Conan are the three hooded and quiet Merseymen who have evolved out of the unctuous slime of Liverpool bay into a rather slick and chrome-plated riff and rhythm machine. They pound, pulsate and batter the cortex and general brain area with their post-post-prog-sludge-doomedelic ROCK and it was utterly gratifying to see/hear their loud and noble efforts rewarded by a healthy pre-main band crowd eager to suckle at the sonic teat. ‘Hawk As Weapon’ and ‘Battle In The Swamp’ from relatively new work ‘Monnos’ were in reality punk rock for tractor-sized robots of death, whilst set closer ‘Retaliator’ proved to be an absolute Stonehenge of strident bombast and set the heads on automatic nod like a device from a totalitarian future where riffs instruct the proles to shut up and headbang to the metronome of Black Sabbath descendancy. HAIL CONAN.
Dopefight couldn’t quite hit the bullseye though but at times they were near alright. Punk-in-spirit fucking hoarse vocals spit across a forest of riffs and the trio played like they had been around since the late sixties – like real club-worn pros. Shy Brighton types though who didn’t utter much between savage songs unlike tonight’s headliners but they let the guitars do the talking. However I didn’t feel the audience dug them as much as they would have liked to – something was a little hollow in places with their ‘let’s do a Weedeater and Bongzilla-style song eh laddies’. That’s how I see it anyway folks – another brilliant set of musicians who maybe listen a little too closely to their fave bands – know what I mean???????!
I can’t listen to Ramesses as much as I used to because of their last album, which has frankly spoiled and smeared their once-fine pedigree. I won’t mention it again – I’m aware I’m here to review what’s on offer at the time. There was a new guitarist in tow who was some kind of short-term replacement for Tim Bagshaw who has gone and done his own thing, as you do. Anyway, this new Dave Navarro lookalike did his best but he wasn’t subtle axeman Bagshaw and the sound didn’t gel like it did in days of yore. ‘Iron Claw’ was the well-placed opener but like the rest of the set didn’t kick me in the teeth like when I’ve seen them years before. Something is amiss in camp Ramesses, which let’s face it is a darn shame because when they do hit form they are stunningly UNIQUE with their horror-metal sonic-fug of HATE. Who can resist Adam’s gifted melodic grunts and who can resist watching and listening to Mark Greening play the drums? He is a percussion idiot savant (and lookalike for a more dope-splattered Noddy Holder nowadays) – left handed player on right handed kit who plays like Keith Moon and the guy from Faith No More and still has room for his own weird and superb style. Sort out your creative woes Ramesses and hurry on to a sound that is right for you and your fans.
Eyehategod are five crazy-ass cartoon characters with grins as wide as sin, pure white dope smoke coiling out their noses and 100% punk rock hatred and ‘fuck-you teacher-man’ running through their veins, along with various other substances. Their whole set merged into one long and I mean long (to the tune of ninety drenched minutes) marathon of delta blues and hardcore punk boogie and I mean boogie! You can actually dance to them – I tried it. You can move and thrust your pelvis and switch your feet whilst keeping your head still to ‘30$ Bag’ and ‘Jack Ass in the Will of God’ and ‘Blank’ like you’re digging James Brown or Booker T and the MG’s – these are five guys with soul. They are funky. No shit. Most hallowed sludgers take the four/four beat template and do the white man rock thang but Bower, Williams and co. have genuine southern-fried sass – in effect they have the blues. And nowhere is this more obvious than when you listen to them kick out the jams on a stage in a sweaty club. These hot sizzling riffs move and groove in a most danceable fashion.
I saw them last year in Mancunia and I loved them so much and this time I loved them EVEN more. I had the luck to watch half the set from the side of the stage back-stage and I studied Joey’s drumming and Jimmy’s fingers on the frets and Mike missing nothing like a wired death-dwarf and I was deeply impressed by their psychological connectivity. They really really make sense on stage – Mike Williams and Brian Patton and Jimmy Bower and Joey LaCaze and Gary Mader embody the lifestyle that all these pithy frowning records spout about. Sucking on joints and pouring vitriolic meanderings of such high and wicked humour on the audience EHG are minstrels of pure anarchy bonded together by a lifetime on the road and sometimes in the jail. Williams is an agent provocateur of the highest/lowest order – he goads and cajoles and alternatively flatters and insults the macho boneheads in the crowd (and there were many – EHG seem to attract the Castle Donnington Monsters of Rock knuckleheads of yesteryear) and he loves it like a vocation from Hell.
So EHG played until eleven thirty when the lights came on and I think they would have happily carried on. They played all your favourite songs and they played them like they wrote them the week before. They jammed on a bit of Sabbath as they do and they waffled about Joey’s birthday and how Mike and Joey dropped acid earlier in the day and listened to the Butthole Surfers – YAY!! They are still doing what I did over twenty years ago – I love them because they are real and they don’t care. Punk rock is an over-used term but in this case it is an objective scientific description of the neural charge behind Eyehategod band-member species. How can a band that are still kicking around from the late eighties still be this funny and angry and vital and ENERGETIC? All the others grow up and get bald and stop having teenage fun but these mad fuckers have NEVER WIMPED OUT. The best live band in the world. Is that unequivocal enough for you?
Scribed by: Adam Stone
Photos by: Lee Edwards