Concert Review | Punk is back, now that emo has finally grown old

****** (6 stars out of 6): June 23 at Lille Vega

I’ve been told all my life that patience is a virtue, but usually, by the time I’m done being patient, my hopes are so high for whatever I’m waiting for that I end up horribly disappointed. So, after seven years of waiting to see Billy Talent live and ten hours spent in line outside Vega, it’s understandable that I was a bit apprehensive that the night may not live up to my expectations. I’ve never been happier to be wrong.

Local band Kill The Rooster kicked off the show, barely stopping for breath during their eight-song set. Though their lyrics may have left something to be desired, their musicianship was remarkable. Drummer Leo Mega was the star of the show, pounding out impressive rhythms while singing back-up, with vocalist and guitarist Carsten Hansen and bassist Troels Bak rounding off the trio. Thirty short minutes later, they ran off the stage, and for the first time, I found myself shocked at how quickly a local opener’s set had passed.

Then various roadies were clearing the stage and tuning instruments, and finally Billy Talent’s Aaron Solowoniuk was seated behind his drum kit, joined shortly by bassist Jon Gallant and guitarist Ian D’Sa. The audience’s cheers nearly drowned out the opening notes of ‘Devil In A Midnight Mass’, reaching a crescendo as vocalist Ben Kowalewicz finally appeared on stage.

And from that moment, the night passed by in a blur, pausing only when the band left the stage before returning for a three-song encore. Within the first three songs, the band had played one song from each of their albums: the cleverly titled Billy Talent, Billy Talent II and Billy Talent III.

While waiting outside Vega, huddled under a tiny roof as rain crashed down, I had worried that not many people would show up for the concert. Again, my worries had been put to rest, and the hall was nearly full by the time Billy Talent took to the stage. After playing the European festival circuit for a few weeks before ending up at this tiny venue, Billy Talent’s stage presence was almost ten times too big for Lille Vega’s stage, but Danish fans were more than ready to rock out at the band’s first show in Copenhagen since 2007. The crowd was hot, sweaty and loud – all the ingredients necessary for the perfect punk rock concert.

The set list was practically flawless, featuring a selection of hits and fan favourites that kept the screams coming all night. And what better place to play ‘Viking Death March’, the band’s newest song, than in Denmark? After nine fast-paced numbers, the tempo was slowed down for ‘Surrender’, but picked right back up again as the band dove into ‘River Below’, one of their earliest hits about a schizophrenic man who threatens to detonate a bomb.

The night came to an end with ‘Red Flag’. A better song couldn’t have been chosen to make sure that everyone left Lille Vega completely hoarse, and the extra choruses tacked onto the end ensured that by the time I was asking the merchandise seller for a shirt, I could barely muster a whisper.

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