Pendulum's meteoric rise has been truly phenomenal. Since their inception and growth as underground Drum 'N' Bass heroes, the UK-based Australian band has risen up to become dance-rock behemoths and one of the most popular bands around in the world right now. Their two superb studio albums are only part of the reason for this world-wide love affair. Their music has an appeal that stretches across all kinds of music lovers from DnB fanatics to head-bangers, and reaches all kinds of people. But arguably the main reason, is the fantastic live show they put on (which this reviewer was lucky enough to experience in June 2008). So what better way to show off the fantastic performance that has helped raise their profile than to release a live album?
Filmed in December 2008 at London's world-famous Brixton Academy (the setting for many a live album), the band work their way through a setlist that contains all their biggest and best songs to date. Although there is obviously a big focus on the newer material being promoted from 2008's In Silico (Propane Nightmares, The Tempest, Showdown, Different and more), all the old favourites that got the band so hotly talked about are here too. (Slam, Blood Sugar, Hold Your Colour, Fasten Your Seatbelt and even a rare live performance of Tarantula). There are also welcome inclusions for the hugely popular Voodoo People remix (Originally by The Prodigy), and a short stab at Metallica's classic Master Of Puppets, as the band show off their eclectic influences.
The sound quality on both the CD and the DVD are both superb, as is the visual footage on the DVD version. Many cameras were used, and a veriety of interesting angles and visual effects are used to capture the colourful atmostphere of a Pendulum live show. The bass and drums provided by Gareth McGrillen and Paul Kodish pound and slam with great clarity, and Perry Gwynedd and Rob Swire's guitars and synths are just the right level so as not to intrude on the vital sound. Vocals aren't Pendulum's main feature, but mainman Rob Swire delivers his singing well when called upon, whether it's an emotive howl (The Tempest, Hold Your Colour) or an electronic croak (The Otherside). MC Ben "The Verse" Mount, delivers his usual and sometimes slightly annoying calls for crowd to jump, go crazy, etc, which they do with gusto. But he also knows when to take a step back and let me music do the talking. He is also impressive taking on the main vocal parts for Tarantula. By the end, his presence is well-justified.
Just to sweeten the deal even more, there are additional extras on this CD/DVD package too, including fan remixes of songs, and other additional content such as alternate footage shot by Pendulum fan club members. On the subject of the fans, at this gig they were absolutely fantastic, singing along enthusiastically, screaming with awe at the songs unfolding in front of them. It is pleasing to hear they they have not been edited out of the mix, (save for a few appropriate moments). Instead, Pendulum have really done their best to make this sound like a proper live record, as it should be.
All in all, this is another fine edition to the ever-growing number of live albums made at Brixton academy. With a new studio album apparently due in late 2009/Early 2010, the sky is the limit for this band if they can carry on writing great crowd-pleasing songs that appeal to so many people, and putting on the great live shows that this album demonstrates so well. If you haven't seen them live, do it. You won't regret it. And if you're in a band and want to know how to perform live, watch this DVD to see how it's really done.