|Electric Wizard/The Cosmic Dead/Purson - London, Camden, Roundhouse - 15th May 2015|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Wednesday, 27 May 2015 03:00|
The ghost of the original Roundhouse from the late sixties/early seventies was floating through the air tonight, and none moreso than with the velvet sleeves and bellbottom strides of London’s Purson. Their brand of retro psychedelic pop/rock is proving popular at the moment, and it’s also compatible with wildly varying headline acts that Purson can latch onto the bill with. Not so long ago I saw them receive a great reception supporting prog/pomp rock veterans The Alan Parsons Project, and tonight they once again receive an enthusiastic response from a crowd here to see Electric Wizard, an altogether different prospect entirely. It’s that ability to appeal to significantly differing audiences that is building their profile and reputation, and garnering huge praise and even ‘best new act awards’ awards. Tonight is another job well done for Purson.
Glasgow’s The Cosmic Dead are a band I’ve not seen live before, and I only get a brief glimpse of them as they last one song before deciding the stage lights are too bright and demanding they be lowered. Lowered they are immediately, and the rest of their set sees them as mere silhouettes. That doesn’t actually matter one iota though, because this is one vibey musical trip that goes very well with the still functioning backdrop projections. The Cosmic Dead’s heavy psychedelic sound has been described as ‘psychonautal cosmodelic’. It’s largely, though not completely, instrumental, has a hugely spacey vibe that echoes the influence of Hawkwind at their trippiest, and has a hypnotic quality that displays a strong Krautrock influence, with Can in particular springing to mind. It’s a mesmerising set that I find completely captivating, although not all of the audience seemed to be in agreement as some, although a minority, seem to lose attention and wander off. More fool them.
Electric Wizard hail from the picturesque county of Dorset, but they could just as easily hail from the bowels of Hell. They don’t do that many shows in the UK, so it’s not surprising that this show is sold out and packed. This is one hot ticket, and tonight I am perched in the front row of the balcony to watch every detail of the madness that ensues. It’s no great secret that this band took their name from two Black Sabbath songs, and as the show ensues it’s easy to imagine that this may be a bit like what a Sabbath show from the mid seventies may have been like.
Having moved from Rise Above to Spinefarm, as indeed Purson have, you may be forgiven for thinking that Electric Wizard would swamp the set with material from their Spinefarm debut ‘Time To Die’ from last year. This is certainly not the case, and although ‘Incense For The Damned’ and ‘Tie To Die’ represent that album towards the end of the set, the rest of the set is pretty well balanced with classic moments from what many regard as the three best albums – ‘Come My Fanatics’, ‘Dopethrone’ (rightly regarded as classics of the Doom genre) and 2007’s awesome ‘Witchcult Today’, which I would rank right alongside those two. As Electric Wizard hit the stage with ‘Witchcult Today’, projected images of naked women subjected to satanic ritual abuse provide the backdrop for the aural abuse the band unleash. It’s a hugely powerful and mesmerising set as ‘Black Mass’, ‘Satanic Rites Of Drugula’, ‘Dopethrone’ and ‘Return Trip’ continue to pulverise. This is the heavy, grinding doom influence of Black Sabbath combined with the vicious nastiness of punk. Frontman Jus Oborn certainly doesn’t go in for between song banter and barely utters a word between songs save for the odd “time to drink some blood” type of comment. In fact, despite the band’s huge power they come across as almost shy, or just very stoned. Probably the latter. After the ‘Time To Die’ material, which is also killer, ‘The Chosen Few’ and an awesome ‘Funeralopolis’ complete the doom devastation. There’s no encore of course, that wouldn’t be very Electric Wizard at all.
Electric Wizard are a prime example of the fact that you don’t have to be virtuoso musicians to be a truly great band. You just have to have a great sound, and they certainly do. There’s no great variety in that sound, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Tonight they are simply awesome, and provide a dead cert top ten gig of the year for me.