When any band is regarded as truly innovative at a certain moment in musical time, the main question which must surely come back to haunt them, nigh on a generation later, is whether or not they are still as relevant and their innovation as impactful as it was ‘back in the day’… and that honestly was a question which must have crossed many fans’ minds when it was announced that the true pioneers of the whole rap/hip hop-metal crossover thing, Mordred, were emerging from their lengthy retirement and taking one more step into the spotlight… as with many bands of that generation, making a comeback after such a period away from the glare and cut-throat shenanigans of the music business, the question had to be asked: could they seriously still cut it, or was this another bunch of middle-aged geezers trying to relive past glories in one more attempt to play at being rock stars?
Initial reports coming out of the States earlier this month most definitely indicated the former was the case, with the band seeming to pick up where they had left off two decades earlier and showing all those wannabes who subsequently had imitated their innovation – to greater commercial effect – exactly how it should be done…
The task of opening proceedings on this, the second night of the UK and Irish tour, falls to another re-emergent outfit, local heroes Conjuring Fate (https://www.facebook.com/ConjuringFate)who set about doing so with a typically robust performance. Vocalist Tommy Daly (pictured right) is in particularly fine voice, and humour, and the four musicians are tight and methodical, with just the right edge of positive attitude, which no doubt helps win them over many new fans in the slowly growing early crowd – with whom both the singer and guitarist Phil Horner take the opportunity to get up clase and personal by descending from the stage into their midst during the stunning closer ‘Backwoods Witch’.
East Anglian thrashers Kaine (https://www.facebook.com/kaineband) were thrown in at the deep end for this tour, having been added as last minute replacements for Furyon, who had to pull out after vocalist Matt Mitchell being ordered to rest after haemorhagging one of his vocal chords: in fact, the call came so late that guitarist Anthony Murch couldn’t get the time off work to fulfill the dates, resulting in Entropy’s Saxon Davids having to step in and take over the lead axe role. And, to be honest, the lack of preparedness shows (the substitute guitarist had only one full rehearsal with the band before the tour kicked off down the road in Dublin the previous evening), as Kaine’s fairly average NWOBHM-influenced sub-thrash – which veers more towards the former than the latter – is pedestrian and unimaginative, and the band display no sense of togetherness.
Mordred themselves don’t off to the most auspicious of beginnings, as initial sound problems lead to a delay in their already close-to-the-knuckle starting time – but when the shit is finally got together it is a case of light-blue-touchpaper-and-run-like-fuck as what follows is one of the most incendiary performances seen on the historic Limelight stage in quite some time, as the band prove that they be a bit older (though probably not wiser – as vocalist Scott Holderby notes when he comments that “we may need bifocals to read the set list, but by fuck we feell 19 again!”) but they still know how to tear a venue a new arsehole!
Holderby very much leads from the front – and although he and his band mates may not be able to bounce about the stage in the way they could when they last toured they nevertheless transfer their renewed excitement and enervation to the floor, which more than makes up for the jumping around bit, as everyone laps up the funky breakdowns, understated solos and general all-round feelgood factor, as Mordred prove that, while this may be the sound that the likes of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park may have hijacked and masturbated all over, these are the guys that did this shit first.. and still hold the copyright on how do it properly. This most definitely is not the antiseptic, homogenized crap that the genre these guys helped to invent has become while they’ve been out of the limelight (sic): this is its progenitors bringing it back to its roots and grinding it into the floor of a hot and sweaty nightclub.
And, if any proof is needed that Mordred are not living on past glories, then new single ‘The Baroness’ proves it with vibrant and ecstatic promise for more to come: but, then, even if they had nothing new to offer, they do what they do fucking well – as proven when they decimate the venue’s early curfew (“we’ve one more song before they kick us out for the dancers” as Holderby comments with a cheeky acknowledgement of the writhing floor in front of him) with a riotious ‘In The Life’.
State Of Mind / Spectacle Of Fear / Window / Fragrance Of Vagrants / The Strain / Killing Time / Reach / Esse Quam Videri / Speelbound / Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed / The Baroness / Close Minded / Every Day’s A Holiday / A Beginning / Falling Away / Sever And Splice / In This Life
The tour continues as follows:
Monday August 25 – London, O2 Academy Islington
Tuesday August 26 – Birmingham, O2 Academy
Wednesday August 27 – Glasgow, O2 ABC
Thursday August 28 – Newcastle Upon Tyne, O2 Academy
Friday August 29 – Sheffield, O2 Academy
Saturday August 30 – Liverpool, O2 Academy
Sunday August 31 – Bristol, O2 Academy
Monday September 1 – Brighton, Concorde 2
Photographs courtesy of Darren McVeigh / Metalplanet Belfast