Incubus @ Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – 3 November 2011

Californian funk metallers Incubus have been around for two decades, having formed in 1991 while enrolled in high school.

Much has changed in the Incubus camp over the years. From the 1997 nu-metal stomp of ‘S.C.I.E.N.C.E.’ to 2006′s hugely diverse ‘Light Grenades’, the departure of bass player extraordinaire Dirk Lance seemed to mark a transition for the band as they began to mercilessly explore and experiment with their sound. Now, back from a relatively large break between releases, Incubus have once again provided their fans with a challenge with their recent album ‘If Not Now, When?’ which displays another marked modification in sound.

Tonight is the bands first show of their European tour, to be beamed online around the world and witnessed in the raw by a capacity crowd. Very rarely have I seen such a mass throng of die-hard fans, young and old, clearly highly excited and expectant, ram packed into the Wolverhampton Civic Hall. The pre-show atmosphere is palpable, a calm intensity.

Kicking off with ‘Privilege’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’ before dropping into one of their latest songs ‘Adolescents’, it is immediately apparent that Incubus are the real deal, providing a highly professional show for those paying their £27.50 for the privilege of being here. An impressive giant screen spans the width of the stage, showing video and live footage – with plenty of close-up action of Brandon Boyd, providing eye candy for the ladies, whilst delivering a superlative vocal performance.

From the 1999 album ‘Make Yourself’, comes the track ‘Pardon Me’, prior to a set-list of the old and the new. From bouncing teenage angst, to commercial college rock, to a number of incredibly laid back melodic tracks, Incubus cannot easily be defined or categorised. Tracks include ‘Circles’ and ‘Talk Shows On Mute’, but it is ‘A Certain Shade Of Green’ that really gets the crowd pumping. Taken from “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” it is evidence of earlier days, when the five-piece created heavier music that wasn’t as spiritual and romantic as latter offerings.

Mid-way through the set Boyd performs an acoustic double-header with mop-haired guitarist Mike Einziger; treating the Wolverhampton masses to ‘Defiance’ and ‘Love Hurts’, before a delightfully stripped back version of ‘Are You In’ featuring the Doors classic ‘Riders On The Storm’. When asked “Is everybody in?” the crowd respond with arms in the air and a resounding “YES!”

Brandon Boyd says very little in-between songs, but far more importantly is a powerful and dramatic performer. Along with the superb talents of Einziger, Pasillas, Kenney and Kilmore the band continue their show with ‘Anna Molly’, ‘Dig’and fan favourite ‘Drive’ prompting a mass sing-along. Closing with ‘Megalomaniac’, there are unsurprising screams of delight as Boyd finally succumbs to taking off his trademark white vest. From the 2004 album ‘A Crow Left of the Murder’, this is Incubus rocking out at their best and finishing in style.

The band returns for the encore with ‘Nice To Know You’, the opening track from the superb album ‘Morning View’ (2001), and ‘Tomorrow’s Food’, from ‘If Not Now, When?’. This completes a fantastic show, with Boyd acknowledging tonight’s performance being long overdue. “It’s been a pleasure to play for you guys tonight, sorry it took so long” he says. No worries there Brandon, it certainly appears that Wolverhampton forgives you.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston