Colchester Arts Centre truly is a beautiful venue. A desanctified church, which dates back to around 1206, that has been transformed into a multi-functional venue catering to around 400 people at a standing show. A lot of its features still remain and create a stunning environment for a rock show. And it's a rock show that has brought me here tonight. The venue may be beautiful but entering through a graveyard in the dark it does feel as if Halloween has come a couple of weeks early.
Performing at the Arts Centre tonight will be American rockers Madina Lake on their 'Farewell Tour'. First up however are fellows Americans The Super Happy Fun Club. The Chicago six-piece put in a decent shift opening the show for tonight's crowd and the audience appear to be impressed by their short slot. I donít think they will ever trouble charts or the general masses, but we could have done a lot worse for our first act tonight.
Next on stage are Brits Fearless Vampire Killers. Having heard good things about this band I came tonight with a certain level of expectation, one which was sadly not met. Don't get me wrong they weren't bad; they were just not at the level I expected which is my fault for expecting too much. They were entertaining with their cover of Phil Collins' 'Easy Lover' the highlight of their performance. The crowd isn't very big tonight, perhaps not even half the capacity, but those gathered are appreciative of Fearless Vampire Killers and are obviously far more impressed then I.
Having formed in Chicago in 2005, Madina Lake are spearheaded by brothers Nathan and Matthew Leone. Together with Mateo Camargo and Dan Torelli they set about an adventure that would see them release three albums based around the concept of a missing girl named Adalia from a fictional town. This trilogy was completed in 2011 with the release of 'World War III', and now they are calling it a day and bowing out with this tour being their farewell to the UK.
The band have seen moderate success, picking up awards and playing main stage at both the UKís Download and Sonisphere Festivals. Iíve never personally seen the appeal having seen them at these festivals and not been impressed, but I thought I'd give then another chance to impress. My thinking being that this being their own show and in the middle of a lengthy tour they would be in top form.
Sadly if tonight's showing is their top form then they have proven themselves nothing more than average. They are far from the well oiled, tightly knit outfit coming across as rushed and disjointed. It's hard to hear or even understand vocalist Nathan at times and the rest of the band appear to be going through the motions. Nathan tries to add energy to the performance but the small crowd tonight doesn't help.
The set list tonight is comprised mostly of debut album 'From Them, Through Us, To You' with a small selection of tracks from their other albums. The fact that their second and third albums are largely ignored says a lot in my books and if that's the case it's perhaps for the best that they call it quits now. A regular flow of new music is essential for a band to survive these days and they obviously havenít got confidence in their recent releases.
Madina Lake have done well for themselves in the eight years that they have been together. Most people would kill for the success that they have created for themselves and they must be given applause for that. However removing them from the rock landscape doesn't exactly leave a gaping hole!
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article by: Paul Barnes
photos by: Denis Gorbatov