Photos: Antony Roberts
Roadburn 2011 for me opened with Alcest on the live stage and having seen a storming set at London’s Purple Turtle last year I was keen to catch them again. I’ve never experienced sound issues in any of the previous 3 roadburns attended which is really impressive for a festival set up with so many bands but the second guitar was lacking for the first few songs. By the time Percees De Lumiere was played though it seemed to have been sorted and they were nothing short of amazing. Title track Souvenirs d’un autre monde from their 2007 album came across really epic live with the vocals soaring over the (post) black metal backing.
Managed to catch a quick song or two of Year of no light which sounded epic but they were playing again tomorrow and I was pre-empting a big queue to see Ghost.
We managed to get straight in but that was due to turning up 10 minutes early. By the time Ghost came on the place was rammed and there was a 1 in 1 out policy happening outside at the door to the Midi Theatre. Immediately from the offset the tone was set with the theatrics, the dry ice, the cardinal outfit, the monks habits with darkened faces. I was really upset about missing not only Acid King but Zoroaster aswell, however Ghost more than made up for it. Tearing through most of the tracks from Opus Eponymous these guys are going to continue to grow and with a set now confirmed at Download festival and Tulska festival they will continue to amass fans. Fenriz was right on the money putting these on Darkthrone’s band of the week blog and I couldn’t blame anyone for loving ‘em. Stand By Him had most of the audience singing along to the ridiculously catchy chorus.
We left Ghost to go and catch the last few songs for Winterfylleth and the room was almost empty, maybe 60 or so people, it was quite a shock. Perhaps the idiotic internet rumours from a while back had put people off or maybe Acid King ran over, I’m unsure but they seemed to be playing as though it was a packed house, putting in a great performance. If you live near London be sure to catch them at Seven Churches Festival for a chance to see them in a (very) intimate setting.
Wovenhand, wow where to start. He (they) were awesome, but very odd to watch. One minute David would be chilled out singing sat down playing amazing music the next he’d be kicking the mike over and almost gurning yeah yeah making random noises and then beckoning the audience to bring it in a mock fight style action. Really amazing set with an absolutely amazing rendition of Kingdom of Ice, along with newer songs like Sinking Hands the first track from last year’s The Threshing Floor album. A masterclass in performance.
Much needed food before Pentagram – really expensive falafel, I’ve never understood why the veggie food is so expensive compared to the meat at 013 but what can you do when in a rush with so many bands to see.
Pentagram were one of the draws for many people at the festival and the main hall was as full as I’ve ever seen it. They opened up and straight into Day Of Reckoning and looked like they were really, I mean REALLY enjoying it. Talking between songs about their new album, and vinyl re-releases available at the merch stall I later saw Bobby Liebling with a queue of people buying and instantly opening vinyls to get signed. Their set was one of the festival highlights but couldn’t watch it all if I was to catch other bands too.
Today is the day walked on with the first song and title track In The Eyes Of God, then through a spread of songs from their back catalogue. The sound lacked to begin with as mics weren’t set up correctly on the guitar amps and after a few songs and some roadie adjustments they became the band everyone was waiting to see. And what a lot of people there were, it was a real shame their hour set was cut to around 35 minutes, there was no reason for them to leave us so short. This did mean however catching the end of Pentagram and what a finish with Pentagram (sign of the wolf) followed with When the Screams Come, a blinder!
Godflesh, were up next and the sound was really really good on the right side but upon moving to left side of the main hall it worsened significantly so headed back to the other side. One thing that was really apparent was just how new and fresh Streetcleaner sounded live despite now being over 20 years old. I think their performance made many people’s roadburn this year.
Atomic bitchwax sounded awesome, really bass heavy without losing the rest of the mix but very very packed, shitkicker and I hope you die had airings along side other classics and some stuff off the new album.
Upstairs I managed to catch last 3 songs of In Solitude which were awesome. I shamefully was not familiar with their stuff beforehand but their twin maiden esque guitars, flying v’s to the roof with Mercyful Fate vocal hints sent me scuttling to the merch stall for albums before heading back for some more Godflesh.
Onwards we caught some Wardruna, and the sound was REALLY amazing. Another band that I’d bought the album of before Roadburn but not had chance to properly check out and I wish I’d got to see more of their set. What I saw reminded me of mid to modern period Ulver.
Managed to catch a little of Carlton Melton heading via the bat cave to the main stage and they were really good, but very very packed. Bluesy Hendrix earthless style stuff, on another day I would have stayed to watch more.
Soilent Green opened up and joked around about waking everyone up with their heaviness. They shredded the main hall and it was so disappointing to see it so empty. This being the first day of Roadburn it seemed a lot of people had not yet learnt their limits judging by the amount of casualties dotted semi passed out as early as 6pm just 3 hours after the festival had officially opened. The crowd that were there though were on form and I witnessed the first pit in 4 years of Roadburns. Loads of songs off sewn mouth secrets were torn through and they even treated us going all the way back to their first album with slapfuck off pussysoul.
I nipped out to go watch Count Raven who were one of the draws of the festival this year for me and they sounded great but soilent green were so good I had to go back to catch the rest of their set.
That wraps up day 1 of Roadburn, days 2,3 and afterburner will follow very shortly…