Live Music + Gig Reviews

Incubus @ Wembley Arena, London

19 January 2002

The opening acts of the bill were much hyped newcomers Hoobastank, hailed by some as the next Incubus, and 311 whom Incubus supported at many gigs prior to their success. Hoobastank’s brief appearance was a clear indication that, given time, they may well emulate the success that Incubus have enjoyed. They previewed tracks from their self-titled debut album, including Crawling In The Dark. 311, however, proved that they are well beyond their peak, failing to entertain the crowd. Despite being given a 45-minute slot on stage and displaying songs from their vast back catalogue, it was a “greatest hits” set that was not well received by the audience, even though their delivery was flawless.

By the time the intro to Circles kicked in, the relief from the anticipation of the arrival of Incubus was tangible, and the crowd kicked into life in unison. A surprising choice of opener, Circles set the standard and, as Brandon and the guys continued, there was never any doubt that Incubus were clearly here to impress. Their set seemed deliberately organised to maximise the crowd’s enjoyment, with the opening four songs coming from Morning View and Make Yourself. Any worries of their brilliant debut LP S.C.I.E.N.C.E. being ignored were dispelled when Glass was expertly performed.

A long set was clearly in store as the band tried to conserve the audience’s energy by performing The Warmth, Mexico and Drive consecutively in the middle of their time slot. The emotion and meaning in these songs is visible (should I say audible?) in their recorded format, but nothing betters the experience of seeing them performed live and in all their glory. Whether this is due to air being filled by gas from the lighters held aloft I don’t know. But they certainly had the majority of the (surprisingly for a “rock” gig) girls in the crowd reduced to tears and possibly one or two of the blokes as well.

After this interlude, New Skin was played and the audience, clearly grateful for the mellow break, again woke up, and the floor was once again alive with moshers. Make Yourself and the simply amazing Certain Shade Of Green had the tiring crowd using up their last resources of energy but, as the band left the stage, disappointed faces highlighted the fact the band had forgotten about I Miss You and Pardon Me.

But as the sound of Brandon playing the didgeridoo literally shook Wembley Arena it was evident an encore was in store, which as well as the aforementioned tracks found space for Nebula. As the last strains of Pardon Me echoed into the darkness, the house lights came on and tired bodies could not disguise the faces of astonishment at what had been experienced. Incubus were simply amazing, and it was a privilege to have been there. My only criticism was that there was little interaction between band and audience, although Incubus let their music do the talking, taking us on a ride through three albums and emotional highs and lows. All said, it made the 12 hours of travelling to Wembley and back worth it!

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Incubus @ Wembley Arena, London