Review by Sophie Maughan, photos by Mark Lloyd
Now, the life of a music journo is always one of uncertainty when it comes to press accreditation so needless to say the palpitations are rife when I look at the clock and see its 6pm and I‘m still awaiting confirmation of mine. It does arrive but unfortunately, the delay means that I have completely missed Baby Godzilla’s set by the time I reach the Academy. An excitable punter by the bar informs me that they were “fucking sick” and I tear up. Not the best start to the evening.
Thankfully the arrival of LA’s Nekrogoblikon brings a big grin back to my face as the five-piece proceed to infect the venue with their trademark “Goblin Metal”. Vocalist Scorpion (aka Nicholas Von Doom) invites the crowd to “fist the sky” with him during the monstrous sounding ‘Friends (in Space)’ and it is met with gleeful approval. Insurance salesman and official band mascot John Goblikon is on fine form this evening. He is basically the metal version of Bez from Happy Mondays but a much better dancer. And a damn sight more attractive. We see him hump the speakers on more than one occasion and drag a member of security / backstage crew up on stage for ‘Powercore’ (from current EP power). It sounds absolutely massive in a live capacity and actually showcases these guys’ technical proficiency as musicians.
The clean vocals amidst the goblin-esque screeching allow for a singalong whilst some expert guitar shredding and en masse solos during ‘Bells and Whistles’ are quite impressive to behold. There is plenty of mid-set japery and interaction with beers being chugged (“Hobgoblin of course –that’s all we drink!”) and splitting the audience into three groups with Mr Goblikon telling those in section ‘c’ to erm, well, something along the lines of going to Ireland to get drunk, find a leprechaun and do cocaine. Sadly, an apparent PA malfunction during ‘Giraffe’ results in an unexpected lull and despite the band’s best efforts, you can sense many losing interest. Luckily a stomping rendition of fan favourite ‘No One Survives’ (complete with goblin shapes being thrown) brings the masses back and it is a brilliant end to a near perfect set. Goblin Metal is clearly the future.
The temperature has rocketed to unimaginable heights by the time Japan’s Crossfaith emerge accompanied by smoke and blinding strobes. Frontman Kenta Koie immediately commands everyone’s attention on set opener ‘We Are The Future’ and their pummelling blend of metalcore and electro is complete with plenty of dub wobbles. Circle pits open up. Bodies and pints are flying through the dense air as the skull rattling ‘Jagerbomb’ resonates around the venue before a particularly savage performance of ‘Countdown To Hell’ (from 2013’s fantastic Apocalyze) follows suit in which Koie’s impassioned bellows of “LIES! LIES! LIES!” are screamed back at him in unison. There is a very brief respite midway through when the band tells us to “make some fucking noise for Limp Bizkit!” and then it happens.
Having read about this going down at the previous four shows, I had my fingers crossed. The Osaka natives drop an absolutely storming cover of ‘Omen’ by The Prodigy and the collective shit of this capacity crowd is well and truly lost. We are already at noise level critical by the first verse, so by the time the instruction to “jump the fuck up on the count of three!” is given right before the final chorus, all hope of hearing anything again leaves me. It is without doubt the highlight of the set and right after closer ‘Leviathan’ Kenta is quick to reiterate that Crossfaith will be back in June to play the main stage at Download Festival. Judging from what was showcased tonight, you’d be advised to secure your spot early on that Friday.
Laughter and deafening cheers ring out across the packed Academy as Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland comes into view at around 9.45. He is sporting tiny briefs and the type of clobber you would don to go on safari in. Banjo in hand, he goes on to warble a little Southern ditty which segues (loudly) into the opening strains of ‘9 Teen 90 Nine’ and suddenly the irrepressible Fred Durst hits the stage rocking that red cap, a hoody and joggers. Lad. The instant appreciation that the Bizkit fans show is genuine and is a testament to a band who many in the rock / metal fraternity have belittled as an out of date 90’s novelty act. Well, fuck the haters. I am in full agreement with Durst when he states that “something is simmering in here tonight – it feels very special”. He asks if we are ready to turn it up and launches right into ‘Full Nelson’. Fred then shares a few thoughts on the other bands on the tour bill. We learn that he is slightly perturbed by “that fuckin’ goblin” and his admission of “that shit freaks me out” is met with plenty of giggles. Business is quickly restored with an inspired cover of Guns ‘n’ Roses classic ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and juggernaut anthem ‘Rollin’ which practically sets the place on fire. Everyone (and I mean everyone) is bouncing. I almost can’t see the stage for the arms that are being held aloft and waved from side to side for the chorus’ trademark dance move.
Much hilarity ensues when Borland has a cheeky guitar freestyle and slips a bit of Metallica’s ‘Master Of Puppets’ into the mix. This is not an isolated incident and the more eagle eared also recognise the ‘Creeping Death’ intro later on! The frontman’s musings of “is that guitar out of tune? Let’s make it funky again” seem to be an open invitation for the first pair of boobs to be whipped out. Not an unusual occurrence at a LB gig – Fred loves his boobies – but on this occasion it doesn’t turn into a free for all which is rather refreshing. I want hits not tits and this is precisely what the Bizkit deliver with ‘Hot Dog’, ‘Faith’ (a George Michael cover “especially for the ladies”) and the awesome ‘My Generation’ all rattled off in quick succession. The latter sounds particularly epic and the mid-song audience collaboration is nothing short of deafening with the band almost being rendered inaudible.
The pace slows unexpectedly with the rare inclusion of ballad ‘Behind Blue Eyes’. Admittedly it’s not a personal favourite but that doesn’t stop the sea of swaying bodies and smartphones being held aloft. ‘My Way’ and the classic ‘Nookie’ round off a largely “greatest hits” setlist with the majority of material coming from Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water and Significant Other. With the clock fast approaching 11pm and curfew looming, we are told there is time for one more song. And also that Limp Bizkit would love to have a beer with us after the show. Or a wank. Whichever is cooler. A female fan is then put through her paces when LB are made aware of her ability to scream so loudly that the very shrillness of her delivery could strip the enamel from your teeth. It is however, the perfect way to introduce arguably the best Bizkit track ever penned – the vitriolic and bloody fantastic ‘Break Stuff’. For the millionth time this evening, the sell-out crowd goes batshit mental and joins Fred and the boys for one last en masse singalong which almost tears the roof off. I am sweating in places I never knew existed but that doesn’t stop me dancing like a loon to the Bee Gees ‘Staying Alive’ with countless others (and Mr Durst) as Limp Bizkit finally exit the stage to some serious applause.
Next stop: Newcastle. And those Geordies had better step up because tonight the party crown belongs to Brum – the true home of heavy metal. So come and get it!
Limp Bizkit Setlist:
1. 9 Teen 90 Nine
2. Full Nelson
3. Welcome to the Jungle (G’n’R cover)
5. Gold Cobra
6. Hot Dog
7. Faith (George Michael cover)
8. My Generation
9. Livin’ It Up
10. Behind Blue Eyes (The Who cover)
11. My Way
13. Break Stuff
See more of Mark’s photos here;