KOKO – 14th Jan 2016
It’s been 15 years since the release of Alien Ant Farm’s ANThology, carving their own niche in the glistening slab of 2001’s Nu Metal scene. Heavy music fans of a certain age no doubt hold fond memories of tuning into the video for their off-kilter version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ on MTV, and while it’s unfortunate that this cover may be their enduring legacy, tonight’s performance is a testament to the band’s original material.
The pervading feeling in the KOKO is that of nostalgia, a feeling only intensified by the presence of alt-metallers InMe. Dave and Greg McPherson’s dual-headed vocal attack verges on operatic, sounding more Bruce Dickinson than the scrappy grunge vocals associated with their earlier output. While their prog-leaning newer material is technically impressive (and a little overwritten) it’s Overgrown Eden hit ‘Firefly’ that delivers, sounding as viciously vulnerable tonight as it did in 2003.
Any show built on the structure of a full-album play through is going to inherit issues from the record release. ANThology is a strong studio effort, hampered by occasional melodrama and filler. It’s lucky, then, that album- and set-opener ‘Courage’ is so explosive. Frontman Dryden Mitchell doesn’t appear to have aged a day and treads the stage with purpose, delivering raw, no-frills thrills. ‘Movies’ is still the high-energy sugar hit it ever was, while ‘Summer’ reveals itself as the melodic highpoint of the night. From here the tone is more inconsistent, with stilted run-throughs of ‘Attitude’ and ‘Stranded’, only rescued from an early defeat by the swaggering muscle of ‘Wish’. AAF demonstrate they are still capable of the quirky ferocity that made them a stand-out at the turn of the millennium, but there is the inescapable feeling that they are keeping something in reserve.
Prime cuts from TruANT make an appearance in the encore, and it is telling that, while ANThology holds a place in the hearts of their fans, it’s their newer material that feels musically superior. As expected ‘Smooth Criminal’ thrums into life to see the night out but is no less gleeful for its predictability; a sentiment that could apply to the entirety of tonight’s show.