Finch - The Institute Birmingham - 21-03-13, a set on Flickr.
Sunday, 24 March 2013
Mallory Knox - The Institute Birmingham - 10-03-13, a set on Flickr.
It’s an awful night in Brum, it’s the middle of March and yet it feels like the middle of winter. Its cold, it’s snowy and its miserable, but a shining light beckoning cold metalers into, the warmth is hear and it’s at the academy in the shape of the Jagermeister tour! Tonight has a line up of 3 great bands (it was 4 but the local act cancelled due to the snow).
The defiled are first up, this industrial metal band from London, enter the stage in darkness and pretty much stay in it throughout their set, with minimal lighting on the stage its hard to see their makeup and crazy stage antics. They blast into Sleeper from their upcoming album Daggers, and the crowd starts rocking out. The defiled play their role well, being good entertainers coming to the front of the stage and posing with their instruments, including the keyboardist who holds his keyboard upside down whilst sticking his tongue out, its clear they've gone to the kiss school of rock gigs. But while their act may hold big comparisons to other acts, their music doesn't, its crash metal, with bone crunching double kick pedals all the way through, with thrashing guitars and backing synth(which doesn't come across well live, as it just stands stagnant in the background), the vocals are gritty and you could be mistaken to think they're American by the sound of his voice. They say the odd word to the crowd, telling how there next song goes out to their sound man, Garry Lee, as keyboardist The AvD says he pissed in his suitcase the night before, after having one of the heaviest nights in years, they also thank Jagermeister for putting them on the bill for the 3rd year running, before wrapping up their neat little set with, Call To Arms. They get the crowd warmed up, but on the coldest of days in recent memory, they don't get everyone warmed up fully as their sound just isn’t big enough for this venue (yet).
Gojira are next up, this French metal act take to the stage with wind chimes playing in an eerie way with deep feedback over the top, and then they blast into their first number, Explosia. They sound great, with a industrial backing of electric drums in the background whilst double bass interweaves along with steady guitar and bass progression, before slowing right down into a deep dark breakdown and speeding back up as before, all with the screeching tones overlapping everything. The lighting has improved with the band as it now shines brightly and changes with the speed of the music including the off strobe. The room seems more electric now with the crowd surging forward to get a view and a space to mosh along. The band are pretty steady and normal staying in their places, that is until the key change in Flying Whales where they go crazy, moshing and flinging themselves and their instruments around, this then continues through the set, as if Explosia was a warm up. They play a decent length set with songs including Backbone, L’Enfant Sauvage, Toxic Garbage Island and The Axe.
As the set progresses the tracks get more erratic, with pace changes happening all the time, tiring out the crowd as they try and keep up with the movement on stage, that is until they reach the last quarter of the set, where things seem to drag, they do a drum solo and have quite long guitar wails as filler which really brings down the atmosphere. If they cut the set short they would have been great, but they go on to long. They have moved the bar up though and have the room thoroughly motivated for the final act after playing the final song The Gift of Guilt.
Ghost are up last and this mysterious group from Sweden, They enter the stage to strange religious chanting in almost complete darkness apart from a beam off green light. They are dressed all black robes with no skin showing and pentagrams around their necks, along with strange masks with big noses, all except for the lead singer Papa Emeritus II or Papa for short, who enters the stage half way through the first song Infestissumam, dressed in a shiny black robe, with a white skull mask a pope style hat and a staff. As someone who had never seen the band before, I find it weird how a band who sings in, what appears to be Latin, and who dresses like the anti church can be popular, but as they continue and their lyrics change to English and I pick up on Hail Satan, I can understand, they're a group that appeals to the darker side of metal.
The stage adds to this unholy look as its kitted out with a huge alter, but its hard to know if this is serious of its just mocking religion , but I suppose that shouldn't matter as tonight is about their live show which is phenomenal and a sight to be seen. The stage presence is over the top, the theatrics are immense and the sound is crisp and clear, with all parts being put to the crowd with lots of layers, as the gospel harmonies and clean vocals overlap the sweet riffs and complicated bass lines, along with the majestic keys and grand drums. They play along set with songs such as Con Clavi Con Dio, Elizabeth, Stand by Him, Satan Prayer and Year Zero.
Papa Moves around the stage slowly and creepily throughout the set as the rest of the band (or Nameless Ghouls as their wiki page calls them), move around the stage behind him with a lot more vigour, which includes moshing and posing to the crowd. This is completely different to the other two bands in the bill, and whilst still metal, it also feels more unique as it mixes a few different genres together to make a totally different sound. The crowd laps it up, and everyone moshes slowly along with the music. They end their set with Ritual before coming back and performing Mostrance Cloak before slinking of the stage the same way they came on, but not before Papa bows down and blows kisses to the crowd in a very churchy way.
Overall it’s been an interesting gig, the crowd loved it all but I found it hard to get my head around, with the franticness of the Defiled mixed with the true metal experience of Gojira, ending with a truly unholy show of dark metal in the form off Ghost. But the crowd loved it, so if you like your metal, varied then tonight was the night for you, and we look forward to seeing the next mix of acts on the Jagermeister tout next time around.
