Review and Photos by Mike Bax
(All iPhone 5S photos)
While everyone in Toronto lost their minds over the über-hard-to-access Mumford And Sons concert at Lee’s Palace on Friday night, the REAL music heads were celebrating their Easter Sunday wedged into the very same venue for ANOTHER über-hard-to-get-into concert by UK doomsmith’s Electric Wizard. This Toronto Electric Wizard show has been sold out for months now. The increment of time when Electric Wizard last set foot in Toronto can be measured in decades rather than mere months or years. Anticipation to witness a live set from the Dorset four-piece was beyond atmospheric levels.
A testament to both the popularity of the band and the STARVED North American audiences elated to finally witness the band live – all of the merchandise was gone. There wasn’t a t-shirt to be had upon getting into the venue. Not one. A few silkscreened Electric Wizard posters were available for early arrivers, and they quickly disappeared. Someone goofed up and short-ordered merchandise for this tour. Almost everyone walking into the venue wanted a keepsake saying they’d finally attended an Electric Wizard concert. That was a lost opportunity for some easy revenue.
Herndon, Virginia three-piece Satan’s Satyrs opened the show. Electric Wizard bassist Clayton Burgess did double duty with his two bandmates in Satan’s Satyrs before taking the stage once again 75 minutes later as the fourth member of Electric Wizard. I’d not heard a thing from Satan’s Satyrs prior to this evening. Their material (shocker!!!) owes much to the stoner rock sounds of the 1970’s, delivering thirty minutes of sleazy sounding Sabbathy material to a crowd of early arrivers. I dug their sound. Expect some cool things from this band in the years to come.
Toronto natives Blood Ceremony took the stage shortly after, and delivered an equally impressive set of material for a house that was almost completely packed by the time they went on. Alia O’Brien impressed the audience with vocals, keyboards and flute as Sean Kennedy, Lucas Gadke and Michael Carrillo rounded out the four-piece unit – playing material that harkened back to early Uriah Heep, Blue Cheer and Jethro Tull (and NOT just because of the flute). Good stage presence and a fine display of musicianship kept the audience grooving along for the duration of Blood Ceremony’s impressive set.
At 9:30, as the introductory notes of ‘Crypt of Drugula’ could be heard swelling the room, Jus Oborn, Liz Buckingham, Clayton Burgess and Simon Poole took the stage and delivered a 90-minute audio assault on the packed Toronto room. Cast against a slightly out of focus visual orgy of Russ Meyer(esque) boob footage, Evil priests and devilishness, the band blasted into ‘Witchcult Today’ at a pummelling decibel level.
Electric Wizard played under dim lighting for the duration of their set. The band was sporadically seen via the occasional glimmer of lighting coming from the projected footage that filled the backdrop with satanistic eye-candy. The band played only nine songs (Electric Wizard songs tend to run between 8 and 13 minutes in length), each one managing to be louder than the last.
There is a cunning simplicity to Electric Wizard’s material. Slow humming three-chord songs delivered in down-tuned fashion that spiral and loop in the utmost hypnotic fashion. Cunning because NOBODY can top their style of music. In the pantheon of black doom metal, the list STARTS with Electric Wizard followed by everyone else; they rule the roost on studio album, and this performance proved they rule the roost live on stage.
For the entire set I couldn’t stop moving my eyes from Jus to Liz, watching their body gestures, hand movements, finger picking and whammy bar pulls as they delivered the finest dirge of musical evilness I’ve ever had the pleasure to behold. Liz is a fucking machine, delivering wave upon wave of pummelling notes and feedback with a nonchalance that was almost FRUSTRATING to watch, she’s so goddamn good. And Jus could be the only musician I’ve seen onstage with a presence to match the mighty Lemmy Kilmister. He snarled and grimaced perfectly to every piercing note that came out of his guitar this evening. Just before the crescendo of ‘Funeralopolis’, before the song kicks into it’s uptempo finish, his guitar strap let go at the base of the instrument. A slight snarl of irritation crossed his brow momentarily, but hardly anyone noticed as he popped the guitar strap back in place and continued playing the song. Jus did the most energetic portion of ‘Funeralopolis’ without the cable looped back through his strap.
There were songs I was hoping to hear at this show that didn’t get played. I’m sure I’m not alone in this opinion. I enjoyed everything Electric Wizard played this evening so much, I couldn’t pick one of the songs to pull from tonight’s set to play these missing tracks. I haven’t left a show that happy (or that deaf) in a long time. Electric Fucking Wizard INDEED.
Crypt of Drugula (recorded intro over speakers)
Satanic Rites of Drugula
Incense for the Damned
Time to Die
The Chosen Few