Incubus @ o2 Academy 4th September, 2018

After a mix up at the box office, I finally make it in to the near-capacity venue illustrating how popular Incubus are.

The vast numbers of fans mean ridiculous queues at the bar let alone limited places to be able to see the stage unless you are over six foot, so you will have to bear with me as I had a restricted view of onstage escapades.

Ecca Vandal were the support tonight.

Incubus take their places promptly at 9pm launching their 90 minute set with Privilege, the opener from their first commercially successful album Make Yourself. The band have always experimented with samples by having a permanent DJ as a member, and for this version of Privilege, Incubus have used a segment of Panjabi MC’s epic track Mundian To Bach Ke which adds another vibe to the song.

Lead singer, Brandon Boyd, takes centre stage whilst drummer, Jose Pasillas, breaks with tradition and has his kit set up sideways meaning he is facing DJ Kilmore rather than the audience. Anna Molly sees the charismatic Boyd connect wholeheartedly with the enthusiastic viewers encouraging them to clap along throughout the song before addressing them with a simple “hello, nice to see you” whilst bathed in red light.

The crescendo during the introduction to Megalomaniac causes an increase in crowd volume as Incubus unleash one of their most commercially successful tracks. You gain a sense that the band have considered their set list carefully, planting particular crowd pleasers at key points with Megalomaniac being one and Circles being another. The advanced lighting system that justify the wealth of trucks outside the venue, come into play during State Of The Art with various lasers and images of blooming lotus flowers dominating the screens which in many ways feel an unnecessary requirement as Incubus can hold an audience’s attention without the need for elaborate visuals.

The transition from A Kiss To Send Us Off to State Of The Art illustrate the band’s ability to switch between a heavier alt-metal sound to a song with a slower pace and more melodious sensibilities. This is possibly at the heart of Incubus’ continuing popularity. Being stood under the balcony makes it tricky to get a true sense of the full force of the band’s sound and this becomes more evident during Circles. The bass of Ben Kenny should power through your body as it kicks in during the introduction however I am left missing this force but those fortunate enough to be in the middle or on the balcony appear to be feeling the strength.

The precise drumming is a key element to the Incubus sound as it’s accuracy needs to be in line with the various samples and electronica that are used, demonstrated perfectly with the beginning of Absolution Calling taken from the Trust Fall (Side A) EP and its finale when they segue seamlessly into a cover of Wicked Game by Chris Isaak.

The set includes various salutes towards other artists for example a glimpse of Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice in Are You In? and a nod to Pink Floyd during Wish You Were Here, yet Wicked Game is the only cover played in its entirety and unfortunately, Boyd’s more than competent rendition loses the darkness of the original as Brandon’s superb vocal skills have a purity about them which don’t translate to this particular song.

The main set draws to a close with Are You In? and Wish You Were Here that see most of the crowd singing along with the positive upbeat lyrics that are so prominent in Incubus’ work and have been a unique aspect, when others in similar genres have tended towards the negative. The three song encore begins with the more laid back Punch Drunk that portrays the meticulous nature of the vocal harmonies produced by Boyd and Kenny as Brandon holds poses that accentuate his fine physique which he has always happily exposed. Incubus’ most successful single, Drive, is next in the encore with its catchy refrain supported by a hip hop beat and an awesome guitar solo effortlessly played by Mike Einziger who has provided dynamic sound throughout in an understated manner.

The tempo is increased for the final song of the evening, A Crow Left Of The Murder, which allows those at the front one last burst of energy before the distortion engrosses the stage as the band exit. Incubus are a mighty fine collective of musicians whose performance is refined and faultless, unfortunately, the venue layout made it nigh on impossible to fully appreciate the visual or aural experience so I was left feeling rather emotionally cold by the whole event.

Reviewer: Toni Woodward

Photographer: Andy Watson

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *