You know it’s November when you’re at four gigs in one week – touring season is definitely here!
Afro Celt Sound System and The Dhol Foundation
I went to see this mighty folk/world line-up twice this week – at Colston Hall in Bristol on Sunday and again at the Tramshed in Cardiff on Wednesday. Funnily enough, it was almost exactly this time last year that ACSS were last on tour, and on that tour I also went to see them twice in one week, in Bristol and Yeovil – it’s becoming a habit! They’re just that good. And with the incredible TDF supporting, it was a no brainer. The Bristol show was a good warm-up, but I’ll never understand why Colston Hall put in all the seating for bands like this – it definitely leaves something to be desired. So it was great to go to Cardiff for a standing-only show. From the first few minutes, the atmosphere was completely different, and so much more electrifying. I was also particularly excited that Griogair, ACSS’s out-of-this-world piper and Gaelic rapper, made it to the Cardiff show after a notable absence in Bristol. If you haven’t heard of these bands, you need to look them up. Celtic folk meets traditional African and Indian music meets electronica meets percussionists as far as the eye can see. It’s quite the mash-up.
Opeth and Enslaved
On Tuesday I took my other half to the o2 Academy Bristol (for an attempted surprise that failed completely when he found out weeks ago) for another huge line-up, this time in the black/progressive metal vein. I’ve lived in Bristol for nearly five years and this is only the second time (outside of running The Underdog) that I’ve been to a gig at the o2 – they just never seem to be putting on the bands I want to see. So I was totally unprepared for what a ridiculous faff it is to just get through the doors at this venue. Sadly, Enslaved (who we both wanted to see more) were already 15 minutes into their set by the time we got in. But what a set it was. Droll humour was the hallmark of both bands on this night, culminating in a ‘clean cover’ of Napalm Death’s You Suffer by Opeth. Ridiculous.
And So I Watch You From Afar
And finally, Sunday’s offering! The most awfully-named band of all time (it doesn’t even make a satisfying acronym – ASIWYFA? What is that?), but these guys are literally anything but awful. Not realising how early this gig started, I very sadly missed the excellent first support, Memory of Elephants, but did manage to catch the second support, Gallops, who were a class act. But I can’t even find the head space to talk about them because ASIWYFA have blown my mind so much that I still haven’t picked my jaw up the floor, and in fact may never do so. Not only was this my gig of the week, it was my gig of the year – out of well over 100 bands I’ve seen this year. Incredible musicianship, incredible showmanship, a light show so crazy it made me feel like I’d taken some hard drugs, a mosh pit that took up half the room and even involved the frontman (guitar and all) towards the end…it was just an absolute delight from start to finish. I don’t have a single bad word to say. I even got pretty emotional listening to the frontman talking about how the tour has felt like being in a room full of their best friends every night – not a dry eye in the house! This is my absolute favourite kind of rock music – loud as hell, riffs for days, super proggy, and just totally joyful – the antidote to black metal!