Classic Review No 3. Sepultura, Newcastle 02 Academy

This is another interesting one. In keeping with that “theme” of mine. Basically I hear that Sepultura are performing in Newcastle and I go to check them out two weeks later. The band have added a last minute Newcastle date on a free night – so late in fact, if memory serves me correctly, that they didn’t even have the date listed on their tour shirts.

Which is a good thing too, because judging the attendance was about 15 in Academy 1, I doubt very much they sold many shirts beyond the one I purchased that night. I remember going to a job induction the following day dressed in that shirt. I must have taught I was a rebel. Or I was just stupid.

There used to be one video on YouTube of this gig. You could clearly see me as the ONLY person in the middle of the floor in an empty venue. Bloody brilliant.

When drummer Igor Cavalera and vocalist Wagner Lamounier founded Sepultura in 1984, few believed their legacy would continue for a quarter of a century, even if somewhat different from their initial vision. Many will argue Sepultura’s most successful period was with Igor’s brother Max, who joined as vocalist for 11 years, before a massive disagreement broke both a band and a family apart for well over a decade.

Fast forward to a rainy Newcastle night and the band are opening their UK tour to a pretty low key audience. Despite having not performed in the UK in four years, the band only announced this opening date two weeks prior, and as a result the arena is visibly empty. Igor has since departed, reconciled with his brother, and vocalist Derrick Green has been “the new guy” since 1997. Only bassist Paulo Jnr, the quietest and most reserved member of the group by far, has lasted from the start.

A local opening act have brought with them an arsenal of fans – all taking advantage of the ‘guest list prices’ – and witnessing what is this particular band’s final concert. Without doubt, there is no finer way to go out, and their admirable performance shows their inspiration for music was certainly tonight’s headliners.

Next is Ireland’s Gama Bomb, who are missing bassist Joe McGuigan due to personal reasons, and performing with drummer Paul Caffrey’s apparent broken kit. While they try to fix it early into the set, guitarist Luke Graham and vocalist Philly Byrne entertain the audience with a rendition of ‘Guess That Lick’ before continuing with a fantastic old meets new school thrash set. The highlight belongs to ‘O.C.P.’ – the rather short, but entertaining track, based on the film RoboCop.

Soon, it’s time for the headliners, who take to the stage later then expected. Despite this, the band emerge as victorious as if they are performing the main stage at Donnington. To call the setlist a greatest hits would be unfair as there are more than enough cuts from the band’s latest release, A-Plex, but with a catalogue spanning 11 albums there is ample material to choose from.

Crowd pleasers include the classics ‘Territory’ and ‘Refuse/Resist’ with phenomenal speed and agression, proving there is no harder touring band on the circut – Green commenting on his shoes being robbed earlier that day – but also mentioning that the person who took them is in for a smelly shock. Newer tracks like ‘What I Do’ get a lukewarm response; those in attendance were certainly happy the band are still releasing current material, but more eager to hear less of it. Celebrating the years previously, drummer Jean Dobella and vocalist Derrick Green are unlikely to mess up ‘Troops Of Doom’, even if they never originally recorded it.

While personal hopes of ‘Hatred Aside’ being aired seemed to fall on deaf ears, the band fail to upset with a trio of legendary tracks: ‘Arise’, ‘Attitude’ and ‘Roots…’ bring the performance to a close.

Who knows when Sepultura will next grace UK shores with such force and headlining ability. The crowd in Newcastle have witnessed a special performance that’s unlikely to be repeated for a long time.

Rating: 4/5

Sepultura perform at the Hevy Festival on 8th August 2010 in Kent.

Classic Review No 2. – Murderdolls, Middlesbrough Empire

I include this here for a few reasons. First off, it’s unique in that it’s the only gig I’ve ever reviewed in Middlesbrough. Second, despite living only an hour or so away from this place I’ve never actually visited except on this one occassion. And third, the support band for this gig were Black Veil Brides who turned out to become even more famous than the headliner.

Funny that.

I thought they were a bunch of Motley Crue fans who’d got lost on the way to a fancy dress costume party – circa 1981, of course. Found this really cool video (good quality as well) from the actual gig but I’m not sure I can post it here for some reason or another.

The queue stretches down Corporation Road, while many of tonight’s concert attendees can be heard to ask ‘why Middlesbrough?’ as they shuffle into the venue, a hoard of black and facepaint mixed with old Halloween costumes.

If Ziggy Stardust shocked and provoked audiences in 1972, and Marilyn Manson took it to new extremes in 1994, then the Murderdolls must be old hat. At the band’s core is Joe Poole (also known as Wednesday 13) and Joey Jordison (better known as the drummer from Slipknot) who released the album Beyond The Valley of the Murderdolls in 2001 as a rather fun side project and then watched it become something of a phenomenon.

Nine year’s later and the Murderdolls are back, only main commitments have forced radical changes, their second album Women and Children Last is a more straight up Motley Crue type record with only a hint of the stupidity remaining from the first. Certainly, their new album is a straight up rock and roll affair, with guest spots from the Crue’s own Mick Mars.

Surveying the crowd tonight makes for an interesting fan base. The staple of which seem, between 14 and 16, not to have grown with the band (in fact most would have been fresh out of nappies at the time of their last album) but rather to have just found them for the first time. There are a minority representation from almost a decade ago, but you get the distinct feeling this is a young person’s band, maybe even one of their first major introductions to the genre as a whole.

Support comes from two bands, British based The Defiled and the US’s Black Veil Brides. The former provide excellent highlights, alongside a drummer named Jesus Christ, and a keyboard that just can’t seem to stay still for more than two seconds. The band have just given their new album ‘Grave Times’ away free with the latest issue of UK publication Metal Hammer – a neat trick to ensure everyone knows the words – and it seems to have worked, although it would have been nice if someone had caught bassist Vincent Hyde as he stage dived into the crowd during the band’s final song of the evening.

Black Veil Brides seem, in some ways, to be more of a draw than tonight’s headline act. Indeed, with their album ‘We Stitch These Wounds’ reaching #56 on the US Billboard (an admirable feat when you consider the band is independent of a major label) it’s no wonder that news has found it’s way across the Atlantic. The sold out audience know the words to every track, from ‘Knives and Pens’ to ‘Heaven’s Calling’, their revolving line up in a relatively short period hasn’t left “Andy Six” without the inspiration needed to write more material and this audience is lapping it up.

As the Murderdolls take to the stage it’s obvious this is going to be a set to remember – think Marilyn Manson meets Ann Summers – and you’re heading in the right direction. But rather then shock any parents, some of whom have decided to accompany their children here tonight, the Murderdolls are more interested in straight up entertainment. Their set is a mixture of old and new with cuts from both albums. ‘Nowhere’, the band’s latest single, fits like a well worn glove with tracks such as ‘18666’ and ‘She Was a Teenage Zombie’.

The band are on fine form, their set is militaristic, with all the energy of early Punk as they bounce from one three minute song to another. No overblown solos or piano intros a la Axl Rose, this is short sharp and shocking. The only minor qualm being the absence of their infamous Billy Idol cover ‘White Wedding’ – a song that even got them on TOTP!

As they wind it down, their encore being the song that started it all – ‘Dead In Hollywood’ – the band affirm that they’ve been delighted to perform for such a strong and loyal crowd here tonight with a passion and a hunger for the music they perform. It’s obvious their energy has been recycled by a town hungry for a live performance and tired with being passed up in favour of it’s bigger neighbours. Why Middlesbrough indeed?

Rating: 4/5