The Edge, Tampa • August 11th, 1998
Michael D. Fellows
Do people go out on a Monday night in Ybor City? Most people don’t usually stay out till dawn on such a night, but on the occasion of Front 242’s first live tour of the US in four years, the industrial darkness society of Tampa Bay ventured out in masses. The smell of puke and piss greeted us as we entered the fine club called the Edge. The club is very sprawled out, with lots of places to lounge or even sleep. We managed to find a spot on one side of the stage, which gave us a great view of the spectacle to come, but also kept us clear from the tiny but surprisingly violent mosh pit that would form when the show began.
Front 242 came out at around midnight in a sea of smoke, to the shameless screams of “242.” The band consisted of Daniel Bressanutti (who was the drum programmer and keyboard player); Tim Kroker (the topless and semi-sweaty live drummer); and the dual vocal and dance talents of Jean-Luc De Meyer and Richard K. Jonckheere. The group’s founder, Patrick Codenys, was somewhere in the background. I assume his job was to fiddle with a bunch of knobs backstage and be kept far away from people. He is the main producer of the band.
The material performed was basically a greatest hits set list from their ten years together, with newly updated sounds and textures. Front 242 played for roughly an hour and a half with only one break. I was wholly impressed by the vocal talents of Jean-Luc and Richard, who gave as much energy as they could to make the crowd go quite mad at times. Security had to push back the mosh pit so people would not be inclined to jump on stage.
The sound was really loud but wonderfully mixed. If you can feel the bass in your gut and at the same time decipher the lyrics in your head, then the engineer did his job. New versions of such classics as “Moldavia,” “Body to Body,” “Welcome to Paradise,” and “Punish Your Machine” were dazzling live. The crowd, of course, went wild when the first chords of the beloved single and 242 breakthrough effort “Headhunter” pummeled us like a Tsunami. It was odd seeing 2,000 people chant the famous 1,2,3,4 chorus and mimic the antics of Jean-Luc and Richard in unison.
Comparing this show to the one I saw at Lollapa-loser 4 years ago, I would have to definitely give them credit for improving their vocals and especially the updated versions of old favorites which make them sound even more relevant today. I also would recommend their new Live Code album, which features most of the songs they performed live that night and more. In summary: a sweaty evening of dance and chanting.