Review: Bring Me The Horizon/Bad Omens/Cassyette/Static Dress – Cardiff Utilita Arena 2024

First gig of 2024 and it’s a BIGGIE! Starting the journey to Cardiff in a minor snowstorm wasn’t on the agenda but by the time I get there, it’s a bitterly cold but sunny day, and the queue to get in stretches right around the block already! I take the option to sit in the warm with a beer and a burger and head over in plenty of time for the opening band Static Dress.

The Yorkshire post-hardcore/emo quartet hit the stage at the ungodly hour of 6.30 pm and the venue is already filling nicely. Led by vocalist Olli Appleyard, who immediately encourages several pits to form in the space available, they race through a set of crushing noise and power. Flanked by bassist George Holding and masked and anonymous guitarist Contrast and backed by drummer Sam Ogden, Appleyard takes the appreciative crowd through a selection of tracks from “Rouge Carpet Disaster” on a stage clad in gloomy and atmospheric lighting. Perfect for warming up a cold and shivering Arena. It literally took five seconds for the first body to fly over the barrier and the set ended with a wall of death of impressive size.

Second on was the effervescent Cassyette aka Cassy Brooking from Brighton. I have to say I was seriously impressed with their set and found myself applauding every song from the pit. Vocally there was a lot of Pink to enjoy but she can mix raw, guttural growls with highly lyrical melodies that appeal to a wide cross section of the audience. An announcement that new music was about to be released was met with a lot of enthusiasm and she even managed to generate a few pits of her own as the energy levels in the crowd continued to rise. From opener ‘Petrichor’ to the final track ‘Dear Goth’ her set flew by and I came away incredibly impressed. Definitely a name to look out for!

I really wanted to leave reviewing the main support out of the review completely. Having been told by several people how amazing Bad Omens were I was really looking forward to their set, but shortly before took to the stage we were informed that we were not allowed to take any photos. However, despite my initial reservations, I got drawn in as the set progressed and came away mightily impressed. Taking to the stage masked and all in black and greeted by a blast of smoke cannons and their own lighting set up, the Virginians ripped through an eleven-song set that flew by. Vocalist Noah Sebastian is a force of nature with a voice that spans genre and octaves easily and has the crowd in the palm of his hand from the first note. Obviously, the highlight of the set was ‘Just Pretend’ which got a massive reaction but the entire set, from ‘ARTIFICIAL SUICIDE’ to ‘Dethrone’ was full of energy and power.

So, to the headliners, newly missing one member, and amidst delays to the new album release, there was an air of uncertainty. Fresh from a Download headline appearance that divided opinion on their right to exist at that level I was fascinated to see what they brought to the table. The answer to that is EVERYTHING, with one of the biggest stage shows I have seen in this arena. It was fascinating to see that for a genre that is supposedly appealing to an older, dwindling audience the crowd was far younger than I expected and also that the front row was 99% female and under 25! This HAS to be a good thing for the future of metal-based music!

The show opened with the big screens showcasing an AI bot that would feature later, scanning the crowd, engaging in a call and response, and also humorously warning to consume all drugs ASAP. Then in a blast of confetti Bring Me The Horizon roared into ‘DArkSide’ and Oli Sykes, clad in a bright red suit that contrasted with the muted greys of his bandmates, took control of 7,500 people, never to let go.

‘Empire (Let Them Sing)’ ratcheted up the energy even further and the beauty of the stage set started to become clear. A series of levels and stairs, each comprised of hi-def screens, the stage varied from a cathedral one moment to a digital world another, augmented with flames, smoke, and a laser show, they threw the kitchen sink at you visually. We careered through ‘MANTRA’, ‘Teardrops’, and ‘AmEN!’ before current single ‘Kool-Aid’ generated carnage in the pits resulting in a lengthy delay whilst venue staff extricated the injured! Light and shade, and BMTH’s unique ability to mess with energy levels and emotions were showcased by pairing an acoustic version of ‘sTraNgeRs’ straight into the carnage of ‘Diamonds Aren’t Forever’ and a wall of death that resulted in yet more injuries.

The uncertainty over the new album was dealt with in the most unique manner with Sykes being interviewed by that AI bot that then proceeded to play short clips of unreleased material that sounded immense, the crowd were then recorded adding their own voices to one of those tracks for later release (interestingly Sykes responded that “internal issues” were to blame for the delay!) ‘Antivist’ featured Noah Sebastian joining on stage and somehow raised the temperature even more, before we careered through ‘Drown’ and ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ to close out the main set. Running late because of the injury breaks there was still time for AI-introduced encores ‘Doomed’ (with the big screens showing the band through the years), ‘LosT’ and ‘Throne’ to send Welsh fans home a LOT warmer than when they entered the arena.

There are a LOT of Download headliners reaching the end of their careers now. The genre needs new blood to take over and on tonight’s showing, Bring Me The Horizon absolutely deserves their place at that table.

Review and pics Rob Wilkins/Celtography

BRING ME THE HORIZON
UK TOUR DATES JANUARY 2024
12th – Birmingham, Utilita Arena
13th – Manchester, AO Arena
14th – Glasgow, OVO Arena
16th – Newcastle, Utilita Arena
17th – Liverpool M&S Bank Arena
19th – Sheffield, FlyDSA Arena
20th – London, O2 Arena
21st – London, O2 Arena

Ticket information, here.

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