Rock City, Saturday 2nd December

Apologies if the background makes this one difficult to read, 'tis an example of the artwork of Michel, the drummer in Voivod, who generates all their album artwork by computer. Just thought you'd like to see an example, simply one of the services provided free of charge for you.

Absolutely no idea who the first band onstage were, but when I got there they were at least playing to a completely empty floor! First impressions, hmm, ok, but nothing special, the vocalist kinda sounded to me like Lou Koller from Sick of it All in a few places, but that's probably just my crap hearing and judgment. The most lasting impression however, must be of one of the guitarists, who was rather portly, with some dodgy fashion sense, and, most of all, the most outrageous sideburns this side of Blaze Bayley.

So to Voivod. It's difficult probably, for a lot of people to realise that a few years ago, this band were headlining an American tour which also featured as the support acts, Faith No More and Soundgarden. While these two bands have gone on to achieve the success they deserve, Voivod have been dogged with the tag of being 'too weird' and 'unconventional, but influential'. Having released their debut album about a year after Metallica's debut it must be pretty galling for Michel, (or Away, the drummer as he was on the first few releases) to have to set up his own drumkit in a small place like the Disco II. Still, that's what he's doing, and at least they've stuck to what they do through times of adversity.

Things have changed quite a bit for the band since their early days as a fairly standard thrash band. The experimental days of the vastly underrated 'Nothingface' album, the more commercial 'Angel Rat' through to 'The Outer Limits'. Now they're down to a 3 piece having lost bassist Blacky, and Vocalist Snake to be replaced by vocalist/bassist Eric. And so with a new band member in tow, tonights set is drawn largely from the recently released (but bloody difficult, if not impossible to find in the shops) album 'Negatron'. This would seem to mark a return to some of the rawer material of early Voivod, whilst still avoid the trap of falling into the predicatable. The new guy doesn't have the quirkiness in the voice that Snake has or the diversity on bass that Blacky had, but hey, maybe that's just me being picky and wanting to see the original line up.

As well as the new album, we're treated to tracks of 'War and Pain' and 'Killing Technology'. Sadly I didn't recognise anything being played from the 'Angel Rat' album, and 'Nothingface' was only represented once, during the encore, and then for the cover of the old Pink Floyd number 'Astronomy Domine', no 'The Unknown knows', 'Into my hypercube' or 'Pre-ignition'.

Despite my reservations about the new vocalist, and them playing so much of the new album (which unfortunately, I've yet to find in the UK), it was a good gig overall, and the new material wasn't boring. (Voivod are a band who need a few listens at least to realise where they are coming from). If only I can now get a copy of the new album.

Oh yeah, and for the minimal setup that he uses, Away does some incredible drumming, Piggy on guitar is one of the most underrated players in modern rock, and good to see that he looks well after the brain tumor scare from a few years ago which threatened both him (obviously) and the band.

Overall Dave Rating:Good gig, hopefully not one of the final chances to see one of the most interesting of the pioneer thrash bands, pity they didn't play more of 'Nothingface' though, (It's a classic!).