PRIMORDIAL Gig Review
Support Acts: Hell & Winterfylleth.
London O2 Islington Academy, 5th May 2012
Review by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
I would not normally voluntarily force myself into a crowded venue whilst nursing a very persistent cold, but it is not every Saturday that one gets to see Irish Pagan Metallers Primordial performing in London and so it was to the O2 Islington Academy I trudged in the hope that the venue’s early curfew would enable me to enjoy the whole of Primordial’s set.
The first support band of the night were Manchester-based Winterfylleth – an outfit whose set was ending just as I arrived, but which seems to have made quite some impression, based on some discussions I overheard. Second up were a band from Nottingham, namely, NWOBHM legends Hell – an outfit whose disastrous early career was resurrected with the assistance of producer-extraordinaire and now lead guitarist Andy Sneap and who back in 2011 released their debut album “Human Remains”. I remember truly enjoying their triumphant performance at last year’s Bloodstock Festival and I am happy to say that tonight’s performance was equally impressive and enjoyable. Opening with the up-tempo head-banger “Let Battle Commence”, the quintet took full advantage of the powerful sound and the amazing atmosphere created by various props and an accompanying light show and immediately captivated the large audience. I do believe that David Bower’s addition to the band’s line up was a stroke of genius as this actor- singer is undeniably the best man for the job. His incredible vocal range allowed him to successfully re-create songs as demanding as “On Earth As It Is In Hell” and his various costume changes provided additional atmosphere in dark offerings such as “Plague And Fyre”, “The Quest” and the epic-sounding “The Devil’s Deadly Weapon”. The all-band vocal rendition on “Macbeth” was by far the absolute highlight of the band’s set while the crowd, by this stage euphoric, was given a last chance to bang its collective head along to the tunes of the Mercyful Fate-sounding rendition of “Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us”, after which they left the stage to the accompaniment of thunderous applause. An excellent performance by a well-rehearsed, passionate and thoroughly entertaining band.
It is perhaps a funny coincidence that the last time I saw Primordial live was at the same Bloodstock Festival that I enjoyed my first ever Hell show, however in the case of the Irish heathens, their performance then was marred by Alan Averill’s vocal problems which led the band to performing a much shorter set on the day. Following the classic introduction “We are Primordial from the Republic Of Ireland” and as the first few notes of “Lain With The Wolf” were being performed, one could sense that the Dubliners were a band on a mission and they tackled their set with much passion and determination. Though appearing slightly shaky and perhaps a tad unrehearsed during the opener, by the time “Autumn’s Ablaze” (the only ‘oldie’ in the night’s set) was heard, Primordial had reached their renowned performance standards. Covered in corpse paint and as animated and energetic as ever, Alan Averill was, as always, a dominant force on stage, manipulating the crowd with masterful ease while delivering his poetic renditions with much passion and gusto. Tonight’s set was predominantly based on material from the band’s latest album “Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand”, something that seemed to please the crowd, based on the reception of the album’s opening track “No Grave Deep Enough”. The atmosphere was already quite electric when “Gallows Hymn” was introduced and so the trance-like riffs and groovy theme of “Bloodied Yet Unbowed” provided a much needed break. I loved the band’s rendition of “As Rome Burns”, another crowd pleaser, as well as the dramatic “The Mouth Of Judas” and the spirited interpretation of “Heathen Tribes” which followed. Of the two songs that I was absolutely dying to hear – “The Coffin Ships” and “Gods To The Godless” – both of which featured in the band’s set list – only the former was performed due to time restraints (another annoying club night), which was dedicated by Alan to his RAF fighting grandfather (note: Morris Averill, RIP)….an emotionally charged moment during the show. The Dubliners seized one more chance to thank their London crowd for many years of support, before performing an awesome rendition of the all-time-epic “Empire Falls”, after which they took their bows and left the stage for good – much to the disappointment of all of us in the crowd.
Not being too sure what was behind Primordial’s decision to perform a two-gig tour in the UK, it was, of course, pleasing that they did, since they managed to redeem themselves following last year’s disastrous performance at Bloodstock Festival. Furthermore, we also had the chance to once again see the amazing Hell – one of the most enjoyable classic Metal outfits in a live environment. The vibe was so great, the performing bands truly enthusiastic and the energy levels between them and crowd so high that I somehow managed to forget all about my ailments and indulge in a spot of head banging. Far better than what the doctor ordered, eh?
Hell Set List:
1. “Let Battle Commence”
2. “On Earth As It Is In Hell”
3. “Plague And Fyre”
4. “The Quest”
5. “The Oppressors”
6. “The Devil’s Deadly Weapon”
8. “Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us”
Primordial Set List:
1. “Lain With The Wolf”
2. “Autumn’s Ablaze”
3. “No Grave Deep Enough”
4. “Gallows Hymn”
5. “Bloodies Yet Unbowed”
6. “As Rome Burns”
7. “The Mouth Of Judas”
8. “Heathen Tribes”
9. “The Coffin Ships”
10. “Empire Falls”
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