As a flurry of hazmat suits, hyperspeed backing dancers and pyro erupts across the stage, it feels as though Bring Me The Horizon have pulled the crowd at the BandLab NME Awards 2022 into a dystopian rock opera. Their six-song set is wickedly riotous and unpredictable, much like the ceremony that precedes it. And of course we haven’t forgotten that during their NME Awards 2016 performance, Sheffield’s most chaotic sons trashed Coldplay’s table with gleeful abandon. Tonight, there’s a sense that anything could happen.
The experimental metal band, who are previous winners of the NME Innovation Award, were nominated for three awards in total, and scooped the Best Band In The UK supported by Pizza Express. In an impassioned speech earlier on in the evening, frontman Oli Sykes thanked the fans that had sold out Brixton’s O2 Academy to witness their triumphant closing set, but found time to acknowledge the five-piece’s hard-earned ascent to greatness.“Our first album got two out of 10 in NME, so… follow your dreams,” he quipped.
When they hit the stage an hour later, Bring Me The Horizon create an atmosphere that feels like it might ignite at any given moment. Fellow Best Band In The World nominees Nova Twins join the group for a fast and furious ‘1×1’, while ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ pulses against a backdrop of arena-ready light displays. The set continues to a sucker punch of massive tunes, including ‘Mantra’ and a blood-pumping ‘Parasite Eve’.
As the chunky electro-pop beats of ‘Die4U’ begin to fade out, Sykes pauses an otherwise non-stop thrill ride to reflect on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “If Kyiv does not survive, international peace as we know it will not survive,” he says, before pointing to drummer Matt Nicholls’ Ukrainian flag-embellished drum skin.
The band round the BandLab NME Awards 2022 off by using their platform to dedicate ‘Throne’ to the people of a currently war-torn Ukraine, describing tonight’s venue as “full of influential people”, and encouraging attendees to “use their voice every single day until this crisis is over.” It’s a powerful rallying cry that deserves to be heard beyond the PA of this room.