Pitchshifter

support Brigade + The Ghost Of A Thousand
author DY date 12/10/07 venue Astoria 2, London, UK

Back on stage for the first time in over a year and a half, British cult-legends Pitchshifter, soon to be celebrating their 20th birthday, return for two nights of blood, sweat and mayhem in London and Nottingham with their thumping fusion of industrial rock and drum 'n' bass. A long time fan of the band, I grabbed a ticket for their show (originally planned for the London Astoria) at the newly titled Astoria 2 (previously the Mean Fiddler). For those unfamiliar with the band, Pitchshifter have been on hiatus since March 2003 and have since only played on rare occasions, and so the anticipation for the show had been building for several weeks on the band's message boards.

The Ghost Of A Thousand

The anticipation appeared not so great however for the support acts. As I arrived in the venue just prior to the start of The Ghost Of A Thousand's set, the venue was almost empty. However, once the band took to the stage with their relentless aural assault and crazy stage antics, they grabbed the sparse crowd's attention by the throat and then punched it in the face. There was no rest period throughout the 30 minute set of hardcore from the Brighton five-piece which saw frontman Tom Lacey pulling off one of the most energetic performances I have ever seen. I mean, this guy did not just stick to the stage, he was climbing all over the place, on the amps, on the barrier, over the barrier and into the crowd. Once he was in the crowd he ran about screaming indecipherably into the microphone whilst throwing his arms around surprised members of the crowd and screaming into their ears. The music itself was just sheer brutality, as you will know if you have a copy of their album "This Is Where The Fight Begins" (seemingly in the mosh pit) and certainly shook up the audience appropriately for the rest of the night. The set finished with Lacey still in the crowd, just throwing down the microphone and walking off backstage. Despite the fact that most of the audience probably had no idea what had just taken place in the last half an hour, it was an entertaining show and a sharp reminder of what raw passion for music looks like.

7

Brigade

Next up were Brigade, led by Will Simpson, the older brother of Busted and Fightstar's Charlie Simpson. Feeling a sense of familiarity during the band's first song, I realized I had seen them previously with Hawthorne Heights and noticed that bassist Naoto Hori had once again chosen to come out with a bag on his head. Brigade come across as a very confident band, not only in their performance and on-stage actions, but also musically. Their songs combine large and often spacey soundscapes (reminiscent of Moneen) with post-hardcore breakdowns and the occasional screams from Simpson. Throughout the set the band remained pretty much in their stage positions, choosing not to tart up their set with wild leaps across the stage, but instead playing with a passion and self-confidence that suggested they believed their songs spoke for themselves. You get the impression that these guys wouldn't be out of place or phased by playing the 5500 capacity Brixton Academy instead tonight, such is their apparent experience. What Brigade have managed to do is remain on the border of mainstream appeal, attracting fans from both sides of the fence. The very fact that they can support both Hawthorne Heights and Pitchshifter and impress both (very different) crowds is testament to this. To be honest, a 30-minute slot for this band just wasn't long enough for me and I'll certainly be checking them out on a headline tour sometime soon.

Pitchshifter

And so as the lights shine on the large melting Union Jack flag at the back of the stage, the band walk on to rapturous applaud from the crowd. Now let's just set the scene and give you an idea of the atmosphere inside the venue. Everyone, and I mean everyone here is Pitchshifter crazy. Pitchshifter are truly icons in the eyes of the fans here in London tonight. There are no half interested or new fans of the band from the new song they've just heard on the radio, no, everyone here is die-hard, thus creating the best possible atmosphere you could hope to experience one of your long-term favorite band's in. What's more, the band treat the show like a homecoming, a chance to see all their friends again that they have missed from being spread across their different projects around the globe. It's all part of the way that Pitchshifter have always interacted with the fans at their shows. There's no pretentiousness, no looking down, it's all about having a good time with each other. Frontman J.S. Clayden will frequently exchange banter with various members of the audience throughout the show, making it seem like your just out watching your mate's small time band play rather than a band as accomplished at Pitchshifter.

It's my eighth time witnessing the band live and I'm as excited as ever when the pounding beats of "Microwaved" burst from the speakers and send the entire crowd into a free-for-all mosh fest. The energy in the venue is dangerously off the scale as every lyric is screamed by every member of the band and audience alike. "Subject To Status" and "Scene This" received the same treatment as the band continued to storm through their set at a volume that surely had the paint peeling off the walls. The pure passion from every fan shows through during "Hidden Agenda" with screams of 'hidden agenda is bigger than you, and you, and you, and you, and you, watchya gonna do!!?' filling the room. My front-centre position placed me directly in front of dominating bassist Mark Clayden, who often had such an aggressive look on his face that it made you worry what was going on inside his head. The band's self described 'guitar laden digital chaos' continued as they switched between songs old and new, sandwiching "Down" from their last studio album to date in between old classics "Whats In It For Me" and "Please Sir", both of which sent the audience into a frenzied trance. Ex-Sikth frontman Mikee Goodman joins the band on stage for the ultra-industrial era 'shifter track "Virus", shortly before we are treated to a This Is Menace track, "Cut Us (And We Bleed)".

The band's performance tonight gives no hints that they disbanded over four years ago and have since only played a handful of shows, as they are remarkable tight on stage. Clearly they haven't lost the cohesion that they've developed from playing together for so many years and it makes the songs oh so much sweeter when every note and every thumping drum beat hits perfectly in time. After another fan favorite, "W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G.", we experience the first ever live performance of "Messiah" (a brand new track planned for the band's 2009 20th anniversary album). Possibly the band's all time greatest song "Genius" is delivered at ear bursting volume, with the crowd in utter chaos and the band leave the stage.

Returning to the stage a few minutes later, vocalist Clayden states "I hate the whole idea of an encore, but you guys make us do it" and the band launch into the final song "Shutdown" during which the active frontman finds himself crowd surfing after one of his trademark stage dives. Before we know it, the show is over and the sad feeling sinks in that another opportunity to experience Pitchshifter in all their live glory won't come for a least another year or so. Apart from the noticeable absences of "Triad" and "Wafer Thin" which usually pop up at their shows, the band perform an impressive set list leaving little to be desired.

Before vacating the stage, Clayden announces that he's giving every attendee a free copy of This Is Menace's first album "No End In Sight" courtesy of PSI Records (owned by him and his brother/Pitchshifter bassist Mark Clayden) in addition to the free promo CD that the label has already given out tonight. Sweaty, bloodied and tired, 800 fully satisfied fans leave the venue buzzing from another night of mayhem with the mighty Pitchshifter who deliver another blinding show once again.

Setlist:

1. Microwaved

2. Subject To Status

3. Scene This

4. 8 Days

5. We Know

6. Hidden Agenda

7. My Kind

8. Whats In It For Me

9. Down

10. Please Sir

11. Virus

12. Cut Us (And We Bleed)

13. W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G.

14. Messiah

15. Genius

--encore--

16. Shutdown

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