London Brixton Academy

This is big, studiously passionate music...

Is it possible to stagedive with sensitivity? That’s the question The Deftones posed at Brixton Academy, at their first British gig for two years. Lead by the tense, posing figure of Chino Moreno – resplendent in jacket, tie and baggy trousers that kept exposing his bumcrack – the Sacramento five-piece prove that nu-metal could be just as powerful without the masks, props and spooky theatrics of Korn and Slipknot.

The Deftones flaunt their earnestness, then, whilst their competitors are busy providing a kind of goth panto. And whilst it’s a relatively subtle approach, it’s no less calculating. This is big, studiously passionate music honed for superdomes and stadia, a brilliant mix of churning riffs and high, howling angst from Moreno.

The expectation in metal circles is that The Deftones are about to become one of the biggest bands – of any genre – in the world, but tonight’s show was, in effect, an awesome gesture of consolidation. Much of the set’s drawn from their last album, ‘Around The Fur’, notably the opening salvo of ‘Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)’ and ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’. The more melodic and impressive tunes from the soon-to-be-released ‘White Pony’ – an album that sets a new standard for the genre – are thinner on the ground. Nevertheless, it’s these songs – the bloodied but soaring likes of ‘Digital Bath’, ‘Street Carp’ and ‘Knife Party’ – that are the highlights of a no-frills, bullshit-free show. Effectively, The Deftones are subverting the idea of metal in 2000 in much the same way as Smashing Pumpkins did nearly a decade ago. You might not quite believe in Chino Moreno‘s pain, but it’s hard to resist his punch.