By Bradley West
Modestep, well known for their intense, electronic influences, mixed with hard rock, and strong vocals entered 2015 under a new guise. They unveiled their new logo on NYE, along with a glimpse of their new album, in the form of the free track ‘Snake’. It sees Modestep appearing to move more toward their rock influences, playing down the electronic aspects of their production, the opposite of what many similar artists in their field have done.
Their Monday night performance at Gorilla, one of the first in a series of intimate shows before festival season, sought to clarify this new direction after a year and a half of hiatus for the group. Their return saw them introduce themselves as ‘Modestep 2.0’ with two enthusiastic new members on drums and guitar, both of whom played excellently on the night, especially the drummer, who absolutely justified his place in a group who could very easily turn to technology to replace him. A good balance of new and old material was played, the distinction between the two hammered home by the level of the subs, which gave Modestep’s sound impact, to put it lightly. This showed their movement away from the older, almost weaponised sounding dubstep that uses short stabbing tones, and into a new style using low frequency synth and distorted guitar to deliver energy in their tracks. Incidentally, energy is a term that is almost redundant at a Modestep gig, trying to rank their tracks in terms of energy is near impossible as every one is, in a word, huge. This, coupled with the command that the group hold over their fans, mean that it’s difficult to be unmoved by their performance.
One fairly large criticism was the fact that a large portion of the electronic part of their songs was pre-recorded, and merely mixed, rather than performed live. There were some elements of live electronic components, including the brief use of synths, but the show would have definitely benefitted from more live demonstration of the impressive level of production of their material. Overall though, the show was a welcome return for Modestep who have stepped comfortably back into their genre bridging role.