I went to go see Corrosion Of Conformity live last night at The Globe in Cardiff on 04/05/2023. It was my fourth time seeing the band, who started as a hardcore punk band in the ‘80s before evolving into a sludge/stoner rock/metal band over time. They’ve had a number of different line-up changes over the years, most famously their “classic line-up” of the Deliverance/Wiseblood/America’s Volume Dealer era in the ‘90s/early ‘00s of Pepper Keenan (also of Down fame) on lead vocals/guitar, Woody Weatherman on lead guitar, Mike Dean on bass/backing vocals and Reed Mullin on drums. Although I like all eras of the band, that “classic line-up” is my favourite version. And luckily I got to see them three times after they reunited, including in Manchester Academy in 2015, as well as at Download Festival in mid 2018 and finally with Orange Goblin at Cardiff’s student’s union venue in late 2018.
Unfortunately, Reed Mullin is no-longer with us. This was my first time seeing the band since his death, beloved as he was for his unique off-kilter distinctive and unpredictable drumming style (a true great of the genre). Apparently their new and as-yet-unreleased album will feature drummer Stanton Moore (who is known for Galactic, and played on C.O.C’s doomy In The Arms Of God album in 2005 ) but behind the kit tonight was John Green, who was Reed’s drum tech, and has filled in previously when Reed was absent due to health issues.
I had read rumours online that C.O.C were taking to the stage at 7.30pm and that fans who had showed up late to previous nights on this tour were missing most of C.O.C’s set, so I decided to show up as soon as doors open, however these rumours proved to be untrue, and there was a support band who started at 7.30pm instead, by the name of Plain Ride. They were German, and played an aggressive and very technical form of stoner rock. They had some spacey moments and their song structures were very adventurous, but the core sound was satisfying, head-nodding stoner rock/metal. They reminded me a bit of Dozer at times, but much more complex. There was the occasional funky Clutch-esque moment, but most of it was heavier, more angular and meatier. If you could imagine High On Fire with the technicality of Death and the vocals of Dozer, plus occasional Clutch riffs now and again for variety… that’s the sort of ballpark we are talking here. There were even a few moments on the first and last song that reminded me of Blind-era C.O.C. But obviously, more they were more unique than I’m making it sound. They were definitely that type of stoner/desert subgenre, but had a distinct identity, not clones. The best thing about them was that their guitarist looked like he was having so much fun. I love it when a band look like they’re having a whale of a time.
After that pleasant surprise, it was time for the main event. C.O.C are one of my favourite ever bands. According to LastFM there are only 7 bands I have listened to more in the entire last 12.5 years. I was very excited for this. It was going to be a sing along the entire night, feel it in your bones kind of show. Luckily, because I’d showed up early I was able to be right at the front, second person from the barrier, and basically close enough to lick them if I’d been so inclined (I’m not by the way, but just to give you a visual).
The band tore through a set of mostly songs from the Deliverance/Wiseblood/America’s Volume Dealer era, plus two from 2005’s In The Arms Of God and one from Blind (no prises for guessing which one, if you are a fan). 13 songs total, (or 14 if you count that as an intro they played part of the closing track off of Wiseblood). Not a single song I would lose, not one dull moment, and it was particuarly nice to see “Born Again For The Last Time” which I hadn’t see them play before. The only question I had about the set list, was could they not have squeezed in at least one song from the newest album, 2018’s No Cross, No Crown (which grows on me more and more over time), however every song they did play tonight was brilliant, an absolutely killer set, so I understand you can’t have everything.
I had never been to The Globe before, but it was a properly sweaty, boiling hot venue, to the point where the band kept stopping and making “stay hydrated” jokes. The sound was fairly good although it took them a few songs to get the mix right. The band’s performance was great, John did a great job on the material – not exactly the same at times, but close enough, Woody and Mike have such great stage presence and memorable stances and movements (Woody in particular has such charisma, it is more like watching wrestler Mick Foley in an arena than a band’s guitarist in a club – its crazy he never ended up a bigger star). As with every time I’ve seen them, dozen’s of people seemed to be shouting out personal messages of love and devotion to singer Pepper Keenan in particular – and he did a superb job tonight singing, riffing, soloing and engaging with the crowd with some amusing stage banter. Just one of my all time favourite musicians at this point (although I think it is weird that so many crowd members single him out and shout specifically at him, rather than to the band as a whole. It must be weird being Mike or Woody up stage, giving it 110% and everyone is yelling “we love you Pepper.”)
I know in my live reviews I often comment on the spectacle and production of a band, the pyro and costumes and videos etc. However, sometimes the best concert experience you can have is just being in a room with four dudes playing your favourite songs well. When they played the hits like “Albatross” the crowd was almost absurdly enthusiastic and it felt so powerful I want to throw around words like “transcendent” and “out of body experience” and although that’s not quite putting it correctly, it was certainly spellbinding, some of the best entertainment of any format I’ve had years, period. Damn I love this band!
I had a superb evening, I highly recommend you a) listen to this band if you don’t already , b) Get back into the band if you haven’t been listening to them recently and c) catch them live as many times as you can – they sure know how to deliver a killer time.
On the way home, I got talking to some other attendees of the show, and everyone agreed it was one of the best concerts any of us had seen since the pandemic. Everyone left totally satisfied.