Gig Reviews Interviews

Alien Ant Farm, The European Tour, with special guests SOiL and Local H – at O2 Ritz, Manchester 08/02/2018

Photo by Heather McNeil
From Heather Mc Photography

On a not so surprising wet evening in Manchester, the O2 Ritz rang out their claxons to the masses and they obeyed. Tonight, was the call to arms of Alien Ant Farm and their special guests SOiL. Partnering up with another big name, AAF have taken the perfect opportunity to team up with their Chicagoan friends, hopefully without the Ant-Mobile breaking down on their way to the venue like it did with Hoobastank and P.O.D. The queue was gathering momentum when we entered the foyer, ready for our interview with Tim King of SOiL; it was warm and on stage was Chicagoan duo Local H sound checking away.

Photo by Heather McNeil
From Heather Mc Photography

A small time later, whilst set up with a perfect view of the stage and the sound booth from the theatre style balcony of the venue. From the very encouraging sound check, which can be heard through the interview with Tim, Local H (6) took to the stage as the venue filled. Formed back in 1990, originally a quartet, now a duo, they were celebrating 25 years as a band. Pumping out a classic rock chuggery with ‘Buffalo Trace’, Local H showed they were the real deal. The distorted vocals of Scott Lucas screamed classic Pink Floyd reminiscent of their iconic Dark Side of the Moon album, took the gathering crowd by surprise and they lapped it up. The crowd was still pouring into the venue as the setlist continued; Scott swapped between bass and lead guitar depending on the song as Ryan Harding pounded on the drums creating a cacophony of beats that rang out with great power and precision.

The duo would have been swallowed by the stage but the style and sound as well as the atmospheric lighting helped them dominate their surroundings. The modern Queens of the Stone Age twists to ‘City of Knives’ and ‘Eddie Vedder’ really give them a punchy edgy feel to their progressive rock vibe. The more the set continued the more the influences of the eras they have spanned showed through from post-grunge to post-punk; their eclectic set felt forced at times, not quite lending to their strengths as the set continued forward. It felt like the songs lost their presence as the set came to a close with ‘High Fiving MF’, it lacked the panache that kick started Local H, yet they still showed their skills and gained new fans as a result. It may not have been the killer set they had hoped for but it was a solid and determined show that made the audience look up and listen with approving nods and smiles.

Photo by Heather McNeil
From Heather Mc Photography

 

Setlist

  1. Buffalo Trace
  2. <>
  3. Freshly F**ked
  4. City of Knives
  5. Eddie Vedder
  6. Bound for the Floor
  7. High-Fiving MF

 

 

 

Photo by Heather McNeil
From Heather Mc Photography

Almost to capacity, the atmosphere was electric and rightly so, the diverse mix of SOiLers and Ant-men created a wonderful meld of two worlds of rock music under one umbrella and a united community. The Ritz was the perfect bubbling cauldron simmering away ready for when the lights went out and the intro music kicked in; the cauldron boiled over with a roar of ecstasy as SOiL (8) broke out with ‘Breaking Me Down’. Powering into ‘Need to Feel’ straight from the opener, Ryan’s voice did sound the best of quality; the opening numbers felt flat, a little out of tune and not quite right. Still this didn’t deter the huge swell of support for the Chicago quartet; on the plus side the set started to pick up and become what you would expect from the metal icons. It was the sheer raw brilliance of ‘Re.De.Fine’ and ‘Pride’ that got the set going, in typical fashion, SOiL fed off the crowds electricity and this showed as the songs continued to pour out. The crushing riffs of Adam Zadel blended superbly with the thunderous bass lines of Tim King and to top off the blistering sound was none other than ex-Staind drummer Jon Wysocki taming the skins and percussions.

