On Saturday 8th December there was a shift in the music world. Simon Cowell and Co were forced to relinquish their iron fist on the industry as the underdogs stole their stage. The X Factor finals had been pencilled in for the same weekend as You Me At Six’s last hurrah of their third album cycle and so, after losing their battle; ITV were shifted off to Manchester and the ‘Sixers’ descended upon Wembley Park for a night that would remain in my memories forever.
Having never seen the band before, I had no idea what to expect. The band usually played Academy sized venues where fans can get up close and personal. Would You Me At Six dominate the UK’s most famous Arena, or drown in it? I fervently hoped it the former would prove true.
Upon arrival, it appeared that some fans were determined to make The Final Night Of Sin a personal gig; those at the front of the queue were sporting carrier bags full of food and some were shrouded in duvet covers having camped out to reach the front since the early morning. I was resigned to watching from the back and we patiently waited in line for the doors to open. At the apt time of six o’clock, bags were checked and crowds were permitted to enter the hallowed hall of Wembley Arena.
The lights eventually went down as the doors closed and the first support, We Are The Ocean were set the daunting task of entertaining 12,000 people who hadn’t come to see them. London crowds are renowned for being tough, but the Essex guys seemed to get a solid, if not quite raucous response. Deaf Havana followed, causing the throng at the front to be dislodged as the masses surged forward. Better live than many reviews had forewarned me, I was pleasantly surprised if not at little squished during their set. The frenzy that had mounted diminished the second they left the stage and we were plunged again into unquiet darkness.
Strains of The Swarm began to filter into the Arena and the decibel level peaked as the curtain fell. The Weybridge boys took to the stage with their opening apocalyptic anthem; ‘Is this the end of the world?’ resonating from floor to ceiling. Red lasers seemed to burn holes in the crowd as much welcomed mosh-pits opened up; providing a second’s breathing space before You Me At Six launched into a faultless rendition of album favourite Loverboy. CO2 blew in jet streams whilst Josh Franceschi roused the crowd with Little Death. Flames licked the ceiling during The Dilemma and by the time they’d reached The Consequence; the crowd had descended into violent revelry.
Playing the ‘classics’ that they’d promised; You Me At Six launched into the generation defining Take Off Your Colours followed by the light-hearted Save It For The Bedroom. The linked slow-tempo songs, Always Attract and Crash, brought a tear to the eye as the crowd sang in lovelorn unison. Chris, Matt and Max mixed things up for Playing The Blame Game; teasing us with a jazzy intro reminiscent of Wham!’s Jitterbug.
Josh climbed upon his riser at centre stage and addressed the crowd; ordering the amassed cult to huddle round the friends we came there with ‘because having a good time with your mates is important.’ As we linked arms with heads bowed, drummer Dan Flint signified the start of Liquid Confidence, an homage to going out and blurring the lines of life avec alcohol; and our sober escapism started. Reckless saw Josh command the crowd to whip their tops off and spin them round their heads, which they did, obligingly. Cameras soared to capture the nudity, and Chris, Dan, Matt and Max were exceptional in their craft. Fireworks wrenched the heart, and When We Were Younger was especially emotional for band and fans alike. Stay With Me saw emphatic fans singing at the top of their lungs, and the time came for the speech of the night.
“This part of the show is called Final Last Words.”
We all held hands and prayed that The Final Night Of Sin would not be the untimely death of such a great, visceral band. You Me At Six may not bring profound lyrics or ground-breaking breakdowns to the table but they are undoubtedly pure escapism. Escapism loved alone on IPods that on the 8th of December brought ten thousand people together. Eyes closed, we listened as Josh thanked family, friends and fans for making the band’s dreams come true. We held hands tighter. Their front man recalled how The X Factor had said You Me At Six would never sell out Wembley, to which the crowd united in a chorus of boos. Tension mounted as Franceschi referenced the publications that have been calling rock music dead. Calling out to the crowd he asked, ‘Have a look for yourselves. Is it? No, it’s not. This one’s for them because we will not be silent anymore.’ Launching into a defiant Bite My Tongue, the crowd drown out the band as they scream the expletive refrain in unison. Finishing with Underdog, You Me At Six efficiently prove that they are ‘down but not out’ no longer.
In equal parts, the excellently executed Final Night Of Sin was both an astounding gig, and a massive, laser lit party. The evening was somewhat a blur; as in between witnessing one of my favourite bands I was trampled, elbowed, kicked, lost, found, incredibly overheated and participant of one of the craziest mosh pits there. Rather than being passive viewers, bands like You Me At Six provide a chance for the public to truly experience music. We live in a world focused on chart sales and digital downloads, but in the world of rock, music is so much more than an audio file. Everyone in attendance that night witnessed five deserving men achieve their lifelong dream. We’d thought The Final Night Of Sin would mark the end of one of the forerunners in British rock music. In actual fact the evening signified the beginning of a new era. In 2012, pop-punk busted the assumption that mainstream equals success. Who’d have thought it?