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The Blackout – Live @ Reading Sub89

| On 29, Jan 2014

Blackout (Use1)

Thursday 26th January, Reading

The Blackout are out on the ‘Start the Party’ tour part two and tonight’s show is in the Reading Sub89 – the venue is one-quarter full. I don’t know if this is because of what has been happening around a certain band that The Blackout used to play with or if this is because the tour wasn’t advertised very well – whatever it is, The Blackout have had nothing to do with it and after the show they put on today there should be a lot more people here because they pull out all the stops like they normally do.

The Blackout have a great sense of fun behind them and they really are a live force, I have always liked the records but live is where The Blackout are at their best. They open with one of their most heavy and in your face songs off their first EP The Blackout!, The Blackout!, The Blackout!, which for me is still one the tracks that gives the most impact live and almost starts a live riot every time they play it. So the title of it is simply perfect: ‘I’m A Riot? Your A F**king Riot!’. The nice thing about this track is that it still takes you back to when the band first started, which still feels like only yesterday.

The stage is a lot smaller than the one’s The Blackout have gotten accustomed to playing, but they manage it really well and do not look out of place as Sean and Gavin move from side to side, singing and screaming in your face. They bring out  a rare fan favourite for tonight, the infectious ‘We’re Going To Hell… So Bring The Sunblock’, which stomps along steadily and helps to get the set into a controlled pace, this also continues on ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ – I really like the Emo / Post Punk-esque sound of this song and it’s really catchy and one of the bands most commercial songs.

This track would have great appeal amongst American audiences; it has that high school feel to it. Drummer Gareth ‘Snoz’ Lawrence just looks like he is having so much fun on every track and he is really going for it and it just shows how much of a fun band The Blackout are…

There is quite a lot of songs from their album The Best in Town on show tonight, showing that the material is really strong and the album should have done better than it did. Hope was the album that really brought the band to the mainstream audience and saw them playing on the main stage at the Reading festival, so must be weird for the band to be playing in this smallish venue in the same time after gracing the stage where all the greats in the business have played. ‘Said And Done’ isn’t a stand out track for me by The Blackout and I do wonder why they decided to put this one in and leave other great songs out, but sometimes a band just feels like playing a certain song.

‘Higher And Higher’ then launches in and it lifts the show up to the next level. Off their successful album Hopethis song has some nice kick-in riffs and levels that go up and down and, as the songs says, it takes them “Higher and Higher”. In between songs Sean and Gavin are at their best again battling against each other, as usual, with banter. The first song they play off the new album Start the Party is the single ‘Running Scared’, which is a real anthem for the summer and is really catchy and shows how the band have progressed as song writers and that the material has gotten even more commercial. Yes, it does have hints of some of the anthems that fellow Welsh band Lostprophets produced, but it has its own sound at the same time, that moves throughout the new record.

They chill it down a little for ‘Hope (Scream it out Loud)’, which Sean and Gavin’s vocals sound great on, before they blast into one of the best songs to participate to – ‘Children of the Night’ – and what has now become a little bit of an anthem for The Blackout, ‘Ambition is Critical’, but none of these come close to ‘The Storm’, which is a major highlight in the set today, especially when it goes really quiet and dead and then it comes back in with Gavin’s vocal line; the guitar work by James ‘Bob’ Davies on this track is really good.

The band from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales have come a long way from the early days and it really shows, even though some fans might like their earlier material more they have to admit that the band’s sound is a lot more polished and they don’t make so many mistakes in their live performance. Also, the vocal ability is at a higher standard, which is really good for the band’s future, because I think The Blackout are going to be around for years to come.

During ‘The Storm’ Sean seems to have cracked his tooth, which Gavin does not believe until he shows him and then he spends the next song the new single ‘Radio’ looking for the piece of broken tooth, like all the band members were doing before the song started. After this song Sean tries to get the crowd going and jokes: “Act like you all love yourself! But none of you could love yourself as much as I do, I am like Jesus Christ…I am that brilliant, but then again if I was Jesus I could turn this water into wine…which would be good!”. I could not help myself and shouted out, “And grow your own tooth back!”, which Sean replied “You b**stard, but that is a brilliant one! You win this time you git!”. They then blast into their other anthem, ‘Save our Selves (The Warning)’, which seems to almost be an autobiography of the band and is the last song in the main set.

They come back on to ‘Shut The f**k Uppercut’ – another furious frantic song which is good to have in your arsenal to bring out and the song that spawned these tours, ‘Start the Party’, which everyone goes crazy for and it really does end the party for tonight. This was a great set by a band that should have packed this venue out. I don’t think The Blackout will ever go way and certainly tonight they were the best in town.

Reviews and Photos: Dan Devour