Both Deftones and support Coheed and Cambria are bands that divide opinion. They have no discernible genre for a start – debates rage as to whether they can be considered progressive metal, heavy metal or hard rock. To some, Deftones sound like an unholy mix of screaming and open guitars. Coheed and Cambria can equally be understood as pretentious (think heavier Pink Floyd, with more hair).
It was clear by the number of band t-shirts that a large proportion of the crowd were there to see Coheed and Cambria. Fronted by the charismatic and hairy Claudio Sanchez, they neglected to banter with the crowd in favour of playing more songs. Sanchez knows how to get an audience going, alternating hardcore dancing with impressive guitar tricks, including playing with his teeth. All too soon, the New York based prog-metal outfit left, and after a refreshingly short wait, Deftones took to the stage.
Welcomed to chants of ‘Chino!’ lead singer Chino Moreno flew across the stage, betraying no sign of his 20 years in the business. Opening with the electric Rocket Skates, taken from most recent album Diamond Eyes, Moreno showcased his impressive vocal ability, combining his distinctive inhaled screams with melodic singing.
This, the first UK tour in three years is clearly a two-fingered salute to those who claimed Deftones finished after the near-death of bassist Chi Cheng, who was involved in a car accident in 2008 and currently exists in a semi-conscious state. Stand-in bassist Sergio Vega cut an appropriate low-key figure, but was warmly welcomed by the crowd when introduced by Moreno.
Whilst the set was packed with energy, Deftones know when to let their music speak for itself. The lights were turned off during the slow-paced Minerva, dedicated to Cheng, the only illumination emanating from a revolving disco ball.
Much like Coheed and Cambria, Deftones kept audience interaction to a minimum, which went down well with the 3,000 strong crowd, made up of young grungy rockers and older seasoned fans. Deftones wrapped up the 90-minute set with the fiery 7 Words and left the stage in a blaze of light and discordant guitars. With six albums under their belts, not including the delayed Eros, put on hold until Cheng recovers, Deftones show no indication of slowing down.