Starset, Live at The O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London, 24 August 2017

Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media

The queue to get into the venue stretched round the block. The headline banner above the front door said SOLD OUT. It’s entirely possible that a lot of people were there to see headliners, Breaking Benjamin, as well but once inside, a significant number of people in the crowd are sporting Starset t-shirts and as the lights dim and the band head on to stage for a decent 45 minute set, a lot of people are chanting their name in anticipation.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Starset live, the last time being as support for In This Moment at KOKO in Camden. Subsequently they’ve supported Breaking Benjamin when the latter first ventured outside of the US to play but what we now need is a full headline set in the not too distant future. 

Surrounded by perspex screening, Adam Gilbert’s drum kit was shrouded in darkness until he sat down behind it with the familiar space suit outfit that the musicians in Starset are known for. The lights in his helmet glowing bright were further complimented by two large video screens either side of the stage that would display various images whilst the band played, mostly random imagery but acting as a great backdrop to both Ron DeChant on bass and lead guitarist Brock Richards both of whom utilise the screens to silhouette themselves as they play.

On cello and perched in front of a bank of monitors was (I believe) Jonathan Kampfe who, without spacesuit (cello and bulky suits tend not to mix well) played to add the cinematic qualities to the songs that many fans in The Forum know so well. 

When Dustin arrived on stage sporting a military uniform look as his main outfit, the style and shape of the band was completed. Utilising, as he does, the twin microphone approach that allows him to fluctuate the style and effect of his vocals during the songs, he delivered both powerful gruff vocals as well as the more harmonised, clean sound. The combination of the two in essence allowed him to perform a role that in other bands would typically take two people. A neat approach and one that worked well. 

Fan favourite and familiar single ‘My Demons’  made it into the set list quite early on. Now whether this was a calculated move with the band having such confidence in their other material or not is unclear but, where this has previously been a show closer, the audience reacted perfectly and sang along word for word. 

Knowing that time was short, the interaction with the crowd from Dustin was minimal, other than to check that the crowd were OK and occasionally acknowledging the city \ venue. It was all that was needed. The Starset songs and performance were what the audience were looking for and the band delivered. Latest album ‘Vessels’  was given as much room on the setlist as the debut and it’s an album that continues the stories set out in ‘Trasmissions’. With a longer graphic novel out now to accompany the music, the Starset universe is expanding rapidly and for those willing to put the time in to understand it, it’s a fascinating journey and one worth taking. 

The tracks from the debut release received more reaction from the audience but that’s probably down to the familiarity with the fans. When Dustin talked about the follow up, a cheer from the crowd affirmed that the fan base has every intention of sticking with this very unique band.

 Ron DeChant on on side of the stage ensured the visuals (screen and suit) matched with guitarist Brock Richards on the right whose identical attire helped create a surreal glow that brought to mind classic scenes from films like 2001 and Alien. Visually the band are almost flawless. The only gripe, a spotlight on Dustin would have been useful as the lead singer and founder of Starset spent most of his time shrouded in the darkness as the lighting did him very few favours.

Ricochet’, ‘Carnivore’ and ‘Telescope’ flew by with ease leaving a lot of the crowd with wide grins suggesting an enjoyable show from the band. The closed with ‘Monster’  one of the singles from the sophomore release and again, whilst not as familiar to the fans perhaps as some of the main tracks from ‘Transmissions’  it’s a solid track that should stay in the live show for some years to come. 

Having got the difficult second album out of the way, the momentum is building for Starset now. What they need to do next to return with a proper headlining show. There’s enough of a buzz about the band, the show itself warrants a headline spot and the songs weave a fascinating story that manages to bridge concept, rock, performance and more. A definite appeal to fans of multiple genres. 

SETLIST:

Into The Unknown \ Halo \ Frequency \ Satellite \ My Demons \ Bringing It Down \ Ricochet \ Carnivore \ Telescope \ Monster

Check out more about the band HERE

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