It’s been a long time since Failure has come to London but it’s even been longer since the general public has heard of them. The recently reformed 90’s alt rock band has never gained the respect they so rightly deserve from the public while bands they influenced reaped the product of the seeds they had sown. It can be argued that bands from Tool to the Deftones owe some degree of gratitude to Failure for their ability to write wonderfully catchy bittersweet melodies and mix it with a certain dose of heaviness without going into any metal territory. The alt rock tag was rightly deserved for this trio since their influence put them in a league of their own but it also made them difficult to market. Now, eleven years after Fantastic planet, the three remaining musicians (with Kelli Scott on drums and no Troy Van Leuween (A Perfect Circle) on second guitar) are here to please their old school fans and maybe make some new ones.
Apparently the opening band featured Wes Borland (from none other than Limp Bizkit) but it’s best to ignore their names from this review considering how painful it was to listen to. I admit that I was here to see Failure, and everything else would probably had sounded dull to my ears.
However, the star of the show do not enter the stage right away. Once the lights are turned of, a long intro starts playing. First, it’s an extract from a monologue in a foreign language (I’d say German but I’m probably wrong), followed by the intro of The Spy who loved me with Roger Moore. Once Bond’s parachute opens to reveal an English flag the crowd sheers and we get treated to a modified version of the opening where the band’s silhouette have been added. It should be a fitting moment for Failure to come onstage but instead we are treated to a few minutes of a Ren and Stimpy episode where the duo is in space before the movie cuts to the movie Fantastic planet by René Laloux. A more than fitting transition for Failure to come onstage and start rocking.
The show starts with the first song they released from their upcoming album. Hot traveler definitely sounds like a future classic but the crowd still does not the word and welcomes it more politely than warmly. It takes them four more to finally hear people sing along loudly to Saturday saviour, one of the band’s most memorable songs too. After that, each songs is welcomed like the classic they are. Undone is followed by Stuck on you, one of the highest point of the show, and everything finally falls into place. The song was perfect from the start, as was the performance, but it reaches stratospheric level of quality when the pre-recorded riffs from Stuck on you rings in everybody’s hears to the displeasure of no one since you would have to be mad to deny the quality of this song.
A new song called Macaque then starts with a piano intro à la Paul McCartney melody but quickly moves to a more familiar territory with it’s new wave influenced melody. Similarly, Mulholland drive from the same crowd funded album offers the kind of rock Failure has accustomed us to but that still sounds like nobody else. All four new songs played tonight gave hope for a great new album even if none of the chorus immediately stuck out as being as memorable as some of the most classic tunes Failure has written. It is impossible to deny that Failure has come back in fine form as Ken Andrews‘ voice reproduce successfully every inflection found on record while the backing vocals of Greg Edwards perfectly completes him. Same goes for the other instruments, particularly the bass whose loud and metallic tone gives the guitar a darker edge. The drum performance is also notable thanks to the loud hit Kelli Scott produces every time his drum sticks hit the skins. As a Failure fan, nothing could be more perfect.
The first part of the shows is concluded after twelve songs but the band thankfully comes back for three more, including the classic The nurse who loved me. Two other songs from Fantastic planet follows, Smoking umbrellas and Daylight, but that means that no songs from Comfort will have been performed tonight, which is a shame. Even if the band came into it’s own on Magnified, the mix of Quicksand and Helmet found on this first album still make it sound like a classic record. Nonetheless, the set was most pleasant and after a little more than hour and half everybody can feel satisfied of finally having witness the kind of shows every Failure fan deserves to see once in their life. The band promises to come back soon before finally leaving the stage and it will be a pleasure to see them again after such a perfect performance. It remains to be seen if Failure can be more popular in 2015 than in 1995 but for the people who have followed them until now it does not matter what year it is as their songs remains timeless.