Rain. Yet again Manchester becomes a lake and getting to a venue is like going on a short cruise – and yet again the buses are late. I say this every time! However, it’s worth it, as tonight sees some of the world’s finest bands together on stage. 

Canadian proggers Protest The Hero and UK djent heroes TesseracT together on the same tour is a dream come true for me; ‘ecstatic’ is the word of the day.

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I get to the venue, wait an eternity for my ticket and once inside Intervals are just finishing up their set. Short but sweet, they appear to be having fun on stage, but alas they were gone before I ever had the chance to properly enjoy them. So short intermission aside, out come Brit metallers The Safety Fire whom from the off play though a set of older classics and cuts from their latest release Mouth of Swords. While these are enjoyed by fans of the band, it takes one or two tracks for the band to really get into their stride. From that moment onwards, the set just gets bigger and better right up until it’s conclusion.

Here is where the night takes a truly exciting turn; the crowds energy levels rise, but they become strangely quiet at the very same time, TesseracT come on stage, setting up their respective instruments and the chants grow louder – no one wants to wait any longer. Fortunately the band get through their set-up pretty quick and come out to a roaring welcome. The first parts of their latest album Altered State, Of Matter: Proxy, Retrospect and Resist flow as one track, building ever higher and despite the crowd knowing the words to every section of these songs, they watch, drinking in every single note.

This is proof if ever it were needed that TesseracT really are one of the most important bands in the UK right now. Classic tracks Concealing Fate Parts 2 & 3 are dropped out by the band with ease, the vocals delivered flawlessly by Ashe O’Hara. The biggest shock for me is looking down briefly and hearing a brutally destructive scream – looking back up and seeing this scream come from the mouth of O’Hara is pleasing to me. He continues producing harrowing howls throughout the duration of the set. The band continue through a set of some of the best tracks they have to offer. Singularity and Nocturne make up the last of the new material and Concealing Fate, Part One: Acceptance finishes up the set perfectly. The band delivered a headliner quality performance, without being the headliner. I was already shattered and would have gone home pleased – but there was one band yet to come…

I had to battle through another intermission during which the venue played some of the worst rap music known to man before headliners Protest The Hero emerged to a heroes welcome. New track Underbite was destined as a set opener if ever I heard one. The crowd are excited as hell as the music begin to pulse and the pits open out. Continuing the set comes choice tracks from their new album Volition alongside Scurrilous classics Hair Trigger and C’est La Vie.

The banter on stage is impressive when it comes to Protest The Hero. The ever charismatic Rody Walker decrees that Buckfast isn’t really for him after drinking all the booze ever in Glasgow the night before which left him a little worse for wear tonight. From that he leads a football based chant that I didn’t quite understand – but then again, I suspect he didn’t either. Finishing up with ‘Hunk Of The Day’, the band choose a very unsuspecting fella out the audience got him on stage and sunk a beer with him. It’s all in the day of this band.

The crowd swarms, the temperature rises, damn it’s hot. As the band bring their set to a close they deliver two of their best tracks to date in Tilting Against Windmills and Blindfolds Aside before bidding us us adieu and vowing to return very soon!