First Published in The Ocelot Magazine March 2013 edition as “Modestep Live at the O2 Academy”
OK, maybe it was unfair for me to pick this as a review gig. I am no lover of, or expert on this type of music. But, in my album reviews recently I had said I felt that the groups songs would probably work better live, so I thought I ought to prove my theory one way or the other.
I really thought I was going to be a bit of a fish out of water at this one, so it was with some trepidation I entered the downstairs arena of the O2, and was pleasantly surprised to find a crowd not dissimilar to a festival. However, that is where familiarity ended as although the sweat running down the walls was nothing new, the incredible bass noises and stripped to the waist dancers was. In fact, one of the first things I saw was a cup of water being moved across a table by an invisible force of bass, which was impressive. Sadly the support were so anonymous and bland I have forgotten even what they were called so will move on to the main event
Headliners Modestep certainly had some frenetic and passionate support, based on the handful of singles already released. There was lots of arm waving, jumping up and down and shouting from the stage mimicked by the heaving mass in front of it. There was also a lot more thumping bass frequencies (I found myself more interested in how this made my teeth buzz than the actual tunes), partially recognisable samples and odd noises and they do play with a live drummer and guitars, going for that rock cross-over that Pendulum popularised. And on a positive note the atmosphere was mega. The band worked the crowd relentlessly and reasonably successfully. However, it did all feel very staged and rehearsed. And whilst more enjoyable than listening to the album on your own through headphones on a damp January morning, as a live experience it was somewhat flat, sounding like a carbon copy of the recordings, with added shouting. Which is my biggest issue with this kind of music live, it has no soul to it, there is no feeling of excitement as you marvel at the skills of the musicians, and no surprises as they chuck in a different version of a favourite, or go off on a wild jam together. But, I am sure if this is your thing it was an amazing night, so don’t read too much into the mildly prejudiced musical views of a cantankerous old Gig Monkey!