There is always a special kind of feeling you get from the first concert of the year; it marks a fresh start and excitement of what is to come, and Sleep Token live was a hell of a way to kick off this year’s round of gigs! Initially, this show was scheduled to take place at London’s O2 Academy Brixton; however, following the suspension of the venue’s licence due to the fatal incident that cost two people’s lives, the concert was moved to Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo. Although tragic, the aforementioned incident has shone a light on failures of security and the hope will be that live events will be made a safer place for all in the future. We at V13 offer our condolences to the families of those who perished.
Opening for Sleep Token was Australia’s very own Northlane. The venue was already heaving with fans to the point it dawned on me that I have never seen a venue this packed for a support act! I was not particularly familiar with the band prior to the show, but what little I had heard had piqued my interest. Live though, wow! These guys played with ferocity, completely catching my attention more so than listening to their records. Take this as a recommendation, give these guys a listen and if one of their shows is listed in your local area, grab yourself a ticket; you will not be disappointed!
The stage slowly began to fill with smoke, not too noticeable at first due to the almost blacked-out environment. Still, as an orchestral score signalled the beginning of tonight’s ritual, cheers from the audience came in waves, one after another, as Sleep Token built tension as the intro to “Chokehold” echoed around the auditorium, followed Vessel’s operatic style vocals entrancing the crowd. The lights began to flash, and the rest of the band became visible. The ritual had begun! Things got a little heavier as “The Summoning” erupted, and the stage became awash with a red glow. It was a demonic yet beautiful experience to all the senses.
The band had barely any interaction with the audience to maintain the façade of the collectives mystique, instead focusing on a musical experience unlike any other. In all honesty, it was several songs in when I became aware my notes had descended into one-word comments like “mesmerising,” “transcendent, “hypnotic,” etc. I, like the audience, was transfixed on the stage; the combination of Sleep Token’s juxtaposed style of dark gloom and gothic opera alongside their hypnotizing strobing lighting effects captivated my attention to the point it felt like an out-of-body experience over which I had no real control.
I have thought long and hard to identify specific moments from the experience, but as already mentioned, my focus was completely pulled away from reviewing the show, which I would suggest is the highest compliment I could give Sleep Token. Of course, there were the big tunes that everyone recognized, like “The Love You Want,” “Alkaline,” and “Hypnosis” (amongst others), but even these standout songs were all part of the bigger offering to Sleep Token’s deity, the entity known only as sleep!
To sum up, this ritual was an experience unlike any other. It was a congregation of disciples ready to be led in worship. All hail Sleep!
3. Echo Chamber
7. Quantum Flux
11. Talking Heads
Sleep Token Setlist:
2. The Summoning
5. Dark Signs
7. Like That
8. Aqua Regia
13. The Love You Want
14. The Night Does Not Belong to God
15. The Offering