Underneath the façade of dark make-up and body paint stands a handsome, dapper young man by the name of Andy Black. Well known as the frontman of Black Veil Brides, this side project for the American rock singer is the first time we see Andy in all his glory, following his other passions in music. The reception towards his debut album The Shadow Side is staggering to say that it was only released a week ago. Kicking off ‘The Homecoming Tour’ at The Leadmill, Sheffield, the audience were the first to bear witness to the awakening of Andy’s dream, and needless to say it was a roaring success.

Playing to an audience admittedly made up by a large bunch of teenage girls and their parents, Southampton rising rockers Creeper opened the evening wonderfully with bouncy tracks and punk ballads from their new EP ‘The Stranger. Making noise of their own as nominees for Best Newcomer in this year’s Kerrang! awards, the punk horror group were a fitting start to the evening of sweat and screaming.

If you weren’t happy with the place you were standing when Creeper left the stage, it was too bad. Even with half an hour between the supporting act and Andy Black, the crowd surged and cemented fans against each other and the barrier. This is just a taste of the admiration for this man. Luckily, he began his set on time, with a brand new entourage providing pounding drums and riffs to complement Andy’s deliciously deep tones.

Singles ‘Stay Alive’ and ‘Ribcage’ brought the room screaming to life with a foot stomping quality you couldn’t help but move to. And just in case you didn’t have enough time in four days to learn the lyrics to his new album, Andy was already two steps ahead with a cover of Billy Idol’s ‘Dancing with Myself up his sleeve. He also rocked a cover of Social Distortion’s ‘Reach for the Sky’, revealing that this was the first song he played live in high school. No one could possibly imagine how well this went down in school, but with less acne and adding a few hundred more adoring fans, we can assume that this time it was appreciated a whole lot more.

In an evening filled with tributes, Andy took the time to thank all the contributors that helped make ‘The Shadow Side‘ become a reality. In a tear wrenching speech, he dedicated the track ‘Beautiful Pain‘ to his friend and fellow musician Chris Holley, who tragically passed away last year and wished greatly to be a part of the Andy Black project. And in that moment, he was. The song itself is incredibly moving, the music holding back to showcase Andy’s voice but uplifting the track with just the right amount of rock in the chorus to “remember the good times”. A truly fitting tribute.

Continuing down the ballad path, ‘Put the Gun Down’ and ‘Paint It Black’ were true highlights, hearing Andy’s voice was exceptional. When it was revealed that ‘Paint It Black’ was written and dedicated to his new wife Juliet Simms, it drew a collective “aww” across the audience. At this point, the eclecticism of these songs was evident and whether it is gritty punk, artistic ballads or bringing old songs back to life, Andy nails it every time. He certainly chose the right tracks from ‘The Shadow Side‘ for his live show.

Ending the show with synth pop classic ‘They Don’t Need to Understand’ and a cheeky encore of the more upbeat ‘We Don’t Have to Dance’ was the perfect way to uplift the crowd and ironically, everyone was dancing. The sign of a great show is leaving the venue with a beam across your face, and it was hard to find someone who wasn’t grinning at that point.

Having the power to bring the room to life with just a smile is outstanding, but Andy Black proves he is more than just a pretty face and an integral cog in the Black Veil Brides machine. By sticking true to his beliefs and creating music that is special to him, he deserves every ounce of respect he has earned from old fans and new. And with an American and Australian ‘Homecoming Tour’ already in the pipeline, it seems Andy Black is not a name we will be forgetting any time soon.

This Andy Black article was written by Evie Myers, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.

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