It has been four years since Underoath sadly decided to call it a day after their fifteen year run as a band. It was a delight to many when the band decided to not only announce their return, but to brand it as the ‘Rebirth’ tour, of which they would play their two most successful albums ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ and ‘Define The Great Line’ in full. 2016 marked the ten year birthday for the latter album; and whilst anniversary tours aren’t uncommon, this feels particularly exceptional as the tour comes across to the UK as it harkens back to the band’s golden era of which they were true innovators of the Metalcore/Christian rock sub-genre. Guitarist Tim McTague stated in 2015 that “it just felt right to play the two albums that our fans have held dearly for so many years.” (Loudwire.com) The tour so far across America and the UK has received great critical acclaim but tonight however; the venue has been moved from the LCR/UEA down to the smaller Waterfront venue. It feels surprising and insulting on arrival at such poor attendance, yet wholly more fortunate for those participants here to experience a celebration with such intimacy with the band.
Opening up the show are experimental emo rock and Philadelphia natives Mewithoutyou. They are a truly unique band who cut their teeth carving out a niche’ around the same era as tonight’s headliners and deservedly do a great job of warming up the audience this evening. The guitar flourishes are gorgeous, the drums and use of percussion is consistently interesting, and the bass lines are surprisingly rhythmic for a band of this ilk. Opener ‘February, 1878’ provides enough groove to hook in both fans and newcomers alike, and the poetic nature of front-man Aaron Weiss’ vocal delivery is certainly enough to hold intrigue across the duration of the set. Aaron is the main focus of the band as his mix of fervent hard-core shouts and spoken word vocals are captivating as he leaps across the stage with unique presence. Whether the band are playing the bouncy sections of ‘Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume’ or the anthemic “I was once alive” chorus of ‘Nice and Blue (Pt.2)’, it is clear that the entirety of the room are hooked.
Despite Underoath down-sizing the venue and walking on-stage without the visual projections and additional production flourishes that were entailed on the rest of the UK re-birth tour, the band arrive to deliver a truly accomplished set that is both astonishingly tight and packaged with flawless sound. As Spencer Chamberlain and co blast through each track in order of 2004’s ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ it is a clear reminder as to why this album is of such high regard among fans and peers alike. Christopher Dudley’s synth lines alongside the punk energy of opener ‘Young and Aspiring’ only add to the colossal amount of melody provided, and drummer Aaron Gillespie proves once again why he is one of the scene’s most remarkable and passionate performers with a phenomenal voice. Across the board, this album is laced with some of the biggest choruses of the early noughties, and seeing it performed in it’s entirety is only a reminder of how many bands they have inspired since. The pits break out from start to finish, with huge sing-alongs to the choruses of ‘A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White’ and ‘Reinventing Your Exit’. It is the “drowning in my sleep” choir chorus sing-along of ‘It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door’ that is the expected set main-stay standout however. As the set builds to the epic finale of a live band re-imagined version of “Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape”, the crowd are left for a five minute breather filled with atmospherics, which results in an ‘Underoath’ chant for their return for the second part of their set.
By the time opener ‘In Regards to Myself’ arrives, the first half of tonight’s set feels like the calm before the storm as the band tear through the darker, heavier and more complex cuts from the phenomenal 2006 release. Despite the first record’s song-writing strength, it pales in comparison to the sheer depth and maturity that is displayed across these tracks and showcase how ahead of their time the band was during the era. There is a sense of poetic glory in the “I’ve gotta be dreaming” sing-along hook of ‘A Moment Suspended in Time’ as this performance feels too good to be true for many die-hard fans. Guitarists Tim and James leap around the stage with passion throughout ‘You’re Ever So Inviting’ and interact with fans with clear gratitude to be back doing what they love the most.
The haunting and slightly religious toned break of ‘Salmarnir’ is a great soundscape that gives fans a chance to breathe before the ferocious one-two punch of ‘Returning Empty Handed’ and the post rock slow build of ‘Casting Such a Thin Shadow’; but it is the “we walk alone” chants of fan favourite ‘Writing on The Walls’ which is the pinnacle of tonight’s set. As the band build to the doomy and grandiose closer ‘To Whom It May Concern’, Spencer takes a few moments to thank the audience for their continued support of the band and their return. The crowd are left not only exhausted from an energetic night, but with bright hopes of the future of the band. Above this, Underoath released two further impressive records up until 2010 which only indicates that they will hopefully do the same again in the not so distant future.
Underoath showcase two of their best albums in full and prove their prowess once again as a live band