I bought tickets for this show the day it was announced some few months ago, and it has been a long anticipated wait of mixed emotions. After seeing Tesseract at Sonisphere earlier this year, where Dan Tompkins made his rather not so triumphant return to the group as the lead man, I was less enthused and more curious as to how, with more time back together, the band would translate into a smaller venue. Apart from that I was worried at how a three piece like animals as leaders, with no bass guitarist to speak of, would fill the soundscape of a venue and keep audiences entertained. Well honestly, I was surprised on both fronts, in fact mostly impressed, or rather satisfied, like an obese banker coming out of a whore house with an all you can eat buffet (they do exist, trust me).
When you go to watch a band like animals as leaders your not particularly going for the atmosphere, or the mosh pits or anything like that, you go to appreciate the musicianship of the individual instrumentalists. You go see a band like animals as leaders to have your mind blown by sheer technical supremacy, because you love the music, you love the complicated details and layering of the song writing and you want to appreciate the speed and proficiency at which Tosin sweeps up and down the fret board as if he’s playing with soap on his fingers. Unfortunately due to some rather peculiar set decisions (possibly by the venue) the band were entirely lit from behind for the first half of the set leaving the audience shielding their eyes in pain rather than appreciating what was happening. Regardless, a flawless set that translated perfectly from album to stage with some extra sauce to go around, including some drum soloing that honestly made me want to curl up in a ball, cry and wish I had never been stupid enough to ever call myself a musician, honestly, what was I thinking!
So after having all my self confidence stripped away from me like an Ethiopian to a drumstick I became progressively more and more excited about the Tesseract set after a mostly confusing conversation with a direly intoxicated man child donned in all Tesseract branded clothing. I wouldn’t say he scared me, but it was definitely uncomfortable. As much as I’d like to bang on about how I was disappointed about them playing mostly songs from the first album, I can’t because I wasn’t. I take that back, it was a good mixture of songs from both albums with Dan adapting and defining the newer tracks to make them his own. The bands overall sound translated a lot more beautifully in a smaller venue. The intricate details of each instrument not being lost in the vastness of an open-air setting like a festival, but rather being focused inside the venue to be appreciated.