It’s late enough on in the year now that calling a gig ‘gig of the year’ carries some sort of weight. For me, Skyharbor live at Audio was gig of the year. Which is entirely surprising.

In truth, ‘Blinding White Noise’ hadn’t aged well for me, I loved it when it came out but as time went by I didn’t find it had much replay value for me. It wasn’t immediate enough to demand constant replays or deep enough to leave a lot more to be discovered. But I was still curious to see those songs live, and in particular to see vocal powerhouse Daniel Tompkins smoke it live yet again. It turned out to be a truly wonderful gig.

Live the songs on ‘Blinding White Noise’ sound much rawer live and benefit from the added visual of players, the absolutely superb light show, which is more responsible for the quality of my photos of the night than I am, also enhanced the atmosphere considerably. The band also aired a new track, ‘Halogen’, which sounded excellent and felt much more like a song born of practice room jams than it did a computer based composition. At times it felt a bit more post-hardcore in tone than metal. Given the emotional and textured nature of the band’s music it actually suits them a lot more. Despite all the band being phenomenal musicians, there definitely is a need to make a special mention of vocalist Daniel Tompkins. No longer just an absolutely phenomenal vocalist, Tompkins has developed into a strong visual presence with a kind of dark and subtle determination that is at times a touch theatrical, but it certainly works with music as bombastic as Skyharbor produce. I do wish sometimes he did some more of those incredibly pitched scream like vocals, they’re in no way essential to the Skyharbor sound but they do sound so, so good.

Actually I say this was gig of the year, I haven’t gone to see Dillinger yet…

Click images for slideshow // Higher quality versions available on Flickr