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As the British 5 piece Black Spiders take to the stage, their western intro rings out across the somewhat cavernous venue and smoke slowly floats across the stage. They aren’t exactly met with rapturous applause, but that will change as soon as they kick in. ‘Si, El Diablo’ has such a foot stomping tempo that you cannot help but get lost in the song. Pete Spiby’s vocals (for the older few in the crowd, you may recognise him of the former rock band Groop Dogdrill) have that gravelled tone whilst being soothing to the soul in the same instance, suiting their southern stoner tainted rock down to a tee. Black Spiders are not a calm band onstage; they are, in fact, one of the most energetic around, though when they all have animal counterparts it should probably just be expected. Mark ‘The Dark Shark’ Thomas is constantly hidden beneath his hair until it comes his time to unleash a masterful solo, whilst Adam ‘The Fox’ Irwen is constantly circling around, swinging his bass around his head, narrowly missing the ever bouncing/kicking Ozzy (who is of course, ‘The Owl’), but the one to really steal the show is Si on drums: technically incredible, visually beyond belief – think Animal from The Muppets, on crack, with the skills to match. ‘Stay Down’ is a song which you can tell is going to be an absolute anthem given time. ‘Just Like A Woman’ displays just how much swing and rhythm can be put into simple and fun rock and roll. Also, please note, the backing vocals on that track are superb live - listen carefully if you go see the Spiders live. Any band who can write a song about the mighty music machine that is KISS attempting to murder them in a dream, they are more than alright in my book. ‘Kiss Tried To Kill Me’ has some of Black Spiders best drum work to date - constant and pounding, it works outstandingly well in a live situation when the verses contain such subdued guitar work whilst Spiby works his vocal magic. By the time the band start to pound out ‘Blood Of The Kings’, the crowd have been utterly converted. From the oh so vocal “Fuck you Black Spiders!” response, to every set of paws in the air clapping along, and all of this from the first support band…the band who are only on these dates due to their original plans with Volbeat being cancelled, luckily for us. Black Spiders, the opening band, play a set worthy of a headliner.
Thursday 9th December 2010
Academy in Manchester, UK
Reviews by Siobhan Hogarty
To somewhat shift the momentum of the show, Enforcer are up next. The Swedish 5 piece would be more likely to be compared to Judas Priest or Exciter, than AC/DC or Rose Tattoo. After a lengthy intro song almost lulling the crowd into a more subdued stance, Enforcer rip full force into ‘Midnight Vice’. Adam Zaars and Joseph Tholl start their set off well with some striking guitar licks - from the very intro, their guitar work live is tight, almost flawless at points. Olof Wikstrand strides to the front of the stage, clad in leather, half mic stand clutched tightly, screaming like a demon. Bassist Tobias Lindqvist moves swiftly past him moving down near the front of the sprawling stage, attempting to work up the crowd – always smiling and singing along, Tobias is a perfect example of a great performer – though that is not to say that Enforcer as a whole are not great performers. A strong steady thundering comes from the hands of Jonas Wikstrand as the band kick into songs like ‘Diamonds’, the title track from their new album. A racing intro riff, perfectly displaying their influences of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, followed by a tempo well paced enough for any metal head in the room to head bang along to. The crowd, however, don’t seem to be digging the Swedish boys offering of good old heavy metal with a modern twist, as Olof’s cries for hands in the air is met with an almost disheartening response but, then again, music of a heavier nature on a bill with a band who simply scream rock and roll from all tracks might not be the best placement. Metal songs that have sing along segments are always wanted aplenty, so ‘Roll The Dice’ hits the spot nicely; the guitar work midway in this song is simply superb, sweeping and soaring before striking right back into the faster tempo and swapping licks right, left and centre whilst Olof’s vocal range is truly put on display, showing the talent he has. Enforcer decide to finish their set with another track from their new release, ‘Walk With Me’. Rolling drums bring the song into play before all the boys hit a great rhythm allowing the vocals to simply float over the top. Their vocalist stands valiant with his fist in the air as he hits some unbelievable notes; he just looks like he was born to be a metal superstar. Adam’s backing vocals on this track also bring a nice harmony to the song before Tobias gets his moment to shine with some very nice bass heavy sections of the song coming through loudly. The killer moment of Enforcer’s set, comes in the dying seconds of their song as it all slows. There are hands in the air clapping along as the song crescendos into the final battle cries from Olof - in a live setting it is pretty incredible. If only more of the crowd had shared my opinion on that. Enforcer are a band who can succeed, given the right space, old school metal is well and truly alive and will no doubt make it big in 2011.
“Raise The Flag”. If you are an Airbourne fan, those 3 words will mean something to you. So when the lights finally dim for the final time of the night in the Academy, the response from the crowd is, as expected, insane. People are on their friends’ shoulders, beers are flying through the air and everybody in the room is moving as Joel O’ Keefe and crew hit the stage running (quite literally!) In the past few years the momentum behind Airbourne has been absolutely incredible. They have gone from playing 300 capacity shoebox venues to selling out Academy sized with considerable ease; it seems the only way is up for the Aussies. The sweat begins to pour, the shirts are soaked and there is hair being whipped everywhere as the mad men on stage work their magic. Songs like ‘Hellfire’ and ‘Chewin‘ The Fat’ are greeted with every word being screamed back towards them. The crowd are eating out of the palm of the band’s hand from the word go. Justin Street and David Roads are matching Joel’s energy levels completely, constantly moving from one side of the stage to the other, it’s hard to keep your focus on one member for any length of time. ‘Bottom Of The Well’ has an intro which just builds the tension - this song from the newest Airbourne offering is a perfect example of how well they do ‘arena’ style anthems. Older favourites like ‘Cheap Wine And Cheaper Women’ and ‘Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’ see Joel and co bounce around in sync, kicks and fists the air all included, no rock expenses spared here folks. Airbourne are definitely a band to include their audience, with Joel calling for the people of Manchester to get on top of each other’s shoulders and, soon afterwards, the people left on the floor were left with a view of people’s backs as the band played on! The somewhat crazy singer then exceeds some expectations when he manages to find himself playing guitar atop of his guitar tech’s shoulders, being walked through the crowd – now, not many band members would do that! Hitting out with 2 encores (how very rock and roll!) of ‘Running Wild’ and ‘Stand Up For Rock And Roll’, every person in the venue is almost out of energy, but still manage to scream along. A fitting end to a pretty amazing show. It just goes to show that simple rock and roll can trump complicated technical metal sometimes and Airbourne do it with style.
A dreary night falls upon Manchester as masses form snaking queues from both sides of the Academy. When people mention Airbourne, most will automatically compare the Aussie rockers to their countrymen AC/DC and, yes, there are many similarities. However, Airbourne are forming their own brand of hard rock – making it completely their own; their own sound. This doesn’t stop a rather significant group of their followers turning up in either Rose Tattoo or AC/DC t-shirts, but they are outnumbered by the Airbourne mass eventually as the venue fills. The range of fans tonight is more confusing in regards to age, opposed to musical tastes, like many other gigs can be: there are children far under 14 here, probably under 10 and then there are people well into their 50s, united by rock, you know, like the “good old days”. All are packed into the main floor of the sweaty Academy – complete with leaking roof, thanks rain! See, even the weather can’t stop rock and roll, as the lights dim…