Billy Talent at the Paradise
Poison the Well
The Paradise Rock Club, Boston
October 9th 2009
The Paradise Rock Club in Boston isn’t the city’s flashiest venue, and Billy Talent certainly isn’t one of the city’s best known bands, but when the two came together on a rainy October night, the results were anything but shabby. The Canadian quartet, along with South Florida’s Poison the Well, put on the type of show that delighted and damaged the hearing of those who packed the grungy club.
The show began with a set from AM Taxi, which I unfortunately did not witness (there was a Qdoba next door…). When we did make our way into the venue, we didn’t have to wait long for Poison the Well to take the stage. While I may not be a huge fan of the entire metalcore genre, witnessing them play was an enlightening experience. The band simply killed it. They performed a set that was that was insanely fast, ridiculously technical, and epically loud.
While many in the crowd (including myself) were unfamiliar with the veteran quartet, lead singer Jefferey Moriera displayed the type of stage presence that kept the audience completely absorbed throughout their 40 minutes on stage. Moriera mixed gruff screams and howls along with melodic choruses, while the rest of the band deftly sprinkled atmospheric elements in with their hardcore shredding. It served as the perfect warm up for Billy Talent’s headlining set.
Lead singer Ben Kowalewicz led the chart topping Canadian act on stage and they immediately burst into a rousing rendition of “Devil in a Midnight Mass.” Despite the over zealous security and “no moshing” rules at the Paradise, it was obvious from the start this show would be anything but tame.
The crowd surged towards the stage and shouted along throughout the set, and the band used this energy to their advantage. Kowalewicz spent most of the show at the foot of the stage, going face to face with those in the first few rows. With eyes wide and veins bulging, the dynamic front man alternated between melodic singing on tracks such as “Surrender” and frenzied screams on crowd favorites such as “Line and Sinker.”
Between songs, Kowalewicz ran through the normal Billy Talent banter, most of it revolving around sports. He praised Boston for its successful teams, and declared his hatred for the Yankees. Kowalewicz also made note of the large student population surrounding the club, joking that a group of well dressed college girls had thrown change at him earlier in the day thinking he was a bum.
The musical portion of the set included an even mix of tracks from the band’s three full lengths. Songs from the recently released Billy Talent III sounded great and received a nice reaction from the crowd, but they couldn’t match the intensity of more familiar songs such as “The Ex” or “Try Honesty,” which closed the set.
The band would return for an encore consisting of “Fallen Leaves” and “Red Flag,” both from 2006’s Billy Talent II. The crowd filed out of the club more than satisfied with what they had witnessed, and looking forward to a promised return engagement in 2010. The group certainly seemed to enjoy their stop at the intimate venue, especially considering many of their shows in Canada take place in monstrous arenas that set fans far back from the stage. In fact, the band had announced an enormous 2010 Canadian arena tour with support from Alexisonfire and Against Me! earlier in the day.
While they might not be playing arenas in the states any time soon, Billy Talent is quietly building a dedicated fan base on the strength of their stellar live shows. High profile opening slots for bands such as Thursday, Rise Against, and Rancid have helped, but the quartet has proven that they can hold their own as headliners in any setting.
Set list (probably not exact)
Devil in a Midnight Mass
Line and Sinker
Rusted for the Rain
Diamond on a Landmine
The Dead Can’t Testify
Devil on my Shoulder
Turn Your Back