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Thursday 14 December 2023

A View From The Back Of The Room: Dawnwalker & Healthyliving (Live Review By Matt Bladen)

Dawnwalker, Healthyliving & Goat Major, Le Pub, Newport 07.12.23

In what they are calling 'The Magical Misery Tour' two of the best introspective noisemakers around. Bringing with them a local opener on every show, the beginning of this tour took place in South Wales mainstay of misery, Newport.

Happily the gig happened in Le Pub, one of the brightest spots in the otherwise dark streets of Newport, flowing with good beer, good food and a welcoming atmosphere to anyone, it's also got a great little performance area, helmed by an excellent sound guy.

So with that in mind up on the stage first it was West Wales chief doom export Goat Major (8), having just released their debut EP, called Evil Eye, on the seminal Ripple Music, the trio took to the Le Pub stage, downtuned and got the riffs going for the evening.

Having seen them before I knew what to expect but they were right on the balance of being louche and disinterested, letting the riffs flow, and being focussed and technical, especially their drummer who plays deftly and hits hard behind the wall of guitar/bass riffs. Most of the set came from the Evil Eye EP as they filled their opening salvo with heavy doom.

Getting things going is difficult, following up is more difficult but bloody hell Healthyliving (9) are probably one of the most beguiling bands over ever seen live. The international trio (based on Edinburgh) play a startling style of post metal that brings in both shoegaze wandering and post punk gothism. Comprised of Amaya López-Carromero (vocals), Scott McLean (guitar), Stefan Pötzsch (drums) and a bass player who I didn't catch the name of.

Playing songs from their brilliant April album Songs Of Abundance, Psalms Of Grief, you couldn't take your eyes of Amaya who headbangs like theres no neck to injure when the volume is turned up and low slow riffs coming creeping, but then throws illicit shapes on the faster post punk rockers, it's like watching David Byrne sing with the voice of Tori Amos or Beth Gibbons (Portishead).

Mesmeric and ear piercing while also making you want to do a sad boogie, Healthyliving will be on my 'must watch' list from now on.

Concluding the evening was the post rock atmospheres of Dawnwalker (9), not long having released a remixed/remastered version of their breakthrough album Human Ruins. A musical collaboration, founded and helmed by Mark Norgate is similar in terms to membership as Crippled Black Phoenix.

Norgate on guitars and soaring clean vocals as, Matteo Bianciotto on guitars, I think Chris J. Allan was behind the drums and taking up the bass and harsh vocals was Luke Fabian (ex-Pupil Slicer), the use of two vocals made for music that was, experimental, textured and multi-layered, that made me think about if Mastodon were slower and sadder.

Shimmering post/shoegaze atmospheres are counterpunched by crashing prog metal riffage, the elongated songs shifting sometimes between both sides and more with a cinematic composition. I'd never seen Dawnwalker before but they seem to be at their tightest with this well versed foursome.

All three bands made for a fantastic night of music, another triumph of a Thursday gig.

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