Review: Fightstar at Academy, Manchester

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After a four-year hiatus Fightstar’s comeback tour, which marks the fourpiece’s 10-year anniversary, was highly anticipated, energetic and emotionally charged says Otto Ramsden.

Fightstar pulled in a serious crowd to celebrate a decade of music making, fans young and old sported merchandise from the past and the present, and they were ready to get things started. Ahead of the main act there was a mixed bill of support.

The night kicked off with SHVPES, and it quickly becomes obvious why they’re on this tour. Deserved of a higher slot on the night’s bill, they crunched out their metalcore sound with bass drops landing all over their set. Taking the stage at 7.15pm, you could forgive a band for not quite giving it their all, but Griffin Dickinson commanded the attention of the willing crowd. Tight riffs, an impressive sound, and a fantastic start to the night.

More Dangerous Animals take the stage next, and after such a ferocious set from SHVPES, they had a tough job to do. But from the off this band, that knows how to look good on stage, gave an energetic performance. Slightly lacking however was their delivery with missed notes and some weak vocals from both frontmen. They look good, they move well and they know how to captivate a crowd, but when the technical ability lets them down it unfortunately gives them only half of what makes a top performance.

With Moose Blood, the main support, we see that vocal and instrumental ability that was so lacking previously. With a truly unique sound mixing elements of grunge with pop-rock and a style that could be compared to The 1975, they are a fresh and exciting band. Rattling through their set song after song with minimal pauses allowed them to maintain a strong presence, keeping the crowd focused on them throughout their set. They deserve their place on tonight’s bill, and no doubt it won’t be long before they’re headlining their own UK tour.

Fightstar took to the stage with To Sleep before diving straight into Paint Your Target – immediately prompting a massive response from the crowd and opening up the first pit. It was obvious their fans have been waiting for this comeback.

Into Build An Army, Charlie Simpson showed off his impressive vocal abilities as he moved from cleans to screams effortlessly without missing a note. More often than expected headliners can be upstaged by brilliant support acts but despite an impressive warm up it was clear Fightstar were the main event – leagues above in terms of stage presence, execution and devotion to their crowd. Crowd favourites such as We Apologise For Nothing almost get drowned out by the crowd singing it back so passionately, and Dan Haigh stepping forward to demand a wall of death during a particularly heavy Grand Unification, Part I was another highlight of the night. There were even some similarities to Biffy Clyro during the epic War Machine, which included a breakdown complimented by some clever synth work.

With a whole host of different sounds, including hardcore and melodic it could be argued that Fightstar don’t quite know where their true focus lies as a band but ultimately this is what separates them from a lot of today’s scene. Taking influence from early post-hardcore and adding elements of metalcore, and the pop rock scene Simpson established himself in, they defy genre and deliver a diverse set. At times intense, the band’s ability to punch out a song that whips up the crowd into a mosh pit frenzy as well as an emotionally charged sing along is something you don’t see every day. Fightstar are back, it seems, let’s hope they stick around.

Fightstar played Academy Manchester, 25 Feb, 2015

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