Could you imagine Elgar, Bach or Vaughn Williams’ cello adagios thunder-busting the bass-bins? Before tonight, me neither. Which is why Lori Goldston’s not quite so mellow cello opening set of angst-fueled arpeggios, left punters mesmerized, bewildered, fascinated and eye-bleedingly catatonic in equal measure.
For me it was weird and wonderful, just like fellow punters whose hair, tattoos, accents and outfits, badges and engaging ambience provided a welcomed palliative to the grim news splattered across the Sunday linens.
Long ago, before internet, X-box and mobile phones, teenage boys’ distractions (apart from the obvious) in Tamworth, Staffs, depended on sneaking past Kaftan coated, Big Bear manager, Jim Simpson, by helping carry the PA gear for those Swarfega whiffy, metal bashing, ragged-arsed Brummies called Earth. Oh, and how heavenly loud they were.
And, can you believe it? Tony Iommi did flute solos! But very soon it seemed that the name-change to Black Sabbath might be a car-crash waiting to happen. Little did we know. So, what’s with the tenuous name-check connection? Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) open a Summer exhibition celebrating the Black Country and Birmingham’s heritage as the crucible of Heavy Metal thunder. There will be a prize for the clever ones who know where the moniker comes from. Yes, lyrics from Steppenwolf’s, ‘Born To Be Wild.’ Damn, gave it away there.
With bastard child, subsequent manifestations of these hallowed antecedents being realised by Seattle Grunge veteran, Dylan Carlson’s, latest incarnation line-up of his own Earth, it would have been churlish not to have checked the band out. Not so much loud as bowel-puree inducing extreme noise terror, with a side helping of Gormenghast grunge for the attic-bound Goth miserablist.
The vocal free, doom-drone, experimental-rock, lonesome guitar twangs and cello seething swoops evoke tortured nightmares of Duane Eddy and Link Wray (the latter being the godfather of fuzz-guitar by the expedient of razor-blading his speaker cones). The hypnotic-blissed, metronome is firmly fixed on mid-tempo throughout the set. Lori Goldston’s cello mix is significantly more prominent tonight than on latest album, ‘Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light,’ (notice the Miltonian inverse iconography there?).
Adrienne Davies’ drumming wove a knock, knock kockin’ on Mordor’s door mantra with Angelina Baldoz’s bass tapestries providing all sorts of subliminal, shamanic enchantments. I have never, ever been to a gig where between songs, perhaps tonal expositions is more apposite, the punters have remained utterly silent after the applause. With compositions titled with likes of ‘The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull’ a moment’s reflection was certainly welcomed.
Tonight, it bordered on reverence, and we know how H&H punters don’t take prisoners. Primal, tribal, viscerally asymmetric, it has to be said Earth’s dronal incantations are not everyone’s chosen vat of hemlock: their bruised muse being very much for the alternatively, esoterically inclined. But, subtle wiles are this band’s perplexing charm. And damnably nice people as well. Happy Daze! Thanks to Capsule for another great gig.
Review – John Kennedy
Photos – Katja Ogrin