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Gig Review: The Dillinger Escape Plan @ Kings Arms, Auckland - 25/10/2017

28 Oct 2017 // A review by Paul Goddard
There is a real air of anticipation around this gig. The last time The Dillinger Escape Plan played the Kings Arms back in 2015 still has people sharing stories of what it was like to be there and tonight is the last time New Zealand gets to see one of the most innovative and progressive bands of the last 20 years.

It's a murky Wednesday night but the queue is stretching across the car park and people are keen to be here early. You can feel the buzz. Expectations are high.

Christchurch act Blindfolded and Led to the Woods take the stage and their sonic onslaught is the perfect appetiser to Dillinger's playful brutality. It takes a while for the band to find their feet and the initial reception is a little subdued. Singer Stace appears a little "rabbit in the headlights" almost looking awkward at being onstage but his stage presence is more about his voice than his actions and the vocals are spot on. The rest of the band are clearly enjoying themselves, flashing smiles and thrashing instruments in equal measure. By the end of the set the crowd are lapping it up.

This is the last Dillinger gig in New Zealand as they disband on 29th Dec with a final show in New York. To see one of the world's most innovative and inspiring acts play one of their last shows in at the Kings Arms, which as we all know will also have its last show soon, is adding to the emotion in the room tonight. You can feel the mix of excitement, anticipation and sadness. It's a heady mix and the crowd is fired up.

The room is hot and dark as Dillinger enter to a huge cheer. One of their more recent tracks Limerent Death starts the assault and the sound is amazing. Greg is an intimidating frontman and Dillinger gigs can be a violent explosion of energy but tonight is a celebration. This band have forged their path on their own terms and are going out as they started in total control.

We are so lucky in New Zealand to be able to see a band like Dillinger in a venue the size of the Kings Arms. Last time I saw them was supporting System of a Down surrounded by a few thousand people. Tonight is an intimate affair and one that people will remember forever. A couple of tracks in and the energy from the stage is reaching the back of the room this pulls me down to the front. I am getting lost in this cacophony of chaos and as bodies fly over-head Greg is crooning and screaming "happiness is a smile". It's a moment I will never forget.

As I watch them literally fly around the small stage swinging off the lighting rig, pulling people out of the mosh to throw them back in again I think about all the bands that Dillinger have influenced. They are truly innovative and by the smiles on their faces tonight it is clear this isn't a band just going through the motions and fulfilling their duties. Dillinger don't do compromise and they are going out on a high. The way the band switch between heavy and fast, light and dark, punk and metal is breathtaking. They are a sum of all parts, there is no focal point. Everyone on that stage is fully committed and that isn't something you see with most bands let alone a band who has been through the broken bones, traffic accidents, roller coaster ride that Dillinger have experienced. Sweat is dripping off the ceiling and the band head off stage to a drone of feedback. I head back to the rear of the room and we all know this special night will soon be over.

The encore is short but that doesn't matter. The band have given tonight 100% and as Greg crowd surfs to "see if the people at the back of the room are still here" cameras are capturing the memories. He gets pushed back towards the stage, hangs upside down off the lighting rig then it's all over. This was a special night. If you were here then you are lucky. Happiness is a smile and their were plenty of smiling faces as we filter out into the night.


Review written by Paul Goddard
 

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