Billy Talent live at Nottingham Rock City

Toronto's finest punk rockers Billy Talent arrived in Nottingham as part of Rock Sound's Riot tour. Joining them on this autumn's jaunt around the UK were highly rated Don Broco and AWOLNation, travelling over from Los Angeles. Despite being an unknown quantity personally, Rock City's main room had a healthy crowd for the Californians. What followed was a collection of songs each with their own identity and sound, where one echoed the Kings of Leon, the next a hardcore track with a mainstream scene. Their set closer channelled disco keyboards into another surprisingly accessible track with an individual take that the crowd accepted and rejoiced in without a second thought. 

Billy Talent

Even after this performance, when the stage lights dropped to herald Billy Talent's appearance, the roar that followed far eclipsed those for AWOLNation. The band took to the stage and broke into Lonely Road To Absolution, the album introduction from September's Dead Silence, and when the instantly recognisable riff to Viking Death March rang out from guitarist Ian D'sa, there was no looking back. Without a pause for breath, they charged through Devil In A Midnight Mass before Ben Kowalewicz greeted the Nottingham crowd with his customary introduction into the fantastic This Suffering. Touring in support of this September's Dead Silence, these new tracks nearly stole the show; Man Alive is sure to be a future live anthem and an extended drum introduction gave Runnin' Across The Tracks a whole new identity. These impressive renditions stood alongside a career spanning set, balancing material from all four of their releases. 

One of Billy Talent's defining features is their dynamic song writing and their set reflected the variety. Line and Sinker provided an early shout along highlight before St Veronika turned the evening into the Ian D'sa show, his fingers flying around the fretboard in front of the hundreds of agape jaws in attendance. Their more tender side was received excellently; Try Honesty, the first single released from their debut more than ten years ago, left voices hoarse throughout before Devil On My Shoulder brought their set proper to a close. An encore of Fallen Leaves, Surprise Surprise and the customary waving of Red Flag brought the evening to a close, the entire floor pulsing, its collective voice ringing clear.

Billy Talent are a band with a fan base as varied as their sound. Across the venue stood couples in their forties alongside teens who would have arrived at Rock City straight from school. One thing united all of them, singing every word to every song. The band's strength has always lain in the interplay between front man Ben and guitarist Ian. Their vocal harmonies and tradeoffs work to excellent effect on record and translate even better live. One of the most cohesive rhythm sections in music aided them today and with excellent sound through Rock City's PA, the entire set sounded fantastic. The quicker they return to our shores, the better.

David Straw


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