Live Music + Gig Reviews

Staind @ Brixton Academy, London

25 August 2003

There are times when objectivity and expectancy goes out the window as a music critic. Take this overcast evening in dilapidated Brixton, where your wily scribe returns to the horror scene which dried his appetite for gig-going. That night, he had the chic tight pants bored off him quicker than a horny rent boy by none other than tonight’s entertainers, Staind.

The omens from past experience, the mellon collie grey of the clouds and droves of theBlink/Papa/Korn/Linkin/Lavigne brigade did not bode well for the night ahead…

After the grating shenanigans of InMe, Staind were a warm flicker of hope for something at least half-decent. On they came – big, rich, squillion-selling Stateside soppers, with Aaron Lewis looking chunkier and still locked in clinical depression. After a meandering throb-a-fuzz bass, electro strum pluck intro, just on cue, the crooooooning arrived on Price to Play. Time totake the pistols and cyanide out…

The reaction was a cheery one from those who had bothered to turn up, with punter numbers barely reaching half capacity – surprising considering last year’s pilgrim exodus to SW9. Perhaps it was the stench of Puddle Of Mudd assupport. Things perked up with Fade as Lewis seemed to loosen up (ever so slightly). An effortless Falling Down was forgotten just as soon as it had faded out.

“This song is dedicated to Layne Staley. Its called ‘Layne,'” uttered the broody frontman. It was an eerie moment as Lewis hit the high notes amid the acoustic scything drone so characteristic of Alice In Chains, with Lewis’ convulsed echoes ringing at the tips with the raspy echelons of Staley’s irrepressible vocals. A genuinely sombre moment, almost like a summoning of dead souls…

Just as it was threatening to go into stage suicide, the band wisely kicked into Open, sending the kids pogoing and the oldies nodding. Epiphany and Outside were on par with testicular cancer-stricken Linkin Park angst. As the radio-hugging It’s Been A While encored, it was a sign that whatever gods or cosmic forces operated, there was at least one and it had the power to bring this dreary night to an end.

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More on Staind
Staind – Chapter V
Staind @ Brixton Academy, London