Although less than a year since Combichrist played Belfast, there have been dramatic changes within the band; most notably the departure of the wonderfully eccentric and talented drummer, Joe Letz. Having witnessed two absolutely superb performances from the band in 2018 (Belfast and Bloodstock), I was really looking forward to seeing them again, and curious how the new lineup would fare.
With Combichrist’s two drum kits taking up the majority of the stage in the Palm House, local support Cursed Sun had to be creative when it came to their performance. Drummer Christopher McMullen and singer Andrew ‘Jones’ Cassidy were both relegated to the floor, but took this in their stride. Kicking things off with “MDK 187” the band did not miss a beat, wrapping up their support slot with “Breeding from Bleeding”.
The synth/electronic duo of Alacrity saw a change of pace to the evening, taking the gig in a direction of the headliner. The tracks had a pumping dance vibe, backing tracks sitting nicely with the drum kit, leaving the vocalist to remain out front. It took a couple of songs for the crowd to get into it but once they did there was a definite appreciation for the music.
As the intro “This Shit Will Fuck You Up” played, silhouettes could be seen backstage of drummers Dane White and Will Spodnick warming up for the Combichrist show. Any apprehension that the absence of Joe Letz and Nick Rossi would result in a less enjoyable show immediately vanished as they took their place behind the kits.
The small crowd grew, and soon the majority of the venue pushed up close against the barrier to get close to the headliner. Combichrist kicked off the set with “Hate Like Me” and it became clear the new guys were loving it as much as the fans. Vocalist Andy LaPlegua commanded the stage, and delivered a fantastic performance throughout. Animated as ever, the rest of the band made full use of the small stage, thumping out a great set including “Never Surrender”, “Can’t Control”, “No Redemption”, and “Blut Royale”.
By the time “What the Fuck Is Wrong With You?” aired, the Palm House was electric. Somewhere along the line, percussionist Will Spodnick’s cymbal departed from the kit. Not stopping, he simply held on to the remaining stand and played regardless.
The band left the stage and returned for the encore, “Maggots at the Party”, sending the Belfast crowd absolutely mental. The final track from their new album was a strong closer, even sliding into a “War Pigs” medley for a minute, and back into the final riffs of “One Fire”.
It was a great set from Combichrist, and the new line up is working well. A thoroughly enjoyable midweek gig, and it was awesome to watch the band hang out with fans after the show for photos and signings. I can’t wait to see them again!
All pictures by Exposing Shadows Photography