|Paradise Lost - Cardiff, University Great Hall 2 - 16th April 2012|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Thursday, 26 April 2012 04:30|
There's more than just an whisper of the names St Hubbins, Smalls and Tufnell in the air in the lead up to tonight's show, largely due to the fact that mere minutes before Paradise Lost are due to be on stage in the newly refurbished (and if you ask me totally ruined) Great Hall at Cardiff University, I along with a certain lead screamer with local metal titans Lifer, stumble across three members of the headline act wandering aimlessly around looking for the corridor to take them to their "Hallowed Land". Pointing the trio in the right direction we are thanked with a collective cheer of "Hello Cleveland", oh little did they know how prophetic this moment would be....
But first let me take you back a few hours, as earlier I had decided to grab a quick drink in a nearby pub to relax myself after a torrid day doing what helps me fund my uber lifestyle, this ultimately turned into a brace of ales that then resulted in me arriving at the wrong venue within the University complex, meaning I miss opening band, Norwegian metallers Vried, a band I actually wouldn't have minded watching. Doh!!! Next up were Insomnium, a band I didn't particularly want to see, largely because I think their brand of symphonic metal actually sounds a bit like a death metal version of The Shadows, albeit with the subtle footwork of Marvin and Co replaced by windmilling waist length hair. That's not to say the assembled faithful squeezed up against the barrier didn't like what was on offer though, as 'Down With The Sun' in particular (admittedly heavily influenced by Paradise Lost's older sound) went down very well indeed. Finland, your boys did good, even if this grumpy old bastard didn't like it.
Talking of which, and returning to the matter of the Great Hall 2, the king of grumpy old bastards, Paradise Lost's Nick Holmes would be having a thromby in here tonight if he was a paying punter. £10 for 3 bottles of piss weak lager and T-shirts at £15 is a far cry from what Cardiff University used to deliver the ticket holder, and I would suggest whoever is behind this venue these days rethink this Great Hall 2 concept as it simply didn't work, especially in the acoustics department, where quite frankly things were dreadful.
Which leads me rather nicely right back to where I started, and that faintest whiff of Spinal Tap in the air around this, the latest and most extensive UK tour from Brit metal legends Paradise Lost in quite some time. The band's soon to be released album 'Tragic Idol' is still a good week away from being unleashed on the general public, so once the five guys named Paradise Lost do finally make their way to the Great Hall 2's stage, they chose to open with a new tune (the album's lead video) 'Honesty In Death' which is not only brave but as tonight proves perhaps a little foolish, as Paradise Lost's music requires blankets of sound and not sonics more akin of a band rehearsing in a garage, but in fairness ever the seasoned troopers these guys are. 'Widow' from their all conquering 'Icon' album soon makes up for the lost sounds out front as the heads start a banging and the night gets underway properly.
Casting my mind back to when I had last seen Paradise Lost indoors, a full decade earlier on the 'Symbol Of Life' tour, and as if by magic up pops the excellent 'Isolate' and the album's title track, a little later in the set, to remind me just how wrong the metal press was when slagging this album to the high heavens. It never was a bad album and this two track offering is full testament to that fact, even if Nick credits keyboard samples to the enigmatic "Dr Fuck".
With the sound slowly settling Paradise Lost then deliver an excellent one-two of 'Hallowed Land' and 'Soul Courageous' before then offering up 'To The Darkness' from the new album, which seems to send those amongst us who actually still wait to buy albums off to the bar to look at the overpriced lack of drinks range, something that isn't lost on Mr Holmes as he dedicates the tune to those who already know the tune "Thanks to Pirate Bay".
A five song trek through the Paradise Lost back catalogue then follows, complete with Tap-tastic taxis in the frontman's in ear monitors for 'Praise Lamented Shade', whilst 'Pity The Sadness', 'True Belief', 'As I Die' and the aforementioned 'Symbol Of Life' all go off without too much incident in spite of what Nick Holmes might have you think, referring to what is unfolding on stage as "Bottom Live". Which funnily enough triggers fond memories of one particular Download appearance by the band where the frontman spent most of the band's set dedicating songs to the burger vans he could see off in the distance.
Closing out their main set with another new track, the title song of the band's new album (due out in the shops this very week folks), and as Holmes once again quips "one you won't know, but you can clap along to anyway "- 'Tragic Idol' gives way to 'The Enemy' from 'In Requiem' which finally sees the band half apologetically disappear into the wings ready for the encores. Will we get one though? As sound technicians scurry around the stage in a blur of activity, as mics are tweaked, drums pounded and strings plucked in a futile attempt to once again save the sound.
Encores do finally come in the shape of a superb 'One Second', another new track 'Fear Of Impending Hell' (which was also perhaps the best of the bunch) before 'Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us' sends us out into the fresh air all looking a bit bemused at what has just gone before.
Perhaps almost unknowingly Paradise Lost walked that very fine line that borders Tap country tonight, and for me it all stems from the question of "why tour an album that isn't out in the shops yet?" With the added sound gremlins it was left to the strength of the band's back catalogue and the musician's (true) belief in what they do to stop tonight ending up in full on 'Jazz Odyssey' territory.
Now bring on 'Tragic Idol' as I'd really like to get to hear the new songs as they are intended to be heard, played by one of the greatest British metal bands of our time.
To pick up your copy of 'Tragic Idol' - CLICK HERE