Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Live Review : The Vintage Caravan/Asomvel/Grand Magus, Sound Control, Manchester, UK, 12th March 2014

With fellow Swedes Soilwork playing the same venue on the same night, we are forced down to the depths of the Sound Control basement, but despite the few irritatingly placed pillars, the basement serves as the perfect intimate venue to host a night of heavy metal. 

An early start often means that the first band plays to a mere handful of people, and while there was certainly more than a handful, The Vintage Caravan play to a thin crowd. However, not to be deterred by this, the young pups from Iceland impress with their retro psychedelic grooves. A band I can foresee moving up the ranks in the near future for sure. Next up Asomvel, enticing a glimmer of enthusiasm from the not yet warmed up crowd with straight up, no fucks given metal-punk-rock’n'roll. Projecting his thick Yorkshire accent and boisterous demeanour, lead singer Conan does his utmost to excite the crowd and to some extent succeeds. The music not quite to my taste, bit of a poor mans Motorhead, but all in all perfectly tolerable.

The basement now well and truly packed to the rafters, the crowd eagerly await the trio of heavy metal gods as an energetic buzz circulates. For me Grand Magus 100% epitomizes heavy metal, and it actually befuddles me why they are not a thousand times bigger than they are. Not a weak album in their discography and all around incredible, for me they are one of the best bands around. And they immediately reinforce that to me the minute they enter the stage and strike the opening chord of Kingslayer.

Grand Magus are one of the few bands who haven’t really released an utterly shit album, therefore tonight’s set list is faultless, the one and only issue being that is wasn’t double in length. Speaking of albums, their latest release ‘Triumph and Power’ is possibly their strongest to date and the first track off it to be played tonight is On Hooves of Gold as fists are thrown in the air and lyrics are sung loud and proud. JB’s vocals on record are mind blowing and much to my relief that guy seriously pulls it off live, as well as busting out quintessential metal riffs. While possibly benefitting from a second guitarist to thicken the sound, Magus work in perfect cohesion as a trio. Steel Versus Steel again from the latest album is greeted as if it was an ageless Magus offering, prompting JB to point out that it is clearly a future classic, closely followed by an enthused reveller simply shouting out the word ‘STEEL’ amusing both the
crowd and band.

So many hits are dished out, meaning that at no point is there a lull, the crowd bang their heads and fist pump from start to finish. Set list highlights for me are, Triumph and Power, Ravens Guide Our Way, Iron Will and Like The Oar Strokes The Water but like I said not a weak song made an appearance, mainly because they simply don’t have any! The band seemed genuinely humbled by the incredible reaction from the crowd, but nothing prepared them for the reception of final song Hammer Of The North. Not a single body remained still as everyone whipped out their air guitar and proceeded to bang their heads to the unmistakable intro. The most fantastic moment of the gig came at the end of the song where the entire crowd sang the ‘woah’ choral section of the song so loud it could drown out the rowdiest of football fans. Despite the band finishing the song the crowd continue to sing, provoking one of the most spine tingling moments of any gig I have attended. JB, Fox and Ludwig are left stunned and heart warmed by the overwhelming passion of the crowd, which is nothing but monumentally deserved.

Well what more can I say, undoubtedly one of the best gigs I’ve been to. Get a chance to see Grand Magus live... for the love of god, do it.

Words by : Heather Blewett