Archive for December, 2010

Your Next Trip: Europe 1970…

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 by Noise Road

The metal site, Invisible Oranges, is a favourite of Noise Road.  Not only is IO a great filter of underground music, but it’s pieces are consistently intelligent, engaging and entertaining.

Today, Invisible Oranges posted videos for a 1970 Black Sabbath gig in Paris.

Click Here For the Black Sabbath Post at Invisible Oranges.

The write-up is of the expected quality… but the videos themselves, my Odin!  I don’t usually think of Sabbath as an energetic band – but the rock that Sabbath deliver here is undeniable.  The ferociousness of drummer Bill Ward’s attack on the kit alone demands your attention.  Now!  Hop to it, kid!

Its worth the investment of your time for the performance of War Pigs…  and also to witness Ozzy when he was a young, idiot-savant and not just a burnt-out idiot.

So with that, I’m saving up my cash and my leave, in order to head to the Black Sabbath gig, in Paris, in 1970.  I haven’t quite worked out all the logistics yet.  The fact that it occurred 40 years in the past could present a minor hurdle.

The more difficult issue will probably be saving enough money.  Just a few months prior to the Sabbath show in Paris, the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival kicks off.  Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Miles Davis…  There is no way that I can miss that show.

I am currently based in Southampton, which is directly across the water from the Isle of Wight.  So it can’t cost too much to get there.  And famously, no one paid to enter the Isle of Wight festival – so the money might still be good for Sabbath in Paris.  Man, I confused even myself in that past/present tense shift…

Today is as good a time as any for music.  A kid in Adelaide, Australia, can hear the workings of a band in New Jersey with no record contract and no radio play and no promotion.  The internet has allowed us to cut the b@st@rds out of the loop.

However, mainstream music is not healthy.  Even in the nineties, good bands still received radio play – Faith No More, Alice in Chains…  What decent bands get radio play today?

Can you even imagine a world in which your taste and that of the average person overlapped?  Can you imagine a time when the most popular bands were some of the best bands?  Can you imagine 1970?  People actually like young acts like The Who, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.  Can you think of a band today who is as popular and is of a similar quality?

I still rather live in 2010/2011.  I think there is so much exciting music to be found.  Amazing gigs are everywhere (check out Roadburn 2011).  But it would be nice to take a vacation to an alternative universe where people like good music.  It would be nice to visit Isle of Wight 1970 and Black Sabbath in Paris, 1970.

Is there a better music time-vacation?

The energy of punk breaking in London in ’76?  Catching a Melvins sludge-era gig prior to the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind?  The grind scene in northern England ’89?


Neither a Titus Andronicus Gig Review, Nor a Travelogue of Dublin

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , on December 5, 2010 by Noise Road

Click here for a previous review of a Titus Andronicus gig

Dublin, 27 November 2010

The pungent black in the bowl reminds me that I’ve drunk nothing but coffee and Guinness since entering the country.  Last night was more Guinness than coffee.

Yesterday over 50,000 people marched in Dublin to protest the austerity measures that form part of an EU/IMF bailout plan.  I won’t pretend to know what Ireland should do to recover from their economic woes, but as nearly always it is the Irish people that will suffer.

The story of Ireland has often been one of hardship.  Invaders have been fought and then replaced by new invaders.  Occupiers have often held the population in absolute poverty, considering the locals as less than human.  An Irish lass yesterday told me that the IMF is the latest invader.

After a rare moment of prosperity, the Irish bubble has burst.  Ireland has been hit harder than most.  Like elsewhere in the world, the people will have to foot the bill of the greed of the most successful and the recklessness of those who removed the checks and balances.

Stories have been passed down from the decimation of the potato famine of 1847, where nearly 25% of the population was lost to starvation and desperate emigration.  Bloody independence in the twentieth century is still in living memory…  And now fresh woes.

However the spirit of resistance is in the Irish blood.  The Irish let you know if they disagree.

I did not get involved in the protest.  It was impossible to avoid though.  Wherever I walked, I was on the outskirts of the march.  In the snow and brutal sub-zero cold, it was hard not to be swept up in the adrenaline of the march.  It was not unlike the catharsis of a mosh pit.

Titus Andronicus @ Whelans

Titus Andronicus’ very American approach may not seem like an easy fit outside of the states.  However Titus’ whiskey soaked tales of big ideas and personal problems, temporarily erased by liberal application of beer, is a perfect fit for Ireland.

