With an exciting live performance, it's a shame that Black Veil Brides are firmly stuck in the past.
Almost exactly 10 years after they first performed here, yesterday (January 23rd) saw the return of Californian hard rock/metal band Black Veil Brides to Southampton’s O2 Guildhall.
“Now we’re gonna perform an old one for you” might well have been the most repeated line by frontman Andy “Black” of the night, repeating it before several songs almost to the point of satire. Although this does ring true for the setlist, with the vast majority of it spawning from the band’s early three albums. Despite their current UK tour acting in support of the band’s most recent album The Phantom Tomorrow, just three songs from it were performed – highlighting a major issue with Black Veil Brides in 2023… they feel like a washed-up band before the age of 40.
While their performance was certainly of a high standard, with guitarists Jake Pitts and ‘Jinxx’ displaying particular guitar prowess as they ripped their way through the many exhilarating solos, it was really quite hard to get excited by the band’s performance. In a metal landscape where the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Ghost, Falling in Reverse, and Motionless in White are constantly trying to innovate their sound, it leaves Black Veil Brides feeling quite tired in comparison. It perhaps is no surprise that the aforementioned bands are also currently bigger than ever, while The Phantom Tomorrow struggled to chart in most countries in which they previously had major success – the UK included.
Feeling very much like a tribute to their past decade as a band, it would be untrue to suggest that the crowd was not enthralled by the band’s ‘greatest hits’ set. Every chorus was chanted back in high volumes, such as nostalgic classics Fallen Angels and Knives and Pens, however, the reception was very much the same for the band’s newer tracks – which leaves the decision to focus so heavily on past glories an even more puzzling decision.
While they may not offer anything massively innovative, Black Veil Brides do perform their musical offerings undeniably well. It’s clear that they’ve been together now for well over a decade as their sense of enjoying performing together as a band radiates completely to the audience – it’s really quite hard to not smile as the band gel together in such perfect unison.
Despite suffering from a sore throat following the band’s extensive touring, Black is still unarguably a supreme frontman. From the first chords of Crimson Skies, the crowd is putty in his hands as he embodies the spirit and style of a 1950’s vaudeville host. There is quite a disparity between his fellow bandmates’ 2009-esque emo-chic look, but it allows him to stand out as the undisputed main event on the stage. Shadows Die sees Jaxx briefly take the mantle of violinist, and adds an exciting dynamic to the band’s sound, which generally stays the same throughout. While their earlier songs feature the occasional ‘growl’, many of the songs began to blend together into a cacophony of big guitar riffs with an anthemic chorus. This was not helped by the set’s poor sound mixing – you could be mistaken for thinking that they were an instrumental band for Crimson Skies, Coffin, and Rebel Love Song.
After returning for an encore, the band delivered three of their biggest crowd-pleasers with Lost It All, Fallen Angels, and the modern metal classic In the End to triumphant applause and exactly the same high-level energy as the start of the show. Black Veil Brides certainly know how to write solid, catchy, if slightly derivative music, it’s just a shame that they appear to be stuck in the past when they could be so much more than that.
Black Veil Brides are currently on a UK tour, tickets can be bought here.