DEFTONES. Electric Ballroom, London. 12.10.06

Ok so tonight didn’t start in the best of ways. While waiting to get into this very special ‘secret’ show at the Electric Ballroom, 600 Deftones fans were witness to the best of London’s nightlife. A fight between drunken thugs armed with combat knives and broken bottles spilled into the queue and minutes later a dog attack added to the fun. The atmosphere was… a little tense.

Inside the venue things are much better. There is no support act tonight so nothing to pass the time until Chino and Co. arrive except sweaty-browed trepidation and vein-filling excitement. If you’ve read any music magazine or website at all this year you’ll be familiar with the Deftones’ patchy live record. Sometimes they’re sloppy, looking stoned and bored they have a tendency to mull around with songs until they sound like awful impersonations of the band everyone knows they can be. But sometimes they’re glorious, carving their tunes out of rock and flaying through them like cannon fire. Tonight they lean towards the latter. Tonight, Deftones are flawless.

‘Knife Party’ is a horribly relevant opener but it sounds extraordinary. To see this band this close is marvellous but to hear the way they play is even better. Stef is attacking his guitar, Abe and Chi are rifling through the ‘Tones inventive rhythms and Chino is singing, like an angel, with proper words and everything. This, in industry terms, is known as playing an absolute blinder.

They play a rare ‘Boy’s Republic’, a version of ‘Around The Fur’ that puts goosebumps on goosebumps and, at what was rumoured to be a show booked to work out any kinks in the new material, they play only two newies. One in the rousing, raring shape of ‘Hole In The Earth’ and another with a magnetic run through ‘Beware’. They play ‘Elite’, ‘Lifter’ and then a stunning version of ‘Seven Words’ with the whole Ballroom singing along. And then you look at your watch and an hour has gone by but it only feels like fifteen minutes. And if a part of you isn’t moved by tonight’s titanic version of ‘Change’ then you’re dead inside. Yes even you shirtless macho boys in the pit.

The band finish with ‘RX Queen’, an oddly quiet choice for such an intense occasion but then it’s difficult to decide what they should have played. This group have got such a perfect back catalogue, now one album bigger, that they could have played three more sets and each would have been just as sweet as this one. Book your seats for next year's proper tour now.

The Deftones then, officially better than street crime, dog fights and nearly every other modern rock band on the face of the earth.

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