Given the horrendous events that unfolded in Paris on Friday night, you’d be forgiven for expecting that all gigs in the UK for a period of time would have smaller audiences, earlier finishing times and filled with a certain air of unease. However, in a true tip of the hat to the relentless British spirit and ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, the Exchange in Bristol is near capacity tonight; proof, as if we needed any more, that the world will not back down in the face of extremism and will continue as best it can to keep everything as normal as possible.
Not only is there a considerable audience tonight but they’re also very receptive, something that aids Buffalo Summer (8) massively. They might only play for half an hour but they deliver a sumptuous injection of driving classic rock tinged with the sound of southern America and held together by riffs that AC/DC would be proud of. They’re also not afraid to drop the pace and go into blues territory as they do on Rolls On Through. A Horse Called Freedom and Down to the River produce big sing-a-longs from the room and everything is rounded off with Money – appropriately, with a Back in Black outro.
Now, if Black Sabbath were a five-piece with a keyboard player, they’d probably sound like Scorpion Child (8). As with Buffalo Summer it’s the riffs that spur the music but they’re more respective of the magic of Tony Iommi than Angus Young. There’s also a touch of the psychedelic about them, especially in opening track She Sings I Kill. Frontman Aryn Jonathan Black is the catalyst for the energy emitted from the quintet as he wails and shrieks his way through numbers like My Woman in Black and The Secret Spot with power and precision, allowing the band to transport us back to the late 60’s and early 70’s with total ease. It’s clear to see why they headlined the inaugural ‘Lords of the Riff’ tour last year; across the floor heads are moving in total unison.
But tonight belongs in every sense to Crobot (9), who give us 17 songs in the space of 75 minutes and a performance worthy of the paltry £10 admission fee alone. It’s electric from the off, and Skull of Geronimo threatens to dislodge the roof from the rest of the building despite the fact it’s only the second song in. Heads are no longer moving either; they’re banging with ferocity. Brandon Yeagley – who tonight looks like the coolest Butlins redcoat ever – is so exuberant in his delivery that his hair is actually sticking to the low ceiling at points and he covers the tiny stage like a man possessed by the spirits of Ian Gillan and Axl Rose in their prime. They play the whole of debut record ‘Something Supernatural’ along with a number of brand new songs tonight that includes Welcome to Fat City and the sleaze-tinged Play It Cool, and even when they drop the pace on Hold On for Dear Life, the momentum is not lost in the slightest. There’s even an opportunity for a bit of tomfoolery as Yeagley joins guitarist Chris Bishop in a small cubby-hole at one side of the stage halfway through La Mano de Lucifer before jumping on his shoulders later on. It’s raucous and rowdy but beautifully executed. As Crobot finish with an encore of Not for Sale and Night of the Sacrifice it’s clear that, for all the darkness of recent global events, you can still find sanctuary amongst peers and good music. How cruel, therefore, that the punters at Le Bataclan did not experience the haven that a rock concert can provide. We will remember them.
The Legend of the Spaceborne Killer
Skull of Geronimo
Welcome to Fat City
La Mano de Lucifer
Nowhere To Hide
Play It Cool
Hold on for Dear Life
Queen of the Light
Fly on the Wall
Not For Sale
Night of the Sacrifice
Photos by Becky O’Grady[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157661369940351″ size=”z” count=”100″]