Black Spiders/Slaves To Gravity - Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach - 28th April 2010 Print E-mail
Written by David Whistance   
Thursday, 06 May 2010 06:00

025When I first clapped eyes on Slaves To Gravity frontman Tommy Gleeson it was at his debut gig in the Welsh capital with his former band The Ga Ga's.  They were playing at the Barfly, and said frontman was stood centre stage stripped to the waist, his hair hanging long as he stood with a rock 'n' roll swagger complete with naive charm. What I am about to witness tonight is a completely transformed person from that night, all the innocence of those early years as a musician have long since disappeared, and in its place stands a poised and confident rock god who now takes centre stage with an alluring confidence running through his veins.


Tonight, Tommy takes the stage in front of a largely disinterested Cardiff crowd, with his band Slaves to Gravity, but you would never have guessed it by the dramatic performance happening on stage, in Tommy's head he is playing to a capacity arena crowd all stood in awe at this rock legend stood before them, and all the power to him for having this mindset and cool sense of cock sureness.

Along for the Slaves To Gravity ride is also former Ga Ga's bassist Toshi Ogawa, the coolest four stringer since Nikki Sixx, as he leaps, bounds and gives the performance of his life alongside guitarist Mark Verney, a vision of black and guyliner.


The audience gets treated to a peppering of songs from forthcoming album 'Underwaterouterspace' (and from what I heard tonight, we are in for a treat), along with fan favourites from the debut album, 'Dollsize' and an awe inspiring 'Mr Regulator.'  Musically Slaves To Gravity have come a long way from the rock 'n' roll sleaze of The Ga Ga's (a genre they never felt comfortable in anyway).  They have matured immensely, honing their craft to great effect, and resulting in their debut album 'Scatter The Crows', often being referred to as 'post grunge'. Personally I find their material, far darker, complex and more song orientated than the musical peers they are so often get compared with.


There are moments during the performance when Tommy lets his guard slip and expresses his frustrations, requesting the audience "come closer to the stage, at least you will have a good spot for the band you have actually come to see", before jokingly calling them " a miserable bunch of cunts" when his request is denied.

Over the years I have witnessed many a band having a hissy fit and prematurely leaving the stage or simply playing with a look of disinterest whilst staring at their feet awaiting their fee whilst faced with hostile audiences.  Slaves To Gravity can never be tarred with that same brush, as they sweat blood and tears up on the stage.


The old fable states that the cream always rises; let's just hope it doesn't curdle before it reaches the top, because it would be a damn shame to lose another fantastic home-grown band before they get a chance to truly shine.


Go out and pick yourself up a copy of Slaves To Gravity's debut album now, pre order the new one, better still go and see them live, you will not be disappointed.


030Over the recent weeks I have witnessed some fantastic gigs in South Wales by the likes of The Jim Jones Revue and Sorry And The Sinatra's, and to be honest I believed they could never be topped this side of the festive season, then again I never counted on Britain's hardest working band Black Spiders coming to town.


Anybody lucky enough to catch them over the last year supporting the likes of Stone Gods, The Wildhearts, Black Stone Cherry and more recently Airbourne will most certainly already become a fan of the band.  Yes they are that good.


I first encountered The Spiders lead vocalist Pete Spiby in his former band Groop Dogdrill and was genuinely saddened when that band ended, but I needed have worried as Pete returns here cast as a manic seventies gang ringleader leading this crazy pack of rock minstrels.  Okay he may have taken a musical diversion from his previous band, but what a transformation, returning with a band that leaves his previous band at the starting blocks.


Whilst most bands have one member of the band that remains the focal point, Black Spiders have five, every member of the band is a visual delight, from the ever smiling guitarist Ozz, to bassist Adam Irwin (a sort of cross between an Easy Rider extra and the cowardly lion from Wizard of Oz), who shakes his head with fury, via guitarist Mark Thomas (celebrating his 24th Birthday tonight) who replicates his idols from a time long before his being, to Pete himself.

Which just leaves the main focal point of Black Spiders live. The rock world has not witnessed a drummer this manic since Keith Moon tragically slipped off this mortal coil, ladies and gentlemen please put your hands together for the gurning, hyperactive beast of a drummer named Tiger.


027For anybody unaware of Black Spiders sound, basically they have taken all their musical influences from Sabbath to AC/DC, Afghan Whigs to The Stooges via Turbonegro, put them in a blender and transformed themselves into a kick ass motherfucking behemoth of a rock band.

Back to the music in question as I have a gig to review here. Tonight we are treated to tracks from the astounding 'Cinco Hombres (Diez Cojones) EP', concluding in the customary one finger raising as the audience are urged to scream "Fuck you Black Spiders" during 'Stay Down'.  If there was a better song released in the last twelve months than 'St Peter' then I've yet to hear it, the smile on my face when Pete sings the final solo line, is only mirrored by the joy on guitarist Ozz's face.


We are also treated to tracks from forthcoming 'No Goats In The Omen EP' (which incidentally was supposed to be available on the merchandise stall, but some incompetent fool forgot to send some down).  Before we are treated to a tale of Pete's exotic dream, or as he calls it a happy tissue dream that involves Paul Stanley, Gene Simmon's and Daisy Duke who metamorphosis's into Peter Criss before introducing new song 'Kiss Tried To Kill Me' a blistering rock number that literally shakes the foundations of the Clwb Ifor.


Black Spiders is a name that is going to be on everybody's lips by the end of the summer after they blitz the summer festival circuit.  Look in the dictionary in 2011 under the word "Rock" and it will simply state 'Black Spiders'

As for the here and now in 2010, where you have to sell an organ just to be able to purchase a ticket to an arena show, it's a pleasure to have witnessed such a duel display of homegrown talent for less than a tenner.