When Coal Chamber announced their reformation back in 2011 after eight years apart I did wonder at the time if there was any value in reanimating this particular rock corpse? Back in the day they were one of the bands of the moment, helped by the success of the song ‘Loco’ and by their reputation for putting on an energetic live show. Ultimately though after 10 years and 3 albums the band ground to a halt in a very public bust up on stage and the rock world moved on to the next big thing.
Frontman Dez Farfara went on to find further success with Devil Driver, but after a reconciliation with guitarist Miguel Rascon the decision to reform Coal Chamber for a few shows was made, that then led to the recording studio and the recent release of ‘Rivals’, the band’s first album in 13 years.
This tour was a value for money package made up of bands who once graced the same stages and pages as Coal Chamber in the late nineties. Opening proceedings were Dope who were on UK soil for the first time in their 18 year history and judging by the crowd reaction the trip was long overdue.
The band took Glasgow by the scruff of the neck and charged headlong through their 30 minute set. Their mix of sleaze with industrial metal was infectious and soon even the uninitiated like myself were rocking along.
The guys mixed their own material with a couple of covers including the Billy Idol classic ‘White Wedding’, but all were played with the energy and passion of a band with a point to prove. The set was rounded off with ‘Bitch’ and a huge cheer from the healthy crowd who had turned up early to see the set. Hopefully it won’t take another 18 years for Dope to hit the UK again.
Next up should have been American Head Charge but they pulled out of the line-up due to issues in their ranks, so London industrial metallers The Defiled stepped in to fill the gap. After Dope however The Defiled struggled as they proved that they were out of their depth in this company.
The band’s wall of wailing guitars and parping keyboards found a lot of people heading for the bar and left me searching out my earplugs. Their stage show revolves around the annoying antics of keyboard player The AvD who throws his keyboard around the stage more than he actually plays the thing, like a poor man’s Trent Reznor. Thankfully their allotted 30 minute set soon drew to a close and I don’t think many were sorry to see the stage being cleared.
The crowds were soon back in force though as SOiL were up next. What made this SOiL appearance all the sweeter was the fact that shortly after their last Glasgow show frontman Ryan McCombs suffered a stroke from which he has thankfully made a full recovery. He did state during the set that he thought at one point that he wouldn’t be able to ‘haul his Redneck ass back to Glasgow’, but the fact he was back in his rightful position was appreciated by the fans.
You can always rely on SOiL to put in a solid and entertaining set and tonight was no exception. ‘Loaded Gun’ got things underway and although the set only featured 8 numbers SOiL made the most of the time in hand. By the time we reached ‘Halo’ McCombs was keen to get closer to the people and spent the song in the middle of the crowd with the pit swirling around. He made it back to the stage unscathed in time for a blast through Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’ which closed a fantastic set. Make no mistake McCombs and Soil are back at their rocking best.
SOiL left the ABC crowd on a high but by the time the stage was set for Coal Chamber that had waned somewhat. Considering the stage set was fairly sparse the time between bands felt excessive and by the time Coal Chamber finally hit the stage they were starting from scratch as far as atmosphere was concerned. Dez Farfara is a pro though and he soon had the crowd whipped back into a frenzy. Opening with their biggest hit also helped and as the intro to ‘Loco’ rang out the blue touch paper was lit which ignited the pit.
The set proved to be a good mix of new tracks from ‘Rivals’ and old favourites from back in the day. The band looked happy to be back on stage and the heavy, groove laden soundtrack had Glasgow bouncing for all they were worth.
‘I.O.U Nothing’ was the first of the new tracks aired and it fitted in perfectly with the older numbers, testament to the fact that the band can still write a mean song or two. For me however the set all sounded a bit repetitive after a while and I feel that was and always will be Coal Chamber’s Achilles heel. Those who love the band will love the new record and will be thrilled with this tour. For the casual listener however the band will always be a bit of a one trick pony, a good trick mind you, but one that wears thin with prolonged exposure.
So, all in all a good night with the possible exception of The Defiled who were a second choice, last minute replacement and it showed. I do hope the Coal Chamber reunion rolls on for a while as they are a class act but I think it may take more to ‘Sway’ me to their way of thinking.
Review and photos by David Wilson
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