There’s not many bands that can claim they’ve been honoured by their countries president. President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga awarded The Hu with the highest state decoration of Mongolia: the Chinggis Khaan Order. There’s also not many bands that can play tours in North America and Europe to shows that are either sold out or very nearly. The Hu have managed to do all of this and have only relatively recently released their critically acclaimed debut album “The Gereg”. For a band who formed back in 2016 they’ve had a meteoric rise in popularity that most musicians can only dream of. This will be the first time that I’ve seen these guys live and when they announced they were playing in Glasgow I was excited, but also slightly surprised, that a relatively young band could fill a venue as large as the Garage.
Texas-based “Fire From The Gods” are the opening act tonight. I checked them out prior to the gig online as they weren’t a group I was familiar with before. I have to admit there hasn’t been much new music coming out of America that I’ve been overly interested in. Back in the day most of the thrash and death metal I listened to was American but since then nothing much has caught my ear. These guys play a poppy metalcore style which seems very prevalent across the Atlantic but it’s not a genre I’ve had much time for.
Unfortunately tonight the sound guy doesn’t seem to be doing them any favours. I thought perhaps the reason the sound was so muddy and unclear was because I was watching the gig from up on the balcony but later when The Hu was on it was fine. The guitars seem to be lost a bit in the mix and when singer AJ Channer chats in between songs it’s not always easy to make out what he’s saying. The band plough on regardless with the guitarists and bass player orbiting singer AJ like little moshing satellites. AJ really towers over the rest of the guys and is quite an imposing figure on stage with lots of stage presence. Apparently he had a bit of a cold this evening and you can hear later on in the set that his voice is struggling, but respect for going on when you’re not feeling your best. They’re well received by the Glasgow crowd tonight, they obviously have a few fans here already, but due to the bad sound I’m not sure how many new ones they’ll have won over. For me the stand-out track of their set is the infectiously catchy “Right Now” with melodies that seem a bit stronger than some of their other songs. The band give it their all but ultimately they’re let down by a less than stellar sound.
The ear splitting roar from the crowd that greets The Hu almost takes the roof of the venue. The audience and the band punch the air to the opening strains of the crowd pleasing “Shoog Shoog”. Jaya, the lead throat singer, is incredibly expressive in his body language. Throwing his hair around, skipping across the stage, arms outstretched and soaring like an eagle, as he encourages the crowd along. Gala and Jaya are the main focal point of the show but with eight musicians on stage there’s a lot going on.
The audience tonight is quite a mix of people. From the young and the old, from metal fans clad in leather to people who look like they’ve just come from their work. Perhaps that’s part of the secret to their popularity: that their music seems to cross all divides. There’s no crowd surfing or mosh pit tonight just lots of smiling faces and people singing along to the easier, and more pronounceable sections of the songs. There’s also no smoke machines or pyro. The music and the band provide their own atmosphere and these things aren’t missed at all. I wondered how a band who only have one album could fill a headlining set but they managed 13 songs which included the entirety of “The Gereg” album. I didn’t recognise the extra songs that they played but they fitted seamlessly into the performance. It’s difficult to pick favourites from the show, as they were all great, but highlights for me were probably “Wolf Totem”, “The Great Chinggis Khann” and “Yuve Yuve Yu”.
At the end of the night I realised why a band, with only one album, can sell out so many shows. While they are unique, and have a novel approach to playing metal, they are also a phenomenal live act. It was a great night and hopefully we’ll see many more albums and tours from them in the future.
Review – Martin Patterson
Images – Lara Vischi