“I’m….determined to exercise my freedom to rock and to pay my respects to those yesterday who just wanted to do the same”.
I was feeling pretty low, shocked and scared by the atrocities committed in Paris the night before and harbouring a cold that made my head feel like wet cotton wool. And yet I knew I must attend the show tonight, I just hadn’t quite articulated it yet. Then I got the above text from my gig buddy, Andy (also of TINAS) and at once everything became clear. Something had struck at the heart of the rock community and we needed to rally, stand together and carry on.
In a way what better band to embody the belief in life over death, love over hate and the power of rock than Pentagram? Surely their very existence, and their appearance in London tonight is testament to all that is good in music and the world in general. With the help of loved ones and fans Bobby Leibling is back from near death, the fans are here to show their love and appreciation of a band finally getting their moment in the sun, and that band is going to ROCK. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
It’s an early start tonight so by the time I charge into the O2, Black Moth are rampaging through ‘Looner‘ and then close things with a raging and epic ‘Honey Lung‘. Their time spent recently opening for the The Sisters of Mercy has obviously seen them work on their stage craft, and even in the ten minutes I catch of them I’m left startled at how quickly this bunch is becoming one of the best rock bands in the country. That’s quite an opening act.
So what poor saps have to follow that? Sweden’s The Order of Israfel, that’s who! I tried to catch these guys at Desertfest earlier this year and got my timing all mixed up so am glad to get the chance here, but boy do we get off on the wrong foot. I don’t have any song titles for you, but they open with a track with possibly the dumbest lyrics I’ve ever heard, all punctuated by silly gurning and tongue flicking from lead singer Tom Sutton. The sound is classic 1980’s Scandinavian doom, all delays into the downbeat and plodding dinosaur rhythms. I spend the song wondering whether they are a novelty act and looking in astonishment at the couple in front of me going nuts, whilst still managing to film it all on their phones. Anyway, once the band introduce themselves and have a bit of banter with the crowd I mellow towards them. Time is tight though and TOOI‘s songs are of the usual doom metal extravagant length, meaning that we only get three more numbers. I have to say that although none are as silly as the first, if this is a set of their strongest tunes then they really are quite poor. When they ditch the studied torpor of doom and race off into melodic 70’s style rock they are pretty good, but I find my mind wandering during their songs and marvelling at the fact their drummer is a dead ringer of Odin from The Mighty Thor comics of my youth. Hey ho.
The crowd goes absolutely nuts when Pentagram appear, and if the sirens of the fashion police were blaring in response to Bobby Leibling‘s deep red satin tunic then they could not be heard. Having never seen the band I was pretty worried that this gig would be a little patronising – Cult artists lap up the applause for the career that they deserved, but never had, as a band carries gamely through tunes the singer can no longer ably perform. I’m glad to say my fears were allayed by the time second number ‘All Your Sins’ kicks in and the crowd goes event wilder. As the night goes on Leibling gets ever more confident and animated and sparks of the legendary front man of rock lore are very visible. The band, who I was a little disparaging about on my review of ”Curious Volume”, are tight and committed and the whole thing just feels like a great, regular, rock n’ roll event, rather than the sad freak show of my worst fears.
Did Pentagram play every song I would have wanted? No. Does the set list seem a little one paced? Yes. Does any of that really matter on a night where we all enjoyed our freedom to rock, whilst remembering the lives of the poor innocent victims of some madmen across the Channel? Of course it doesn’t. The band finish with an encore of ‘Last Days Here’ and ‘Be Forewarned’ which no one could complain about, and we all leave happy and more importantly, alive to rock another day.