Billy Talent / Reuben - Manchester Academy 1 - 16.9.06

The evermore heat-locked and already crowded Academy sees many people undoubtedly hoping that the support act will relax them, with some laid back power ballads. However, the Surrey power post/rock with a grunge tinge trio of Reuben led by the proud Jamie Lenman, are working harder than the crowd’s apocrine glands and keep up a frenetic tempo, punctuated by the shouts and screeches of the singer/guitarist. Biting chord structures and high pitched shrieks are moulded together to bite into the trudge of day-to-day life that impacts upon us all.  The trio are rewarded with some heat defying motion from the crowd and some heart warming adulation. The slower (for them anyway) and quite thoughtful ‘Goodnight’, throws their worries into the air and represents Reuben at their most accessible. This is undoubtedly the stand out track from second album ‘Very Fast Very Dangerous’ that largely failed to follow up on the searing debut full-length, ‘Racecar Is Racecar Backwards'. It’s songs from the latter offering that ignites the biggest ruptures from the crowd and towards the end helps to win their approval, manifesting in the formation of a high jinxed mosh circle.

It is a wonder why Canadians Billy Talent didn’t sod the potential lawsuits and revert back to their original name of Pezz for tonight’s trip to Manchester? They would have endeared themselves to the crowd by sounding like a Happy Mondays’ roadie. However, it is the work they did under their previous guise that earned them respect on the Toronto underground indie scene. Something that also makes them more authentic than many contemporary, melody inclusive anger mongers. Undoubtedly, part of the draw of B T is the dynamic front man, Ben Kowalewicz who, at times, helps the band sound like Brian Molko has just joined Metallica and they are on a mission to unite everyone. ‘Devil In A Midnight Mass’ helps the crowd adoration erupt into volcanic screech proportions and the bare-chested front man promotes messages of mutual respect and admiration between songs. Surprisingly, these statements facilitate the authenticity of the Green Day influenced punk rants with a post/rock rush, rather than decimating into condescending patronization, as similar comments from other acts has been be known to do.

The heart laden and slightly bemused ‘Surrender’, is the most rhythmic rock orientated and is one of the many examples of percussionist Aaron Solowoniuk's ability to lead the way, as his focused instinct and determination pushes many songs to the limit. These are qualities that he has to show all the time in life, after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few years back. Naturally, the true punk rant of ‘Red Flag’ sees the crowd lost in the moment and it has a British sound to help the band feel at home. On the whole, whilst Billy Talent may not quite equal the authentic passion, melodically grinding music and lyrical prowess of contemporaries Thursday, they have a unique charm, a respect for their fans and a passion for music that is unbridled.

David Adair

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