When the news broke that Deftones was returning to Singapore shores that they once glorified, it is somewhat an appealing decision for them to play for us on a bigger stage. The response from Deftones’ loyal fanbase was nothing short of ecstatic. Not that we should ignore the huge contribution made by the enigmatic Chino Moreno and his men over the years, but there was an undeniable sense that this influential metal band is now finally going to deal with some unfinished business with their Koi Yo Nokan Tour while paying tribute to the passing of their late bassist, Chi Cheng. The irresistible blend of heaviness and rough but dexterous alternative metal and of course, giving themselves a shot at getting back on track creatively with their recent album Koi No Yokan, the band was ready to define their emotionally charged melodies at the Coliseum.
It seemed that Deftones wasn’t giving second chances to latecomers as they soared onto the stage on time, with their commanding opening track “Diamond Eyes” as guitars and drums combine in a sublime storm of precision. “Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)” and “My Own Summer (Shove It)” allowed us to witness frontman Chino fearlessly ripping open his chest to ensure that we can see every beat of his heart. That was maximum conviction as he made us fall in love with Deftones all over again. He was jumping all over the place, from unstoppable grooves of “Lhabia” to merciless blastbeats of “Knife Party” and back again, pumping the crowd with his tireless showmanship. So far, so glorious.
But many bands sneakily frontload their albums to mask a lack of top notch material, so is that the case with Deftones? Hell no. The quality exhibited on Koi No Yokan more than matches that of every album they’ve produced. Songs like “Rosemary”, “Entombed”, and “Poltergeist” were fucking colossal live, and as the choruses kicked in for every song mentioned, they massively enhanced the energy levels of the crowd. Chino being forever restless, lives up to his name being the perfect frontman for Deftones to break the speed limit as “Tempest” and “Swerve City” made our heads bounce much harder than before. He was spitting along with fresh bassist Sergio and breathing self-affirmation while Chino tried to balance himself on huge grounded speakers in front of him. We all speak their language and it really doesn’t matter where you come from because Deftones are musically universal. They are pretty much everything in between, involving ‘bash to the wall’ anthems and a solid sound system that somehow I felt Frank Delgado, the dude with the turntables and samples, deserved full attention.
Something clearly flipped their switch when “You’ve Seen The Butcher” was being played and if you’re particularly fond of their older material, this will very quickly become one of your favourite live songs. Chino went wild and there was no-nonsense from him as he threw the mic stand at the backdrop behind him and reminded us how brutal Deftones can be. It was such a formidable reputation that they’ve planted a few tiny circle pits as “Sextape” ensued. There’s something so electric and so goddamn human about the music that comes out when these five men stand on the same stage together. They did what they do best, capturing the spirit of rock and metal in its most natural form. Well, that’s the purpose of live music.
At the very heart of the band, fundaments laid by drummer Abe Cunningham eclipsed any notion that drummers are there to simply keep time. In fact, “Feiticeira” and “Digital Bath” were enough to clinch the imaginative vision of Abe. Two very different vibes with the lack of restraint and breathing space making for a much more hard-hitting listen somehow. Chino began interacting the mad crowd with authority by this time as he swerved to his right, singing gracefully whilst standing on one of the pillars at the side. It’s not hard to see why there were video recordings all over his face. “Elite” however, left you begging to recite those words “When you’re ripe, you’ll bleed out of control” over and over again. It surely had a good thing going as its pounding hooks that straddle hypnotic choruses made Stephen Carpenter’s hair float. Nevermind his slick guitar movements, his angelic hair unleashed a fury of its own. The underside of rock, I guess!
As Chino’s vocals were back in full force, his pronunciation of every word is melodic. His howling and mighty roars flourish in “Elite”, however “Change (In The House of Flies)” expressed a careful melody that pushed their style beyond the metal territory. Pure eargasm nevertheless, as the band raised the bar even higher with “Engine No. 9” to end their intense theme of positivity. Vicious and irresistibly headbang-worthy, it practically bleeds adrenaline till the last note. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the band was truer to playing music rather than talking in between songs.
There are better ways to use up one and a half hours of your time by not removing any goodwill there might have been. Encore was right, definitely right, as Deftones brought their bittersweet blend back onto the scene with “Bored”, “Root”, and “7 Words” as they guaranteed to send shivers down the spine for their final push. This will be the real feast for the ears as the dudes have the skills to make it. The difference is that both my heart and mind are engaged throughout, as I was rocking harder and better than ever before. Awesome will be the result. Missing the gig was never an option. Tight performance, but missing that full-blown crowd occupying every space in between that The Coliseum usually tends to have. Kudos to LAMC, though!