It seemed quite a swift return for the frontman after his appearance earlier in the year with Vista Chino but then again he is in a relatively productive phase of his career and now with his own solo album to promote/air. Whether the novelty of the return of the seminal stoner/desert rock vocalist has lessened somewhat it was interesting to note that from the days of Kyuss returning and playing the largest Academy 1, this gig had actually been bumped down from Academy 2 to 3, which made for a more intimate evening and one to be all the more appreciated.
After an interlude chilling on the tour bus with the man himself, as you do, and catching up with some friends in the downstairs bar we had unfortunately missed the start of Komatsu’s set by the time we climbed to the top of the stairs. The Dutch band were certainly heavy resembling their bulldozer brand namesake but there was more craft to their song writing than sheer steamrolling. In fact there was more of an epic layered post-metal feel to their closing number, really made me wish I’d seen more but I was still able to pick up a split release they had with the UK’s Desert Storm.
Next up were London’s Steak, who confirmed in a chat after that they were having the best time ever on this European tour with an acknowledged major influence. That heavy rolling riff vibe was evident in their songs, but they consistently stuck to the more up-tempo grooves as opposed to drifting off into the ether too much, solid stuff. Really like their ongoing artwork theme and story of their releases that are available too.
Finally, Mr. Garcia, with pretty much a session band of youngsters although there was no doubting their abilities. In reviewing his new album I didn’t really massively differentiate this material from the rest of his back catalogue, it is still definitively John Garcia’s work. His strident, powerful but ultimately melodic blues roar is the core factor and although his lyrics may get a bit abstract they do get you singing along.
While there may have been some element of greater rock accessibility with the new album tracks they open up with it is a smooth transition (via a guitar change) as they chop and change to the older legendary songs. There’s pretty much all the classics you could want to hear, a rare outing for a track from the short-lived Slo-burn project but no Unida unfortunately for me having enjoyed them so much at Hellfest recently. Fantastic lead bass in one of the old ones at one point too. John’s not one for the banter between songs, a pretty quiet chilled guy away from the mike but there is a warm appreciative atmosphere in the venue, especially with a triple treat of Kyuss to finish strongly.
From his own account he will be working hard on more material as soon as he gets home so it will continue to be intriguing to see what variations on the theme he’ll produce next – I look forward to it.
REVIEW BY: Mark