Incubus

support Puggy
author DY date 29/09/07 venue Brixton Academy, London, UK

I grabbed a ticket to the first of three sold-out nights that Incubus was to play at London's Brixton Academy without thinking twice. Despite being my 7th time seeing the band, I'm still drawn to watching the L.A. five-piece display their impressive musical abilities once more. Support came from Puggy, although I arrived to see them walk off the stage thanks to Brixton tube station being closed and having to catch a replacement bus to the venue.

The band entered the stage 15 minutes late at around 9:15pm (which vocalist Brandon Boyd later blamed on guitarist Mike Einziger) to the sound of "Quicksand" the opening track from the band's latest effort "Light Grenades". Straight away you could feel the devotion and passion of the crowd for this band inside the venue, which felt like it was going to explode during next track "A Kiss To Send Us Off". There's absolutely no doubt this band can still pull a crowd as well as ever. Things only got more intense when the band launched into their massive hit "Wish You Were Here" and 5500 eager fans sang back every single lyric to the band.

Unfortunately for me, the band's setlist was pretty predictable. Having seen them play a month earlier in Saratoga, New York and been disappointed at the lack of old material included in the set, I braced myself for the much the same thing, and got exactly that. One can't really complain when a band as huge and popular as Incubus play a setlist consisting mostly of material from their two most popular albums, namely "Morning View" and their aforementioned new release. I mean, there's no doubt that 95% of the crowd went home grinning from ear from ear and this is precisely what the band (and Sony BMG, their label) set out to deliver. Unfortunately for the fans of the band's early work, this means bittersweet feelings as you leave the venue knowing that the band have a back catalogue of awesome material that they are not touching. Of course it's obvious from the start that the band will be playing mostly new material, but I find it hard to understand why more songs from the early albums cannot be included, especially since the radical difference in style between albums would add more diversity to the set. On the positive side, the new songs are still extremely good and the amazing amount of talent within the band is always blatantly obvious whenever they play a show.

So the Californian's continued through their set, playing almost exactly the same songs as when I last saw them. My delight at the inclusion of "Blood On The Ground" (not played in NY) was dampened shortly after when the band decided to play, wait for it, an acoustic, yes acoustic! version of "Redefine". Yes fair enough, they maybe being creative by 'redefining' this song, but the decision to play a softened version of this song just speaks volumes to me about their attitude now towards their shows. I mean, if you're going to play so few old songs, at least play properly the ones you do include for goodness sake. A thrilling performance of "Megalomaniac" and a creative rendition of "Sick Sad Little World" gave the show a much needed burst of energy between the slower ballads that the band now seem to prefer to play.

After closing with "Nice To Know You", the band re-appeared for an encore to surprise the crowd and treat them to "Favourite Things" from the S.C.I.E.N.C.E. record much to the pleasure of yours truly. However, of all the songs on the record, there are certainly others that should have been made priority over this one, namely "A Certain Shade Of Green". The fact that the band thinks they can play a show without including this track is beyond me, it really is. It reminds me of the time I saw The Used when they neglected to play "Maybe Memories", it's just not right. But just as the inclusion of "Clean" straight afterwards sparked thoughts wondering whether the band would turn things around, the atmosphere once again returned to mellow as the band ended their set with "Aqueous Transmission" leaving many surprised faces in the crowd. Given the nature of the setlist, I think it's a great way to close the show with such a beautiful song, but nevertheless I would have preferred a more active set and for the show to go out on a high.

So what would be a fair way to rate the show? Well in terms of the band's actual performance they were in pretty good form - I've seen them in better, but the level of talent is such that even when not at their best they can make many other bands look bad. Sadly though, none of the band members ever strayed too far from their stage positions, not even frontman Boyd, who often looked unexcited to be playing the show. As for the setlist, the fact that they are a major label band playing to a predominantly mainstream audience requires them to play the new songs and catchy singles. But there's no reason not to put in more old songs for the die hard fans in the audience in between them. Plus the title "Light Grenades" from the new album is a storming track that I would have gladly welcomed, yet it was overlooked in favour of more mellow tracks like "Love Hurts". I'm all in favour of bands growing and developing as artists and investigating different styles, but not at the cost of ignoring all that they used to be. Had the band's newer songs not been so impressive, their grade would have been drastically lower, but the disappointment of not hearing classics such as "Vitamin" and "Calgone" is remedied by the inclusion of songs like "Wish You Were Here", "Sick, Sad Little World" and "A Kiss To Send Us Off". Maybe more consideration of the old fans wouldn't be a bad idea next time though.

8
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Setlist:

1. Quicksand

2. A Kiss To Send Us Off

3. Wish You Were Here

4. Anna-Molly

5. Pistola

6. Blood On The Ground

7. Redefine (Acoustic)

8. Love Hurts

9. Drive

10. Megalomaniac

11. Sick Sad Little World

12. Oil And Water

13. Nice To Know You

--Encore--

14. Favorite Things

15. Clean

16. Aqueous Transmission

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