Bullet for my Valentine - o2 City Hall Newcastle - 3rd March 2023
Fans were lining up in droves as I made my way to the city hall in excited anticipation for tonights Bullet for my Valentine show. Fortunately I got down early too as once id spoken to a few fans in the queue it was evidently clear that it wasn’t just the headliner everyone wanted to see, but the chance to see Atreyu and Jinjer was something nobody was willing to pass up.
As the lights dimmed it was go time, I had to shoulder my way through then dense crowd as the chants of “Atreyu!, Atreyu!” got louder and louder. It wasn’t until id settled into the photo pit that it hit that ‘Sandstorm’ by Darude was playing. A little odd given the genre of music for the evening but it certainly got everyone geared up for what was to come. Their poetic opener ‘Strange Powers of Prophecy’ with its beautiful harmonies had every Atreyu fan reciting it back to them with choir like precision that sent shivers down my spine.
Their set had a little bit of everything from their 20+ year career, ticking the boxes for all the fans in attendance including playing their latest single ‘Crawling’. At one point lead vocalist Brandon Saller even took a little bit of time out during the set to join the crowd, incite a circle pit and chug a fans beer. Something a band is only capable of when they’ve been going as long as they have and earned the respect of everyone in the room. The penultimate track was an utter tease, a cover of ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ by Whitney Houston. Just as we were ready to scream the chorus they cut us off! This was met with an eruption of boos as we turned on them like vultures. As the settled us they made a deal, to play the song in its entirety when they return for a headline tour. Sealed with the sacred pinkie swear it was time for the final track, ‘Blow.’ This couldn’t have been a better opening act for the night, it felt more like a band opening a festival than a support slot.
After a 20 minute interval for most to head to the bar and refresh themselves with a beer or two we welcomed Jinjer to take the stage. Hailing from Donetsk, Ukraine, it was an honour to have Jinjer perform as ambassadors to their nation. As expected all eyes are on lead vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk in her unique tron esq bodysuit illuminated with an array of colours and uv light. After the intro played for ‘Who is Gonna Be the One’ her voice bellows into a deep howl. A juggernaut of a track that causes everyone's heads to bang in unison.
Jinjer are a band that are capable of blending a vast multitude of heavy styles and throw elements of reggae and rap into the mix. Tatiana can throw her voice from one octave to the next with ease, a range of pitch and depth in her voice that I’ve never heard before. Paired with the peculiar time signatures of the music you really go down the rabbit hole when listening to them. There’s nothing to do except let the music take ahold of you and flow with it. They kept our bodies swaying for close to 45 minutes, it was hard to believe we still had our headliners to come, the night could have stopped there and we would have gone home happy.
The night however had really just begun. Drummer Jason Bowld saddled himself behind his kit and opened the set with the ferocity of a shotgun going off with ‘Knives.’ The opening lyrics of the set “Let the madness begin” setting the precedent for how this was gonna go. Within the first few songs lead singer Matt Tuck addressed the fans for sticking with them through their 20 year career and promised to take us on a show illuminating everything throughout the years before jumping into a track from their first ep, ‘4 words (to choke upon). A song with special sentiment for me as I saw them on the tour 18 years ago promoting that very ep.
Bullet have an close relation with their fans and this greatest hits tour was exactly what the crowd wanted. With a fan base young and old this had set had everyone’s favourite songs on it. They had put out a request for vans to vote for a song not played live for a while to which ‘Hearts Burst into Fire’ was picked. I love moments like this because they really connect an artist to their fan base.Hit after relentless hit was given to us with ‘All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)’ leading into ‘Scream Aim Fire’ with an immeasurable amount of energy. I had never heard anything as loud as this in the venue and thought that despite the recent renovation of the place it might need another once over after Bullet were done.
Good things have to come to an end unfortunately, the gap between the last song and the encore but a second. They didn’t want any of the energy to dissipate as the lead into ‘Your Betrayal’. We knew ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ would be next, the crowd opening the lyrics with Matt alone on stage like it was the intimate acoustic version.
We sang the first chorus with him as loud as we could and filled the room with our cheers as the song was started over with the rest of the band in its rapturous glory.
The night ended where they began with ‘Waking the Demon’ and cemented why Bullet for my Valentine are one of the best bands around.
Article & Photography By Sam Wall