Monday 1 June 2015

Live Review: Earthless + Death Alley | May 21, Tivoli De Helling – Utrecht (NL)

As a music reporter I need to keep my ear to the ground and remain privy to the who’s who of popular culture. So when I was presented with the option to stay home and watch Trijntje Oosterhuis, Holland’s current pride and joy, play the semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest or head on out to Utrecht to see a rock show, I had a dilemma. So I flipped a coin; heads was Trijntje because, you know, and tails was the Earthless and Death Alley rockapocolypse. Tails won, here’s my story.

Death Alley was cool. Very cool. Their sense of fashion was spot on from the denim jackets each were wearing, to the blue jeans, and all the way down to the cowboy boots. Up top was long hair and sideburns, almost ironically nailing down that 70s look. They pulled it off, too, and before the first notes were struck they had already presented themselves as a unit. The next hour drove their black magick boogie home, complete with toe tappers and funny time signatures. I’ll be heading out to their release show in two weeks so I’ll elaborate on Death Alley when I spin together a review for that.

Earthless was something else entirely. My familiarity with the band was limited to a passing acquaintance of their last outing, “From the Ages,” and a friend of mine is a pretty big fan of theirs. This friend digs some pretty cool tunes – he’s really into that new Elder album – so when I heard he was heading out to Earthless, I figured I’d join him. The band took the stage fifteen minutes later than planned but it was an early show anyway so no man overboard. What did get thrown overboard, however, were the riffs, leaving this power trio to sail under the flag of a never ending guitar solo. Isaiah Mitchell soloed from the set’s commencement until way past my bed time but I didn’t care, it was incredible. It went from one solo to the next, into the other, and rarely repeating anything. To his immediate left was the drum kit, behind which Ruby Mars showed us that punk rock is not the only thing he’s in to. Next to him was Mike Eginton on the four string, whose stage presence was that of a statue; there was no movement to speak of but the foundation he laid was as solid as reinforced concrete.

What they did was jammed and it was refreshing. Perhaps for the guy in front of me, who was obviously doing his best to meet his girlfriend halfway in their relationship, didn’t get it, but I did and I’m happy about that.  Mitchell played the same Fender through the whole set, accentuating the American sound of the band. Each song’s ebb and flow took our minds away to an all night beach party and the smoke machines scattered throughout the hall tried to recreate an atmosphere that was lost once venues also instigated a smoking ban. The three guys in Earthless may come across as unassuming, but put them in a musical setting and you, too, will see sparks fly.

Words by: Victor Van Ommen