Amon Amarth/Huntress/Savage Messiah
The Hub, Plymouth, UK
Saturday 17th January 2015
The show was sold out in advance. Anticipation was high. So it was a shock when, just over an hour before doors, this announcement was made:
“It is with regret that we must inform you that Johan Hegg, vocalist of Amon Amarth has been taken ill today and has completely lost his voice. Despite all efforts to treat him, including a hospital visit, he is unable to perform tonight. The show must go on though and the band want YOU to come and raise your Viking voices at The Hub in Johan’s stead, they will still perform as planned with support from Huntress and Savage Messiah. We wish Johan a speedy recovery for the rest of the tour and hope you will still join us tonight.”
In all fairness, the 11th hour announcement came after a lot of backroom chin-scratching, beard-stroking, and, no doubt, a fair amount of hair-tearing!
Doors opened on time, and within minutes, SAVAGE MESSIAH were taking to the stage, smacking the early-comer’s wind-chilled faces with ‘Iconocaust’!
Without pausing for breath, frontman Dave Silver introduced ‘Cross Of Babylon’. Flanked by Mira Slama (bass), Joff Bailey (guitar), the trio waste no time, hitting their stride, striking the poses, and beckoning the ever-growing crowd. Holding it all together, Andrea Gorio was supplying the machine gun double bass and ear-piercing snare from alongside Bailey at the front of the stage. From this unusual vantage point, I’m sure I saw him sigh a ‘FFS’ sigh, as he counted in ‘The Fateful Dark’, such was the relentless pace of the set.
Savage Messiah is band that defies pigeonholing. They are a Metal band, first and foremost. A confident, tour-hardened, efficient crowd-slaying machine! A band that played the ‘opening act’ role to perfection tonight. A band that left the stage with a rapturous crowd wanting more. There would have been even more ‘Savages’ baying for more, but for a faff on the door, slowing entrance into the venue.
By the time HUNTRESS took to the stage, a capacity, warmed up, boozed up, eager crowd were waiting. Huntress are one of those bands that have built up a bit of a myth around themselves, not least thanks to leader Jill Janus’ self-confessed reliance on Tarot and ‘visions’ to guide their fate, and the jealousy-fuelled ‘fake tits, false metal’-type comments from others.
In the event, opening with the title track from their debut album, ‘Spell Eater’, I found them to be a more than capable Heavy Metal band, with a dynamic, engaging frontperson in Janus. I don’t subscribe to this ‘female-fronted’ label. It’s irrelevant, unless sex is your only gimmick, and judging by Jill’s relatively demure attire tonight, that is far from the case…
…which brings me to the difficulty I do have with Huntress. Their penultimate song tonight, is possibly their most accessible track. Great. Except it’s called ‘I Want To Fuck You To Death’! If I was the 15-year-old me, tossing off to the lingerie section of the Gratton catalogue (it was a simpler time!), then fine… but I’m not. I’m a grown up, who believes in equality and non-objectification. Still, it’s a great song though. Tonight’s set ended with ‘Eight Of Swords’, another great track, ensuring they left to a deafening roar, but it wasn’t to be the last we saw of Jill Janus tonight.
In light of the bad news that preceded tonight’s show, it was great testament to AMON AMARTH to honour the fans, many of whom had travelled some distance, to carry on with the show.
Due to the epic nature of their songs, they transposed into instrumental versions pretty well, actually, aided by a choreographed light show and some well- timed dry ice cannons. It was pleasing to see The Hub rammed to capacity, with a crowd hell-bent on having a good time, with plenty of impromptu gang vocals breaking out, accompanying the melodies, and chants of “Johan! Johan!” between songs.
Jill Janus came back to the stage to banter with the crowd. “Johan has been battling bad Vikings all day…” she quipped, creating some fantastical tale. She ended with a blunt “Actually, no. His voice is fucked!”
Janus returned to the stage later to provide a welcome and capable vocal to a well-received version of ‘Guardians Of Asgaard’, complete with some great crowd interaction.
Three more instrumental renditions followed, before a ‘special treat’. One lucky fan was plucked from the crowd to join the band on stage, performing ‘Twilight Of The Thunder God’ and finishing with ‘The Pursuit Of Vikings’. To be fair, he did a bloody good job. It all added to a ‘we’re in this together’ vibe, and ensured a massive cheer, beaten only by the appearance of Johan Hegg himself on stage… albeit, in a non-speaking role!
The night was well and truly saved. The horned helmets seemed satisfied, at least.
We wish a speedy recovery to Johan Hegg. You were missed tonight.
The tour now continues on throughout Europe. The remaining dates are:
19 Rescue Rooms – Nottingham, UK
21 Waterfront – Norwich, UK
22 Arts Center – Colchester, UK
23 O2 Academy 2 – Oxford, UK
24 Sugarmill – Stoke On Trent, UK
25 Academy 2 – Manchester, UK
27 Classic Grand – Glasgow, UK
28 Stylus – Leeds, UK
29 Newcastle University – Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
30 The Assembly – Leamington Spa, UK
31 1865 – Southampton, UK
02 Le 106 – Rouen, France
03 La Cartonnerie – Reims, France
04 L’Autre Canal – Nancy, France
05 La Paloma – Nimes, France
06 Sala Santana – Bilbao, Spain
07 Sala Razzmatazz – Barcelona, Spain
08 La Riviera – Madrid, Spain
10 Paradise Garage – Lisbon, Portugal
11 Hard Club – Porto, Portugal
12 Captol – Santiago, Spain
14 La Cooperative de Mai – Clermont Ferrand, France
15 La Laiterie – Strasbourg, France
Review and Gallery: Rob Nankivell]]>