Into the Pit: 045: Front Line Assembly – Live in Manchester – 07-July 2007

Last night, in the main, rocked. I got to see probably my favourite band of all for a second time within a year, I got to spend some time catching up with a whole load of people I haven’t seen an awful lot of recently, and the weather was even pretty good for the first time in weeks. No photos, though – I decided to have a night off from that. So anyway, the gig.

Front Line Assembly

Mechanical Cabaret
The Judas Coven

Club Academy, Manchester
07 July 2007

The Judas Coven were the first band on, and perhaps suffered a little in comparison to their debut appearance at Corp a few weeks ago by having a lot more space, and more importantly, a whole lot more light. The light took a little of the atmosphere away, but the set and the songs were no less impressive than last time. The set is now bookended by the best songs – Burn Your Soul‘s needling menace and Fuck Your System‘s rage. The mix was better this time, though, with a clearer and more precise sound that showed off to great effect the really quite unusual techno-industrial sound. As I mentioned before, this really is one to keep an eye on – recorded material when it arrives should be good.

It was a shame, then, that Mechanical Cabaret followed this. Their turgid goth-electro was summed up by their first song: Cheap and Nasty. Being fronted by what looked like a refugee from the Rocky Horror Picture Show didn’t help, and their caterwauling cover of Depeche Mode‘s A Question of Time should be shot at dawn. Avoid.

Thank the lord, then, that Front Line Assembly didn’t let us down. After last year’s storming Infest performance, there was a fear among many of us that they couldn’t possibly match it this time – but they did have a damned good try. The set was effectively the same as last summer, in the main, with a few interesting tweaks. The opening batch of songs was about as perfect an opening as we could hope – the breakbeat mayhem of Buried Alive, the metallic rumble of Vigilante which flowed perfectly into the groove of Liquid Separation (the highlight of the night, frankly), before things were taken deep into the past for Bio-Mechanic. The newer Maniacal sounded far better than it ever did on CD, while really unusual was what I believe (thanks to the people on the mindphaser forums) to be the airing of old B-side Internal Combustion, followed by the evergreen Millenium (did the crossover of industrial and metal ever get better than this? I think not). We were treated to an apparent first-ever airing of Dopamine live, too – which sounded like it needs a bit more work live yet, as it simply doesn’t work particularly well in this format. Unleashed works much better, surprisingly, but was totally eclipsed by the pulverising take on Plasticity that followed it, together with the now-traditional encore pairing of the percussion attack of Gun and the classic Mindphaser, which doesn’t sound like it has aged a day.

What was so refreshing was that the band – and particularly Bill Leeb – still seem to love what they do. There is no feeling of “going through the motions” onstage, there is a good connection with the crowd, and there is no negative attitude at all. Who would have thought it, eh? More than twenty years now and still going strong…

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