a notch by While She Sleeps and Laurence Taylor’s death growls resonated around the room as his devout fans opened up the floor in a huge circle pit. Both bands received a warm response from the crowd but nothing in comparison to the reception that met Bullet for My Valentine as they stepped out onto the stage of The Barbican.
The arrival of the headlining act was announced by the dimming of the lighting, as simultaneously the white backdrop of the stage that bore the artwork of Bullet’s latest album ‘Venom’, a snake ominously entwined around the letter ‘V’, was revealed and cast into a striking blue light. Smoke distorted the figures as they proceeded on to the stage. The crowd erupted as they witnessed the recognisable silhouettes of Matt Tuck and the rest of Bullet take their positions through the screen of blue-tinged smoke and explode into their phenomenal, sixteen track set with the ear-splitting, opening roar of ‘No Way Out’. The intense, hard-hitting track, with its powerful lyrics and impressive riffage, was a welcome return to the Bullet of old and set an impressive precedent for the following performance.
The band had compiled a carefully selected set list that struck the perfect balance between their new tracks and the fan favourites that had established their name. Last week marked the tenth birthday of Bullet’s debut album ‘Poison’ and Matt Tuck was keen to convey the band’s gratitude to all those who were still supporting Bullet after ten years and making such a successful UK tour possible. True, the title track from their latest album, ‘Venom’, did not evoke the same reaction from the crowd that the title track from their debut album, ‘Poison’, elicited. Nevertheless, the fans still received the new album with enthusiasm, transforming the floor into a chaotic circle pit and singing every lyric in unison with the front man, Matt Tuck.
One of the most memorable aspects of this show was when the lead guitarist, Michael Paget, performed his incredible guitar solo that had the eyes of every spectator fixated on the stage. The speed and execution of his performance was extraordinary and the whole crowd seemed to pause momentarily, in order to fully process the exceptional talent that they were witnessing. Needless to say, the display was spine-tingling and psyched up the fans in preparation for the aggressive riffs and piercing guitar solo of the following thrash metal track, ‘Army of Noise’.
Following the two outstanding performances of ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ and ‘Hand of Blood’ both of which drew huge crowd responses, Bullet withdrew from the stage to prepare for their encore. Again, the fans attention was drawn to the artwork on the stage backdrop, similarly screened with smoke, yet this time bathed in a brilliant, white light. Prior to all the band members re-emerging on stage, Michael Thomas exploded into the encore with the drum intro to ‘Your Betrayal’, as the white light flashed in time with the bass pedal, producing a truly spectacular effect on the stage. The band reconvened and ended with the popular ‘Waking the Demon’ – a powerful and striking culmination to an unforgettable set.