The Blade Factory, Liverpool 03/12/2011
The freezing wind whipped across the desolate street, empty save for clustered hairies outside the venue braving the chill arctic wind in order to stunt their growth and pollute their lungs, as myself and Thee Shaman braved the elements and biting frost demons in order to bring you this very report. Yes, we suffer so you don’t have to.
Of course, we were going to see Wino, so ‘suffering’ didn’t really come into it, but, well, it was right parky out and no mistake.
Inside what was clearly a former art gallery – huge blank white walls, the occasional wee placard still stuck to the wall giving a name and date for some work of art or other – it wasn’t much warmer either. Strange boxy formations in the corners of the oddly laid-out main room looked suspiciously like cubist icicles, but, hey, at least the lager was cold.
First on tonight’s agenda were Liverpool’s ‘only trve doom’ band – their words, with which I tend to agree – Black Magician, playing what was, staggeringly, only their second ever gig. A keyboard totin’ shaggy-lookin’ quintet, Black Magician put their money where their mouths were and delivered some genuinely riveting, colossal DOOOOOM.
Unusually for a doom band these days, especially one of such tender years, they sounded fuck all like Electric Wizard OR Sleep, a fact that would have earned ’em a thumbs-up from me even if they’d been rubbish…which they weren’t, thankfully.
With projections of occult exploitation flicks shining right on them and a vocalist who looks like a young Ozzy and sounds like a heavily-delayed Gibby Haynes vomiting forth a mountain, these guys had it down pat. Throw in some syrupy-thick treacle-toned riffs and a spooky organ presence and colour me VERY impressed. Hell, I couldn’t even tell you how long they played for as their sheer heaviosity seemed to make time itself stand still. Keep an eye out for these hairy young scamps, I predict future greatness.
Speaking of young scamps and greatness, next up were local power trio Bow And Arrow, whom I had heard many good things about but not yet managed to actually see or hear ’til this very night.
Essentially an instrumental trio with sparingly-used impassioned, throaty vocals, their relentlessly tight propulsive groove made me AND Thee Shaman sit up and pay attention. Think Kyuss if they’d signed to SST, or Karma To Burn playing Don Caballero covers and you’d be in the right ballpark.
Mathy without being indulgent, and prone to glorious wah freakouts, these guys impressed the shit out of me. Their energy crackled and fizzed, spilling off the stage and infecting me with air-drum-and-guitar-fever. Their guitarist was on FIRE, blazing away like Josh Homme channelling Carlos Santana when he was in full flow. YOWZA. But, get this, they don’t have a record out!!! I know!! Crazy right?? Unbelievable. Someone puh-LEEZE get these boys recorded and out there STAT. You will not regret it.
Now, having gotten suitably figuratively warmed up, I was pretty darned psyched to see Premonition 13, the latest band to feature the promethean talents of Mr Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich, and let me down they did not.
As opposed to the usual power-trio format that we’ve come to expect from Wino – The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand – Premonition 13 features ANOTHER guitarist, one Jim Karow, apparently an old chum of Wino’s. Now we know Wino ain’t averse to playing off another guitarist, as we’ve seen with Shrinebuilder with Scott Kelly, but the dynamic here is radically different – both musically AND personally.
Shrinebuilder has been tagged as a ‘supergroup’ due to the fact that its members all play or have played in such well known, well respected, bands, but the other guys here in Premonition 13 are essentially an unknown quantity to us listeners.
With a 20 year friendship under their belts, Wino and Karow seem to have a musical vocabulary all of their own, seeming spookily able to tail off one anothers musical phrasings and essentially finish off each others sentences, so to speak.
They demonstrate this repeatedly throughout tonight’s set and it never gets tiresome. The synergy between these two men is just staggering. Mind you, drummer Matthew Clark and bassist Brian Daniloski are no slouches either, well, I mean, you couldn’t afford to be in a band with Wino and Karow – no room for slackers HERE, nuh-uh!
Opening with both guitarists drifting in and out of harmonies, aided by much-used E-Bows – small handheld electronic devices that generate a magnetism which extends the sustain of any string they are held over, science fans! – the interplay is evident right from the word go. Coming into tighter focus, the band kicks into the first number proper and it’s all systems go.
Now at this point I should confess two things – one, that I am terrible at remembering song-titles, and two, that my notes from the evening at this point become unreadable. So, I really am relying on something called a ‘memory’ – an alien concept for those of you who go to shows and film them on your bloody phones instead of just, I dunno, WATCHING THEM. With your EYES.
So, yeah. I’m pretty sure the first track was ‘B.E.A.U.T.Y’, but even if it wasn’t, it rocked like fuck. I’m also pretty sure they played a good chunk of the album, ’13’, and quite possibly even ‘Switchouse’ from their debut 7”, although I could be mistaken. All I know is they just flat out DESTROYED. Of all the bands Wino has been involved in over the years, this – to me – was most evocative of The Obsessed, having a pronounced ‘classic’ vibe to it, more so than a doom vibe. Also, watching Clark pound the living shit outta those drums put me in mind of watching Greg Rogers do the same thing back on the Church Within tour. HEAVY, but in a less obvious way, if you get me.
Although Wino was delivering the vast majority of the vocals here – and doing so with his customary steely-eyed full-throated soul – he was quite happy to concede a lot of lead runs to Karow, which surprised me…pleasantly, I might add, as Karow is most definitely a chip off the ol’ block, stylistically-speaking – his liquid runs bear up very nicely next Wino’s molten eruptions of godly notes. Karow also took on lead vocals on one tune too, a speedy li’l rocker with a Lunar Womb kinda vibe, if memory serves.
Wino had promised some jams as well as actual tuneage, and so it was that said jams were busted out at the end of the set with great success. Again, the musical telepathy was in full effect.
We wouldn’t let ’em leave, so they played a mite longer than they originally appeared to have intended to, but it was aaaaall gold….GOLD I tells ya, GOLD!
Once again Wino completely failed on any level to disappoint me, and for that I am eternally thankful. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the man put a foot wrong. Sure, I’m not besotted with Shrinebuilder, but when Wino takes centre-stage, I’m riveted anyway. He’s THAT kinda dude.
Premonition 13 rocked the joint and 100% tickled my fancy, Bow and Arrow gave me a new band to musically crush on and Black Magician turned me into a newt. Howsabout THAT for a quality evening?
Scribed by: Paul Robertson
Photos by: Lee Edwards