While She Sleeps – The Fleece, Bristol, UK (28th April 2017)

With the recent release of their 3rd studio album, ‘You Are We’, Sheffield’s While She Sleeps returned to dominate the UK with an extensive, yet intimate UK tour – also bringing along both an up-and-coming, and international support to take to the stage with them each night.

Greeting a gradually filling up Fleece, opening rockers Fizzy Blood from Leeds brought the early energy to the stage. Though the crowd was mostly full of spectators, taking in the music – they gradually drew more and more people inside with their strong riffs and melodies. In terms of instrumentation and quality of performance they definitely had potential to start rowdiness in the audience, once their material gets out there more, as it was very very good – hence why this tour was an absolutely perfect opportunity to showcase themselves to a practically completely new audience.

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Next up came Australian metalcore group In Hearts Wake, who many members of the audience clearly had been eagerly waiting to see on a lengthy UK tour. This support slot was perfect for them, as in the UK they share many fans with While She Sleeps – and at the same time, many had not heard of the group before. Opening with ‘Refuge’, a track from the co-created EP with fellow label-mates Northlane, they powered through their half hour set, playing as many tracks as possible. This included the very well-received ‘Badlands’, ‘Breakaway’ and ‘Earthwalker’ – warming up the audience with lots of movement occurring from the fans further back in the crowd. It was also cool to see ‘Wildflower’ in the set, in which bassist/clean vocalist Kyle Erich took the stage entirely with his strong vocals to present the audience with something more powerful and slow. It was clear In Hearts Wake definitely impressed on this tour – hopefully earning some fans for when they return ‘in October’, as vocalist Jake Taylor (perhaps accidentally prematurely) mentioned onstage during the set.

With the audience suitably warmed up, the time had come for While She Sleeps to take to the stage – opening with a simple but very powerful setup with lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling. This worked very well with the theatrical part of their show, opening and closing with commentary/monologue tracks that were quite chilling. It was almost forgettable that they were such a heavy, chaos-inducing band with such a delicate setup, but this is what was so good about the show.

Opening with title track from ‘You Are We’, the crowd instantly exploded into expected madness. As an entirely sold out room, there was almost next to no room to move – the pits were everywhere, with everyone piling on top of each other to get closer to the stage. This continued for the entire set, with no relent – but this is no surprise for such an established, successful heavy band like While She Sleeps.

The show also served as a celebratory one, as the band had hit #8 in the official charts with their DIY album – which was entirely crowd funded and self produced in their own studio, and definitely a cause to shout about. A moment was given to celebrate this, with frontman Loz Taylor taking a bottle of champagne and exploding it all over the crowd in a foamy shower.

Storming through a 13-song setlist, the band played a perfect mixture of both new material, and old, and even though there was a heavier emphasis on the newer tracks, everyone was still chanting every word – with Silence Speaks going down perhaps as the best received track of the night. This really shows how big You Are We has been for the band, and how far its taken them – they have always been a successful group, however this show felt like it had been taken to the next level. With an entirely sold out tour, its not unreasonable to suggest their next one should focus on even bigger venues – as that’s 100% where they’re heading, and after 3 massive albums, they deserve it so much.