Protest The Hero - O2 Academy, Islington

Opening tonight’s bill are French djent upstarts Uneven Structure, a band who burst on the scene last year with the rather disappointing - but lauded - debut Februus. Unfortunately, they aren’t much better live as they plod through half an hour of uninspired technical metal dominated by odd rhythms and simplistic riffs that stretch on into eternity.

Next up are Blood Command, and you would not believe the noises emanating from the little blonde frontwoman Silje Tombre. Screeching and screaming her way through their set, her demonic yelps are as surprising as their punky missives are dull. Once the novelty wears off however, her attempts at proper singing are woeful and grate painfully on the ears.

Things begin to look up once Long Distance Calling hit the stage, with their infectious instrumental grooves getting the packed floor bopping along in unison. A set full of catchy riffs and impressive guitar work flies by all too fast. A fun, enjoyable dose bursting with an energy that comes only from an accomplished live act.

Protest The Hero vocalist Rody Walker walks on with just phone in hand, and entertains the enraptured audience with a comical rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ à la Hendrix via some guitar app, complete with feedback squeals. Very much the calm before the storm, the band promptly launch into ‘Sex Tapes’ and the place subsequently erupts.

Divided into four blasts of three tracks, the pace is frenetic as the band rip through their set in less than an hour. In between, as band and crowd alike catch a breath, Rody has a crack at being a comedian in addition to the day job, a role he fills with what can only be described as decidedly mixed results.

Protest The Hero manage to bring together the holy trinity of technical prowess, potent energy and a rip-roaring tune, the guitarists flying up and down their fretboards like men possessed, delivering melody at a breakneck speed. A final blast of ‘Sequoia Throne’ and ‘C’est La Vie’ sends the hyperactive mob off elated and exhausted. A hugely successful return to these shores!

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