Mastodon – Academy, Birmingham- 29th November 2014


Krokodil were first up.  They’re a very heavy band and tonight seem to have the volume set to “bleeding ears” as it is at times uncomfortably loud, and the bass is so high that anything you touched was vibrating.  There are some great heavy riffs in the music, but to be honest I just couldn’t enjoy their set thanks to the screamy vocals which sounded pretty much the same for every song.  They were good to watch though as they put in an energetic performance.

Next up was Big Business – or two thirds of them anyway.  They’re normally a three piece band but with their guitarist unable to be with them due to a recent back injury, tonight we have just two of them, one on bass and vocals and the other on drums. Since the guitar is essential then that was one backing tape.  Initial impressions were good – I certainly preferred the singing/shouting vocal style to Krokodil’s screamy vocals, but fairly soon things went wrong.  With the bassist tied to the microphone then there was almost no movement, so they weren’t particularly exiting to watch, but the music was even less exciting and was frankly monotonous – if their set had been half the length I’d probably have enjoyed it, but it really started to drag as it went on.

Finally it was time for Mastodon., and where the first two bands had failed to excite either myself or the crowd, Mastodon quickly succeeded. Right from the start they demonstrated that musically they are far superior to the other bands – Mastodon may be heavy but their music has plenty of melody in it still as well as being complex. There was just so much more to interest the audience than either of the other bands could offer.  Vocal duties are shared between the band members and all do a great job.
The crowd were far more animated during Mastodon’s set than for the support, making it clear that they were having a great time.   To be honest there’s very little not to like about a Mastodon gig – in fact the only bit really is try fact that it was over an hour into the set before one of them finally spoke to the crowd – until then none of them had spoken a word, and had limited interaction to clapping or waving arms when they wanted the crowd to follow suit.   One good thing with the lack of talking to the crowd though is the fact that there are no long gaps between songs, and they keep things going pretty much non stop for the entire set.

Tonight’s set is heavily based around the band’s latest album, Once more around the sun – eight of the eleven songs on the album are featured in tonight’s setlist and stand up extremely well when compared to the songs from previous albums.  It’s a great mix of old and new songs tonight and really is a great performance from Mastodon.  It’s no surprise that at the end of the night the fans all left looking very happy.

Mastodon setlist:

Tread lightly
Once more around the sun
The mother load
Chimes at midnight
High road
Aqua dementia
Ol’e Nessie
Aunt Lisa
Black tongue
Ember city
Crystal skull
Blood and thunder

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.