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As Reckless Love appear on stage, the deafening screams of teenagers fill the Academy. Bearing in mind the fanbase of the headline act and that I'm a pretty tall chap I was looking forward to having a decent view tonight, so seeing Reckless Love’s opening song, the title-track from their most recent effort ‘Animal Attraction’ go down so amazingly well I was left in envy, separated from the crowd in the faraway land of the back of the balcony. Nonetheless, what I hear, I like. On record I’d struggle to defend the cheesiness of Reckless Love; in fact, whilst looking into them before the gig my partner was sure they were a parody band in the vein of Steel Panther. In a live setting it’s a very different story. The heavy atmosphere combined with the screaming girls and flowing alcohol lends itself perfectly to their almost flamboyant style. Knocking out tunes such as ‘Born to Break Your Heart’ and ‘Beautiful Bomb’ it would be silly to expect anything less fun really. From such a distance, the band's topless vocalist looks more like a cross between Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler and Morph rather than a frontman to a Nordic Glam-Rock band. A personal favourite of the night comes in the form of the wonderfully bombastic ‘Hot’, another track from their recent album with the sort of clean-cut choruses you want to see live. It becomes more and more apparent throughout the set that these gig-goers actually enjoy and have made the effort to listen to this band; the warmest reception I’ve ever seen towards an opening act in a long time. After the high-energy, catchy setlist so far, set-closer ‘Wild Touch’ isn’t quite the peak I was hoping for but still a solid end to an engaging set. They’re not offering anything new or ground-breaking but what Reckless Love are doing, they’re doing it well.
Thursday 29th March 2012
Academy in Leeds, UK
Reviews by Nicholas Dishington
Now D.R.U.G.S. are not your typical band; a supergroup success right from the very start with arguably one of the best regarded albums of 2011 as their debut and an army of devoted fans. I daresay a good deal of the people here tonight are present solely for them. On the poppier side of post-hardcore and backed up with the kind of snotty lyrics a pre-'Black Parade' My Chemical Romance would be proud of this band perfectly match their live setting. Hearing vocalist Craig Owens bellowing the intro to ‘The Only Thing You Talk About’ before the band break into the song’s opening breakdown is just the first of the many great sing-along moments throughout the set. In fact, the only thing to mar moments like these in such tracks as ‘Sex Life’ and the confusingly named ‘Mr Owl Ate My Metal Worm’ is Owens’ insistence to let the audience have a go at finishing his lines. As much as I don't really get to see any of the final song from my vantage point, ‘If You Think This Song Is About You, It Probably Is’ I can still make out that the track’s brooding nature in some places, crushing in others, is the rightful highlight to their set.
Almost every band has a visual gimmick. It's undeniable that whatever clothes you wear or whether you slap on the face-paint or not, as a musician it needs to be taken into account. You could argue that some bands just look like they're waiting for a bus but the image is still considered and even possibly made to be deliberately relatable. Black Veil Brides' image is not something most people can relate to and, on account of this, it would be easy to form an opinion without hearing a note, as I've definitely seen done with them before. Underneath the make-up and leather Black Veil Brides are nowhere near as radical as they look, which I've always found to be somewhat disappointing, especially tonight. As I’ve already said, any visual fixtures they might apply are completely lost on me due to my restricted view so I only get to hear the music… and to begin with it's impressively energising, mainly due to the fact that ‘New Religion’ is a fine song and a well-chosen opener. The decision to leave out the utterly cringeworthy tirade that vocalist Andy Biersack inflicts upon the listener at the end of the studio version is another very good decision. I was beginning to think that perhaps there's more to this band with great renditins of songs like ‘Youth and Whiskey’ and the older ‘All Your Hate’, even the spurious ‘Rebel Yell’ cover...that is, until around the time of ‘Children Surrender’ is aired when I come to my senses.

Unfortunately, I can't help but compare them to Bullet for my Valentine but musically weaker. I’m sure I’m not the first to say that and so long as they’re in existence and sticking to their style I won’t be the last. However, in the way that the aforementioned D.R.U.G.S. and Reckless Love aren’t really bringing much new to the table the reason they work in a live setting is strong songwriting and shorter sets. After this brief realisation I try to give Black Veil Brides the benefit of the doubt but the rest of the set ends up blurring into one generic sound. 'The Legacy' stands out somewhat but unfortunately is preceded by a lecture about leaving your own legacy, completely ruining the good done at the start of the show by leaving out the ‘New Religion’ rant. Following a surprisingly mixed up solo courtesy of drummer Christian Coma comes ‘Set The World on Fire’, another fair effort but it ultimately blends in far too much with the following tracks, ‘Rebel Love Song’ and ‘Knives and Pens’. By the set finale time, the admittedly anthemic and quite rousing ‘Fallen Angels’ comes around and the crowd doesn't seem ready to quite wind down yet which is lucky as not too long later the Hollywood quintet return for just one more track, ‘Perfect Weapon’. Overall, I can’t really fault Black Veil Brides. The crowd loved them but I have to admit I’m not really in their target demographic and with a band so reliant on their looks it's difficult to make a conclusive judgement without ever properly seeing their performance tonight; my observations have been largely based on what I've heard.