The Blackout @ Oxford O2 Academy 2 – 29/03/2011

Tonight is a sold out show and the O2 academy is packed from front to back with teenagers, who are eager to see The Blackout on their first headline tour since 2010. First up though are Hyro Da Hero, a rap rock outfit from California, sounding like a mix between Rage Against The Machine and Cypress Hill, they hit it off with the crowd from the first song. Rapper Hyro is energetic, using what space he has to command the crowd while his band (ex-members of such bands as Idiot Pilot, At The Drive/The Mars Volta and Blood Brothers) bring some catchy riffs and some nifty drops which pack a punch. It is fair to say Hyro Da Hero have talent and they definitely leave the stage with some new fans in tow.

Next up are The Swellers from Fenton, Michigan, who in spite of an epic entrance, fall a little flat, playing their standard punk rock. Despite hints of Hundred Reasons, New Found Glory and Rise Against, they sound a few years too late with songs that would fit seamlessly into an American teen movie. They do still get the crowd moving though and they put a lot of effort into their performance so with some perseverance they could do pretty well.

Now if there is one thing The Blackout love doing, its playing a live show and holy crap do they do it well. Despite money problems meaning a lack of headlining tours for their last album, The Best In Town, they still managed to play a decent amount of festivals and support slots with bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, YouMeAtSix and their heroes Limp Bizkit. Tonight is the first night of their tour in preparation for the release of their new album Hope (released on April 4th) and they kick it off with new song ‘Ambition Is Critical’. With snarling verses, confident lyrics and kick ass guitars it starts off the night with a riot and a good inclination that they have grown as song writers yet kept their charm (it’s also nice to know they haven’t sold out with most of the new songs including Sean Smiths impressive screams).

The Blackout play a varied set with the newer songs fitting in almost seamlessly next to the old ones, highlights include ‘ShutTheFuckUppercut’, ‘Spread Legs Not Lies’, ‘Children Of The Night’ and crowd favourite ‘This Is Why We Cant Have Nice Things’. The Blackout have a way with the crowd and one of their gigs just wouldn’t be the same without their crowd baiting banter, despite sounding a little desperate at times (to be fair it is hard for smaller UK at the moment so I will let them off) it is entertaining to watch. Vocalists Sean Smith and Gavin Butler really do give it their all, stalking the small stage of the O2, clambering into the crowd and gobbing in the air.  The crowd doesn’t stop moving throughout the entire set with the highlight being during ‘Save Our Selves’ where the whole crowd crouch’s down and jumps up causing people at the back’s view to be momentarily blocked.

Hyro joins the band on stage for the encore, rapping over new single ‘Higher and Higher’ which goes down well and then they finish the set with ‘Save Our Selves’ ending a brilliant night and an excellent start to the tour. With a sold out show and this much love from the audience, The Blackout will surely be playing bigger venues soon and in my eyes they’ve earned it.