Alien Ant Farm @ Club Academy
The Dirty Youth started off proceedings with their foot-stomping, female-fronted rock antics and they went down a treat with the early birds. Riling up the crowd with their rock/synth songs, their style was perfectly suited for a Friday night at Club Academy. The simple riffs and occasional solos worked really well alongside Danni Monroe’s powerful vocals, but the technical aspects of the performance left a lot to be desired, especially with Dave McPherson and InMe hitting the stage straight after.
InMe took to the stage with the frantic opening riff of Saccharine Arcadia, showing exactly where their evolution has led them over the past two decades. Greg, Gazz, Si and Dave were all on point, even if Dave openly admitted to nursing a hangover at 9pm. They mixed their set up with a variation of cult classics and new iterations, but sadly were not able to plunge into the depths of their illustrious catalogue like they would have if they were headlining a show.
Myths & Photographs, Reverie Shores, Ivory Elder and Legacy may not be well known with the typical Kerrang! viewer, but they are fantastic examples of how a band can develop their abilities and overcome adversity.
The passion and ability shown by the McPherson brothers was astounding considering their most popular hits are Faster The Chase and Firefly. Looking beyond these simple [yet highly appreciated] singles from early on in the band’s career, you unearth a tech band with a real drive for making diverse technical metal with harmonic overtones. It’s as though the addition of Greg McPherson ten years ago transformed the band from a simplified post-grunge rock band into a melodic prog war machine. Add to that mix Gazz Marlow and InMe have the ability to create additional guitar licks that were previously unreachable. This draws two types of appreciation. The fans of the early sing-along material, and fans of the technical aspects of their music. This conflicting idea could be why they’ve never reached the heights of their original success. With each gig they play, they are turning nostalgic fans onto a life of prog rock, and that’s not a bad thing.
Alien Ant Farm released their first studio album 15 years ago. They called it ANThology. To date it’s their most successful record, so when they came to Manchester to perform it in its entirety, the sold out crowd knew exactly what to expect before a single note was played. Rightly, the crowd knew when to create carnage, and when to settle down and it was really satisfying to know, as it created a bigger connection with the band. Dryden Mitchell was very vocal on the fact it was a Friday night, imploring the crowd to make the security earn their keep. The reciprocation began as soon as AAF dropped ‘Movies’ as havoc ensued and it only stopped for the breather during tracks like Attitude and Happy Death Day, where the tempo slowed down and the locals got their energy back.
The encore turned away from ANThology where Alien Ant Farm could showcase a couple of their songs from TruANT, Glow and These Days, before ultimately finishing off the night with everyone’s favourite Michael Jackson cover Smooth Criminal. It was a riotous 90-minute event in a sweat stained mosh pit, and upon reflection, the play through of an album in a live environment is a great way to interact with fans. Love the album, and you’ll love the live show. It pays great homage to cassette tapes where you begin to predict the next tune based on the amount of playtime that tape had. The knowledge of knowing what comes next is a great feeling to have, but it begs the question; what comes next for Alien Ant Farm?
Words: Tom Blackwell | Photos: Wendy Keogh