Thursday October 29th I headed for Southampton Guildhall to see a double dose of proper Canadian rock from Toronto based bands Cancer Bats and headliners Billy Talent.
Although hardcore punk rockers Cancer Bats were their usual energetic selves, frontman Liam Cormier still madly head banging around in between vocals and leaping around the stage at every opportunity, they weren't as great as they were when I saw them live on the Lock-Up stage at the 2008 Reading festival, a fantastic performance which a lot of people who saw it said it one of the best sets of the whole weekend. 2008 album release Hail Destroyer saw Cancer Bats gain more popularity in Europe and becoming the hardcore music media darlings of Kerrang and Rock Sound magazines, receiving rave reviews of live shows and records. However, despite a slightly disappointing support this evening, they still show a lot of promise for 2010's new Cancer Bats record, titled Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones. A couple of new songs from the new album went down well with the crowd, but it was rather obvious that more than half the audience were just letting time pass in time for their fellow Ontario buddies Billy Talent. The two bands have actually been close friends for many years now, having known each other from the Toronto music scene.
A sold-out Southampton Guildhall, as well as all the other UK tour dates, just goes to show how far the Canadian rock quartet have come, now gaining a big fan base in Europe following festival appearances and an Australian tour. In their native country, Billy Talent are used to selling out venues the size of the 02 and Wembley Arenas, so these venues are small and more intimate for them. Having formed in Toronto in 1993 and first known as Pezz, they became Billy Talent ten years ago in 1999. Most of the songs performed were from this Summer's release Billy Talent 3, opening the show with the 4th track from that album Dead Can't Testify. I enjoyed this gig more than expected as it had been a while since I last saw Billy Talent. They were on the Lock-Up stage at Reading at the same time as Faith No More were performing on the NME stage, so I was determined to make the most of watching this show in Southampton.
Frontman Ben Kowalewicz explains to the crowd that Southampton means something sentimental to him, as his mother first boarded a ship to Canada from the Southampton harbour. He talks and jokes around with the audience at every opportunity, blasted out popular songs from Billy Talent 3, such as Devil on my Shouler, Rusted from the Rain and Saint Veronika. Slower and more melodic track Surrender from 2006 release Billy Talent 2 gets an even bigger applause. My only disappointment of the night was Ben not taking his shirt off as he's often known for doing during shows, but what the hell! Later after the show was over, I got to chat with Ben, bassist Jonathan Gallant and guitarist Ian D'Sa who all praised the British audiences and said that the tour was going very well, despite having to prospone the first two dates due to illness. Poor drummer Aaron Solowoniuk was apparently feeling feverish and had a cold in Southampton, but his illness didn't effect his live drumming skills. I will definitely be seeing Billy Talent again before too long.
Me with Ben Kowalewicz and Ian D'Sa after the show in Southampton, October 29th.
Ben signing autographs for fans after the show.
Lots more photos of Cancer Bats and Billy Talent can be seen at:
and on my MySpace photography page as usual.