Review by Paul Castles Photos by Helen Moss
Ill Niño may not have been whipping things up in recent years quite like they did at the height of their nu metal adulation but they are starting to return to something approaching their best. That, coupled with their reputation as a devastating live act, ensured a good turnout at the Academy2 to welcome them back to Birmingham.
Unfortunately the early door time meant there was only a scattering of fans for local boys Malandra. Undeterred, the Brummie hardcore metalheads delivered a short but brutal set with impassioned singer Karlos stirring memories of another Midlands frontman, Barney from Napalm Death.
Fhobi, like the night’s headliners, have their roots in latin America and they also wasted no time in slamming straight into things with the singer sporting commando –type warpaint across his face. Fhobi have some great hooks but the singer was lucky he didn’t find himself hanging from one such was his enthusiasm for leaping off the amps.
This tour had originally been planned with Shadows Fall on the bill and for me stand-ins Sacred Mother Tongue were no substitute. They did not really sit well among the other acts although the majority of the crowd still gave them a fair reception.
The Northampton boys covered a few tracks from new album Out of the Darkness and while they were bright and breezy they just weren’t heavy or aggressive enough for this observer.
A word with the tour manager earlier in the evening had revealed that the only bottles being downed in the Ill Niño dressing room contained lucozade and assorted medicines. An unfortunate and ironic setback on the Epidemia tour, named after their sixth and most recent album. Epidemia does of course translate to epidemic and the early signs were that the virus running through the camp had even penetrated the equipment as Machado’s first mic refused to respond, as did a hastily grabbed second. By the time the third mic woke up Ill Niño were already well into ‘If You Still Hate Me’ which was followed by ‘God Save Us’ both from their 2001 debut Revolution/Revoluciõn album.
With Ill Niño now performing with something approaching the venom and velocity of the hurricane from which they took their name, ‘Te Amo I Hate You’ from Confession maintained the pulverizing pace with Machado switching from his native Brazilian to English.
Their South American heritage runs through all they do with percussion maestro Daniel Couto switching from traditional drums to bongos at various points throughout the set. Dreads are never in short supply when Ill Niño are on stage and once the band kicked into the heavier numbers the stage resembled a mini Babylon with cats tails flying in all directions.
Machado is a magnificent frontman and his call to ‘fuck this place up’ drew the desired response as the pit went into overdrive after the flamenco style intro to the rousing ‘Nothing’s Clear’.
Machado does have a softer side as when using his fine natural singing voice on new track ‘Eva’.
After the storming parting shot of fans’ favourite ‘The Alibi of Tyrants’, mohicaned drummer Dave Chavarri and percussion wizard Couto returned to the stage to engage in a frenetic mini duel with both men pounding the skins with power and precision.
Closing number ‘Liar’ featured a seventh person squeezed onto the Academy stage with Machado inviting Ryan Walton of Leicester band Spirytus to share the vocals in a crushing climax.
If this is Ill Niño under the weather, God help us if they are fighting fit when they return to the Midlands.
Photos by Helen Moss, ABSTRACT photo