Crippled Black Phoenix - Gagarin 205, Athens, Greece
Travelling to Greece for gig may seem a bit extreme but let me put it into context. As Paul was knee deep in brutality, I was in Greece visiting my other half for a short holiday and the British post rockers happened to be playing the final show of their tour in the city on the second night I was there. Having never been to a gig in Greece I didn't know what to expect but as myself and my gorgeous companion entered the venue we were hit by the fug of tobacco smoke in the room, this harks back to when I first started gigging and you could still smoke indoors, no there is no smoking ban in Greece folks (the government tried but the Greeks hilariously ignored it blatantly) so the dry ice the blew just as the band came on stage made surrounded the stage haze.
As founder Justin Greaves and frontman Daniel Änghede ploughed straight into stomping clarion call riff of Rise Up And Fight the excitement piqued as CBF are a band I've always wanted to see but one who tour the UK rarely. Their brand of heavy, modern, Pink Floyd-like metallic rock with lots of electronics is a very unique prospect and as the first song developed, the synths of Mark Furnevall and piano of Daisy Chapman both add atmosphere add melody to the tracks as Ben Wilsker added the percussive thump from behind the kit. Staying in heavy territory we were whisked away next on the White Light Generator which was driven by Wilsker's drums and some gut rumbling guitars from the two rhythm guitarists with a third who's name escapes me adding some Frippesque elements over the sledgehammer battering. There is a reason why I can't remember the new guitarist and indeed the bassist's name, as both were recent additions to the band, their actual bassist recently had child so a friend of their's stepped in with limited practice time, still he managed brilliantly but it meant that throughout Änghede took over the bass duties for a few of the songs, the third guitarist was picked up in Sofia, Bulgaria and had no practice time for these gig, he was stunning adding a lot of Gilmour like guitar trickery to fill out the songs.
All the band pulled together to play the heavy, stirring music for a crowd that started out as quiet, but more on that later, Greaves did most of the talking during the gaps, introducing the band members and goaded the audience to make more noise. The doom of Jonestown Martin creeped in giving Daisy Chapman the first chance to shine with her haunting vocals on the disturbing song, No! is a ringing propulsive track from their last album which moves between light an shade. Änghede's voice is good being both emotive and fractious adding a real human element to the music especially on Song For The Loved and the romantic sounding Fantastic Justice which is built on Chapman's piano riff. Because of the problems we were promised a longer show in future and then the challenge was set down, the band incite a sing along to Burnt Reynolds, a tradition that started in Athens, the song is an atmospheric track that builds to its shout along section, it was the first song to really incite the crowd, the Athenians roared at the top of their lungs for the entirety of the song and for around five minutes after the song ended which prompted the encore to start with a reprise of the track inciting yet another sing along with the crowd giving their all, the band were visibly over awed with the response claiming it to be the best on the tour, it was hard to argue, as the crowd continued after the song had finished, the smoke filled room exploded into rapturous applause once again. It was time for the finale and the last song was a short, sharp, shock in contrast to the progressive, sprawling epics that had proceeded it and with the final chord of Samhain's Let The Day Begin it was all over for another tour cycle the band were elated and relived at the smiling faces in the audience. I myself was in awe of the band who seemed to give every ounce of energy to the set. Where CBP go and what they do after this is anyone's guess but hopefully it will be more UK dates nearer me after the next album. If not I know there is always Athens! A great gig in fantastic company! 9/10