Tuesday, 5 October 2010

LIVE REVIEW: BlackDiamondSkye Tour, Madison Square Garden, NYC

If you could pick any three metal bands that check all the boxes, from influential to pioneering-yet-popular to still relevant and beyond, those that make up the ongoing BlackDiamondSkye tour would need  hard shove to dislodge from the overall top spots. 

With the increasingly progressive - and hipster baiting - thrashings of Mastodon, the expansive telo-nu metal of Deftones, and topped off by seminal grunge-laced metallers Alice In Chains, this bill spans the decades to offer something for everyone. 

Unfortunately, what Madison Square Garden offers in grandeur it detracts from with insanely early starts. Mastodon take the stage before the scheduled 7pm show kick off and are long gone by the time we enter, leaving only vague Twitter reports from the sparse, gathering crowd to go by. These range from 'shredding set' to 'drowned out by the size'. Having seen the Atlanta crew in both small clubs and supporting arena acts I'd personally plump for the former as well.

Happily there's plenty of time to settle in for Deftones, a band I grew up with and who continue to blur the boundaries of any genres they choose to inhabit. Initially lumped into the nu-metal scene, the Sacramento group jumped that ship over a decade ago and have been creating vital, forward-thinking metal ever since. With the possible exception of their self-titled blip in 2003, every album has been a triumph of substance over contemporary style and material from each is presented in the all-too-short set this evening. 

Opening with the razor sharp riff of recent newie Rocket Skates, Chino Moreno's silky vocal introduces the band with his signature switch from angelic croon to fierce screech in as good shape as it has ever been. With minimal banter between songs, Deftones let the music (and a decent light show) do the talking from the outset. Around The Fur is unleashed for some old school fury, before classics Be Quiet & Drive (Far Away) and My Own Summer (Shove It) complete a trio of gems from their second album. The latter is offered a particularly rapturous reception, with its raging refrain and scream-along chorus fed back to the band with interest by the assembled masses.


What becomes clear as we move further into the set is just how well the new material stands up - and gels with - the much loved older stuff. Diamond Eyes provides a subtle counterpoint to the fury of My Own Summer, whilst the sultry lines of Sextape segue beautifully with the melancholy of Passenger. It all shows just how vibrantly creative the band still is, as well as how skilled they are at crafting a tight set list. Even minus a key member in the much missed Chi Cheng - currently out of a comatose state but minimally concious after his car crash almost two years prior - Deftones sound immaculate, with ex-Quicksand man Sergio Vega doing a stirling job filling in on bass duties. 


Ending with a dual shot of Adrenaline material, the speed of 7 Words whips up a frenzy before they head off into the night, with the briefest of thank yous to the crowd. Having just been given a master class in contemporary metal, it's all that we require. Although another hour of songs wouldn't have gone amiss, perhaps....always leave them wanting more though, eh?

 Continued tomorrow with Alice In Chains...

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