The tonic qualities of booze and great live music should not be underestimated. Turning up at this gig when I really should have been at home attempting to battle the wee germs assaulting my body was perhaps ill advised, but I wasn’t going to miss Baroness live now was I?
The support provided by indescribably dire metal-or-some-such-bollocks-core Sondura did nothing to help my frail state. In intent, this formulaic tripe could not be further removed from Baroness. At best ignored and at worst booed by the crowd, by the end of their dire set I was wondering whether I’d make it as far as Baroness. For purely medicinal purposes I chucked back a shot of JD and stood firm.
I’m glad I did. The unassuming Georgians, who uttered not a word until the very end of their set, hypnotised the audience with their frantic intensity and epic heaviness. Singer/Guitarist John Baizley has become somewhat of an icon as the artistic lynchpin of the sludge stoner groove (whatever you want to call it) movement occupied by the likes of Kylesa and Torche. Standing before the diminutive, bearded one was like being in the presence of greatness – this was like watching a band fronted by Vincent van Gough.
Baroness delivered almost entirely unbroken set comprised largely of tracks lifted from the Red and Blue albums. The Baizley/Adams psychedelic guitar assault delivers precision tempered by occasional improvisational flourishes that are the hallmark of a really great live act. But Baroness aren’t showy, Baizley and crew seemed utterly emerged in these gargantuan riffs and progressive noodlings – here, the music does the talking, not the band.
The only disappointment of the evening was the omission of the brilliant Rays on Pinion, but the inclusion of a rousing rendition of Grad and The Birthing. Prior returning for an encore Baizley finally broke bands silence with a long, largely inaudible ramble about how London held a special place in their hearts and they are humbled by our support or something. Awww. Please come back lots more Mr. Baizley.
It seems a travesty that Baroness are playing such small venues when they deserve to be playing arenas. Alas, they are one of those bands that will probably never make it really big, but will constantly be cited by bands, bad and good, as a massive influence and clueless fans will pretend they always liked them.
By the end of it I felt pretty much ‘cured’ and when awoke in the morning, despite a mild hangover, was largely free of my ailment. Thank you Baroness – now can you get to work on the verruca I’ve got on my toe?