DATE: Tuesday 20th February 2018
VENUE: Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
The last time Butcher Babies played a show in Nottingham was 2016 in Rock City's 300 capacity basement venue. Tonight, then, just around the corner, in the larger, 450 capacity Rescue Rooms, is something of an upgrade for the US band, who are kick-starting their 2018 European tour in the East Midlands city. However, while it's an upgrade in capacity, it seems the audience size remains roughly the same, with the room only around a third full. However, those who've showed up are also fired up from the off, just like the band themselves, as when Butcher Babies appear at 8:45pm, and launch into the title track, 'Lilith', from the latest album they're touring in support of, bursts of mutual energy exchanges erupt between the stage and the floor. This continues during next track, 'Burn the Straw Man, and into the duo of 'Take It Like a Man' numbers that follow - 'Monster's Ball' and 'The Butcher'.
While energy levels within the audience wane throughout the night, with only sporadic explosions of pit action, Butcher Babies deliver a sustained, high energy set. Guitarist Henry Flury and bassist Jason Klein are both dynamic performers with their instruments and, musically, deliver flawless displays of fretboard widdling. New(ish) boy behind the kit, Chase Brickenden, impresses with the material, both old and new, and is even afforded a solo spot towards the end of the set, where his jazz-inspired chops can be heard ever so subtly. However, it's Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd who propel Butcher Babies' live show into a vivacious and vigorous spectacle of boundlessly tireless intensity. And with fantastic vocals to boot, as both cleans and growls sound like impassioned expressions of their inner beings, it's an exhilarating experience.
Over the course of 80 minutes, new and old material comes thick and fast - the likes of 'In Denial', 'Gravemaker' and 'Igniter' sound devastatingly heavy this evening, particularly the latter. New album tracks, more diverse in nature, sound equally efficacious as live pieces - the anthemic 'Korova', the melodically beautiful 'The Huntsman', and the all-too catchy 'Headspin' all receive a great crowd response. As does the dissonant heaviness of hangover song 'Pomona (Shit Happens)', complete with its plethora of "fucks" and "shits". And band and fans get that little bit closer when Heidi jumps down into the middle of the crowd for the bouncy, more frolicsome pre-encore outing of 'Underground and Overrated', and a circle pit develops around her.
But it's far from over just yet! Four encore tracks ensue, with their metalized cover of Napoleon XIV's 'They're Coming to Take Me Away', 'Controller', 'Axe Wound' and the ever magnificent up-tempo, infectious thrash grooves of 'Magnolia Blvd'. It's been an incredibly slick performance from Butcher Babies this evening - from their onstage energy, to their individual musicianship, to their collective tightness as a band. Quite remarkable considering this is the first date of the tour and they must all still be just a tad jetlagged. You'd never know. In Nottingham tonight, Butcher Babies once again prove themselves to be one of the most exciting metal acts currently exercising their wares. Amazing stuff!
Click on thumbnails for larger images:
Butcher Babies at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK, 20th February 2018
Photograph copyright © 2018 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com