High Voltage Day 2
Words: A Harvey
Photos: Antony Roberts
Following another rather late arrival day 2 of this year’s High Voltage kicked off for me with Gentleman’s Pistols. Their bluesy rock tones provided the perfect start to the blistering midday sun. If you haven’t checked out their new album yet head to Rise Above Records and purchase forthwith!! These guys have toured heavily over the last year (and continue to) headlining their own gigs as well as supporting every decent rock, stoner or doom band to hit our shores. This continuous roadtrip is obvious in the live show as they are now a seriously tight unit without losing the freeflow that would becoming sterile in delivery.
Michael Schenker Group followed on the main stage and this should have been amazing, and in someways it was (song wise), but there were some serious issues. For a start there were too many guitarists on stage. “What, what, what?” you say, “but it’s a guitarists band?”. Yes indeed it is, but with that many guitarists on stage the sound was muddled, and Schenker himself star of the show, was at times too low in the mix. Sure they played classics like “Rock you like a Hurricane” and “Doctor, Doctor” but unfortunately the lack of sound clarity ruined a classic setlist.
Next up on the Metal Hammer stage was Graveyard. Much like Gentleman’s Pistols earlier, their laid back tones made the perfect backing to the mid afternoon, that had become a baking, sunny summer day. Lying down, eyes closed I listened away and I could have been at the Isle Of Wight Festival or Woodstock back in the day. Vocalist Joakim and bassist Rikard were previously in a band Noorsken, with Witchcraft vocalist Magnus and they ply the same route harking back to 70’s rock. Graveyard however have left the doom vibes out and are more influenced by blues, hard rock music. Definitely one for the Roadburn followers (they’ve played there twice).
Black Spiders took to the Metal Hammer stage next and drew the largest crowd of the day on this stage. From the moment they walked on to the end of their set they did not stop moving for one second. The whole band were a whirlwind of spinning hair, contorted bodies, guitars to the sky and ahem, middle fingers. Yes for those of you who aren’t familiar with them (shame on you), the Spiders have a song called “Stay Down” that always ends up live with the band and audience flipping each other off. It’s amusing to see a band being flipped the bird and told “f*ck you (and this one horse town)” by an entire audience and have them still smiling ear to ear. They played beyond an energetic performance and managed to wake up the Hammer stage’s audience from it’s lazy mood, onset from the chilled vibes of the bands playing before them.
Headliner on this second day was Neurosis. I’ve seen them perhaps 7 times before and it’s always been inside, with visuals. I was interested to see how they would fair outside, without visuals, and without the normal skull crushing volume that fills the venues they play. The crowd for Neurosis was beyond disappointing, it was practically empty. I guess even with a band as big as Neurosis it shows that the majority of High Voltage ticket buyers do not go for the metal. Most go instead for the rock on the main stage, and for the prog stage. Opening with Locust Star the sound was still immense even with the limited volume. This was not the killer full on Neurosis show but it was still exceptional compared to most bands. My plan was to catch some of the set and catch Jethro Tull for the first time, but midway through “End Of The Harvest” it was obvious I was not going anywhere. Revealing 2 new songs in the set “At The Well” and “Killing Elk” it looks like the new album is going to be seriously worth the wait. Finishing up with “Through Silver In Blood” I felt somewhat saddened that a peerless band like Neurosis had played to such an empty crowd. If it did matter to the band it didn’t show, they put on the performance I have always witnessed previously, enthralling, and intense.
After Neurosis I went to catch Dream Theater but speaking truthfully they’ve never been my taste. Trying to expand horizons I stood around for 5 songs but couldn’t get into it. I decided to head off, and beat the crowds to get the long journey home. I know there has been some talk from the main stage/prog fans of wanting rid of the Metal Hammer stage. There is some sound bleed between the Hammer and prog stage, though this was greatly improved this year. I’d like to state on behalf of myself and all those that went with me, and others I spoke to over the weekend around the Hammer stage, a lot of us would not have gone on the Sunday were it not for the Metal Hammer stage. Let’s hope it’s back next year, if it is, I certainly will be to.