Baroness: The Fleece, Bristol – live review

I’m sure by now you all know about the terrible accident that befell Baroness’s tour bus the day after their Bristol gig. Thankfully (and miraculously) everyone survived the crash with the latest press statement from their record company reading as follows:

The band members of Baroness and their crew are recovering from injuries sustained after their tour bus crashed outside of Bath, England early on Wednesday morning.

John Baizley has broken his left arm and left leg. Allen Blickle and Matt Maggioni each suffered fractured vertebrae. All three remain in the hospital as of this writing. Pete Adams has been treated and released from the hospital.

Three of the five crew members who were on the bus have also been treated and released. One member is still undergoing testing. The driver of the bus remains in critical condition.

Please stay tuned for further updates. Thank you for all the support during this extremely difficult time.

We (I) did wonder about whether or not it was appropriate to publish a review of the Bristol gig & decided that if anything the band would only be cheered up by seeing a written testament of what was a brilliant, triumphant night for them. Maybe if they’d put on a shit show I’d have held back, but they didn’t. So I haven’t.

Oh, & in case anyone thinks this is a “pity” good review here’s what I tweeted an hour or so after the gig, way before the crash:

fuck me, that was unreal. @YourBaroness have just put on one of the most amazing shows i think i’ve ever seen. incredible job.

(FTR I think I was probably still soaring on post gig euphoria when I tweeted that & I’d probably downscale my enthusiasm a tad now but still, it was quite a gig!)

Obviously we wish the band, crew members & bus driver a speedy recovery & a return to what the do so well: playing live, humping equipment & driving buses.

And now on with the review…..

First a bit of context in the form of a confession; I’ve never really been into metal. At all. Hadn’t even listened to anything by Baroness before the day of this show when I streamed my way through Yellow & Green a couple of times. So don’t expect me to list the songs in order & tell you what albums they were from. Similarly I’m not going to give my opinion on where I stand on the “Yellow & Green” issue (said issue being whether or not the change in direction on their most recent release -in a more softly softly commercially (?) driven direction- marks them down as sell outs or as a band who’re happy enough in their skins that they can organically meld their sound into a different direction without changing their merit or worth). What you can expect though is a truthful account of a band at the top of their game, a band who seriously gave the people of Bristol something to talk about for a while to come.

Before the real music began the band limbered up with some gentle noodling of guitars & ’tishing’ of cymbals. The audience listened quietly & immediately you could sense this was gonna be something special, I dunno what it was but it was just obvious from this noodling that we were in safe & experienced hands, experienced hands who were about to treat us to a good, possibly amazing show. The tension was rising by the second as they kept stringing us along with this gentle play & the sense of excitement in the air was tending towards the tangible. And then they were off. And it was off. And we were off …..

Despite their latest album being more gentle than previous releases there was nothing gentle about tonight. Ok, maybe there were a couple of less powerful songs & most of the songs started quite gently but the thing that I’ll mainly take away from this night was the huge riffs and the heavy emotion. I’ll also remember the omnipresent smile on Baizley’s face. Well, omnipresent except for when he was singing of course (& what singing – such a huge voice!) Dude was obviously having the time of his life & was totally high on the adulation of an adoring, sell out audience. Everyone was going utterly ape throughout their set. (Except, weirdly, almost without any moshing – do metal fans not mosh?). The whooping that greeted the end of every song just went on & on. Towards the end of the set Baizley confessed that the reason they were all looking so happy was because they thought no one would turn up! Ha!

Baroness are one committed band. Their whole heart was in every song they played tonight, plus a good measure of emotion. The songs all seemed to soar up & down, great rolling passionate numbers. I also like how they tagged every song with an introductory ‘distinguishing noodle’ so each song was immediately identified by the bulk of the audience & greeted with a huge roar. This was a masterful, extremely competant performance, the very manifestation of how a hard rock band should play live.

It’s funny, since seeing them I’ve listened to Yellow & Green a few times & I dont recognise much of what I’m hearing there with what I saw at The Fleece. I’ve done a bit of research since writing this & read other reviews from their tour & it sounds like they jettisoned a lot of their new stuff in exchange for the old rifftastic, harder numbers – so it’ll be interesting to see what direction they move in with future album’s & gigs. Whatever, they gave the crowd what they wanted & I think I can confidently say that there will not’ve been one person who left the venue tonight disapponted.

They played for over an hour in the end including a two song encore. This should’ve just been another leg on the band’s post Yellow & Green victory lap, an album virtually every critic (if not fan) has heralded as one of the best albums of the year. That it’s turned out to be the final gig on the tour is desperately sad for the band & fans alike & I can only reiterate what everyone’s been saying & hope the band are back on their feet & on the road again as soon as possible. Big ups guys, and ta for one of the best show’s of the year.

All words Guy Manchester. More words by Guy can be read here. He tweets as @guid0man & uses Tumblr.



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