Argh, ok. It's a couple of days after the gig. Last night I saw Machine Head and Ill Nino, which was a bit of a shocker really, and kind of took away the flow of this review, which I was writing in my head on the way to the gig.
Anyway, this gig came at the right time. A nice excuse to take a couple of days off work, which conveniantly allowed the start and the finish of Christmas shopping with the gig sandwiched nicely in the middle. And it's the gig that just keeps on giving, cos now instead of installing and configuring a Windows 2000 server, arranging to fix a RAID on an Aix machine and setting up another web site and whatever else I'm supposed to be doing, I'm trying to try and remember what the hell I was going to write before the utter bollocks that was Ill Nino erased my mind last night. Um yeah, let's see, it was the shopping, and then the realisation at 3pm that if I was going to get there I'd better get my arse in gear and then into the car and start driving. Yadda yadda yadda. Couple of hours later and I've found the tube station without a wrong turn in site. Tube ... yadda yadda yadda into the venue. God Forbid have come, they've gone. Oh yeah, Anthrax are being played. Nice.
The second band come on. Something to do with monkeys I think. Um, yeah, I don't recall them actually saying their name once. They're not really faced with much at this point in the evening, and the vocalist is looking at the guitarist more than he is at the few people down the front. It's all a bit drab really. He asks how people are doing, kind of asks for some enthusiasm, but it's a little hard to muster when there doesn't appear to be any coming from the stage. Look to the people. You have to take your opportunities by the scruff of the neck, not wait for them to fall at your feet. Third song in and there's a bit of interest, a nice laid back guitar line, works a bit better. Then there's a bass driven song which has a bass progression that sounds Nirvanaish to these lugholes. And then, uh, I really can't remember much more about them.
After the not really a big event of the monkey whatever they may be calleds, comes Number 1 Son. Who I know virtually nothing about. However, I'd been told, and it's true, that they feature the vocalist that used to be in Noisegate. During those days there were 2 noticeable things about him. One was that he tried too hard to work the crowd - unknown bands trying to get singalongs or massed crowd interaction, as admirable as it is, is going to fall flat on it's arse and then be landed on by a 10 ton hammer. (Sorry, that MH gig is bugging me.) The second thing was a fixation with the Anselmo / Flynn school of singing. Nowadays that's been augmented by more of the nice melodic singing, so beloved of many bands, though the roar is still there. He's cut down on the banter, though there's still too much of it in that it contributes nothing really - not at this level. The music? Well, it may just be me, but for the most part it was boring, run of the mill nu-metal textbook stuff. There's the detuned bouncy bouncy riff - you know it, they've all got it. And then there's the detuned bouncy bouncy riff. There's a few little effects thrown in occassionally, and there's a song for which they'll be filming a video in January. When asked how many had bought the Kerrang! with a CD the other week with their track on, the response is minimal. It's an ok song, they're an ok band for the here and now. But they're boring.
Cortizone take to the stage next, the guitarist / vocalist dressed up as a nun, I'm not sure he should make a habit of that!! (What? WHAT? There's no way I'm going to turn down an opportunity like that, I have no shame in these matters!). I've not really got to grips with this band yet, but at least they mark an up turn in the whole interest factor tonight. But still, a couple of days later as I sit here typing this, I can't think of anything else to say. The music's ok, not great, the drummer fucked up big time on one of the songs, ummmmmmm.
And so it's left to earthtone9 to turn this into something worth remembering. And they pulled it off. The difference between Saturday's performance in Sheffield and tonight is marked. A Gulf. Galaxies. Quite a bit in fact. One reason for this may well be down to the fact that tonight, they are once more reunited with Martin who did the sound on their last tour, where they've never actually sounded better. He's on a night off from doing sound on the OMS tour, and it makes a world of difference. He knows the sound, he knows the set. It even means the return of the Def Leppard intro in all its g(l)ory. The floor in front of the stage appears to be rather full. Which means that the camera behind me (hopefully I moved sufficiently out of the way to avoid detection) should be able to get some great shots for the impending DVD. As the intro ends, the band walk on, Oz once more in dubious headgear and crank out evil crawling i. And the place errupts in a manner designed to bring a grin to even this grizzled old face.
p.r.d follows, the crowd subduing a little during the more calming gentler moments, before the buildup to the chorus. Dave in particular is on form tonight, putting behind him the bass problems of Saturday, a grin and mouthing along the words, while Karl throws himself around the stage in typical Karl manner. Joe as ever provides a more sedate calming presence, while Owen just throws as many guitar poses as possible, and beind them Alex surveys all as he lays down the beat. The use of a few varilights help adding to the general atmosphere and presentation. Afterwards as I was going down the escelator into the tube station, I overheard a couple of people saying things along the lines of "they looked like a real big band for the first time tonight". I can understand what they're saying. Presentation is a big part of things, and tonight they hit it spot on.
Despite Karls words that "we're going to be playing mostly new stuff tonight", there are some cries for Grind & Click. Which is met by the reply that "I said we're playing new stuff, which that isn't." Some persist with requests, "can you not see I'm wearing gaffer tape?" while a request for Warpspasm is met by "what songs?" When someone yells for an earthtone9 song, they're met with "I meant which Warpspasm songs you fucking idiot. That's a compliment." It means the whole banter and interaction is back on track as well.
The remainder of the set is as it has been for a number of months now, Withered which sees all sorts of mayhem breaking loose on the floor, Star Damaged, Amnesia, Revelation. He announces that the gig is being fimed for future release on a DVD, and that "there's a lot of cool gigs and bands playing this week, thanks for coming along" Due to there being 5 bands tonight (why? 5 bands really are too much for an evening, it should be kept to 3 really.) things are pushed for time as Karl mentions there are 2 songs left. One of course is Tat Twam Asi, the best hit single that never was for the last 5 years, and then the song that has almost become the defining moment for the band, binary 101 which is dedicated with thanks for all their work to Jose and the people at Copro. You don't need me to tell you how this song twists and turns, and if you do need me to tell you, then you need me to tell you that you should buy the arc'tan'gent album and discover for yourself. They finish off with the jam session, Karl returning to the stage to stage to inflict some bad cymbal crashing ala Bruce Dickinson upon Alex's drumkit and cymbals before they're gone. A true return to form, and a nice way to end their year.