Deftones at Brixton Academy live review

'Deftones are in a frivolous, dare I say it, fun mood tonight'

Photographer: Nick James ClarkChris Swindells on 26 February 2021

It's not like Deftones have been away long but the appetite for tonight's Brixton show is like a rapacious sailer, reaching shore for the first time in months and sitting to dine, shake the scurvy and feast on the food of life.

For starters Three Trapped Tigers are a tasty musical triad, an instrumental offering that sits somewhere between Battles and Meshuggah on that sliding scale of brutality and beauty. Drummer Adam Betts is clearly the backbone of the piece and his rhythmic yet furious outbursts are reminder of the real wildlife held captive in this trio.

Letlive. follow and break with the sound of the starting pistol, ballistic projectiles that traverse each inch the stage. Frontman Jason Aalon Butler crawls, flicking, in spasm across the floor, looking like something between the outline of a rock god and a cartoon character. Whatever is possessing him tonight it's not vocal diligence as he struggles for both extremes in the battle between growling scream and melodic chorus. Still as one guys says looking on when the band exit stage left: "that was better than Rob Zombie."

'Diamond Eyes' is an apropos opening for Deftones, the title track and opener of an album in 2010 that began a reverse of fortunes for Deftones. Whilst stuck with personal tragedy, just months after bassist Chi Cheng was left in coma from a serious a car crash, the band rallied together and produced their most accomplished record since 2001's 'White Pony'. Having followed 'Diamond Eyes' with another critical success, 'Koi No Yokan', this show has more than just mild overtones of a celebration in victory.

'Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)' and 'My Own Summer (Shove It)' take it all right back to the beginning, full of fuzz and that adolescent fury they formerly did so well. By the midway mark the band move to 'Sextape', 'Tempest' and 'Entombed', new examples of Deftones enjoying the fresh and much needed sonic nuances on their recent return to form. This not only allows the crowd to step back for a minute but the lighting team to take the minimalist look up a notch, drapping the stage in a flood of colours as wide and vivid as the rainbow.

The change of tone is not irreversible though and just as they've slowed it down they wind things back up again, with 'Head Up' and 'Bloody Cape', the latter dedicated to missing man Chi Cheng. Frontman Chino Moreno seems in the best shape in years, he takes minutes to go out in the crowd, chatting between songs and sharing his shopping plans. "Topman?" He says, "More like Topboy. No man goes in there."

Between sips of apple juice he confesses to feeling a little under the weather but if true it's hardly showing tonight. The band look in an almost frivolous, dare I say it, fun mood tonight.

The setlist is notable for its casualties, 'Saturday Night Wrist' for one remains absent and their troubled self-titled only sees one picking. Their 1995 debut 'Adrenaline' has a late reprise for the encore with 'Engine No. 9' and '7 Words' doing damage, by which time all is satisfied and the hunger fed.


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