From beginnings in the early 90’s H2O have developed their brand into a genre leading hardcore outfit. Their fifth studio album, Nothing to Prove, released a decade ago now, has since become a modern-day classic from which their compatriots draw so much influence and inspiration. It’s is that tenth anniversary which sees us in Birmingham tonight on their UK tour marking ten years since it’s release here at the unique Mama Roux’s venue.
The four band bill is opened early with local miscreants Cruelty. The hardcore outfit with a metal edge get just 20 minutes to prove their worth on his stage. Through an intense 6 songs they show themselves as more than a match to the more established acts as brutal riffs and vocal ferocity destroy the ample crowd assembled before them.
Face Up offer a different take on affairs. More punk with a hardcore twist, the pace is frenetic for 25 minutes and the baseline a constant reverberation through you. Vocals from Roxx refreshingly fierce and aggressive alongside killer guitars. Short, sharp to the point songs ripple through the building with the feeling of an earthquake and its aftershocks leaving us all battered, bloody and bruised.
Onto the main support, All For Nothing, the Dutch hardcore superstars have joined this behemoth of a touring machine. The trip is doing wonders for the bands growing reputation, the first out and out hardcore band over the evening, they make their mark quickly. Vocalist Cindy offering a barrage of aggression that the fans, for the first time this evening, seem to really get into. Half an hour of short sharp songs is just what the doctor ordered. A wonderful set and the bands stature in this fair city is rising.
From origins as Sick of it All roadies, Toby and Rusty have grown the H2O brand into a worldwide phenomenon. Ten years on from the release of the seminal Nothing to Prove album, they are touring in celebration of its anniversary and judging by the crowd, the fans are eager to help celebrate.
As the Black Sabbath intro fills the PA, a fitting start given the location of tonight's show, electricity fills the room, there is a buzz, a feeling which all explodes as they hit off with 5 Yr. Plan. The room is bouncing and arms flailing as Toby steers the H2O ship through the opening portion of the set. Crowd participation is high and with no barrier it’s an intimate setting the band and the fans meet together adding to the atmosphere.
Just ten minutes in and we are treated to the start of Nothing To Prove. Playing it in full, in its entirety from the start of ‘1995’. The passion for this album is high and the fans show their appreciation. Rusty and Colin's fierce guitar lines drive the fury as Adam bounces from wall to ceiling. The intensity of the bands performance shines through in the songs, Sunday and A Thin Line standing out.
Being barely 23 minutes on record it’s not the end of the show and certain tracks were mysteriously missing, awaiting an appearance later on. Use Your Voice and Guilty by Association end the evening on a high before the finale of What Happened?
The set may have only been an hour long, short for a headliner in normal terms. But with the composition of their back catalogue of and the intensity they bring it’s fitting. At the end of the day I’d rather have an hour of killer rather than two hours of filler. And it’s the “killer” element that H2O delivered in abundance, a show like this you would struggle to match anywhere else.