Paradise Lost, Thekla, Bristol
“I've heard rumours that you only play here twice, once on the way up, and once on the way back down” - a singer I forget, Bristol Thekla, a long-long time ago
Thankfully this is the very first time Nick Holmes has boarded Bristol's favourite boat with his gloomy band of Halifaxian (if it's not a word, it should be) friends, so whilst if the above quote were factually correct then Paradise Lost (9) have their biggest days ahead of them. Whilst that's not strictly speaking true, having had the bulk of their success in the mid-to-late 90s, Paradise Lost are still considered a pretty huge powerhouse in many parts of the world, and the absolutely jam-packed nature of the Thekla suggests the same.
Transport issues meant that unfortunately I missed both supports (Outshine and the always angry King Goat) I was reliably informed by a troupe of Spanish gents at the bar (whom had indeed travelled from Spain for a chance to see Paradise Lost in such an intimate venue) that both had done their job magnificently.
So as 8pm struck, our headliners hit the stage and launched instantly into From The Gallows one of the most doom-laden tracks from their most recent record Medusa, instantly everyone becomes aware that such a huge-sounding band playing such a small venue will have trade-offs: Indeed the gig is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a band who just two months prior had sold out the 1,800 capacity music hall in Cologne in a venue which barely holds 400, but that also means a much smaller sound system which is noticeably struggling for the first few numbers (indeed it's only four songs in when the band hit One Second that the bass ceases to sound like a bunch of sticks being rubbed together).
Regardless of the sound issues to begin with (which from thereon out were basically a non-factor), the band are, as always, polished and tight, tearing through tracks from across their 15-album career without missing a beat or a note. Naturally the laws-of-the-sod couldn't possibly have an intimate gig without mishap, so naturally Gregor Mackintosh's guitar amp decided to take care of that by blowing up mid-set. Not that this detracted from the show as a bit of sardonic humour from Mr Holmes and a quick replacement amp later and the set was underway again and no further mishaps occurred, leaving the band to carry on doing what they do best: extended cuts of long, doom-driven metal to a crowd whom were lapping every note up.
The main set came to an end after just over an hour and a quarter with the iconic Embers Fire, played with just as much passion and fire as when it was released 15 whole years ago. Naturally the show was not done there as the band quickly marched back on stage to deliver a 3 song encore consisting of 2015's No Hope In Sight, last years' The Longest Winter (which I suspect is going to feature in live shows for a very long time to come) and finally 1997's Say Just Word, leaving the boat sweaty and the crowd very happy as the band said their goodnights.
A masterclass in doom on a cold winter night provided by a surprisingly cheerful band. Paradise Lost might not be still “on their way up”, but they've pre-empted any such concerns by simply never coming down from their rightful place at the top of the podium.