Live review: Fightstar at OVO Wembley Arena, 22/03/24

“Part family reunion, part pyro-stuffed metal extravaganza”, Fightstar know how to throw a birthday party

Canada, Japan, Spain, France, and all corners of the UK. These are just a selection of the places people were making journeys from to be a part of something very special with Fightstar. It’s been almost nine years since British post-hardcore’s favourite sons last took to the stage together, and it’s heart-warming to see how the worldwide adoration that has always circled them hasn’t faded in their absence. 

Wembley Arena is far from the sweaty clubs where the band played when they released their debut album, ‘Grand Unification’, in 2006. But it’s in such grand surroundings that their rousing, devastating, and thrilling brand of heaviness and harmony feels most at home. The perfect setting for a 20th birthday riff party. 

The same can be said for their choice of support in new friends Loathe and old friends Twin Atlantic, who perfectly embody both ends of the Fightstar’s sonic spectrum with vigour and vibrancy, and both receive rousing reactions.

It’s when Charlie, Dan, Omar and Alex take to the stage though that things go up a notch. As the undeniably timeless ‘Paint Your Target’ springs into life, it’s clear just how much this evening means to both those on stage and those watching it. Part family reunion, part pyro-stuffed metal extravaganza, the band tears through their whole discography in destructive style. 

‘Lost Like Tears In Rain’ and ‘Grand Unification, Part 1’ trigger wave after wave of goosebumps, whilst the bruising ‘Tannhäuser Gate’ and bloodcurdling ‘Deathcar’ – bolstered by some bonus guitarwork from Charlie’s brother Will – rip the skin right off the bone with their intensity. Though it isn’t all harking back to the very beginning as ‘Animal’ and ‘Sink With The Snakes’ from 2015’s ‘Behind The Devil Back’ provide some of the most earth-shatteringly heavy moments. There’s even space for a gripping cover of Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Hurt’, acoustic fan favourite ‘Amethyst’ and debut EP deep cut ‘Until Then’. 

Every track is met with the same level of rapturous singalongs, swelling mosh pits and absolute elation that this is actually happening. It is a celebration of everything that the band have achieved, both whilst active and inactive. A reminder of what you can do when you let your heart guide your art over what everybody else is doing at the time. This is for the outliers, and knowing that feels sensational.

There are no concrete plans for the future of Fightstar, but that makes what took place here even more fantastic. Living in the moment, savouring every second and screaming until your lungs give out: this is how every show should be played and consumed, and you know that sentiment echoes within the band as well. 

Even if it’s another decade until we see them on stage together again, what these four friends conjured at Wembley Arena in March of 2024 will live in the hearts, minds and souls of all who witnessed it for a long time to come.

Fightstar have no future dates confirmed, but tickets are on sale now for Charlie Simpson’s other band, Busted, who are playing a UK summer tour after a slot at this year’s Download festival.