From playing in a garage in a small Californian town to becoming the biggest selling artists on Atlantic Records, it’s fair to say that the last 10 years have been a journey that P.O.D. themselves could not have predicted.
Everyone from the metal magazines to broadsheet newspapers wants a piece of a band who have managed to sell millions of records without a plastic image or headline-grabbing antics, and whose tattoos, dreadlocks and heaviosity of music confuse those whose picture of a Christian is a sandal-wearing freak with a Bible in one hand and a megaphone in the other.
Faced with such attention and superstar status, it would be easy for lesser bands to forget those who put them in that position in the first place. Not so P.O.D. Tonight’s show at The Garage, the aptly-named, low-ceilinged venue that was the first place P.O.D. played in the UK as headliners back in January 2002, is a secret, invitation-only affair for fan club members and scribes, that serves as a thank you and a handy plug for Payable On Death, their forthcoming new album.
Trust us, we’ve heard the album already and it’s awesome. Tonight simply underlines the fact. The likes of Revolution and Change The World showcase the new P.O.D. – a raw but thoroughly modern metal sound with crunching riffs, bruising rhythms, a keen sense of song structure and choruses of the Godzilla-sized variety.
The set is an optimal mix of new and old, but then when every song is a classic it’s not hard for them to sit comfortably alongside each other. Southtown, the infeasibly cathartic moshpit monster Set It Off, the more pensive Youth Of The Nation, the party come-on of Boom and the recent single from The Matrix Reloaded soundtrack, Sleeping Awake, are all delivered with guile and gusto and received by an adoring, word-perfect crowd.
While drummer Wuv, bassist Traa and new guitarist, ex-Living Sacrifice flamethrower Jason Truby, perfectly execute their craft on the tiny stage, vocalist Sonny once again proves himself a frontman and a half. When he’s not whirring around with a look of unsullied glee on his face at the adulation in front of him, he’s practically in the crowd, letting people sing, being held aloft on his back, passing around water and even getting the house lights switched on for some poor unfortunate who’d lost his glasses in the pit. Not bad for a shy kid from Chula Vista…
They finish with the ultimate metal anthem, Alive, and forthcoming single Will You. It’s only been an hour and there’s no encore, but for a free gig in such intimate surroundings, no-one’s complaining. Except it’s not all over. Because the band then go and spend a special half-hour session in the (free) bar afterwards meeting fans and signing autographs.
Could this be the most down-to-earth rock band in the world? Possibly. Could they be the best live band on the planet? Probably. Is P.O.D. the best band on the planet, full stop? Definitely.