Papa Roach : London WC2 Mean Fiddler

So - on first listen at least - this doesn't live up to anticipation...

“I miss this more than anything in the world,” confesses the Artist Formerly Known As Coby Dick as his band return to live shows. He’s clearly not the only one. This audience – crowd-surfing before the band appear – are obviously feeling it too. Besides, this is no ordinary gig – these intimate surroundings are hosting the European live debut of Papa Roach‘s forthcoming album, ‘lovehatetragedy’. Anticipation isn’t so much rife, as mandatory.

So while there are old songs to be played – ‘Between Angels And Insects’ is still a crunching, disaffected singalong, ‘Broken Home’ thunders with familial rage, and ‘Last Resort’ is ripped through in cataclysmically populist style – tonight is really about the new ones. Reassuringly, ‘Born With Nothing, Die With Everything’ and funk-heavy new single ‘She Loves Me Not’ could slip neatly onto ‘Infest’, while ‘Sid’ has the impressive bone-snap riffs you’d expect from something named after one of Slipknot.

But while hyper-heavy rap-tinged dysfunction brought them this far, much of their second album heads back to basics. As a means of escaping the increasingly-ubiquitous nu-metal orthodoxy, it’s a savvy move but, for ‘Time & Time Again’, ‘Life Like A Bullet’ and ‘lovehatetragedy’ itself, it simply doesn’t work. Instead these are boringly straightahead rock songs, prone to aimless meandering, wanton tunelessness and the newly-renamed Jacoby Shaddix’ unconvincing attempts at singing rather than just emote.

So – on first listen at least – this doesn’t live up to anticipation. Having ditched the Dick, Papa Roach also seem to have got rid of more than simply their singer’s snappy pseudonym.

Jim Alexander