Flooded with nostalgia, Aiden’s final exhibition of their indomitable back catalogue embraced London’s Underworld as an old friend that will be sorely missed.
Opening Brighton boys City Of Ashes (8) establish a bass-heavy swaying tempo as the crowd cooperatively raises their hands in the air at the effortless command of frontman Orion Powell. With a distinct emo drawl, Orion connects with the audience naturally, while his tricksy bandmates establish a booming atmosphere and dutifully feel humbled by their place on such a monumental date for their scene.
Wales and Oxford crossbreeds Never Found (9) deliver riff after stunning riff, packing every ounce into their all too brief set. In expressing their gratitude to their headliners as influential figures in the establishment of their own careers, these cheeky chaps keenly demonstrate their talents in drawing the attention of every eye in the room. Frontman Daniel grasps the crowd in his palms and belts unexpectedly beautiful notes throughout – this is a band consciously chosen for this tour to ensure the continuation of Aiden’s legacy, and boy have they got the energy and dedication for it.
Intense from the onset, Ashestoangels (9) prove a fitting fan favourite to serenade the last goodbye for their influences. Frontman Crilly shows off his stage chemistry both with his fellow musicians and their gazing crowd, providing a thrashing midpoint with just enough energy to return the Underworld to its usual boiling temperature. You may think you’ve seen enough bassists by now, but you have to witness Nico writhing around the floor fit to burst with enthusiasm. Closing with a touching tribute to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Crilly brings a stark reminder that this night not only bids farewell to goth punk giants Aiden, but also to the reason punk exists in the first place.
There’s a palpable tension in the air as Wil Francis takes to the stage and commences Aiden’s (10) closing proceedings with ‘Crawling Up From Hell’, reminding fans that their final record is their free parting gift to the dedicated faces in the crowd. ‘Moment’ ignites the room with fan singalongs, swiftly followed by ‘New Grave’ accompanied by Ashestoangels’ Crilly to showcase the band’s longevity, the diversity of the crowd that turned out to pay their respects and their utmost respect for their successors who will no doubt fill their shoes neatly. It’s clear to see, however, that Wil appears sorrowful at this curtain call, despite his adamant statements that this will be Aiden’s last ever appearance. Showcasing their unbeatable ‘Nightmare Anatomy’ in its entirety, fans belt their lungs out for iconic ‘Die Romantic’ and contagious ‘The Last Sunrise’, while ‘It’s Cold Tonight’ and ‘Enjoy The View’ enjoy brief outings with as much glistening fervour as on record. The encore draws to an all too early close with a phenomenally punchy rendition of ‘I Set My Friends On Fire’ and ‘World By Storm’ plays out in swathes of heartfelt sincerity.
After thirteen years of trailblazing for their beautifully artistic niche, Aiden leave the packed Underworld reeling with a vexed sense of loss but also of relief that there could have been no better way to send off such an iconic, influential band that saved lives and careers simply by existing. As much as the permanence of this final show provides closure, there remains a reassuring hope that William Control lives on in its wake, and while Wil insists that they will not play Aiden songs… we can all dream, right?