Sean Smith, the slightly more outspoken half of The Blackout’s vocal partnership, often jokes they are “the best live band in the world.” Taken seriously or not, the statement resonated during their 90-minute set on 24 October, as the post-hardcore sestet left Cardiff’s Solus throbbing, sweaty and in need of a lie down.
The eager teens who had hours before scattered the steps of Cardiff University’s SU were spoilt from the outset, with both Rat Attack and Reaper In Sicily getting the night off to a convincing start. Desire and hunger were however lacking in Framing Hanley’s half-hour slot. With barely audible vocals and prosaic synchronized guitar-swings, not even the famous “Hear Me Now” could save the U.S band’s set from being at best, average and tired.
Ferociously juxtaposing the aforementioned, The Blackout stormed on to screams, with opener “I’m A Riot? You’re A Fucking Riot” sending the crowd into a frenzy. ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ provided a sing-along moment for anyone less familiar with the band’s older material, while Bob Davies’ guitar solo in ‘The Fire’ cut through the P.A with supreme clarity, bodies launching themselves into the pit as a result.
It was during more technical moments like the transition into ‘Higher and Higher’ when the band’s professionalism became clear, seamlessly timing the vocal sample with the crowd’s own repeated “woah’s”. Providing a brief moment of calm with ‘It’s High Tide, Baby!’, the air in the room felt charged with intensity and zeal. Bringing the 19-song set to a close, the anthemic ‘Start The Party’ reinforced the magnetic ability Butler and Smith seem to have refined when performing together, hurling themselves around the stage as if a puppeteer pulled and twisted from above.
Tonight, The Blackout’s experience is evident; the paradox that usually means a rousing live performance will compromise the sound and musicianship of a show is irrelevant to this band. Each member played with not only an insatiable energy, but tight, conscientious accuracy.
A decade since the inception of this band, The Blackout proved tonight they are far from slowing down, looking just as happy on stage as they most likely did at their first show ten years ago, just down the road in Merthyr Tydfil.