Sleep Token // A.A. Williams // Live Review // O2 Institute // Birmingham


It was a cold November evening as I found myself on a delayed train to the o2 Institute for Sleep Token’s headline show. With the train pulling into the station just 10 minutes enforce the opener hit the stage, I had to run to make sure I got to the venue on time.

After an incredibly long wait to get in, I managed to get into the pit for half a song of the openers, A.A. Williams set. I, unfortunately, missed the start but walked into a room of atmospheric emotion as bright lights and ambient sound flooded the room. At first, I was unsure of the set, it truly wasn’t what I expected for the openers of one of the heaviest bands I’ve heard in recent years, but I soon found myself deeply entrenched within the melancholic vibrations of the set. William’s definitely was the highlight of the set, with her vocals perfectly fitting into the sound she and her band have crafted over the last couple of years.

During the intermission, I decided to have a smoke. As I re-entered the venue, an ambient, Post-Rock soundscape was echoing throughout the main room, as well as having the stage and audience painted in a deep blue light. It was almost as if we were all underwater, fittingly enough for the concept behind Sleep Token’s visualizers on Youtube for the album This Place Will Become Your Tomb, before the light and sound vanished.

Onto the stage walked Vessel, the mysterious figure and frontman for the collective, as he approached a Keyboard in the centre of the stage. Opening the set was Atlantic, the opening of their latest album as well as confirming my suspicion upon the choice of sounds and blue lighting. Instantly I was blown away by the sheer quality of his voice and he effortlessly captivated both myself and the audience. As the track approached its closure, the masked members of the band all came onto the stage. Hypnosis was the next song of the set, with unrelentingly heavy instrumentals and Sleep Token’s signature vocal style. Following this was simply the tightest set I’ve ever seen in my life. Every note, every movement, every breath seemed so flawlessly natural while so rehearsed, it was truly phenomenal. As the band set progressed, we had classics such as Jaws and Nazareth alongside fan favourites Higher and The Offering.

As their set came to a close with the hauntingly beautiful Missing Limbs, I found myself thinking that this truly was a perfect show. A surprising opener that fit perfectly, a flawless execution of musicianship that even the most experienced musicians struggle to attain and crushing, yet comforting pressure from an unknown force, one that I can only assume was Sleep. All I can truly say is Worship.


Review & Photography: Danilel Stapleton // Pulse Media Photography

Sleep Token:

A.A. Williams






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