Billy Talent - Manchester Academy 2 - 13.7.06

Like a snapping snarling puppy, Billy Talent erupt from the smallest of packages. Cuddly and friendly to the outside world they pick up guitars and as if they're Gremlims who've snacked after midnight they turn from cute ickle Mogli into seething rock beasts intent on scaring the shit out of your children.

"Devil In A Midnight Mass", a sugar coated metal song about religion and pedophilia, got slipped undercover onto MTV without the obligatory Marilyn Manson or Trent Reznor horrorcore video. It's also a fitting opener as it's the song that reminded everyone that Billy Talent were back after an extended break recording the difficult 2nd album when many thought they simply given up the ghost with the music industry. It's telling though that a large percentage of fans here are long past their teenage years and they stay loyal to those bands rather than move on like younger audiences have clearly done from My Chemical Romance to Panic! At The Disco and no doubt in 12 months to another new favourite band to add to their Myspace list.

Naturally the set's closer is their breakthrough song "Try Honesty" withl it's rallying cry, but that's not to say that what went on between was forgettable as these are merely bookends for the full story that lies between. While recent album, the lamely titled "Billy Talent II", has more of an overt influence of Iron Maiden metal it's still a world away from Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine, and yet still it's a different album than their debut which was steeped in British influences such as the snarl of Johnny Rotten and 1977. "Navy Song" and "Worker Bees" get ripped apart as do "Ex" and "This Is How It Goes" and it's a much more cohesive set than we've previously seen from Billy Talent. Frontman Benjamin Kowalewicz clearly has decided to step away from the schizophrenic vocal styles that littered early shows and now just snaps and yelps in his speaking voice as well as the songs.

Billy Talent have never been a band to push themselves in peoples faces but the reaction tonight from the fans was one of a band on the cusp of megastardom. With a show next door at Academy 1 planned for later in the year it won't be long before the band are selling out theatres, but you get the feeling before that happens the band will disappear again for a long hiatus before they approach a 3rd album that will take over the world

Alex McCann

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