BlackRock / Khang / Huge Baby

Nottingham Old Angel

December 10 1999

Huge Baby have a swagger, they also have the skill of appearing to be totally out of it, then pulling off a performance like this. They've also been championed by more informed people than myself for a loooong time now, so now it's time for me to jump on the bandwagon as is my want. Tonight once more they are superb. The songs are huge, built for places much larger than this, swaggering around on riffs, but underpinned by a keen sense of dynamics and melody. New vocalist Paul has a classic rock voice, and when they eventually get around to releasing something, I'll be able to sit down and decide who he sounds like, if indeed he sounds like anyone else. And this music demands to be listened to. There's the aptly titled RollaCoasta, but the biggest and best thing is Voodoo. Built on an insistent riff churned out by Kay, it's mellow. Drummer Matt pounds away with those drum sticks that look like they have a marshmallow stuck on the end. You know the ones. And as they pound, they almost leave a trail through the air. It's hypnotic drawing the attention. It's a perfect example of how to create a more tribal sounding song without have to resort to a bomblast middle section. Compelling. The set is short, it ends with Kay playing the guitar on the floor and between his legs almost up his back. Gentle volume swells and massive riffs, it's the sound of a band that if they decide not to self-destruct may well throttle some people.

Maybe it's being sandwiched between the awesome swagger of Huge Baby and the legend that is BlackRock, or maybe it's just me, but Khang didn't really pull it off for me tonight. Though as one of the resident DJs, Mike and one of the bouncers are both extolling the virtues afterwards and insisting to the people that do these things that they must be booked to return, it could well have just been me. They're coming from the stoner area, but the riffs just aren't consistently memorable for me. Also, it's a moot point maybe, but they look unbalanced visually live. You've got the waifer thin frontman, bellowing it out, reminding me of Lee Dorrian, and to his right are two dreadlocked guys, one on guitar, one on bass. The dreads flail, and it's like watching brothers, you know Cousin It from the Addams Family. Like he's got a brother. Offsetting this is the short haired guitarist on the vocalists left. Like I said, it's a moot thing, but it kind of almost looked like two bands. There's some ok stuff in there, and I suspect that given that this form of music isn't my greatest love, that if I listen more then it may make more sense. But tonight it didn't. But I think I was in a minority of one.

But like I said, it could be because they were up against the legend of BlackRock. Returning to claim their rightful crown, it's the tale that needs to be told, and it's ok, I'm working on trying to infiltrate and get the interview sorted out. But it's easy to see where the legendary status emerges from. The songs are huge, groove ridden in a manner that the likes of Metallica and co were never able to figure out. They swagger, groove, topped off by delicious vocals. They even manage to make the guitar solo a viable proposition, knowing when to keep it all in check. It comes down to the songs. Oh the songs. Everything is compelling and memorable. The likes of BlackRock itself, and Dr Satan's Robot start things. The momentum is maintained through the likes of She Stands On The Shoulders of Giants, and Downer part 1 is massive. Downer part 2 isn't so bad itself. As the set continues, a number of things become evident. Not least is the understanding of just why Kyuss split at the time of the BlackRock reformation. If only those pretending to walk away with the crown would learn some of the lessons. The guitar tone is rich and soothing, the rhythm section underpins it all, topped of by those wonderously soulful vocals. As Hercalaneum draws things to a close, the crowd parts as the returning legends depart. All hail the gods. Hope that they return soon.