Words by Harvey Terry
A sinister horror movie sequence fills the Engine Rooms in Southampton, as the crowd gets drawn in before Al B Damned take the stage. The Bournemouth based 5-piece brought a tamer, almost radio friendly, sound than expected after their haunting intro and left you with an unknown expectancy for the rest of the performance.You’d be surprised that the band are British due to the overall South American drawl that emulates from them. Strong beatdowns and crowd interactions kept the interest intact, fantastic backing vocals had every audience member singing ‘Woah Oh’ during ‘Drink Of Blood’. For a local opener to have an established sound and that are able to own a stage is usually very hard to find, but Al B. Damned had no trouble with getting the crowd moving and singing along with incredible stage presence and showmanship. Al brings out a mangled female torso that instantly screams ‘no women were harmed in the making of this torso.’, but it adds to the dedication AL B Damnedbrings to the stage, the band make use of the big stage that the Engine Rooms has to offer. By the time it gets to final song ‘Look Who’s Stalking’ it’s clear that the lyrics written are a lot less tame than the instrumentals, but no member of the crowd left without an admirable thought on Al B Damned. 8/10
Sanguine on stage to a strange and not at all fitting electronic track, the tacky backing track also clears all audience interest when the band kicks in out of time to the track itself. Throughout most of the set it was hard for vocalist Tarrin Kerrey to get the crowd involved, which even left her saying ‘Have you guys been working hard all this week, or something?’, unfortunately they just weren’t all that interested when getting the crowd to clap along to songs deemed a struggle. The band instigated the biggest movement from the crowd when they covered American Head Charge’s song ‘Loyalty, who were previously scheduled to appear before pulling out last minute. As much as Sanguine tried to pull out of the bag, after the great performance from Al B Damned, the audience just weren’t going to take anything less than incredible. 6/10
Luckily the word incredible can be used time and time again for what was yet to come, Mushroomhead’s first UK tour in over a decade had the word ‘special’ written in the stars, and a special performance is exactly what the crowd got. An operatic intro left the audience quiet in anticipation of the veterans long awaited return, as the band burst into Qwerty, which emulates the feeling of being in a circus. But before we get more into the bands performance, let’s set the stage for Mushroomhead’s band members, they have two vocalists (and Jackie LaPonza, who tours with the band and comes on the stage to add some softer vocals into the mix), a bassist, a drummer, and two custom percussionists who cause havoc around the stage whilst they wait to go on the stage to continue playing.This led to the two percussionists hanging off the stage rigging, flying around the room on top of flightcases and keeping the crowd hyped throughout. The percussionists clear toms had lights shining through them and water on top which made for some incredible visuals throughout. A high adrenaline performance kept the crowd on their feet and Mushroomhead’s pure love for a British crowd made you want to give the show every piece of energy you had left. The bands love for their fans shone through after the show, as soon as they finished covering the audience with every bit of water they had backstage, the drummer and bassist and drummer hopped straight over the crowd barrier to say goodbye to their fans as they left the venue. Keeping the metal scene feeling like a close family and with a live show as strong asMushroomhead’s, it’s no doubt at all to why they’ve been such a strong force in the metal scene for over 2 decades.