Bullet for My Valentine at Southampton Guildhall O2 8.3.2023 with Jinjer and Atreyu supporting
My slow gig-going start to 2023 has continued into March but on a cold rainy Wednesday night I’ve made the hour’s drive to Southampton – fortunately the snow didn’t quite make this stretch of the South Coast despite the Yellow Alerts and fear inducing forecasts.
This is a solo forage to see one of the few bands I’ve bought albums by that I had never seen live: heavy metal from South Wales in the form of Bullet for My Valentine, from Bridgend. I bought a few of their CDs around 20 years ago in the bargain rack at Wimborne Square Records and after a few years lost touch. The occasional heavy metal band thrown into my largely indie-rock mix comes from teenage influences. Also the heavy metal – punk/post-punk/Oi! divide has always seemed more blurred than many see it.
The venue is a familiar one – more here in my Southampton Guildhall venue blog – and for this one I am up in the balcony. Ageing feet are relieved.
An early 7pm start with California metalcore band Atreyu. I don’t know them but they’ve been going 25 years. Lead singer (not lead growly singer or ‘dirty vocals’) Brandon Seller rallies the crowd and gets the ‘circle pit’ going. Did I hear that right? Mosh pit surely. Anyway an enthusiastic rotating mosh.
From my rear perch I grabbed a video of Atreyu with my pocket zoom camera which on my YouTube channel: Ex’s and Oh’s.
Battle Drums stands out mid-set, a 2002 oldie – I’m hearing the Oi! metal crossover. The half-hour set motors along and they finish with the notable Blow. Excellent reception for the first band on.
Intriguing, odd and humbling to be introduced to a band from Donetsk, Ukraine. That sudden thought of what are we doing here enjoying ourselves. This is Jinjer – they’ve been going over 10 years.
Lead singer Tatiana Shmailyuk has a voice that growls fiercely at regular intervals but between growls is a bit lost in the guitars. Sporting some chunky boots and a pink leotard she leaps between the stage front podiums but I’m lost in this and nearly drift off.
A break and a wander downstairs – not sure if you can always do this if you have a balcony seat. I return with my pricey pint of water: rock’n’roll eh.
Bullet for My Valentine (BFMV) are on at 9.30pm. “Let’s get this f*cking floor moving. Bounce, bounce, bounce!” yells frontman Matthew Tuck and the circle pit (yes metal mosh pit) was off again, the occasional cloud of vanilla and caramel vapes dispersing to give that dusty stampede look. (The sickly sweet vape smells are everywhere. So funny watching a furtive under the jacket puff preceding the huge stinking cloud above.)
The lighting and sound experience is so classically heavy metal. Guitar, bass, drums, vocals/ guitar, loud, fit inducing lights and rock’n’roll. I can see why I picked up on them back when I did.
Frontman Matthew Tuck (guitar and vocals) and lead guitar man Michael Paget have been in BFMV since the start in 1998. Bassist Jamie Mathia and Jason Bowld on drums were later additions. Not sure if they share the band’s Bridgend heritage.
It’s an easy heavy metal listen but despite having those two albums I couldn’t say I knew them well enough: they might have only had a few plays in the last 10 years. The two I recognised were the title track of the Scream Aim Fire album and Your Betrayal which I would have said was their anthem – the best. That was one of the three encores after what seemed like an early break. Yup, well worth the trip and for me a bit of a heavier diversion from the norm.