Just to get this straight before I begin, so that there’s no misunderstandings: last night’s Pierce The Veil gig at The Ritz in Manchester was the best gig that I have ever been to in my entire life, by a comfortable margin. The best ever gig I’ve been to before that was also a Pierce The Veil gig, when they did their first tour here last autumn.
The queue was stretching all the way round the corner by the time the doors opened, but the venue was packed fast for the opening band, Hands Like Houses, a band whose own musical style somewhat bridged the gap in genre between Woe, Is Me’s metalcore, and Pierce The Veil’s more pop punk sound. It took them a few songs to get the crowd going, but they really worked at it and, by the end of their run, had the crowd whooping and dripping with sweat, and me feeling just a little bit more hardcore than I had when I turned up and saw just how many other teenage girls there were in the crowd (teenage girls who were throwing themselves into the mosh pits with more reckless abandon than the boys, before you go listening to stereotypes).
Woe, Is Me turned up next, and I have to say I wasn’t expecting much. Having listened to some of their songs in preparation, they seemed like very generic metal, with the usual run of angry songs about vengeance and betrayal, but without any mark of individuality that would make those songs stand out from the dozens of others following the same formula. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. The band went wild on stage and really gave their music the life it needed as they got people even more whipped into a frenzy. There was even a kidney-shaped mosh pit at one stage, almost large enough to cut the crowd in half. Woe, Is Me put in a hundred percent effort for their entire performance and created a show that I’d have been pretty happy to see headlining.
Then it was time for them. Pierce The Veil. My favourite band. I will not deny that I did a lot of high-pitched squealing, but really, they deserve it. Whether they truly are comfortable up there or not is unclear, but they walked onto that stage like it was their own living room, announced that they were the “four Mexicans from San Diego, California”, and launched into the explosive opening number ‘Hell Above’. They didn’t so much ‘bring the noise’ as fire it out of the confetti cannons they had set up. Near the front it was packed so tightly that no amount of pushing or shoving would get you any closer or further away, and so hot that I had to step out of the crowd while they played ‘Disasterology’ from their 2010 album Selfish Machines.
They played a mixture of the popular ‘classic PTV’ type singles, and the album tracks off their two more recent albums, because really, pretty much every song they’ve written is ‘classic PTV’, from the cheesy-but-also-quite dark ‘Bulletproof Love’ (written apparently to sound like a suicide note to a lover), to the so-called “Spanish Song”, ‘Besitos’.
They slowed it down for a moment to leave Vic alone onstage to play an acoustic version of their song ‘I’m Low On Gas And You Need A Jacket’, which led to what was, frankly, one of the most beautiful moments of the evening. Vic stopped, as you do, to let the crowd sing a line, and they kept going on in perfect harmony, to finish off the song while he stood, almost tearful, watching. Whether it turns out nice or not when the crowd’s allowed to sing varies, but for that song everyone was in time with each other and hitting the right notes like they’d been trained for it, which was a big sign of the devotion of the fans to the band. They carried on with the emotional theme with, from their most recent album, their ultimate tear-jerker song, ‘Hold On Till May’. It’s such an obvious save-your-life type song, about neglect by those close to you and the need for self-destruction, but that’s why it works for Pierce The Veil fans – so many of the crowd there that night were only there because of that song, which Vic and Co. dedicated to the fans before playing in a storm of pink confetti shot out of the confetti cannons.
The crowd sung back the words so fervently to all the songs, and pressed so tight trying to get to the front, that the band suggested that not only was it far and away the best show they’d ever played in Manchester, but – towards the end of the night – perhaps one of the greatest shows they’ve ever played in the UK, and that the fans were some of the rowdiest they’d seen. Normally, I’d dismiss that as something a band says to everyone who’s paid them a few quid for a night out, but the way the crowd reacted to them last night makes me think that maybe it could be true. Manchester fans are the hardcore.
After a few more songs, Pierce The Veil attempted to finish with their song ‘Bulls In The Bronx’, which they recently released a video for, but no sooner had they stepped off the stage than the crowd were stamping their feet and demanding them back on. So, accompanied by Trenton Woodley, the lead singer of Hands Like Houses, they returned to play King For A Day. It was an excellent end to the night, although I think both crowd and band alike were having the time of their lives, and would have gone on for much longer. That is what I like to think.
Pierce The Veil are an amazing band who really know how to perform, and love doing it, and I’d highly recommend you going to see them next time they’re in your area – if you can get a ticket before the hordes of die-hard fans do, anyway.