LIVE: Billy Talent @ The Garage, London [16/08/2012]

By Tom Aylott

Ahead of a Reading/Leeds festival appearance next week, Billy Talent join the Reading/Leeds Warm Up crew for 2012 with a date at the relatively intimate Relentless Garage in North London.

The Garage has had its moments with poor sound quality and atmosphere in the past, but tonight is nothing of the sort with a buzzing crowd and as beefy a sound as could be desired from the Ontario rockers – the singalongs are huge, and the energy in the venue is electric.

It can be a little easy to forget just how many hits Billy Talent have sometimes, but tonight they just keep coming. New single ‘Viking Death March’ fits right into the set, and tonight serves as a fantastic preview for their forthcoming non-eponymous album. Tracks like ‘This Suffering’ and ‘Surrender’ sound amazing in a set that spans the band’s history, and Benjamin Kowalewicz is as good a frontman as there is in rock right now, only amplified by the fact he can get right in the crowd tonight. The band deliver breakthrough hit ‘Try Honesty’ before breaking for the encore, and any band that can come out and play a closing trio like ‘Devil on My Shoulder’, ‘Fallen Leaves’ and ‘Red Flag’ after a 15 song set really deserves all the credit in the world.

Even the most picky Billy Talent fan would have been happy with the set tonight, and it’s a perfect taster for their Reading/Leeds performances and the Rock Sound Riot tour later in the year – which stops at the far larger Roundhouse.