Live Review: Massive – Bannermans, Edinburgh

It seems that the gods conspire against Aussie mentalists Massive every time they play Scotland. Last tour, they had to contend with multiple sold-out shows happening on the same night they parked the tour bus up. This time, it’s just the small matter of not only Kiss playing along the road in Glasgow, but also Black Stone Cherry. It seems that lightning can strike the same band twice after all, but rather than chuck their collective dummies out of the pram, they set out to put on another riotous, memorable show for those who came.

The Swamp Born Assassins, MassiveThe Swamp Born Assassins made the short journey along the motorway from Glasgow to kick the evening off in fine style. Playing a devilish brand of “Swamp Rock”, the six-piece outfit certainly fill the small stage at Bannermans. There are plenty of “Swampers” in the crowd, and they are making their presence felt as the band steamroller through a short 30 minute set. Frontman Charlie Moffat has discarded his usual stage garb, and goes for the tried and trusted cut-off shirt, a wise decision considering that Bannermans is toasty regardless of what the weather is like outside. New album ‘Dead Man’s Train’ features heavily in the set. The title track, the heavy, brooding grooves of ‘Blot Out The Sun’, and ‘The Weeping Tree’ all feature alongside older material such as ‘Crawl’ and ‘The Gator Hole’. All too quickly, the set is over, and The Swamps zoom back along the motorway before the guards on the Edinburgh/Glasgow border get back from their tea break. Job done.

Gorilla Riot, MassiveProviding main support on this run of dates are Manchester’s finest; Gorilla Riot. Arjun Bhishma, one of three guitarists (four, including bassist James Degnen) is probably the most laid-back frontman you will encounter either side of the M60. Gorilla Riot are one of those bands likely to cause a few arguments between anyone trying to describe them. Black Stone Cherry is just one of the names often bandied about during comparisons. No! Just no! Gorilla Riot do not sound like Black Stone Cherry, neither of the three guitars on display sound like chugging trains, so let’s end that discussion. You want comparisons? Think Stoner without the fuzz, think ‘Exile On Main Street’ meets ‘The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion’ with Layne Staley on vocals. Capische? In a live setting, Gorilla Riot seem to like it loose. You get the impression that no-one is in a rush, and I kind of like that. It’s almost like a jam session at times, and you feel the band couldn’t play the same show two nights in a row, even if they tried. Songs aren’t introduced, you either know them or you don’t, but you soon will. Current single ‘Young Guns’ is mesmerising, while ‘Bad Son’ is arguably the finest track released by a fledgling UK band in the last few years. The playing on offer from all five members is stunning. Special mentions go to drummer Will Lewis who plays with such a deft touch, and guitarist Charley T. with his custom Gibson SG. Insert attention seeking line here, along the lines of, “Gorilla Riot – remember the name.”, but let’s be honest, with a name like that, you aren’t going to forget them. Instead, how about, “Gorilla Riot – something a little bit different from the rest”?

Even before they have had time to strike a note, the bad luck continues for Massive. The band are ready to go, and guitarist/vocalist Brad Marr is having some issues with his guitar. Looks like part of the head is in the process of breaking off! The trusty gaffa tape is called upon and, hey presto, we are good to go. Straight into the heads-down boogie of ‘Generation Riot’. Just as well that gaffa tape was to hand.

Yet to catch Massive live? Basically, it’s four nutters throwing the rule book out of the window and playing like it’s their last night on earth. Things happen at a Massive gig that don’t tend to happen at a “normal” gig. Last time it was guitarist Ben Laguda bolting from the stage mid-solo to dash to the toilet. This time it’s Ben dealing with an irritating nose hair, and winding Brad Marr up by constantly flicking him on the nipple as he is trying to sing! It takes more than a nipple flick to put Brad off though. Somehow, the on stage discussion turns to hair being plaited, which results in Brad calling a young lady up from the crowd to plait his hair while he tackles ‘Bullet’. Like I said, the rule book goes out the window at a Massive gig.

It’s not just mucking around though; Massive put in a shift on stage as they blitz their way through five years worth of music. As good as the albums are, the material comes alive on a stage. ‘One By One’, ‘Lacey’, ‘Hollywood’, ‘One For The Road’, ‘Roses’ – every one of them a banger. Then there are the ass-shaking grooves on ‘Dancefloor’ where drummer Andrew Greentree and bassist Brenny Kewish take over. Then there’s ‘Ghost’; if ever a song could be filed under “why wasn’t this a hit?”, then it’s this beauty.

MassiveThe fact that Kiss etc are just along the road is not lost on the band, and they seem genuinely happy that so many have made the effort to turn up on a Tuesday night. Marr jokes that they might be a bit unprofessional, but once the set ends, he is straight to the merch desk handing out leaflets to everyone on the way out. Everyone that passes is thanked for coming and gets a leaflet saying that the band are back in 2020. It states, “We are self managed, self funded and self booked. There are no hand-outs in rock n roll. So if you enjoy what we do, help us make it Massive”.

Massive deserve a break. Sometime soon their luck must change. It’s a long way from Melbourne, so stick them on a major tour and watch them not only warm the crowd up for the headliner, but steal their audience. We bloody love ’em.

Review – Dave S

Images – Dave J

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