Pentagram, Horisont, Purson, Highbury Garage, 9th December 2011
Words and Photos by Antony Roberts
Arriving at the Garage and there was a queue, a big queue, but that was to be completely expected. This after all was the first time that doom legends Pentagram had played in the UK. Can it really be 30 years with no dates on the British Isles?
Whilst the crowd were trying to get in to the venue for this very special occasion, new London based group Purson were already showcasing their take on 70’s rock. Fans of Blood Ceremony will certainly lap them up. Whilst I’m sure if this band get bigger singer Rosalie will be stealing a few of Christina Scabbia’s vote’s in Terrorizer’s polls, a band can’t rely on looks alone. Thankfully musically they’ve got the goods to back up the looks, take a listen to “Spiderwood Farm” and see if you can’t get it out of your head for the rest of the day. Female fronted 70’s rock bands seem to be flavour of the month at the moment, taking over from the glut of blackened hardcore bands pouring out over the last few years. Heck, even Fenriz has named them band of the week on his blog. Though they do have excellent songs, their stage craft still needs some working on to match the quality of the songs they are writing. Drummer Poncho was going for it as Rosalie wooed the audience with her silky vocal tones and guitar leads but the rest of the band were extremely static. The second guitarist was practically hiding in the shadows at the side of the stage head down, his face covered with his hair. Now already signed to Rise Above Records their first single Rocking Horse due out soon is catchy as hell, if the bass player and guitarist can develop some live presence this band could make big waves in 2012.
Twos and Ones
Next up were Sweden’s Horisont who were pretty much the opposite stage wise, all members barely standing still for a second during the whole set. Again the vibe was 70’s rock but their take was heavier, rockin, riff laden vibes. Twin guitar intros gave the band plenty of opportunity to up the cheese level, with dual head banging battles across the stage. With a vibe similar to classic bands like UFO and Thin Lizzy, and the more contemporary Witchcraft, similarities continue as singer Axel certainly has one hell of a range on him. This huge surge in popularity of 70’s rock has also brought with it something seriously missing from metal and rock as of late, guitar solos. I’m not talking about showy 90MPH sweep picking demonstrations, but soulful, bluesy, string bending solos which contain some actual emotion and tone, and Horisont had them by the bucket load. Whilst the true doom fans would have preferred a strict all doom support I think both bands won over a few new fans from the non battle jacket wearing crowd members. I’ll certainly be looking forward to catching these guys at Roadburn next year.
Finally the band everyone had come to see were ready to take the stage, and damn what a hell of a lot of people had travelled for this. There were people from all over the country in the Garage that night and despite going to “sold out” shows before this one felt a little bit more sold out than others, even right at the back by the bar it was sardine time. Pentagram took to the stage with no aplomb, just a couple of guys wandering on, but the roar from the crowd indicated just our special this was, shockingly loud for a venue this small. As Bobby Liebling said his hello’s and apologised for how long it had taken to make it to the UK, the audience’s response somewhat overwhelmed the band. Bobby could be seen with his eyes welling up in appreciation for a show I imagine they were anticipating as much as the crowd. The band starting with “Treat Me Right” from 2011’s Last Rites album before heading straight back to “Forever My Queen” from the 70’s demo days. The rest of the set dipped back and forth between the new album and old classics, though Broken Vows was noticeably missing. Beyond this it was about as great a set as one could have asked for. This was dare I say it, even better than their stellar Roadburn performance in April this year, the intimacy of the venue adding to the atmosphere. Mid set Bobby was showing his own modesty and appreciation for the audience “aw c’mon, you’re the audience, you’re the music, we’re just the band”. Whilst the band as a whole put on the performance everyone had come to see, and Victor Griffin grooved the hell out of his Les Paul, the show belonged to Liebling. With his bulging eyes and crazy hair he walked the stage ever the front man, playing air guitar alongside Griffin, his smile beaming out to the crowd. Finishing with an encore of “Wartime” and then a sublime version of “When The Screams Come” they had the whole venue captivated, arms held high, singing along, bringing about a perfect finish to this milestone event. Let’s hope the next visit doesn’t take so long…
Treat Me Right
Forever My Queen
Review Your Choices
Sign Of The Wolf/Sinister
Into The Ground
Call The Man
Then The Screams Come