Arriving at the venue early, so as to conduct interviews with Textures and Amorphis, we came across Ramage Inc frantically unloading their gear with a couple of parking wardens looking critically on. Credit to the wardens who allowed them to unload before moving them as the double yellow lines running the length of Union Street would have meant the guys humphing their mountain of gear around town.
The Glasgow Cathouse on Union Street, I have to admit, isn’t one of my favourite venues and my heart always sinks a little when I hear that a band that I like is playing there. While the venue itself is fine it’s the sound system that can sometimes be a bit hit and miss for me. While I’ve seen some great gigs there I have also had the misfortune to sit through sets where the sound man has decided to pump the volume up a few more notches than the sound system can handle resulting in a distorted ear splitting mess.
Edinburgh based Ramage Inc are first on tonight and fortunately the sound quality is perfect right from the start. I talked to their drummer Hammy after their set and they did manage to have time for a sound check which, considering there’s four bands on this evening, is great and nice to see Amorphis giving their support bands time for this.
The band kick off with “Transparency” from their latest album Earth Shaker. You can read the Moshville review of the album here. On their facebook page the band describe themselves as being “ Ambient, progressive metal” and list their influences as being “Devin Townsend, Vast, NIN, Deftones, Opeth, The Gathering”.
While it’s still early, the start time being 6:30pm on a Thursday, a decent number of people have shown up to see these guys and their brand of progressive metal has quite a few nodding and clapping along. I haven’t heard any other Scottish band play in this style and they certainly present something a bit different and are one of the more original sounding bands on the local scene. They follow up with “So far, away” and I’m immediately struck with how precise and tight they are as a band. Bass player Marcin lays down some truly thunderously low bass lines on his five string, the keyboards sounds layered over their tracks sound great, coupled with some outstanding riffs, and a great sense of melody mean these guys are a band to watch out for. I’ve been wanting to see the band for quite some time and they didn’t disappoint this evening. If you’re a fan of the likes of Devin Townsend, or the other previously mentioned influences, then they are definitely a band you should be checking out. Great stuff, and a great start to the night.
Ramage Inc Set list:
- Intro (Loss)
- So far away
- Don’t bring me down
Greek progressive rock/metal band Poem, who are based in Athens, are up next. Even though the band was founded back in 2006 and have two albums out, the latest being Skein Syndrome, this is the first time I’ve come across them. Metal Hammer described their debut album as “The best Greek debut album since the ’00s and one of the 10 best albums of the Greek metal scene ever released” so I was keen to see what these guys were like.
Opening with “Passive Observer” from Skein Syndrome, I find myself drawn to watching bass player Stratos who slaps his way through the bands first song. It’s quite mesmerizing to watch his unusual playing style. The track, and the rest of their set, is quite varied musically and dynamically shifting effortlessly between softer passages and growlier heavier sections. They aren’t really a band that you would start a pit to, instead they play a more thoughtful and complex music enjoyed by the crowd who nod along listening intently.
Second song “Fragments” has an almost Opeth type vibe going on and like the rest of their material it goes down very well with the crowd here. For the final song “Remission Of Breath” singer Giorgos Prokopiou puts down his guitar, freeing him to jump around more to this one. I didn’t know the bands material before tonight but I really enjoyed the musicianship on display particularly the interplay between guitarist Laurence Bergstrom and bass player Stratos Chaidos where they played some two handed tapping sections in unison. Poem played what seemed like a very short set and I’d liked to have heard a bit more of them. They’re an interesting band to listen to and I’ll definitely be checking out their material in the future.
Poem Set List:
- Passive Observer
- Remission Of Breath
After a short intro tape of strange atmospheric noises, the darkened stage bursts into light, and Textures hit the stage for what turns out to be a bit of a change of pace. “Regenesis” from the 2006 album Drawing Circles opens their set and from the get go the band is a mass of swirling hair and energy. “How’s everyone doing tonight?” results in a surprisingly loud cheer for a support act. They obviously have quite a few fans in tonight. To be honest I’m not a fan of metalcore, it’s one of the few rock/metal genres that I’m just not that keen on, but Textures incorporate enough of a progressive element tonight to keep it interesting for me. It’s undeniable that the band function like a well oiled machine, very tight, and singer Daniël de Jongh is very much on form. He chats to the crowd between songs and encourages them to clap along. “Shaping a Single Grain of Sand” proves to be a crowd favourite and has quite a few nodding along. It seems like quite a small stage for these guys but they still manage to move and jump around especially bass player Uri Dijk who spends much of the set twirling in circles and pogo’ing around. “How many of you guys have seen Textures before?”, by the crowd reaction it doesn’t seem to be many, “How many have heard of Textures before?”, this brings a bigger cheer from the audience.
The bands progressive and jazzy take on the metalcore genre are popular with those who came along tonight and they suitably warmed the crowd up for the main band tonight.
Textures Set list:
- Shaping a single grain of Sand
- Reaching Home
The smoke machine in the venue is working overtime as each of the members of Amorphis takes to the stage, each accompanied by a huge cheer; the largest of which is reserved for singer Tomi Joutsen. The band launch into “Under the Red Cloud” from their new album of the same name. My heart instantly sank slightly as the curse of the Cathouse sound system seemed to take hold. It sounded like the sound man had indeed decided to pump up the volume slightly and the result was the all too familiar distortion. Fortunately this resolved itself fairly quickly though and normal service was speedily resumed after some tweaking on the sound desk.
I asked bass player Niclas how the new songs were being received on the tour (interview coming soon) as often people either haven’t heard the newest album, aren’t overly familiar with it yet, or are more interested in the older material. Any worries I may have had were swept away with this first track. Glasgow seems to love the new stuff with quite a few members of the crowd near the front going ape shit with their long hair moshing in time with these modern classics. I have to comment on singer Tomi’s mic stand, made from pipes and gauges it has a very cool steam punk aesthetic, although he never actually seems to use it. It might not be practical but it does look cool.
During “Sacrifice” keyboard player Santeri Kallio is clearly enjoying himself as he smiles over at the crowd. While many metal musicians can take on quite an aggressive persona when playing guitarist Tomi on the other hand always looks very mellow and content and just generally happy to be there.
The band run through a selection of crowd pleasers from their extensive back catalog. For me my highlights were tracks such as “Sky is Mine” from the awesome 2009 Skyforger album, I love the delay on the guitar part on this. It was great to hear some old stuff such as “Drowned Maid” from the classic Tales from a Thousand Lakes. On “Dark Path” I really noticed Tomi’s vocals, his growling voice just sounds immense. Of course during the encore they played the, what must now be obligatory, classic track “Silver Bride”.
Amorphis have the laid back brilliance of a band who really don’t need to prove anything to anyone any more. They are confident in themselves and their music. Of course they are great live, you can’t sustain a career that spans over twenty five years if you can’t pull it off on stage. It’s been a couple of years since we last saw them and I hope it’s not so long until we see them again. An awesome set from an incredible band.
Amorphis Set List:
- Under the Red Cloud
- Bad Blood
- Sky is Mine
- On Rich and Poor
- Drowned Maid
- Dark Path
- Four Wise Ones
- Silent Waters
- My Kantele
- Hopeless Days
- House of Sleep
- Death of a King
- Silver Bride