REVIEW - Unstoppable force Bring Me the Horizon emerge from pandemic with slick, triumphant Sheffield homecoming
The Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill in 2020 but Sheffield's Bring Me the Horizon kept moving forward and returned to touring to sell out the Utilita Arena.
"This negativity just makes me stronger, we will not retreat, this band is unstoppable," is a line uttered by Matt Dillon's musician character in the 1992 film Singles.
Sheffield band 65daysofstatic sampled it on their track Retreat! Retreat! in 2004, the same year this city and its surrounding towns spawned Bring Me the Horizon.
Fast forward to Friday September 24, 2021 at a sold-out Utilita Arena and BMTH are the living, breathing, screaming proof that emerging from the most negative situation in a stronger position is perfectly possible.
A pandemic that stopped the world did little to slow the momentum of the five-piece, four of whom hail from Sheffield, Stocksbridge, Maltby and Mexborough. They continued to produce music, remotely and relentlessly, with an EP and various collaborations with other artists including Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, before returning to tour as soon as it was safe to do so.
The homecoming leg of the tour was always going to be special but from start to finish it's a triumph, as slick as it is fast paced - the only breath taken in a stripped back version of Follow You.
From the outset the dancers in hazmat suits along with the graphics accompanying the set - a backdrop of zombies, wolves and a giant robot along with a screen encases the band in a 3D cage - make it a spectacle of sheer rock theatre.
Frontman Oliver Sykes is a puppet master, operating by his own admission entirely sober for one of the first times in his touring career, and the arena dances to his tune.
They rip through new material that is familiar, having been released a year ago, yet still new, and it all sounds good. The stomping rave of Kingslayer is a steroid-fuelled version of the original and a highlight.
Evolving their sound steadily over 17 years has gifted BMTH a set-list that appeals to the moshers, dancers and crooners on the floor and explains their expanding popularity.
Synthy, soaring pop numbers like latest single DiE4u will keep them on the upward trajectory but they still have a firm grasp on their metal roots, shaking the arena to its foundations with the furious chaos of Dear Diary.
It ends, as it should, with one everyone knows. 'Can You Feel My Heart?' cries Sykes and Sheffield answers in the affirmative.
By all accounts so too did every other city in a six-night arena tour that suggests stadiums might be the next logical step.
If a pandemic only made them stronger, Bring Me the Horizon might just be unstoppable.