The Defield – 2.5/5
Gojira – 3/5
Monday, 18 March 2013
Tonight we have in Birmingham one of the 90’s most beloved indie acts, an act that had major chart success with numerous songs and albums, a band that took the world by storm and then slowly faded away into obscurity. Well this band is Space and their back, they’ve dusted off their guitars and have decided to ‘begin again’.
Now as Space are now almost 20 years old with their main hits coming 17 years ago, so our younger readers might not know who they are(and our older readers might not know what happened to them), but I can tell you that you couldn’t move for indie music or brit rock back in 1996 with bands like Catatonia, Suede, The Lighting Seeds and Space all being at the forefront of a new music wave that was kicked off with a bang by Blur and Oasis, this new style of rock was accessible to the public and made us all have a break from the normal pop bands that we are still bombarded with today. It was a refreshing music scene and Space’s debut album ‘Spiders’ and subsequent album ‘Tin Planet’ where received with great success, they toured heavily and had planned a follow up album to be released in 2000, but unfortunately this never happened, they released a single called ‘Dairy Of A Wimp’ which didn’t enter the top 40 and as such the album was pushed back and eventually never released by the label and Space had to wait until there contract ended to release new material. They eventually released a new album ‘Suburban Rock ‘N ‘Roll’ in 2004 6 years after their last album, and as such, all of their hype and press had gone leaving them playing small gigs and feeling pretty deflated after being “screwed over” by their record label. The band decided to call it a day, that is until 2011, when they reformed to play a special homecoming gig in Liverpool, in which they announced they would be touring more and making a new album. They are due to release their new album ‘Attack Of The Mutant 50ft Kebab’ this year and are doing a UK tour to promote the album and to show the UK that they are back and are starting a-fresh, but the big question is; should I go and see them? And the answer is a definite YES!
Space take their time with setting up their stage, as they have a mass of instruments, including 3 keyboards, a double bass, a video mixer and all the normal drums, guitar, mics and bass. This set up time is fine though as the room full of a mainly people in their mid 30’s settle in at the bar and calmly sway to the 60’s hits that blast through the pa system. Eventually the lights go dark and the band slowly enter the stage on by one as the starting sample of ‘Charlie M’ plays over and over until singer Tommy Scott enters the stage to great applause and the “ooga chacka’s” kick in and they blast into the song, all moving back and forth as they play the song giving a creepy carnival look to the stage. The have aged, but 3 members are not from the original line up so you can only tell by looking at Tommy and keyboardist/sampler Franny Griffiths, who both still look good but with Tommy now looking like a weird version of Garry Oldman.
Space sound good as they rattle out across the room, their sound is unique and this comes from the distinct vocals of Tommy and the wonderful samples and organs that add to the typical instruments. They continue their set by playing an old song then a new one, going; ‘Mr Pyscho’ ‘She’s In Love With a Boy In a Body Bag’ ‘Money’ before playing the title track from their new album ‘Attack Of The Mutant 50ft Kebab’ to which Tommy tells the crowd how he loves coming to Birmingham and how their accent is the best, before pointing out a sign that’s on the ceiling showing the name of their new album “which you can’t really see in this light, but it’s there”. There new songs are quite different from their older ones with them having a psychobilly feel to them, a kind of demented reggae that when you hear it for the first time you don’t quite get what your hearing so you concentrate on the words, and the words are rather basic in meaning as they spell out the song to you, but this doesn’t detract from the song as you find yourself singing along. Their stage set up adds to the creepiness of the music, with a black maniquin with a white mask coving its face, along with a screen in the back which on certain songs plays videos to accompany the music. They continue the set with ‘Avenging Angels’ ‘Crying On The Webcam’ which shows a girl on the screen, holding up cards with things she’s feeling on them, ‘A Liddle Biddy Help From Elvis’ ‘Begin Again’ ‘Fortune Teller’ ‘The Ballad Of Tom Jones’ before which Tommy tells the crowd how he hates but loves this song, as Cerys Matthews appears on screen behind him to do her parts pre-recorded , as he keeps getting older yet she still looks just as young as she used to. After this the second keyboardist Ryan Clarke comes out from behind the keyboard to sing a song and as Tommy puts it “To Steal The Show”, which he doesn’t as his voice sounds like Johnny Rotten on helium as he sings a song called Happy Clowns to which a clown appears on the screen behind and creepy carnival music is actually played, this is a low point in the gig for me and it doesn’t get better straight away as Tommy sings a new song called, ‘Burn Down The School’ which he informs the crowd is about a kid called Jimmy Rodaway who burnt down his school as a teacher was shagging his missus The song is awful, its allot noise with no real progression throughout, and I wasn’t the only one as I overheard someone in the crowd say “I bet I could write a better song than this, before this song ends”.
