Hello and welcome to HorrorAddicts.net music reviews! This is Jeffrey Kohld Kelly.
Today we are going to do something a little bit different; rather than reviewing a new release I’m going to do a review of the Manchester date of the Freakangel & Neonsol show featuring Advance. This tour was courtesy of Beat:Cancer, a UK-based nonprofit organization doing their part to help find a cure through means of concert tours and compilation CDs, with additional support from Analoguetrash and DWA Records. As a newcomer to the UK, this was my first Beat:Cancer performance, and I was floored by the immense support the audience and musicians had for the cause and for each other. But more on Beat:Cancer later; for now I’ll get to the bands.
The first performer of the night was Advance, a Scotland-based “Dystopian Electronica” band with a beautiful combination of both intelligent and danceable synth lines. Their music was nearly reminiscent of genre veterans CHROM and Neuroticfish, but with a wholly unique approach. Their live sound was even more full and professional sounding than their recorded material, which may be in part due to the fact that their most recent album was released 3 years ago and they’ve grown more as producers over the years. Their live show, while somewhat lacking in energy on stage, seemed to provoke the most energy in the crowd. Between industrial dancing and singing along to more than half of the songs, it was clear that Advance had already made quite an impact in the Manchester area previously. Tom’s vocals exceeded his skill demonstrated in the album while live synthesizers provided by his accomplice Kimberley added just enough push to the mix to drive forwards and deliver more to the live show than could be accomplished in a studio record. Advance’s charismatic and dynamic live performance was actually my favourite of the night, and I would highly recommend everybody else to be sitting on the edge of their seats just as much as me to catch their highly anticipated and long-time-coming new album.
The first co-headliner was the Danish/Canadian synthpop act Neonsol, a band iconic for their songbird-style female vocals paired with the deep and brooding vocals of their male vocalist and live synth player. Despite the high number of Neonsol shirts circulating the audience, they didn’t immediately receive quite the same positive response as Advance. I can’t help but feel that most of this initial hesitation held by the audience and myself was due in part to the performance of their live drummer. While they may have had reasons for having him along, I found him to be almost an extraneous member as he only played a midi snare drum, and hit less than half of the songs’ snare strikes. What made me most concerned was the fact that throughout more than the first half of their set he was playing severely out of time with the backing tracks and sampled drum beats, causing the entire live show to feel out of time and sit awkwardly. These tempo issues may have been in part due to live stage monitor levels being a bit low; any band will tell you how frustrating and common this issue is. But whatever the case, I felt it took far longer than necessary for me to be able to properly sink into their performance and experience it how it was meant to be. However, when the band found the pocket they were looking for, the performance quality increased drastically and created the dark and moody swaying pulse they’re known for. Their song Manipulation was, of course, the show-seller accentuated live by the rumbling voice of their male vocalist’s backing vocals. The stark contrast in sounds is and was implemented in a lovely way, and any fan of synth-driven music should find Neonsol at the top of their record collection.
Finally Freakangel took the stage. The Estonian industrial metal band has gone through quite a bit of genre evolution over the years, moving from harsh aggrotech to a significantly more metal-driven and hardcore or even metalcore-influenced combination. The live show delivered far more on the metal front than the studio albums, Art’s guitars receiving significantly more of a central focus, topped by an incredible and energetic performance by their new Amazon warrior of a live drummer. The vocal performance did seem to suffer somewhat compared to the album versions of songs, Dmitri mumbling or moaning the lyrics between guttural screams rather than a powerful vocal delivery throughout; while he may have been trying to convey a certain vibe to the audience through this type of performance, I can’t help but think that the show itself would have been stronger as a whole had all members shown just as much energy. Curiously enough, despite being the main headliner of the night, a surprising amount of the audience moved to the back for their performance. This may have been in part because of the stiff genre divide in the night, starting with synthpop and ending in death growls. It’s possible that most of the people who came simply weren’t metalheads and had come to see Advance and Neonsol. Whatever the case, those of us who stayed at the front had a fantastic time and I hope that Freakangel will continue to deliver such high energy performances throughout the rest of their career.
For those of you who would like to know more about Beat:Cancer you can find information at the link provided below. Even if you’re not based in the UK you can support the cause by ordering merchandise or a copy of their latest compilation CD featuring the artists who performed at this show as well as many others. For those in the UK you can catch the next Beat:Cancer tour featuring Sirus throughout the UK this October!
For HorrorAddicts.net this is Jeffrey Kohld Kelly.