I went to go see Lamb Of God live last night. For the first time since moving to Manchester I had a friend to go to the gig with. Oh wait, second time, the other one was that Korpiklaani gig I spontaneously went to because people I’d been in a band with years ago were going, and all I said to them was one sentence and then never saw them again. This was the first one that I actually cared about beforehand. He talked me into drinking beer. Normally I don’t drink at gigs because I both dislike drinking and don’t want to have to go to the toilet and miss anything.
We thought it was just Lamb Of God and Decapitated on the bill, but when we got there, it turned out someone called Huntress were supporting. I hadn’t actually heard of them before.
First impressions weren’t great, but I’m a diplomatic sort of person and usually find it extremely difficult to call any band bad and usually just feel that art is all subjective and that I’d probably enjoy it with more exposure and if I was in a better mood and all that business.
Huntress’ singer made me dislike her midway through the set when she announced that Lemmy co-wrote a song with them, then when she announced that he called it ‘I Wanna Fuck You To Death’ – she followed it up by saying “he’s so romantic” in a Dani Filth voice, for laughs. It wasn’t funny. She also kept pointing out people in the crowd and dedicating the titular sentence to them. It was shameless. She started doing it to a fifteen year old kid and then told him to call her in a year. Might as well have got her tits out while she was at it. Or at least that was what flashed through my head in a fleeting moment of displeasure.
Then I realized… “don’t hate the playa, hate the game” or whatever. Of course she’d say that. Of course she’d do that. People like that. Some people expect that. Get over it and stop being judgmental. If Jamey Jasta did the same thing with a motivational song title you’d like it.
Anyway, the band’s music wasn’t engrossing. It was Thrash Revival stuff. Sort of more like Evile than Gamma Bomb. More in the Slayer end of Thrash Revival than the Nuclear Assault end. A lot of riffs reminded me of South Of Heaven, Among The Living and Extreme Aggression… except in order to sound similar but not be a cover, they had to be changed slightly, and something of the magic was lost in that changing.
It made another fleeting thought go through my head. Which was “I don’t care if the music industry dies and no new bands get signed. So few bands have anything good to offer.” Furthermore, it made me think “there’s so much music already that I won’t get around to listening to it all by the time I’m dead. I won’t even be able to afford all the good music, so I really don’t need to waste my time with bad music.”
But then I remembered that bands like Tesseract can come out and make new music seem like a good thing. So. I guess I won’t burn down all the recording studios and concert venues just yet.
To be fair to it, there was nothing wrong with Huntress or their music, but I didn’t like it, it didn’t grab me and it was just boring to me, personally. Maybe they should’ve called it “I’m Going To Bore You To Death” – says hypothetical sneery 1990s music journalist. I probably wasn’t in the mood anyway, I was looking resentfully at the crowd who were enthusiastic, happy looking people who were actually having fun. It made me genuinely consider what to write in my suicide note.
I read a Ricky Gervais quote (he probably took it from someone else, like Jesus, or Ghandi to be fair) on facebook earlier that day, that said “Jealously is self-harm.” If that’s the case, I think I was hash-tag-suicide-risk at that gig, because I was harming the fuck out’ve myself with all the jealously I was feeling for these happy seeming people. Why are all these people so easily-made-happy? Why are all these couples here having a good time? Why do people feel ok with being topless in the pit even when they aren’t by-media-standards-attractive? Why can all these people walk around looking like this without fearing for their safety from muggers on the way home? Why can they all drink without feeling shitty about themselves? How comes my eyes have turned green? Why do I have to be such a boring joyless dick?
Oh well, at least this time I had a friend with me to talk to. Any other time I’ve been at a disappointing concert, feeling out of place in a sea of happiness and enthusiasm, all I can do is sit there in silence, like a grumpy out of place lemon.
“What did you think of them?” – Disapproving face – “I thought so too.”
“Looking forward to Decapitated?” – Disapproving face – “I thought not.”
Also, on a separate note. Lamb Of God have the tallest fans. I’ve been to a lot of concerts in Manchester, but I’ve never seen a higher concentration of tall people at one gig. I’m six foot and don’t usually feel short. But I’m not exaggerating when I say I saw at least three people who were pushing eight feet tall and at least thirty who were definitely seven. It wasn’t so noticeable when I came in and the venue hadn’t filled yet, but as more and more people came into the hall, a disproportionately high number of them were unusually tall.
Is that actually worth noticing? Why am I so interested in the crowd anyway? Am I utterly depressed and in need of help, or, were Huntress just boring me to distraction.
We’ll let a panel of Mental Health experts be the judge of that one, but all I’m saying is, I didn’t rush out and buy their album online as soon as I got home, didn’t walk out of there wearing a Huntress t-shirt, and I don’t think if Huntress played on their own I’d jump at the chance to buy tickets to go see them.
Anyway; when they were over, my friend took me to get another beer and it was about twenty minutes until Decapitated came on next. Before they came on, there was a soundcheck in which they played about the first two minutes of Pantera’s ‘Walk’ and even got the crowd to sing along. From where I was at I couldn’t tell if it was the band having fun or roadies taking liberties. When Decapitated started their proper set I didn’t recognize any of their songs (even though I listened to Nihility and Winds Of Plague again around Christmas), the sound wasn’t good either which didn’t help, the material was a bit boring, and I went to the toilet towards the end of their set, I missed “Spheres Of Madness,” which I actually might have enjoyed. See what I mean about not drinking at gigs?
So. Decapitated live. Not much fun to be had there then.
I started to actually feel drunk after only two beers, mostly because I haven’t drank more than ten times in the last four years rather than any actually quality of the unpleasant watery beer. That made me have all sorts of unpleasant nostalgia-style mental flashbacks to all the times I drank and had a bad time, and no memories of fun or anything positive. Once that kicked in it made everything even worse. I was ready to walk home. What a waste of money this night was. I don’t like concerts anymore.
