Established back in 1994, the Warped Tour historically compiled the best in punk rock from around the globe and presented the results as a travelling tour. Despite some initial ventures outside of the United States, the tour has predominantly stayed on home turf – until now.
Housed inside the vast walls of London’s Alexandra Palace and representing more of an “alternative rock” vibe than the festival’s punk roots (as per the current US Warped), the line-up is easily not to everyone’s taste. There is little here to satisfy traditionalist punk fans, and only the occasional snippet of straightforward pop punk.
Admittedly, Alexandra Palace begins today’s proceedings in a bit of a state. Without any clear guidance on how to best negotiate the expansive venue, it takes in excess of twenty minutes to walk across the centre hall, constantly fighting with crowd surges pushing against those attempting to view the extreme sports on display. Similarly, the Kevin Says stage cannot cope with the volume of punters interested in glimpsing the crop of new talent on display. Following a frustrating hour or so it is possible to navigate the space, although certain areas often remained out-of-bounds for excited fans due to capacity issues.
That said, Taking Hayley are lucky enough to find themselves early on the Kevin Says stage, ensuring the fans are still able to witness the performance. Unfortunately there is little worth witnessing on stage today – the band going through the motions and delivering emo-by-numbers. Although it is evident that the four-piece are adept at what they do, there is little to excite or entertain on offer, and that they won a battle of the bands to get here says something about the crop who entered. Some of the crowd appear to love it – suggesting a small die-hard fan base – but this has all been heard before.
Today sees Family Force 5 return to the UK for the first time in a fair while, and although not too many people know who they are at first, they well and truly bring the crowd around. It’s hard to describe FF5’s largely ridiculous style of music – ‘southern rock mixed with hip hop and dance beats’ maybe – but who cares about labelling them when they’re this much fun? Cracking out the best of their hits – ‘Kountry Gentlemen’, ‘Supersonic’, ‘Luv Addict’ and ‘Earthquake’ – they are absolutely spot on. The moves are hilarious, they are packed full of energy and they’re bloody brilliant to watch.
Next up are Breathe Carolina, the Colorado-based electronic duo, who are greeted with rapturous applause as they take to the stage. Clearly a lot of people have grown to love them, and after opening with ‘Last Night (Vegas)’ and playing a mixture of songs off their three albums before closing with mega hit ‘Blackout’, the set ends up a gigantic success.
Architects have experienced a relentless touring cycle, even while putting the finishing touches on their new full-length ‘Daybreaker’. The new material sounds equally as huge sitting next to a surprisingly high amount of material from ‘The Here And Now’. Unsurprisingly however, ‘Follow the Water’ and ‘Early Grave’ incite the biggest crowd reaction – it seems that Architects are going to find it difficult to separate from ‘Hollow Crown’. Despite the occasional minor error Architects are still on top of their game and tonight they prove they are here to stay.
Pop punk kings New Found Glory have been doing album shows of their seminal ‘Sticks And Stones’ albums on the Road To Warped tour on the run up to the Ally Pally event, and here they’re forced to show a compromise. They play several tracks off that key album – including ‘My Friends Over You’ which gets the crowd ridiculously and predictably pumped up – and then they branch out into tracks like ‘Dressed To Kill’ and their cover of Sixpence None The Richer’s ‘Kiss Me’. It’s a brilliant set, and proof that they’re just as important and fun as ever despite forming in 1997. Cracking work from one of our favourite bands.
Immediately following a stint with goth-rockers Evanescence, The Used are a last minute addition to the Warped Tour line-up. Playing a total of ten tracks, the band carefully select highlights from their entire back catalogue – including a handful of songs from their self-titled debut. An acoustic rendition of ‘On My Own’ stops the venue in its tracks, expertly juxtaposed against the shrill force of set closer ‘A Box Full of Sharp Objects’. Older material may go amiss on some of the younger members of the audience, but The Used are on form today and keep the room buzzing.
Penultimate band of the evening Bring Me The Horizon provide today’s most explosive performance. During their evolution as a band they have become accomplished at building an unorthodox tense atmosphere. As they open their set with one of the more experimental numbers – ‘Blessed With A Curse’ – the uneasy vibes expand until the moment the track breaks down and bombards the audience with a trademark brutality. The likes of ‘Fuck’ and ‘Football Season Is Over’ maintain the unblemished energy of the performance, but it is the new track ‘Shadow Moses’ which pulls the set into mind-blowing territory. From the opening drop to the relentless pulse, Bring Me The Horizon have expertly merged barbarism and delicate song structures to a mesmerizing effect with their new material. Few can rival the live craftsmanship that this band have honed in recent years, and tonight they are cemented as one of the best hopes of British Metal.
Last but not least: Lostprophets are back. Well and truly. Tonight the South Wales champions are headlining after a stint on the original Warped Tour in the US this summer, and it’s an excellent sign off for their year. They sound excellent tonight, and frontman Ian Watkins’ voice is spot on. Opening with a couple of tracks off their third album, ‘Liberation Transmission’, goes down well, but when ‘Shinobi Vs Dragon Ninja’ kicks in, shit gets real.
On the rest of their UK tour they’ve been cracking out some older favourites, but as tonight’s crowd are largely a young bunch the setlist is less oldies and more massive hits. Tonight they’ve been involved with a Teenage Cancer Trust vote for fans to choose a less-played song on their setlist – the crowd’s choice was ‘Darkest Blue’ off 2010’s ‘The Betrayed’, and it’s a wonderful moment.
Next they launch into the massive hits, which are relentless – the glorious ‘Last Summer’, the anthemic ‘Last Train Home’, ‘Where We Belong’ and ‘Rooftops’ – and finally finishing on arguably their biggest banger, ‘Burn Burn’. Lostprophets have been going for a long time, and the reason they are still here today is because they have the anthems, the stage presence, the charisma and the talent.
Long live Lostprophets, and long live Warped Tour UK.
BEN TIPPLE/LAIS MW