It’s the first date of the UK tour and we’re at Newport Centre. An odd venue, one which requires you to walk past a swimming pool as elderly ladies practice their techniques staring oddly at excitable fans rushing in. From early on the venue is packed and mood is set to 11.
Killswitch Engage on tour with Bullet feels like a special Christmas treat, both equally great headliners and both notorious for immense live shows.
Breaking the crowd in with Alone I Stand Killswitch Engage really know how to pump up a room. At times singer Jesse and guitarist Adam feel almost like a double act – Adam being the cool fun guy whilst Jesse takes on a more serious approach. It doesn’t take long for Jesse to dedicate Hate By Design to their “prick” of an elect-president, something we’re going to hear more and more of from visiting US bands. We feel their pain and they feel ours.
Adam demands for two circle pits shaped like balls and things quickly get moving. “That is one fucked up ball” as he points at the crowd, many laughing, which in times like these is exactly what many need.
“Let me hear your beautiful voices” Jesse cries. Throughout the night sees a crowd do the Welsh voice proud as they sing along to Serenade and End OF Heartache elegantly.
Each member roams around the stage with their own moves as they manage to squeeze 12 songs into a tight set. One point sees Adam take a dash off stage and dance around with the crowd to their delight. They take time to dedicate the set to family and it certainly does feel like family in here tonight with all the love for each other.
As the sets revealed it shows Bullet For My Valentine are out to prove their place and raise their game as an impressive light show fills the centre. Amps fitted with lights fill the stage whilst Bullet’s initials light up and hang like flags like something you’d see from The Hunger Games. They’ve also donned smart uniforms which feels quite strange against their usual rock ‘n roll style.
It’s loud, incredibly loud as they open with No Way Out. Bassist Jamie seems to have taken up more vocal duties and has filed in the gap perfectly, often at times outdoing Matt. He’s been a great addition to the band, and it feels like a new lease of life from the band as a whole. Having first seen Bullet back in 2005 at a sweaty Coal Exchange it’s amazing to see the journey they’ve been on, the hard work, the up and downs – it’s admirable to see a Welsh band still keeping their heads above the water in such a hostile industry.
As the band play full force through the set it feels like it takes Matt quite a while before they pause and embrace the crowd, and when they plummet into 4 Words the crowd give it their all. Padge seems to of perfected the 101 of rock faces to pull at shows – it puts a smile on many faces and he smiles back continually throughout. They’re obviously feeling the hometown show love tonight and it shows.
Matt takes a minute to talk about old track Hearts Burst Into Fire, about how they originally played it in Newport and how fitting it was to play again – and it certainly was. A charming treat for the older fans.
Newport get two encores tonight, coming back on to Tears Don’t Fall feeling like it’s causing a tidal wave in the swimming pool next door.
They finally end on Don’t Need You – it’s been a delight for the Newport crowd who feel like they haven’t stopped all night. From Killswitch to Bullet, there are certainly going to be some sore heads tomorrow. The energy from doors open to clearing out has been nothing but high. Although some were disappointed there wasn’t a Poison date for Newport they make up for it with a varied strong set list.
Bullet For My ValentineNewport Centre - November 24th 2016.
Photographer: Nadine Ballantyne - www.nadineballantyne.com