The mini detour is forgot though as they continue with classic ‘Female Of The Species’ which sounds as good now as it did 17 years ago, ‘Armageddon’ ‘Neighbourhood’ and ‘Me and You Vs. The World’ wrap up the set with a high and allows Tommy to come into the crowd passing the mic to fans to sing along with the chorus, after which he climbs back over the barrier and passes a few people a drink and the band exit the stage. They re-appear a few moments later to play a more chilled out version of ‘Dark Clouds’ which morphs into La Bamba before finishing the set with a relatively odd choice of ‘Drop Dead’ which has a nice homemade movie on in the background about a stalker, whilst the band turn up all the instruments to make it the most distorted and loud song of the night, they leave the stage with a bang and the band come out into the crowd to shake people’s hands and thank them for coming out.
Tonight has been great overall, Space played a total of 19 songs with 12 of them being from the first two albums with no songs played from albums 3 and 4 and with 7 tracks being played from their new album. It is a good mix and there new album, does seem quite different from their older tracks, but it does have its highs (and a few lows), which when all rounded off makes for a great gig, with allot of nostalgia and fun. If you ever listened to Space back in the day then go to one of their gigs, you’ll not be disappointed, and if you’re a fan of pyshobilly or creepy carnival music and have never heard of space then go check them out, as their new stuff will be write up your street.
Birmingham is the home of metal, and tonight were in for a foreign treat in the form off Canadian metalers Cancer Bats. The band are one of the hardest working in the world, they never seem to stop touring, even when they write/release an album, and they never seem to take a break. Last year they played the UK numerous times with the most recent being in support of Bring Me The Horizon and with the most famous being last April where they played 6 venues around London on the same day! But before we get to them we have to talk about the support band…
Brutality Will Prevail are a metal/hardcore band from South Wales, and are already on stage as I enter the already heaving venue. As I fight my way to the front of the crowd, I notice there is a huge circle left clear in the middle off the room, I can hear singer Louis talking but I don’t really hear what he’s saying, I get into the photo pit just as Louis jumps into the crowd, and surfs his way around the venue and around the massive circle that has been left open, as the band play loudly and jump around the stage. Eventually he gets back on stage and I can see the band as they are, a 5 piece who sound great, and who can’t stay still, everyone moves about the stage changing position as their music changes from fast and frantic to slow and dirgey. The crowd are seeming to love them, and this helps as Louis keeps jumping off the stage and into the front row screaming down the mic at people. I’m surprised security aren’t having a fit, as he spends more time in the crowd as he does on stage, but this seems to stop people from crowd surfing, which I suppose makes their job easier. The band have warmed this crowd up and as they end their set they leave to heavy cheers, and then the room seems to calm down, its quiet its steady its building up to something, and that something is…
Cancer Bats, who all set up their own equipment before going on stage which seems to keep this crowd calmer than most gigs where bands just run out after their roadies sound check and everyone goes mental. But it could also be as this room is filled with mainly blokes, and so there are not too many screaming girls getting excited at every site of the band; eventually the band leave the stage after setting up, and a minute later they burst back on by jumping straight into their last single ‘Bricks and Mortar’. The sound is immense, it’s powerful and you can feel it in your bones as it rattles through the venue, the simplicity of a four piece is something you don’t get all too much anymore but with Cancer Bats it works well. The bass is constant and moves fast and random, it’s not simple repetition all the way through, the guitar riffs are powerful and lead into occasional solo’s and snaps, as the drums are fast and constantly hitting the sweet spots. As for the vocals, singer Liam Cornier rasps his gritty voice throughout the songs brining passion and bravado as bassist/vocalist Jaye R. Schwarzer adds extra power in parts by screaming his lungs down the mic.
The band are an awesome stage presence and Liam controls the stage as he strolls up and down heading to the front and head banging before collapsing in front of the drums and getting his breath back. The band play a fast and furious set which Liam explains is due to them trying to play as many songs as they can in the short time they’re onstage, as they were late going on and it seems like the curfew was meant to be 11 but was cut back by half hour, which means there’s no time for chit chat and no time for an encore. Other than that, there’s the odd chant of Can-cer Bats and Birm-ing-ham which fills the gap between songs as the rest of the band tunes up, Liam leads the crowd in these chants and at one point is thrown a hat and decides to put it on his head and chant my-new-hat! They play a great set list with about 4 songs from each album including; Pneumonia Hawk, Sorceress, Lucifer’s Rocking Chair, Sleep This Way, Scared to Death, Sabotage, Hail Destroyer and finally ending the set with R.A.T.S. They go down great and the band end by slowly fading out with feedback before all the members come down and meet the crowd to thank them for coming out and supporting them.
Overall the gig was great, Brutality Will Prevail did a great job of warming the crowd up and Cancer Bats finished them off, it’s a shame they didn’t play Dead Wrong and Liam didn’t get into the crowd, but those are just small things when compared to how well they performed overall. Cancer Bats will be back around soon, and it’s worth going to see them, as you’ll see a great live band who play truly rocking music!
Brutality Will Prevail – 3/5
Cancer Bats 4/5