Photo by Heather McNeil
From Heather Mc Photography

The set would not be complete without the cover of Lead Belly’s ‘Black Betty’ to really rile up

the crowd with the chants of “whoa Black Betty bam-a-lam”, yet it was the iconic ‘Unreal’ and legendary ‘Halo’ that blew the roof off he venue. Ryan McCombs, of course, made is infamous walk into the crowd to sing the finale track, surrounding himself by his adoring fans and moshing away with them ins a sea of sweat, every so often with the rest of the crowd seeing his microphone stuck in the air for everyone to scream into. SOiL has always done well on this side of the pond and tonight was no exception to the rule; since their breakthrough Scars album; they have been treated like one of our own and it showed once again tonight. Ryan McCombs ended in his usual fashion with his statement of “The music starts with you. The music ends with you. You make this happen” and no truer words could be spoken by such an enigmatic frontman.

 

 

Setlist

Photo by Heather McNeil
From Heather Mc Photography

  1. Breaking me Down
  2. Need to Feel
  3. The Hate Song
  4. Re.De.Fine
  5. Pride
  6. Black 7
  7. Black Betty (Lead Belly cover)
  8. Unreal
  9. Halo

 

 

 

Interview with Tim King of SOil

Photo by Heather McNeil
From Heather Mc Photography

The room was in buoyant mood after a great set from SOiL and Local H. The lights went out for the final time of the evening, the smoke machines were ramped up and the spot lights were on full glare mode; Alien Ant Farm (9) were in the house! Breaking out with ‘Bad Morning’ to open the set, the energy ranked up a notch straight from the off. The vocals of Dryden Mitchell were like something from a studio recording, they were pitch perfect right down to the last syllable of his vocal prowess; it was going to be a greatest hit bonanza as ‘Forgive and Forget’ went straight into the massive hit ‘Movies’ to rapturous fervour from the crowd. The atmosphere was incredible, with a bouncing crowd being roused by a bunch of young lads, one in a pink piggy onesie I might add, having the time of their lives. A rather large circle pit opened up and continued to be a central point for the show throughout; it was an extravaganza of post-grunge meets SK8R rock and for all the right reasons. The balcony was heaving with funky dancing and huge smiles on the faces of the fans; it was clear everyone was having a great time and a lot of fun along the way.

The funky bass chords melded with the upbeat riffs as Terry Corso and Timmy Pee were like a whirlwind of devious moves and

Photo by Heather McNeil
From Heather Mc Photography

resplendent sound, pulling off every nuance we all know and love about Alien Ant Farm. As the set continued with ever more hits like ‘Lord Knows’ it was the dedication of ‘Attitude’ to Chester Bennington, who passed away last July, that was truly heartfelt… as well as Dryden’s mother. Following on from the bombastic ‘Attitude’ came the eccentric ‘Glow’. However it was the inclusion of the incredible masterpiece of ‘Simpatico’; the crowd went wild and justly so, it as perfection, from Dryden’s display of the intro coming from his phone to the infectious beat of the riffs and percussions from Mike Cosgrove. This was a night to remember for all who viewed it, of course it as ‘Sticks and Stones’ and then the mega hit of Michael Jackson’s cover of ‘Smooth Criminal’ that ended the show; a song that will always be synonymous and yet a stigma for Alien Ant Farm due to it being a cover and their biggest hit which is a real shame when you consider their back catalogue.

This was a superb night for everyone who attended, an almost sold out crowd saw Alien Ant Farm at their finest, were able to see the iconic SOiL, some for the first time and what looks like a promising revival of Local H in the UK. The venue emptied slowly with an incredible buzz; with rumours of a new album on its way from SOiL and that it’s been over 2 years since the release of Always and Forever, could we be seeing a new album on its way from Alien Ant Farm too?

 

Overall 8/10

Venue 8/10

Crowd 9/10

Photo by Heather McNeil
From Heather Mc Photography

Setlist:

  1. Bad Morning
  2. Forgive and Forget
  3. Movies
  4. What Feel
  5. These Days
  6. Lord Knows
  7. Never Meant
  8. Attiitude (with small ‘In the End’ snippet by Linkin Park)
  9. Glow
  10. Courage
  11. Simpatico
  12. Wish
  13. Stick and Stones
  14. Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson cover with snippet of ‘Finally’ by CeCe Peniston)

 

Check out Local H on Facebook.
Check out SOiL on Facebook.
Check out Alien Ant Farm on Facebook.

 

About the author

Aaron Emerson Heather McNeil