Review: Billy Talent

Posted on 2 November 2009
By Conor Killick
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With the phenomenal success Billy Talent have received in Canada and Germany, it seems only a matter of time before they break through the ranks of the UK. Judging by tonight’s display, it’s only a matter of time before Billy Talent hit the big time over here.

Waiting for the first support to grace the stage the crowd were amused by two balloons bopping around the crowd, and even when Canterbury take to the stage, a bigger cheer comes from the singer kicking one of the balloons back into the crowd, rather than the actual emergence of the band.

With their catchy hooks and pop punk music, Canterbury are technically very good, but they don’t quite fit the bill for tonight. They’re almost too soft-core for the crowd to get their teeth into with the opening act perhaps needing to pack more of a punch to win our attention.

I was expecting Cancer Bats to take to the stage and really get the crowd moving with their hardcore riffs and screaming vocals. But despite thundering onto the stage to arguably their best song, ‘Hail Destroyer’ they still can’t get the crowd to participate at all.

Having seen Cancer Bats before when the crowd gave them a thundering reception, it makes me sad that the crowd can’t get into the music. Perhaps the opposite of Canterbury with them being soft-core, they are perhaps too hardcore. However it raises doubts if the crowd are even going to get excited about Billy Talent. They seem immovable. Impossible to please.

Gladly I’m proved wrong with the emergence of Billy Talent as it becomes obvious the crowd came for BT and BT only. ‘The Dead Can’t Testify’ and ‘Line & Sinker’ get the crowd singing along but it’s not until ‘Devil In A Midnight Mass’ that the true uproar begins.

Ian D’Sa’s intricate and extraordinary guitar playing truly shines through in this song and its catchiness and fast moving pace get everyone off their feet.

One thing that is clear from watching Billy Talent’s set is the lighting is amazing. The lights are shining and synched up in time with the music and it makes viewing quite a spectacle.

My personal favourite song of the gig was ‘The Ex’ with Ben introducing the song and telling us about his ex that cheated on him, it seemed that everyone in the crowd brought out their worst memories of ex-partners and shouted them out in this song. Though not a particularly pleasant sentiment it got the crowd moving, singing along and enjoying themselves on the same level as the Billy Talent frontman.

With the set largely based on the new album ‘III’ I’m disappointed not to hear some of my favourites from older albums such as ‘Where is the Line’ and ‘Perfect World’ but in all honesty that’s about the only complaint I can bring away with me from the gig.

Set closers ‘Try Honesty’, ‘Falling Leaves’ and ‘Red Flag’ got everyone going bonkers and as the throng sings back the words it’s not hard to see that Billy Talent themselves have enjoyed playing Manchester just as much as the crowd have enjoyed seeing them.

Manchester Academy 1, 26.10.09