Red Fang/Torche/God Damn
O2 Institute, Birmingham
When this tour was announced, one that combined the talents of three such brilliant bands, we knew it was one that could not be missed at any cost. The fact that Torche released one of the best albums of 2015 with Restarter and with God Damn having recently released their fantastic new album Everything Ever and the anticipation of Red Fang showcasing material from their imminent and brilliant new LP Only Ghosts as well as all the favourites from their back catalogue, this was always going to be a night to remember and savour and it didn’t disappoint on any count, not there was ever going to be any doubt about that!
God Damn are first up and prove they’re not messing around with a set that showcases what makes them such a good band. Unsurprisingly, the bands set was mainly culled from their new album with a selection of other tracks from their last album Vultures and their debut Demonstration and this new material shows just how far God Damn have come in a relatively short space of time, On record the band are a formidable prospect but in a live setting, their songs come even more alive (enhanced with the addition of a keyboard player/extra guitarist onstage with the band that bolstered their sound even more) with vocalist and guitarist Thom Edward playing his heart out and drummer Ash Weavers thunderous rhythms really hitting the spot, especially on the extended drum jam on the song Vultures that ends the bands set and with fantastic songs such as Dead To Me and Skeletons in their musical arsenal they couldn’t really go wrong. With this performance, it is evident that the only way is up for God Damn and they’re a band everyone will hear a lot more from in the future.
Next up were the magnificent Torche and the anticipation to hear material from Restarter in a live setting was palpable and the band proved just how good a band they are with a faultless execution of live music. With bassist Joseph Nunez taking centre stage, flanked either side of him by guitarist/vocalists Steve Brooks and Andrew Elstner and drummer Rick Smith at the back, providing the backbone to Torches mammoth grooves, the band played an effortless 40 minute set that was utterly inspiring as well as mindblowingly good. The band let the music do the talking throughout only pausing to say thanks to the Birmingham crowd and more music rather than onstage banter was well received from the mesmerised and thoroughly enraptured audience. The set was understandably weighted in favour of tracks from Restater and those tracks such as Annihilation Affair, Undone and Minions were extremely well received as were the older songs from their albums Meanderthal and Harmonicraft that they played, and the fact that each of the songs segued into each other perfectly and sounded so good made the set even better, this is a band that is ready made for the live arena and knock it out of the park every time and make it look easy while doing it. The bands epic and hypnotising grooves dominate everyone watching, and prove just how well crafted and memorable their songs really are, the sludgey but poppy riffs of Brooks and Elstner get everyone nodding along as Nunez and Smith create a knowing groove underneath. The vocals too are spot on and delivered passionately. As Torche end with Annihilation Affair, they leave the stage knowing that the Institute crowd have been well and truly blown away by what they have just witnessed, here’s hoping they return to these shores soon.
Following Torche and a set of that magnitude is no easy task but Red Fang, being the hardened road warriors that they are, take it in their stride and deliver a hugely enjoyable set that sees them totally justify their reputation as a phenomenal live act. Having previously witnessed the band in this very venue (supporting and very much holding their own with Mastodon in 2012 in the upstairs venue), it was great to see them back here and headlining to a very healthy crowd. The crowd wasted no time in declaring their love for the band with chants of a Red Fang! Red Fang! ringing out as they hit the stage.
As soon as guitarist David Sullivan started playing, it was evident that this was going to be a total riff fest to the delight of the audience. With bassist Aaron Beam and guitarist Brian Giles sharing vocals, the band showcased already well received material from forthcoming album Only Ghosts mixed in with a few favourites from their back catalogue. Opening with the riffy Wires from Murder The Mountains was an inspired choice and the band charged through their energetic set to an enthusiastic crowd.
As with the openers, Red Fang played an effortless set with a sense of fun throughout with the band showing how talented they are as musicians and performers with special mention going out to drummer John Sherman who pounds his drums so hard you can only assume they’ve just insulted every member of his family!
The songs from the new album that Red Fang played such as The Deep, Cut It Short and No Air went down a storm and seem to be favourites already while older favourites such as 1516, Crows In Swine, Sharks and Throw Up were rapturously received.
As Red Fang finish with an encore of Dirt Wizard and Prehistoric Dog, they leave the stage after a heroic set to a roar of applause, happy in the fact that they have given their all and demonstrated what a fine live act they are.
All three bands were amazing tonight and this is a gig that will live on long in the memory. Three bands that are all pretty much so different musically but were so perfectly matched tonight . What a night!
Words: Gavin Brown