Incubus Live Review and Interview @ Capital FM Arena 7/11/11

Following a summer tour of the USA, Incubus arrived in the UK for a short run of dates to promote their latest album ‘If Not Now, When?’. Aside from a one-off performance at London’s HMV Forum in June, this is Incubus’ first UK tour since 2007.

British outfit Fin are providing the support for several UK and European dates, and opened at the Arena to a fairly appreciative crowd. Promoting their recent single release, ‘The Artisan/It Changes Everything’, Fin earned a polite reception for their set, and continued promotion on the tour might provide a useful platform to project themselves to a wider audience.

Incubus have changed their set on every night on the UK tour, and this night proved no exception. I (along with others who have kept up to date with set-lists) had fully expected the band to open with ‘Privilege’ from the ‘Make Yourself’ album, as they had done so at Wolverhampton, London and Cardiff. However to my surprise (although not disappointment), the set-list change was instant and they instead opened with their hit single from their ‘A Crow Left of the Murder’ album: ‘Megalomaniac’.

However, the next few songs saw a combination of “hits” and the new singles from ‘If Not Now, When?’: ‘Adolescents’ and ‘Promises, Promises’. Although only half of the Arena was used, it felt like a full-house when they broke into ‘Wish You Were Here’,  one of their most popular songs from the ‘Morning View’ album.

After the expected four of five songs came ‘Isadore’, a track from the new album. On record, much of the track is acoustic, whereas in their live performance, guitarist Michael Einziger uses only electric guitar to give a different, yet more powerful feel to the song.

They immediately returned to some of their greatest hits, following with the epic ‘Anna Molly’ from ‘Light Grenades’ and the more reserved ‘Talk Shows on Mute’ from ‘Crow’. Next up was ‘Glass’ from an older album ‘Science’, well received by the surprised crowd. ‘Privilege’ finally made an appearance before another of the new songs, ‘In the Company of Wolves’. As the longest track of the album, it was also one of the most impressive of the new songs in the set.
Einziger then brought on an acoustic guitar, and the next stage in the set consisted solely of his accompaniment to Brandon Boyd’s vocals. They started with another of the new tracks, ‘Defiance’ (recorded acoustically on the album), which emphasised Boyd’s impressive voice and perfectly replicates the album recording.

Although I’d heard the band perform both songs in the sound-check, it was still a surprise to hear ‘Beware Criminal’ and ‘Sick Sad Little World’ (both from ‘Crow’) included in the main set. Bass player Ben Kenney then led the band into an interesting remix of ‘Dig’, before one of their most famous tracks ‘Drive’ really sparked the crowd with full force.

As an encore, Incubus returned with another from ‘Science’: ‘A Certain Shade of Green’. The track harks back the band’s metal roots and the crowd showed much appreciation for the band playing some of their older material. They finished with the final track from ‘If Not Now, When?’, ‘Tomorrow’s Food’, a slow and passive track that drew a more reserved response from the crowd, before a fond farewell from both the band and the fans. After a few surprises in the set-list in an energetic performance from Incubus, few will have left the Capital FM Arena dissatisfied.

Before the show, I caught up with bass player Ben Kenney who shared his thoughts on the album, the tour so far, and plans for the future:

CM: How have you found the UK tour [Wolverhampton; London; Cardiff] so far?

BK: It’s pretty cool – the shows have been going really well. There’re a lot of similarities to the shows in the States in that it’s comfortable and familiar, but the differences are refreshing.

CM: How do you think the new album has been received, with a lot of new material in the set-list?

BK: It’s good! We mix it in with the old stuff, which is how it works best. It’s a different sound, so by itself it may be a bit shocking, but in context with everything else I think it works.

CM: The new album is very different to your most recent; what were you changing / trying to get across?
BK: It was a lot different. We made the record in the studio, and we’d never done that before – just to go in the studio and say “let’s start here”. That was strange but I think we handled it pretty well.

CM: Was it strange going back to the studio after a couple of years out [2007-2009]?

BK: It was a little bit weird, maybe we’re just getting older and moving slower, but it ended up working out in the end and it didn’t take us too long to get through the record.

CM: Have you got a favourite song from the album?

BK: The song that’s always jumped out for me was “The Original”. It’s very simple, but that parts work together really well, in my opinion. It doesn’t need anything more.

CM: What goes into your set-list construction, as it changes most nights?

BK: We try to just hit the spectrum, and try not leave anything out, as there’re 80 or so songs to choose from. A lot of stuff gets overlooked, but we try to get as much in as possible, without playing for five hours and wearing out our welcome!

CM: Are there any albums you try to include the most?

BK: I think everyone’s in a different place when putting it all together. For me, I’ve been obsessed with playing songs from ‘Make Yourself’. I listened to that record a lot when we first started working again and I connected to it in a different way.

CM: Will there be a DVD from this tour?

BK: We haven’t really talked about doing that, but I do know that every bit of every show is recorded. Someone has the audio and the video! Another DVD of another live show might be a bit redundant, maybe it’s time to do something different. If it were up to me, I’d put everything up for free to get it out there: let the fans come to it without a barrier.

CM: Although I’m sure you’ve been incredibly busy, have you had a chance to think about the future?

BK: No idea really! We’re taking it one day at a time to get through the tour. We’re not really going anywhere new with this tour, and it’s relatively short, so we’re hoping to get another round of touring in at some point. Other than that I have no idea.

Chris Morris


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