@ Newcastle Legends, July 28 2010

When Combichrist supported Rammstein last February, I was shocked.  Not at the fact that they were supporting, but at the vivacious energy of their performance.  It got me thinking.

In an arena like the LG in Birmingham, despite their incredible showing, they weren’t able to engage the crowd in the way that I think they wanted to.

As it turned out, I learned that they were to headline their own show in Legends.  I was ecstatic.  And looking back with precious hindsight, I had a right to be.

To really get in the swing of things, support from Dismantled and Mexican based Rabia Sorda only started what was to be an intense display of industrial electronica.

Dismantled gave a passionate performance of neurotic electro.  Gary Zon undoubtedly has the capabilities to whip up a storm with his three piece band from the US.

Having never seen this band before, which will be a sin to many of their fans, Rabia Sorda stepped up the ante with an unbelievable performance.

Amidst the bombardment of the beat, quirky twinges of the synth added to the raging assault.  In the middle of a song, a half a second pause occurred and the music was brought back in by lead singer Erk Aicrag with two taps of the microphone to his head. Aicrag started Rabia Sorda as a side project, away from his work with Hocico, but this isn’t your average ‘mess around on the side’ band.  It is serious.

Opening to the sound of sirens, Combichrist began the carnage with All Pain Is Gone from the Today We Are All Demons album.  I felt I was in the year 5041.  In the beautiful dread of post-nuclear fallout society, in some dirty club, driven underground to the dirges of the earth by the anarcho-fascist state.

Andy LaPlegua may have been good at the LG Arena, but after soaking up the electricity of the crowd, he commanded the stage better than ever.  Under a reign of flashing lights and debauched aggrotech he exhibited the tenacity of his voice, with pain scorched screams.

With their psychotically twisted momentum, Combichrist gathered the anticipation of the crowd and burst into a fantastic rendition of Electrohead.  The deep grinding of the synth perpetually droned while Trevor Friedrich stood on top of his set of drums and wreaked hell on percussion.

Combichrist may have been shaped in influence by the likes of KMFDM and Laibach, but rather than being a mere imitation, they have carved an individual identity with a brutal blade.  It’s only early days but whether they rank with the likes of Laibach and KMFDM is up for debate.

Predictably Blut Royale was a favourite, but F**k That S**t was a bastardised electro tune that had the most timid of people unleashing their inner demons of pent up anger.  This song particularly highlighted the suitability of the venue and how well Combichrist fed off the intimacy of the crowd.

Combichrist are at their peak of their careers and of their live performances.  However, if you want to be completely blasted away by their unique live act, see them at a smaller venue.  Those guys take in that extra crowd intimacy and turn it into something very special.

Calum Robson