A few years ago there was a band of glam chancers called Towers Of London. RTM saw them and thought them to be totally fake. A few years ago there was a band called the Red Star Rebels, RTM saw them and actually quite liked them in a sleazy type way. The reason for mentioning this is that members of both bands are in The Howling. A quick look at their website shows you they have serious trendy backing, sharing a producer with Enter Shakiri for example, and they actually appear to have the chops to pull the hype off. RTM doesn’t see much of their set, but they aren’t bad at all – certainly better than the dreadful ToL, and they are ones to keep an eye on.
When we read the news that Iced Earth were the support for this gig, we admit to doing a cartoon style double take. One of our very favourite bands, one of the greatest power metal bands in the world and moreover one which is big enough to headline the room next door. In short, whoever put this bill together is a stonewall genius, and the value for money should be applauded.
As might be expected, Earth’s 45 minutes is predictably majestic, although is anything but predictable, given that they start with the title track from new album “Plagues Of Babylon” one of a couple of songs they play from the eagerly awaited opus. The second “If I See You” is a more balladic affair, but fabulous nonetheless. By the end of things – with “Iced Earth” as ever closing the set, you simply cannot wait for the 12th January 2014 when they will be doing a full show.
Volbeat have long been a curious one. Massive all over Europe, genuine arena botherers, they have bolstered their ranks in a quite amazing way. Rob Caggiano was their producer, but now he’s left Anthrax to play guitar for the Danes. Frontman Michael Poulsen still seems aghast at this: “Hello Birmingham, we are Anthrax with four new members…” he says by way of an intro.
Such self-deprecation is to be expected, given that Volbeat are just damn good fun, with very few pretensions to be anything else. AC/DCs “Born To Raise Hell” blasts out before an hour and a half of prime Volbeat flies by.
There are songs from new record “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies,” there are songs from “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” and all their other albums with great titles, but it matters little, because they all sound Metallica playing a Johnny Cash number. Listen to “The Nameless One” for example and it is more or less impossible to do so without a smile on your face, and the same is true for essentially anything else they knock out.
Barney from Napalm Death appears for “Evelyn” – and a run through of “You Suffer” (all one second of it) and they have a go at “South of Heaven” while they are at it.
For an encore “Doc Holliday” is followed by “I Only Wanna Be With You” and the Dusty Springfield song has never sounded quite good. It is a fitting ending to a night that was there to be enjoyed. Volbeat have finally crossed over into the rock mainstream in the UK. Their time is now, and they seem to know it.