As AFI play to a fairly full SECC in Glasgow, you have to wonder whether they have been away for too long. Everything on stage sounds great. The Blood Album is their best album in a long time and songs like ‘So Beneath You’ manage to fill the cavernous room. Davey Havok’s voice is untouchable and as he roars through ’17 Burials’ it feels like they should be laying waste to the place. So, why does no one care? Most of the crowd are stood still, watching respectfully but with as much passion as an atheist who has been roped into Sunday service. It’s been eight years since AFI were in the UK and you worry that people have simply stopped caring. What you’re watching on stage suggests that this band can still be a big deal and ‘Miss Murder’ perks people up, but judging by Glasgow, they’ve got a way to go before the UK is back on side.
It’s not a problem that Deftones have. If you could steal a band’s career and make it your own, then you could do a lot worse than go for tonight’s headliners. In the 29 years since they formed and the 22 since they released Adrenaline, they have been the unwavering arrow of authenticity. Never selling out and never releasing anything that you could declare to be truly crap. They are artistic integrity come to life and judging by this show, they might actually be getting better.
For this, this is how you do live music. You could turn all the sound off and play the light show, and most people would go home happy. Then again, you’d be missing out on something truly special. ‘Feiticeria’ kicks things off before Steph Carpenter drops the first of many incredible riffs as they drive into ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’. Not even Chino’s awful dancing can take away from how perfect that moment is.
Deftones have always been a push and pull band. The push of Chino’s soaring vocals and the pull of Steph’s heavy guitar. In the live environment, those two elements work even better than on record. At times, like the opening of ‘Rosemary’, you could be watching Pink Floyd, as the lights encase Chino and his voice floats across the arena. Then Steph comes thundering back as Chino screams, and you are back at the metal show. A gloriously unhinged ‘Rocket Skates’ shows it better than anything as the band are unchained and left to unpick the song and put it back together.
There are so many highlights here that you could go through song by song and not speak a negative. ‘Swerve City’ has more bounce than a two-year-old on Christmas day and ‘You’ve Seen The Butcher’ is delivered with a swagger. Meanwhile, ‘Diamond Eyes’ sees the light show hits its peak, and it combines with the music to leave you starry-eyed. The huge chorus of ‘Digital Bath’ only pales in comparison to the huge everything of ‘Change (In The House Of Flies)’.
It says it all that after twenty-two songs you walk out of a Deftones show and think of what else they could have played. For one thing, Gore is given the very short end of the stick with only ‘Phantom Bride’ finding a spot on the setlist. While it’s not their best work, it’s still a good album, and it’s strange to find it relegated to the sidelines so quickly. However, it is churlish to complain, for, on this form, Deftones could fart into a collection of kazoos for a couple of hours and still be better than most. This is a band playing on top form, and even with the lack of new material, they feel as alive and relevant today as they did the first time you heard them. Thank fuck for the motherfucking Deftones.