A lot of things can change in ten years; relationships, work, opinions, goals- anything really. However one thing that has remained unwavering over the decade since its release is the fervour and the love Escape The Fate fans have for their second album (first with current vocalist Craig Mabbitt) This War Is Ours. It is for this reason that the band are now amidst tours at various points around the globe, playing this very album in full and giving fans of all ages a chance to either hear some past work they’ve never seen live before, or give older fans a huge burst of nostalgia.
First on are California’s The World Over, who blend metalcore influences with pop infused melodies to create their own blend of alt-rock. They give it their all as much as any headliner, and are visibly wiped out afterward, but unfortunately the crowd are a little lacklustre this early in the evening.
Second support Slaves found themselves in quite the predicament when vocalist Johnny Craig left the band for personal reasons moments before they flew to the UK. However Slaves bounced back hard, with American singer/songwriter Matt McAndrew (who some may know from season 7 of The Voice) flying over to fill in on no more than a days notice.He does incredibly well taking on the vocal duties too- except for having to check the lyrics on his phone occasionally (as you would), he pretty much did a stand up job of fronting the band. Aside from this, Slaves are basically flawless, not even faltering given their last minute line-up changes. I’d Rather See Your Star Explode is a highlight, and their set demonstrates that a large portion of the crowd are there for them just as much as the headliner.Escape The Fate though, are on a whole other level. A lot of people have waited a long time to see some of these songs played live, potentially having been too young to catch a show ten years ago when This War Is Ours was first released. It’s in reliving some of these old school classics that Escape The Fate seem to have a new found spark and energy too- especially vocalist Craig and drummer Robert who were both a part of the TWIO era, and seem to be thriving on the chance to give some songs a spin that have been shelved for so long.
We Won’t Back Down, This War Is Ours’ opening track is one of these moments right out the gate, with barely a pair of feet left on the floor and many a smiling face. The beauty of playing an album in full this way is that the hard work put into the order of tracks to help the flow of the record now translates on stage, like rolling punches where most fans know exactly what’s coming next.On To The Next One, through the pop-fuelled Ashley is perfect, with some added dimension wherein the band understand the songs they’re playing a little more these days- and understand what Craig was going through when he penned the lyrics all those years ago, having lived through some similar experiences themselves now. As Craig bounces around the stage during Let It Go, it seems he has put these feelings in the past now and is having the time of his life re-living the music he made from these experiences – having himself admitted that songs like this one are the tracks he’s most enjoying playing live on this tour.
You Are So Beautiful is executed perfectly, with all the age-old emo elements still prevalent, even if no-one thinks in quite the same as they did the first time they heard it. Unsurprisingly, This War Is Ours goes off; from the band’s signature riff, through the anthemic, euphoric chorus, this track is still ever present on every ETF setlist but people just don’t ever seem to get tired of it. Closing the This War Is Ours part of the evening are the two final tracks of the album; the record’s token ballad Harder Than You Know, followed by the fabulously creepy, almost insect-like It’s Just Me.The encore consists of a brief run down of all other ETF records- the ones not in the spotlight tonight. Fans seem just as eager to hear I Am Human and Broken Heart (from latest album I Am Human) as they were to hear some of the older stuff- plus it’s nice to see the band enjoying both eras of music equally. Gorgeous Nightmare is a welcome surprise, with its sleazy vibes earning some questionable and suggestive dance moves from Craig Mabbitt. Closing with the leviathan that is One For The Money from their fourth album Ungrateful, it’s clear the fans are happy to have been put through the ringer for everything the could have possibly wanted to hear tonight.
If anyone has been wondering whether or not This War Is Ours has stood the test of time, all one would have to do is take a look around the room this evening. People who were as young as ten or twelve when this album came out are standing and watching this band now with different lives, careers, their own family maybe; all with the same unforgotten fervour they felt a decade ago. So the answer is yes, yes This War Is Our has stood the test of time, and spectacularly so.Photography by Erin Moore at Forte Photography UK