“We are Primordial from the Republic of Ireland!” Alan Averill and his band of melancholic storytellers are in flying form for their main stage set. Any memories of their unfortunate vocal mishap 3 years ago are quickly forgotten as the band ease into the crescendo that starts a high-octane set.
‘No Grave Deep Enough’ rumbles into existence, with the guitarists and bassist flanking Alan as the latter sets about getting the crowd fired up. The musicians have their heads bowed throughout the set, locked in a deep headbanging communion as they roll out the Celtic-tinged riffs. They shift with ease between doom-laden passages and blackened outbursts, each of the five songs a rumbling behemoth. The odd instrumental break is ample opportunity for the crowd to raise their fist, which they do gladly, absorbing every second of Primordial‘s short but sweet set.
Alan uses the stage not unlike a heavy metal thespian: cloaked in a tunic and smeared in white paint to resemble a deathly storyteller. Nowhere is this clearer than in the two following tracks: in ‘As Rome Burns’ he paints a bleak picture tinged with a silver lining of hope, as he calls for the crowd to “Sing to the slaves that Rome burns”, repeated at length during the potent midpoint of the song. Similar moments of mourning crop up in their famous ‘The Coffin Ships’, a woeful tale of Ireland’s notorious famine, with Alan‘s plaintive singing driving every word home: “Oh god, that bread should be so dear, and human flesh so cheap”.
Alan prowls around the stage fixed with an intense gaze, saluting both the crowd and drummer Simon O’Laoghaire throughout the set. He ad-libs with sections of lyrics as well as adding on parts at the end, and while it makes it a challenge to sing along, it also adds a personal touch to songs which are by now very familiar in the audience’s mind. The spoken word that concludes ‘As Rome Burns’ (“So throw your dice and cast your shadow/You may look away but your children will not…”) gets a goosebump shiver as always, as does the honouring of “comrades near and far” in the semi-autobiographical “Bloodied Yet Unbowed”.
Rounding out on the triumphant heavy metal anthem ‘Empire Falls’, the crowd are fully engaged and pumping their fists, singing along with the by-now classic chorus: “Where is the fighting man?/Am I he?/You would trade every truth/For hollow victory”. A truly successful performance, having reaffirmed fans’ love of Primordial and no doubt kindled interest in a few new faces. The blazing sun was no barrier to the intense atmosphere Primordial established, and grasped tenaciously until the end.
Photos by Sabrina Ramdoyal