For all their history of suffering the Irish are far from a dour people.  Like this Titus Andronicus songs, there is melancholy in the Irish, but there is also a cheerfulness despite their lot. The Irish are as friendly and up for “craic” as any a people.  Sure, we may have drunk too much last night, but the problems of the day disappeared in laughs and music and beer and dancing.

The room was buzzing with energy.  Many of the large crowd had marched from the day’s protest to the gig.  Before a note was struck, Titus Andronicus main man, Patrick Stickles, tipped his hat to the Irish defiance.  And with the roaring guitars of A More Perfect Union, any barriers between stage and floor evaporated.

The track’s closing refrain of “rally around the flag”, hollered by a room in unison, took on a new meaning in the light of the day’s events.

The chorus of the “the enemy is everywhere” generated a fresh spark.  Members of the crowd assisted on the mics and stage divers streamed from the stage, whilst band members bounced and screamed.

12 bar blues and a simple chorus – it’s not much on paper…  but somehow the earnestness and energy of the band is able to elevate it into the anthem it was.  The room continued to buzz for the punky track, Titus Andronicus.

The locals weren’t just looking to jump and dance, though.  They sang their lungs dry for the slower numbers.  Singing away your melancholy is something that the Irish and Titus can share:

I know it won’t do much good

Getting drunk and sad and singing

But I’m at the end of my rope

And I feel like swinging

Like the gig in Bristol, the band closed with Four Score and Seven.  This song is a good summary of what Titus Andronicus do.  A stripped-back, heartfelt start “this is a war we can’t win”.  The song builds with violin, before transitioning into an indie anthem “Its still us against them!  Its still us against them!”

As the words say, and its nowhere more true than Ireland, “It’s still us against them” and “the enemy is everywhere”…

The band fed off the positive energy in the room.  The smiles on their faces, the gusto with which they attacked their instruments and the extra decibels in their voices reflected how much they appreciated the unique energy in the room.

I stayed for a couple more Guinnesses after the show.  The band also hung around to soak in the atmosphere.  They drank, laughed and even danced (I’m looking at you, Ian Graetzer) with the locals to a curious mix of 90’s indie pop and 70’s funk.

I walked out to the heaviest snowfall I have ever seen.   Stumblingly through the snow to the hostel, I constantly dodged drunken snowball fights.

What a brilliantly resilient people.

Shrinebuilder @ London, 2 December 2010

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , on December 5, 2010 by Noise Road

Southampton, UK

As I walked home on Wednesday night, Southampton appeared to be trapped in a freshly shaken christmas snow globe.  Fine snow filled the air.

When I stepped out to face another brutal Thursday at work, the snow in globe had settled…  and then it had been filled with the snow from four other globes.

The UK’s infrastructure is not designed to take heavy snowfalls.  So while I shuffled across the bridge to work, most of my colleagues were unable to get their cars down iced-over roads, or they stood on platforms as train after train was cancelled.

As a result, I had a great day.  Most of the engineering management failed to make an appearance for more than a couple of hours.  Which was good news, because as we would subtly say in Australia “they are a bunch of f_cking c_nts”.  Unhampered by the usual daily b!tching, I was able to put in an honest day’s work as I took in a Scandinavian view from my desk.

Even the company’s product looked cool snow-covered.

It was almost enough to make a man reconsider telling the @rseholes to stick their job up their cloaca.  Almost.


My colleagues strongly warned me not to attempt the mission up to London.  The rail system had come to a grinding halt in the adverse weather.  The odds of being stuck overnight in a train somewhere between Southampton and London were high.  But feck it.  I didn’t move halfway across the world to slowly rot at a desk, playing it safe, while incompetent managers proportioned blame.  I’m out here adventuring.  They don’t know it, but that company is merely sponsoring Noise Road.

What is usually an 80 minute journey from Southampton to London, took 4 hours.  Trains were cancelled and delayed, and eventually I boarded a train that seemed to stop at every house, flat and badger-hole between Southampton and London.

When I hit the platform at Waterloo, in London’s South, I believe Wolves in the Throne Room had already boarded the stage at the Scala in north London.


Wolves in the Throne Room were towards the end of their set when I entered the Scala.  The venue was packed.  I struggled to even move into the room.  Any attempt to reach the floor was pointless.  So I shuffled along the side of the first tier.

