Atari Teenage Riot - Moho Live Manchester - 21.11.10

Here’s why tonight’s Atari Teenage Riot gig was probably the best show I’ve ever been to – I mauled Alec Empire, partially hugged Nic Endo and high-fived CX KiDTRONiK, I got to scream “ACTIVATE!!” down the latter’s microphone, and, most importantly, it was a faultless performance from perhaps the most exciting band around right now; one that has been a favourite of mine for about eight years.

ATR are ably supported at Moho firstly by Flesh Eating Foundation, a group of scary-looking Assemblage 23 sound-alikes (that is most definitely a compliment, by the way) whose industrial electronic noise is accompanied by two guys in disturbing masks throwing rolled-up tinfoil at each other. It sounds silly, yes, but their music is actually fantastic, highlighted by their closing song, ‘Join Us’. Definitely one to watch. The same story goes for The Ladder, who are tonight’s second support band, and they are unbelievably fun. I doubt very much that that is their intention, but nonetheless the three-piece make absolutely fantastic tunes to dance like a fool to. Powering through a mix of techno, industrial and EBM sounds with a combination of angsty, emotionally-charged vocals and growls, The Ladder could have time-travelled straight out of the eighties to land smack bang in the centre of Manchester in 2010. And Manchester needs more bands like this.

To be honest, both supports are more or less completely disregarded as soon as the lights are dimmed and Atari Teenage Riot’s instrumental intro kicks in. The atmosphere tonight is palpable, genuinely intense, before the group even take to the stage; it’s as if the entire venue is waiting for something absolutely phenomenal. And Alec Empire, Nic Endo and KiDTRONiK, the recently reformed band’s latest (and, dare I say it, finest) lineup, do not disappoint. From the moment the trio kick off with a blistering rendition of their newest single ‘Activate’ it is clear that this is going to be something special. Armed with a back-catalogue of digital hardcore anthems made to whip an audience into an absolute frenzy, Atari Teenage Riot do not stop roaming the stage throughout their set, leaning into a near-hysterical crowd. Playing such an eclectic mix of speedcore, breakcore, loads of other ‘cores’, metal and punk - sampling ludicrously heavy guitar riffs and drum beats played at often break-neck speed - works incredibly well in Atari Teenage Riot’s favour; dedicated to equality, vehemently anti-fascist, and encouraging uprising against the injustices of the world, they are absolute firebrands, belting out their unique politically-charged lyrics to an audience who appear to be loving every second of it.

Tonight ATR’s entire set is a highlight, making it incredibly difficult to pick out the finer moments. However, I will say that the frenetic ‘Into the Death’, an incredibly energetic run through of the amazing ‘Midijunkies’ and the ever-popular ‘Speed’ were amongst my favourites played. Alec Empire and Nic Endo are ATR and digital hardcore veterans, and Alec in particular has produced more flawless albums than perhaps any other artist around right now, so needless to say both their performances are impeccable. Comparatively new MC CX KiDTRONiK is a superb addition to the collective; any musician who can deliver lyrics at that pace and with such consistent flair deserves your attention, and I for one hope that he sticks around in this current incarnation of ATR for as long as they are playing shows and releasing records.

After leaving a besotted crowd hanging on for what seems like forever before returning to the stage to play a stunning encore, consisting of the glorious ‘Revolution Action’ and ‘Start the Riot’, the tornado personified that is Atari Teenage Riot exits Moho Live amidst a droning wall of electronic noise, leaving a dazed Manchester crowd partially deaf, sweaty and still wanting more from a band even more vital now than they were in their original format, way back in the early nineties. Continuing the ATR legacy, their newest album is due for release some time next year, and if the ‘Activate’ single is anything to go by, it’s going to be an absolute blinder, up there with previous iconic albums ’60 Second Wipe Out’ and ‘The Future of War’. So powerful an impression do Atari Teenage Riot leave that they have a few devotees in the front row literally bowing down to them. Now if that doesn’t tell you just how much you need to get into Alec Empire and co, then I don’t know what does.

Ashley West


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