Review: Billy Talent

5 out of 10: Reading, Sunday, 2.10pm. We did get to see the most original hairstyle in punk.

Stage: Reading, Main stage

Time: Sunday, 2.10pm

Dress code: On singer Benjamin Kowalewicz: black jeans, no shirt, badly laid-out tattoos. On guitarist Ian D'Sa: the most original head of hair in punk - a mix between Elvis's quiff and Kid from Kid 'N Play's hi-top fade.

In summary: Nice of the Reading organisers to balance out all the hot Canadian indie bands here - Arcade Fire, Tokyo Police Club, Hot Hot Heat - with Toronto's Billy Talent, a "screamo" band that wipes out the Great White North's cool quotient in a matter of a song or two. This is paint-by-numbers mainstream punk, with little memorable musically and dull, nominally rebellious lyrics such as "Our only hope is the minds of kids ... our only weapons are the guns of youth".

It's not entirely a yawn: Kowalewicz is an unintentionally entertaining frontman, with a comically high-pitched screech of a voice and a penchant for awkwardly shouted stage banter. "It's very important on a day like this to watch out for each other!" he cautions the crowd, who seem in no danger of going out of control compared to the hyped-up Hadouken! audience. "And gentlemen, you take care of the ladies in the audience - protect them!"

Lest you find yourself charmed by this chivalry and politesse, he does later tells the audience that he loves ladies with their "tits hanging out" and dedicates The Ex to his ex "aka bitchface fucking cunt". This is what we call trying too hard.

Highlight: Try Honesty from their self-titled debut - an oldie, but a goodie. OK, so they do have a fist-pumping song or two in their arsenal ...

Talking point: What was Kowalewicz signalling when he threw a water bottle at his own giant Billy Talent banner?

Better than: Sum 41.

Worse than: Avril Lavigne.

What they'll be up to this time next year: Well, they're big in Germany, so hopefully something over there.

Mark out of 10: 5


Kelly Nestruck

The GuardianTramp

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