In many ways we should celebrate the fact that any of us here at all. In August last year, on their last European tour, the Coach that Baroness were travelling in was involved in a terrible crash, near Bath.
By all accounts they were lucky to be alive, and as a result of events that night, it is a much different Baroness line up that greets us tonight. Drummer Allen Blickle and bass man Matt Maggioni both felt unable to carry on and have been replaced by Sebastian Thomson and Nick Jost respectively, but the creative core of singer John Baizley and guitarist Pete Adams remain.
The crowds have come out too. The Slade Rooms – which is about double the size to the place we saw them in last July – is jam packed full by the time that they arrive onstage with “Ogeechee Hymnal.” In typically understated fashion there is no fanfare, just a smile and a wave, strap guitars in and away we go.
Away we go, in fact, with pretty much the same stunning set they treated us to last year. “Take My Bones Away” comes next with its opening riff coming out fighting before Baizley sings: “You lead the way, I’ll follow.” Who on earth knows that that song is about, but it is surely ironic that one of the most innovative bands in metal should open their show with that lyric.
“Take My…..” is one of 10 songs they play from the “Yellow and Green” album, which came out last year. A brave, sprawling, almost proggy double album, it is quite magnificent. Yet even here, Baroness seemed unsure of their move, explaining in interviews they might lose fans. They need not have worried.
For an hour and three quarters Baroness treat us to what ordinarily would just be a fantastic concert, but in the context of what happened, it amounts to giant victory lap and a great big one fingered salute to the world.
In addition to all the tracks from “Green and Yellow” there are plenty from “The Blue Record” which preceded it – helpfully, like last year the lights in the venue change colour depending on which album it comes from – and “Swollen and Halo” together with “A Horse Called Golgotha” still sound incredible.
There are small elements of showmanship from the band, and the new rhythm section have slotted in superbly, but perhaps the most surprising is the usually painfully shy Baizley playing the guitar behind his head during the encore of “Jake Leg.”
“Isak” from debut LP “The Red Album” plays us out and brings to a close what has been a quite incredible evening on so many levels.