Live Review: I Prevail / Blind Channel / Trash Boat – O2 Academy, Leeds 21.03.2023

Sian Connolly

By Sian Connolly

After three long years away from the UK, tonight’s the night Michigan metalcore titans, I Prevail, take over the o2 Academy in Leeds with their long-awaited True Power Tour. Alongside the likes of Blind Channel and Trash Boat, the lineup this evening was definitely going to be one for the books. 

After being a fan of I Prevail for as long as I can remember, my younger self would need medical assistance if I told her I would not only be seeing them live but also photographing them… it was like a living dream and I could not control the excitement. 

I grabbed my pass from the box office and rushed inside ready for the night ahead. First up to take the stage by storm is Finnish nu-metal band, Blind Channel. From the second the band walked out, the room was electric as fans cheered and screamed. Bursting with energy and an impeccable stage presence, these guys were one of the best warm-up acts I’ve seen by far. They kicked off the night with a thunderous performance of “Alive or Only Burning”, setting the tone for the rest of the night. With a few crowd surfers here and there, Blind Channel had the full attention of the crowd as both lead singers Joel Hokka (vocals) and Niko Vilhelm Moilanen (rap/vocals) performed perfectly together with the crowd watching in awe. I know I was.

Guitarists Joel Hokka and Joonas Porko shredded their way through the songs, moshing about on stage, as rhythm bassist, Olli Matela and drummer Tommi Lalli carried the whole set, keeping the rhythm flowing. The setlist featured more hits including, “We Are No Saints”, “Over My Dead Body” and “Flatline”. As the first part of the night comes to an end, it’s safe to say that Blind Channel definitely left the audience buzzing with excitement – an absolute must-see gig if you’re into heavy music. 

The second band of the night tore down the stage with endless hits from their recent album, “Don’t You Feel Amazing?”. I first heard about Trash Boat a few years ago and have been eager to see them live ever since. You could feel the band’s energy and passion from the very first note, keeping the spirits high throughout their set.

Lead singer, Tobi Duncan, knows exactly how to put on a show and I must say, the live version of this album triumphs over the studio version – experiencing the raw vocals and instruments, being able to feel the music rushing through your veins made this set an experience to remember. The highlight of the set has to be when Eric Vanlerberghe of I Prevail ran out onto the stage for an incredible guest performance. Everybody’s face, including my own, was beyond shocked. The crowd went wild with fans cheering and screaming as crowd surfers filled the room.

Duncan then went on to explain how venues often take a 25% cut of merch sales when bands sell their T-shirts and hoodies etc at the shows. So instead, Trash Boat announced that their merch will be sold at the Pixel Gaming Bar just down the road from the venue where fans can also chill with the band members themselves. How bloody awesome is that! Another incredible highlight for Trash Boat’s set was their cover of Linkin Park’s “Given Up”, where Tobi smashed the iconic 17-second long scream. Everyone immediately whipped out their phones to catch this amazing moment. Truly a must-see band. 

With the final band of the night soon to take the stage, anticipation was brewing amongst the crowd. As I stood in the pit waiting for my idols to walk out in front of me, I could feel electric energy ready to burst. Rock legends hailing from Michigan, USA, I Prevail put on an unforgettable performance. Kicking it off with “There’s Fear in Letting Go”, frontmen, Eric Vanlerberghe (unclean) and Brian Burkheiser (clean) work in perfect unison, storming about the stage, quickly showing the crowd they mean business.

With the band’s blistering vocals mixed with the incredible musicianship from guitarists, Dylan Bowman and Steve Menoian with Gabe Helguera on the drums, the band put on a powerhouse performance that no other could replicate. The next songs on the setlist were two of my all-time favourites and I was lucky enough to be in the pit at the same time. “Body Bag” and “Self-Destruction” brought the roof down. Even I was moshing my head whilst snapping some shots.

The vibes were impeccable and the crowd surfers… well they were non-stop. I couldn’t even move to the right side of the stage, they were flooding over the barriers one after another! And let’s not forget the pits. The whole floor was one giant hole with hundreds of people running around in a circle, waiting for that dirty breakdown. The band went on to play some of their fan favourites; “Hurricane”, “Choke” and “Deep End” before finishing off the night with an absolute masterpiece of an encore. Two of their hit songs (and again, my favourites), “Gasoline” and “Bow Down”. Wow. What a show. The scenes were brutal. Everyone was going mad and the band loved it. 

I Prevail – the band you MUST see live. 

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