I walked back in. That was a positive step, at least I didn’t go home. Mostly it was because my friend had my coat though. Ok. I’ll sit through this rubbish a bit longer so that I have a coat for the cold January walk home. I was going to stay at the back behind the land of giants and see nothing behind the sea of tall, tall fans since I wouldn’t enjoy myself anyway. My friend eventually found me before Lamb Of God started, and wanted to go closer to the front, so we did. We got all the way up to about three people-from-the-front. What good progress. Sometimes at gigs the competition for space is really unpleasant. Nope. We just strolled on up without upsetting anyone, or getting in anyone’s way or asking anyone to move. That made me feel some positivity at least. The lack of negativity or rudeness made me feel something positive. Also, being able to see the band would at least make it a bit interesting.
I scanned the crowd a couple of thousand more times; that made the glimmer of positivity die. I found myself deciding that not only did I not like concerts any more, or metal fans, but that I was genuinely incapable of ever having fun again. I was completley convinced that I, in fact, had medical anhedonia and was literally unable to feel happiness. I came to a firm and complete conclusion that life was no-longer worth living.
Then Lamb Of God hit the stage. It opened with the drum solo that’s between ‘Straight For The Sun’ and ‘Desolation’ on the Resoltuion album. It sounded good live. It looked good too, with flashing lights and a big Resolution artwork banner behind the kit, and all you could see was Chris until the first riff kicked in. ‘Desolation’ and ‘Ghost Walking’ were played pretty early on. Bouncy, big, and what’s this? Fun! Holy shit, I’m actually having fun. I didn’t think that it was a medical possibility.
They dropped ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ ‘Laid To Rest’ ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’ and I was actually singing along. Me. I could barely believe it.
When they played ‘Vigil’ and ‘Omerta’ I was actually jumping around, I actually did raise my hands/fists/horns whenever they asked, probably the first time since moving to England. I was actually getting into it.
When ‘Ruin’ came on, I sang every word. Every one. I was properly into it for the first time in what feels like forever.
When I had went to see The Fratellis live before Christmas, some punk-ass fifteen year old girl took exception to the fact that I was just stood there with my arms folded watching the band, and started mocking me for being ‘no fun.’ If only she could see me now.
There were a few interesting things during the bulk of the concert worth pointing out too. Randy had a joke about the Smiths and fake-dedicated a song to Morrisy. Mark Morten was off for family reasons and Between The Buried And Me’s guitarist filled in. Randy had grown a beard and looked like the villain from a crime movie. They played ‘Undertow’ off of Resolution, which I never thought was a noteworthy song before, and it absolutely smashed live. It got a really good audience response too. I think that’ll stay in the set even when new albums come out. Chris broke a drum before ‘Omerta’ and had to replace it. Willy shouted the ‘woo’ during ‘Black Label’ like he did on the live Download Festival DVD. I didn’t realize that was a tradition, I just assumed it was a one off on the night of filming. When Randy was doing the traditional make-the-audience-appreciate-the-support-bands bit that a headliner always says, Decapitated got a gigantic cheer (like, a distinctly bigger cheer than any band I’ve heard in the last two years in the same scenario…including Orange Goblin and Napalm Death).
I was pretty transfixed on Campbell for a lot of the night. I had been listening to a lot of the Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave podcast this week, and in my mind Campbell was (pod host) Brian Johnson. Why on earth was Brian Johnson playing bass for Lamb Of God?
They ended the night with ‘Redneck’ and ‘Black Label’ as you would expect (Since I became a fan of the band, which is only about five years ago now, I always thought they should swap that around now. I know ending with ‘Black Label’ is tradition, since it was the most fun song off their first album, but ‘Redneck’ is way more popular, way easier to sing along to and would make a way better ending).
Anyway, when they Played ‘Redneck’ live, it was incredible. The feeling I got during ‘Redneck’ was even better than with ‘Ruin.’ I felt like somebody give me a shot of pure concentrated happiness. I’d been in a terrible mood all week, flickering in and out of one all month and ‘Redneck’ cleared it away.
They should use ‘Redneck’ as a medical treatment. People should be given Lamb Of God tickets by the government to increase productivity and reduce depression in the population. I sang along to every single word, jumped about and had genuine actual fun. I was in a very good mood.
Then ‘Black Label’ came on.
Then it was over. My friend even caught one of the plectrums that they threw into the crowd at the end. One had hit me, and got caught between my arm and chest, but when I moved to get it, it feel to the ground and some teenager picked it up. Fair dos, the one that had hit me was from the Between The Buried And Me guy anyway, and I don’t play the guitar, so I wasn’t particularly interested. Makes sense that someone enthusiastic get the souvenir. (Had it have been a drumstick, I wonder whether I’d have tried to keep it. I honestly don’t know.)
I walked home without incident. No weird students proposed odd philosophical points to me, no clearly-not-homeless chancers tried to get money off me, no elderly men stopped me for a cigarette and found the idea that someone ‘doesn’t smoke’ to be the most ludicrous notion they’ve ever heard, no streakers got arrested by the police in front of a crowd of Rugby lads dressed as giant vegetables (which happened when I went to see Down live at this same venue, about a year and a half ago), or anything else like that as would usually happen on the way back from the gigs I’ve been to in Manchester.
Overall; It had a shaky start, but it actually turned out to be a worthwhile evening. Lamb Of God themselves had a great performance, a great setlist, good sound and the audience loved them. I loved them. I had a good time. It made me happy.
I even woke up this morning with a big grin on my face. I think I’m going to go and stick ‘Redneck’ on the stereo. G’bye.