DEFTONES. Royal Festival Hall, London. 20.06.18
It shouldn’t be surprising at this point. But the riffs, the rhythms, and the way the air seems to fill with electricity when the music first starts tonight make one thing shockingly clear all over again- Deftones are one of the best bands on the planet.
Back in London and playing an upmarket theatre by invitation of Robert Smith and Meltdown Festival, the California quintet seem to revel in the uniqueness of the event all night. The Royal Festival Hall has a little rock’n’roll pedigree but there’s comfy seats, a rooftop bar and a smooth pinot noir available by the carafe and so Chino smiles like a naughty child when, within seconds of ‘Feiceteira’ roaring into life, the crowd abandon their drinks and rush to stand in front of the stage. He beams for a different reason when those in the crowd that have done their homework power through a ramshackle ‘Happy Birthday’ in his honour, and then there’s the setlist. You expect to hear certain songs when seeing Deftones but alongside ‘Be Quiet and Drive’ and ‘Sextape’, tonight they dust off bona fide rarities like ‘Battle Axe’, played live for the first time in a decade, and a sleazy, smoky, speaker-shredding cover of The Cure’s ‘If Only Tonight We Could Sleep’.
The band continue to celebrate 18 years since the release of ‘White Pony’ (“It’s old enough to go to the club now”, exclaims Chino) with a version of ‘Digital Bath’ that’s somehow both beautiful and fucking huge, ‘Swerve City’ and ‘You’ve Seen the Butcher’ encourage shape-throwing rarely seen at metal shows, perhaps only at other Deftones shows, and ‘Rocket Skates’ is a rager, given an even spiker, shredding sound than on record. There’s no ‘Hexagram’ or ‘Passenger’ or ‘Bored’ but the show feels total and complete. It’s just another mark of Deftones’ greatness- they could have played every night this week, a different set every night, and each would have been as outstanding as the last.
They do play ‘Around the Fur’ and then lights go down and most of the band exit stage right but Stef staying put means the pause fools no one and they soon return, finishing for real with a massive ‘Minerva’ and a rare outing of ‘Birthmark’. And then they’re gone, for real, the people in front of them that were supposed to be sat now stood up and sweaty and wanting much much more.
What. A. Band.