And so, to Architects at Wembley Arena. You start off with one of those angel/devil on your shoulder conversations about how this could be a really great way to spend a Saturday night or, conversely, rather like Roger Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon, you find yourself wondering whether you really are getting too old for this shit; a feeling that seems to continue as you take the tube northbound, past semi-frozen shoppers heading to warm homes and warm food, to the glorified cattle shed that is the SSE Arena, or Wembley Arena, as most of us still know (if not love) it.
Your cynicism starts to slowly, inexorably, ebb away as you start seeing familiar faces – there’s Mel and Mike and (Ghost Cult’s own!) Chris and Ross – with which to share reflections on the Christmas just past; how long it is between paydays and hopes for what set list this little band who have suddenly become a very big thing indeed, might just play.
Your energy grows thanks to the expectant, hopeful and excited faces of the people queuing, in an ever-so-English and polite way, to fight their way to the front of the standing area to be as close as possible to their heroes; to sing and shout and jump and dance and crowd surf and mosh and circle pit, if only for the validation of knowing that you had been there, you had witnessed yet another triumphant performance of one of Metal’s best bands.
You eventually take your place in the arena after noting that Polaris are, indeed, Australian and that Beartooth have a lot more fans than you probably have given them credit for but, avowed devotees aside, no one is here for them. Everyone is here for Sam and Dan and Josh and Alex and Adam. And Tom. He might not be here but he is here in spirit and emotion. Of that, make no mistake. You take your place, nursing a pint of overpriced lager and wait. You watch the surging, billowing crowd sing along heartily to Metal anthems of old, the sense of anticipation rising as assuredly as day follows night and then the lights go down and they arrive on stage.
You watch ever so slightly awestruck as the band’s power envelopes this vast arena and turns the entire venue into something very special indeed. You marvel at the relationship between band and audience. You note that this is not just some anodyne call-and-response, seen-it-all-before arena gig but a show that clearly has an impact on people. Thousands of people.
This band matters. Tonight matters.
You realize that the band’s latest record, which is even better than you remember, is given more than a decent work out with eight songs aired and they all feel like old friends if the noise of the audience is any kind of indicator. You resist the urge to dive into an ocean of hyperbole but you can’t doubt the physical and emotional response you’re feeling. It is heart and head in harmony: highlights are manifold; the only lowlight is it’s over too soon and the house lights coming up remind you that it’s time to go home. You battle the crowd to get to your station but wrapped in the knowledge that you were there, it really was great and Architects are an absolute juggernaut. Incandescent.