Last night Converge stormed into London's sold-out Scala venue to do what they do best – break people. We sent Beez along for the ride...
Jacob Bannon Is Still The Consummate Showman
For the uninitiated, Converge may carry the sound of a rhino being mashed up in a blender but in Jacob Bannon they have one of the most enigmatic and charismatic frontmen treading the boards anywhere. His theatrical take on leading his band is mesmerising, whether he’s stomping the stage like he’s trying to put his foot through it, clinging to the mic like he’s the world’s most intense crooner or thrusting his hand to the sky like he’s shooting beams of light out of his palms (think Iron Man), his flamboyance gives a certain level of showmanship to one of the most ferocious life shows in music.
The Musicianship On Display Is On A Different Plane
Seeing Converge in the flesh is one of the most exciting things in music. Period. In the same way you can be mesmerised by Tool or Meshuggah or The Dillinger Escape Plan, watching the players in Converge in full flight is as impressive as live music gets. Ben Koller verges on the superhuman and is one of the best drummers on the planet, Kurt Ballou is a one man ferocity machine (that one guitar can make THAT much racket is astounding), glued together by the pummelling bass style of Nate Newton and Bannon’s powerful yet fragile vocal delivery verges on the biblical. Without any of these elements, Converge would be a lesser proposition but as a unit, they are unstoppable.
Converge Lose Something In Bigger Venues
Yeah, yeah. Nobody wants to be that guy. Nobody wants to say anything negative about a band quite rightly reaching a bigger audience and getting their just desserts but the white hot feeling of danger and chaos that comes with the very best hardcore shows gets lost in a bigger room. Their expansive numbers like Grim Heart/Black Rose work just fine but when their heads are down and they’re firing on all cylinders, that brand of frantic hardcore is better suited to a venue where you could get a roundhouse kick to the face from any angle.
The Setlist Was Immaculate
Having reached the stage where their last five albums have been as perfect as hardcore can get, Converge can play as hard as any band you care to mention for a full hour and the setlist never leaves you with time to head to the bar. They never venture prior to Jane Doe and they never let up the level of quality of material on show. I mean, Aimless Arrow into Dark Horse goes so hard it ought to be illegal. It borders on the impossible to fail when you have this many great songs. It’s the kind of display that makes you want to listen to nothing but their discography for the next week.
**Check Out Martyrdöd **
Sounding somewhere between Cult Of Luna and Kvelertak with Phil Taylor’s thunderous drumming motoring the engine (SRSLY), Martyrdöd make a hell of an impression opening tonight. Heavy but intricate, rock and roll yet compelling, don’t leave it any longer before checking them out. The perfect warm up to a stunning night of music.