Fightstar with Twin Atlantic Live Review From OVO Arena Wembley, 22nd March 2024

We’re at a Fightstar show. No, you haven’t been sent back in time to 2008, so there’s no point trying to log in to MySpace. The band have reunited for a 20th anniversary show at the OVO Arena Wembley, their first time playing live since 2015. Frontman Charlie Simpson is probably best known for his role in another band that also reunited recently to great success (Busted, in case you didn’t know), so now it’s time to see if the post-hardcore quartet can do the same.

To say that main support Twin Atlantic are greeted by a lukewarm crowd would be an understatement – it’s so quiet that if you looked away from the stage you’d believe it was still a changeover. Sadly, the Glaswegians do little to inspire movement, with bland opener Woke Up This Morning limping into Asleep (fitting, as that’s what’s the crowd seem to be). They pull out 2011 banger Free, early in the set in what feels like an attempt to liven up proceedings, but even this falls a bit flat, though the soaring chorus of Make A Beast Of Myself is a high point. To be honest, it all feels a bit like a rehearsal – like Sam McTrusty and co are just going through the motions. 4/10

Thankfully, it’s not long until Fightstar arrive on stage, heralded by the Blade Runner opening titles – a nod to Fightstar lore, as fans will know the movie is referenced in several songs – and after 9 years away, there’s probably no better opener than the storming Paint Your Target, their trademark anthem which is welcomed with rapturous cheers. It’s fair to say that Charlie Simpson’s voice has lost none of its guttural edge, while brother Will Simpson shreds out the riff like his life depends on it. It’s an impressive start to the set; naturally, the fiery Build An Army sees the first pyro of the show, while Grand Unification: Part 1 sounds as massive as it did in 2006.

Understandably, the setlist is heavy on tracks from their debut album, as it just reached its 18th birthday. Tracks from elsewhere in their catalogue are scattered intermittently, like the frenetic Sink With The Snakes and searing ballad Deathcar. Perhaps most surprising is a cover of Johnny Cash’s Hurt, which might feel random but is actually very fitting; as Charlie acknowledges, they played it at the first ever Fightstar show. It’s an ambitious, cathartic and very impressive cover (even if this writer would have preferred their cover of Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek, which was the B-Side to The English Way single in 2008).

The band seem genuinely thrilled and grateful to be back (”it’s an honour and a privilege to be here”, declares Charlie), as do their fans, who open up pit after pit and hang on every blistering guitar riff. It does feel there’s some glaring omissions from the setlist: two of their biggest hits, The English Way and Floods, fail to make an appearance, which seems a shame given this is an anniversary show celebrating the band’s history. The crowd however are undeterred, those in stands rising to their feet as soon as they hear the opening riff of set closer Palahniuk’s Laughter. A very triumphant reunion. 8/10

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