After becoming the defining band of the mathcore genre with 1999 debut 'Calculating Infinity', Dillinger have taken their template, made by face-melting technique, bone-crushing aggression as well as mad-scientist insanity, and woven many different styles into their sound over the years. There's been jazz technique, pop melody, electronic overtones, classical grandeurs and their most recent record 'Dissociation' saw them being more adventurous than ever and displaying their maximum potential. Along with putting out their finest album, Dillinger have decided to call it quits, making these their last UK shows. They play Manchester tonight to display how to do it live.

The Dillinger Escape Plan

Firstly though we have some rather crushing support from Primitive Weapons who display crunchy, concrete heavy slabs of thick metal, with each low note feeling like a brick to the ear. Ho99o9 are the best kind of maniacs delivering a hip-hop, hardcore punk hybrid whilst doing somersaults, stage-diving, throwing a bin or cornflakes at the crowd, stomping around the stage or getting in the pit.

They nearly match tonight's main event, but Dillinger have too many tricks up their sleeves to be shown up. Where to begin with this band and this show? How about what they're most known for and that's their mathcore ragers. Tracks like 'Sugar Coated Sour' and tonight's opener 'Limerent Death' with all their contorted intensity, thanks to all-over-the-place fretwork and maladjusted swing, which make the dance floor a warzone with people charging everywhere mindlessly.

Then there's how Dillinger perform these songs with guitarist Ben Weinman prancing off amps, swinging his guitar everywhere and stage diving whilst lurching out the noise. Frontman Greg Puciato is much the same, flailing his whole body and also climbing amps, whether he be shrieking like each word is a knife or skyrocketing with his soaring cleans, and Dillinger's melodic streak should not go underappreciated. With 'Black Bubblegum' people go from terrorising each other to bouncing up and down, maybe in arms with friends, like this is a summer festival and not a university room in January. This song being so funky and full of sass with strutting bass and irresistible high notes countering in-your-face snarls in Puciato's vocals. 'Symptom Of Terminal Illness' likewise is impossible not to sing along to with a colossal chorus, but plenty of menacing tones underlying to keep it distinctly Dillinger.

Perhaps the most absurd moment of tonight comes from 'Low Feels Blvd' where there is a circle pit to a jazz fusion solo. In case you haven't heard the song, this isn't jazz influence underlying metal riffs like Dillinger have done for years, this is a full-on sophisticated, wandering jazz with towering noodling and classy playing from the rhythm section. It's a testament to how special this band are, that people are moshing to something that has no history of people slamming to it, whatsoever. You can't imagine anyone else pulling something off like this and you'd maybe shed a tear at what a sight it was to behold, if you weren't in the action yourself. For even more diversity 'Nothing To Forget' has people bashing into each other for the most part to chugging, stompy guitars and like-wise sees Dillinger keeping hyper themselves. But it gets to the heartbroken sounding bridge where Weinman takes to a keyboard delivering delicate notes whilst Puciato is equally serene, gently serenading into his mic and the crowd just gaze in awe.

'Farewell, Mona Lisa' deserves to be heralded as the 'Bohemian Rhapsody' or 'Paranoid Android' of extreme music, the way that it's split into three sections, each with such distinctive character. The first being an onslaught of frantic chaos woven with firm groove, the second sounding like a testament from the abyss with limp noodling and Puciato stating 'there's no feeling in this place, the echoes of the past speak louder than, any voice I hear right now, don't you ever try to be, more than you were destined for, or anything, worth fighting for.' Then the third act, feels like standing amongst an earthquake with charging riffs that make the walls come down and Puciato's lyrics being at their most bitter and nihilistic. It's a phenomenal song on record and it's a phenomenal song tonight.

There is one song though, which stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of displaying just how adventurous this band are and that's 'Mouth Of Ghosts', which is mostly a stunning, morose samba song largely made by reflective piano which is flashy in technique, but nuanced in delivery making it all the more emotional. The piano goes on its own journey, sometimes taking cautious steps and other times, all-out running, whilst the reinforcing, steadily-paced rhythm keeps you locked in at all times. For the climax it transcends genre boundaries and becomes a thing entirely its own with dominant chord strokes and gigantic, emotive rock vocals making this as impactful as anything heavy that Dillinger have done. Despite this being the least action packed song of the night, it's arguably the highlight of the show with the whole crowd being controlled in an entirely different way, being paralysed with wonder.

Then to completely turn things around again, it's time for the ultimate batsh*t monster that is 'Sunshine The Werewolf' with all the classic Dillinger tropes at their finest. This song features some of their most crushing guitar stabs and rapid, dizzying noodling. The tranquil, Latin-tinged bridge is the calm before the storm as well as a rallying call for people to get to Puciato, who is on the barrier, to scream the venomous lyrics with fans. The charging, direct guitars cut through the peace as well as Puciato screeching 'DE-STROY-ERRRRRRRRRRRRRR' and people are squeezing to the front to yell into the mic with him, the crowdsurfers being the most successful.

Sadly, though the gig was cut a little short from a crowd member passing out at the front and having to be seen to. He was breathing, but had to be put in a neck brace. We wish this fellow a speedy recovery and encourage caution and looking out for one another at shows, especially ones that can get as wild as this one. Dillinger handled the situation perfectly, immediately stopping and checking up on the guy as soon as it was apparent something was wrong, as did the security and medics who don't get enough credit in this business.

Other than that though, this show was about as impressive as it gets. The energy was a level few bands can match live, whether that be how mental Dillinger themselves go or how hard the crowd couldn't resist going to the majority of their songs. Even more so than the craziness though, when you look at Dillinger's records, it's clear they're a band who know anything is possible in music from how much different styles they've managed to weave into their sound. But if you'd never heard of them and witnessed tonight, the same would be clear, with them managing to get through varied kinds of music and every kind of emotion with just a 16 song setlist. This band have a near-flawless discography and they're somehow able to be even better live and when the sad day comes that they play their final show, they will then be looked back on as one of the all-time greats.

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