Sometimes a tour comes into town where you have to drop everything and go to it. This tour was one of those shows. Sold out months before and one that could have easily moved to a bigger venue given the amount of people who were hunting tickets alone. Everyone knew this show was going to be one to remember and it was one I will remember for a very long time.
Grave Pleasures were an absolute riot, the Finnish death punks were a gothic joy from start to finish. The front rows of the Ballroom were full of punters dancing the night away to the band’s unique music. I’ve never seen a band like Grave Pleasures before, but I will definitely see them again. The band despite the dark tones of their music, the music had people dancing like Disco was back in fashion. Set closer ‘Joy Through Death’ was one of the highlights of the day and the show proved they are always welcome here.
I’ve recently come to hold the belief that Thou are one of the best bands on the planet. An ecclectic five piece who combine sludge, doom, hardcore punk and general misery to make a huge sound that few can rival. Playing their first UK show since 2012, it was great to see Thou play to a crowd whose size they deserve. Thou were on another level, music in its purest, heavy form leaving the audience absolutely breathtaking. Opening with ‘Fucking Chained To The Bottom Of The Ocean’ they were absolute feral from the start and did not disappoint for the rest of the set. Apart from the brief thank you to the crowd, the band rightly left the music do the talking and made a lasting impression on the converted. The band played new upcoming material among others including ‘Into the Marshland’ which left audiences stunned. It was a highlight of the year for me from a band who should be headlining the venue. I cannot fathom how good they were.
Crowbar are always reliable. The New Orleans sludge quartet never fail in the live arena, bringing the heavy riffs and breakdowns with easy. Kirk Windstein’s iconic voice still holds gravitas and impact and the hits have never aged. ‘Conquering’ and ‘All I Had I Gave’ are as unstoppable as the day they were written and ‘Planets Collide’ is still a hauntingly beautiful song. Newer material like ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ and ‘I Am The Storm’ were received like old classics, this is a band that still has something to say. It’s also great to see that Kirk is still as dedicated to his fans as he was back in the day, at the show he was hanging in the smoking area and the merch desk, chatting to fans, signing merch and posing for countless photographs. The performance Crowbar gave was an inspiring testament to their legacy.
Converge are a weird entity, despite all their fame and influence, they still very much hold the DIY ethos. Converge have always done what they wanted and the show they played was an absolute blinder, a real masterclass in creativity and painfully honest music. Jacob Bannon is still one of the best frontmen of a generation, receiving a loud applause for talking of the importance of mental health before a blistering ‘The Dusk In Us’ from a career spanning setlist. The band played 10 out 13 songs from the album of the same name, with ‘Reptilian’ being a higlight. But the real pinnacle of the night was the encore, the double bill of ‘Cannibals’ and Jane Doe fan favourite ‘Concubine’ ending with Bannon throwing the microphone into the rafters. Drummer Ben Koller walked up to the swinging mic, said thank you and sent the crowd on the way. Everyone in attendance was in agreement, this was one of the best gigs of 2018. Four differnet acts who each brought something unique to the night, left the sold out venue knowing they made everyone very satisified.