Tue 21st December 2004
Support from Witchcraft, Blood Island Raiders
A nice Christmas present to the fans, this gig was from Cathedral, who tonight are playing one of London's smaller venues. Having not been to the Garage before, I'm immediately taken by its simple layout (a large room with a bar at one end and a stage at the other) and the high degree of intimacy afforded by such a set-up. I come to this conclusion while watching the end of a solid - nay, a damn good Blood Island Raiders set. Having never heard the Raiders before I was unsure of what to expect, but what I do get is doom-soaked rock and roll, the kind of stuff that is always good no matter when or where you hear it. The Raiders close their set with a new song, dedicated to recently deceased guitar legend Dimebag Darrell, and it's an epic, heavy number with plenty of good guitar work and riffage in it. Next time I see these guys I'll try and catch the start of their set as well. Good stuff.
I prop myself in a corner near the stage, well placed for having maximum ear damage incurred by the large PA system, with a pint and watch Witchcraft. I'd been hearing a lot about these guys over the year, but was unsure as to whether I'd really get off on their retro seventies vibe. Evidently I do, however, as within three songs I'm nodding contentedly away and smiling. I'm distracted at one point in the set, however, when I notice I'm standing right behind Lee Dorrian and Ben Ward, and the rest of the set sort of drifts by in a bit of a blur. Still good stuff though, it's retro but not in a shit NME way, instead it's in a really fucking good classic rock way, i.e. not deriviative. I have to check these guys out more.
After exchanging a few words with the ex-drummer of Firebird, during when I find out that Firebird have effectively split up, much to my disappointment, I position myself right at the front for Cathedral's set. This is the fifth time I've seen Cathedral, and maybe the fact that I've seen them four times in the past six months is the reason for my slight lack of excitement at this gig. I mean, after you've seen a band so many times, you start to know what you're getting, although fortunately with a band like Cathedral you get one thing - a damn good show - as the consistent factor. But even so, there's a slight feeling that I've been overdoing it a bit recently. This gig could be great, or it could be a bit of same old same old.
Fortunately, it's the former. Cathedral enter and launch into 'Utopian Blaster' and follow that with 'Enter the Worms' (oh yes!) and 'Soul Sacrifice' (oh fuck yes!). Three songs I've never heard live before, the crowd is going nicely and it's obvious tonight's gig is going to be a bit different. Staple favourites such as 'Skullflower', 'Night of the Seagulls' and 'Congregation of Sorcerers' share with lesser-played songs such as 'The Carnival Bizarre' and most notably 'Cosmic Funeral' - a song which is one of Cathedral's very best and which is played tonight for the first time in fucking ages. I go nuts, and so does the crowd. There's a stagediver or a crowdsurfer landing on me every minute, we're being pushed right against the barrier, bouncing around, it's all good. Halfway through the set comes a new song from the forthcoming album, it's slowish and long and Sabbathy and to my deafened ears it sounds like one of the best things they've done since 'The Carnival Bizarre'. A thumping 'Ride' and a manic 'Hopkins (Witchfinder General)' with what sounds suspiciously like the riff from 'Electric Grave' stuck in the midsection, close the set. Cathedral sets are never long enough for my liking, but hey, short and sweet is the way to go.
As I file out with my mates into the cold street, I have no complaints about what I've just experienced. Excellent setlist (although nothing off 'Endtyme' - why? and Stained Glass Horizon or Midnight Mountain would have been better than 'Congregation of Sorcerers'), good atmosphere, decent support and quality performances all round make for an evening of riff-fuelled doom metal to savour. That was GOOD.