Gig review: Bring Me The Horizon at Utilita Arena, Sheffield

There’s only one song to go in Bring Me the Horizon’s set when Oli Sykes declares to the crowd that this is one of the first shows he has played in a state of stone-cold sobriety across his career.

Bring Me the Horizon played at Sheffield Arena. Picture: Jamie A. Waters @jamie_a_waters

“I didn’t know it could be like this,” the frontman half-confesses, half-bellows, like a soul-baring preacher at the pulpit. “You guys, honestly, do not know how much you’ve saved me.”

The correlation between the metalcore mainstays-turned-electro-rock chart toppers’ lead vocalist getting clean and the seismic energy of this supercharged hometown gig at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena is surely no mistake. This is the third time that the band – commonly abbreviated to BMTH – have headlined tours of venues this size; it is the first occasion they seem truly at ease in their own skin.

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Few British acts have straddled the line between obvious commercial viability and uncompromising genre experimentation quite like the South Yorkshire six-piece in recent years, and last year’s Post Human: Survival Horror proved arguably their most successful marriage of ideas to date.

Yet if the pandemic forced them to hit pause on the road, they have mounted an almighty return to it that should finally earn them the major festival spots they deserve; a swivel-eyed pop-shredding outburst that shakes the root canals all the way down.

From the nu-metal stylings – thrillingly made relevant two decades after their heyday – of Teardrops and Obey, through to the burbling glitches of Ludens and the techno-thrash rave of Kingslayer, their new material is met with as much rapture as the songs that put them here in the first place; even Die4U, a slice of explosive emo-punk fusion released only a week ago, commands mass singalongs.

Backing dancers don hazmat suits; support act Nova Twins are wheeled out for 1x1 and streamers periodically bedeck the crowd. It is preposterously daft fun.

Yet BMTH haven’t got this far without forging that emotional connection and it bleeds through the biggest tunes of the night. Happy Song, perhaps their peak achievement of dyed-fringe lonerism and stadium soundcraft, is a euphoric punch to the heavens; Follow You, recast as a piano ballad near the climax of this performance, takes on a gripping tenderness. Drown, strobed with frantic emotionalism, remains magnificently cathartic.

“BMTH JUST ROCKED MY F***ING WORLD” is the phrase emblazoned across the stage after closer Can You Feel My Heart. Declaration or dedication, it matters not; they have finally hit the heights they’ve been promising for years.