LIVE: Billy Talent / Young Guns / Say Yes @ The Roundhouse, London

By Andy Leddington

Fellow Canadians Say Yes (featuring Jordan Hastings of Alexisonfire, and touring drummer for Billy Talent) opened the night’s proceedings adequately. Their style of loud, indie-ish rock was played to a fairly luke-warm reception from the London crowd, it was played well nonetheless. Say Yes’ greatest enemy was unfamiliarity, and in a smaller venue at their own headline show with the crowd behind them, their skill would have been much better appreciated than here.

Young Guns’ live show indicates they are much more interested in being a rock band than their latest material seems to suggest. However, despite their massive rhythm section tone and their obvious excitement to be playing around their main stomping ground, the over-inclusion of material from their latest album especially went some way to dampen their spark, especially when placed next to songs like ‘There Will Be Rain’ and ‘Bones’ which are just better in every way.

It was unmistakably clear who tonight’s crowd was here to see. And this was not a crowd who had just turned up to see the ending trifecta of Try Honesty, Fallen Leaves and Red Flag; from the very moment Billy Talent came onstage you could almost be forgiven for thinking we were watching a band returning triumphantly to their home town, such was the immediate and lasting reaction from everyone there.

Playing a selection of hits from a career now spanning over a decade and a half is always going to be special, but not only did Billy Talent bring some of their biggest and best hits of the last few albums, they treated us to some of the now almost forgotten hits like ‘River Below’, ‘Surrender’ and ‘Pins & Needles’ that only served to remind us how fantastic their back-catalogue really is.

Billy Talent’s display was nothing short of masterful. Their lighting display was fantastic, Ben Kowalewicz’s crowd banter was hilarious and friendly in a typically Canadian way and there was no faulting the band’s skill at playing their material despite being without their drummer Aaron Solowoniuk (who sadly was unable to be present on this tour due to his MS complications).

Outside we heard a man giving out flyers say that “rock music is dying”. If you really think rock music is dying you’re looking in the wrong place.