There was a time in my young adult life where the prospect of attending a Voivod show felt less of a possibility to manning a mission for the purpose of exploring the environs of planet Mars, so it is indeed quite ironic that the first band whose show I get to watch on Belgian soil, following a three-month tenure in this beautiful country, is that of the Canadian Techno/Prog Thrash quartet.
The timing, thankfully, could not have been any better; not only is the weather pretty warm for this time of year but it has also been less than a month since the release of “The Wake” – Voivod’s fourteenth studio album, which just so happens to be one of the best they have so far recorded in their long and pretty illustrious career.
Having negotiated a forty-minute train trip from Antwerp to Brussels, and successfully navigated through one of the roughest-looking areas in the north part of the city, I found myself outside what looked like an old abandoned warehouse.
Actually, had it not been for a group of middle-aged men sporting t-shirts featuring covers of the band’s most iconic albums, I would have sworn that I was waiting at the wrong place. Minutes following my arrival I was led to the very bowels of what is called the “Magasin 4” where I soon discovered that my original assessment of the venue was, unsurprisingly, pretty damn accurate.
In a state of total bliss, having purchased the customary tour t-shirt as well as a limited copy of Voivod’s latest 7’’ “Always Moving”, I opted to find a good spot from where to watch what I expected to be a great show.
It was at exactly 19:40 that the five members of the Greek Thrash Metal outfit Bio-Cancer hit the stage and they immediately tried to win as many Voivod fans as possible with their high-octane, riff-based, energy-driven Metal.
Sadly, Magasin 4 proved to be less than a hospitable environment for the young band, as not only was the sound on offer unbelievably fuzzy (both the lead guitar and Lefteris Hatziandreous’ screamo vocals getting almost completely lost on the mix) but also a great number of fans opted to stay outside during the band’s set rather than support them in their quest.
That did not stop the Greeks from giving a pretty decent performance and even dedicate a song to those from the crowd who chose to invest in their music. Forty or so minutes after first making their presence felt, Bio-Cancer gave their last bows – their sweat-drenched shirts testament to the heart and soul they put on their short set in support of the mighty Voivod.
Preparing the stage for the Canadian quartet could not have taken more than twenty minutes, but to both myself and the band’s numerous other loyal fans it really felt like a lifetime.
Thankfully, the venue was fairly full and the atmosphere pretty damn electric the moment the members of Voivod made their dynamic entry to the sounds of “Post Society” – an up-tempo guitar-driven gem whose main theme the Belgian crowd was more than happy to sing along to.
The chemistry between the members of the band and the crowd was out of this world so I was not at all surprised by the reception offered to the all-time classic “Ravenous Medicine”.
Sporting his favorite Cardiacs shirt and clearly in a great mood, guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain was the star of tonight’s show, presenting us with a pretty impressive rendition of newbie “Obsolete Beings” while ‘visiting’ every inch of the Magasin’s moderate-sized stage.
If there is one song from the mighty “Dimension Hatross” album that I expected the band to perform tonight that would have to be “Tribal Conviction”, the four Canadians opting instead for the more Rock’n’Rolly “Technocratic Manipulators”, followed by the much more technically demanding “Into My Hypercube” which did manage to offer some solace to my slightly broken heart.
Being in the French-speaking part of Belgium enabled vocalist Denis “Snake” Belanger to communicate with his fans in what could be considered his ‘native language’ (Quebecois is an interesting variety of French used in certain parts of Canada) so both “Inconspiracy” and the much-loved “The Prow” followed a few interesting exchanges between him and fellow Voivodians – one of which could not have been more than eight years old but which really seemed to be enjoying himself during a killer performance of “Order Of The Blackguards”.
It is interesting to observe a drummer as skilled as Michel “Away” Langevin stretching his artistic muscles in song as thematically diverse as “Fall” and “Always Moving” – the latter being fairly accurately introduced by Snake as being “Punk, Thrash, Psychedelic…you name it”.
It took eleven whole songs and a good hour on stage before Snake decided to introduce the members of the band to us – a process which incorporated four massive rounds of applause, following which we were treated with top quality performances of both “The Lost Machine” and the band’s trademark same-titled composition “Voivod”.
As far as encores go, the one provided by Voivod may indeed be one of the shortest ever, however, “Overreaction” is a really great tune to sum up what was a magnificent performance by a truly legendary band – one whose latest body of work clearly suggests that it remains as innovative and relevant as ever.
Voivod decided to celebrate 35 years of existence in the finest possible manner; on the road performing for their numerous die-hard fans. Do yourselves a favor and attend one of these shows – you will most certainly won’t get disappointed!
Review by Ioannis (John) Stefanis
Voivod Set List:
Post Society/Ravenous Medicine/Obsolete Beings/Technocratic Manipulators/Into My Hypercube/Iconspiracy/The Prow/Order Of The Blackguards/Fall/Always Moving/The Lost Machine/Voivod Encore: Overreaction
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