|Skindred/Therapy?/Black Spiders/Turbowolf - Bristol, O2 Academy - 14th April 2012|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Wednesday, 25 April 2012 04:00|
When the Jagermeister Music Tour 2012 was announced, just its two main bands, Skindred and Therapy? confirmed, with the news that tickets were priced at a suicidal-economy-busting price of just five pounds each, it didn't take a genius to work out that these would be some of the hottest tickets in town.
When Black Spiders got added to the bill I afforded myself a moment to stroke my ticket while others cried themselves to sleep when Bristol became the first city on the tour to sell out. Even though the cocksucking add-ons that ticket agencies fill their filthy coffers with meant that the ticket actually cost a ridiculous seven English pounds, with the addition of opening band Turbowolf - local supports at each date providing gig goers with the prospect of seeing cool acts such as Hawk Eyes and The Defiled - this gig was surely going to be something special to behold; entering the venue so early that the football scores were still being read out on this balmy Saturday late afternoon and being handed coupons for free Jager shots and branded lanyards did nothing to throw any doubt on the matter into my head.
The last time I saw Turbowolf guitarist Andy Ghosh he was in the crowd watching former tour mates Hawk Eyes support Ginger Wildheart; within a minute or so he's in the crowd again, this time with his instrument hanging off his shoulder as he, himself, hangs over the barrier into the very respectably sized crowd given the early start. The Bristol-based four piece's image is kitsch, kooky and kinetic, their sound a gloriously heavy take on space rock; this really is sci-fi to die for. Frontman Chris Georgiadis is smeared in alternative star quality, throwing retro moves around a curious synth set-up, and impressing all in attendance as he leads possibly the finest band that you are ever likely to see at the bottom of a four band bill. Single 'A Rose For The Crows' is massive, their twisted cover of 'Somebody To Love' crazed. Those clued-in enough to get to the venue early were gifted a treat because Turbowolf are awesome - nuff said.
That word - 'awesome' - is usually used in reference to Black Spiders: have I peaked too soon? A battle of wills between myself and one of my gigging companions as to whether the band will play any new songs - I say "yay" he say "nay" - is one I win. The titles of these unreleased songs are, of course, subject to not having a real fucking clue. People of the future looking back at this article because I have either become famous for my writing or infamous for being gunned down by lycra-clad glam frontmen for writing the truth about their secret lovers please be aware of this. Bothan spies tell me that these songs could well be called 'Wolves' and 'Stick It To The Man' - don't judge me if they are not. Either way, the quality of these new songs proves that once the 'Sons Of The North' era is finally over - prolonged due to this tour, a gift of a support slot on the Thin Lizzy tour and an engagement at Donington Park - fans should have no fear for the future of the band as they will remain, as they are now, unfuckwithable.
Yes, I heart Black Spiders, but the number of raised middle digits that greet the band tell me that us lovers are legion; I must battle for their affections. Frontman Pete Spiby, teasing the gentlemen in attendance with his tight fitting t-shirt resplendent with the logo of those back door bad boys of rock 'n' roll, The Hip Priests, is as funny as ever and, as opener 'Stay Down' and closer 'Blood Of The Kings' bookend 'Kiss Tried To Kill Me' and 'Just Like A Woman' in an all too short set you can't help but marvel at one of the best live bands in the UK at the moment. I've seen them greater.....but they're still great - work that one out.
The thought of seeing Therapy? for the third time in four months was one that, if I wasn't snugly tucked into the downstairs floor area of the Academy like a battery hen, might have had me looking around for a place to wander for forty five minutes or so. The benefit of hindsight presents me with the knowledge that being rammed nose to rusty underarm area as the band tear into 'Teethgrinder' and then through a hugely impressive set maybe wasn't as bad as it first seemed.
People are going seriously mental all around me as the band struggle to accidentally press one fail button. 'Die Laughing', dedicated to Kurt Cobain, Phil Lynott, Amy Winehouse and Spike Milligan, is a grinning monster, new songs like 'Living In The Shadow Of A Terrible Thing' sound as heavy as fuck. Michael McKeegan bounces around looking like he hasn't aged since the '90s and the people all around me do likewise. There are times during the band's great set where things on the floor get a little too insane, funny too as the girl directly in front of me realises that trying to cling onto that full pint glass is a fruitless task as the full contents introduce themselves to her face in highly comedic fashion. Struggling to keep my feet I, surprisingly maybe, find myself thinking that all these people could simply be at home on this Saturday evening numbing their ever-more-vegetable brains with soulless talent shows; instead they are at a gig, going mental, singing every word. Bloody marvellous.
Andy Cairns appears genuinely touched at the response afforded his band before, during and after every song. By the time 'Troublegum' is pillaged for 'Nowhere' and 'Screamager' there can't be a person in the venue left untainted by their excellence. Therapy? looked like the weak link, personally, on the bill; that's another stupid thought chewed up and spat back in my face, then.
Third song 'Cut Dem' finally delivers a knockout blow, its immediate follow-up 'Stand For Something' hitting below the belt, ensuring that the contest is going to be as one-sided as everyone who has ever been lucky enough to experience this band live previously had hoped. Songs like 'Destroy The Dancefloor', 'Doom Riff' and 'Pressure' are mashed up with pieces of 'Back In Black', 'Single Ladies', 'Reign In Blood' and 'Duality', the band led triumphantly by the cult of personality named Benji Webbe. 'The Fear' takes everyone back a decade before the always incredible 'Nobody' closes the set, the band leaving the stage for the right reasons this time. Jagermeister endorsed Skindred bandanas are thrown out to those still in one piece on the floor, ready to be swung around majestically as the Newport Helicopter comes in to land, 'Warning' its intro tune.
As Skindred leave for a third and final time, Benji milking the adulation as Carly Simon's 'Nobody Does It Better' schmoozes out into the ether, I can't help but think that, just like those Black Spiders, I've seen them better, but they're still better than most. In the value for money stakes, nobody does it better than the Jagermeister tour.