VNV Nation / Imperative Reaction / Soman The Phoenix, Toronto ON - June 9, 2005

Following their Matter and Form release, VNV Nation returned to Toronto with a much anticipated high-energy show that delivered everything expected and so much more. The evening began with a one-man performance by Soman, whose rave-styled EBM beats and constant arm waving seemed out of place on a concert stage. To his credit, if the lights had been dimmer people might have actually danced. Imperative Reaction hit the stage next and put on a decent show. They were definitely full of energy, but as their recorded work indicates, the overall presentation just wasn't attention-grabbing and it's doubtful their music won over many new fans. The main attraction made the wait worthwhile. Mark Jackson and Ronan Harris hit the stage (followed by members of the previous acts) to generous applause and opened with "Chrome," setting the pace for an emotive rollercoaster ride that led us through all points of their discography. Hitting us with tracks like "Joy" and "Dark Angel," the show wrapped up with an expressive performance of "Beloved," a solo effort that truly showcased Harris's passion for his music. VNV's efforts were beyond good and they know how to capture the audience, although the great stage effects didn't hurt. The only real detraction from the show was the poor choice of venue for an all-ages event. What can usually be counted on for a great, intimate venue was instead an annoying maze of barricades, crabby bouncers and long line-ups that created a second-class citizen feel on both sides of the barrier (even Harris called attention to this). Let's hope the next time these guys come they play at a venue that understands the concept of wristbands.