Reunited L.A. alt-rockers Failure aren’t just playing the oldies anymore. Last night the trio brought the songs from their excellent new album, The Heart is a Monster, to an enthusiastic and large Lee’s Palace audience. Playing in front of two video screens that flanked the drum kit (which must be a first for Lee’s), Ken Andrews and Greg Edwards delivered what had to be one of the most all-encompassing displays of guitar dynamics that your trusty reviewer has ever had the privilege of witnessing! The duo would shift effortlessly from mind-melting power chords to sensitive minor key flourishes, but it was the tones the pair were creating that were so satisfying to the ear. Proving no less capable was the man behind the kit, Kellii Scott. Whether he was thundering over his toms with muscular fills or pummeling his snare to within an inch of its life, Scott was truly a wonder to behold with his channeling of John Bonham.

The show kicked off with a pair from the new record; lead single “Hot Traveler” and “A.M. Amnesia” quickly laid any doubts to rest whether the new material would hold up live. The band has never sounded as down-right groovy as they do on “Hot Traveler”, what with its angular riff that slides up and down the fretboard. While “A.M. Amnesia” has a chorus that reaches for the heavens and a deserved place on F.M. radio.

As brilliant a record as Fantastic Planet is (and it is a classic) and as rewarding as “The Heart is a Monster” is, it was such a treat to hear the band dip into the back catalogue and pull out three songs from 1994’s Magnified. “Wet Gravity”, “Let it Drip” and “Undone” all sounded as crunchy and fresh as when they were first released.

It wasn’t all fuzzy loud guitars and bone crunching kick drums either, Failure was more than happy to showcase its softer side too by breaking out Monster’s haunting piano driven ballad “Mulholland Drive.” In introducing the song, Andrews mentioned how important and special it was to the band, and with its cinematic flavour, one can easily imagine it ending up in a Hollywood production sooner or later.

The second half of the show was dedicated almost exclusively to Fantastic Planet and it started with that record’s opening salvos: “Saturday Saviour” and “Sergeant Politeness”. They would later conclude the show with a trifecta of FP faves, including the hit single “Stuck On You”, the heavy bass drone of “Heliotropic” and the cymbal crashing spectacle of “Daylight.”

In talking with Kellii Scott before the show, he mentioned that the future of the band possibly lies in how successful this tour and album prove to be…well, if we were to judge it on this night alone, I would say that the future for Failure looks bright indeed!

- Johnny Hooper