Green Lung, Sigiriya, Haast, Suns Of Thunder, Lacertilia & Lowen. Clwb Ifor Bach, 27/02/22
Expectation is an odd thing, the hyperbole, the press, the word of mouth all do their bit in creating anticipation. There is of course an issue with that when you try to look at things critically. This show for instance captured the imagination, instilled excitement and was highly anticipated, due mainly to the 2 year layover due to Covid. Kudos to the Snuff Lane team for keeping the original show together across two postponements. However expectation and reality often differ and tonight was one of those that did so. Now I'll admit I fell into the trap and jumped on the hype train and this isn't a slight on any of the bands as they were all as good as each other, in fact I'm actually going to score them all the same but a combination of factors essentially meant that by the end of the evening what I wanted was the new heirs to Sabbath, but what I got was a more authentic, less schlocky Ghost.
But let's start at the beginning, with the one band that, had I not decided to give all the bands an equal score would have got the highest. London based band Lowen pretty much stole the show with their invigorating, enthralling fusion of crushing doom and Middle Eastern musical traditions. Nina Saeidi is a bewitching vocalist, who when you see her perform you realise she probably doesn't actually need the mic at all. Her vocal fills the room even if guitarist Shem Lucas is determined to destroy it along with his guitar that he abuses throughout their set. There was no chit chat, the only interaction coming from a wave of hand to beckon the crowd forward. As the set drew to a close Nina held aloft the traditional Daf drum, it caught the red light behind it and her shadow, making for a magisterial moment, reminiscent of desert sun setting. It something quite special and I hope they return to Cardiff soon for a full headline set.
Wedged between the two London bands was a load of familiar names to anyone that has been a part of the stoner/doom scene in South Wales for a while will recognise. First on were Lacertilia who crashed into the future with ballsy riffs that makes you realise what Hawkwind would sound like if Lemmy had done different drugs. Mike and Lukas' riffs are cranked out with force, Lukas getting a few solo moments too, as the rhythm section of Ed and drummer Carl (who is the original drummer of the band) got the groove nice and fat. Up front Fry was his wild, space wizard self throwing his body around the stage as he raged. It was Lacertilia at full bore, a great return to the Clwb stage.
Next though the pace changed a little as Suns Of Thunder came back to the Clwb stage, albeit upstairs rather than down as they were with Desert Storm. Their workmanlike hard rock was different to what had come before, Greg and Matt's vocal interplay is where this band really impress, though they also have some grit and punchy songs that made sure that they weren't the odd ones out on the night, though with so many bands playing on the show you did feel as if Suns Of Thunder may not quite be as heavy as the rest of the bands playing. Breezy riffs and a sunny punk attitude Suns Of Thunder rocked out but it was really the locals that were getting stuck in.
Following them was another band who seemed like an odd fit but then Haast have never been the easiest listening experience. Esoteric Post-metal/sludge can be a bit inaccessible unless you're a fan but Haast are very good at it, crashing riffs distortion over more distortion, they too have a double vocal style that adds depth but at their heart they are just there to make a noise, a long slow noise but an noise. For me Suns and Haast were the two bands that were a victim of circumstances a little as for those who had been there from the beginning, the energy was starting to wane, some even opting to go next door for a sit down apparently! However there was also the influx people coming to see the headliner at the normal opening time that were greeted by the two bands who they sound least like. So while they both played excellently there did seem to be a lull with only the diehards at the front getting really into it.
Finally for the supports it was riff monsters Sigiriya who are experienced, drilled and play that Sabbath worship we were all looking for. They are a band who have been treading the boards on the South Wales scene for a while now, yet somehow don't get the recognition they deserve. These grizzled vets if you will, show why they have supported the likes of Orange Goblin with a clutch of big riffing bangers that sit somewhere between Cluch, The Sword and Sabbath, decked out in classic metal shirts, with the exception of frontman Matt who was still repping Made Of Teeth as he was whilst performing with Suns Of Thunder. There is a old school vibe to the band that once again raised the tempo, but I couldn't help notice that there wasn't the sold out crowd promised for any of the opening acts even with Sigiriya smashing it.
A shame but then as I mentioned at the beginning expectation is an odd thing so it was as the headliners Green Lung took to the stage that the room finally fully filled out, greeting us with faces who had been seldom seen, if not at all. This influx of bodies meant that the sweat was what we were all feeling, as the organs swelled to introduce the band. It also meant that there was much more, cover your eyes if you don't like expletives, fuckery going on. One crowd surfer ejected and a few positions shifted, Green Lung were delivering their well honed, occult/folklore driven metal that stems from British history. They certainly know how to capture an audience, though they may need to work on a collective aesthetic a little. But as this is was the last show of the tour, they were determined to get the packed house moving. Musically live they did seem a little lighter than on record and perhaps a tad rawer too, not that it mattered as most of the crowd were losing their minds to every single song played.
Therein lies the problem, for me a band like Green Lung have been set the unenviable task of being the next big thing. Raved over and worshipped at such an early phase of their career, means that they will rapidly ascend the ranks, no matter what they do. So while they are a brilliant band live, with a clear joy of playing and a setlist built around 2 solid albums. All of the acts that played deserved a piece of that recognition and I feel that they didn't perhaps get it due to the aurora surrounding the headliners.
Though maybe it's me and if I see Green Lung again, perhaps not after spending 4 hours in a dark room, I too will embrace the rabid devotion that a lot of their fanbase have. Some great performances all round for a Sunday night rock out but this wasn't the life changing experience that is being sold. Go and see all the bands featured in this review if you can as they're all great so in conclusion the entire night receives, a solid. 8/10