Deftones - Manchester Apollo - 14.11.10

California’s finest, Deftones, have been around about as long as I have. Formed in 1988 (gasp) and still going strong, tonight’s Manchester gig is just one stop in a UK tour that has been three years in the waiting, and proof if any were needed that Deftones are every bit as vital to the US music scene as they were a decade or more ago. Needless to say, then, we’re all a bit excited.

Unfortunately, we have to witness support act Coheed and Cambria first. I caught about the last half of their set, and, frankly, it bored me to tears. They’re your basic progressive rock ensemble with some emo vocals thrown in, and whilst the music is technically decent, it’s Claudio Sanchez’s occasionally whiny vocals that begin to grate on the nerves a couple of songs in. That said, the rest of the crowd in the nearby area seem to genuinely like them; the majority of them screech along with Sanchez’s lyrics and there are a lot of tedious devil-horns thrown about. Not to my taste, but for some reason Coheed and Cambria go down very well with a lot of people tonight.

At last, then, the wait is over, and for the first time since 2007 Deftones take the stage in Manchester, opening with a barnstorming rendition of ‘Rocket Skates’. And it’s a fair step up, too, as last time round they were performing at the much smaller Manchester Academy. The larger venue arguably works in the band’s favour, given that their songs are absolute anthems, and need to be performed to as many people as humanly possible, as loudly as humanly possible. Tonight, for me at least, it’s really all about Chino Moreno and his remarkable voice. My friend and fellow gig-goer rightly points out that he could sing us the phonebook; and I’d still call it genius. Because Moreno has something which the vast majority of artists around today probably couldn’t even spell; he has charisma. By the bucket-load. His voice has always been completely unique, and tonight he displays the range of his talents, switching from the beautifully harmonic (best heard in the verses of singles ‘Minerva’ and ‘Change (in the House of Flies)’), to the positively throat-shredding chorus of ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’; and Moreno makes it look effortless. He interacts wonderfully with the crowd, impulsively roaming around the stage and occasionally picking up a guitar to join lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter to create a most excellent noise, the Deftones epic staple of loud and distorted with some huge riffs and the occasional hauntingly melodic hook thrown in for good measure.

Like all great set lists, theirs tonight is a combination of greatest hits and songs from the new album, this year’s ‘Diamond Eyes’, which has spawned a number of songs that transfer effortlessly from record to stage. Excerpts from ‘Diamond Eyes’ go down astonishingly well; it’s without a doubt one of the finest releases of the year, and some of the best songs from the album are played tonight, including breathtaking renditions of ‘Prince’, ‘CMND/CTRL’, and (possibly the best of the lot) ‘Sex Tape’. Overall highlights of tonight’s set include ‘Knife Party’, and singles ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’ and an absolutely stunning rendition of ‘Change (in the House of Flies)’, one of the greatest live performances I’ve seen all year that actually sent shivers down my spine. I know it’s a massive cliché, but it genuinely did. As Deftones conclude a triumphant set with three mind-blowing cuts from 1995’s classic ‘Adrenaline’, finishing with ‘7 Words’, the only thing I can think of (aside from the standard “oh-my-God-that-was-the-best-gig-ever”) is how much I want them to come back to the UK as soon as they possibly can, so we can do this all again. Then I rush home to stay up all night listening to the entire Deftones discography. It’s been a successful night.

Ashley West

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