Joe Costello chances across a night of aural extremes.
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs,
The Mill, Digbeth
Around halfway through the set, vocalist Matthew Baty addresses the elephant in the room. “You may have noticed over the last eighteen months that my body has shapeshifted into that of a Pound Shop Freddie Mercury.” We all laugh. “You were all thinking it!” We all were. But judge for yourself from my terrible photo.
Earlier he’d expressed his pleasure at performing in Birmingham once again. “The source,” as he described it, the home of their greatest influence, before namechecking UB40. He was joking of course, as a glance at the black-clad guitarist sporting dark glasses and a handlebar moustache and welding a Gibson SG betrayed the Newcastle band’s true inspiration as hailing from Aston rather than Balsall Heath.
This was a gig I attended primarily for the social aspect rather than the music, offering the opportunity to catch up with some friends I’d not seen since The Before Times. I’d not been sold on the band’s recorded content but live they are a different proposition. I was expecting volume and got it, although our position under the balcony probably saved my ears from a greater battering, probably for the best as they blast through an hour’s worth of chunky, sludgy riffs. I’ve had to look up the song titles but Blood and Butter, Reducer and Sweet Relief – another obvious nod to their spiritual forebears – should give you a clue as to what to expect.
As with pretty much every band I’ve seen over the last couple of months, the joy and release of the performers is palpable. In this instance they are touring in support of an album that was released the best part of two years ago and the show was predictably one that had been rescheduled. I shan’t be so reticent about seeing them next time they come round.