Who could resist a potentially superb gig for the princely sum of £5? £5 for a gig at the Brixton Academy? We certainly couldn’t, and on Friday 13th April 2012, Real Gone and friends found themselves at the last night Jägermeister Music Tour – a big showcase for four British bands, headlined by the mighty Skindred.
First on the bill were a gothy, alternative metal band called The Defiled. Those who read Kerrang! may have been told that The Defiled represent “the saviours of the UK metal scene”. If you’re stupid enough to believe that, that’s fine, but frankly, what a half empty Brixton Academy witnessed on this night was an embarrassment: not only an embarrassment to metal, but an embarrassment to the world of live performance.
Within few bars of their opening song, The Defiled adopted the sound of a juggernaut, over which their frontman Stitch D sang badly. During the band’s quieter moments it was obvious he had no real voice at all. The keyboard player, meanwhile, made a spectacle of himself by throwing his keyboard into the air and then failing to catch it upon return, which caused amusement. Despite failing to complete this act the first time, he attempted it at various other points during the set with equally disastrous results. The other key moment of The Defiled stage act appeared to include two women appearing in long coats and hats, walking about suspiciously prior to shedding their costumes and swaggering about in skimpy outfits. Forget the angle-grinder…the women then pretend to staple each other’s tits with staple guns! This would be an unnecessary embarrassment alone, but that’s topped by them pretending to cut the guitarists throat with a child’s plastic toy sword and tearing the top from a sachet of ketchup. Oh dear…talk about the Poundland equivalent of the Circus of Horrors.
With the set pulling to a close, Stitch D shouted “BUY OUR FUCKING T SHIRTS, ‘CAUSE WE’RE FUCKED!”. Such banter.
It’s not that Real Gone are anti metal, aggression, or extreme riffing of any kind – quite the opposite since Lamb of God are a favourite – but The Defiled were bad. Frankly, embarrassingly bad.
The Black Spiders fared much better, getting the by now swelling crowd on their side with a combination of chunky riffs and banter. Granted, vocalist Pete Spiby wheeled out a few clichéd remarks, but as far as up and coming frontmen are concerned, he has enough chat and charm to get an audience on side when it comes to participation. Working through some of the best cuts from their 2011 album ‘Sons of the North’ – including ‘Stay Down’, ‘Wolves’ and ‘KISS Tried To Kill Me’ – The Black Spiders had plenty of old school chops in the live setting. On the basis of this short set – just seven songs – they’re more than enjoyable should you also catch them in a support slot yourself, or maybe even at one of their own more intimate shows. If the soundman hadn’t have given them so much muddy bottom end, they could have been even better.
The first big draw of the evening: a 55 minute set from Irish rockers Therapy?…and any chance to see Therapy? is always welcome. Kicking off with a rousing rendition of ‘Teethgrinder’, Therapy?’s set hit the mark from the off. Since Therapy?’ and their soundman have far more experienced than either of the preceding bands, Neil Cooper’s groove-laden and uber-fast drumming had just the required amount of edge, while the buzzing guitars made the track sound as vibrant as it did two decades ago (Christ, doesn’t that make you feel old?!). The three-man band (plus extra bod on second guitar lurking in the shadows just off stage left), looked slightly lost on the larger Brixton stage and while the performance didn’t necessarily have the outright ferocity as their Sonisphere 2010 set in a small tent, the choice of setlist couldn’t be faulted. The familiar were more than represented with solid renditions of ‘Die Laughing’, ‘Screamager’ and ‘Nowhere’, while the band’s more recent material – including ‘Living In The Shadow of a Terrible Thing’ and ‘Get Your Dead Hand Off My Shoulder’ sounded rather beefy. The latter, in particular, coming across far more menacingly than it does on record.
The evening ended with a full length set from Newport’s ragga-metal heroes Skindred. Anyone who has seen this band previously will know they’re in for a treat, and this performance proved no exception. From almost the moment Benji Webbe stepped on stage, he had the audience in the palm of his hand, willing to participate in whatever crazy things took his fancy. Aside from obvious audience splitting and call and response singing, he also insisted the audience growled like dogs! Splitting the audience into “contestants” and “gladiators” also may have confused younger audience members… With regards to set, the band tore through various high points from their back catalogue – ‘Roots Rock Riot’, ‘Nobody’, ‘Cut Dem’, the awesome ‘Doom Riff’ and more – making the ninety minutes flash by.
Any chance to see Skindred on form should always be taken – especially if you’ve never had the pleasure – but for £5 and the inclusion of Therapy? on the same bill, this particular evening seemed like an almost once-in-a-lifetime gig opportunity. A shame about The Defiled, but at least they weren’t on for long and provided (unintentional) hilarity…and their mums are probably dead proud.