Front Line Assembly/je$us loves amerika/Concrete Lung

O2 Academy, London - 20 July 2010

"A cracking night's entertainment"

DJ Mark Chapman rapidly got this evening off to a promising start with a choice selection of old school industrial and related classics, pushing out the likes of Revco’s In The Neck and :Wumpscut:’s brilliant Thorns, effectively setting the tone for Concrete Lung who took up their stations on stage.

Recovery Position is stonkingly powerful live – the perfect blend of synth lines and roaring guitars that there is just too little of these days. Destructive, a warning about government abusing power, got even the usually robust PA at the Academy popping all over the place. The guy dishing out the free protective ear plugs at the back suddenly seemed to be popular. Concrete Lung create music that, like punk, only really comes to life in a live context. They’ve a passion and an energy that is difficult to ignore and deserve every success. They’ve already established a solid reputation on the London circuit, but a big crowd at this year’s Infest festival (at which they are appearing next month) should see them recruit more followers from further afield. With the thrilling first act finishing bang on the end of their 8pm slot, both punters and promoters (Armalyte Industries and Tidal Concerts) were off to a very satisfying start to proceedings.

It’s been some years since I’d seen jesu$ loves amerika, I first saw them in the back of a pub somewhere in London – that was possibly an Armalyte Industries evening too. To be honest I didn’t realise they were actually still going. But they definitely are! They’re one of a few acts that over the years continually pop up on the live support circuit even though their recorded output has slowed to a trickle. Still, that’s fine if the goods are delivered live and they were.

Scottish singer Patrick reminds me of my Scottish mate Jim - funny that. Nice bloke too. The keyboard player couldn’t stop himself jigging to jla’s technoid synths and steady, thumping drums. Isolate (not a FLA cover) and Fuck The Police (featuring Concrete Lung’s singer on the titular loud hailer chant) both stood out. However, a slightly introverted crew and a persistent reliance upon technology to complete the live sound resulted in a failure to engage with the audience as much as they might have, which was unfortunate. Theirs is an uncommon but largely successful blending of styles and jla remain a welcome addition to any line up.

With the evening now well underway, DJ Chapman continued pulling out all the stops in selecting tunes gentically-aligned tunes to the next act. So, before headliners Front Line Assembly emerged, we were treated to the likes of Orbital’s Satan and Fluke’s Atom Bomb - two older, darker, heavier techno tracks much beloved by the crossover tastes of UK industrial types.

This hardcore crowd of familiar scene faces not only realised they were onto a good thing tonight but were glad to demonstrate it too. The close to two-hour setlist saw new material sitting surprisingly robustly alongside classics from across the extensive back catalogue. Personal old favourite Resist (from 1989’s Gashed Senses & Crossfire album) was superb, and proof that when done right there’s is still something timeless and urgent about the best industrial music from that era. Meanwhile, latest single Shifting Through The Lens was exhilirating, instantly sounding like an established FLA track without resorting to retro.

There’s definitely a bit of the John Lydon about Bill Leeb these days, but he’s growing older with more grace and style than his English counterpart (I doubt he’s advertising butter on TV back home either!). The largely more youthful band Leeb has assembled around himself over the few years really gel live and, crucially, come across as genuinely passionate and committed rather than the part-time session musicians that sometimes undermines older acts. Mindphaser was an inevitable but nevertheless welcome final entry into a well-balanced and relentless set. Needless to say the choice went down a storm with the faithful.

This evening was a real coup for promoters Armalyte Industries and label founder Gilez. FLA are a big name act to secure and they delivered the goods. Moreover, like the DJ choice, the two support acts had been carefully selected to offer alignment with the main act giving both punters great value and Concrete Lung and je$us loves amerika an audience full of sympathetic ears for anyone not already familiar with them. A cracking night's entertainment. 8/10

Rob Dyer