Whenever a dormant band emerges from the ether after years of hibernation, it's easy to speculate on a motive. Why now? What's the catch? Is it an attention-starved cry for help or a money-grab? In the case of the criminally-overlooked 90s band Failure, it was a chance to come back and do it right. And with a stop at St. Andrews Hall over the holiday weekend, I was curious to check it out.
The air was thick with anticipation. A mostly laid-back crowd filled the hall, talking amongst themselves, wondering what was in store for the night. Both long-time fans and those that may have just recently discovered the band stood with eyes fixed to the stage. Once the band appeared and began the opening notes of "Another Space Song," the crowd lit up. (And speaking of lights, the band had a Tron-like setup on stage with ropes of LED outlines that would glow with the moods of the music.) It was obvious from the start that the band was dialed-in, bringing new life to the older material. Since I never saw them back in the day, I can't say for sure, but I would wager that this is the best the band has ever sounded. While keeping in line with the familiar space-rock tones featured on the signature album Fantastic Planet, the lineup of Andrews, Edwards and Scott had a more muscular feel that powered the tunes like they haven't been played in years.
The night was carefully choreographed for maximum effect, starting without an opener and playing two separate sets loaded with gems like "Frogs," "Solaris," and standout hit "Stuck on You." The band was note perfect and played with a fantastic attention to detail. It was obvious that the guys hadn't just been sitting around for the last decade. And it's true, that the guys have been active in different projects (like Autoloux and Replicants) and it made the playing that much better. The first set ended with a flawless version of "The Nurse Who Loved Me," which gained a second life on A Perfect Circle's Thirteenth Step in 2003.
After a 15 minute intermission, with the stage aglow the band returned to power through several more tunes, ending with the haunting and chugging "Heliotropic." The crowd went bananas and it was clear that an encore was in order. And without fail (see what I did there?) the band came back and rocked through three more classics, including "Macaque" from their debut album Comfort. At the end of the night it was clear that Detroit had not forgotten about Failure, and hopefully the mojo of this reunion tour will lead to more in the near future.
Check out more Failure right here.