The Smoking Hearts are one of the best live bands out there, so as soon as it was announced that they were playing a practically local venue to me in Chester, it was obvious that I’d be making an appearance – especially as they were doing a co-headline tour with another great band, Idiom.
Opening things up was Atlas Will Atone. Not one of the most engaging bands, they just played their piece and didn’t truly connect with the crowd. They weren’t bad as such, but just sounded quite generic and like every other metal band out there. They were alright as an opener, just nothing special.
Things did liven up with Black Years, however. Their frontman Rich had a massively powerful voice and the four-piece played a tight and engaging set, showing a lot of potential with a nice mix of songs in their performance. Rich even ventured into the crowd near the end of it all to mix it up a bit. Black Years will also be heading into the studio to work on new material in the near future as well, so it will definitely be interesting to see what this band has to offer.
Of course, the night was all about The Smoking Hearts, who absolutely nailed it. Although there weren’t quite as many crowd invasions as past shows of theirs, the sheer passion they showed was completely off the wall and it was one of the strongest performances I’d seen of theirs. There’s something incredibly satisfying about watching a band as energetic as this five-piece, and watching them all kick ass (and witnessing guitarist Barker and bassist Calvin literally bouncing off the walls!) was just massively rewarding.
Ben is quite simply the perfect frontman, even drawing blood within the first song whilst suffering from microphone failure, but soldiered on regardless! He also knows exactly what to do when it comes to commending the crowd, making it look effortless, and his style of vocal delivery is second-to-none.
Playing a fantastic mix of all their best songs, including Destroy! (their opener), Blue Nun, Seatbelts and Stomper, they absolutely delivered and it was sad when their set came to an as-always explosive end, with instruments and microphone stands thrown across the stage for good measure. And as Calvin said afterwards – it doesn’t matter if they only play to a tiny crowd, just so long as everyone is into it like they were at that show. And to be honest, I couldn’t agree more!
Headlining the Chester date of the co-headline tour was Idiom. Always a pleasure to see live, they put on a formidable show even though the crowd perhaps weren’t as enthusiastic as they were towards The Smoking Hearts. Having seen them play festival slots at Hammerfest and Hit The Deck, this was my first time seeing them at one of their own shows and it really seemed like they’d come into their own. Although it didn’t feature the same sort of antics as their Hit The Deck performance – Matt didn’t climb up one of the ceiling joists this time around! – it was still a very fun set.
Overall, it was a truly great night with some stunning performances and absolutely fantastic company – so how can it be marked any less than perfect?