Hook, Line and Sinker

Is it really two years since we last saw Billy Talent gracing the main stage at Leeds Festival? Time flies and things move on and so they have in Billy Talent’s world as they prepare to unleash album number three in July. Last time round they convinced us that they easily had what it takes to deliver on the main stage so naturally we’re expecting nothing less today.

It all starts well enough as the large crowd in front of the main stage give a rousing cheer to the first notes of ‘This Is How it Goes’ and the masses at the front get moving straight away. Any fears of complacency quickly disappear as it’s clear they’ve lost none of their energy or enthusiasm for the task at hand, giving the kind of enigmatic performance you wish every band here this weekend would. ‘Devil In A Midnight Mass’ still sounds great alongside old set favourites ‘This Suffering’ and ‘Line & Sinker’, which gets the inevitable pit moving but you do get the feeling that their appeal isn‘t carrying too well beyond the crowd down at the front. The new layout at Download means there is much more of an expanse at the front of the stage than there is at Leeds or in the old second stage here and it seems that lack of intimacy prevents Billy Talent’s sound from carrying too well.

With a new album to promote we get two new songs in quick succession, both fitting comfortably into the set although the second (which I think was called ‘Devil On My Shoulder’) was much slower than we’re used to and featured some uncharacteristic guitar soloing from Ian D’Sa. In a short 40 minute set they are quickly back to the favourites with ‘Try Honesty’ and ‘Fallen Leaves’ feeding into set closer ‘Red Flag’. Given the apparent lack of interest beyond the mixing desk you have to wonder whether they have reached the peak of their appeal or whether this is merely a stop gap before album three takes them to new heights. Things have gone so well for them in recent years you get the feeling it will be the latter.