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“Nothing But the Big Hits!” – Billy Talent at Amnesia Rockfest 2016

By Kenny Fowler

When you have an artist line up that is so stacked with great acts like Rockfest did this year, some bands lose out on longer sets. Despite only being given 45 minutes on stage, Billy Talent did not waste a second of it, and may have ultimately provided a better show because of it. Even though frontman Benjamin Kowalewicz insisted they would love to play “for five hours if they could,” by forcing themselves to trim the excess off their set list, they presented a meaty, relentless show that left the crowd chanting their name.

They opened with “Devil in a Midnight Mass”, a show staple for the last ten years, and still strong as ever. The selection of hits spanned their entire musical history, with a little more focus on Billy Talent II over the other albums, likely due to its greater commercial success and lingering popularity. The energy didn’t even consider wavering as they rocked through “This Suffering and River Below” before giving the mosh pit a brief break during “Rusted From The Rain”. Their newest song, “Afraid of Heights”, off their album of the same name dropping next month, was a pleasant offering reminding everyone that the band still has a lot of great music in their pocket for the years to come.

Source: Official Facebook Page

The second half of the set was near flawless. Kowalewicz was in complete control during “Devil On My Shoulder”, with great call and response from the crowd and even sneaking in some of the classic Montreal vs. Toronto hockey rivalry fun before riding the notorious drum beat from “Red Flag” to a climactic rock explosion, throwing back to their first success with “Try Honesty”. When the crowd beckoned for an encore, Ian D’sa obliged with the unmistakable opening riff of “Fallen Leaves”, which tumbled into the earthquake rhythms of “Viking Death March” to close the show.

Source: Official Facebook Page

During the set, Kowalewicz thanked the crowd for “continuing to give a s*** about rock music,” which just about sums up how Billy Talent’s set felt. It was a celebration of rock music and those who love it. While a few songs seemed strangely absent from their show, the reasoning made sense; by stripping the set down to nothing but pure, and energetic tracks, they reminded everyone why they travelled to Montebello in the first place: to revel in the music.

Rating: 4.5/5
Show highlights: “Red Flag”, “Viking Death March”