Converge @ Concorde 2 December 1st
Converge have been in the game for a long time now – since their formation they’ve clocked two full decades and are currently striding into their third. Do they still cut it live?
Brighton’s a nice town. This was my first visit to its pier punctuated coast. It made a good first impression. Sure, the people of Brighton searched me for drugs without reasonable cause and refused to provide my Welsh accent a taxi service to any takeaway that would have us near the hotel; until it was removed and replaced by some amalgamation of Australian and Cockney. These minor squabbles aside, it’s a Hell of a town – and what other town offers the service of watching your vegan friend’s lifestyle choices being brought into question and then torn apart over breakfast by the staff in Wetherspoons. I’m not reviewing Brighton though. I am reviewing Converge at Concorde 2 however.
The Secret are up first though. The first in line of an impressive line up; I’d not heard of these prior to the announcement of this tour, but after tracking them down on YouTube I was instantly sold to them, and they were instantly sold to a friend of mine – having immediately bought an album of theirs after I linked them to him. On record they deliver a brutal mix of hardcore, doom, grindcore and black metal; live they do the same.
A Storm of Light follow suit by bringing a bit of theatrics to proceedings – their entire set is projected over by footage of riots, police brutality, fires and street violence. An impressive sight, and some impressive riffs, aside though and it does feel a little like the footage would be more suited to being soundtracked by some vitriolic punk. Regardless of this though, A Storm of Light deal in doomy vocals, rumbling riffs and impressive drum work – and they do it well.
Let’s not be coy about this; I could sit here gushing about Touché Amoré until the cows come home, and probably enough to make them leave again. Ever since I bought Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me last year it’s been one of the most played on my iTunes. Add to that their amazing set in Bristol earlier this year in Thekla, and though an unusual choice to support Converge musically I was equally looking forward to their set. Knowing their notoriously short song lengths, I had my suspicions that they could fit a near enough full show into a main support slot – I wasn’t disappointed.
A good portion of the crowd, myself included, spent the set screaming their little hearts out to every emotional lyric. So much so that vocalist Jeremy Bolm was happy to leave the microphone in the capable lungs of the front row numerous times. Take this into account too – a friend of mine had never heard them before; three short songs in he tells me he likes them, a good chunk of the set in and he tells me he really likes them, by the end over a cigarette he tells me they were awesome and by the Monday as I’m Mega Bussing my way back home, the day after Alexisonfire’s first farewell show in Brixton (more on that story later), he’s texting me to tell me he’s listening to them and good they are.
First time in Brighton. First time, finally, seeing Converge. Converge are something of a shared band in my circle of friends. They’ve gradually spread their infection through us via Converge conversion to the point they are one band that a good portion of us can all actually agree on; and own at least a Jane Doe t-shirt. Converge have been in the game for a long time now – since their formation they’ve clocked two full decades and are currently striding into their third. That is a career that not many bands can manage, and especially not bands so emotionally intense and musically volatile as Converge. Yet, here they are – as influential and impressive a band you’re ever to likely hear, who have just churned out yet another album of their career in the shape of the brilliant All We Love We Leave Behind.
So they still cut it in the studio, but what about live? Well, after the brutal one-two punch opening of Concubine and Dark Horse the answer to that is an unquestionable yes. There’s more on offer live too; you get to see just how talented this band are. It is immediately clear when just glancing at Kurt Ballou play his guitar live how insanely skilled he is on it as his hands seem to blur as they fly around the fretboard, so too Nate Newton’s bass rumbling and, especially, Ben Koller’s fucking obscene drum work. Then there’s Jacob Bannon, Converge’s iconic frontman, and though not renowned for being the most cheery of gentleman tonight he seems to be enjoying himself just as much as the crowd – veering from the explosive intensity of his vocal and lyrical performances, to smiling, throwing himself around and even having a laugh with the crowd and taking the piss.
Even though it’s clear everyone here loves Converge, every Converge fan has their own opinion on Converge, and whilst you can’t please everyone, tonight the band hit enough classics to keep majority happy and mix in enough new to show they’ve still got plenty more to give. As Last Light enforces – ‘this is for the hearts still beating’. I didn’t doubt it, but this won’t be my last Converge gig.