Music lovers go to live gigs for one of two reasons; to make new memories or to relive old ones. The sold out Papa Roach with support from Nothing More show at the O2 Academy in Bristol on 15th April gave the fans the opportunity to experience both at the same time.
Opening for Papa Roach would inevitably lead to scrutiny and comparisons. Nothing More formed in 2003 and have been clawing their way to success with a hunger and determination that could potentially lead to greatness. Four albums in and Jonny Hawkins in particular has transformed the band into a behemoth of purpose and ambition after swapping the drums for frontman duties. Hawkins has the staggering vocal range of namesake Justin from The Darkness, the serpentine energy of Josh Todd of Buckcherry and more intriguingly, the enigmatic and messianic intensity of Jim Morrison. These qualities are bound to make Hawkins an icon in his own right as well as contribute to Nothing More’s eventual attainment of legendary status, with their current album The Stories We Tell Ourselves the pinnacle of this journey thus far.
The Nothing More set is like walking into an exorcism, the threat and danger clearly palpable in the air with Hawkins sharing profoundly personal anecdotes about addiction, relationships and familial struggles in between each powerful song. The band wrestling with their collective demons in front of our very eyes as they laid bare the beauty and catharsis in the violence of every chorus. The raging crowd howling along to the glorious ‘Go to War’, the instant rock anthem, ‘Do You Really Want It?’ and the mesmerizing ‘Fade in/Fade out’, but it was the introduction of The Scorpion’s Tail platform that caused an absolute frenzy. In the crowded market of metal bands, this element has become a signature that sets them apart from most others. Nothing More are renowned for not doing encores and this performance showed everybody why that is; they leave nothing in the tank, every ounce of energy and dedication is utilised in each brutal performance that leaves everyone breathless and satisfied.
Papa Roach entered and immediately reminded the expectant crowd how the band survived the highs and lows of a 90s metal band to remain a distinct voice in the Nu Metal scene. Opening with their most famous, career-defining ‘Last Resort’ could’ve been a risk, but experience and confidence shone through as the venue erupted in recognition and adulation. Shaddix, Horton, Esperance and Palermo knew exactly what the crowd wanted and gave it to them in spades. The hits followed each other like a nostalgic journey through the evolution of the band; ‘Falling Apart’, made way to ‘Angels & Insects’, ‘Forever’ and ‘Scars’ with a rapturous response for the more recent addition of ‘Who Do You Trust?’ from the same titled album released earlier this year.
The show continued at a breakneck pace, but it was the first song of the encore that truly turned this performance into a once in a lifetime event. Papa Roach turned the O2 Academy into a temple of reverence, respect and rage as they performed ‘Firestarter’ in honour of the late, great Keith Flint. The crowd echoing every verse and chorus in memory of one of the industry’s pioneers and in an instant the crowd was reminded how fragile, yet fundamental our connections with each other are.