LIVE: Jagermeister Music Tour – 02 Academy Brixton, London 24/03/2013
Ghost, Gojira, The Defiled and Feed The Rhino.
As Feed The Rhino kicked off the final date of the Jagermeister Music Tour 2013 the queue to get inside Brixton’s O2 Academy still snaked around the side of the building. So, despite playing to a venue that was still filling up, and also with virtually no stage lighting, AND a sound that could best be described as muffled with vocals way to loud in the mix (or guitars way to quiet) Feed The Rhino still pulled off their usual intense level of performance. Looking like an escaped pack of rabid dogs running wild they proved once again that no stage is too big for them. Even so, they showed some professional restraint and deference to their role as a ‘local support’ with frontman Lee Tobin going into the crowd just the once, briefly, and not followed by any of the others.
It served as a reminder, though, of the grass roots level of Hardcore running through this band – a genre lost on a lot of the crowd tonight who seemed to be here to see the more traditional Metal stylings of the other Jagermeister tour bands. I’m not sure this gig would have won Feed The Rhino a significant amount of new fans but it definitely kept the faithful happy.
Next up were the first of the tour bands, and also from London, The Defiled. Thankfully the stage lighting sprang into life and the sound became a clearer. The Defiled hit the stage looking like they had a point to prove. The AvD’s keyboard seemed to spend as much time spinning though the air as it did on the deck, and Vincent Hyde followed suit on the other side of the stage with his bass. Stitch D & Co. commanded the centre ground showing that these are the kind of venues The Defiled should be playing ALL the time.
Just in case the band’s own visual impact wasn’t enough for you, things took on another level with the appearance of a ballet dancer for one song (Black Death). She performed gracefully around the band only to be apparently murdered by beaked robe-wea
ring ghouls – one of which turned out to be a tattooed, latex-clad woman (once she had thrown her robe off). It wasn’t exactly a necessary addition to the show, but nevertheless, nothing sums up a great Metal gig like some decadent theatrics! A glimpse of their ambition for future big shows perhaps? Now they have a freshly inked deal with Nuclear Blast and some really great songs in their armory it might not be that far off. They ended the set with ‘A Call To Arms’ and a toppling of the guitar stack to add to the many dents on this famous old stage.
And so to Gojira. Where the two previous home grown bands had demanded attention with physically energetic shows the French technical metallers took on a slightly more planted stance and let their musical mastery do the work for them. At last the sound started to come together, although still a little muddy at first. By the time ‘The Heaviest Matter of the Universe’ steamrollered it’s way across the rammed throng, the sound seemed just about spot on. The raking guitars were razor sharp and the machine gunning double bass drums seriously thudded into the back walls of this fine venue.
Without the distraction of a band running around all over the place there was time to appreciate how architecturally amazing this venue is. The many statues in ornate alcoves playing host to the unrelenting power blasting from under the huge arch over the stage… both sound and surroundings in harmony due to the epic scale of each. Even the venue’s fake trees and foliage creeping up the walls seemed to mimic the band’s back of stage set (based on their latest album cover). No wonder this show was being filmed for a DVD. The masterclass continued with that album’s title track L’Enfant Sauvage, and there was also time for a cool drum solo which didn’t fall into the trap of lasting too long. ‘The Gift of Guilt’ closed the show and those who were here to appreciate Gojira’s finer technical aspects were left suitably gob-smacked.
There is only one way for a headlining band to follow musicianship of this order and that is to create a visual spectacle big enough. Well, that is one of the things that makes the Swedish devil worshiping ministry that is Ghost a headlining act. The stage was impressively transformed into a satanic chapel for the night, complete with pillars and a very imposing floor to ceiling background of stained glass windows depicting various ritualistic scenes. Copious amounts of dry ice and incense filled the air. The appearance of the musicians – 5 ‘nameless ghouls’ dressed anonymously head to toe in hooded black robes completed the scene… almost. The amassed ‘congregation’ awaited the entrance of Papa Emeritus II to the stage and when he did appear through the mist dressed in an ornate black ceremonial robe the crowd greeted him enthusiastically… ready for their first ‘sermon’ of the night.
Thankfully, there’s more to Ghost than just a conceptual twist in the Black Metal scene. In actual fact they aren’t really Metal at all. Take away the theatrical mystique, all the omen style choral vocals and bucket loads of Cathedral sized reverbs and you actually have a great bunch of musicians playing decent retro-styled heavy rock. It’s something the Swedes seem to do so well these days but there is nothing new here musically that hasn’t been done before back in the day by the likes of early Ozzy and Blue Oyster Cult (and copied plenty of times since). Check out ‘Ritual’ if that’s your thing. However, it’s about the here and now and ‘Secular Haze’, ‘Year Zero’, ‘Con Clavi Con Dio’ and ‘Elizabeth’ are good songs that sounded GREAT in a live setting and really go hand in hand with the performance aspect. Ghost are an enthralling band to watch and if you entered into the spirit of it you would have had the time of your life.
Overall, four bands from four different areas of the Rock / Metal spectrum and all for just a fiver (advance ticket). There was something for everyone here tonight and for fans of hard and heavy music in general it was a real sonic and visual feast. Now for a drink to wash it all down with.
Anyone for a Jager?
All words and photos by Greig Clifford – photo gallery to follow. Check out more of Greig’s stunning work at www.greigclifford.com