With only two bands on a bill that should be playing host to at least four, a sense of underwhelmed apathy can be felt throughout London’s Mean Fiddler on this cold February evening.
Hoping to fire up the crowd are the somewhat unique Breed 77. Returning to European stages following a year spent writing a new album, the flamenco-drenched tones of the Gibraltan quintet are greeted by more than subdued fashion in only the first three rows of the crowd, which happens to contain adoring, barely pubescent punters.
To be fair, given the way Breed 77 blast through the splendid World On Fire and Breaking The Silence, the blame for the crowd’s lacklustre response should not be thrown solely at their feet – feet, incidentally, which appear to spend more time in the air than in contact with the stage as all band members, bar drummer Pete Chichone, incessantly pogo about the stage.
With Ill Niño frontman Christian Machado having ruined the band’s performance at Download 2004 with his pathetic drunken afternoon performance, there are more than a few fans waiting to be won back by this evening’s set and, as the strobe lighting provides a backdrop for their entrance to This Is War, things get off to a truly smashing start.
Tub-thumper Dave Chavarri wields his twirling sticks like batons of steel through God Save Us, and former Machine Head strummer Ahrue Luster takes every opportunity to swing his axe around his flailing personage through Turns To Gray.
Meanwhile, subsequent tracks such as Corazon Of Mine – like Turns To Gray, taken from the latest opus One Nation Underground – really bring the band’s sound into its own, raining down upon the audience with pounds more punch and veracity than on record.
“Classic” slices of nu-metal follow in the shape of How Can I live and What Comes Around, which receive a hearty welcome from the criminally small pit, although a mid-set impromptu “spot that riff” jam between Ahrue and Dave kills any mood in the room and appears to amount to little more than a band’s in-joke.
Repetitive rambling between songs quickly grates and it is clear that Christian’s talents lie in his vocals rather than his speeches. Having said that, the shamefully blatant drenching of the choruses with effects gives him far too much of a Cher-Believe edge this evening.
Overall, tonight’s gig is an average one, with flashes of inspiration that are all too brief. Partway through the set, Ill Niño rant about their disapproval of the current “trends” in the metal world, particularly towards “metalcore”. However, in a world of ebb and flow, perhaps the Latino-tinged outfit need to push their creative boat out a little further in order to secure their future in the sea-ne (ouch).