Corrosion Of Conformity, Bierkeller, Bristol
Since Corrosion Of Conformity's return in 2010 in their original three piece many were just wishing for the day when Pepper Keenan would return to the fold. This didn't seem it would ever happen due to Keenan's continuing success in Down but late last year COC announced a UK tour many believed that this would be another tour featuring the intense, but not really my thing stylistically, trifecta of Woody Weatheman on guitar, Mike Dean on bass and Reed Mullin on drums, however the majority's prayers had been answered as this tour was to feature Mr Keenan himself taking his place on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. So ticket purchased in earnest and it was a wait that built anticipation but finally the day arrived (a day before our annual trek to Hammerfest in North Wales) but this was a small solo jaunt to Bristol to catch a band I have never seen in concert before. I love the Bierkeller it is a cracking venue deceivingly big and roomy, benches around the edge and a high stage meaning the band are visible from nearly areas (luckily your writer was standing on a table in front of a pillar so I had the best and possibly the only unobstructed view in the house.
Arriving on site it was straight upstairs and with a pint of Pedigree in my hand (other ales are available) I half listened to the end of Hang The Bastard's set so I won't give them a review, it would be unfair to them. So I took my place and waited; before the long the opening chords of Thin Lizzy's The Boys Are Back In Town (how apt) burst out of the P.A and the band arrived on stage the hulking Weatherman taking up his position stage right, Mullin climbed behind the tubs and Mike Dean's wiry form picked up his bass just as the three began to build into a crescendo of noise that led to Keenan arriving on stage to a huge ovation and strapping on his red SG (very Sabbath). He joined in and the cacophony of noise continued until the the thick riffage of These Shrouded Temples... started the set proper. We were off and running with Keenan slipping in perfectly making it feel like he had never left, they seamlessly moved into Señor Limpio providing the start of the set with the fat stoner riffs the band developed with Keenan at the mic, his voice is smooth as silk with a slight bite on King Of The Rotten and one of my favourites Heaven's Not Overflowing. As expected much of the set was drawn from the two most popular Keenan fronted albums Deliverance and Wiseblood and two tracks from Blind their transitional album form crossover to stoner.
Long Whip/Big America became a jam session with Weatherman soloing for his life as Mullin bashed the hell out of his kit and Dean played the bass like a demon he was up and down the fretboard like lift in a hotel all the while Keenan kicked out the jams with his rhythm. The band flew through this greatest hits set with all of the tracks fuzzing and popping like they were recorded yesterday not 20+ years ago. Paranoid Opiod is pure Iommi and co and they jam into 13 Angels as the opening riff of Albatross garnered the biggest cheer so far heads nodded in time to it's sludgy groove, the main set ended with the anger of My Grain and the wig out of Stonebreaker with Goodbye Windows ending the set, the obligatory break and then back on stage for the closing statement of the still politically relevant Vote With A Bullet and then the massive Clean My Wounds finishing off things in a truly nostalgic way with the audience drawling along with Pepper. I do hope that Keenan finds time to juggle both Down and COC as the band are good without him but they are great with him, luckily there is talk of a new album with the four man format, so that may mean we get more nights like this! 9/10