Concert Reviews

Life Of Agony Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 30, 2016    
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Life Of Agony - Club Academy, Manchester (UK) - 19 March 2016

Life Of Agony's musical career has been something of a stop/start affair. Since their debut 'River Runs Red' album in 1993, there have only been three more studio releases and several long periods of inactivity due to numerous reasons – some too vague to elaborate on. Any tours during recent years have only been short (three or four dates each time) so this current visit to the UK, again for only three shows, could be one of the last chances to catch the New York-based band live, though a new studio CD is due in 2016 through Napalm Records entitled 'A Place Where There's No More Pain'.

I was slightly surprised when first entering the "basement" room of Manchester's smaller Academy building to find it only half full. LOA, I guess, are something of a cult band, but I was fully expecting a larger crowd due to their infrequent live shows. People continued to arrive however and minutes before start time the room was quite full.

When Mina (formerly Keith) Caputo (vocals), Joey Z (guitar), Alan Robert (bass) and Sal Abruscato (drums) took to the stage they were greeted like returning heroes and opening track 'River Runs Red' generated a crowd response like I haven't seen in a long time. The mosh pit in front of the stage was bouncing like a two year old child after ten cans of Cola and there were more people surfing than on a July weekend at Bondi Beach. This continued for the whole sixty-five minute show and I managed to last for half of that time near the more enthusiastic members of the audience before retreating to the rear – stopping on my way for a drink from the bar and a quick glance at the merch stall.

The set was heavily weighted towards 'River Runs Red' and eight of tonight's fourteen songs were taken from that 1993 debut. 'This Time', 'Other Side Of The River' and 'Love To Let You Down' had energy to burn and it was hard to imagine after three or four songs how those levels could be maintained to the end. 'Method Of Groove' and 'Respect' featured influential vocal contributions from Robert and Joey Z, which left Caputo to handle the chorus elements and conduct the crowd through their own backing. The guitar riffs were crunchingly heavy throughout but never dominated the sound. Abruscato laid down a pounding beat at the back and, alongside Robert, put down a solid bedrock for the intensely powerful arrangements.

Caputo's unique vocal stylings conveyed a depth of emotion to compliment the music and she is also a magnetic visual presence. 'Weeds' was one of the more commercial songs in the LOA catalogue but that didn't mean there was any let up in crowd activity. The temperature was on the rise in the room and security staff forming a barrier between crowd and stage had their hands full as they distributed water and caught those surfers with a more diehard and relentless attitude. 'Through And Through', 'Bad Seed', 'My Eyes' and a rousing 'Underground' brought things to a conclusion and though the crowd was desperate for more... it was the end.

I still think LOA have something of a Pantera vibe, but there was no doubting they have an identity of their own and tonight's performance re-enforced the opinion that they still have enough of a fan-base to continue. Certainly not for many of the regular Fireworks or Rocktopia clientele, but for those with a more open musical mind Life Of Agony are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Dave Bott

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