Tuesday evening was a real sensory overload at Birmingham’s O2 Academy with the brilliant Sleep Token and the amazing Aussie Rockers Northlane.
Sleep Token – Northlane
O2 Academy, Birmingham – 17 January 2023
Words and Photography: Andy Shaw
Sleep Token, who are a mask-wearing anonymous rock collective, are pulling up trees where ever they go. Having never experienced them live before, it would transpire to be an interesting experience.
The Birmingham Academy, full to the brim, was at a fever pitch before Sleep Token entered the stage, and when the lights went out, the noise was extraordinary. The lead singer, known as ‘Vessel’ appeared at the back of the stage, backlit and the band opened with the new song Chokehold. The Summoning followed, another new song making its live debut.
A fantastic booming start to proceedings, and it’s easy to see why Sleep Token are championed as such an exciting band to see live. All members of the band were masked, and the backing singers were hooded, but this did not distract from the amazing sound being produced and the vibrant live performance.
The set lent heavily on their latest album, This Place Will Become Your Tomb, and after a brief musical interlude, they came back with two songs from that album, Hypnosis and Mine, before a track from their first album Sundowning, Dark Signs.
After another interlude, it was back with a booming Nazareth and Like That before another debut live song in Aqua Regia. There was no interaction with the crowd between songs. However, this made little or no difference to the evening.
The sound ranged from booming Deathcore blast beat to some real ethereal sounds, all performed with awesome lighting, which complimented the sounds produced. This was wonderfully shown by a stunning version of Atlantic, which began with ‘Vessel’ alone singing with a keyboard before the song exploded.
The Academy crowd seemed to know every word to every song, and the atmosphere was one of the best I have experienced there in a long time.
Next was Alkaline before the last debut live song of the evening, Granite. The set finished with Higher and The Love You Want before they left the stage.
Sleep Token returned with an encore of songs from their first album, Sundowning in The Night Does Not Belong to God and The Offering, before finally leaving the stage.
An absolutely stunning performance, Sleep Token are one the great live bands around at the minute. You must catch them somewhere soon in a smaller venue because they will be in arenas soon.
Openers tonight were Northlane, an Australian Heavy Metal band from Sydney who are gaining a big reputation down under. Much of their set was made up of their latest album Obsidian.
Frontman Marcus Bridge is an absolute bundle of energy and never stops moving, and his vocals move from singing through to growls with seamless progression. The sound is booming, with the Academy crowd, who were obviously there to see both bands, loving every second.
Next is 4D, then Carbonized, and by now, they are in full swing, showing why they are becoming a really popular live band. Guitarist Josh Smith and drummer Nic Pettersen perfectly complement lead guitarist Jon Deiley, who also samples during the set.
Marcus Bridge is really in full flow as they move onto Quantum Flux, from Singularity, then back to Obsidian with Clockwork.
This fantastic set finishes with Bloodline from Alien, Cypher from Obsidian and finally, Talking Heads from Alien. A stunning set from a band that will surely be headlining when they return to the UK.