(photo credit: AVIHAI LEVY)
Alternative rock heavyweights Incubus kicked off their first Israeli gig since 2007 with an apology on Tuesday night in Ra’anana: “Sorry it’s been so long since we’ve come back here,” said towering, statuesque frontman Brandon Boyd. “We will try not to stay gone for so long.”
Tuesday night the band deserved the even bigger crowd and a much louder sound system than were present for their prior performance, with Amphipark Ra’anana and its stage design resembling the Statue of Liberty crown delivering the perfect warm welcome.
Boyd had extra reason to celebrate the show: this performance forms part of their official return after falling off the grid for the past two years to write and record a new album, which was released this year.
20 years ago Incubus released the album Fungus Amongus, and went on to release six more. Watching them perform hit after hit Tuesday night, fusing ballads with hardcore metal bangers and catchy new tracks (which the crowd were only too happy to dance to) it’s clear that their broad range of genre influences have culminated in a musical epiphany: Incubus is back, better than ever.
Heavy on flashbacks from the ‘90s and early ‘00s, watching them felt like hopping into a time capsule catapulting you back to the very first moment you heard Incubus. Even Boyd, tattooed and shirtless, seems like he hasn’t aged a day.
On the strength of the frontman’s songwriting and the band’s tight, lively delivery, Incubus – lead guitarist Mike Einziger, Chris Kilmore on turntables and keyboards, bassist Ben Kenney and unstoppable José Pasillas on drums – have an energy that’s infectious.
During the opening song, “Wish You Were Here,” Boyd was already charging furiously across the stage.
No matter that the song is 14 years old – it connected with the audience.
The band mirrored the crowd’s excitement, and in the realm of live performance there is nothing sweeter.
They found the right gear on the second song, “Anna Molly,” with Boyd warning the ecstatic crowd, “It’s gonna be a hot night!” He wasn’t kidding; the heat parade was on – “A Kiss to Send Us Off,” “Are You In?” “Nice to Know You,” “Megalomaniac” (featuring Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” during the bridge) then finishing off with the appropriate “pardon me while I burst into flames” during “Pardon Me.”
Incubus tried out “Absolution Calling,” “Trust Fall” and “Dance Like You’re Dumb” from their new four-track EP, Trust Fall (Side A), released back in May. Every one of them were well received, Boyd’s impressive, ragged vocal range undercutting the new ambient sound while Kenny and Einziger’s guitars snarled and entwined together perfectly. Still, nothing beat the classic encore, “Drive,” with concert-goers clutching their chests and singing along.
The only false note was how often Boyd thanked the crowd with “muchos gracias” instead of “shalom.” It seems after their recent tour to Mexico for “Festival Cubre Tajín,” we’re not the only ones stuck in a time warp.
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