A reunion tour years in the making, Corrosion of Conformity had finally reunited with Pepper Keenan for a UK tour and I was there to witness a display of riffs and wizardry. After interviewing C.O.C.’s Reed Mullin and opening band Hang the Bastard in a graveyard, it was time for the show.
Opening with ‘Keeping Vigil’ from the excellent Sex in the Seventh Circle, a deafening shriek rang out across the Colchester Arts Centre as Hang the Bastard started the show in sludgy style. The band proceeded to play a solid five song set made entirely of material from the Seventh Circle; the old material such as ‘River’s Edge’ would no longer be played, this version of Hang the Bastard are here to stay. While the old material would be missed by some of the fans, the new material was solid enough to not get nostalgic over. The band retained the savagery of ‘Sex in the Seventh Circle,’ and ‘Hornfel’ live to pummel Colchester into accepting them.
However, it wasn’t until the band’s final song ‘Sweet Mother’ that the band hit their stride. It wasn’t a case of too little too late but I felt a few more songs would have probably won the crowd over some more. In a short set, the band didn’t speak to the audience at all, they let their music do the talking. This way the band kept an aura of mystery and melancholy around their disgusting sludge sound. I really enjoyed their set and they certainly were a discussion point for the ones who came in early, the band clearly earnt the audience’s attention. Whether they went home as fans or not, remained to be seen.
The lights went down and the band walked onto the stage together as a four piece to a large roar from the fans, with Pepper Keenan grinning like a madman. The band started to jam ‘These Shrouded Temples,’ before launching into the more energetic ‘Señor Limpio,’ from Deliverance. Caught up in a crowd of loyal fans singing ‘But I want to, but I want to, but I want to but my hands are always tied up‘ along with Mr. Keenan, the night had started in earnest. From then on the glorious music that C.O.C produced poured out of the speakers and struck a chord with everyone in the venue.
Some of the songs played on this tour had not been played live since 2001, this really was a show 14 years in the making. All the songs were on point; ‘Heaven’s Not Overflowing,’ ‘Wise Blood,’ and ‘Paranoid Opioid,’ produced rapid responses from the audience. Nonetheless, it was the classics which truly united the audience. Everyone joined in on ‘Albatross,’ the encore of ‘Vote with A Bullet’ started the first mosh pit of the night and the finale ‘Clean My Wounds’ caused one fan to jump on stage and fight two security guards while the band kept on playing.
Pepper was as cool as a cucumber throughout the set and his iconic Southern action commanded the audience to sing. ‘It’s like we’re in a fucking church or something,‘ quipped Mr Keenan as he grinned at the audience. Some audience members suggested there was no chemistry between the group, but I was having too much fun to worry about the band’s personal lives. Reed spoke of his happiness for the reunion during the interview prior to the gig and it was clear that he was having a blast behind the kit. The band all looked like they were, focusing on the instruments to deliver the best show possible and it was one of the best shows I had seen in Colchester.
Walking out of the gig I felt so satisfied, I felt like I had witnessed something spectacular, an event that would live in the minds forever of those attending. This was a gig where it was clear everyone had a good time, there was not a single bad mouth in the house. All in all, it was a success and an experience I would partake in again. I just pray the boys stay reunited long enough to do a new album or two.