Live Report: Orange Goblin / Sir Admiral Cloudesley Shovell / The Earls Of Mars / Baron Greenback @The Fleece, Bristol (UK) – 3rd February 2013

One Sunday evening in Bristol, the unsuspecting venue The Fleece was besieged by an onslaught of a heavy kind of metal. The overdriven fuzz was almost palpable as London-based stoner metallers Orange Goblin brought in an entourage of like-minded individuals, each displaying the kind of technical mastery and laidback-yet-heavy stylings that defines the bluesy stoner genre. There were four bands up for sampling, each with their own take on the genre for a surprisingly varied evening, as far as sticking to one genre goes.


First up were familiar faces Baron Greenback, whose thundering stoner breed I had witnessed previously with Graveyard in December. The band’s set sounded fairly similar, hovering somewhere between Electric Wizard and Sleep, and each song being separated by a saluting raise of a beer glass. However, there was one considerable difference between then and now: the soundcheck was in their favor, and instead of being drowned in sound, the songs were much better balanced. I still found Mike Waring’s guitar solos top notch, but the entire band sounded much more on form: in particular Chris Rouse’s bass was more defined. Finally, Max Ward’s rough baritone voice (which I had previously panned) went over much better, still suited to the music but stronger. Overall, a much more enjoyable experience this time round, one which I noticed turned a few more heads towards the merch stand after their set.

Second up were the bizarrely-titled The Earls Of Mars, and bizarre was exactly what they did. Orange Goblin’s Ben Ward summed up their sound succinctly, saying they combine “The English eccentricity of Queen, mixed with the theatrics of the Alice Cooper Band, getting together to do a doom metal version of The War of The Worlds”. The band consisted of Harry Armstrong on keyboard/vocals, along with a guitarist, drummer and upright-bass player, and the music they played is very, very difficult to describe. Best option is to listen to the EP below and decide for yourselves, then imagine it in a live environment and a lot, lot louder.

Main support came in the form of a naval officer, Sir Admiral Cloudesley Shovell at your service. Infusing something of the oldschool hard rock/heavy metal vibe in their stoner sound, the power-trio blasted through several tracks with few distinguishing factors but sounding great all the same. The band also displayed professionalism when things went wrong, the bassist and drummer casually flipping to “jam mode” when Johnny Gorilla’s guitar came unplugged. Much like The Earls Of Mars before them, they sounded a lot heavier live than on CD; maybe playing with heavier bands adds that certain vibe to their set.

Speaking of heavy, tonight’s main entertainment were nothing if not monstrously stoner-heavy. The orange goblins were quick to launch into a wide range of tracks from their 7 albums, including cuts from their latest opus A Eulogy For The Damned such as “The Filthy And The Few” and “The Fog”, and timeless classics such as “Quincy The Pigboy” also got their due. It’s always a pleasure to see bands honor their older work, and Orange Goblin did just that, showing their first album Frequencies From Planet Ten some love with “Saruman’s Wish”. The bluesy groove was undeniable, and guitarist Joe Hoare was on fine form as he laid down lick and groove and solo in equal measure, the rhythm handled more than capably by drummer Chris Turner and bassist Martyn Millard.

Throughout all of this, the bearded and tattooed tower that is Ben Ward was the epitome of a welcoming and engaging frontman, getting everyone fired up with each salvo-song. Halfway through, the The Earls Of Mars T-shirt he was wearing made sense, as he invited Harry Armstrong onstage to sing “Cozmo Bozo”, just like on the album, for a cool guest spot. Most hilarious were Ward’s later attempt to eat Hoare’s brains as the zombie homage “They Come Back” kicked in, and the sardonic quip “Wouldn’t be an Orange Goblin show without some fuck-ups” when Millard’s bass ran into issues. That aside, their set was nothing short of stellar, and I kicked myself that I had to miss the last two songs for an early train ride. Having seen Orange Goblin last year showing Bloodstock who’s boss, these stoner stalwarts have proven to me they can rock with equal magnitude no matter the size of venue. Coming up for 18 years in the business, the band are kicking as much ass now as then, and you’d be mad to miss a show with them. Ride on, guys.

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Orange Goblin

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Sir Admiral Cloudesley Shovell

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The Earls Of Mars

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Baron Greenback

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About Angel (104 Articles)
Angel is a headless chicken masquerading as a music addict, or potentially the other way round. He is the founder and editor of music website Broken Amp, as well as a publicist for Dewar PR, and otherwise offers proofreading and translation services. His musical taste covers most of the musical spectrum (including pretty much every metal genre under the sun), and he can be found enthusiastically rambling about music and other topics on Twitter: @markangelbrandt. Check out Angel's work online: &

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