Alien Ant Farm have had a turbulent two years, with frontman Dryden Mitchell fracturing his neck in a serious car accident, and they are welcomed onto stage by an extra loud cheer from the faithful.
They launch into opener 1000 days, which is received as well as can be expected considering the new album was released here the previous day. This is quickly followed by live favorite, Movies, during which the crowd show slightly more excitement, partly due to bassist Tye Zamora’s unrelenting efforts to stir the mob, complete with amusing face contortions, robotic dance moves and falsetto backing vocals.
Wearing his signature horn rimmed glasses, woolly hat and striped shirt, Mitchell wails away note perfect through three more tracks from the second album. One highlight is an interesting dub reggae ballad, providing an opportunity for Mike Cosgrove to display his versatility on the drums.
However it is the first album that the crowd know, and the first album that they want to hear. They get their wish, with Attitude and Misunderstanding which are churned out well, but with little more than a smile from Dryden.
It soon becomes clear that there is one song in particular that the majority of the teeny bopper crowd are here to see, and they know they are being made to wait for it. So, after the mental SS. Recognise and the not so strong Sarah, Mitchell asks the audience if they would “like to hear a song by the white Micheal Jackson, or the lovely Sade?”
After some confusion on stage as to whether the band will play either song, the opening notes of Smooth Operator are stuck out by Terry Corso, and it becomes clear to the crowd that this is not the Jackson hit they have been waiting for. Never the less, it is an impressive cover, which falls on the bemused crowd.
While the band turn the outro of Smooth Operator into a funk jam, the buzz throughout the mean fiddler is an audible “it MUST be next!!” and indeed it is, from Tye’s opening “Oww” through the impressively played but far too quiet guitar solo, and into the last chorus, it is as if the audience have suddenly come alive.
They may have tried their best, but the fact remains that if bands could copyright their ‘sound’ then the boys in Alien Ant Farm would eternally be paying royalties to Incubus, who they imitate perfectly. From the sound of tonight’s new material the band are doing precious little to dispel these accusations, but they do play a darn good Michael Jackson song.