P.O.D. and Alien Ant Farm provide an evening of nu metal mayhem - Newcastle gig reviewed

Having a cover as your biggest hit can pose something of a problem for a band - especially when it was so well done it becomes more synonymous than to the original artist.

By Mick Burgess
Monday, 04 March, 2019, 13:00
P.O.D. vocalist Sonny Sandoval hurled himself around the stage at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Smooth Criminal has certainly defined the career of Alien Ant Farm but that would do a disservice to the rest of their catalogue of songs.

That's especially the case with songs from their platinum-selling debut Anthology, from which half their set at this show at the O2 Academy in Newcastle last night was drawn, including hit single Movies and Wish from the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 video game soundtrack.

Alien Ant Farm, best known for their cover of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal, at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Lead singer Dryden Mitchell's cheeky personality fitted the punk-pop tunes perfectly, and when he conducted the crowd to a rendition of Happy Birthday to his wife Cassie, who was mortified at being dragged on stage from the wings, the crowd responded accordingly.

Of course, Smooth Criminal elicited the biggest cheer of their set, with the crowd bouncing as they sang the stratospherically high notes in the absence of zany bassist Tye Zamora.

P.O.D (Payable On Death) are something of an unknown quantity in the UK, but in the United States their flag flies much, much higher.

Eleven studio albums have earned them a clutch of gold and platinum discs and three Grammy nominations, so it was good to see the Academy suitably packed for an evening of nu metal mayhem.

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P.O.D (Payable On Death) are something of an unknown quantity in the UK, but a much bigger deal home in the United States. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Talk about making a bold statement, opening trio Boom, Rock The Party (Off The Hook) and Panic Attack literally roared from the starting blocks in a big, bombastic explosion of raw power as vocalist Sonny Sandoval hurled himself around the stage as if trying to free himself from some invisible strait jacket.

A quick glance to the crowd during the ferocious Rockin' With the Best could see a swirling mosh pit responding to the onstage fury and hard-hitting rap metal assault.

To the casual observer it all seems rather aggressive, but P.O.D.'s Christian message is in sharp contrast to their musical approach with its deep, heavy groove, pile-driving riffs, venomous rapped vocals and huge chant-along choruses. It`s pretty lively stuff and not for the faint-hearted.

Circles saw things mellow a little, with a more melodic approach from Sandoval, while the ballad Beautiful saw the venue lit up with mobile phones, old school lighters and even a gas cooker lighter!!

P.O.D.'s Christian message is in sharp contrast to their musical approach, which is not for the faint-hearted. Pic: Mick Burgess.

With Alien Ant Farm`s Dryden Mitchell joining the party with a beer in the middle of the crowd it was left to Satellite, hit single Youth Of The Nation and Alive to show that P.O.D. also have some memorable hooks and top tunes to go with their more direct rap attack.