If you were ‘BORN WITH NO SOUL’, have a ‘LACK OF CONTROL’, or you’re ‘CUT FROM THE MOULD OF THE ANTI-SOCIAL’ – chances are you were writhing around with glee to Papa Roach at Brixton Academy on Tuesday night. A public service announcement instructed fans to “put their middle fingers up” as the band entered the stage and tore straight in to ‘Broken As Me’. The American nu-metal group were a force of nature, and the crowd was a sea of head-shaking and fist pumping from start to finish.
Third song in, they unleashed their powerhouse anthem ‘Between Angels & Insects’ which, along with other Infest classics, has stood the test of time. ‘Dead Cell’ and ‘Last Resort’ were both featured in the encore, and satisfied the appetites of old school Papa Roach fans, whilst ‘She Loves Me Not’ – taken from 2002’s Lovehatetragedy – proved front man Jacoby Shaddix’s lungs are as vast and powerful as ever.
Jacoby knew how to work the crowd, joyfully telling “motherfuckers” to bring everything they had to the mosh pits. They certainly did for ‘Scars’, but took a break for gentler single ‘Periscope’. Things were soon cranked up again with an unexpected but highly energetic cover of Blur’s ‘Song 2’, before the band performed a sobering and brief rendition of ‘In The End’ as a tribute to late Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington. It felt like an especially fitting way to mark the importance of World Mental Health Day. The rest of Papa Roach’s set was a blur of moshing madness and ferocious finger-flipping. Their relentless antics were fully reciprocated by appreciative fans, many of whom were wearing old band tees and raising their middle fingers to the sky in support of Jacoby & co.
Chosen as special guests by Papa Roach, support act Ho99o9 were suffering from an unnecessary case of imposter syndrome. The duo’s unique brand of mutant rap & punk didn’t stir the crowd in to the usual anarchic mosh, but their live energy is still un-matchable. Performing with trademark thrashing and confrontational gestures, the pair made light of the crowd’s apathy: “We know we’re not everyone’s cup of tea”. Tracks ‘Sub-Zero’ and ‘Face Tatt’ sounded as viscious as ever, and the menacing trap beats on ‘Bone Collector’ were as impressive as the back-flip Eaddy finished the set with.
If you ever get the chance to see Papa Roach (or Ho99o9) live, make sure you take it.