Corrosion Of Conformity
@ The Electric Ballroom, London
13th March 2015
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
Photos by Inty Malcolm
Oh my. Now this is something. North Carolina metallers, and some time three-piece, Corrosion of Conformity (COC) reunited with frontman and guitarist Pepper Keenan for the first time in almost a decade. Scratch that; more like two for this line-up in the UK. Stuff dreams are made of? Perhaps a bit strong, but it’s been doing nicely for a couple of nights, culminating in this, the last date of the UK Deliverance tour. So deliver us.
Hang The Bastard (3/5) seem to rapidly be turning into London’s favourite rent-a-support band. Feels like they’ve played every gig going over the last year or so. The bastards.
Sure supporting bands like COC has got to be a good thing for anyone’s profile, but live music should feel like a bit of an event. In the same way that it actually being Christmas every day would be boring, so watching the same band week in week out sees anyone lose their magic.
To tonight though and as ever Hang The Bastard are fucking heavy. Like how the hell do you carve such slabs out of strings and skins. Heads are bobbing. Shit isn’t being lost though.
Perhaps it’s the fact that whilst musically Hang The Bastard’s three bags full of riffs fits tonight’s vibe, some may not rub along with Tomas Hubbard’s blackest of the black vocals so easily. If you like guttural and shrieky and seemingly channelled through a quivering mic stand then get some Hang The Bastard down your lugholes.
Now The Ballroom has filled out, swollen with a sold-out crowd. When COC (4.5/5) appear it’s their perfect choice of intro music – Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ – that does the talking.
The Metallica-esque ‘These Shrouded Temples…’ puts you right back to where it all began for COC avec Pepper – Blind, track one – but it’s the mighty Deliverance’s ‘Señor Limpio’ that properly gets things moving.
Keenan’s time away from COC certainly hasn’t been wasted, giving birth to some fabulous Down records, but damn it’s good to hear his voice still sounding so effortlessly cool.
Riffs that were born however many years ago are loosened from strings as though newly delivered. Those watching are playing midwife, a conduit, but it’s the music dishing out the slaps; the hits keep hitting. And wisely that’s all they’re sticking to tonight.
Nothing from the first two albums, and nothing from their latest two; all Pepper tracks only. It’s not that the other material is pants, it just makes sense. This is exactly what we came to see, the guys back together.
An equally powerful four are ‘King Of The Rotten’, ‘Heaven’s Not Overflowing’, Long Whip/Big America’ and ‘Wiseblood’. For another band that would be a closer/encore mix, but for COC it’s just in the mix; slow grooves and scratched out solos owing as much to Sabbath as classic rock.
Depending on where you’re standing the sound fluctuates a little, sometimes picking up too much feedback, almost as though something’s been mic’d too close. It’s not enough to dent the south-baked stoner groove that’s coming off them, like steam rising.
Talk is friendly but sparse and there’s no big sales pitch – hey grab our t-shirt at the merch stand – like with so many bands these days. Just music, yeah?
There’s not even any waiting until the encore for ‘Albatross’ to spread its wings, and fly it does on the uplift of many voices. ‘Goodbye Windows’ does the waving of hankies, Keenan teasing the vocals, drawing them out into each chorus crescendo, making us wait. Making us not want it to end.
Special thanks to “Hang The Fat Bastards” (which may be an endearing on-the-road name or a hilarious mistake). With that out of the way, the encore runs from heavier cut ‘Vote With A Bullet’, through the still catchy ‘Who’s Got The Fire’, to the one people are still waiting for – the six-string stuttering ‘Clean My Wounds’.
The psyched-out jam in the closing minutes is a weirdly deflating moment but we’ll take it when the rest of the song is cleaning up, mopping up every last bit. And all before 10pm. Fabulous.
Deliver so they did, delivered us good without any trace of rust between the gears. There’s talk of a new album, from the four of them nonetheless, and you know that would be just fine.
Corrosion of Conformity setlist
These Shrouded Temples…
King of the Rotten
Heaven’s Not Overflowing
Long Whip/Big America
Vote With A Bullet
Who’s Got The Fire
Clean My Wounds