I Prevail Live Review From O2 Academy Birmingham, 19th March 2023

Riding high off the success of their latest album, True Power, I Prevail have returned to the UK this month to bring the European leg of their tour to a close. With almost every date sold out and their final show in London having been upgraded from Brixton’s o2 Academy, to the OVO arena at Wembley, the six piece from Michigan have a lot to live up to as well. However, given their reputation for awesome inspiring live performances and a little support from homegrown heroes, Trash Boat we don’t think they’ll have any trouble here tonight.

Especially once we get inside and see the size of tonight’s audience. It might be a sleepy Sunday night, but the o2 Academy is packed out from front to back. With what can only be described as a sea of I Prevail merch that goes all the way from the bar to the barriers. 

We don’t get much time to take everything in though. As before long, Finnish Eurovision contenders, Blind Channel are kicking things off. Their brand of pop infused nu-metal goes down pretty well too. Even though judging by their reaction, most of the audience have only heard Dark Side before. Meaning that they never really seem to get a good foothold beyond their Eurovision single, despite playing a solid set.

Trash Boat do a great job too. Sticking mostly to material from 2021’s, Don’t You Feel Amazing. Yet throughout both sets, there’s a sense that the audience is holding back slightly. The atmosphere is still great and the crowd is obviously on Tobi Duncan’s side, as he takes a moment to remind everyone of the cut the venue is taking out of tonight’s merch sales. However, even their closing track, He’s so Cool fails to get the kind of reaction you’d expect, despite being played to perfection.

Having seen both support acts play as well as they have to such a middling reaction. As I Prevails crew set about the changeover, we start to wonder if maybe the crowd just don’t have enough in the tank tonight. However, all of our concerns are quickly cast aside as soon as the house lights drop and the biggest cheer of the night erupts as if from nowhere. 

Suddenly, there’s a completely different level of energy in the room and as soon as drummer Gabe Helguera throws down the opening fill of There’s Fear in Letting Go, it’s like a powder keg has gone off. Hordes of eager fans push their way through to the front and in the blink of an eye even the balcony has become standing room only. Follow up track, Bodybag hits even harder too. Whipping the front row into a frenzy of flailing limbs and opening up the first sizable mosh pit of the night to boot. 

Despite being relatively new to the game, I Prevail have clearly put some thought into their stagecraft too. With each song blending seamlessly into the next, thanks to a series of backing tracks that help mask things such as the inevitable guitar changes. Keeping the momentum going and maintaining the audience’s anticipation for what’s next on the setlist throughout the show. 

After a double dose of Self Destruction and Bad Things, the band eases off the gas just a little with fan favourite, Hurricanes. Giving vocalist Brian Burkheiser a chance to demonstrate his impressive melodic range. The crowd are thoroughly on board by this point too. Singing back every word, with their camera phones held aloft to capture the moment.

The biggest surprise of the night isn’t far behind either. As I Prevail even manage to fit a little System of a Down into their set. Masterfully mixing Chop Suey into FWTYK in place of the song’s first verse. Before delivering arguably the heaviest breakdown of the night and getting a brutal looking wall of death for their trouble. All to the delight of Eric Vanlerberghe, who prowls the stage like a man possessed. Conducting the maelstrom of bodies in front of him with ease. 

With the venue’s curfew quickly approaching, the band slow things down a little one last time for a heartfelt rendition of Breaking Down. Once again giving Burkheiser a chance to really shine, particularly during the final chorus, which brings to mind Chester Bennington’s emotional live performances of My December alongside Linkin Park in years past. 

I Prevail aren’t done yet however, ramping things up once again with DOA and Choke. Before turning back the clock to 2016 with old school hit, Scars. Which well and truly brings down the house. Despite having given their all for the last hour. Their fans aren’t done yet either though and before long everyone is chanting the bands name again and again. Demanding a final encore. 

They don’t disappoint either, returning to the stage to a deafening ovation. Finishing off an already punishing set with Gasoline and Bow Down. Leaving a slightly battered and bruised but very happy crowd in their wake as they take one final bow and make their way off stage. 

It may have taken them a while to come back to the UK, but I Prevail are more than worth the wait. Having honed themselves to a level well beyond their years. Thankfully, with a main stage slot awaiting them at this summer’s Download Festival, it won’t be too long until they’re back again this time!


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