Touring packages have become a way of adding more value for fans and more fans for bands as the music industry changes and adapts. Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena finds Welsh boys Bullet For My Valentine making a welcome return to the capital with three other bands to keep them company.
Words: Craig Huntley
Pictures: Andrew Joss
First up are SHVPES, featuring lead singer Griffin Dickinson, who is the son of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce. Tonight’s set certainly shows the band can quite clearly stand on their own two feet. Their modern, heavy sound fills the hall while Griffin prowls the postage stamp size space they have at the front of the stage like he owns the place.
He soon gets the crowd energised with songs like ‘Undertones’ and ‘Calloused Hands’ showcasing their recent second album, ‘Greater Than’, and make a good impression during their short time on stage.
Being this low on the bill is a surprise, as Nothing More clearly have the energy, the songs and the stage presence to be higher up the order. Half naked frontman Jonny Hawkins bounds onto the stage without so much as a “hello” as they start their short set.
This band have a collection of songs that cut the divide between audience and performer. Their brand of hard rock embraces the daily struggles of mental health, friends and family and in full flight they are something to behold.
With the set coming to an end the San Antonio rockers have one more ace up their sleeve. Located at the back behind bassist Daniel Oliver is a contraption dubbed ‘The Scorpion Tail’. Twisted metal bedecked with sound pads and handles, it helps launch Hawkins into the air as he becomes a swirling mess of hands, hair and feet, a primal mess as he becomes one with the beat. The band leave the stage while the crowd pick their jaws up off the floor.
After losing talismanic frontman Austin Carlile for medical reasons, Of Mice And Men had a decision to make-either rebrand as a new band or continue on with the OMAM name. In the end they kept it, regrouped and released a fantastic album in 2017s ‘Defy’ with bassist Aaron Pauley stepping up to do both styles of vocal.
With the amount of bands on this tour limiting time, their set features more of their recent back catalogue with a storming ‘Unbreakable’ ironically interrupted by drummer Valentino Arteaga breaking his bass pedal in the intro. A solid set from the far from laid back Californian quintet.
Tonight is close to a homecoming gig for Bridgend’s Bullet For My Valentine. The band have been ploughing their trade for the best part of twenty years and have ridden the rollercoaster of passing musical trends well.
Striding onto the stage as a large white sheet falls from the rafters exposing them to the audience, they knuckle down into opening song ‘Leap Of Faith’ which is an odd song to open with. The track has a stop start rhythm to it that doesn’t quite get the crowd jumping and the band don’t fall into a rhythm until third track, ‘Your Betrayal’, where they interact with their fans for the first time.
Back in 2005 BFMV released their debut album, ‘The Poison’, and a smattering of tracks are played from it tonight. ‘4 Words (To Choke Upon)’ whips the crowd into a frenzy and CO2 cannons and ticker tape explode over the hall as a mass singalong ensues.
Having been around for twenty years now,they can slip into a classic Metal band ethos and the other members take a moment to regroup as drummer Jason Bowld showcases his percussive skills on his kit. They do the special guest moment too with Griffin Dickinson adding his vocals to ‘No Way Out’.
A three song encore concludes the set with a rapturous audience singing back every word to ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ and ‘Waking The Demon’, a one two punch of songs which highlight how and why the band have lasted this long. There is more Welsh wizardry to come too.