Of Mice & Men
The Mo Club, Southampton, UK - 16/4
author PP date 14/11/06 venue Astoria, London, UK
Tickets to this rare one off Incubus show at as an intimate venue as Astoria understandably sold off within minutes, crashing the most popular ticketing websites as effectively as a virus. Why the tickets cost £23.50 when they usually are closer to £14 at Astoria is a mystery to me, especially when an independent ticketing agency was selling them for £16 each on their website, but probably hundreds of fans were disappointed to find dozens of tickets on ebay within minutes of going on sale, with an outrageous price of £160 for two! These shameless touts were even selling a single ticket for £100 outside the venue, making it largely unaffordable to anyone below the average income range in London. Regardless of these dates, the excitement was evident everywhere inside the venue, that was steaming hot already an hour and a half before Incubus were set to take the stage. No support was needed tonight as it was a special 'fans only' night, where everyone would know the lyrics to every song and not just the singles which is what you would get when Incubus usually plays on the arena-sized venues around Europe.
So we were all supposedly in for a treat. The new album hadn't leaked yet before the show, and this was to be their only European show before next year. The stage was set, or so to say, for a night full of Incubus classics ranging from "S.C.I.E.N.C.E" era all the way up to "A Crow Left To The Murder", with a likely minimum show length to be two hours. But none of this applied today. What were Boyd & co thinking when they only played one song from "S.C.I.E.N.C.E", and that son't wasn't "A Certain Shade Of Green", "Redefine" or "Vitamin"? Instead they opted out to play the much less known "Nebula", which I admit was one of the highlights of the show with Boyd's hands making hilly/wavy movements while his whisperous vocals followed the guitar scale up and down spot on from the original recording. But even this was not enough to save the show from a near disaster on the Incubus scale.
In fact, the show started off on the wrong foot already as the band chose to play "A Kiss To Send Us Off" to open their set, a new song which not a single member of the audience had heard before. A common rule of thumb is never to start your show with a new song, unless it is the new single rotating on their Myspace or the album has leaked. As neither were the case, people were left standing still trying to figure out what to think of the new material. It did, however, cause the floor to bend down due to the jumps as it was a heavier song, but still clearly artistic, as if a logical continuation of "A Crow Left Of The Murder". Together with the other two unreleasd new songs (excluding the single Anna Molly), the new material sounded groovy and slightly heavier than ACLOTM tracks but not remarkably, and certainly nothing like "S.C.I.E.N.C.E" or even "Make Yourself". It is of course hard to tell from the first listen, as these are likely to be tracks you need to absorb like all of "ACLOTM" was.
Otherwise the show got off to a good start with "Wish You Were Here", "Sick Sad Little World" and "Have You Ever" all fitting into the first third, causing intense sweating and dehydration within the crowd. From here on, though, the band made a huge mistake. They played "Mexico", and nobody in the crowd liked it. We didn't come here to watch you stand there with your acoustic guitar and subtle drumming playing a ballad. Hell no. We all came here in the hopes of catching some of our all time favorite Incubus classics like "A Certain Shade Of Green" or "Circles", perhaps for the last time ever as these are songs that were soon written a decade ago. This seemed to be the consensus of the audience as well, and even the moderately popular "Drive" didn't light up the crowd. It certainly didn't help that the band was probably at their loosest I've ever seen them on stage, let alone on record. They were a shadow of their tight shows on the "Morning View" tour or even "A Crow Left Of The Murder" tour, and many songs sounded far worse than on record, not because of the sound quality but because the passion you can hear on tracks like "Pistola" just wasn't there tonight. Instead, the band opted out on sonic experimentation, improvising many of the instrumental, guitar-only and effect-laden sessions especially on the "ACLOTM" songs- as if to show off their instrumental ability. "Sick Sad Little World" though was saved from much of this, and the incredible instrumental experimentation on record was spot on note by note live as well.
I'm sure many of the fans tonight including myself left the show with a bad taste in their mouth when they finished 10:30, half an hour earlier than our initial expectations, and at the same time missed out on songs like "Circles", "New Skin", "11am" and countless other classics that could've replaced the slow songs tonight, that frankly should have had no place on a one-off show like this. They should have saved them for the "Light Grenades" world tour impending upon us, where they'll be playing in front of a much more mainstream crowd than this. At least they didn't exchange "Pardon Me" with the cheezy "Are You In".
1. A Kiss To Send Us Off (new song)
2. Wish You Were Here
3. Anna Molly (new song)
5. Sick Sad Little World
6. Have You Ever
10. Talk Shows On Mute
11. Nice To Know You
12. Rogues (new song)
14. The Warmth
16. A Crow Left Of The Murder
17. Pardon Me