Review + Photography by Adriana Vasile

‘Tonight in London we are going to play all the dope-ass ones!’… and they sure lived up to this statement. For those of you who thought Sleeping with Sirens are turning pop and going mellow, you’re in for a treat with their new album and definitely with their live performances. Returning to their original heaviness, SWS made a pleasantly surprising comeback this year with ‘How It Feels To Be Lost’ released via Sumerian Records. However, their UK tour shows took it up another level, with an even heavier sound, complimented by a masterful visual display of lights and shadows.

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But first, SHVPES graced the stage with an intense performance, from start to finish. Their intoxicating energy blew the evening boredom and sleepiness away and got the crowd up on their feet from the first songs. The occasionally flashy lights and generally saturated colours were leaving only shapes (quite fitting) of the Birmingham boys and their instruments to be seen. In all the shows I’ve seen in the past 3 years, there are few support bands that receive that kind of frenetic response and create an instant connection with the crowd so early in the evening, without having to verbally encourage to ‘join’ the show. While their performance is arguably a nightmare for photographers to shoot (speaking from first-hand experience), it is quite a fitting display to watch from the crowd, complementing their sound and creating the right atmosphere for the music to be heard properly.

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Shvpes (6)

Shortly after, Palisades followed, with a similar setting: hard to shoot, good to watch, creating a great atmosphere to compliment the music genre and song themes. While they still duel in the metalcore genre as Shvpes, their sound is more melodic and less gunning. The heavy start slowly transitioned gradually to a more emotional songs, which were met by their fan’s voice, singing along to every word. The end of the set came with a cover of Linkin Park’s ‘One Step Closer’ and a heartfelt tribute to Chester. This turned out to be an interesting choice for the prelude to the last song.  ‘Let Down’ stands out from the rest of the songs by incorporating a strong electronic influence. Quite frankly, this is the song that caught my attention a couple of years ago and made me wanna hear more of the band’s songs.

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Palisades (8)

SWS took us on a journey tonight. A journey through a dark place defined by loneliness and an overwhelming feeling of being lost and misplaced. Combining older tracks like ‘Better of Dead’ with fresher pieces, Kellin walks us through the various nuances of these feelings and moments that can trigger them, together with the evolution of his attitude towards them at different stages of his life. Even though all the fans knew the lyrics and the melody by heart, the songs were taken up a notch and made heavier than you’d expect from the CD versions… to the delight of everyone! The feedback from the crowd was extraordinary, they were restless and pouring their voices into every song, every chorus, old and new.

‘Not that you need the extra push, but we’re filming this show tonight!’ The title track ‘How It Feels To Be Lost’ was greeted with utmost excitement and phone lights brightening up the entire room. The chorus created a powerful, cathartic experience when every single soul in the Electric Ballroom was screaming ‘Lost’ from the top of its lungs and bottom of its heart.

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This track set the scene for a heartfelt speech on the importance of family to sink in properly while everyone was catching their breath. The story of a girl’s birthday wish to see SWS live, met by a dismissive attitude by the mother which didn’t understand the importance of this band for her daughter, served as a memorable, introductory anecdote to the importance that the parental support, understanding and selflessness in a child’s upbringing. The message was cemented by the next track: ‘A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son’. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, they all got the message loud and clear and were in agreement with Kellin’ parenting lesson.

‘In the SWS style, we’re going to slow down for a couple of songs’ said Kellin, taking up an acoustic guitar while the band left the stage. ‘Everything I got I’m gonna give it to you’, he promised despite the confession that all the back to back touring throughout the year was taking its toll on his voice and tonight’s performance needed a doctor’s help to materialize. An acoustic version of ‘Roger Rabbit’ followed as a dedication to the fans, met with endearing reaction and attitude of fans singing together in harmony and calm reflection. A surprise beatbox moment made up for starting the song in the wrong key and having to start it again out of genuine appreciation for the fans.

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The new banger ‘Bloodlines’ served as a rapid and brutal awakening: the show immediately got heavy again, with drums that you could feel in the chest, Kellin’s voice flooding the room like a tsunami and saturated deep red lights filling the stage. ‘This song has the heaviest beat in it so keep that pit open!’ Next, ‘Medicine (Devil in my Head)’ and ‘Agree to Disagree’ naturally followed, revealing a more feisty, fiery, rebelling attitude towards the feelings mentioned earlier. The melancholic reflection and sobby sadness are replaced by sharp awareness and inciting anger.  The set became overpowering really fast but it feels liberating, as if singing along to these tunes takes all the negative feelings out of you. And of course, as the energy rises and reaches its peak, Kellin’ throws himself in the arms of the crowd.

‘Kick Me’ marks the end of the set and the fans lose themselves in the music for real, with smoke shooting up at every ‘Down’ in the chorus to match their voices.

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‘One more song!’ demands the crowd only to be met by one sound guy. Eventually the band returns. ‘Thank you so much for spending the night with us. This is one of the first songs we’ve written as a band’ precedes the iconic ‘If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn’ to which girls start getting lifted up on shoulders and sing as loud as they can, as if they were performing a duet with Kellin’.

‘If you can’t hang’ marks the truly epic set and tour finale, with smoke and confetti shooting up to the ceiling and filling the room.

‘This show will go down in history as the best show we’ve ever had!’

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SWS (8)

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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