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The Welsh post-hardcore band from Merthyr Tydfil have returned; they have come back into our older emo hearts after a break that was, in my opinion, WAY TOO LONG. The Blackout for those who aren’t aware, are a staple in the emo / alternative music scene especially for UK bands, they were among the bands who made it big in the Welsh rock scene and blew the scene up! From 2003 – 2015 they graced us with their sad emo songs that made us mosh to get the emotions out or just made you get a little bit emotional and shed some tears. But last year they announced their return when they did their reunion shows in their home town and at Download Festivals 20th Anniversary!

As someone who was there in the packed out Avalanche tent I was silently begging with those around me for another show, a tour or even new music, and the amazing words from Sean Smith said, a February tour!

It’s the first night of the tour in Manchester, with a venue upgrade from O2 Ritz to Manchester Academy 1, this is going to be a night I am so ready for and have the highest expectations for! I’m also getting ready to struggle with getting photos of the guys because I know they run around like they’ve just inhaled sugar.

However, before we can have the insanely giddy and let’s be honest emotional night, we have a couple of bands that are going to amp up this room and get it going!

Mouth Culture from Leicester are up to get this crowd moving, being on early in the night 20 minutes after doors is never easy for any band so the expectations are a bit higher with a smaller crowd. Mouth Culture are the perfect blend of heartfelt emo and soft rock, giving you similar vibes to bands like The Wonder Years and Hot Mulligan. You had the great edge of the emo sounds and the nice mellow of soft rock to have a nice balance to everything. Half way through the set the vibes went from soft rock to a bit heavier when they demanded a pit to be opened up, giving us the first mosh pit of the evening. They can definitely control a crowd and get them ready!

8/10 – Performance

Second act of the night is Dead Pony also the first support announced for the tour from Glasgow, Scotland. Just based on the look of the guitarist, bassist and drummer you would not have jumped to the conclusion of what sound they are going to bring, you might think of the possibility of indie emo rock being part of it, but nope. Prepare for some Prodigy level rock, get ready to move because this is not a band you’re going to want to stay still to. Their frontwoman sported a matching crop top and pole shorts set with fishnets, matching the vibe of the performance perfectly. The vocals are nice and smooth they sound like they fit in perfectly with the electronic sound as if it was always meant to be there, the crowd is going nuts jumping around as the venue gets a lot more full, it’s always amazing to see this many people turn up to appreciate the support, and based on the crowd’s reaction alone you can tell they gained some fans in this room tonight and will continue to for the rest of this tour. This was a good way to keep the crowd on a high level of energy but also to make sure they have some spare for The Blackout, remember we’re all older compared to when they last toured we don’t have as much energy anymore.

8/10 – Performance

I won’t lie going into that photo pit was nerve wracking, I was just as excited as those who waited hours for the barrier spot. The lights haven’t gone down yet and you can hear the entire crowd beginning “We are the Dynamite” chants. This was incredible at Download 2023 but this just feels even better on a much more personal level now. The lights go down and the intro track begins to play, lights beam with every beat and one by one the guys go onto the stage and it’s like the time away from them had never happened. Sean Smithis a barrel of energy from the get go. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things is the perfect first song to play, I’m screaming along to every song lyric with everyone else having the time of my life, you would not thing that these guys split up for so long because it was like getting back on a bike for them, like nothing had changed, the first song hearing everyone sing it back to them for the first time in years clearly caused a lot of emotion as tears already appeared on the guys faces.

If you wanted a pit during this gig, you’re getting one hell of a pit without a doubt one of the biggest pits I’ve seen in this venue. I was standing to the side of the room and I had to move further back, so get in the pit for Wolves and I’m a Riot? You’re a Fucking Riot! So the only logical thing was to cause a riot.

The vocals from both Sean and Gavin were incredible. You both still have it without a shadow of a doubt and the energy from the two was on another level. Everything from Bass, Guitar and Drum work was so effortlessly done, you have all left me needing The Blackout back full time.

I did not want this night to end, you could not have picked a more perfect night, a more perfect gig with insane energy. The pits were opened, Gavin Butler is in the crowd surfing his way near the front using the crowd as a support, fists are in the air it’s insane!

The crowd here today have needed this, you could feel it in the air, they needed this reunion, there’s fans who have brought their young children to experience brilliance in front of them towards the side. It’s such an amazing thing to witness.

Emotions were so high especially for guitarist James Davies who had a rare moment of getting a series of cheers from the crowd as he approached the mic to tell everyone how happy he is about being back and how we’re all going to make him cry, which is exactly what happened when it came to the final song of the night Save Our Lives (The Warning) especially with such an emotional ending with the crowd doing the final “woooohs” amplifying the room and making those tears shed.

There is only one issue I had with this performance, and I would really love an answer to this question if you’re reading this lads but where the hell was SPREAD LEGS NOT LIES?! What a banger (!) and one I really wish we had, the setlist was perfect don’t get me wrong I loved it and clearly I was in too much of a high bubble when leaving the venue it took me a minute to realise what had been missed. It seems like no one missed that show no matter what, the crowd was incredible, the lads were incredible, I had a friend with me with possible broken ribs who came to the show regardless of pain. Thank you so much for coming back! Their Cardiff show is currently sold out, but if you miss out on this tour there at Slam Dunk Festival this May doing The Best in Town in full and I’m going to be there too singing my heart out and probably crying with them all over again.

10/10 performance all around, If I could put higher then I would in a heartbeat.

Setlist:

  1. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
  2. Never by Your Side
  3. The Devil Inside
  4. The Fire
  5. Prepare for a Wound
  6. Top of the World
  7. Children of the Night
  8. Said & Done
  9. The Storm
  10. Hope (Scream It Out Loud)
  11. Wolves
  12. I’m a Riot? You’re a Fucking Riot!
  13. Higher & Higher
  14. Ambition is Critical
  15. ShutTheFuckUppercut
  16. Save Our Selves (The Warning)

Words: Lauren Allard & Jacob Robinson

Images: Lauren Allard