Gig review: MOSS – Camden Underworld, London,15 May 2013

Support Acts: Purson & Black Magician

Review by Yiannis (John) Stefanis

Having just returned from a great holiday, involving great company, awesome food and top quality wine, I had to face the cold and rainy streets of London once more. What better tonic for the post-holiday blues, however, than to be heading towards The Underworld in order to attend a show by Moss – one of the most terrifyingly slow and heavy-hitting bands in the Doom Metal scene. And so, following an interview with Moss’ front man Olly Pearson, I found a good spot in the very bowels of this famous/infamous London venue and braced myself for the assault to come.

First to storm the venue’s stage was a Doom Metal quartet from Liverpool called Black Magician. Not much was known to be about this band prior to tonight’s thirty minute set and,  I have to say, I’m none the wiser as to their background since there is not much out there on them.

Anyhow, all you need to know is that these guys play a slightly predictable and pretty straight-forward kind of Doom Metal with many clear influences from bands like Cathedral, they like to dress in typical 70s fashions (vests, bell-bottoms), their singer, Liam, has stage mannerisms, identical to Ozzy Osbourne (Sabbath era) and they simply love to play loud.

Keyboards seem to play a very important role in terms of conveying mood an emotion and so it was sad to have them buried underneath layers of highly distorted riffs, but Kyle’s work in that department was so impressive that none of the eighty or so punters who decided to watch the band’s set seemed too bothered about this.

Keyboard-related sound problems persisted long after Purson hit the stage, but the UK quintet, and especially Samuel Shove (organ, Mellotron,Wurlitzer) dealt with them with both patience and sheer professionalism.

Even though this was the first time I had seen the band live, I had heard people sing their praises, which was enough to make me expect a decent set – and I was not at all disappointed. It only took a minute or so after the first tunes of the opening composition “Spiderwood Farm” were performed for Rosalie Cunningham (vocals/lead guitar) and her band mates to impose their authority on the significantly larger crowd and the end result was an amazing aural and visual experience.

Though young, these guys have a chemistry that is normally expected of musicians twice their age and, most importantly, they know how to have fun on stage and transfer their youthful energy to their audience.

Whether indulging in fast and hard-hitting tunes like “Leaning On A Bear” or performing slow/moody compositions such as “Rocking Horse”, Cunningham’s ethereal vocals – a common denominator throughout – brought influences from bands as diverse as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pentagram and Pentangle into a successful mix and kept us all solidly focused throughout the band’s remaining set. With sheer musicianship and high levels of passion, it will really be a crime if these guys do not make it big one day… fingers crossed.

Moments after the Southampton-based trio Moss hit the stage, a light smoke with a rather odd smell (?!) started spreading throughout the venue and the slightly reduced crowd by this stage,  fell into a more relaxed state of existence – the perfect way to embrace the band’s slow and heavily distorted drone-y riffs.

With “Moss’s Horrible Night” less than two months old, it was of no surprise to anyone that the majority of tonight’s set would be based on said album, a decision supported by the crowd’s warm reaction towards “Horrible Night”.

Investing more in his clear Ozzy-like vocals these days, singer Olly Pearson performed his craft mostly with his eyes closed, and guitarist Dominic Finbow adopted a stable pose, looking fairly immersed in a different dimension from the ones you or I are familiar with.

By this stage, a small number of people who looked quite in tune with the melodic escapades of Purson started heading towards the exit but this did not seem to deter the noise-making trio, who continued their slow, heavily-distorted riffs in the form of “Dark Lady” – a song that was introduced by Olly Pearson, slightly predictably, as being “about an evil woman”. The band’s oldest fans must have been delighted by the impressive renditions of “The Bleeding Years” and  “I Saw Them That Night”, following which Pearson thanked all the opening acts and introduced “Tombs of the Blind Drugged” as the last song of the show.

The Underworld is a venue that has hosted countless Folk and Doom Metal gigs in the past, with bands like Pentagram and Saint Vitus having certainly left their echoes in its walls. Whereas this north London venue looked appropriate for tonight’s headliners and the Liverpool-based opening act Black Magician, it could barely contain Purson – a band which won hands down with regards to both performance and originality. Those of us who were there on the night of the 15th of May witnessed a very special gig indeed!

Purson Set List:

 “Spiderwood Farm”

  1. “Leaning On A Bear”
  2. “Rocking Horse”
  3. “Well Spoiled”
  4. “Mavericks & Mystics”
  5. “Sapphire Ward”
  6. “The Contract”
  7. “Wool”
  8. “Twos And Ones”

Moss Set List:

  1. “Horrible Night”
  2. “Coral Of Chaos”
  3. “Dark Lady”
  4. “The Bleeding Years”
  5. “I Saw Them That Night ”
  6. “Tombs of the Blind Drugged”

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