Bullet For My Valentine have been marking Wales’ place on the heavy metal map of the UK for some years now, a show at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena seeming an appropriate finish to the Bridgend band’s ‘Rule Britannia’ arena tour. But after February’s disappointingly received ‘Temper Temper’, would Bullet be firing blanks in the live environment?
First on are Buckinghamshire-based melodic rockers Young Guns, who from the looks of things didn’t get the message they weren’t the evening’s headline act. Accompanied by their illuminated logos and displaying an energetic rock star attitude that never comes across as forced, this band is one to watch rise into rock’s mainstream. Yorkshire’s Asking Alexandria come next, lead vocalist Danny Worsnop’s stage presence being perhaps too ‘American metal’ to be on a tour representing British bands, but making full use of their equally customised stage and with a clear sense of charisma, they leave the crowd wondering how the headliners are going to compare.
Stepping onstage with sunglasses on and a much shorter haircut than in recent years, Bullet For My Valentine frontman Matt Tuck appears to have more in common with the ‘bad boy’ image of Robbie Williams than the menacing appearance of ‘Reign in Blood’-era Slayer. But as soon as they open with new single ‘Raising Hell’, make no mistake; tonight’s show is more ‘Angel of Death’ than ‘Angels’. “Smoke is blinding! Hearts are pounding! Chaos soon ignites” Tuck convincingly spits in a ferociously delivered ‘Scream, Aim, Fire’, giving way to a venomous ‘4 Words (To Choke Upon)’, the lyrics “look at me now” announced with great pride at this arena-level stage of the band’s career. The tour’s ‘Rule Britannia’ name is lived up to with guitarist Michael Paget featuring the patriotic tune in his solo, a union jack backdrop and a cover of British greats Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’. There is not a great deal of ‘Temper Temper’ material – as if to suggest the band themselves thought the album was a slight misfire – but pyrotechnics galore, ticker tape, a disco ball and an appearance from the lead singer’s mother (tonight celebrating both her 60th birthday and 30th wedding anniversary) are the finishing touches on a very polished show by one of Britain’s biggest metal bands since Iron Maiden. Ending with thousands of fans singing along to Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’ makes for a brilliant homecoming for one of Welsh rock’s biggest and most endearing acts.