Noise Road caught Wolves in the Throne a few months ago in a large empty hall in Berlin (read words here).  It was not all conducive to the ritual atmosphere that Wolves seek to create.  Whilst tonight Scala was full, poked away on the side, tolerating the scarf-wearing, inane conversation behind me, I still was not immersed in the performance.  I did enjoy this set more than in Berlin – I heard more texture.  But I’m still not sold on Wolves live.

If I was on the floor for the whole set, maybe I would have been more absorbed.  Or maybe I would have tired of it like I did in Berlin.  I’ll give Wolves another chance when they return to this part of the world.


The criticism that could be levelled at the Shrinebuilder EP is that it sounds like the 4 individuals in the project, rather than the effort of a band.  To a large extent, you can tell who wrote what parts.  A Wino part transitions into a Neurosis-y sounding Scott Kelly section, before climaxing in the huge OM bass of Al Cisneros.

Shrinebuilder have played several gigs since the release of the EP, and as such have had the opportunity to merge their talents more cohesively.  Still, I think it could be a criticism.  That is, it could be if their individual talents weren’t so great….  Are you really going to complain about an OM passage being coloured by Wino’s psychedelic guitars and Dale Crover’s thuds?  The strengths of the featured individual are supported by such amazingly talented members.  Who cares if they sound exactly like the sum of their individual bands?  Their individual bands are awesome.

For those who came in late, Shrinebuilder is the doom/stoner “super” group, consisting of Scott “Wino” Weinrich (St Vitus, Wino), Al Cisneros (OM, Sleep), Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and Dale Crover (Melvins).  The quantity of charisma, for the cost of so little ego, is unparalleled.

The band opened with the crunching groove of Pyramids of the Moon.  The track soon eases to Scott Kelly relinquishing his insides on the mic.  Is there an older soul than Scott Kelly?  Every word he uttered seemed lived and relived as he sang it.  The riff returns, as Wino adds his psychedelic colour, before Al Cisneros stands up to deliver that huge bass tone and trance-like vocal delivery.

If you’ve never seen Al Cisneros in OM or Shrinebuilder, you are denying yourself an experience.  I can understand if you don’t dig the OM records.  Maybe there is not enough going on for you.  Maybe they are too quiet or too “boring” for you.  You would not say these things if you had seen OM live.

Al’s bass is huge.  You can feel it shaking your chest.  At the close of Pyramids, the repetition of this huge bass riff vibrating your body is a physical experience of music.  You don’t experience music physically at many shows – OM, Sunn 0)))….  The list is short.

I thought all I would hear for the rest of the night is Al’s bass, but he immediately retreats to a supporting role for The Architect.  Wino’s distinctive voice, doomy riffs and lava-lamp leads come to the fore, with excellent support from Scott Kelly’s gruff delivery.

For all the strengths of these individual performances, and the talent of the backing band, the highlights were when you forgot who was on stage.  The moments when you had a full body groove on to the riff.  In the deep groove of Blind to See’s long instrumental passages, I forgot that it was Dale thumping the kit.  I forgot that Wino was on lead.  I was just grooving the feck out.

The riffs only dug deeper for Science of Anger.  Above the riff, Wino delivers stoned out verses purged by Scott Kelly’s soul-coughing choruses.  The close of Science is Al at his best.  Th overdriven bass and hypnotic vocals are supported by trippy guitars.

With only one EP worth of material, Shrinebuilder needed a couple of extra tracks.  The Al show continued as he dug out an OM riff.

I’ve never seen Dale Crover outside of his native Melvins.  And its been a little while since I’ve seen him without his drumming partner in crime, Coady Willis….  Man, does Dale hit hard.  Noticeably hard.  He brought a completely different quality to the OM riff.

As much as I love the simple, meditative quality of the OM duo, why don’t all OM tracks have Dale hitting like a madman and Wino and Scott Kelly colouring and texturing?  I guess that wouldn’t be OM.  But it does open many future possibilities for Shrinebuilder.

Shrinebuilder also delved into Scott Kelly’s catalogue, bringing a thunderous close to his solo track.

They closed the night with Solar Benediction.  I joined the crowd with the call “We stand burning before you; Returning wisdom with blood”.

The track slows to a doomy, doomy riff.  Slows to a stop.  A quiet riff is sequentially added colour by each of the members, before its all in to deliver the Scala a final crushing dose of riffage.

Shrinebuilder’s individual members are creative giants and seasoned road warriors.  Tonight shows that they are continuing to gel as a unit.  Lets hope that there are years ahead to birth a beast even more than the sum of its godly parts.