Thursday, November 18, 2010
DEFTONES: THE PANTS MAY BE TIGHTER BUT THE BEARD REMAINS THE SAME
Photos © Lauren Keogh
Brixton Academy, 17 November
Claudio Sanchez’ hair is just as crazy in person. So’s his helium-laced voice. And so’s his fucking band! Coheed and Cambria go on early – damn early! Needless to say, pushing my way to the front isn’t a problem.
At the back, everyone orders beer in Deftones shirts and hoodies, pretty much oblivious to the New York progressive rock band tearing it up on stage. Near the front, a small group of dedicated disciples sings along, hands raised, fists punching the air. And Coheed and Cambria slam it right back in their mesmerised faces.
Halfway through, Sanchez puts on a hair-band and all of a sudden the dude has a face, as Coheed kick into “A Favor House Atlantic,” Sanchez’ vocals a perfect match of the recorded version.
Bull-necked guitarist Travis Stever’s back-and-forth guitar and vocal duels with Sanchez set the stage alight, despite the modest-looking setup, minimum crowd attention, lack of any kind of backdrop and short time slot.
And from the mystical Keywork symbol on Stever’s Les Paul, to Sanchez’ twin-headed SG and the sheer theatrics of it all, there’s an old-fashioned, Led Zeppelin, rock ‘n roll groove to Coheed’s swagger. Albeit, buried under reams of comic books and modern sweeteners. But surely the word “progressive” suggests leading somewhere, towards something?
Unlike their contemporaries, Deftones have aged fucking well – distancing themselves from the red cap, Adidas and Puma revolution with a less cartoon sort of ambiguity. Even a song as old as “My Own Summer” sounds fresh and just as relevant today as it did 13 years ago.
Rooted to the ground like Treebeard, swinging a shroud of almost knee-length black hair around, guitarist Stephen Carpenter is 100% metalhead. Frontman Chino Moreno is Deftones’ modern, genre-crossing face.
Last time I saw a photo of Moreno, he looked like a fat Mexican kid with Urkel glasses and knee-high white socks. Now, on stage, he looks lean and hungry, jumping from speakers, falling into the crowd and shooting his screams, squeals and knife-edge melodies around the room. The pants may be tighter, but the beard remains the same.
By the end, it feels like Coheed and Cambria played the night before. Basking in the crowd’s collective energy, Deftones’ set goes on forever. They stomp through all the classics, most of the new album, most of White Pony… They pretty much play everything!
“7 Words” is an epic end to a battling, one-hour-and-30-minute set. The crowd doesn’t even ask for another encore. They’ve seen enough. Brixton Academy heaves a collective sigh and exhales…
One Love for Chi