Sheffield's Finest Tear Mansfield A New One
While She Sleeps had an unbelievable 2015 – their sophomore album ‘Brainwashed’ was released to outstanding reviews from fans and critics alike, they played pretty much every small-to-medium UK alternative festival, including subbing for Refused at Reading and Leeds, before joining Bullet For My Valentine on their mammoth comeback tour, culminating in a very sold out hometown show at the end of December.
One might expect that they’d take a rest after that, but they quickly announced a nationwide headline tour of teeny-tiny venues, some in cities that I’ve never even heard of; a thoroughly exciting prospect.
Elegies also had a great year – they released their defining ‘Daylight Disease’ EP, firmly putting them on the radar of heavy music lovers throughout the UK, enjoyed some incredibly eventful nights touring with Max Raptor, and supported While She Sleeps at their raucous December hometown show, where they must’ve done something right: In reality, the Mansfield date of their March tour with While She Sleeps was essentially a small scale recreation of the Leadmill gig in December.
Elegies were wise in the fact that they spent the 5 minutes before their set inspecting the stage, locating where best to stand and identifying things which should be avoided. With both singers satisfied by their findings (Thomas opting for the peak position with Sam preferring having more room to dance), the set began abruptly as the opening notes resonated throughout the social club, grabbing the attention of the people near the stage.
Tragically, my pet peeve came to life during Elegies’ performance; it becomes more and more apparent with each passing minute that the 80 or so people toward the back of the room never actually stopped talking. This infuriating detail meant that Elegies’ set could be described as a cocktail of big, sludgy riffs, bellowing bass and soaring vocals...plus obnoxious chit chat and incessant laughter.
Massive shame really, because the entire band sounded brilliant, Sam and Thomas nailed some great harmonies, and the crowd response from those decent enough to watch was positive. Having now seen them three times, and watching them get better each time, I can say with some certainty that Elegies are definitely worth sparing a moment for.
A good chunk of the heavier bands out there will often say “let’s tear this place apart” - or something to that effect – as their way of requesting that their fans ‘get involved’ with the jumping and moshing during the show, and While She Sleeps definitely fall into this category. Whilst the literal interpretation of this phrase is as often as ridiculous as it is unrealistic, something has to be said for the chaos that quickly arose from having While She Sleeps headline such a small venue.
Just like the Elegies singers before him, Loz Taylor (vocals, While She Sleeps) can be seen scrutinising every detail of the stage, including whether the ceiling was high enough to permit jumping on stage (it wasn’t). Minutes into the set, crowdsurfers found themselves colliding with the ceiling, bringing back with them pieces of the soundproofing lining, before a whole section fell down, creating a massive inconvenience that persisted throughout the show. On top of that, fans were invited to crash the stage during one of the songs to help ‘sing’ – a wholly appreciated offer than turned out to be exactly as chaotic as it sounds.
Explosive from start to finish as always, While She Sleeps sound great – riffs for miles and a drummer who has an unseen grip upon everyone that is so strong, he made everyone headbang along without even realising it. Completed by Loz, the howling demon from Hades, the band once again manage to prove why they were able to achieve such a meteoric rise in popularity, with heavy tunes that remain lodged firmly in your long term memory.
The downside to having seen While She Sleeps six times throughout 2015 is that I was able to list each song they were going to play before it was even played; the consequence of a band sticking with the same setlist. “Brainwashed” of course opened the set, closely followed by the fiery fiend that is “This Is The Six”. This is not to say it’s a bad setlist – far from it – it’s been well crafted for maximum impact at the start and end of the set, with well-placed rest stops along the way.
The soft, tranquil introduction to “Four Walls” marked the beginning of the end of a night full of excitement, laughs, ceiling debris and great music. Before this though, the band members made a point of emphasising their appreciation, and they appear genuinely humbled by their fans’ commitment to the band, as well as their willingness to “throw parties for us”. Holding the bittersweet realisation that Sleeps will probably never grace such a small venue again, everyone enjoyed one last mosh, bringing the night to a suitably warm close.
To any fans of metalcore, or heavy, riffy music in general that have managed to avoid seeing While She Sleeps so far, go see them live just once – they’ll infect you as quickly as they infected me, and they’ll never let go.