This was a gig I was really excited for. When I saw Flotsam and Jetsam at Bloodstock last year they destroyed it, and it was only the Friday afternoon – there was a whole weekend still to go! I raged hard and I was still feeling it upon my return to Glasgow on the Monday. I was looking forward to a repeat performance.
I turned up early to Glasgow’s Stereo, a rather surprising venue as a vegan cafe (with an awesomely vast and diverse selection of European and craft beers) with a tiny downstairs venue which tends to cater to student hipsters’ tastes. It was somewhat bizarre to host a night of thrash metal there but the venue didn’t matter – the size of the room made for a much more intense show.
First up was local Glasgow mainstays Circle of Tyrants. These guys always know how to bring it. It was rather unfortunate that at this early in the night there was a barely a handful of punters in the room, but Circle of Tyrants know how to work with it. They brought their driving thrash with precision attitude and fun as well as engaging with the crowd as if we’re all each other’s mates. It’s always great to see Circle of Tyrants live and their performance is always on point. It just a shame in my opinion that they always seem to play to such tiny audiences as something of a “warm-up act” – I’d love to see them have the opportunity to play to a bigger crowd and really showcase what they can do at full blast.
Following Circle of Tyrants was Edinburgh’s Black Talon. Having spent plenty of time prior to the gig listening to their debut Endless Realities and reviewing it over lunch on gig day, I was really keen to see what they could do in the flesh. It was quite surprising to see the band with a guitar player down (if I remember correctly, his partner had just given birth – congrats man!), especially given that their music is pretty complex in places. However Black Talon rocked it and delivered their brand of thrash on point. High-speed ragers like “Era of Suffering” and “Lunatic Fringe” were high energy, tight, raging but fun. The band, especially frontman Johnny Steele, had great charisma and crowd engagement and overall, Black Talon put on a great performance. I’m really looking forward to seeing Black Talon again in the future, especially in front of a larger crowd and with all 5 men present.
Next up was main support Bliksem. Hailing from Belgium, the name is Dutch/Afrikaans for “Lightning” or in a more derogatory fashion – “Bastard”. I must admit I hadn’t listened to Bliksem prior to the gig so I didn’t know what to expect. Then they started playing. I was pleasantly surprised – their frontwoman certainly has a pair of lungs on her! It’s always refreshing to see a frontwoman who can bark alongside the boys, and do it well, especially when so many bands with female singers tend to go down the Nightwish-esque operatic vocal route. The band are certainly nothing to sniff at either – the music was heavy, fast and full of energy and fun. The crowd had grown by the time Bliksem had hit the stage and the band had certainly engaged with us and got everyone in the mood for a mosh. They have definitely won me over and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Bliksem in the future.
Finally the time had come for the main event. The room had finally packed out by the time Flotsam and Jetsam took the stage and throughout the set, madness ensued. Flotsam and Jetsam recaptured that Bloodstock performance but in a smaller venue, the intensity was amplified. The setlist couldn’t have been better. Beginning with “No Place for Disgrace”, classic after classic F&J followed through old-skool thrashers like “Dreams of Death”, “Iron Tears” and “Hammerhead”, to slower numbers like “Suffer the Masses”and “Swatting at Flies”, to epics like “Doomsday for the Deceiver”. It’s brilliant to see that old-skoolers like Flotsam and Jetsam still have it. Considering they are in their third decade as a band, a lot of other musicians at this stage of their career might have lost it – some part of their sound or energy that they once had when they were young is gone. But when Flotsam and Jetsam hit the stage, it’s like it’s 1984-1990 all over again – and I wasn’t even born then!
Flotsam and Jetsam’s musicianship is razor-sharp with the band playing tight and on point. The standout is of course frontman Eric A.K. – if you’ve heard any of the screams on the original “Doomsday for the Deceiver”, you’ll know what I’m talking about. He can still hit those notes in addition to delivering a solid, energetic performance with conviction. As for the crowd, we felt it. Throughout the entirety of the show there were heads banging, mosh pits raging and stagedivers aplenty. We were lost in the music and the performance, and I hope we gave Flotsam and Jetsam a reason to return to Scotland. This was their first time in Scotland and we showed them what they were missing out on.
Flotsam and Jetsam brought an awesome night of classic thrash to Glasgow and proved to be triumphant. It was energetic, fun and unforgettable. I can honestly say it’s one of the best gigs, if not the best gig I’ve been to this year – I’d even go so far to say Flotsam and Jetsam, both times I’ve seen them, have been some of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. If you get the chance to see Flotsam and Jetsam, buy yourself tickets to the gig. Don’t even think about it. Go, rock out and have a great time since Flotsam and Jetsam and their live performance guarantee an awesome gig. Finally, if the Flotsam and Jetsam are reading this review, please come back to Scotland if you get the chance – you thrashed Glasgow hard and we will be more than happy to have you back.
Flotz ’til Death!
All band photos by James Costin
Flotsam and Jetsam/Bliksem 2015 European tour poster from the Flotsam and Jetsam official Facebook page