Tonight was always going to be something special. This being Lostprophets‘ first gig since acoustically closing 2008 in Cardiff on New Year’s Eve, as well as the debut of former Beat Union drummer Luke Johnson, expectations were high and the room was full of energy and vitality. And, at around £25 a ticket, I for one wanted to leave this room feeling much better off.
Of course, people were only here to see one band. But before that, the crowd witnessed two support acts touted as ‘next big things’ in the UK rock scene. The problem, however, within selecting support bands that are relatively unknown for such a grand spectacle, is that they either step-up to the mark, or fall flat on their face. Tonight, we see both, in very stark contrast.
First up were Young Guns. Riding on the wave of Kerrang! publicity, these boys prove their worth with great integrity and conviction. Playing easily their biggest show in well, ever, you could see the genuine desire and passion for playing in their faces. They knew they were playing the biggest show of their lives. Unfortunately, due to the incompetence of Greater Manchester’s public transport, I’ve only time to see the last two songs of their set, Vanity and set closer Daughter of the Sea. But from what I saw, singer Gustav Wood is an incredible performer with the pipes to match, drawing in the crowd with ease and stirring up numerous pits with his band’s atmospheric and utterly joyous sound. Go see them when they tour the country in September, I assure you that you will not be disappointed.
Proceeding this were the more punkish stylings of The Dead Formats. Coming onto the stage with the trademark punk attitude and sneer and a dual force of frontmen, one looking like a young Daryl Palumbo, the other more emblematic of David from Big Brother, what follows is nothing short of humiliation. In a room of 3,000 people, not a single person is moving. Just two songs into their set, a sea of middle fingers and the odd ‘tosser’ hand gesture is thrust in their direction (in addition to an ill-directed beer that lands on me rather than the band). The increasing jeer of ‘Off! Off! Off!’ resonates around the room to a symphony of boos, and you can feel nothing but pity for these guys. A mass exodus to the bar ensues. They have no idea what to do to improve the situation, choosing only to cut their losses and rifle through their set as quickly as possible. The only positive reaction from the crowd comes when they feebly announce that the following song would be their last. More water pistol than Sex Pistol, they quietly march off the stage to a chorus of insults.
Due to the early departure of the previous act, the waiting time in between them and Lostprophets actually manages to feel like forever. Still agitated from the last set, the crowd direct their anger at the well-meaning soundman, who, in going on and off the stage so much, creates a level of irritation I don’t think I’ve ever seen at a gig before. The boisterous jostling for prime position at the front, in addition to the almost tropical humidity of the room, makes life tough for my near-hour wait. But, just as soon as people begin to lose hope, the lights finally dim and six men wander onto the stage.
Stood with their backs to the crowd in darkness, in almost boyband fashion, Lostprophets storm into action from the off and it doesn’t get any less frantic from that point forward. New single It’s Not The End Of The World, as well as another new track Streets To Nowhere, magnificently displaying a much darker and aggressive side to the ‘Prophets, and only intensifies the excitement for the release of their new record, The Betrayed, a record which looks likely to see Lostprophets re-igniting the heavier and more fast-paced stylings of previous records such as Start Something.
Tonight’s setlist is simply brilliant. Hit after hit after bloody hit pounds out, sending the crowd absolutely bonkers. Can’t Catch Tomorrow and A Town Called Hypocrisy get people pogoing to such an extent you’d think we’d took a wrong turn into a bouncy castle. Last Train Home and Shinobi Vs. Dragon Ninja open up circle pits the size of Malaysia. Last Summer and Rooftops raise fists in the air and provoke sing-a-longs almost deafening to the ear. Not a single person in this room leaves with an experience any less than exhilarating.
…That is except for me. The rowdy stampede incited by Lostprophets’ arrival, in addition to a chronic lack of water and the relentless swaying of the masses, all in Manchester’s Amazon Rainforest, become too much for skinny me. I become short of breath and almost faint from heat exhaustion. My chest and lungs are in agony. I rush out of the venue for cool and for some much-needed water, and I see that I’m not alone. Swathes of injured comrades line the floors of the concourse; you’d think it was a warzone. Surely fundamental errors in the administration of tonight’s gig, in addition to the pure discourtesy of some clientele, would have altered people’s perceptions of the gig. But, sat rather comfily in the bar, listening into set-closer Burn Burn, I feel a slight sense of joy in that I’d escaped the chaos. In addition to a much more overriding sense of blinding pain.