London Electric Ballroom
There are arguably few bands around today that enjoy the same level of devotion from their fans as AFI do. Tickets for this one-off intimate show – a precursor to the release of new album ‘Decemberunderground‘ – sold out within minutes of going on sale last month, with the few remaining spares currently fetching a black market price of around £60. The ridiculously long queue was allegedly started at around 3am this morning, and now consists of a thousand-odd punks, goths and metalheads, several sporting AFI tattoos, and all united in excited anticipation of what the evening holds in store.
Credit is due to local boys Rainy Day Fuck Parade, who face the largely uninterested crowd with a spirited performance. The amusingly-named quartet ply a fine trade in thunderous stoner riffs and off-kilter rhythms, in a Mastodon/Kyuss vein, but are ultimately met with little more than sparse applause from an audience who are here for one band only.
The chants of “Through our bleeding, we are one” start long before AFI finally emerge, amongst a sea of dry ice and eerie blue lighting, to utter hysteria. Every voice and fist is raised in unison to the opening ‘Miseria Cantare’, before the ‘Sing The Sorrow’ era brace of ‘Leaving Song Part II’ and ‘Dancing Through Sunday’ whip the floor into a seething, writhing mass of bodies.
In front of such a rabidly partisan crowd, AFI could probably just go through the motions to keep their fans happy; but thankfully, the Californian quartet seem eager to re-assert their presence and musical worth at their first UK show in nearly three years. Whether ripping full-tilt through old favourite ‘Totalimmortal’ or slowing things down for an unexpected but welcome cover of the Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’, AFI are nothing short of thrilling tonight; with live-wire vocalist Davey Havok and bassist Hunter tearing around the stage in their determination to make tonight an event to remember.
The long-term fans in attendance may mourn the lack of the band’s early material – of which only ‘File 13’ and ‘A Single Second’ are aired tonight – but the twisted hardcore of ‘Kill Caustic’ and the stomping rhythm of forthcoming single ‘Miss Murder’ indicate a far more promising future for AFI. Clearly relishing the intimacy of the venue, Davey climbs into the crowd to lead us through the spine-tingling finale of ‘God Called In Sick Today’; and as he stands, silhouetted against the stage lights like a demonic preacher, it’s evident that AFI have not lost their ability to dazzle. When they return in the autumn, kill to be there.
[Photo by Will Lewis]