A While She Sleeps gig is always a big deal. Throw it in on a Saturday night in London and it gets even better. It is also an important gig for the band, coming just a day after the release of their new album.
That album is called You Are We, you can read about it here. It is the first album released since the band made the decision to become independent of labels. A big move, maybe a brave one, but one that nights like this justify.
For starters, The Dome is sold out. In fact, the band are performing here for two nights in a row and both nights are sold out. Many of the gigs on this UK tour in support of the new album are also sold out. At a glance, it appears that the band have made a smart choice becoming independent. It certainly hasn’t hurt them at all.
Now, anyone who has seen these guys perform live know that they are in for a treat. The pits are ferocious, the band encourage interaction by inviting the crowd onstage to dive back into the writhing mess of limbs. The band themselves aren’t strangers to jumping in as well. The Dome is a new venue for me but it looks like it is well set up for the band.
Actually as a venue, it is pretty well laid out. A decent sized bar, good floor space and a stage that is small but suited for launching yourself off of makes the fact that it looks like a school disco hall not so important.
While She Sleeps have 2 support acts out with them. The first is Fizzy Blood, a rock band from Leeds. After them we have Australian metalcore outfit, In Hearts Wake. They seem to have a decent following here and have a nice little pit going. Musically, they are very hardcore. For the most part it was breakdown after breakdown and I was actually quite enjoying it. Then the bass player started adding soft vocals to the songs and it killed it for me.
He had a really high toned (read squeaky) voice that was so contrasting to the music and lead singer that it made for uncomfortable listening. Still, they warmed the crowd up a bit before the main event.
A few technical hitches, as the band are getting set up blow a few eardrums but the sight of the You Are We backdrop alone gets a large roar from the crowd. The place, which didn’t feel too full, fills up rapidly. The lights dim and some lanterns above the stage are lit and the sound of the new album opener starts to come in, as the band take the stage to roars of approval. Loz enters, nods at the crowd and roars out the first line of the song. YOU ARE WE!
The song explodes into life, the crowd erupts into a fast and furious pit and you instantly feel the meaning of the song and album title. This is ours, the band, the fans – it is special and it belongs to the whole Sleeps family. It’s a great opener actually. It’s a heavy track but the live environment turns the volume and aggression up another notch.
The band aren’t messing about as You Are We leads straight into another new one, and their first single, Civil Isolation. I love this song and hearing it live was fantastic. It’s a fast and raucous track. The crowd love it and the band, who are moving around energetically seem to be having a blast playing it.
The thing with While She Sleeps is that they have a great catalogue of songs. It means there is never really time for respite. Never a song where you maybe step out of the pit for a bit. After that great start to the gig, evidence of this comes when the third track is played. A firm favourite with, well everyone, is Seven Hills. The furious pit goes absolutely crazy as the band rip their way through it. The fans roar back with Loz, WE ARE FIVE AMONGST THE REST. People are crowd surfing, we have a wall of death, fans are on stage and Loz is leaning out inviting the crowd to sing with him in his mic. It’s insanely brilliant.
If you need a break after this, well you can’t as the band jump into Brainwashed. A furiously fast song. The band sound note for note perfect. A lot of credit should go to The Dome too. The sound system is great and they aren’t shy of turning the volume up either.
Two new songs come, intersected by the excellent New World Torture. First is Empire of Silence and after comes Wide Awake. Both sound much heavier live then they do on the album and they all keep the crowd fired up. It’s interesting to see that, while both of these new songs on the album focus heavily on clean singing from Matt, Sean and Aaron with Loz taking a smaller role, it was the opposite live. Loz lead the vocals completely and the songs were heavier for it. Maybe it is just for the live environment but it worked for me. Good songs became insanely heavy great ones.
The band stop for breath as the intro to Our Legacy plays. Anyone who left the pit rushes back in and the popularity of this song is obvious. It is passionate and powerful and the crowd show their appreciation by going nuts. Loz takes a minute to thank the crowd, a nice gesture and then launches into the final single, Feel. Not a bad track but also not their best. That isn’t noticeable in the live environment. The crowd continue to mosh their minds out and again, the song feels much faster and heavier live.
What follows though turns the fans into a frenzy. This is the Six plays and the pit turns brutal. A few fans need to learn a bit of pit etiquette as they swing their hands at head height but for the most part, everyone just pushes and shoves their way around the pit, reaching out grateful hands to the band. Fists punch the air and the floor creaks as the whole crowd bounce along. This leads straight into the final song, another new one, Silence Speaks. The crowd take the place of Oli Sykes near the end and the breakdowns rattle your bones, and the walls of the venue.
The band thank the crowd and leave but we aren’t that easily fooled. Chants of While She Sleeps and pleading roars bring the band back out for an encore which starts with the excellent Four Walls. The fans bellow out the intro before it all kicks off in impressive style. The final song, for real, of the evening comes in Hurricane, from You Are We. It is a great song and seems very popular with the crowd. Again, it is so much heavier live. Credit to the fans, they are all still going crazy and as Hurricane ends you know you have been part of something special.
Sweaty, bruised bodies with broad grins make their way out into the cool London air. Ears are ringing and hearts are racing and the feeling of absolute exhilaration lasts long into the journey home.
Well done While She Sleeps, that was damn near perfection. It is difficult to criticise anything on a night like this. There is so little to fault. I would have preferred the band close on something huge, like Our Courage Our Cancer rather than a new track in the encore. I would have loved that song in the set list anywhere really seeing as it is kind of the band’s anthem. Maybe I wanted a few more tracks but we will all want that when a band have so many good songs. Maybe Life in Tension or even The North Stands for Nothing.
At the same time though, I wouldn’t want anything dropped either. Basically, can they just play for two or three hours next time?
There are still a few tickets left at some of their shows so do yourself a favour and don’t miss out on this. Check out the tour poster below. You can get tickets still at the band’s Pledge Music, as well as some merchandise. Do pick up the album as well. They really need and deserve our support. If a band give us an album like this, the least we can do is pick up a copy.
While She Sleeps at The Dome, Tufnell Park (22/04/2017)