Iron Witch/Ten Foot Wizard/Baba Naga: The Lug’ole, Sheffield – live review

Iron Witch/Ten Foot Wizard/Baba Naga
The Lug’ole, Sheffield
14th February 201

Sheffield’s Lug ‘Ole plays host to the sludgy and sleazy as Iron Witch. Louder Than War’s Ian Critchley reviews.

“Hi, Ian. Dya remember the other week when you went in a van to Leeds with one of your favourite bands and had the best time of your life? Well….fancy it again in Sheffield?” – Not the actual message I got from Ten Foot Wizard.

Of course I did. But there was an issue that for once wasn’t wholly related to the fact I’m a whining ball of anxious putty. No, this time I was physically ill, instead of just mentally. But I decided to brave through it even though being physically sick caused many attacks of high panic on the drive down and I considered, at one point, using the sick feeling as an excuse to leap from the van and run crying to the nearest train station. Thankfully I calmed soon after arrival in Sheffield and headed into the ‘Lug Ole’, a venue that was simply a rented lock up that had been graffiti’d to high heaven.

But the place definitely had charm and, attached to a bar that had been knocked together out of old bits of wood, Victorian style lanterns hung giving the cold, sterile, concrete box a more homely feel. I wandered around while Ten Foot Wizard talked to the other bands. There were a plethora of gig flyers pasted onto the walls that all seemed to have a very “anti-Leeds” feel, sporting slogans like “THIS IS NOT LEEDS. THIS IS FUCKING SHEFFIELD” and “FUCK LEEDS FEST”. Though, I have to admit, the latter has a bloody good point.

The first band to play were Baba Naga, the bill was originally meant to be a four band deal but (due to reasons unknown to me) one of the acts had pulled out. Laced with transcendental effects, their brand of slowed down, sludgy stoner rock was reminiscent of the dirtiest moments in Fu Manchu’s back catalogue, and the three piece set of a spark within the venue that would last the entire night. I was perched at the back with my make-shift merch stand, and every few seconds I could see a mass of long, matted, hair fly up towards the ceiling in perfect synchronisation with the deep bass sound of the band.

The venue was, though probably not legally, permitting smoking. This didn’t do any favours for the ill feelings I had, but the generosity of the clientele did help ease my anxiety and make me feel welcome. I soon learned that every strong whiff of skunk would be followed within a few seconds by a tap on my shoulder and a strangers face grinning and offering me a toke. “Errr, no thanks, I don’t smoke” and “I’m sick, you don’t wanna share a zoot with me”, soon became the evening’s joint mantras.

Second up were Ten Foot Wizard and even though there seemed to be some issue with the vocal levels (they were strangely quiet to point it seemed Gary was screaming hoarse just to be heard) they tore the place apart with the audience, totally unaware of who these fourgy were, crescendo-ing into a blast of pure appreciation by the set ender, “Covered In Tits”. It takes a lot for an unknown band in a city that isn’t their own to turn a crowd to their side but, with the help of great songs and an eruption of onstage energy (especially from bassist, Seddy, who lashed the front of the crowd with his hair whilst diving around the small sized platform), The Wizard and once again initiated new followers into the dark arts of their inner circle.

Before I’d met Ten Foot Wizard, earlier in the day, I’d been given a pack of Love Heart sweets at the train station, as a promotional valentines gift from the Virgin company, and decided to hand these out to anyone who kindly graced me with their presence by the merch stand. Except the messages on those tiny hearts weren’t even romantic and, after handing a girl one that had “funny face” printed on it, I seemed to be causing more offence than romantic feelings, so I shovelled as many as I could into my mouth to get rid of the evidence and acted like the whole damn thing never happened.

Even if I had managed to spread some romance into the air of the Lug Ole it wouldn’t have been short lived, as the apocalyptic drone of Iron Witch soon blasted through this concrete tomb and shattered any pleasant feelings with complete down-tuned brutality. This band sound exactly like I remember Meshuggah did that one night I got too drunk, tried to listened to an entire album, and decided that my life, in comparison, was not as painful as what ever had happened to create such raw aggression. Which sounds like I’m being insulting but, believe me, it’s definitely a compliment. I recalled a story from one of the Wizard on the way down telling of a time, after too much hallucinogens, they saw sweat begin to pour from the ceiling of a nightclub. I hadn’t taken a damn thing, except maybe inhaled an unhealthy amount of second-hand weed fumes, but the destruction and fury of this band were causing that exact phenomenon. How the hell singer, Chris Fane, didn’t vomit an entire lung up there, as he blasted 110% of his oxygen into every guttural cry, is beyond me. Iron Witch were the perfect band to strip the graffiti’d paint from the walls and leave the entire audience completely spent after their audio group fuck.

We headed back home along the winding roads that surrounded Snake Pass. We sat and talked about music, and films, and life, and we all enjoyed each other’s company very much. Even though the music was often brutal, somewhat violent, and maybe even upsetting to some, I was finding within the UK metal world something that I hadn’t expected, something the punk world had previously let me down with. I was seeing, and meeting, genuinely nice people who had shed the school-yard clique mentalities, high-fives for the bros and invite only jokes, and were striving towards making something that, on the face maybe have seemed angry and aggressive, but deep down was honest and pure.

…oh, and we saw a massive lorry that had been blown over by the wind too.


Iron Witch can be found on Facebook here and Twitter here.

Ten Foot Wizard can be found on Facebook here and Twitter here.

Baba Naga can be found on Facebook here.

All words by Ian Critchley. More writing by Ian on Louder Than War can be found at his author archive.


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