LIVE: Architects @ Royal Albert Hall, London
As the need for streamed gigs continues, bands are upping their game and putting together increasingly more professional and impressive productions to share with their fans through a screen. Architects have done just that and the result will blow your mind to smithereens. Taking on London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, these Brighton metalcore legends have spared no expense when it comes to putting on a show to remember, and luckily for the fans who purchased tickets to the stream, it was available to view it as many times as they liked over a 48-hour period.
Hands up if you watched it at least five times.
Hands up again if you’re unsure if you’ll ever stop crying.
It’s safe to say that the result of such monumental effort and a lack of limitations is a stunning and emotional performance, faultless to the very last second. As the lights move in perfect synergy with the music, and the backing screen perfectly reflects the tone of each song, it’s not too hard to imagine what it might be like if the floor were packed wall to wall with sweaty, clambering bodies.
This imagery is facilitated by the fact that the band plays as they would to a sold out crowd – putting every bit of boundless energy into their performance as they would do at any other show. It is understandably common for these streamed shows to feel a little awkward, given that many bands feed off the energy and response of the crowd, but despite the stark lack thereof, every member of Architects plays without reticence and as the camera pans into and across the stage, there’s nothing to indicate that the room isn’t filled to the brim.
Technically, the band are perfect too. Sam Carter’s vocals are as flawless and powerful when clean as they are dirty, the deepest guttural growls coming out as fierce as ever, Dan Searle never falters on the rapid-fire drumming, and the guitars and bass build up with such ferocity that we’re brutally reminded what a real drop should feel like. At no point is there any indication that this is the band’s first live performance in over 10 months and just for a minute, we’re able to forget the devastation that lies outside our four walls.
With 17 songs on the setlist, there’s plenty for Architects to explore here but among the filthy riffs and angry roars, perhaps one of the most powerful moments occurs when the band strip it right back to play an acoustic set down on the venue’s floor. Kicking off this last third of the set with an amended version of ‘Momento Mori’ and ‘A Wasted Hymn’ Carter’s gaze drifts upwards as if looking for the band’s late guitarist, Tom Searle, somewhere in the rafters.
In fact, you can find Tom everywhere in this set, and while no longer physically with us, it’s clear he’ll always be a part of this band. Whether it’s the neon T//S that flashes on the backing screen during ‘Mortal After All’, or the more subtle use of it in the band members’ earpieces, there’s a little bit of Tom everywhere – regardless of which song they happen to be playing at the time. It’s a beautiful homage to the band’s friend and brother – a man who was described as being at the heart of everything the band had created until that point – tastefully executed in this live setting and filling your chest with a bittersweet heaviness. If ever we needed proof that Tom remains at the heart of this band, this is it.
But while there are plenty of moments for tears, there are even more opportunities to bang your head and lose your shit. This is Architects, after all. From the debut live performance of new single, ‘Animals’, to old favourites ‘Doomsday’, and ‘Holy Hell’, every song makes you want to turn your home into a mosh pit as it’s played out on stage without restraints or inhibitions. ‘Crowd’ interactions are sparse, but the technical perfection of this spectacle means you’d struggle to care – close your eyes for just a second and this performance could easily be a studio recording.
And of course the limited crowd addresses are perfectly crafted to spark our excitement, filled with promises of a new album ahead of piquing our intrigue with three brand new songs. You simply can’t help but feel the anticipation bubble inside of you at the thought of finally experiencing all of this live – a phenomenal show in and of itself but ever more electrifying when you consider just how much you have missed being a part of the live action.
So yes, the show is a little sad and yes, if we think about it for too long we miss the hot, sweaty mess of the pit even more than ever, but most of all it acts as a reminder of what’s still to come.
And if the real thing is anywhere near as fierce, emotional, and fine-tuned as this live stream, we have a hell of a lot to look forward to.