Into the Pit: 075: Covenant – Live at the Electric Ballroom – 05-April 2009

Arriving late is something of an unfortunate habit, but it doesn’t make too much different if the gig is running somewhat late anyway. But with the delays and then the waiting-an-age-at-the-bar-for-ridiculously-priced-drinks (some things never change, I see), I didn’t get any chance to catch much of Revolution by Night.

This was a bit of a strange gig, really. Neither of the “joint” headliners have anything new to promote, yet – although both bands have new albums due this year – and it was packed, a reminder that both bands still have significant pulling power to bring the punters in.

And for me at least, Mesh were something of a pleasant surprise. I’ve never been a huge fan in the past – and in particular I don’t have fond memories of their Infest appearance from some years back – but something on Sunday night just clicked and I really quite enjoyed their set. Ok, so the sound wasn’t perfect, and the vocals were somewhat flat at points, but the set was a reminder to me that Mesh have so many songs that I know from hearing just about everywhere over the years. Well, that and they still sound at points a little too close to Depeche Mode for comfort at points. Still, highpoint of the set for me was Leave You Nothing, although the energy of Crash was pretty hard not to get swept along with.

The only problem was, Mesh seemed to be onstage for some time, and by the time Covenant came on, it was after 2200 – which suggested that we might end up with a shortened set due to a 2300 curfew.

Covenant setlist

No Man’s Land
If I Would Show You My Soul
The Men
We Stand Alone
Ritual Noise
Like Tears In The Rain

Call The Ships To Port

And so it proved, frustratingly – although this wasn’t the only frustration of the set. Something wasn’t quite right for much of it, with lines being fluffed or simply missed more than a couple of times, some obvious confusion between the band members at points, and again a sound that wasn’t great.

I’m not sure what it could be put down to, either – but one thing the addition of Daniel Myer to the band has done is apparently to make them a lot more “live” than they’ve ever been before, and as a result some songs, including old favourites, gained a rawness and urgency that they perhaps didn’t have before. His influence was also seen in the two new songs played, both of them being sparse, dark electro tracks that bode well for the forthcoming album Modern Ruin.

The first half of the set, that included both of these new songs, didn’t really get the crowd going all that much, even if it did include a storming rework of Stalker and something of a surprise in No Man’s Land (although in retrospect it seems a good fit with the new material). And even if some of the first half of the set seemed rather flat, once The Men had started getting things moving, the band stepped up a gear into We Stand Alone, which was greeted with squeals of delight from the crowd and was a genuinely thrilling “moment”. The momentum was frustratingly not kept up, though, with a botched, messy Ritual Noise and Eskil even fluffing the words to Like Tears In The Rain.

Due to the shortened set, we only got the one track for an encore, but it was worth the whole gig alone. Thankfully, for once, the set didn’t involve Dead Stars or One World One Sky, and instead the closer was Call The Ships To Port. And despite all the fluffed lines and disjointed feel of the rest of the set, everything simply clicked into place for this and the result was an unbelieveable rush, the entire crowd bouncing and singing along, and from the six occasions I’ve seen Covenant live this was the best single track I’ve ever – and will ever – see them perform.

So not the best gig I’ve been to, but I’m still glad I attended. And hopefully the next time I see Covenant live, some of these glitches will be ironed out, and there will still be no Dead Stars.

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