ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?
BUT...before we commence rocking, I just want to share with you the sight that awaited me when I woke up on the Thursday morning - the first day of Roadburn...
Aaaaahhhh, I tells ya, I wish i could wake up to that EVERY morning!
Oh, and who's this?
Why, it's my friends Mr and Mrs Duck! We had a plethora of Ducks and Geese in the surrounding environs, which made ME happy, but not necessarily the others, as they could get a bit......quacky. Also, there was a Swan, but I refused to take his picture as I didn't want to give him the oxygen of publicity. You know what Swans are like. Uppity beaky twerps.
SO. A somewhat convoluted two-bus system took us from where we were staying and into Tilburg, dropping us right outside the 013, a venue that looked, to me, like Rob Halford's arse -
See? Looks like studded black leather right? Rob Halford's arse.
Oh, I later noticed that they're not studs, they're actually CD's, rivetted to the outside. Pretty classy huh?
The posse had to go and queue up with the rest of the plebs for wristbands, but I was SPECIAL....for I had a GUEST PASS. I strode over to the Guest/Press pass window and thoroughly lorded it over the little people in their queue, received my sparkling special wristband and then it was time to go rock the FUCK out.
I decided to go around the corner to the Midi theatre, first, and watch The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, a band I had recently reviewed over at The Sleeping Shaman. Don't ask me why, I KNOW I should have gone to see Quest For Fire but I was feeling pretty mellow and a bit tired, so TKDE it was.
The Midi theatre is a superb venue, and I knew I would love it as soon as I walked into the foyer. The acoustics are FANTASTIC, and it's the kind of venue where it doesn't really matter where you stand, you can still see the stage. Bang on, as Doomlord would say.
The lighting was pretty damn subdued - read 'almost pitch black' - in there, which added to the atmos somewhat since it was warm and sunny outside and that just wouldn't do for the mean and moody vibe that TKDE were angling for.
I guess the best I can do to describe TKDE's sound is to point you toward Ulver's 'urban noir soundtrack-to-an-interior-movie' 'Perdition City', as that's basically a blueprint for TKDE's sound - unconsciously or not they are definitely singing from the same hymnsheet as Ulver were back then.
Great big slabs of bass so thick you could sink your teeth into 'em, skittering jazzy rhythms, disembodied bluesy female vocals and a sobbing trumpet sound that totally brings Chet Baker to mind, all wrapped up in downbeat electronics and minmalistic beats. I admit to breaking into a cold sweat when I espied a DJ onstage, but thankfully there was no wicky-wicky-wicky nonsense.
Trouble is, it was all a bit too downbeat for me (I know! Who'da thunk it?), seeing as it was a lovely day out, and I decided to nip over to the 013 halfway through and try to catch some of Quest For Fire, as I reckoned a bit of fuzzed-out psychedelia would hit the spot.
Unfortunately, I guess everyone else had the same idea and the room they were in - the teeny-tiny Bat Cave waaaaay up at the top of the 013 - was absolutely RAMMED. So I just killed a bit of time, had a few drinks, and sauntered back over to the Midi in order to see Ghost, whom I was looking forward to IMMENSELY.
It seems that people either 'get' Ghost at the moment, or they just DON'T. Accusations of hype and gimmickry are constantly levelled at them, owing to their refusal to publicly unmask or reveal their identities. I guess I would be a little cynical about them too if the music they make wasn't so damn good, being as it is a hybrid of Blue Öyster Cult and Mercyful Fate, with a pop-metal edge and a somewhat campy sinister occult aspect to their lyrics and presentation.
At the end of the day, what they are is FUN. No heavy message or dogma to wrestle with, just good solid entertainment, and we ALL like to be entertained, right?
Hell, judge for yourself...
I ran into a guy just before I got into the show, a friend of a friend, who hadn't heard Ghost but was a little put off by all the negativity directed at them. I dragged him along and guaranteed him that if he dug Mercyful Fate and BÖC, he'd love it. Lo and behold, ten minutes into the set he was headbanging like a maniac.
It put a smile on my face and made my neck a little sore, what the fuck else could you ask for? I enjoyed it so much, I didn't even get irked by the bassist's faulty buzzing lead. Well, not THAT irked...
Tell you what though, I felt sorry for the drummer. He must have been sweating cobs.
Speaking of sweating cobs, I had to run back over to the 013 again in order to catch Woven Hand/Wovenhand, a band that I was pleased but surprised to see in the line-up this year, what with frontman David Eugene Edwards being decidedly of the Godly persuasion, BUT, I read this quote regarding his feelings about being embraced by the - mostly non and anti-christian - underground metal scene...
"...couldn’t be happier...For one, I listen to a lot of heavy music myself. When it first came to my attention that people in these scenes - whether it’s heavy metal, black metal or death metal - were starting to pay attention to my music, I was so happy that they would even consider what I do. But that wasn’t a surprise. I think that people in the metal world think about things that a lot of other people don’t, like spiritual things. Whether they believe as I believe is beside the point, but they’re searching, they’re searching for something beyond what is here or what you can see with your eyes, and I think they know that there’s more, you know? And so in that sense I am like them because I also think there is more."
...the quote was printed in the Roadburn 2011 programme/booklet thing, but was taken from an interview with the man over at the oddly-named Transylvanian Hungerrr blog which is MORE than worth some of your valuable time to read.
In fact, go read it now. I'll wait right here 'til you come back.
'kay? Good read isn't it? Nice pictures too. Almost a shame to come back to THIS, really. Interestingly, I see that Edwards has an intense dislike of organised religion, which is something that resonates heavily with me too. NOW I understand how he's able to reconcile anti-christian and pagan bands such as Marduk and Primordial being vocal admirers of his work.
I could discuss the issues that this raises for literally DAYS, but hell, this ain't the time.
Impressions of Wovenhand...or Woven Hand...whichever it is. Well, they were literally entrancing. I mean, I was completely unaware of time passing during their set. I could NOT take my eyes off the stage, and I didn't WANT to. Edwards is UTTERLY compelling, totally magnetic and charismatic.
Sitting down, hunched over a big ol' orange Gretsch and passionately declaiming into one of those big chrome radio-style mics, he looks so intense that you can see the veins and sinews twisting in his arms and neck from halfway back the hall. Talking in Cherokee between songs ,'Hey-a!', doing mocking 'macho' posturing and then intimating he can take the ENTIRE fuckin' venue on, mock-cock-rock posing with his axe, flailing his skinnylegs around on his stool, smacking himself in the face and smacking his mic stand away whilst in some kind of trance...this guy HAS IT. In SPADES. He's mocking the 'rock star', but in doing so he's surpassing it, and, with a flick of the hand and a shake of his feather-bedecked hair, he's dismissing it. A true brave...
...and BOY are these guys HEAVY. Not heavy like...fuckin' Crowbar, but HEAVY like 200 years of slavery, or the Jewish religion, y'know? SPIRITUALLY heavy. In THAT respect, and in a couple of others, they remind me of Swans more than anyone else.
This eastern raga-flavoured, country-gothic UR-thing they do really got me gripped.
Just.....inspirational. Real SOUL music, played from the depth of his boots and up and out.
THAT was my first genuine highlight, and there were MORE to come...A LOT more.