Long Distance Calling - Camden Underworld, London
It's a cold and wet Friday night in London, and the opening band are thirty minutes late. The feeling that this is just going to be one of those nights sets in. Sahg have never really appealed on record, sounding very much like yet another groovy stoner band. But live they very much step it up a notch, belting out a set that is as fun as it is loud. The Candlemass and Mastodon influences are still very much to the fore of course, but ten minutes of headbanging and all previous misgivings are dispelled.
I've been desperate to see Sólstafir live ever since their 2009 album Köld, and they do not disappoint. Forty five minutes of glacial soundscapes that are as heavy as they are beautiful, the band have a notoriously difficult London audience eating out of the palm of their hands. The epic conclusion of the fifteen minute 'Goddess Of The Ages' from the aforementioned record is simply spectacular as the echo-drenched guitars wash out over the crowd.
Largely ignored in this country, it has taken a while for Long Distance Calling to get anything like the renown over here that they have on the continent. And after the monumental display of the main support you fear for them, but they come out all guns blazing and bombard the crowd with riff after furious riff.
The obvious talking point is that this instrumental band now have a singer, but it does them credit that the handful of tracks they slip in with vocals do not feel at all out of place. There is little change to the tried and tested Long Distance Calling formula, this is simply another instrument they have added to their arsenal.
Tracks like 'Black Paper Planes' and 'Metulsky Curse Revisited' stand out with their particularly heavy and hypnotic passages, and tonight's audience respond accordingly by going absolutely nuts. But a surprisingly languid and tepid encore of 'Aurora' threatens to take the gloss of what is otherwise an enthralling evening, with only a late burst of energy saving the night from ending with a whimper.