Wednesday 3rd April, 2002
The Old Angel, Nottingham, ENGLAND.
|There is nothing better than getting to a gig and being greeted by
lots of friendly faces, many of which you havent seen for a long time. It makes it
quite special. This was the warm-up gig of a ten-date farewell tour for the long time
luminary of the British metal underground, Earthtone9. It couldve been quite a sad
occasion, as this will be the last opportunity to enjoy a band that imparted such a
magical recipe of music and personality over the last four years. But no one was going to
allow that, this was a celebration, a party, a summary of the good times had by all, but
most of all a chance to say goodbye.
To preclude the main event, there were a number of other bands playing tonight and they all helped to get things moving. First up were two blokes (vocals and guitar) and a collection of electronic tricks that called themselves Phantom Limb Management. It was quite interesting to see these guys perform a somewhat different act, containing many blast-beats and industrial rhythms interjected with sympathetic guitar and raging vocals, presenting what was an almost eerie set.
The boys from Barnsley were next up. Purple Sticky Punch, better known as P>S>P played a blinding but very short show (about 20 minutes), that just gave a taste of what this band are about. Creating a very solid groove, the crunching, heavy riffs are only matched in intensely by the screaming vocals. However, they do implant melodic moments into some of the songs in an emo kind of way, which gives a break from the auditory battering you receive for the large part. Tonights set contained most the songs (it couldve been all, unfortunately I missed opening number/s) from their most splendid EP Too Fine Line (reviewed here). A crushing performance from a promising band and well worth watching out for to catch their full set.
Dai Lo, last reviewed back in the summer of 2000, have definitely improved in confidence since back then. Playing a more traditional rock set than the other bands tonight, their sound holds few surprises to anyone whos been into this music for the last couple of decades or so, but no doubt sounds fresh to the latest generations. Its looking as if we may be on the brink of a hard rock renaissance with quite a number of newer bands harking back to the classic roots for their songs. Dai Lo played a good collection of rock tunes that will probably sound great recorded. But unfortunately the 25 minute live performance was in a way let down by the vocalist, with his often tuneless singing (ear monitors have helped others), his egotistical ranting and constant belching in between the songs (which for some reason, he thought was clever?). The comments of "what a prat" were overheard from more than few people in the audience which, kind of summed it up really. Quite a shame, because theres definite potential in this band which we will without doubt, see more of in the future.
After a very short break, Oz, Joe, Dave and Karl, ably assisted by Alex are tuning up on stage, ready to start (and Karl sorted his ears out hes wearing ear monitors which really helped bring out the best in his voice tonight). Earthtone9 are looking incredibly relaxed as Karl proclaims "Good evening" and asks "You alright?" as he looks around at the others and in surprise says, "Here they are. Okay!" and the opening riff of Evil Crawling I bursts out upon us.
Its amazing, the sound is great, in fact it is the best sound ever witness by this punter at the Old Angel. You can even here the punctuating echo effect used on Karls voice and his voice is sounding awesome. The guitars are clear and the drums crisp, the only slight thing to criticise was that Joes backing vocals got a little lost (although the mike was turned to max).
Before the next song was the quote of the night. "And heres me thinking that the combination of us and the Old Angel, and an audience was mutually exclusive!" exclaims Karl as he looked around at a completely full room. Excellent and then they explode into Grind and Click. There isnt a lot of room at the Old Angel, but a small pit formed as the song began. There were lots of happy faces around the place and people were thoroughly enjoying themselves. "You guys watch out for the mike-stands, as they hurt when they hit you in the face", was Karls advice to a half-wit who was getting too close for comfort.
I Nagual Eye was followed by the beautiful Amnesia, at the end of which Karl commented, "Thank you and Good Night. We will be back after this short break." Three seconds later, they were back. "I have got to wear these jeans for the next fortnight!" he exclaims. "The worries of warm up, were taking your money but we dont care about you!" and they launch into a really tight rendition of Star Damage (For Beginners). This was heaven.
The band and the crowd were obviously having a good time, which is the primary requisite on an occasion such as this. "I have never seen so many faces . here . for us . None of them paid? youve probably been boycotting us for years now" Karl scoffs jokingly.
But it was all getting too much for those in the pit with a negative IQ, as the band kept the pace high with the live favourite Withered. There was a rare and unfortunate occurrence of some selfish antics by a couple of immature primates in the pit, who from the outset seemed intent on trying to spoil the gig. (A goon with dreadlocks who kept thrusting his devils horns into the faces of Joe and Karl, and a scummy looking creep who picked a fist fight with a girl, and lost!). What it must feel like to be ostracised by so many, only they will know.
Then things slowed down just a little with the excellent Revelation (goose bump time again!!!), followed by the pleasant inclusion of Sand (Spiral/Prophet) and the penultimate song, an ArcTanGent classic Tat Twam Asi (the intermittent slow-motion vocal version).
"Last tune, its a short one, by the grace of God. Okay, we havent actually rehearsed this, so it could be shit. In fact it will be shit, but then what can you do? Are you ready?" shouts Karl and Vitriolic HSF spews forth and chaos ensues.
Finally, as the last few notes decay, Karl proclaims "Thank you. We will NEVER see you again. Thanks a lot everyone". Ozs guitar echos its last noises for a few moments then stops abruptly. And that was it, all over. The end of a fantastic 50 minutes set, offering a splendid mix of old and new, and which featured a bloody awesome performance by everyone in the band. It was one to treasure and one that didnt have Karl displaying his usual enigmatic style but instead coming across strangely charismatic. More than one comment passed asking why wasnt he always like this? It left you kind of wondering "WHAT IF ."
Jesus! This was weird. A gig that left you awash with emotions, a gig that was thoroughly enjoyed and was British Metal at its best. Hey, even after youve talked to the guys, youve understood all the reasons as to why this band isnt continuing and you began telling yourself this isnt the time to be morose, why the hell do you feel like this? Fuck it, with the quality of this band and their exceptional songs, how can you help but feel sad at their demise. For totally selfish reasons probably, but those new songs are so excellent and they are playing so tight and with a forth album on the horizon and fuck
Footnote: Earthtone9 Thank you for all the wonderful music that you have allowed us to share and enjoy. Thanks for the great times youve shared with your fans (many who have become friends). Thanks for the experiences and unforgettable memories that many will nurture and cherish. Rest assured that you will always have a place in the hearts of the many people you have had such a great influence over, those who have shared the great emotion labyrinth that is your music. Be advised you have made your mark on many people FOREVER.
Earthtone9, we thank you . Goodnight!