Birmingham O2 Institute
Monday 29th Februrary 2016
Having released their best album yet last year with the outstanding Purple, it was with great anticipation that the assembled packed crowd awaited the return of Baroness to our shores and the fact that this latest UK tour from the rock behemoths is the first since the bands horrendous bus crash in Bath in August 2012 it is warming to see the happiness on the bands faces to be back on stage and just how thankful they come across is just as palpable to them as it it is to the audience and having first seen the band a decade ago in a tiny pub in Nottingham (even back then you could sense the bands greatness), it is both heartwarming to see them become as big as they have and is thoroughly well deserved and it seems that what they have been through has made them more powerful and alive and this is apparent in their performance.
Before the much anticipated headliners, we are treated to an infectious set by Irish three piece No Spill Blood and their guitar free brand of noise. The band warm the crowd up nicely for Baroness with an energetic set consisting of material from their two releases 2012s Street Meat EP and last years debut album Heavy Electricity. No Spill Bloods merging of bass, drums and keyboards to maximumly heavy effect goes down well with the packed crowd, particularly Heavy Electricity songs like White Out and Back To The Earth and when the band leave the stage after the brilliantly heavy head trip of New Tricks they have made a hell of a lot of new fans within the Birmingham crowd.
Baroness hit the stage to a heroes welcome and launch straight into Kerosene from Purple and what follows is a powerful and emotional uplifting live experience. With a perfect sound, passionate playing and an energy you can feel, Baroness play a masterful set that focuses on the Purple album and 2012s Yellow and Green with a song each from the Red and Blue albums in there and every song is played with a fire that not many bands can capture in a live environment. From that frenzied opening we are treated to spirited versions of Morningstar, Shock Me, Board Up The House and Iron Bell and it is clear that both the band and the audience are having just as much fun as each other with a massive smile on the face of lead vocalist/guitarist John Dyer Baizley a constant throughout the bands set. The entire band play with an enduring vigour throughout and every member plays their heart out and gives if there all with the songs from Purple in particular played with an inspiring amount of passion and the breathtaking mid set renditions of the epic If I Have To Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain?) and Chlorine & Wine are definitely standouts in a set that can only be described as phenomenal with other songs such as Cocainium, Sea Lungs and Try To Disappear going down extremely well with the enthusiastic crowd.
When Baroness finish their impressive with the supremely riffy Isak and a massive singalong of the anthem Take My Bones Away, every single member of the audience is left knowing that they have witnessed something extremely special and tonight has shown just how good a band Baroness are and I would urge any fan of good music to experience them in a live setting and this long awaited return for the band was well worth waiting for and this was a stunning performance from an unstoppable band.
Words: Gavin Brown