Hell Is For Heroes - Live Review - Eventim Apollo

Hell Is For Heroes - Live Review - Eventim Apollo

by Mils / Mar 06, 2023 / 0 comments
Saturday, 4 March 2023

Hell Is For Heroes treat an incredibly enthusiastic Eventim Apollo audience to a blistering set featuring ever-potent classics, two brilliant new songs, and a lead singer clearly still hooked on crowd surfing.

“London, I’m coming for you,” declares Justin Schlosberg. Like a football player about to take a penalty, his posture changes. And, as the rest of Hell Is For Heroes rage through the remainder of Five Kids Go, the singer jumps from the stage. Of course, the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo audience catch him. It’s the kind of behaviour they’ve come to expect from the frontman. He’s already crowd surfed while singing, with corded mic and all, having emerged from the audience during To Die For’s instrumental intro. He’s already done an almost handstand on Joe Birch’s bass drum and leapt over it like an Olympic hurdler.

Schlosberg really should know better. (After Hell Is For Heroes went their separate ways at the end of 2008, he completed a PhD and became the Assistant Dean of film, media, and cultural studies at a London university.) But, while he may not have become a more sensible performer, some things have changed in the 15 years since their original split.

Hell Is For Heroes Most notable are the two stellar new songs (the first they’ve released since their 2018 reunion), and the appearance of three very young family members (wearing ear defenders) to sing on one of them, I Should Never Have Been Here In The First Place. It’s a soaring anthem, with topical lyrics they may not have written in their 20s (“Stand tall, got licence/ On the brink of extinction/ Silent is compliant/ You know you’ll get burned, if you play with matches/ If you fall for stories or follow their lead”) and a call and response quality that allows Schlosberg to make a powerful audience connection through a song released less than three months ago.

Together In Pieces, the other new track, is somehow even better. The vocal melody’s so immediate and strong that it feels like something that’s always existed. And, when paired with despairing lyrics (“I don’t need your hand/ I only need your soul”), the result is easily one of the strongest songs in the Hell Is For Heroes arsenal. And, when performed right alongside the finest moments from their back catalogue tonight, that’s saying something.

Hell Is For Heroes After a surprisingly loud rock gig singalong to Enrique Iglesias’ Hero played over the PA, it all begins with Folded Paper Figures. The ferocious track from the band’s second album Transmit Disrupt (big on screamo vocals, frenetic guitars, and a rhythm section in overdrive), leads into the very loud-kinda quiet-very loud Out Of Sight. Clearly written while Deftones were major players on the alternative rock scene, it’s one of several highlights picked from their beloved debut album The Neon Handshake, and still more than capable of rattling the seats up in the balcony. So are I Can Climb Mountains (greeted with roars of approval when introduced as “an old one”) and You Drove Me To It, with Schlosberg lurching his body to every riff guitarists William McGonagle and Tom O’Donoghue reel off. Night Vision, with its alternately chugging and scything guitars, is another (major kudos to Birch and bass player James Findlay for maintaining the relentless pace). Stranger In You, from their self-titled final (for now?) album, throws some Interpol-on-speed into the mix tonight.

All the while Schlosberg swings his microphone like Roger Daltrey, wrestles with his mic stand like it’s possessed, and bounds across the stage in his suit (possibly the only allusion to his day job). He’s clearly making the absolute most of Hell Is For Heroes’ special guest billing on Hundred Reasons’ tour. Even when the headliners are close friends, support slots are notoriously tricky: limited stage area, limited production, limited time. But that doesn’t faze the band giving it their all for their hometown audience.

Hell Is For Heroes And when Schlosberg announces that they may be returning sooner rather than later, the cheers suggest that the majority of people here will be back for more. (On the basis of tonight’s performance, that’s no surprise.) But first there’s one final treat: Slow Song. A steadily building epic, it’s a fitting finale performed with purpose. As the instrumentation and vocal builds, the singer again trading lines with the fans, so does the drama. And suddenly the band freeze in place (yes, even Schlosberg). The music stops. “We are Hell Is For Heroes,” reiterates the frontman. And the song kicks back in, with even more intensity. Clearly the show’s almost over. But there’s always enough time for one last crowd surf.

Rating out of 11: