Live Review: Blackhole – O2 Academy 2, Newcastle, 14th September 2009

Blackhole19 days, 19 gigs, young upstarts Blackhole are jumping in at the deep end with a long nationwide trek to celebrate the release of their debut album Dead Hearts; tonight the tour stops in Newcastle, and here’s how it went down.

Starting the night off are locals Cut Glass Accent, a somewhat unorthodox choice for support, as they begin to play some fairly inoffensive and tolerable alternative rock, apart from the pretty sporadic and unnecessary screaming. However, things rapidly go downhill when vocalist/guitarist Chris announces, “We’re now going to play a pop-punk song”, along with guitarist James embarrassingly wearing a panda mask to about 40 sniggering hardcore kids. The band then continue to incohesively dabble in some progressive rock and then deliver tunes with some very System Of A Down-esque moments; they call it “experimental” on their MySpace, I call it ‘a-band-who-is-yet-to-discover-its-own-sound’.

Throats dish-up the evening’s what-the-fuckery in poor fashion. Their grindcore-noisecore-hardcore sounds like a wall of bricks, and constant cutting out of their microphones don’t exactly help proceedings, as if it wasn’t hard enough to listen to already. Almost thankfully, circa fifteen minutes later, the band leave the stage; they’ve caused a ruckus, they’ve left an impression, now if they just had at least one line of lyric that was even remotely legible, and they didn’t sound close to painful, they’d be doing something right. Alas, this is not the case, tonight.

Following two lacklustre support acts, it’s time for The Plight to take it up a notch, and that’s exactly what they do, as the Leeds quintet ruthlessly smash through their hard-hitting set like a bulldozer. Frontman Allistair Mancrief starts tonight’s trend of leaping over the barrier, as he stomps around the Academy 2, throwing himself onto the floor and into those nearby. Guitarists Lewis Pugh and Richard Storrow follow suit, as they unleash their licks on the floor, creating a much more intimate vibe. Songs such as It Only Gets Worse from their 2008 EP Black Summer, generate a flurry of mic grabs from the Newcastle contingent, as well as show off the band’s unique hardcore style, as they intertwine twin guitar-fronted melodies into their sound, with catchy rockabilly choruses; a sound, and energy, similar to that of The Ghost of a Thousand. New track Wings of Osiris, from their forthcoming full-length released next month, of the same name, provides an exciting sneak peak of what’s to come. A brilliantly wild performance.

Blackhole start off their set tonight just like they start their shiny new record. Tearing into Don’t Cry, they garter an immediate feedback from the crowd, before further eliminating a need for a barrier. Rich Carter ushers his audience forward, and tears through it like a knife through hot butter, as he spends the remainder of the set singing (which for the record, sounds cutting edge, sharp and aggressive as hell) from the floor.

The dreaded microphone problems come back to haunt, but the pint-sized frontman makes light work of it, surviving a still-great rendition of reworked EP track Witches, and attempting to drag a replacement microphone down from the stage during an epic-sounding Tides. Sounding only somewhat like his older siblings’ band, the mighty Gallows, in voice, the four men still onstage sound rockier, riffier, and have an unparalleled tightness about them, the tearing duo guitar work sounding stellar.

The crowd tonight seems like a family of sorts; fifty or so kids crowded around singing back lyrics that have only (legally) been known for a week tops like they’re a year old, and barking down the microphone held in front of them at their own personal pleasure.

With a great finish on closer track We Are The Dead Hearts, the band bade goodbye to their crowd with the tracks haunting end chant, and not a face in the criminally under-populated room isn’t grinning from ear-to-ear. They’ve been getting rave reviews for festival performances up and down the country this summer, and if this gig is anything to go by, Blackhole will most definitely be tearing up more than just a handful of people, come the not-too-distant future.

George Cannings (Intro/Throats/Blackhole) and Faye Turnbull (Cut Glass Accent/The Plight).

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