The Deftones performed a “History 101”-style concert Tuesday at the sold-out House of Blues, laying out chunks of each of its records in a steady march back to the band’s beginnings.
The Deftones began with four songs from 1997’s “Around the Fur,” then touched upon its 2003 self-titled album with “Minerva,” lurched into three from 2010’s “Diamond Eyes,” and so on. Only its most popular album, 2000’s “White Pony,” was broken apart, but not terribly so as the Deftones still paired “Feiticeira” and “Digital Bath” for a tumultuous centerpiece to the 90-minute concert. “Change (in the House of Flies)” from “White Pony” came later in the show.
The album-driven pacing highlighted how each Deftones project, while heavy, has a unique accent, be it the seething fury of “Adrenaline” or spectral psychedelia of “Diamond Eyes.”
There have been times in the Deftones career when singer Chino Moreno seemed so buried in the material that he forgot he was performing to an audience. Now, though, Moreno is funny and engaging between songs before plugging into whichever mode a tune demands. Moreno credibly went from the mournful poet of “Tempest,” one of four potent shots from the new “Koi No Yokan” album, to the tortured psycho of “Lotion.”
Though matured, the band still comes across as a scrappy survivor, perhaps the result of overcoming a mid-career lull after “White Pony” and then coping with the auto accident that has left bassist Chi Cheng in a minimally conscious state. Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega is integral to the Deftones’ current sound and wholly plugged into the vintage material. But Cheng is not forgotten, as the band dedicated the deep cut “Rivière” from “Saturday Night Wrist” to the bassist.
The final songs of the night came from the band’s debut album, easily its angriest and rawest work. But as time bore out and this concert highlighted, such songs as “Engine No. 9,” “Nosebleed,” “Root,” and “7 Words” were fomenting bolder ideas that lifted the Deftones above the rap-rock pack it first arrived with nearly 20 years ago.
The Contortionist sputtered through an opening set of tentative prog-metal.Scott McLennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ScottMcLennan1.