Right at the start of the year The Black Queen released one of the finest electronic music releases of the year with 'Fever Daydream', an album we said was 'fun, slick, sensual and has this duality of being both tender and danceable' which is thanks to sonic textures which are capable of being thick and throbbing as well as glacial and ethereal. This is also due to vocalist Greg Puciato having incredible range, being able to switch from gentle crooning to empowering roaring instantly. Puciato also fronts The Dillinger Escape Plan, a band vastly different with their all-over-the-place mathcore and experimentation, making The Black Queen a vehicle for Puciato to further display what else he's capable of as a singer. Dillinger Escape Plan shows are also infamously chaotic with Puciato himself often climbing walls and ceilings, running on people as well as fire-breathing, so tonight in Manchester Puciato shows how he can different kind of excellent in a live sense.
Firstly though we have Collapsing Scenery who deliver an exciting show themselves with vivid, flashing visuals to match their glitchy sound, whilst their frontman dominates the stage like a lion, constantly prowling about, stomping and rolling about on the end.
The Black Queen hit the stage and instantly it's an enchanting show with flickering strobe lights accompanying the chillingly, delicate 'Strange Quark' and 'Distanced'. These tracks are so sensual and Puciato performs them fittingly, lightly singing close to the microphone as if he's serenading it. Even though a lot of people know the words, no one's singing loudly unless Puciato is, as if they want to hear every word clearly. They're followed by some of The Black Queen's more dance orientated tracks, 'That Death Cannot Touch' and 'Secret Scream' in which Puciato loosens up more, as the pops and locks, bounces around and twirls his mic stand about, everything he does remaining stylish just like the music.
Some people may come see The Black Queen and be disappointed to see Puciato not hanging from ceilings or running on people's heads like he does at Dillinger shows, but Puciato is truly a man who lives in the moment and lets the music guide him and The Black Queen's music stimulates you in a way that sooths you and to be at peace, not attack everything in sight.
It's not just all about Puciato though. Joshua Eustis provides the backbone, delivering beats and textures that fuse pulsating and serene so seamlessly and entice people making them bop. As for Steven Alexander, whilst much of his guitarwork isn't overly noticeable on 'Fever Daydream' his necessity is a lot more evident onstage, as whilst what he plays is quiet, it supports the sound and he constantly looms over the crowd being a menacing presence, frantically tremolo picking.
Every song from Fever Daydream gets an airing. 'Ice To Never' is slick fun which has people roaring at its lavish chorus and is probably the high point of the gig. This song is just so infectious and euphoric thanks to the lush synths and its lyrical themes of self-exploration being highly relatable and enlightening, making it more than just catchiness that makes people sing along to this.
They close with the subdued 'Apocalypse Morning', perhaps the most ghostly song in their arsenal and one which builds and builds with much swaying until Puciato grabs a guitar and he and Alexander are pumping out tranquil shoegaze-like feedback and choral notes whilst Puciato stomps about amongst the flickering strobes, making for a stunning sight.
Puciato tells the crowd "this is only our seventh show, but it's been the best one you guys" and it's hard not to believe he was just saying that, this show was stunning. For 40 minutes everyone was just under The Black Queen's spell. It's impossible not to be enticed by their beats, it's impossible not to connect with the lyrics and it's impossible not to be in awe of Puciato being a frontman able to thrill no matter what he's doing. With Dillinger Escape Plan breaking up next year, we can only hope this becomes his day-job.
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