Stuck Mojo / PDHM / The More I See / Head-On
25 February 2005
I counted 10 people in front of me in line as the doors opened tonight and still managed to miss the first half of Head-On`s opener Break Down The Walls, so early were the band shunted on stage. With barely the blink of an eye they had powered there way through a four song set with Effon`s kit taking up most of the available space on stage, Ross going at it like a man possessed and Mark destroying an air conditioning unit with his giant mallet. As Oz`s powerful riffing closed out Here Comes The Hammer, to say Head-On were forced to leave the crowd wanting more would be a massive understatement which seemed to be echoed by the number of XXL cds being purchased at the merchandise stall.
Head-On set list:
Break The Walls Down / Wrecking Ball / Sunrise / Here Comes The Hammer
The More I See have a difficult sound to pin down and opener Near Extinction was the perfect example of this. Mixing modern Anthrax like riffing with punk pop vocal melodies. A Price On Your Head gives Gizz Butt a chance to show he can shred on the guitar, something that neither his work with the Prodigy nor Janus Stark really hinted at. Despite looking like he`s visited Blackie Lawless` hairdresser, Butt draws your attention as the driving force behind the band.
The staccato riffing of Paralysed provides a perfect back drop for Bonz of Stuck Mojo to make a guest appearance for some rapping. But it`s Violate when The More I See pitch things perfectly between aggressive riffing and melody.
It`s early days for The More I See and their blend of varied influences sometimes pays off and sometimes is a bit jarring. It will be interesting to see how they develop in their quest for a real individual sound.
The More I See set list:
Near Extinction / A Price On Your Head / Paralysed / Violate / The Wolves Are Hungry
I`d forgotten that it was an all ages afternoon show when I had seen PDHM before, so the instant violent pit that kicked off to Burning Inside took me by surprise. Twin vocalist`s Stuart & Alistair McGee do there utmost to kindle the off stage mayhem, prowling the front of the stage with windmilling arms and flying fists. Maybe it`s the fact that they are brothers but the trade of between Stuart`s soaring clean vocals and Alistair`s screaming seems to gel better than a lot of acts who apply the twin vocal approach. Each makes sufficient room for each other`s style, without seeming like they are competing.
Bassist Tony Hopkins, looking more and more like Dimebag, and guitarist Lee Kent keep to their respective sides of the stage, pinning down the backing with drummer Richard Keenan impressively on the likes of Fallen from Grace.
PDHM are undoubtedly a fierce live outfit and the challenge now for them is transferring that to recorded output.
PDHM set list:
Burning Inside / Count Your Blessings / DNR / Who Knows The Unknown / Fallen From Grace / Hell Frozen Over
With Fozzy`s recent UK tour over, the band headed to Heathrow, dropped off Chris Jericho, picked up Bonz and essentially became Stuck Mojo. A clever solution to keeping both bands on the road and with Fozzy so impressive, it`s not surprise that Stuck Mojo are equally on fire. Add to the equation a DVD being filmed at the Underworld tonight and there`s enough incentive for them to destroy, which indeed they do.
Obviously this will be available for all to witness on release of said DVD and will prove you can`t be clever about this, Stuck Mojo were simply awesome.
By second song Mental Meltdown, Bonz had already taken a dive into the pit, an act he repeated during the following (Here Comes) The Monster after he`d incited the largest collective crowd bouncing I`d seen at this venue.
The band prove there`s so much more to performance than just playing your songs, with the fooling about kicking in with Rich Ward starting a Stuck Mojo chant with the help of some chugging on his guitar. Bonz then jokingly complains that his Newcastle Brown Ale had been wasted by the mayhem front of stage, before Ward finds a pound coin and asks for the rightful owner to come forward.
Ward then really shines on Twisted with massive grooves and squealing riffs. Bonz has the crowd in the palm of his hand for the shouted chorus. He then takes time out at the end of the song to point out it`s been six long years and to thank us all for coming out.
You can`t help but nod along to Trick, which sees Ward leaning backward into the crowd, momentarily stopping playing to take a picture of himself with the crowd with a disposable camera before tossing it over his shoulder.
Of course there`s two others members holding the rhythm together and Sean Delson and Bud Fontsere get a chance to take the limelight in a jam showing off each individuals skills, which at one point Ward turns into Black Sabbath`s Paranoid.
There are stage divers galore, including Rockers Digest`s own Johan on two occasions, but when one fan decides to outstay his welcome Ward comically hands his guitar mid-Rising to a roadie, throws the guy into the pit and returns to carry on playing, with laughter all round.
Carrying three pints of lager past the mosh pit whilst FOD is being aired is an experience I will not try to repeat. Mayhem adequately describes the Underworld tonight.
The next section was simply pure comedy. A variety of birthdays leads Ward to play an improvised new song which he calls Black Metal Happy Birthday, which sounded how you`d expect a song with that title to sound. One rather large punter celebrating being another year older is brought up on stage for this number to the obligatory chant of "You fat bastard!", not least from the birthday boy himself. On the conclusion Bonz turns and hits him with, "Now get your fat ass of my stage!". It has to be noted everything is done with tongue in cheek to the amusement of all including the fan. Bonz then tells us we have a curfew due to some "disco shit". He then leads the crowd through a chant of "F**k you disco Muthf**kers!"
I was more than pleased that Raise The Deadman from the criminally overlooked Declaration Of A Headhunter made and appearance, as did The More I See`s vocalist Chad to contribute melodic vocals. Bonz then gets the crowd to chant each bands name that had played tonight, before continuing from the same album with Hatebreed.
For Not Promised Tomorrow, Oz from Head-On takes over guitar duties from Ward, as Stuck Mojo assault us with three vocalists in the shape of Bonz, Ward and Mark from Head-On. Oz is more than up to the responsibility and tears through a solo at the songs conclusion which has Ward nodding his seal of approval before joining in on the same guitar.
Sadly the curfew was looming and Throw The Switch brings a conclusion to one of the best live performances I have ever witnessed.
As a footnote, but an important one in demonstrating the closeness of Stuck Mojo to their fans, prior to tonight`s show Bonz could be found wandering around the World`s End pub introducing himself to fans and encouraging photos. Similarly afterwards as we stood in crushed maul that was the queue for the cloakroom, calm was bestowed on us by a familiar silencing voice, "Hey, you all getting your coats guys?". Bonz then thanked us all for attending the show. Class.
Stuck Mojo set list:
Two Minutes Of Death / Mental Meltdown / (Here Comes) The Monster / Twisted / Crooked Figurehead / Trick / Band Jam / Rising / Back In The Saddle / Enemy Territory / FOD / Black Metal Happy Birthday / Raise The Deadman / Hatebreed / Pigwalk / Not Promised Tomorrow / Throw The Switch
The More I See