LIVE: Deftones / AFI @ Alexandra Palace, London

By Glen Bushell

When watching Deftones on stage at Alexandra Palace it’s strange to think the way they reached their initial popularity in ‘90s. It was a different time back then, and they were considered part of the burgeoning nu-metal movement. Yet, as they careen through ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’, you realise just how far ahead of their peers they were. They have transcended that scene, becoming a unique entity, and still relevant so many years later.

Before Deftones arrive, another special band, AFI, take to the stage. Returning to the UK for the first time in seven years, there’s just as much anticipation about their support slot as there is tonight’s headliners. Launching straight into ‘Girls Not Grey’, AFI are welcomed back with open arms and keep the energy level high for the duration of their set.

In a somewhat unexpected move, they choose to only play two songs from their excellent new album, ‘AFI (The Blood Album)’, with the set leaning heavy on ‘Sing The Sorrow’. Yet ‘Aurelia’ and ‘Snow Cats’ fit perfectly among their older material, even when placed next to their signature anthem, ‘Days Of The Phoenix’. It is a trip down memory lane for many, with a warm sense of nostalgia right through to ‘Miss Murder’, but hopefully when they come back to our shores again they bring some more of their new material to life.

As the lights go down, the screams that Deftones are greeted with are almost deafening. They are soon drowned out by Stephen Carpenter’s colossal riffs through ‘Korea’ that fill the cavernous arena. At first, the sound is a little muddy, with the subtle nuances of Deftones sound unable to break through the wall of noise. That is soon put to bed when Chino Moreno’s vocals soar and wail through ‘Tempest’ and ‘Swerve City’.

In this day and age, you can find a bands set list in a few clicks, but with a catalogue as vast as Deftones, you never really know what you are going to get. That makes every twist and turn of this perfect, and ultimately, more exciting. Their more haunting tracks from ‘Saturday Night Wrist’ are a welcome reprieve from the towering ‘Geometric Headdress’ and ‘Phantom Bride’.

After nearly thirty years of being a band, Moreno still appears moved by the sheer scale of tonight’s show. They are no strangers to crowds of this magnitude, but Deftones are clearly not taking this for granted. Therefore, they give the audience exactly what they want, delivering now classic tracks ‘Change (In The House Of Flies)’, ‘Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)’, and a spine tingling rendition of ‘Passenger’.

Right until the final notes of ‘Back To School (Mini Maggit)’, which is probably the most nostalgic Deftones feel tonight, you get the feeling you have witnessed something special. It brings the band towards the end of the touring cycle for ‘Gore’, and hopefully means they can embark on the next step in their career. No matter how many bands have emulated their sound, there will only ever be one Deftones, and tonight saw them at their very best.