Last year the second stage tent was half full for Billy Talent, this year they fill it, which is no mean feat considering they are up against the mighty Iron Maiden on the main stage. Somehow you know it's going to be something a little special from the first notes of the intro to set opener 'This Is How It Goes'. The crowd anticipation is high, the front rows are tightly packed and all erupt as the song starts in earnest and singer Ben Kowalewicz bounces onto the stage.
The energy Billy Talent exude is fantastic and tonight there is no let up from start to finish. They might only have two albums to their name but tonight's set is a timely reminder of just how many classics they've crammed in already, making it sound like a greatest hits show. 'Devil In A Midnight Mass' and 'Line and Sinker' see both crowd and band really going for it in an infectious and totally engaging performance. There is an amusing intro from Kowalewicz to early single 'The Ex' and it's a brilliant rendition. The quieter verse of 'Surrender' gives the crowd some brief respite but it can't last long and 'Prisoner of Today' brings everything back up to speed.
The sound is good and the band give a virtually note perfect performance whilst still managing to give 100% to their live show. Such is the quality of the songs that towards the end of the set you can't imagine what they'll come up with next but time and time again they produce another fast, melodic punk edged anthem that keeps the crowd bouncing. 'The River', 'Try Honesty' and the excellent 'Sympathy' close out the first part of the set before they return to deliver a simply stunning encore. 'Fallen Leaves' whips the crowd back up and 'Red Flag' is just brilliant, prompting the biggest crowd sing a long of the night. There is a slight thinning of the crowd before the encore as some just can't resist heading over to the main stage to catch the end of Maiden's set but those nearer the front are going nowhere, realising that this is one of the performances of the weekend.
Billy Talent just ripped it up tonight in fine style, after years of waiting their rise has been rapid and is fully justified. To keep the momentum going they're going to have to come up with an incredible third album as anything else would feel like a step back. Tonight they have proved themselves worthy headliners and if you have any doubts that they could handle the main stage just check out the footage of their recent Rock am Ring show on Youtube!