With Guests


Tuesday 5th December, 2000 - Rock City, Nottingham, ENGLAND.

A funny thing happened to us on our way here, as we were looking for a car parking spot.  There were these lunatics reversing towards us at high speed, aiming for a spot just in front of us.  As this car parked and we passed by, I glanced at the occupants to get a look at this maniacal driver and I could of sworn that it was 'Benji' from 'Skindred'...

Hmmm, no....   Anyway, it’s been two months now since I was last at Rock City and that was for the amazing Earthtone9 Evolution gig. It was a monumental gig that will stay with me forever, with the memory of an absolutely electric performance from the Earthtone boys still fresh in my mind.

Tonight, the doors opened at 7:30pm and we queued to get in for what seemed an eternity. Once in, I could hear that Earthtone9 had already started (in fact, they started only fifteen minutes after the doors opened) and were well into their set. What sort of planning was that? It’s bad for the band because they’re playing to only a fraction of the people attending (that’s got to be demoralising!) and bad for us fans who miss half the show. Someone needs their arse kicking!

So, it was straight into the hall and immediately down the front to watch Earthtone9. Distressingly, we had missed ‘I Nagual Eye’ and ‘Star Damage (For Beginners)’, and looking around at the audience it was very thin on the ground as people were still trying to get in. ‘Off-Kilter’ echoed around the room, the sound was really top heavy with the drums but who cared, the main thing was that we had the chance to see this excellent band again. It was no surprise, considering the situation, that there was very little crowd involvement and I was expecting some encouragement from the band between songs. However, when someone did shout some words of encouragement and try to get involved, Karl applied his often-used sarcastic merriment, which predictably squashed any embryonic confidence from everyone. Oh well, artistic temperament I think they call it.

...slowly the crowd numbers were picking up and the applause was getting better as the set progressed. Approx.Purified’ followed but the band was looking really tired. "Hang in their lads", I thought, as slowly the crowd numbers were picking up and the applause was getting better as the set progressed. ‘P.R.D Chaos’ was next, but by this time it was obvious that the performance was limp and almost nonchalant, with worryingly static figures on stage that looked maybe like they were just going through the motions.
"We have one more song, then we hand you over to the Americans" came from Karl. What already, this can’t be true? Unfortunately, it was probably the most merciful thing for everyone. They finished with ‘Evil Crawling I’, which despite everything did end with good applause, shouts and cheers only to be crushed by another well time comment from Karl, "We’re Earthtone9, Fuck you Nottingham!"

It was hard for me to believe this was the same band at the same venue, which took the place apart only a couple of months earlier. I’d been looking forward to seeing them again, but I was left feeling strangely disappointed. I think some of it was down to missing the start of the set, but maybe it was also due to seeing the boys looking so exhausted, it kind of made it difficult to get inspired even when you love these guys. It was weird, because you could be forgiven for thinking that the band were pissed-off with us, but how could that be, after all we just paid to come and watch the show?

Note: Oz mentioned after the gig, that indeed they were tired and he didn’t stay more than a few minutes before rushing off home to get some rest. I think that is what they need, they have worked so very hard this year and rather than undo some of that hard work, maybe a short hiatus is what's required.

Next up, after a break of half-hour was Glassjaw. I have heard very little of this band before, so I was watching them with a very open mind. From New York, USA, they were fairly heavy with some intense sections of modern metal but ultimately did not hold my attention and I completely missed what it was that was capturing a large part of the audience. Talking of which, the place was by now almost full, it wasn’t a complete sell-out but it was very well attended, and they were getting well warmed up with plenty of action going on down front. It was a real pity that the Earthtone boys weren't allowed to wait until everyone got in.

Anyway, back to Glassjaw. I really did try and enjoy this band, but they just didn’t do anything for me. In fact, the vocalist started to get on my nerves, as after two songs he exclaimed some prize American bullshit, how this was the best gig of the tour (yawn, bet he says that every night. We’re British, so don’t expect us to swallow that bullshit as easily as they do back home matey!). But mainly it was his vocal style, which for a large part, was a strange whiney, tuneless mess and just made me cringe! So, not for me but many seemed to enjoy them.

There seemed an enormous wait until Soulfly took to the stage. The lights dimmed and there was a strange soundtrack emanating, creating an atmosphere before a powerful voice proclaimed "Will you all welcome ……. Soulfly" and the familiar intro to ‘Back to the Primitive’ beckoned before launching into the rhythm proper. The crowd erupted and it’s down to business. The massive drum sound pounds down onto everyone, between it and the guitars the sound is so strong and forceful. The riffs change and we’re straight into ‘No Hope = No Fear’ (476k MP3) and again the place is moving as one in a rhythmic bounce, it’s incredible!

"Thank you very, very fucking much. Let me see your mother-fucking hands up in the sky - Soulfly Tribe... Roots Bloody Roots" (256k MP3) exclaims Max, as his distorted yell decays and the riff takes over. You just can’t help yourself as the awesome sounds takes control and you melt into the rhythm. Fucking excellent. Everyone is shouting along to the chorus as Max hands the mike over to the masses. "Thank you very, very fucking much. Let me see your mother-fucking hands up in the sky - Soulfly Tribe..."
Shut the fuck up’ follows without a second being wasted, and the awesome riff opens up. With a shout from everyone in unison "Shut the fuck up" the song drops into place and the sound rips open into another stormer. I can’t stop smiling….

