support Firebird
author EW date 27/04/11 venue Borderline, London, UK

A quick history lesson for ya - what came before heavy metal? Bluesy, psychedelic rock, that's what. Cream, Sabbath and Zeppelin all drunk from that well and on the evidence of this gig and it's voluminous crowd it is still flowing freely. A full crowd, a cool venue I've never visited and even some time for pre-drinks post-work. Excellent…


Bill Steer of Carcass has been running the Firebird ship longer now than the first life of those death metal legends; at 12 years and 6 LPs they are no mere 'side band'. A radical departure from anything Carcass-related, Firebird are Cream-y power trio blues to the max, Steer providing ample swagger and harmonica playing panache to make us all believe it is 1968, if perhaps there were a few more bell-bottoms in attendance and the venue was dense with cigarette smoke. Ludwig Witt (drums) and Greyum May (bass) are no mere bystanders during this 40-minute set but it is effectively the Steer show as he continues to play with the glee of a 15 year old in his first live performance, putting such effort and conviction into everything he does it makes you believe there is an interesting story to be told about each song played.

It is unavoidable to mention that the structural similarity flowing through each track hinders Firebird from the kind of level Graveyard have already touched upon (see below) but the likes of "Bright Lights", "Jack the Lad" and "Silent Stranger" are great tunes however you look at it. I wonder if Steer has intentionally reined in a desire to fully explore his consummate potential in Firebird, instead sticking to the 'if ain't broke don't fix it' maxim as one does feel the band could explore the legacy of Cream and Hendrix more greatly to reach the kind of pinnacle Carcass stood at all those years ago…Worry not, Firebird in the end proceed to do what they do best - rock in the truest sense of the word.


Their fitting on the Nuclear Blast roster is a strange one to fathom, but there is no denying Graveyard have a top drawer presence to their archaic psychedelic sound. The recently released "Hisingen Blues" is an excellent record attributed with my full recommendation to you all, yet I had no idea such a band, with such a record, on such a label would draw in the varied audience that crammed the little Borderline. 18-year old hipsters, 50-year old rock dads, indie rockers, a few black metal fans (curiously) and everything in between were in total thrall to Graveyard's bubbly retro-tastic rock and my gosh it was good to see.

As possessor of a voice not dissimilar to Robert Plant, Joakim Nilsson is a natural point of attention but it is the overall contribution of the whole band which stands out in review of a show which tops even in the quality of their recently recorded output. As I have perhaps commented previously once or twice, the act of removing the layers of distortion and feedback common to my usual listening grounds allows for much greater appreciation of the subtle intricacies of "No Good, Mr Holden", "Uncomfortably Numb", "Buying Truth" and the number of other fully wondrously warm tracks which are laid out before London with perfect sound and a cosy purple light show befitting the relaxed nature of the evening.

The disappearance of bassist Rikard Edlund mid-set to fix a broken bass string only served to highlight the authenticity that exists around Graveyard; taking in their performance feels awfully like kicking back at home with their vinyl spinning contentedly, long before the age of internet and yours truly were event glints in their creator's eyes. It turns out only the intrusion of one of the aforementioned black metal crew looking to pointlessly stage dive (result: looking like a fucking idiot) can sour the momentum of the procession to one of my highlights of the stage circa 2011. Hell, they hardly needed to even move or talk a great deal on stage to fill the place such was the control that was exhibited by these Swedes over their guests - psychedelic blues rock, now at nearly 50 years old, can still do that you see. It's obvious: if ain't broke, definitely don't go fixing it.


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