If one tour was not to be missed this year it was this monster outing by doom legends Pentagram. Not only were they playing ‘Relentless’ in its entirety but this tour was the final chance to catch Pentagram with groove god Victor Griffin.
This made anticipation for America’s answer to Sabbath incredibly high and brought along an impressive crowd. How many of these people would have been at the show one or two years ago make the hype surrounding Pentagram all the more bizarre with a band that simply play honest, pure music.
Things kicked off with Black Magician who took advantage of a doom hungry crowd with a very traditional sound which also had an undeniably British feel. Magician’s riffs were straight from the Electric Wizard/ Sabbath book and it was fair to say the band had no intention of breaking the speed of sound.
Suffering from a muddy mix, Black Magician made the best of a grim situation and were clearly full of passion for the kind of doom the night’s headliners specialise in.
Followers Gentleman’s Pistols have really started to make a name for themselves through a tonne of hard graft and some catastrophically catchy riffs. Their second album ‘At Her Majesty’s Pleasure’ was the focus of the night’s set and numbers such as ‘Sherman Tank’ shook the academy with an almost illegal level of boogie.
The band were clearly in fine spirits and debuting a new number to the Manchester crowd only made things sweeter. Pistols have also become an evidently tighter unit since the arrival of guitarist Bill Steer and if that name wasn’t enough to attract people, launching a giant stuffed tiger in to the crowd certainly was.
Opening with an incredible rendition of ‘Death Row,’ Pentagram were fittingly relentless during their headline set. Main-man Bobby Liebling looked invigorated and absolutely dominated the audience during cuts like ‘You’re Lost, I’m Free.’
To see Bobby in such an invigorated state was an overwhelming sight and proved what an enigmatic and unique figure the vocalist is. His pipes were still powerful on the night and few vocalists would dare to command such a persona after all these years.
The set’s only real low point was the choice to not play ‘Relentless’ as one complete piece. Although this was slightly disappointing interspersing the opus with the monolithic ‘Forever My Queen’ hardly brought complaints and instead demonstrated the sheer strength of their catalogue. Newer tracks such as ‘Treat Me Right’ were also met with open arms by the audience who were unsurprisingly joyous to see the band holding down their mighty legacy.
Soon to be ex-guitarist Victor Griffin was the linchpin to the night’s set and it’s hard to picture anyone else taking his position since the band’s ‘comeback.’ The effortless stomp applied to numbers like ‘Dying World’ is what made the night so special and highlighted just how underrated an axe-man he is.
Pentagram are the perfect example of what undeterred dedication can achieve, with a loyal and ever growing fan-base stunned by the musical magic of Bobby and co.
Scribed by: Alex Varley
Photos by: Lee Edwards