Deftones @ SSE Wembley Arena, London - 03/06/2016

by EdwardClibbens
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on 08 June 2016 in Live
Rating 8/10

Deftones are unique in that they’re the only band to have truly survived and outgrown nu-metal. Linkin Park have got progressively worse, System of a Down have reformed but offered nothing new and the rest have just vanished off the face of the earth. Deftones on the other hand have, for the most part, gone from strength to strength. After a mid-career crisis in the form of Saturday Night Wrist, their last three albums have been a triumphant return to form, in spite of the death of former bassist Chi Cheng after years in a coma. Whilst their sound has developed subtly, keeping them in touch with the times, they’ve retained the signature style that their fans initially fell in love with.

As a live band, Deftones have always been a tricky one. If you trawl through YouTube clips of them at various festivals over the years, they often sound average; occasionally appalling. Their combination of wildly down-tuned guitars and vocals that push the limits of the human voice to all possible extremes, leaves little room for error. Actually experiencing them live however is a very different experience.

When you’re there in person and subject to the sheer power and noise of the songs, it’s impossible not to be totally engrossed. With the aid of ample amounts of reverb and limitless energy, Chino Moreno is an irresistible frontman. Either that, or I’ve been lucky enough to only catch his voice on good days. As he bounds around the stage, regularly using the monitors as a ramp to elevate himself above his bandmates, he consistently remains the focus of attention. If you didn’t know any better, you would think this was the same carefree Chino who screamed his way onto the scene twenty-one years ago.

Tonight’s set at a relatively full Wembley Arena is split evenly across their eight studio albums, with surprisingly few numbers from their brilliant new record, Gore. The opening trio of ‘Rocket Skates’, ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’ and ‘Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)’ is completely ruined by the terrible sound that seems to accompany sitting at the back left corner of the arena. After a swift relocation to sit directly facing the stage, the sound issues are a thing of the past. Albeit having had three of the best songs of the night ruined. Disappointment aside, it’s extremely hard to fault the rest of the performance. Deftones are the masters of melding the brutal and beautiful. Combining bludgeoning guitars with an unlikely knack for melody. The best examples of this are ‘You’ve Seen The Butcher’ and ‘Diamond Eyes’. The former in particular combines some of Chino’s most harrowing screeches and one of his most restrained choruses. It’s a real standout moment amongst the better know hits.

However, the two most exhilarating numbers of the evening come during the encore as the band close out with ‘Root’ and ‘Engine No.9’ from their primitive debut album, Adreneline. Although completely at odds with the more refined material that they now base their shows around, it’s always a treat to hear the band let loose and return to where it all started. Though these songs are nothing more than a few simple riffs and a man screaming some indecipherable nonsense, they make for a thrilling ride. Chino working in the lyrics from Cyprus Hill’s ‘If I Could Just Kill A Man’ to the ever aggressive ‘Engine No. 9’ makes for the perfect ending.

In all honesty, people who don’t previously like Deftones, or who aren’t familiar with the lion’s share of their songs, probably aren’t going to have much fun seeing them live. For those of us who absolutely love them though, it’s a treat to watch a band this far into their career having so much fun and refusing to rest on their laurels.


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