Pentagram / Gentlemans Pistols / Hark
1 November 2012
The Garage, London
Those still mourning the demise of Taint can take solace in the return of mainman Jimbob Isaac with his new band Hark. Musically there are many similarities to draw, with Hark seemingly picking up where Taint left us with their All Bees To The Sea EP. A first live hearing forms a difficult base for conclusions, but Isaac’s new outfit appear to take a more progressive route to song structure, which maintaining the groove of Taint, at times sounding like a more organic Helmet.
Sticking to the music, little was said during a set which included both tracks from the Mythopoeia single, Hark’s only release to date. Isaac, whose voice has continued to move to the more tuneful, spent much of the set headbanging when not singing. His use of effects widened the band’s sound, with his guitar occasionally sounding like a church organ. Bassist Nikolai Ribnikov held down a low bottom end with his Rickenbacker which rumbled through your chest. Meanwhile drummer Simon Bonwick was practically in the photopit his minimal kit had been pushed so far forward.
The lack of interaction coupled with those less straight forward song structures led to a considered “chin-stroking” crowd response. It will be interesting to check Hark out again when their full length album has been released and absorbed, which is due to be recorded next spring.
Mythopoeia / Sins On Sleeves / Paper Pusher / Black Hole Southwest / Clear Light Of Death
Gentlemans Pistols bring fun to the evening and based on the crowd response tonight, it surely can’t be long before the band are headlining venues of this size themselves. Both band and crowd were grooving and bouncing around right from opener Living In Sin Again.
As usual kitted out in tight vests, frontman James Atkinson and bassist Douglas McLaughlan roam around each other looking like brothers. Meanwhile across the stage Bill Steer still resists the urge to wear a vest but is happy to pull guitar hero shapes.
The set was mainly culled from 2011’s At Her Majesty’s Pleasure with highlights including the Thin Lizzy vibe of I Wouldn’t Let You and “A song about something dear to our hearts”, Some Girls don't Know What's Good For Them. The band also treat us to a new composition, Personally Fantasy Wonderland, which aside from being immediately catchy, showcased an Atkinson vocal which soared into Robert Plant histrionics.
Gentlemans Pistols were told they had time for one more and a quick debate with the crowd led to Lying & Fooling. However, so loud were the shouts for an encore, the stage manager relented and The Ravesher left us all with smiles on our faces.
Gentlemans Pistols setlist:
Living In Sin Again / Comfortably Crazy / Widow Maker / Some Girls don't Know What's Good for Them / Personal Fantasy Wonderland / I Wouldn't Let You / Lying & Fooling / Ravesher
This was due to be Pentagram’s second date of a UK tour, however due to Hurricane Sandy, the band were delayed flying out of Washington, leading to a postponement of their opening Bristol show. It also meant that their flight out of Washington had only arrived this morning and Pentagram took to the Garage stage severely lacking sleep.
A rather anticlimactic acoustic intro tape somewhat wrong footed the crowd when following it the treacle thick guitar of Victor Griffin roared out of the speakers and Death Row kick started the set. These shows are no doubt particularly special for Griffin who had announced he would be leaving after the tour and already has a new project In-Graved, which features Guy Pinhas from the Obsessed and Goatsnake. What is certain from his performance tonight is despite Pentagram having spanned over 40 years and counts as many as 28 ex-members, Griffin will be damn difficult to replace.
Whilst Griffin may be the main assault on your ears, nothing demands your attention like the on stage loon that is Bobby Liebling. His previous prolonged drug use may have taken its toll on his body and face, but as a result Liebling resembles a character from a Hammer House of Horror movie, perfectly in tune with Pentagram’s music. Never staying still for a second Liebling lurched around the stage, pulling faces when not singing with his eyes practically popping out of his head.
Prior to the band’s signature song Sign Of The Wolf (Pentagram), Liebling confirms that “We’re doing the whole first record for you”. Initially untitled when released in 1985, Peaceville re-released the band’s debut album in 1993 under the Relentless moniker and it contains many of the band’s best songs.
Rather than play through the album in sequential order, Pentagram not only mix the running order but also pepper the set with choice selections from other albums. Forever My Queen from the Review Your Choices album sees Liebling’s best vocal thus far of the evening, though the atmospheric lights weren’t quite to Griffin’s taste with the guitarist noting “I appreciate the artistic value but more bright lights on stage”. I guess not wearing sunglasses may have helped too.
A run of less played tracks from Relentless culminated in Run My Course which promptly fell apart and had to be restarted. Liebling complained, “I can’t hear a f**king thing up here.”, meanwhile Griffin joked, “My guitar’s completely out of tune. It was in tune at the airport.”Indeed considering the band’s journey and lack of sleep, this hiccup was easily forgiven, especially when the doom of Sinister came raining down next.
The grove of Treat Me Right from 2011’s Last Rites proved Pentagram are not a complete nostalgia act. Potentially anticipating the set’s end, Liebling notched up his mania, flicking his tongue through V shaped fingers during Wartime and wildly playing air guitar during Griffin’s solo in main set closer 20 Buck Spin.
Having returned to the stage, it was the Relentless title track that stood tall in the encore. Morphing into Treat Me Right, its main riff was to return to mark the end of a very enjoyable evening with Pentagram. This show was perhaps not as tight as last year’s debut UK show from the band at this same venue, though it was no less enjoyable and considering the travel issues incredibly impressive.
Death Row / All Your Sins / Wolf’s Blood / Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram) / The Ghoul / Forever My Queen / You're Lost I'm Free / The Deist / Run My Course / Sinister / Treat My Right / Wartime / 20 Buck Spin / Dying World / Relentless / Nothing Left