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Monday 3 June 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Witch Tripper (Live Review By Paul H)

Witch Tripper, Alien Stash Tin & Doomicidal, The Gryphon, Bristol

For the second Friday in a row Mrs H and I headed across the bridge for an evening of high-quality music and once again we were left enthralled with the joy of the small gig. To add to the excitement, this was the Bristol debut of Nottingham’s finest, the mighty Witch Tripper and with travel time under 50 minutes this was a gig we were determined to make.

The evening got off to a decidedly dark theme, with the bone crunching psychedelic doom of Somerset trio Doomicidal (7), who were already into their stride when we arrived. A wall of thunderous riffs greeted our arrival, but there was no messing around and although there appears to be an element of tongue-in-cheek, these guys can certainly play. Lead vocalist and guitarist Migo Gage, resplendent in a knitted devil horned beany casts a slight yet maniacal figure, his howling vocals ranging across genres, but think Ian Curtis crossed with David Bowers and Lee Dorrian and you won’t go far wrong. His guitar work was confident although operating multiple pedals caused some minor anxiety. Drummer Barney Clements, decked out in a Democratus Damnation shirt, kept the engine room functioning with a steady beat whilst bassist Roger Densham locked everything down tightly, taking lead vocals for one song. The band, formed in 2013, treated us to tracks from debut EP Spawned In Hell and their recently released debut Shadow Of The Gallows (an excellent listen by the way) with Rats In The Wall my standout track. Creepy, sinister with a schlock horror element, Doomicidal were just great.

Liquid replenished (it was bloody warm in the room) next up was a real treat with the veteran Bristol outfit Alien Stash Tin (8) performing in their home city for the first time in over a year. One of the joys of catching small gigs is the exposure to new bands and Alien Stash Tin, despite having been in existence since 2002 were a new find for us. Political undertones lyrically. Psychedelic space rock musically, Alien Stash Tin were insanely entertaining. Led by the anarchic rock druid Jon Wisbey whose flowing robes, crazy headdress and undeniable Enfield tones made him a slightly unnerving but ultimately very warm and endearing character. Alongside him, one of the best guitarists seen for years in Jon Jon Gould, who’s effortless blues-soaked playing was a beautiful thing. AJ Pearse on furry fretless bass and ‘Dangerous’ Bruce Morgan on drums linked magnificently to ensure that Gould could express himself. Wisbey was not without his comedic moments, playing his guitar whilst unplugged perhaps the most hysterical until Gould pointed it out to him. Much of the set was pulled from the fabulous 2018 release Probe, which contains the epic People In The Sky, complete with audience singalong as well as tracks from 2012’s On A Pinstripe Planet and more from their back catalogue. The band finished their fine set with a song which had the fabulous chorus of “fuck you, fuck you, fuck you” complete with audience participation as each member of the band was told “fuck you” in turn before Wisbey turned the abuse on the assorted other band members and then host Gavin Davies (who should be used to this well deserved insult by now). It was enjoyable and great fun. Check out the Stash Tin, they are brilliant!

Having seen Witch Tripper (9) several times over the past couple of years and twice this year already, it’s difficult to write anything new about them. These guys simply destroy every time they play. Already 40 gigs in to 2019, including a massive four in two days the previous weekend, Witch Tripper give 100% for every show. Tighter than I’ve ever seen them, the band were in imperious form. Richie Barlow a bath of sweat within minutes of opener Poonstar kicking things off, the band raced through a selection of songs from their debut album and 2018’s I, Of the Storm. The title track from their second album is an absolute rager, and Barlow and drummer Gary Eric-Evans even extended it into an impromptu jam when bassist Chris Stoff Daughton ran into a minor string technicality. Bursting with energy, White Lines, The Road (It Hurts), Hell Bound and Roll The Dice from I, Of The Storm were all in your face, the jagged riffage and thundering rhythm washing over you with an intensity few bands can get close to.

Chills To The Bone with it’s funk driven beat got the hardy souls who’d made the effort moving, You Get What You Pay For almost provoked a singalong, and despite the unwanted attention of one beered up female fan, Witch Tripper delivered the goods in their own solid, professional manner. I never tire of seeing these guys, and with some huge shows at Amplified, Bloodstock and Hard Rock Hell in the diary, there is only one way the band are going and that is skyward. This was a show with an opportunity to see them up as close and personal as you’ll ever get. When Witch Tripper are on the main stage at Bloodstock in a couple of years I’ll look back on this gig with some pride. Get some Tripper in your life. Possibly the best live band on the circuit.

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