LIVE: Bring Me The Horizon / Bad Omens / Cassyette @ The O2, London

By Katherine Allvey

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and we’re feeling fine. We’re packed into the O2 for the tail end of the Bring Me The Horizon’s UK tour, balancing oversized jackets and overpriced drinks with a sense of awe at the scale of BMTH’s show. A pervasive thread that the world outside the area is terrible and we’re living in the end times runs through the visuals and themes in each act, tying together joy in the face of dread. Harbingers of the apocalypse have never sounded so good. 

“This world fucking sucks,” proclaims the ominous banner behind cyber-nineties pop-punk soothsayer Cassyette. She throws beautiful shapes in the middle of ‘September Rain’ and its teal maelstrom of twisting underwater Americana blasts, taking her cues from rave culture and Amy Lee in equal measure.

With the power of the rocket resistance to the robot apocalypse, Bad Omens prove they’re the tough guys that nu-metal kids hope they’d grow up to be. The corrosive guitar squeals of ‘Like a Villain’ mix with the seismic bass to produce to the soundtrack to acts on revenge on a global scale, creating a set which sounds like sonic barbed wire. They rapidly build to high intensity that barely lets up and there’s an enveloping appeal with each whiplash vocal flex. A powerful warm-up for tonight’s main event.

The blurring of the barriers between fiction and real life, or reality and imagination, signals Bring Me The Horizon’s entrance. Eve, the passive aggressive retro avatar and narrator of the ‘monsters attack a video game base’ story that runs through the visuals, introduces the ‘Bring Me The Horizon Post-Human Live Experience’. Commenting purely on the first half of the sound of BMTH’s live set would be slightly missing the point; from the first glorious blending of vocalist Oli Sykes’ voice and ours on opener ‘dArkSide’, it’s clear that they’re presenting their music as only one part of a larger, joyfully and destructively theatrical experience. “I can’t tell you what to do but I know what decision you’re gonna make based on free will,” Sykes narrates, crouching as four pits open and melt together and dripping hieroglyphs evoke hell via pyrotechnics and nineties gaming glory.

Our claps splash like raindrops as a virtual monster trashes the set dressing, sending the backdrop we now realise was only projected flying across the screen. “Know what a circle pit is? I think Angel here wants one,” grins Sykes as the undead behemoth behind him mimes a circle and her intestines virtually bleed out into the stage during ‘Kool Aid’. Her body dissolves into smoke as the song fades out, transmitting into the dry ice that billows over our heads. Snow falls onscreen and onto the audience simultaneously. Sykes emerges from offstage, his cropped jacket revealing a meshed and tattooed midriff. In one hand, hoisted above his head, he grips a red flare which writes a mandala above him. We chant like we’re bursting to ‘Shadow Moses’, and gasp when Yungblud joins them onstage for ‘Obey’. 

There’s a danger when presenting a huge show like this. The power and passion of the music which has stirred twenty thousand people to trek into this space can easily be lost within a vast spectacle, rendering songs of joy and honesty into just another backing track. Bring Me The Horizon neatly and delicately sidestep this concern, tangibly drawing a line in the musical sand between the ‘monster movie’ half of their set and something based on a traditional concert. “We’re gonna do that cliche acoustic song bullshit moment,” Sykes announces. “It’s a core moment.”

Quietly, the opening of ‘sTraNgeRs’ wells up and overcomes our barriers and doubts. They strip back the layers to expose the kernel of who they were, and still are, with each note. Sykes wittily addresses the unending delay on their new album when Eve chastises him (“It’s coming, I promise! I’m convinced it’s really good and I think everything’s shit.”) until the stalking beat of ‘Parasite Eve’ slams us back into Bring Me The Horizon’s constructed world. ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ becomes a hectic celebration of us as Sykes grabs a camera and films selfies with the front row as we bounce – suddenly, we’ve become the stars and the feeling blooming in our chests bursts into a cloud of rapturous singing.  

A quiet montage of the band’s history leads into their encore. “Fresh out of rehab, I sat down and wrote these words… if these words mean something to you, let’s do it together…” Sykes crouches like a weary gargoyle. For the first time in the set, the performance is taken away and the frontman’s leaving himself vulnerable and honest. He rolls into child pose, his chest heaving before exploding into ‘Doomed’ as we’re bathed in pink confetti. Green lasers cut the ceiling as he re-emerges from the smoke like a ghost of himself, inflating ‘LosT’ into a huge rock tune. “I think we are living proof that it is just enough to have a dream,” smiles the vocalist as ‘Throne’ closes out show and becomes our shared triumph. It’s been twenty years since they started out and based on this stunning set, we’re left with a strong sense that the best is yet to come in their stellar career.