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Hell is for Heroes, O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London - 24th February 2018
This past weekend, I went to see one of my favourite bands play my favourite album in full. It was brilliant.
The band are Hell is for Heroes and the album is the Neon Handshake. The album was released 15 years ago and it had a big impact on the 23-year old me. The band featured two members of the more punky band Symposium who were even less well known than HIFH, although their live shows were pretty awesome. Hell is for Heroes were heavier and according to Wikipedia are of the “post-hardcore” genre. I’ve got no clue about such things. I just know I love them.
The Neon Handshake was apparently ranked the 58th best British rock album of all time in 2005 according to readers of Kerrang! I wasn’t aware that it was that widely known. Also, the readers of Kerrang! are wrong. It is the 1st best British rock album of all time. That is an objective fact.
I had first heard rumours of the band before their debut album was released from a friend who lived just outside London and had seen a couple of their shows and so I got the album a little after it came out. I listened to it a lot.
It really connected to me in a way that only happens every so often. You encounter a piece of art at exactly right time in your life that it really just resonates with you. The musical sound was something I hadn’t really listened to. I know there are other bands that have similarities but they were the first I had heard with this new sound. The emotion in the singer’s voice also really hit home. I wonder if it was also perhaps a reaction to the music I had liked previously. My favourite band up until that point had been Radiohead, who had started to go in a slightly different musical direction and I think perhaps I clasped onto this album that had it’s roots firmly in the rock tradition.
HIFH released two further albums, which I bought as soon as possible. I think I even bought promo copy of their third album so I could get it early, and it was missing song titles. I have listened to them recently and they are good, but they just didn’t have the same impact on me as the Neon Handshake. I wonder if it is because I had listened to it so much that it became so important and so familiar to me that anything wasn’t going to compare.
The last time I saw the band was when they briefly came out of hiatus for short tour in 2012 when they played Neon Handshake in full, supporting Hundred Reasons who played Ideas Above Our Station in full. I was a little bit grumpy then. For various reasons, we missed the first half of their set. I was more than a little disappointed and had little interest in Hundred Reasons, who I had never been that in to.
Late last year they announced a tour for the 15th anniversary of Neon Handshake and we snapped up tickets quickly. I wasn’t expecting them to play the album start to finish this time, so when they were a couple of songs into their set and I realised what they were doing, I had a big smile on my face. That big smile stayed their for their whole set. I was grinning, singing and dancing away in the limited space available.
If you’ve not heard the band, you should really spend three minutes and twenty seconds of your life listening to the song below, my favourite of theirs, I Can Climb Mountains. You won’t regret it*
* Unless you have rubbish taste in music.
Posted by Stewart Anderson on 28/02/2018
Hell is for Heroes, O2 Manchester Ritz, Manchester - 17th February 2018
A veteran performance with the same passion and ability that they always brought to their live shows. It was a powerful rendition of their first album, with some of their other best tracks comprising the encore, that made you feel like a teeneager again! Ved Red and A provided ample support, and the O2 Ritz in Manchester was a perfect size for the show.
Posted by relaxitsmax on 20/02/2018
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