As one of only two 2017 UK shows being played by the djent juggernaut that Periphery have become, there was a palpable air of excitement at the Kentish Town Forum. The kind of audience excitement comes to British music venues far too infrequently. As the opening acts, Destrage and The Contortionist, gave some very solid performances to prepare the crowd for the show, that air of excitement just became progressively more prominent, and for good reason. Once Periphery took to the stage, they wasted no time at all in ripping into a setlist that spanned their entire career.
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Touring off the back of their third album; 2016’s incredible ‘Periphery III’, the band absolutely nailed track after track from the album. It was clear that the fans were just as enamoured with the most recent Periphery release as the critics. Everyone relished the opportunity to sing along (or just go nuts) to tracks like ‘Marigold’ and ‘The Way the News Goes’. Despite this, however, Periphery couldn’t resist dipping into their back catalogue to pull out a great collection of fan favourites from their ‘Juggernaut’ era, as well as breaking out a cover of Haunted Shores‘s ‘Memento’.
One thing Periphery have managed to pull off that seems to elude a lot of bands in the modern metal scene is the energy they effortlessly produce. For six guys to send an entire theatre into a frenzied madness is quite the achievement, and that’s exactly what Periphery achieved. From the very front row to the seats right at the back of the balcony, by the time ‘The Price Is Wrong‘ was being blasted out from the stage, every single person in the venue was standing, dancing and singing along to some of the best prog-metal out there.
This kind of fun-loving energy, combined with singer Spencer Sotelo’s great stage presence and charisma really helped everyone watching feel engaged with the band. With Periphery, crowd interaction wasn’t coming through as the awkward, forced conversation with a bored audience that it too often can with other bands. Instead, the group were constantly involving their fans with the music they were enjoying, with an energy that drove everybody absolutely insane (in the best kind of way).
Perhaps the reason Periphery are able to channel the kind of ridiculous energy they have at their live shows is because of the band’s magical chemistry. It’s clear that the guys loved every minute of their performance together. Whether running around the stage, or having old school guitar battles, ultimately, t hey knew how to have fun. There can be little doubt that, given time, Periphery will be live music legends. Even during the set’s more emotional, ballad-like moments — tracks such as the encore, Lune, providing the best kind of emotional sing-a-long anyone could hope for — the band were still able to project the kind of fun-loving energy into the crowd that made sure nobody stopped enjoying themselves.
From start to finish, Periphery played an incredibly varied, absolutely unbeatable set. For fans of their earliest days, there may have been some disappointment with a lack of songs from the band’s first album. Despite this, the sheer showmanship of every member more than made up for it. The incredible progressive riffs and drum fills have never sounded better and, while the intensely technical nature of their music might have made it hard to work out a good head-banging rhythm, that was all part of the fun.
Periphery are without a doubt one of the best djent-fuelled prog metal bands out there right now. If this show was anything to go by, they’ve certainly got the kind of live showmanship to turn them into legendary figures in the wider progressive scene.