"Back to 1998 and what comes around goes around you mother-fuckers." "Bleed" yells Max and we begin a string of songs from the first album. Yet more violence erupts until a slower mid-section of the song, when we get several seconds to breath before "Um, dois, tres, quatro…." and the song once again thrusts out. It hard to understand where all the energy is coming from but there is an uncontrolled amount being spent here tonight.

Soulfly - Taken by Steve Coopat
Thanks to Steve Coopat and his site 'Metal For Your Head' for the photo.
It’s at this point Max brings out the strangest looking musical instrument I have ever seen!  It was called a ‘Berimbau’ and is basically a wooden cane which is strung with a steel string to form a bow shape, and has a gourd (cabaça) with an opening on one side which acts as a resonator, attached to the bottom.  It was into this which Max held the microphone and sang.  At the same time he tapped at points along the steel string with a stick (vareta) and also plucked it with a coin (dobrão), which gave off different notes and produces a very unique sound.

"Zumbi e o senhor das guerras" Max started the introduction lyrics to ‘Tribe’ (380k MP3) and I was astonished as the crowd picked them up and continued strongly as Max encouraged. "Zumbi e o senhor das demandas. Quando Zumbi chega. E Zumbi quem manda" they hollowed. Chants of "Soulfly – Soulfly" began in place of the repeated versus and I basked in the atmosphere, it is pure electric!

The song starts with Max on vocals until it reaches the second verse when Benji takes over and raps like a bastard into the massive chorus... Just when you think it can’t get any better Max says "We have Benji from Skindred in the house" and up he appears from nowhere onto the stage and joins in the as the song morphs into ‘Quilombo’ (so it was Benji) . The song starts with Max on vocals until it reaches the second verse when Benji takes over and raps like a bastard into the massive chorus which just rips away all that has gone before. From there it is smooth interaction between the two, which really worked well, and as Benji takes his dues and leaves the stage to much applause, the song turns into ‘Fire’. The downtuned riffs seem to only just form when we are quickly into an awesome version of ‘Umbabarauma’. (1Mb MP3)
Max had the crowd chanting the chorus "Umbabarauma ….. homen gol", bringing out the native in everyone here, keeping the atmosphere well and truly electric. Then, the next surprise. A whole line of people spilled onto stage front, each carrying their own large floor standing tom drum. This included Simon Johnson from Earthtone9, Larry Gorman from Glassjaw, Soulfly members Max, Mikey Doling (Guitar), Marcelo Dias (Bass) and quite a few others (there was about eight all told). A display of superb tribal drumming was forth coming, which was so awesome that it had many standing in complete wonderment, others were just taken away with the pulsation. The shear power and rhythm of eight or nine people playing these big drums with such a mesmerising and addictive beat is difficult to describe, and impossible to capture, but the energy and atmosphere was inspiring.

It was ‘Refuse/Resist’ (from Sepultura ‘Chaos AD’ 366k MP3) that was now playing, but I must admit the song was probably halfway through before I regained my concentration from the drum show and realised we had moved on again. The gig was running a such a high pace that there were parts of it that were just a blur, including 'Wasting Away' the ‘Nailbomb’ song, which had followed on and was busy taking the pit to pieces.

At last, a breather as Max introduced the next song, explaining "This song was originally recorded with ‘Tom Araya’ from ‘Slayer’ who you all know, but right now we have Earthtone9 in the house... This mother-fucker is called ‘Terrorist’!!!!!" It was Karl Middleton (earthtone9), who was back on stage to do some more, and what an immense version of the song it was. Karl’s vocals ripping through the guitars, making the whole experience so intense, pure magic! The only thing wrong, it was over far too quickly….

As the song finished, everyone disappeared off stage, and cheers of "Soulfly, Soulfly, Soulfly", rang around the room for several minutes before the bands reappearance. They were back with ‘Eye For An Eye’ (182k MP3) and the place just exploded (for the umpteenth time), those downtuned riffs just took hold again and that fuckin smile was back on my face!!! This was just so good, I didn’t want it to end and for now it didn’t as the boys powered into ‘No’ (both band and crowd giving ‘Hootie and The Blowfish’ some serious stick). As the song was ending Max shouts, "Thank you very much, goodnight", but he was back within seconds with both Karl (earthtone9) and Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw), who joined him on vocals for ‘Pain’. They were back with ‘Eye For An Eye’ and the place just exploded (for the umpteenth time), those downtuned riffs just took hold again and that fuckin smile was back on my face!!!
There was now a posse of people on stage, all from different places and cultures. It was quite amusing seeing Karl (with his typically British, anally retentive style) next to the chilled out Americans and mosh-tastic Brazilians (It conjured a picture of your dad trying to dance at your sister wedding! *smile*). Actually, it finished off the night quite nicely, and despite this visual misnomer, the vocal assault from Karl was again outstanding as the three vocalists duelled with a verse each, which was easily won by Karl. As the song came to a close, the applause thundered around me as a bass and bongo-style drum accompanied by tambourine slowed everything down, saluting us all goodnight. It signalled the end of almost an hour of first class entertainment as the boys left the stage to much clapping and cheering, as I looked around at a very satisfied looking crowd.

This was such a professional and slick performance, that I have only got respect for a band that can produce this sort of presentation. I can easily understand, on the evidence tonight, why certain bands pull in the crowds and get the hype. It is because, without any shadow of doubt, they deserve too. They are simply in a league of their own…


Note:  I have tried, for the first time to include some sound clips from the gig.  The quality is really shit because I was more involved in enjoying myself then recording the show, so when I'm bouncing around so is the sound *smile*.  Unfortunately, this rendered most of it useless, and meant that the selection to sample was a little limited, sorry, but it gives just a small idea of what went down. enjoy.

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