Periphery, The Contortionist & Destrage at The Ritz
Pinballing djent riffs leave the springy Ritz floor quivering
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin
On a still Friday night in Manchester, with a clear, hollow sky blanketing the city, Periphery produced a performance that deftly balanced technical, algebraic musicianship with a heartfelt human touch. It was nasty, and it was fun.
Italy's Destrage, back on our shores for the first time since supporting SikTh in 2015, were a perfectly energetic opening act. They are very much their nation's answer to SikTh in a way and their monstrous riffs made for a great opening chapter to the evening. Despite early sound issues - the drums dominating the mix and nullifying the impetus of the guitars - they churned out some fine prog metal grit. Destroy Create Transform Sublimate married maniac tapping guitar work, clinical precision and a shaking bottom end while closer Purina saw them see out their set with their foot on the gas and the blood of the audience duly pumping.
All that energy, however, was expended during The Contortionist's set. Ethereal landscapes, sprinkled with cannoning, echoic delay and Michael Lessard's impassioned yet often genteel vocals swathed across the venue, yet seemed to lack that killer edge. Their performance was very much cocooned, most members fixated too much upon their instruments or band mates for this to be truly engaging. In truth, it was an uncomfortable watch. But the crowd response, regardless, was feverish and for the Indianapolis band they can consider it a job well done.
Periphery meanwhile, were beyond uplifting. Tight and sizzling performance aside, it was a joy to behold the band interacting with one another like they did. Smiles spread across their faces as they played around and pranked each other, Misha Mansoor and Mark Halcomb especially, two best mates just having a ball. They did all this without ever missing a note.
Their latest record, Periphery III: Select Difficulty understandably dictated the ebb and flow of the set list and the crowd were more than eager to lap it up. Marigolds was scintillating, a song armed to the teeth with musical detail and gigantic vocal hooks, Remain Doors took snarling Meshuggahisms to an anthemic level and Prayer Position tied up astounding, pinballing riffs with Spencer Sotelo's soaring vocal power to leave the springy Ritz floor quivering.
For all their technical invention and eccentricity - every member of this band is enviously good at their instrument - it is their friendly and heartwarming humanity that leaves the biggest impression. You leave the sweaty confines of the venue, stepping out into cool night air, refreshed and happy. You smile, satisfied. Here are five guys living their rockstar dreams and loving every moment of it. Their love, in turn, is wonderfully infectious.