LIVE: Fightstar / Moose Blood @ O2 Academy Brixton, London

By Ben Tipple

It’s not going to be long until the word “reunion” becomes redundant. Disappearing for a previously undisclosed number of years before returning amongst a welcoming fanfare is steadily becoming part of the everyday band’s lifecycle. Regardless, melody-meets-metal melancholic side-project come full-time behemoth Fightstar are the latest in a long line of mid-noughties outfits to return to the stage.

Perhaps spurred on by the success of frontman Charlie Simpsons’ former bandmates’ pop-pop-pop-rock super-group McBusted, Fightstar announce over the course of the evening that new material is underway. Although unlikely to see them sell out arenas or headline Hyde Park over Backstreet Boys, Simpson is clearly happy to be reunited with his Fightstar brothers – a place he always looked more at home than belting out the theme to the modern Thunderbirds monstrosity.

Prior to the sultry opening tones of ‘To Sleep’ encouraging hearty screams by the not-quite-capacity crowd, Moose Blood are offered the slightly unusual opportunity to warm-up the crowd. Finding themselves sandwiched between biological brother Will Simpson’s rock five-piece More Dangerous Animal and the headliners, and following tonight’s openers Shvpes, Moose Blood’s introverted emo and matching stage-persona does little to ignite the atmosphere.

It’s not for want of trying, by any means. With Moose Blood fast establishing themselves as one of the most exciting bands emerging from the British underground, their music is as relatable and intimate in Brixton Academy as it was in The Borderline over a month back. Despite minor issues with the volume of the lead guitar, and the subsequent missing intricacies, tracks such as the personal yet anthemic ‘Pups’ enthral, and ‘I Hope You’re Miserable’ sounds sufficiently spiteful. Potentially their biggest show to date, Moose Blood demonstrate the means to explode onto bigger stages, even if the predominantly stationary onlookers only have one thing in mind.

For when the lights dim and Fightstar launch into ‘Paint Your Target’, Brixton Academy is transformed. Those patiently waiting for their return battle for central position as voices engulf the venue from wall to wall. Tracks from their debut album are met with the biggest response, although ‘War Machine’ welcomes a healthy reaction, as do ‘Deathcar’ and ‘Tannhäuser Gate’ – both featuring Will Simpson on co-vocal duties.

Celebrating ten years since the release of ‘Grand Unification’, Fightstar close proceedings with their debut EP, ‘They Liked You Better When You Were Dead’ – the majority of which found itself transferred onto the debut full-length. ‘Mono’ presents itself as an amazingly atmospheric closer, moving from its subtle opening section into forcefully pained screams that sees the band at their most vulnerable.

Despite the occasional mistimed drum beat, or a lull in intensity around ‘We Apologise For Nothing’ and ‘99’, Fightstar are clearly still in the midst of the game. Yet with a large proportion of tonight focussed around nostalgia, and some tracks sounding surprisingly dated, it remains to be seen just how far Fighstar can push themselves with new material.