As a result of an early deviation for food first, I missed both Action Directe and Uberbyte – of which both sets I’ve heard many good things about. My excuse for missing them? I hadn’t eaten all day, really, and I seriously needed that meal!
Anyway, I was happily settled in the venue in good time for Modulate: who, it appears, at present can do no wrong. This is the fourth time I’ve seen them live, and each time has been better than the last. So what made this one better? For starters, everything is even more polished than before. The neat symmetry and look of the band onstage makes for a professional appearance, and another different setlist (my understanding is that each live gig has has been changed in terms of songs and running order), which is great – it certainly helps to ensure that the crowd may not get jaded by hearing the same songs each time, particularly as a lot of the crowd here attended the gig in Sheffield at the beginning of May.
Once again a new song opened the set, not that it bothered the masses, who were already dancing away, while one of the other new tracks, Bass Alert [I’m sure I’ve got this the right way ’round!] is a storming track that I’m damned certain is yet another to slay the dancefloor in future. While much of the new material sticks to the tried and tested formula in the main (stomping beats, well-placed samples, almost impossible not to dance to etc), the other new track aired, Raising Lucifer moved towards the realms of breakbeat to great effect. I’m not sure everyone approved, maybe it needs to be played more to win them over.
Surprise of the night came when Sami from Faderhead jumped onstage to do the vocals to Modulate’s rework of Dirtygrrrls Dirtybois, which predictably enough went down a storm, and was probably the highlight of the night. Otherwise, the rest of the usual suspects in the set were aired, concluding (as appears to be the norm now) with Revolution, which still kicks ass. And so where from here? The only way is up, surely. They are consistently blowing every other act they play alongside offstage (even when the other acts are very good indeed, as happened here), and bigger headline shows are surely only a matter of time.
Muv Your Dolly
Cuttin’ and Drinkin’
Control I’m Here
The Art of Revenge
So how could XP8 follow that? Despite a thinning of the crowd – I think partly due to “last trains/buses” for a number of people – I’d say they did a pretty good job. As noted in my review of recent album The Art of Revenge, much has changed in the XP8 camp of late and this live show only proved this even more. In the main, out has gone the old material, replaced by a heavy emphasis on the much harder-hitting, and frankly better new material. Almost all of the new material teems with energy and cracking tunes, with the wonderfully catchy Download Me opening the show in style. Of the few older tracks played, Flatline was undoubtably the highlight – much-changed from the (IMHO) weak album version, it had Marco bouncing all over the stage and the crowd following suit on the dancefloor. Bizarrely, Juggernaut wasn’t the dancefloor monster that I thought it could well be in the live environment – but then, it’s slow opening meant that it took a little momentum from the set and perhaps would be better suited as the set opener? Old track Cuttin’ and Drinkin’ flowed seamlessly into a short rendition of the Nitzer Ebb classic Control I’m Here (rather than a full track, more just a throwaway snippet – and no complaints from me!).
The best tracks were of course saved for last, Eklypse was surprisingly even better in it’s live format, while Ready2Go was nearly leaving tracks of fire behind it they surged through what remains XP8’s best track. Apparently not to everyone’s taste – and from comments I’ve read elsewhere some people prefer the “old” XP8 – I thought that they were a solid live band that is clearly very confident in the power of their new material, and their sheer enthusiasm did seem to rub off on the crowd in getting them going. A shame a number missed the set or the latter part at least by leaving early – this was top-notch stuff.