DEFTONES. Alexandra Palace, London. 05.05.17
The atmosphere isn’t exactly electric early tonight. Maybe it’s because Deftones are pretty regular visitors to London, or because Ally Pally is literally no one’s idea of a good time, but it might just be because Deftones fans have grown up with the band. No offence to thousands of people politely queuing around the outside of the venue as doors open, but we are old. Sure, it’ll be good to see the California quintet do their unique thing once more, but also, I hope they finish by 11pm so I can try and get a decent night’s sleep.
Of course there’s nothing better for forgetting about being tired, stressed at work, or that bill you have to pay than live music, and when the opening swells of ‘Korea’ come forth from Frank Delgado’s desk, the electricity finally arrives. The sound muddies when the song kicks in (the cavernous Palace, not the band, to blame) but it’s still a brilliant reminder of what this group can do. Chino’s first big scream two-and a-half-minutes in, yelled back at him by almost everyone in the building, cranks things up even more and people that have been dutifully nodding their heads start moving more and singing along.
Sound issues continue for a jarring ‘Elite’, first vocals then drums dominating everything else, but a massive ‘My Own Summer’ rights the ship. It feels a beat slower than on record but sounds huge. It’s the first real singalong of the night too, and seems to stop Chino in his tracks. These dudes must have heard louder crowds before but this is one of the biggest shows their band has ever played in the UK and they take their time to acknowledge how hyped it has them. The band seem to revel in their groove too, locked in to a lush ‘Tempest’, a bouncy ‘Swerve City’ (Chino moving well for a man with a broken foot and the crowd contributing “ooh”s and “ahh”s in a big way), and a rarely-aired ‘Kimdracula’.
Not everything clicks the way it could. ‘Be Quiet and Drive’ is really messy, Stef Carpenter and Abe Cunningham apparently playing different versions of the song at different speeds, and while ‘Geometric Headdress’ and ‘Teething’ are supposed to be deep cut treats representing new and old Deftones, they feel like dead weight. In their place a more lithe track from ‘Gore’ or anything from ‘Adrenaline’ (the only album not drawn from tonight) would’ve been better. ‘Back to School’ is an odd choice for a closer too.
Rare missteps and a constant fight with the venue and its sound system means Deftones can’t get top marks tonight but they easily prove, yet again, they are one of the most original, exciting, electric bands in metal. Me, I’m off to bed to try and get a decent night’s sleep.