Driving along the same single street that I’ve seen a thousand times, the straight-line stretch that represents the small beating heart of the otherwise middle-of-nowhere Milton Keynes stop-gap Wolverton. Whilst a night out in Wolverton sounds about as thrilling as watching your grandma knit you the same scarf she knits you year after year, it’s secret weapon is stuffed tightly within its core, masquerading as a quaint local with a fine selection of ale, a pool table, and the occasional quiz night. However, the truth behind Wolverton’s The Craufurd Arms, is that it is quite simply one of the finest low-level venues this side of the country, providing a platform for the bands you need to know about to showcase their talent, whilst building a reputation for bringing in some of the biggest bands from across the world for intimate shows. Tonight, The Craufurd Arms is rammed to the rafters, the bar staff like worker ants, pouring pints like they’re pouring for their lives as punters play pool and peruse the merch table. Tonight, Britain’s metalcore flag-bearers Bury Tomorrow strip it back as part of their stage invasion tour, throwing their rule book out the window, well and truly ripped up, and ready to be rewritten like the good old days.

If being one of the finest bands in British metal isn’t enough, Bury Tomorrow have taken it upon themselves to bring along with them one of our brightest hopes in the Merseyside massive Loathe, who are quite clearly riding high off of the waves they’ve made earlier in the year with the release of their masterful debut record, The Cold Sun (and if you haven’t heard it, here’s what we said about it).

Loathe take to the stage with the sold-out crowd only a quarter built, with most of us still reveling away in the bar, soaking up liquid lubrication for the chaos that will later ensue, which, considering the quality of Loathe’s live show, which even as a support band has the sophistication of a band playing to thousands, not to a hundred, is a little unfair. Frontman Kadeem France does his best to rile up the crowd, but the start of the set is a struggle and a stretch, the lone hardcore-dancer displaying his dazzling mangle of body parts in the middle of an almost entirely open floor a signal of the shape of things to come in this set. They find their footing on the eponymous ‘Loathe’ and the throttling East Of Eden, but it’s clear from the off that no matter how powerful a performance they put on, this crowd is here for one band and one band only, but again, Loathe aren’t distracted by this and behind the lack of a more deserved crowd, they seriously continue to shine like the stars they one day will be. It takes bulls to get off the stage and into the crowd when it’s as lacklustre as Saturday night TV and yet Kadeem France makes the floor his own.

It doesn’t take long for the Craufurd Arms back room, which is home to their music venue, to fill up like sardines in a tin, and with the barrier that usually stands boldly at the front of the stage removed and replaced with eager beavers ready to mosh to their hearts content, the vibe of the room is on another level entirely.

Taking to the stage to the sound of a remixed Rhythm Of The Night, Bury Tomorrow waste no time and rip right into the fan-favourite Royal Blood, before knocking any doubt that they can still dazzle venues as small as this into the park with An Honourable Reign. Only two songs in and its abundantly clear that Bury Tomorrow are here to party, and party they shall, opening up their stage to anyone who dares to climb it. It’s clear that despite hitting the UK major leagues with two Top 40-charting records in a row, they haven’t forgotten their roots and that the Stage Invasion tour is a tour for the fans, a thank-you for the unwavering support.

The setlist, like the tour in general, is one of celebration, rocketing through what on paper is a greatest hits of their career so far, from the likes of their atomic-bomb-in-the-shape-of-a-song that is Sceptres – which all but obliterates any organisation the crowd may have unofficially had, replacingit with a crowd-engulfing pit – to their mainstream assault Earthbound, this is a set made for the fans that showcases the bands musical pedigree. It’s when they dip in to their back catalogue, travelling us all the way back to their Portraits-era, back when they were playing the Craufurd Arms many moons ago as a standard show, that the set truly becomes special, classic cut You & I and rarity The Western Front sending shivers down spines that in turn send signals for chaos to ensure in an unorderly fashion.

Frontman Dani Winter-Bates has long been one of Britain’s most commanding frontmen, a flag-bearer for frontmen all over, who’s ability to pick up a crowd and have them eating from the palm of his hand is second to none, and it’s no different tonight. Whether he’s playing to festival crowds of 15,000, to standard gigs of 2000, or to the 350-capacity crowd crammed into the Craufurd, Dani is a general commanding over his troops, and his bandmates feed off of his influence, their fiery form warming up the creeping coldness of the winter night looming outside.

Telling a tale of how it was right outside on the benches of the Craufurd Arm’s makeshift garden that they decided not to call it quits all those years ago, they warm us right up for what is one of the most heart-rate inducing sweat-fests I’ve ever witnessed as they run through their breakthrough hit Lionheart, the Craufurd becoming a collage of bodies singing in unison like bees to their queen. Joking about ditching their professionalism, and ignoring the ridiculousness of leaving the stage only to return seconds later from the bleakness of the side of the stage, they remind us that this tour is the Stage Invasion tour, the optimal words being Stage Invasion, and with that they beckon us to cause carnage one more time as the all-consuming opening riff of Man On Fire unleashes itself upon our ears. What ensues is a near 300-person engulfment of the stage, the band rocketing through the song in its entirety undisturbed by the mass mosh-pit surrounding them. This isn’t your average gig, but Bury Tomorrow aren’t your average band, and fan interaction has always been at the heart of everything they do, and tonight has been no different. Tonight, they played for the fans, and they fucking killed it.

Leaving the Craufurd, letting the cold air come down on me like a mammoth wave to an unsuspecting surfer, it is in the short walk from venue to car that the realisation sets in: that is probably the last time Bury Tomorrow will be able to even consider a tour like this, because if their form is anything to go on, they’re surely going to be taking on arena’s in the near future, and there’s no going back from that.

 

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