Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Live review - Will Haven @ Southampton Brook

GMS' down-south connect Sean Smith took a break from spike-piledriving opponents onto a concrete floor to file a report on Will Haven's latest tour. His appraisal of the local crowd also slots into our '97 mentality series as Exhibit Q.

It is a cold, crisp Sunday night with a tinge of menace, and cheap gunpowder imported from China, in the air. Maybe it was the fear of being assaulted by fireworks-brandishing chavs, or the fact that only the night before, the venue had been rocked to its very foundations by the Bon Jovi Experience (with a frontman so believable apparently even Chad Kroeger is unable tell the difference) - but something was keeping the general public away from the Brook for Will Haven's first performance in Southampton, like, evar. Which is a damn shame, as a band of their pedigree deserve more than this meagre crowd, that seems to be mostly comprised of hangers-on and pasty faced metal WAGS to the brace of piss-poor local support acts that open proceedings.

Not everyone is as ignorant as the local public, mind. "Without bands like Will Haven, we wouldn't have been able to make music like this", notes the drummer for main support The Mirimar Disaster. And thank fuck for that, as the Sheffield quartet lurch into a bold, wildly experimental set that combines post-rock soundscapes with crunching riffage and a thunderous, Mastodon-esque rhythm section. The band are currently without a vocalist, yet on this evidence it is hard to imagine them having one.

Vocals have been an issue for the headline act too, after losing founding member Grady Avenell for the second time earlier this year. A ready made replacement was at hand though in the form of long-time WHVN alumnus Jeff Jaworski, who has stepped into the fold impressively. Tonight he leads his gnats-arse tight troops through a decade of Haven classics with barely a pause for breath. Older material such as "Ego's Game" and the always well-received "I've Seen My Fate" sit well with the newer material, whilst a brutally delivered "Saga" is an undoubted highlight.

Will Haven - 'Hierophant' (live at the Troubadour 2007)

All good then if you are standing to one side, enjoying the band and trying to work out how you are going to review the fucker. But what of the Kids? Ten years ago you would not have been able to move for alpha male sports metallers slam dancing up in your face, small children in Ash t-shirts flying around like luchadores and jailbait, cider'd up goth tweens behaving histrionically at any metal gig in the locality. When you consider that Der Haven are on top form at present, with an exuberant new frontman and a superb, Chino Moreno/Shaun Lopez produced banger on the shelves, it is sad to see that about 40 nodding heads is the best show of respect we can afford them.

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