LIVE REVIEW: Polyphia, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 31/05/2023
Photo Credit: Jack Geddes (10th May 2023 – Glasgow)
With their recent record Remember That You Will Die, instrumental lords Polyphia feel like they have hit their stride. Where the neon aesthetics of Lit helped paint a picture of Polyphia’s exterior of being technical music’s answer to flawless anime characters and Champagne witnessed the early birth of a baby-faced band destined to grow into mature proficient musicians. Almost ten years later, Polyphia have hit that promised peak their career has been building up to over the course of these evolving eras, that have ultimately shaped the life and not death of Polyphia.
Outside of their now heavily tattooed anime image, expensive Lexani whips and signature Ibanez models that financially reflect their collective success as a band, the bigger reflection in the mirror of Polyphia comes with Remember That You Will Die. Classy, timeless and grandiose backdrops grace the music videos that accompany the albums sublime singles ABC, Playing God, Ego Death and Chimera, crushed velvet chaise lounge, golden sculpted architecture and plush black thrones are now the treatment for a modern day Polyphia visual. And that’s to mention the star-studded names that have enlisted everyone from guitar saviour Steve Vai to Deftones’ Chino Moreno and Hip-Hop extraordinaire Killstation to trilingual pop process Sophia Black. Polyphia are not only now virtuosos of djent and prog rock, but they are genre bending maestros in R&B, hip-hop, pop and beyond.
On their second sold out show technical instrumental gods Polyphia enrich Shepherds Bush’s O2 Empire with genre bending vocal less masterclass, putting them in the higher echelons of legends who are masters of their art, making mind melting riffs and mind-blowing patterns look sexy, performed effortlessly the entire evening.
You might be shocked and surprised then to find out that out of a sixteen song setlist, only three of the tracks performed are taken from Remember That You Will Die. Set opener Genesis, followed by Neutotica and later Playing God are those tracks, each one however performed to absolute perfection. From Genesis’ grove orientated jazz silky sounds provide an easy easing in opener, before Neutorica and Playing God gets Polyphia’s fingers moving fast but the audiences’ feet moving faster, guitarist Scott LaPage demanding during Playing God “We wanna see crowd surfers, we wanna see mosh pits.” Despite Polyphia’s tunes being voiceless with no bleghs or vocal beckons, instigating a traditional mosh pit started with a breakdown, Polyphia’s pristine guitars and drums are the voice the band need to create the same atmosphere as much as a heavy metal show does.
Hardly no new material means more room for old songs, the band take it all the way back to Muse for the party-poppin Champagne and if you were a true Polyphia fan, that’s what you would be drinking tonight. Elsewhere, O.D. from New Levels New Devils showcases some of Tim Henson’s finest guitar licks and tricks of the evening. Henson remains the vocally quiet but instrumentally violent member of the evening, that’s until closer Euphoria comes into play, Henson crowd surfing clutching his sig Ibanez and stroking every single string to sheer magnificence, bringing the masterclass Polyphia have been exhibiting for over an hour to a magnificent climax. 9.5/10
Written By: Katie Conway-Flood