Wembley Arena is not my favourite venue, generally due to years of shows with poor sound experience here. This issue, unfortunately, seemed to mar some of my enjoyment of Black Veil Brides opening for Halestorm. I may be on my own here, though, as it seems that everyone else in the arena was more than up for the band. In fact, the venue was rammed for this performance, so I can imagine the bars were pretty empty.
Black Veil Brides
OVO Arena Wembley – 9 December 2023
Words: Adrian Stonley
Photography: Robert Sutton
For me, the sound was muddied. I know that it can sound different when you are in the centre of the arena as opposed to out on the sides, and perhaps this is part of the issue. From my perspective, the drum sound was flat and tinny, and the guitars seemed to merge into each other, making it difficult to pick out the different sounds and work between Jinnx and Jake Pitts. So, with that one grumble out of the way, what did the Brides bring to Wembley?
Quite simply, it was an impressive pyro-rammed show and a good time for all. All credit to the headliners Halestorm for allowing the band to use the pyro. Many headliners won’t go that far.
I suppose my other quibble is that the Black Veil Brides only got a 50-minute set. Many here would rather have had two bands on the bill than the three that were here tonight, which would then have allowed for a longer Brides set.
However, knowing they were restricted timewise, they needed to ensure that their set was absolutely brimming full of the best they could bring and song-wise, that was most certainly the case here.
This was a set jam-packed with material from across their entire history, three singles from the latest album, and the rest a run-through of their back catalogue, with the set closing with the inevitable crowd pleasers.
Entering the stage to the theme from Sweeney Todd, they piled into Crimson Skies, from their latest album, The Phantom Tomorrow, with the appropriate level of red lighting and pyro to warm up the arena. One thing that the Brides are about is entertainment, and they deliver that in spades.
They are a visual good, time rock band, and yes, they still run through every rock cliché in the book, back-to-back guitarists, the ‘whoah, whoah’ audience singalongs, but that is part of the endearment of the band.
Wake Up from the Vale album certainly woke up the crowd and got a serious reaction as a previously relatively sedentary mass got moving as one with arms waving, voices raised and plenty of movement, although it didn’t quite stretch to a mosh pit. This was followed by Nobody’s Hero, which rolled the years back and continued the pyro bombardment.
With frontman Andy Biersack menacingly prowling the stage and working the audience into a frenzy, he brought more tone to proceedings, often switching between his clean vocals into death growls on a more regular basis, adding this approach into a number of songs where they had not been before.
Though there has always been that element in his vocal approach, it seems to have increased, and this alone has added more texture to a number of the tunes, allowing the band to widen the scope of how they play them and how they transmit over in the live environment.
Following a back-to-back visitation of two of the singles released from their latest album, Scarlet Cross and Torch, the band kicked back the years and rolled back to their first three albums for a series of crowd-pleasing favourites. Starting with The Legacy before ripping into Knives And Pens.
With a call out to scream and shout, Fallen Angels caused a major eruption, with the audience embracing every hot and sweaty moment of it. Closing off with In The End from Wretched And Divine, the arms were up in the air, and camera lights switched on. The obligatory ‘Whoah, Whoah’ singalong was in full force. It was clear that as many of the audience were here to see the Brides as were here for Halestorm.
Despite this being a short set, Black Veil Brides clearly showed that the fan base is such that they are now able to fill the larger arenas. As the years have passed, they have stepped away from being a band for younger rock fans, offset the more glam-glitz trappings of the past and shown they are now more than capable of holding their own as a serious rock band which can reach out across a much wider fanbase.
The new material is strong and fits in well with the older songs, and this has also highlighted that they more than have the ability and the musicianship to match the showmanship of the past and prove to any doubters that they are a relevant metal band.
Certainly, following this performance, it was clear that Halestorm was really going to have to put on a show to top this.