Black Spiders/Hangfire - Ebbw Vale, The Steelhouse - 22nd June 2012 Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Saturday, 30 June 2012 05:00




How times have changed: for so long the patrons of small towns had little to do but complain that they had little to do; not so on this night. While one of the uber-brethren was touching himself to the subtle strains of acoustic guitar barely a mile away, several other members of the UR massive were forging raised middle fingers at the Steelhouse.


After laying waste to every other band at last year's Steelhouse Festival, it was en route to another musical gathering - Belgium's Graspop Metal Meeting - that the Spider, the Owl, the Shark, the Fox and the Tiger would find time to squeeze in a one-off warm up gig in a rugby club transformed, once a month, into a rock mecca.


But before those Black Spiders could fuck us and our one horse town it was time for local heroes - written without irony, it has to be said - Hangfire to take to a stage low enough to accommodate the most trip/slip-happy of sticksmen.


Having put the hours and miles in since the last time I saw them, Hangfire have certainly honed their sound and stagecraft into a tight fist of a set. As guitarist Lee 'Lizzy' Evans throws out riffs, drummer Matt Blakout sticks and bassist Bob Goo shapes, frontman Matt Rhead towers over the assembled throng, more confident and at ease with every show.


Plundering their impressive platter 'Shoot The Crow' for its finest moments to litter their set with, Hangfire benefit from a fat, groove-heavy sound readymade for their southern rock-influenced catalogue of tunes. And while 'For Crying Out Loud' appears to be the crowd favourite from this night's set of songs, it is the riff-heavy 'Bodies' that always impresses me most, its hefty guitar work driving it forcibly into the brain.


Growing with every performance, it seems, it will be interesting to see how Hangfire fare on the big stage of the Steelhouse festival in the coming weeks.


Black Spiders are one the finest live bands in the UK at this moment in time - fact. I saw them on the Jagermeister tour in April and, although playing second on a four band bill, the band still put a smile on the sweaty visage of every person in the venue while simultaneously forcing their necks to be in need of either pain relief or a medical collar the following morning. Yes, Black Spiders, with their three pronged guitar assault, never fail to shake the cobwebs from the rafters of every venue blessed with their presence. The prospect of seeing the band in a sweaty little club in our own backyard had caused sleepless nights amongst the uber-faithful.


As opener 'Si, El Diablo' hits the air like a concussion grenade one thing becomes noisily apparent; the night is gonna get loud. The sound in the venue is muddy but when you have a song called 'Meadow', which, incidentally, was so heavy that it stripped the moustaches from the photographs of the Albright-bloated sporting legends that grace the venue's walls, then you don't mind getting your ears dirty.


Someone give a gold star to the person who okayed the idea of the finest piece of merch for a long time, The Finger, the Black Spiders' raised middle digit enormo-hand that, when the classic 'Stay Down' makes its most-welcome appearance, helps turn the room into a mess of skin and foam, the bird flying high in appreciation of one of the most ass-kicking of tunes penned in an age.


'KISS Tried To Kill Me', no doubt benefitting from its recent single/video release, has morphed from crowd-pleasing album track to crowd-destroying monster track; seriously, this song has grown into something unstoppable. And that's pretty much how the set goes: tracks frombs300 one of the finest debut albums known to humanity, 'Sons Of The North' of course, lay waste to a venue just like they do every other venue in every other city, town or hamlet. 'Just Like A Woman', 'St. Peter', 'What Good's A Rock Without A Roll' - favourites, towering tunes de force that hit their marks every time no matter how loose, relaxed and prone to fucking around the band members may appear.


The only disappointment is that the set features no new songs; the band's way-too-short appearance on the Jagermeister tour undercard saw a couple of new songs showing their impressive faces yet, in a rare headline appearance, we pretty much get all that we expected, beloved album-wise.


Any sadness at the above is quickly reduced to yet another shit-eating grin as Pete Spiby thrills the audience with his now customary high tales of wonderment. The monolithic story of vikings and wanton great great great great great grandmothers that precedes the epic 'Blood Of The Kings' is worth the admission price alone.


Having never seen Black Spiders turn in anything other than an awesome performance, the feeling that would accompany this intimate gig was never really in doubt; this band truly are masters of their craft and the chance to see them slay in a local venue was a spectacle that only the clueless would ever entertain missing. If you were there then you know exactly what I write of; if you weren't yet are local to this venue then I pity you. I pity your existence drowning in a sea of musical mediocrity.


Eat thunder, shit lightning.




[Photos by Ian Cates]


To pick up your copy of the 'Kiss Tried To Kill Me EP' - CLICK HERE


To pick up your copy of 'Shoot The Crow' - CLICK HERE