Live Review: Don Broco – Utilita Arena, Birmingham
24th March 2023
Support: Papa Roach, Dance Gavin Dance
Words & Photos: Tim Finch
It’s early doors here in central Birmingham this evening as Don Broco roll into town, along with Papa Roach and Dance Gavin Dance. A highlighy anticipated tour from one of the UK’s freshest rock acts.
A barely half full arena greets Californian’s Dance Gavin Dance as they take to the stage to warm this crowd up. Having been disappointed to find out that not a single member of the band is called Gavin, it’s time for me to take in their performance.
It’s a short seven song set which opens with ‘Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise’ and at first exposure, the band surprise me. A strange mix of eighties soul and metalcore greets us as the two pronged vocal attack gets going. Tillian Pearson’s clean vocals – and hypnotic gyrating – meld well Jon Mess’ raging growl as the set progresses.
‘For the Jeers’, ‘Strawberry’s Wake’ and ‘We Own the Night’ lead us to the end of the set, closed spectacularly with ‘Inspire The Liars’. An interesting opening act, but the best is yet to come.
For me Papa Roach is a throw back twenty three years, when they broke through to the mainstream and first played this town, over at the old Carling Academy on Dale End. Returning twenty three years later (they’ve been back in between as well) they now play the Utilita Arena, surprisingly not as headliners.
By the time the band take to the stage the arena is now full, such is the anticipation for their performance. The set opens with a slew of hits ‘Kill The Noise’, ‘Getting Away With Murder’ and ‘Help’ get the room bouncing. The nostalgia value in their set is high, whilst not being a nostaligia band just yet, much of their music reminds many of us of our youth and that is helped with a superb cover of The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’.
As the set rolls on ‘…To Be Loved’, ‘Scars’ and ‘No Apologies’ are mixed between a few more covers, ‘Lullaby’ of The Cure and ‘Still Dre’ of Dr. Dre. An interesting mix, and not the usually cover selection you’d expect from any rock band.
But there are a few Papa Roach tunes we are all waiting for, Jacoby knows it, the band know it and every one of the thousands in attendance cannot wait for it. ‘Last Resort’ nearly brings the roof down such is the volume of bands and fans combined and the set is then closed with ‘Born for Greatness’. A fantastic performance and we can only hope they return with a headline show soon!
As headliners Don Broco approach their set the atmosphere in the building is electric, this is one of the bands biggest headline shows to date and the fans are expectant!
The digital screens at the rear of the stage light up one by one, each in turn silhouetting a member of the band who stand motionless at the rear of the stage. Vocalist Rob Damiani sets a red smoke flare off as the band launch into ‘Bruce Willis’ and the stage resembles a Turkish football terrace.
Don Broco mix styles from Linkin Park-esq numetal through rock, pop and assortment of other styles. All delivered perfectly by the band fronted by Damiani with his curly black mop of hair and red Letterman jacket. The sound is infectious and soon the whole arena is moving as one, as their biggest crowd yet gets pumped by these anthems.
'Gumshield’, ‘Tecnology’ and ‘Come Out Top LA’ scatter the opening segment of the show before Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix returns to the stage. He joins the band on ‘Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan’ and ‘Thug Workout’ to bring together the fans of the two bands into one united force.
For over an hour and a half the band light up the Utilita Arena like never before, not even KISS’s show in this very venue pre-pandemic can live up to this. The band return for a short but sweet encore including ‘Fingernails’ and ‘T-Shirt Song’ before the thousands of faithful fans return to the bitter Birmingham evening chill.