Live at The Regent Theater
Los Angeles, CA
September 27th, 2017
Review and photos by Travis Baumann
The Belgian EBM pioneers, Front 242 return to Los Angeles as part of Cold Waves and Das Bunker's resurgence of 1980's and 1990's electronic and industrial bands touring North America and playing here in Los Angeles.
Front 242 were one of the first bands I recall from that era and remained a constant favorite, hit tracks from those early albums still seeing club play to this day. Songs like "Headhunter", "Welcome to Paradise", and "Tragedy <For You>" surpassed the underground electronic scene and were recognized around the world.
Still featuring the primary musicians from that early era, Front 242 show the power of those songs as well as the albums that came after. Daniel B. and Patrick Codenys are the electronic music meisters that build the moving, dance-able sounds that underlie everything.
Patrick was predominant on stage playing keyboards but I am not certain if Daniel was behind the scenes or not touring at the moment. Jean-Luc De Meyer and Richard 23 handle all of the vocals, one of the first bands of this genre to feature alternating voices. The band also includes Tom Kroker on electronic drums for the live efforts.
They started off the show with "Happiness - More Angels" from 1993's experimental (even for them) album, "05:22:09:12 Off". Their live version is quite a bit different with Richard 23 bringing his rebel rousing energy to get the crowd going.
They proceeded to intermix songs from their earliest history to the latest releases jumping back in time to "Take One". One of my favorite albums to this day is "06:21:03:11 Evil" which provided the awesome "Religion" with Jean-Luc and Richard combining their voices to "Burn you Down!"
Hop-skotching back to the beginning they did "Body to Body", one of their earliest recordings before moving to their final studio release, "Pulse" for the song "Together".
They remained in the 2003 era for "Triple X Girlfriend" and then shot back in time to one of my favorite songs of theirs, "Quite Unusual" off of 1987's "Official Version" album. This song made a tremendous impact on me when first released and it was so cool to see it live. Jean-Luc's voice is deep and emotive and still sounds the same as it did twenty years ago.
Transitioning back to 2003's "Still and Raw" album they gave us "Loud" prior to going into a number of songs from their debut, "Geography" as well as a number of singles from that era. Richard 23 took center stage for "Funkahdafi" while Jean-Luc stood to one side with his arms crossed, posing as a tyrannical despot.
He reanimated to join in for "No Shuffle" before taking over lead vocals on "Lovely Day". "Commando Mix" is predominantly instrumental with the video screens taking on a central roll in the story for this song. "U-Men" rounded out this journey into their oldest material.
The signature stabbing synth sounds let the audience know what was coming next with the fan favorite, "Headhunter" getting everyone bounding up and down and counting off the steps of capturing the quarry with their fingers in the air.
Sticking to the massively popular "Front by Front" album for another club hit, they did "Im Rhythmus Bleiben" before heading off the stage. People screamed and cheered until they returned.
They began the encore with "Operating Tracks" from their debut album before finishing off the night with "Welcome to Paradise" which utilizes sound clips from infamous televangelists exclaiming "Oh god, I am a sinner... I deserve to go to hell" and the tell-tale phrase which everyone screamed out loud "No sex until marriage".
A generous set of seventeen songs taken from throughout their history. It was a great set but I was a bit disappointed that not a single song from "Tyranny <For You>" got played as that was an amazing album to say the least.
All in all, it was awesome to see Front 242 again and enjoy the songs of my youth mixed with songs from later in life. I am still hoping that they actually put out a new studio album of fresh material as they have not recorded anything since 2003 other than live albums and remastering of older releases that include rare or previously unreleased singles but for now, we at least have live experiences like this to enjoy them through.
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