Concert Review // Billy Talent @ London Music Hall

Billy Talent // London Music Hall // 06.09.13

Billy Talent

As part of the SiriusXM Road Trip—with ticket sales supporting Red Cross relief efforts in Quebec’s Lac-Mégantic—Billy Talent played the London Music Hall on the sixth of September. Openers were the Peter-and-Leah led July Talk, and the Montreal-based Half Moon Run.

After a long intermission (and much “Billy Talent, Go Leafs Go” chanting), a SiriusXM rep got up on stage. “Rule one,” he said. “The person to your left owes you a drink.” He quieted the crowd back down. “Rule two: give it up for Billy Talent.”

Benjamin Kowalewicz (lead vocalist), Ian D’Sa (lead guitar), Aaron Solowoniuk (drums), and Jonathan Gallant (bass guitar) rushed the moderately sized stage, opening with their 2006 single, “Devil in a Midnight Mass.” They followed it up with “Viking Death March,” appropriate, as that’s when the security guards started battling the waves of crowd-surfers, who were rolling in faster than they could safely be pulled into the pit, amid the rest of the audience screaming and clapping along to, “Crosses still burn / Axes still fall / And down on your knees you just don’t look so tall.”

It got so completely insane that Kowalewicz paused between songs to remind people to be kind to one another. Yeah, have fun, but if you’re moshing and someone falls down, help them up. Don’t kill each other, okay?

His moment of band-crowd love worked: watching the mosh pit from the London Music Hall’s mezzanine, a kid got shoved to the ground. Almost immediately, another kid picked him up under the armpits, got him back on his feet, and then proceeded to shoulder-crash into him.

Kowalewicz paused the show again at about thirty minutes in. He asked, “How many people are Western people? Or Fanshawe people? I’ll tell you a story. When I was younger, like 4 thousand years ago, we used to come up to London all the time…I used to come up here so often, that I’d be at the bars—SHUT THE FUCK UP! I’m talking! I can’t even tell you a fucking story!—I would come up here so often that people would think that I lived in London.” He said that he was in London not to play shows, but to drink and to “make out with all the Western girls.” A huge wave of cheers, then Kowalewicz screaming, “It was the BEST!” Billy Talent followed story time up with “Love was Still Around,” Kowalewicz playing the mid-song guitar solo as tightly as the recorded version on Dead Silence (2012).

The set was almost a showcase of the band’s singles (including “Try Honesty,” 2003; “River Below,” 2004; “Devil in a Midnight Mass,” 2006; “Surrender,” 2007; “This Suffering,” 2007; “Rusted from the Rain,” 2009; “Devil on my Shoulder,” 2009; and “Viking Death March,” 2012), proving that they’ve put out ten years of solid music that fans will mosh to and sing along with, for ninety minutes straight.

Perhaps in an effort to get those mezzanine-fans more involved (and for a memorable encore), Kowalewicz pointed up at a kid. Eye contact locked, Kowalewicz gestured that he was going to toss up a water bottle. Threw the bottle, which the kid caught, and which sent the crowd into another wave of cheering. Billy Talent then capped off their set with “Red Flag.” Screamed the last line of the song—“We don’t need them!”—and exited the stage, Kowalewicz’s Against Me! shirt drenched in well-earned sweat.

For concert photos of Billy Talent, click here.

Leah Edwards | @leahhedwards

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