Sunday, 4 October 2015

Paradise Lost - Wolverhampton Review

Paradise Lost is a band I have been slowly getting into over the past few years. My interest in them began when I made the decision to go and see the live in Nottingham in 2012 (in the days when a trip to Nottingham was a common evening out, rather than a rare weekend away) to see them on the Tragic Idol tour. Their sullen, doomy set impressed me, and I have amassed a collection of their albums since and enjoy listening to them when I am in the right mood. Earlier this year, the band released The Plague Within (which I reviewed very favourably here) which was a throwback to their earlier sound. Singer Nick Holmes' harsh vocals were brought back with bells on, and the album was the heaviest the band had sounded in ages. When they announced a run of UK shows to promote the new album, I knew I had to go and see them again. Wolverhampton was the best option of all, as it fell on my weekend off so no time off from work was needed. Wolverhampton was a place I used to go to occasionally when I was at university to see bands. It is not a hotbed of live music like London, Nottingham, or Birmingham - but it does well for itself. The Wulfrun Hall is the only venue I have been to in the city, so it was good to go back (the last time I was in the city was to see Tyketto last March!). Wolverhampton is a strange place, but the Wulfrun Hall is a good venue for live music. I took my place about half way back in the hall (it was about two thirds full by the time Paradise Lost came on, so there was a decent sized crowd) to watch the action unfold.

Lucifer were the first band on, and they seemed to impress the crowd throughout their short set. They had a very 70s feel, with lots of doomy riffs reminiscent of early Black Sabbath and psychedelic guitar leads. Frontwoman Johanna Sadonis was the band's secret weapon though. While their music was fairly derivative, her voice was powerful, with a strong bluesy feel that suited the psychedelic elements of their music. While I enjoyed what they were doing, by the time the set was coming to an end I could not help but feel that all their songs were very similar. Gaz Jennings (guitar) impressed with some good extended solos, despite seeming to miss the memo about dressing like it was 1971! Overall, I felt that Lucifer were quite good, but needed a bit more variety if they are ever to progress beyond their current standing.

Tribulation, from Sweden, were a whole different beast however. While I was initially confused by their hybrid sound, as their set progressed I found myself being drawn further and further into their world. While at heart it appears that they are a black metal band, there is more than a huge chunk of (again..!) 70s-style classic and psychedelic rock. Harsh vocals from Johannes Andersson (vocals/bass guitar) mixed well with swirling atmospherics, heavy tremolo riffs, and extended bluesy solos - and the combination worked surprisingly well. The band have a very progressive attitude when it comes to songwriting, with each song stretching out over many different sections. There were often long instrumental sections that relied on atmosphere and mood for the most part, rather than spectacular instrumental pyrotechnics. That being said however, both Adam Zaars (guitar) and Jonathan Hultén (guitar) could play and both had chances to shine throughout with solos and riffs. I was impressed by the band, and have already ordered a copy of their latest album The Children of the Night, which I look forward to hearing when it arrives!

Despite a great set from Tribulation, it was Paradise Lost we were all here to see, so after a fairly quick change-over, the lights went down and the band came out with No Hope in Sight, the opening song from their new album. It took a few numbers for the sound to sort itself out. The second number was very difficult for me to work out what it was ( helped me out!), but thankfully it all settled down after a while. Holmes' voice was sometimes difficult to hear however, which was a shame. Despite these issues, the band performed well. Greg Mackintosh (guitar) has a real knack for melody, and his playing throughout was sublime. Whether he is laying down a crushing riff or a flowing solo - he always injects plenty of feel into his performance. The vast majority of the set consisted of the band's more recent material, with only a handful of songs coming from the band's older, more classic albums. Seven of The Plague Within's ten songs were played over the course of the evening, which shows how much faith the band have in the album. Gothic was an early highlight however, and went down well with the long-term fans. A highlight for me too was Tragic Idol, which is easily my favourite song from the band's last album. For the most part, the crowd seemed to be really into what the band were doing. Putting a lot of new material into a live set can backfire, but I think it worked well in this case. The Plague Within has been very well received by the fanbase, and the new songs were greeted with similar sized cheers as the classics - especially the heavy Beneath Broken Earth which was a highlight of the second half of the set. A couple of older songs rounded out the main set however. Bona fide classic As I Die went down well with plenty of singing from the audience, and the slightly newer epic Requiem made for a great set closer. That was not it though, and a four-song encore kept the crowd entertained for a bit longer. All four songs were great, but the highlights for me were the final two: An Eternity of Lies, a great track from the latest album, and the synth-heavy classic Say Just Words which saw yet more singing. The setlist was:

No Hope in Sight
Tragic Idol
Praise Lamented Shade
Victim of the Past
Flesh from Bone
Beneath Broken Earth
As I Die
Return to the Sun
Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us
An Eternity of Lies
Say Just Words

Overall, this was a really enjoyable gig from the veteran gothic metal legends. Paradise Lost seem to have been having a bit of a resurgence recently with a very solid string of albums and plenty of touring. Their popularity seems to have endured too, and I am sure it will not be too long before we have another UK tour on our hands. 

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