To state that I arrived (later than planned due to our friends at ScotRail) at the Classic Grand in Glasgow to see what, I am sure most folks would agree, was an insanely good line up on the Campaign for Musical Destruction tour with a degree of excitement, would be somewhat of an understatement.
My malfunctioning train meant that I sadly missed most of grindcore titans Lock Up’s early set but from what I caught of the band towards the end, they looked to be on top form with new singer Kevin Sharp clearly enjoying his role in the band. The packed crowd obviously shared his enthusiasm lapping up all these guys had to give. Special note has to go to bassist Shane Embury who was completing the first of his triple shift tonight (playing with both Brujeria and his main band and headliners Napalm Death). I wondered if he could keep up such a frenetic pace…
Next up was a band I must confess not to knowing too much about, Dallas thrashers Power Trip but I was left well and truly impressed with their style of heavy old school thrash metal. After having earned their stripes on the underground circuit over the last ten years or so, Power Trip have truly established themselves as a power and deserved their place on this esteemed roster.
As soon as the opening strains of the excellent “Soul Sacrifice” from latest album Nightmare Logic wafted over the hordes, it was clear that a large portion of the audience was in to see these guys, judging by the ferocity and size of the ensuing pit and volume of crowd surfers. The band went on to produce an outstanding wall of classic heavy thrash, unleashing some of the most face meltingly good riffs I have had the pleasure to hear. They are in their element in the live environment.
Pulled mainly from their latest album, their set was relatively short and sweet but had the crowd in raptures for most of it, with “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” being a real standout, surely a future classic. Ebullient singer Riley Gale enjoyed some good banter with the crowd including teeing up followers Brujeria nicely for some further Donald Trump bating by asking the crowd “You know what we do to Presidents in Dallas, right”? Final number “Crossbreaker” from 2013’s Manifest Decimation went down a storm and left the crowd ecstatic and the security guys with sore arms!
Brujeria are a band that need little introduction, despite remaining both mysterious and infamous in equal measure. I hadn’t had the chance to catch these guys live before given what a rare event it has become, and so it was with a fair degree of anticipation from both myself and the audience as a whole, that we welcomed these Mexican bandits to the stage. Bedecked in their trademark bandanas obscuring their faces they really looked the part.
When they launched into their brutally grinding set, the pent-up electric atmosphere exploded and the crowd went berserk creating wave after wave of crowd surfers. Set highlights included brilliant anthems “Marcha de Odio” from 2000’s Brujerizimo, new tracks “Angel de la Frontera”, “Viva Presidente Trump” (ably backed by the crowd), and of course closer “Matando Gueros” (complete with machetes).
The newer tracks on show more than held their own against older classics and are as controversial as ever. These guys really do have a stage presence like no other and twin frontmen Jaun and Pinche Peach have the crowd in the palms of their hands throughout, despite them having to translate their banter several times for us sweaty gringos. Juan even showed off his Macarena dance moves for final parody song “Marijuana”.
Brujeria are hard to forget and finally seeing them live will live long in the memory. As will the sight of Shane Embury who, after his second stint of the night, left the stage remarkably full of steam.
And so to the main event and again another band that needed little introduction to either the crowd, or indeed any fan of extreme music, the truly legendary Napalm Death. However, that doesn’t stop the very affable frontman Barney Greenway giving us one anyway…it is a nice touch and goes down a treat. The band open with the title track from their latest album Apex Predator before launching into the meat and bones of the set which includes “Metaphorically Screw You”, “Stubborn Stains” and “Dear Slum Landlord”, all from the same recent release and all, I think it’s fair to say, went down a real storm.
After more than thirty years of recording and touring and a profligacy on both fronts which would put younger bands to shame, the knowledgeable crowd are no stranger to the Brummy grinders’ back catalogue and classics such as “From Enslavement to Obliteration”, “Scum” and “Suffer the Children” are welcomed like old friends. Equally, lesser played tracks such as “Twist the Knife” from Fear, Emptiness and Despair and “Christening the Blind” from Utopia Banished also get an airing, further adding to the delightful aural punishment.
Barney is at his usual charismatic and animated self with a nice mix of banter, telling the audience to “concentrate” after almost missing “You Suffer”, interspersed with his serious political rants which, never more topical, clearly drive his enthusiasm and have formed the basis for most of Napalm’s lyrical themes over the years.
The one slight issue with their show is the sub-par guitar sound, which guitarist John Cooke had to repeatedly ask to be turned up during the early part of the set. Although it improves it seems to lacks its usual punch. But, hey, given the ridiculously high expectations this band have set, and always met for me over the years, this is a relatively trivial issue and doesn’t diminish my overall enjoyment too much.
The band finish with three covers; The Offenders’ “Face Down in the Dirt”; “Hate, Fear and Power” by Californian thrashers Hirax and of course the ubiquitous, and as topical as ever, “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” by the Dead Kennedys which, as always, whips the already rabid crowd into even more of a frenzy. To bring some “calm”to proceedings, Napalm finish with renditions of “Persona Non-Grata”and “Smear Campaign”. No-one wanted to leave but alas we had to, but at least we left exhausted and elated.
Napalm Death in their pomp are simply untouchable and tonight they once again showed everyone how it’s done. The fact that they continue to write such phenomenally good extreme music after thirty years and still can deliver it live with the venom and precision of their youth is simply outstanding. So too is the fact that Shane made it to end of the set standing up… well done that man!
All photos by Kerri Clarke of Exposing Shadows Photography from the Belfast show in March. Note that Shane Embury didn’t appear that night as Brujeria were playing another date elsewhere.