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Life of Agony + Blood Runs Deep + Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics | Live Review, Glasgow G2

LOA’s unusual model of touring, splitting, recording then hibernating isn’t the only thing that sets them apart.

Gender reassignment aside, in the earnestness displayed amongst many in attendance tonight, it’s clear ‘the idea of’ LOA means something and they’re still a band that people give a shit about.

Songs of suicide and hurt tend to do that. (Though they’ve always shared the same sense of gallows humour as their friends in Type O Negative.)

Aaron Buchanan

Aaron Buchanan et al. do not inspire the same regard. Remember the final Stone Temple Pilots album?

Let’s recap – it was an homage to greasy, slick, unfettered stomp, rock and roll. The Cult Classics sound like that, a bit, except that this is not homage.

Though from the UK they have an unreal ‘Las Vegas’ kind of aura surrounding them, and Buchanan likely would feel equally at home on the stage of some holiday camp in Ty Mawr as he appears to here in the Garage.

Although – yes – he can sing and his band is coherent, there’s a regressive ‘rock radio’ aspect to their sound that diminishes any rationale for to ever hear them again.

It’s as clichéd a cliché as you could cliché.

Blood Runs Deep

Blood Runs Deep fare much better. From Switzerland, touring album Number 2, the 4-piece come across like a heavy metal Cure. Somehow they sound ‘blue’. Damaged tones bleed from speakers as does blood off a razor – in fact their very name evokes that of the headliner’s debut album.

And that isn’t any bad comparison. With keyboards in tow; mood-building interludes – it’s a seductive mix, tastefully portrayed from the stage. A worthy support, worth further study.

Life Of Agony

Any time you see LOA could be the last time you see LOA. Admiringly, they do what suits them, rather than commit to what’s expected of a touring metal band.

But they sound absolutely great, and so much so that you’d never suspect them of a patchy (at best) touring schedule in the 12 years since their last album’s release.

In fact, they sound better than ever – and they haven’t aged! Joey Z and Alan Robert seem relaxed and have fun – vest-tops abound like it’s 1996.

Indeed, the entire band seems happy, reeling off classics and intimating that one good night makes up for the bad ones on tour. Mina, in particular, enjoys her interactions with the crowd and is as comfortable dealing retorts as she is pole dancing onstage!

Bassist Robert lends things a rockabilly vibe, even on ‘Weeds’ (dedicated to the victims of the recent bombing in Manchester) with its bouncy ‘90s chorus.

And there’s an Iron Maiden jam somewhere in there, and ‘Other Side of the River’ brews very nicely at, like 4bpm faster than it had been played on record.

That said, playing just two songs from new record ‘A Place Where There’s No More Pain’ is an oversight. ‘World Gone Mad’ sounds fantastic; the album’s a grower. But that’s how it’s always been:

It’s as though (sporadically) LOA make new albums just to continue to play live the old. No-one knows why, but it is a shame. Four songs total represent their last 3 records.

For fans, maybe what ultimately came from tonight was an opportunity to see people – the real flesh; real blood – perform songs they’ve continued to return to over the last 24 years. The well continues to give.

P. Thomas Donnelly ::: 20/09/17

One Comment
  1. Shame they couldn’t come this far.

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