Note to me. If you want to see the first band Dave, you have to get there before they go on. Which means you have to leave the house in time.
So yeah, at least I caught the last 1 1/2 songs of Linea 77 this time. A full set before the end of the tour, I promise.
Ah, Rugeley. A place where you feel you're going to be arrested as soon as you walk in for crimes against age. As I arrive, one lad is being helped to walk through the door. It's like walking into the shoot of Kevin the stroppy teenager for the Harry Enfield show. But in a way that's good, as these people are part of the future of all this live music malarky. It's just that, well, near me I've got a two kids with their tops off. One has "blow me" written on his bare chest. The other has "eat me" on his. His friends with "als three times a day" are nowhere to be seen. Then there's a girl over by there who all the guys are wandering over to, they're all friends by the looks of it, but the drooling and attempts to impress are quite funny. They headbang in a take the piss manner, whenever someone goes for a surf they receive a round of applause, and there's a general conversation going on.
And of course there's the 20 minute syndrome to contend with. Attention wanders after 20 minutes and everyone has to leave the room to see if their friends are still around.
In amidst all this, earthtone9 are battling once more. Tonight they've taken the choice of airing 5 new songs in their 6 song set. A brave move, but hey, why not. So, as this is my first time hearing half of the songs, it's first impressions time. Well, overall it's highly melodic, there's a more obvious song oriented bias to it, it's a touch more "rock" these days, there's a lot of almost trancy chants in there, feels spiritual, tribal and more ethnic. It's also very, very good. For me to night it's obviously centred around Tat Twam Asi and Alpha Hi, as they're the tracks that I know. The drum intro to Tat Twam signals the arrival of the best song of the year so far, and Alpha Hi is maybe a pointer towards that more tribal sound. The opening track has some wah stuff going on, a lot of the songs seem to, and a big middle section which sounds very Eastern, very Indian. There's another track where the wah is fairly prominent, one song which has a massive chorus, a natural companion to Tat Twam. There's so much going on here at the moment, on first listen it's difficult to actually put it all into context.
"Well try Dave, try." I am.
Ok, the rock thing. Don't worry. It's not "commercial", although more rock sounding, it's set off by the drums of Si, there's seemingly more complex rhythms going on in there, this isn't boring plod plod plod. And whereas before the band were able to ride along on the back of almost rentless riffs, guitarist Joe and Oz are now doing different things, it's adding more textures. The riff remains, but there's so many different parts going on. The idea of sharing out the vocals more is also key to the new sound, there's more melody, but at the same time, when they go for the throat, Joe is more than able to add to the roar.
As the songs are being roadtested at the moment, it'll be interesting to see how they make the journey to the new album. It'll be interesting to see how people react to the more melodic element. But as I said, don't faint at the use of the word. There's so much going on in the new songs, there's something to keep everyone happy. Me, I was looking forward to the new album before, now, well it is going to be one of the albums of the year without a doubt.
Stand-in bassist Dave also seems more relaxed than I've seen him before, head bobbing away, mouthing out the lyrics, it's also added to the overall sound. Karl is in fine form as well, "we don't like being heckled by minors" he chides at one point. It's a strange reaction. As things start out, there's a fair crowd in here, certainly the busiest I've seen this place, a few people pass over the barriers. But there's relative silence between songs. And of course the 20 minute syndrom hits in, as people wander outside. "We're going to play one you know for those of you that have stayed" says Karl as he introduces Withered, the only old track aired tonight. And it's testament to the power of the new material that's it's totally eclipsed and almost a disappointment that they include it. "Thankyou, you can join your friends in the corridor now" the vocalist deadpans as the band leave the stage. Ah well, at least they can contend themselves with the notion that the new material is a triumph in the face of abject apathy. If you're not sure, why not pop to the website and take a listen to Tat Twam for yourself.
The hall fills for Kill II This, yet even they are now exempt from that syndrome. Although I have my reservations about the religious backdrops being just a bit predictable, it does look very professional, and the whole performance from the band backs that up. You can't really fault them for that, as Mark and Caroline criss cross the stage. And when he stands on the monitors, you look up and think "careful, you'll get a nosebleed being that high up". Although after the Sheffield gig I said I thought it was better going for a short sharp shock set and dropping some of the fillers, I wasn't expecting this. For some reason they were limited to about 40 minutes this evening. In a way it helps, because they open with Cross To Bear and then share things between the Deviate and the new album Trinity, represented by Figure of 8, which is sounding quite good and sees a rather amusing ritual bowing going on by people. The communal headbang has been replaced by that lean forward from the waist bow kind of thing these days. There's also God On Drugs and a few others. It's still the older material that does it more for me (a familiarity thing), with The Flood and closer Crucified being the standouts. The Flood is my personal favourite, maybe that's because really it's an old style metal song with added samples. And after about 40 minutes with no encore, it's over. Maybe there's a realisation that you can't push it for too long here. Maybe the "eat me" guy has to go for his third meal of the day.