After a lukewarm start, Billy Talent drew a frenetic energy out of Sunday’s crowd at the Roundhouse.
The Toronto rockers started their set with two tracks, Lonely Road to Absolution and Viking Death March from new album Dead Silence, before Devil in a Midnight Mass kicked things up a gear. Moving through tracks such as Saint Veronika and Rusted from the Rain, the nodding and hand-waving turned into more and more crowd participation, as the circle pit slowly inched its way outwards.
Frontman Ben Kowalewicz certainly worked for the audience, his little black clad, frame bouncing across the stage like a hyperactive punk homunculus, never resting for a second. Wild gestures and gesticulation aided many songs’ narration, and in between he would yelp and shout and speak, whatever appeared to be on his mind; the next songs inspiration, the recent US presidential elections, the UK’s rock heritage or, most surprisingly, the band’s impending 20 year anniversary. One possible bum note was an Armistice day dedication for The Navy Song, well intentioned and obviously sincerely felt, but still a little out of place at a rock gig with a behelmeted skull as a backdrop.
Kowalewicz wasn’t the only one, the rest of the band rocked hard, black shirts drenched in sweat. The energy in the venue built as the band played the first song off their first album, followed swiftly by first hit Try Honesty. They closed down before the encore with Devil on my Shoulder, including an extended jam between guitarist Ian D’Sa and Jon Gallant on bass, which threatened to go a little Led Zeppelin if not reined in, followed by a call and response chorus to finish.
The break before the encore didn’t augur well, with the crowd seeming to lull, but as the band reappeared for Fallen Leaves, so did the crowd surfers, and the space between the old engine sheds pillars almost cleared, save for a melee of whirling, flailing bodies. Surprise Surprise followed, before the band closed with the anthemic Red Flag, leaving a stamping, chanting crowd to trail out into the Camden night.