O2 Apollo Manchester – 6 May 2017
I first saw Deftones way back in my home town of Belfast on the Around The Fur tour way back in the nineties . On that occasion they provided a hot, sweaty, and powerful show in a tiny club. That particular show is still much-discussed in N. Ireland metal circles today. Our paths then didn’t cross for many years until last summer when I saw them lay siege to a main stage set at the Download Festival on a wet and windy day. Not being too familiar with their latter-day material I still enjoyed their performance. Tonight, they would be tackling a medium sized indoor venue in outer Manchester. I was lucky enough to catch up with vocalist Chino for a quick chat outside the venue before the show. The ravages of time had dictated that I would not be joining the youthful moshers downstairs, but rather viewing the proceedings from the more reserved inner circle of the balcony. While it may have been slightly lacking in terms of sweat and audience bonding it compensated well with a clearer visibility and better sound.
Support AFI used to possess a catchy kid-friendly pop punk sort of vibe. The band that I witnessed as Deftones support however, appeared uncomfortable and mismatched with the headliners. Apart from a few die hard American fans who I had met pre-show they largely met with indifference from an audience that really were just not interested. Despite visually giving their all in terms of energy their set failed to connect with me on any level at all and left me and the majority of the audience heading for an early refreshment or merch buying break.
On to the main course of the evening and it was quite clear that the venue was close to capacity as the Deftones hit the stage powerfully opening with a double salvo of heaviness in the shape of “Feiticeria” and “My Own Summer (Shove It)” quickly showing that despite the injury that had caused the band to cancel one show there would indeed be no let up from the energetic frontman. Deftones have long escaped the restrictive shackles of the nu metal label that was once hung around their necks. Subsequent album releases have seen the band musically dipping into a wide and varied soundscape of styles and influences. The latest album Gore again further pushes the bar musically which renders them totally beyond any form of labeling. That album is selectively represented in the set and it’s to the band’s eternal credit that all the newer numbers receive the same fanatical reception as their older classics and anthems.
Energy levels didn’t seem to dip at all throughout the band’s set with even tracks that come across as slightly more mellow on record retaining a sharper clinical edge when played to a live audience. I was actually quite glad that I had chosen the more aerial view of the show from the balcony. Overseeing a quivering mass of bouncing, crowd surfing and vibrant youths helped to allow me to step back and view the show with a different insight. It wasn’t that I felt detached from what was going on but rather that I was able to view it inwards and from a different perspective. The show was entertaining, heavy and engaging. I almost wish however at points during it that I would have been able to throw off the shackles of age and one again be a part of the performance from the stage barrier! Deftones showed no sign of being a victim to the ravages of time-I only wish that I could have said the same.