Live Review: Bring Me the Horizon Still Bring the Heavy at New York City Show (1/29)

"You say we've gone soft! Let me see a f--kin' moshpit!"

Bring Me the Horizon's Oli Sykes
Bring Me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes, photo by Johnny Perilla

Setting the Stage: Much has been made about Bring Me the Horizon‘s transition from a heavy metalcore band to a pop-leaning alternative rock act that now dabbles in dance and electronic music. The crowd for the first show of a two-night stand at the jam-packed Hammerstein Ballroom on the band’s “First Love” tour Tuesday (January 29th) in New York City looked like the physical representation of the UK band’s musical evolution, with sweaty metal dudes standing shoulder to shoulder with high-fashion club kids. With BMTH’s newly released sixth album, amo, only a few days old, how would the new songs play out against the band’s older material? Would the band even play their heavy stuff? We’d find out pretty quickly…

Taking the Stage: Bring Me the Horizon frontman Oli Sykes kicked off the evening with the ethereal synth-pop song “I Apologize If You Feel Something”, the leadoff track on amo, lulling fans into an ambient trance before the rest of the band joined Sykes onstage to deliver the album’s first single, “Mantra”. Already one of the more rocking songs on amo, “Mantra” played a lot heavier in concert, with a majority of the fans singing along to each word. Any doubts to as whether BMTH would go even heavier were soon quelled with the next song, the crushing “House of Wolves” off 2013’s Sempiternal.

That’s the Spirit was well represented with six songs, as the 2015 album’s “Avalanche” and “Happy Song” were among the highlights of the main set. Meanwhile. “Shadow Moses”, which has emerged as Sempiternal‘s defining anthem with its gang-vocal chorus, got one of the biggest rises out of the crowd all night.

There is a bit of a disjointed feel to the show as new poppier songs like “Medicine” and “Nihilist Blues” are mixed in between Sempiternal tracks like “Sleepwalking” and “Antivist”, as if the setlist is trying to find an identity, just like the band itself. BMTH may tweak things as they continue to tour in support of amo, but for the most part, it didn’t seem to distract the crowd too much. At one point in the show, Sykes chided the audience for being too tame while acknowledging some of the backlash the band has received: “You say we’ve gone soft! Let me see a f–kin’ moshpit!”

Bring Me the Horizon ended the main set with an acoustic version of “Drown”, with only Sykes and guitarist Lee Malia onstage, with the fans delivering many of the lines themselves.

During the encore, the band showed its appreciation for their old-school fans, playing a medley of their pre-Sempiternal favorites, including “The Comedown” and “Diamonds Aren’t Forever”, proving they can still bring the brutality whenever they want. The night ended with the majestic That’s the Spirit song “Throne”, a fitting statement for Bring Me the Horizon’s royal rise to the upper echelon of the rock kingdom.

[Album Review: Bring Me the Horizon Continue Their Sonic Evolution on amo]

Strong Support: Post-hardcore veterans Thrice, who’ve been kicking it for 20 years (minus a hiatus from 2012 to 2015) provided direct support to Bring Me the Horizon, delivering a mix of songs that spanned their career, including tracks from their latest disc, 2018’s Palms. Meanwhile, early comers got to see the energetic force that is Fever 333, a politically charged sonic mix of Rage Against the Machine and Linkin Park, as singer Jason Aalon Butler, guitarist Stephen Harrison and drummer Aric Improta found themselves in the balconies and the crowd at different points of the set, while offering songs off their recent full-length debut, Strength in Numb333rs.

See our photo gallery of Bring Me the Horizon, Thrice, and Fever 333, followed by BMTH’s setlist, below:

All Photos by Johnny Perilla (@johnnyperilla)

Bring Me the Horizon Setlist:
I Apologise If You Feel Something
The House of Wolves
Wonderful Life
Shadow Moses
Nihilist Blues
Happy Song
Can You Feel My Heart
Follow You
Drown (acoustic)
Play Video

The Comedown / (I Used to Make Out With) Medusa / Diamonds Aren’t Forever / Re: They Have No Reflections