After enduring a wait outside the venue in the cold and rain for what felt like forever, the doors to The Box finally opened but unfortunately things didn’t really pick up from there when openers Dirty Vertebrae (3/10) began their set. The style of their music seemed quirky for the sake of being quirky, playing a mixture of reggae, rap and rock, and whilst you could certainly say that they were unique, they didn’t use their style to their advantage because each song sounded identical to one another and there was no variation from song to song. In addition, the performance was rather two dimensional and it was difficult to maintain interest throughout. They had potential, but ultimately they just didn’t deliver on the night.
Thankfully, things picked up when Neonfly (9/10) took to the stage. When a band puts a tonne of passion into what they do, it really adds a lot to the performance and Neonfly had passion by the bagload. Their movement about the stage was top notch, with a lot of interaction between all the members, and you could really see how much fun they were having, which was really great to witness. The band members clearly have tight bonds with one another and it really added a lot to the performance.
Frontman Willy was a real live wire, who worked hard at interacting with crowd members and was really good at what he did, making the audience laugh and treating everyone in the room as if they were his friends as he entertained and spoke to the room between songs. Musically, the band were on top form and the two new songs in their set sounded on an entirely different level to their older stuff, having a bit more of a symphonic edge to them – and if those two songs are anything to go by, the new album is going to be a monster. It was a largely great set and you could really see how they’d progressed from the last time I’d seen them live with Sonata Arctica.
It was then time for headliners Machinae Supremacy (6/10) to get their set underway but it almost felt like a letdown as they came onstage and began to perform. The small crowd was definitely into it and the band was musically together but it didn’t feel like a proper performance; the band members just seemed to be playing through the songs and not putting on a show at times, especially when compared to a band as involved as Neonfly. At times there was some movement, with Robert occasionally getting up on the drum riser and some headbanging from the guitarists from time-to-time but that was largely it, and the crowd-interaction seemed a little stunted.
The set as a whole was good and some of the song combinations worked magnificently – Indiscriminate Murder Is Counter being followed by Force Feedback was awesome because the songs complemented each other and flowed well from one to the other. The set also drew from the band’s latest album Phantom Shadow and it was great to hear The Villain Of This Story and The Second One in a live setting.
Closing their ‘main’ set with Beyond Good And Evil, it can definitely be said that the Machinae Supremacy went down a storm, but it did feel like a weaker performance from them nevertheless. Whilst on CD Machinae Supremacy can barely be faulted, out of headliner and support, Neonfly was the band that was more on top of their live game.
(Sadly, due to the late running of the night, we were unable to catch the encore as we had to catch the last train home just after midnight – which was clearly not an isolated problem, as other gig goers were having to leave as the set progressed.)