It must be the festive season already because in the deepest depths of Birmingham’s cavernous academy, the kind of deal that sends Black Friday shoppers scurrying for bargains like blank-eyed zombies is taking place – three awesome bands for a mere £8.00 and, happily, fans have responded, because the place is rammed to the rafters. More than that, one of the bands playing tonight is the newly reformed and utterly reinvigorated Raging Speedhorn, the Corby sextet who somewhat ignominiously split in 2008 following the criminally underrated album ‘before the sea was built’. However it did not take too long for a reunion, thankfully, and following on from the band’s stunning show at Damnation festival, there was no question that this UK headline tour was a must-see event.
However, it’s not all about Speedhorn, and first up on tonight’s triple header is Godsize, a band with whom we’ve not been previously acquainted. It takes approximately one minute (thirty seconds of which is ear-raping feedback) for us to realise that Godsize are appropriately named. A vicious sludge band from Stourbridge, Godsize’s performance is elevated above the ordinary by the extraordinary performance of frontman Kristian Chambers who delivers much of the show from the mosh pit. It’s an incendiary performance all round and one that leaves a number of audience members slightly shaken as the band unleash killer riff after killer riff. If it wasn’t for the sense of euphoria surrounding Raging Speedhorn’s return, Godsize might very well have carried off the show and it was one hell of an opening performance (and far too brief).
Next up are Sworn to oath who offer up a marginally more melodic approach than either Speedhorn or Godsize. Evidently the Sworn to Oath boys have been rehearsing themselves into the ground because their show is tighter than a fat lady’s leggings, the merciless riffs and propulsive beats hammering around the venue like large calibre shells. With a powerful stage presence and plenty of memorable melodies, Sworn to Oath look set to hit much bigger stages in 2015, but for the assembled masses at the Academy 3 they do a grand job of keeping adrenalin levels peaking in anticipation of the headliners.
There is no question, despite the excellence of both Godsize and Sworn to oath, that the night belongs to Raging Speedhorn and with the venue now packed to the rafters, the Corby mob simply march on to the stage and level it. This is no simple reunion, this is the return of a much loved and much needed institution, and looking around the crowded room it’s easy to spot numerous elated fans screaming the words and head banging as the band unleash their molten riffs. The performance is fast, frantic and utterly unhinged with twin vocalists John Loughlin and Frank Reagan pouring their hearts and souls into the gig. Songs like ‘hate song’ and ‘the gush’ have become sludge anthems and they are delivered with a furious intensity that is impossible to ignore whilst the irrepressible ‘F*** the voodooman’ (a long-time favourite of mine) remarkably sounds even more toxic live than on record. Even the technical issues (dying microphones a plenty) are handled with deft humour meaning that the show’s momentum fails to suffer as a result. The show is short and sharp and seems to vanish in a blink of an eye, the band exiting the stage to the sound of devastatingly loud feedback and near-deafening cheers from the audience.
Reunion of the year? Reunion of the f***ing decade more like! Raging Speedhorn delivered a mind-blowing set tonight and, supported by two fine bands, put on one of the best shows of the year. No fancy lights here, just overpriced beer, sticky floors and the sort of atmosphere that only a genuinely special band can conjure. Tonight was all about the music and not a single soul left the Academy 3 disappointed.
N.b – due to a camera issue we have no live shots from the night – apologies!