Bring Me The Horizon Hit New Heights In Magical Homecoming | Live Review

Sheffield, Utilita Arena, January 19 2024

It’s the closing night of Leeds Festival 2022, and Bring Me The Horizon are on the edge of glory. They’re headlining the fabled festival for the first time alongside their Sheffield counterparts – and former schoolmates – Arctic Monkeys. There are murmurs around the site that the biggest night in Yorkshire music history is unfolding before our very eyes. 

The masterclass that followed in the fields that night would earn BMTH a shot at headlining Download Festival last year, the ever-elusive slot at the summit of the UK heavy music scene. Now, after conquering both festivals, they return home to South Yorkshire for a sold-out show at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena, one of the final stops on their ‘NeX GEn’ tour.

The daunting, eerily magnificent ‘Church of Genxsis’ towers over the stage, almost lying in wait behind the curtain as the triple-header of Static Dress, Cassyette and metalcore’s newest titans Bad Omens warm up the Sheffield crowd. First debuting the church aesthetic at Download, it looks like the stained glass windows and draped red curtains are here to stay into the ‘NeX GEn’ era.

Launching into their set with their anthemic single ‘DArkSide’, the band’s entrance music is drowned out by the inevitable chants of “Yorkshire! Yorkshire!” that continue to ring out over the course of the night. From the get-go, the wall of sound is nothing short of world-class. It’s the best Bring Me The Horizon have ever sounded on an arena tour, with every note of Lee Malia’s bone-crushing riffs sounding gloriously audible in the mix.

Before any grumbler even has a chance to shout ‘play the old stuff!’, the band hit us with a rare performance of ‘Empire (Let Them Sing)’, which is back on the tour setlist for the first time since 2016. It’s received by pure pandemonium in the middle, a marker of the high esteem in which fan-favourite album ‘Sempiternal’ is still held, more than a decade after its release. “Let’s not embarrass ourselves”, jokes vocalist Oli Sykes, dictating mosh pit proceedings from the stage in his typical, tongue-in-cheek way. “This is the Steel City, right?

After making appearances at Reading & Leeds and Download, BMTH’s new AI friend, known to us as Eve, continues to pop up throughout the set. Teasing the crowd about the imminent apocalypse and the failure of humanity, she segues neatly into ‘Mantra’ and ‘Kingslayer’ as the crowd tries to make sense of her place in the theatrics. To their delight, she even leaks snippets of unreleased tracks on the forthcoming album, before orchestrating a mass gang vocal recording experiment for the album: 13,000 voices screaming “Hello Oli, you fucking knobhead”, of course.

As the Church of Genxsis falls apart, Bring Me The Horizon’s world-leading arena production takes centre stage, as an ugly demonic figure bangs their fists in time to new single ‘Kool-Aid’ – which slots seamlessly into the set, if that was ever in doubt. In a recreation of the music video, Sykes emerges on the summit of the stage with a flare to introduce the timeless ‘Shadow Moses’, as snow turns to lightning, before we dive underground to find a dormant cyborg, awoken by the opening riff of ‘Obey.’

Long-time touring guitarist John Jones takes over Jordan Fish’s former vocal duties, his chemistry with Sykes completely seamless throughout the set, most noticeably on the band’s acoustic rendition of ‘sTraNgeRs’. Lining up on stage in boy band formation, phones and lighters illuminate the arena for that cliché yet quintessential moment, as Sykes and co. catch a break. “We’re not as young as we used to be”, he admits.

Never short of tricks up their sleeve, Bring Me The Horizon have a hometown surprise – just for Sheffield. If a performance of ‘Diamonds Aren’t Forever’ from their deathcore era wasn’t enough, we are treated to a guest appearance from Malevolence’s Alex Taylor, asserting his dominant vocals on the brutal cut from 2008 album ‘Suicide Season.’ Forever supporters of emerging bands in the scene, Bring Me The Horizon continue to help cultivate a thriving local metal scene that could yet be the country’s finest, when you consider the success of bands like Malevolence and While She Sleeps.We’ll be supporting them one day” Sykes declares, showing his appreciation for all three support acts too.

Since the first song, a fan down the front has been holding an enormous sign, pleading to duet on ‘Antivist’ with Sykes. He acknowledges him – even complimenting his ripped figure – before explaining that this job belongs to Noah Sebastian from Bad Omens, who re-emerges with devastating effect as the track’s breakdowns cannon around the arena. The set finishes on a victory lap of greatest hits, from ‘Drown’ to ‘Can You Feel You My Heart’ and of course, the immortal ‘Throne’ – which is complete with spectacular pyrotechnics.

Paying tribute to their friends and family in attendance this evening, the band play out a montage of their career, with footage from the archives through to the present day. Their ascent to the top is nothing short of hard-won, continuing to squash the naysayers with genre-bending innovation, song by song. As we eagerly await the arrival of ‘POST HUMAN: NeX GEN’, tonight’s homecoming is a timely reminder that they will go down in history as the band of this generation.

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