Billy Talent inspires crowd surfing, mosh pits

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Last Thursday, Billy Talent, Rise Against and Moneen finished their massive tour with an explosive show at the John Labatt Centre.

Initially the arena was sparsely filled, but by night’s end it was packed with people anxiously awaiting Billy Talent. A lengthy intermission before Billy Talent’s set altered the show’s pace, but the break was worth every second.

Silhouetted behind a giant white sheet, the band combined “classics” from its self-title debut with its latest singles off 2006’s Billy Talent II.

Lead singer Ben Kowalewicz encouraged lighter/cell phone salutes and periodically stopped singing to give life advice or comment on the attractiveness of London’s women. Kowalewicz shamelessly tore his shirt off and performed half-naked for the remainder of the night.

Billy Talent kept the entire crowd on its feet when it returned for its expected encore.

Anti-Flag was scheduled to open but didn’t appear due to unforeseen circumstances.

Instead, Brampton’s Moneen opened, showcasing songs from its latest album, The Red Tree. Though Moneen is still a relatively young band, it held its own onstage.

The band made excellent use of the stage, thrashing around during high-pulse songs. Lead singer Kenny Bridges impressed the audience by crowd-surfing and singing simultaneously.

Rise Against maintained the intense pace, flawlessly transitioning from song to song. The band played newer hits like “Ready to Fall” and “Prayer of the Refugee” along with several older songs.

Lead singer Tim McIlrath’s delivery was dead on, especially during his solo version of “Swing Life Away.” The Chicago natives’ set was amazing, and included a surprise appearance by Alexisonfire’s Dallas Green.

The tour raised money to support the Make Poverty History campaign and also promoted Kids Help Phone.

Despite Anti-Flag’s absence, the show was the perfect wrap-up for the successful tour. Each band brought something slightly different to the stage and people of all ages sang along, crowd-surfed and moshed throughout the night.

Kowalewicz said playing in London again was an honour, adding fans should expect to see Billy Talent back in town next November.

After viewing such an electrifying performance, November seems too far away.

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