Initially booked for The Bierkeller Michale Graves was relocated to the Fleece after the former venue announced it was closing down on the day of the show, how’s that for bad luck? Undeterred, MusicMuso journalist Hena braved the Bristol cold to get his horror punk fix.
Show openers Lowlives were a late addition to the bill and certainly a welcome one. Fronted by former Defiled singer Stitch, AKA Lee Villain they immediately made an impact flying through song after song made of chunky distorted guitars and catchy hooks, with a sound reminiscent of a heavier ‘Seether’ Lowlives perform with unwavering intensity despite the initially lacklustre crowd. ’Bones’ and new single ‘Burn Forever’ are the standout tracks and the latter inspires a sing-along from the audience of punks and goths slowly seeping into the venue to bring a positive end to an impressive set from a new band deserving of more and surely destined for big things.
So Long Until The Séance
As soon as a band comes on with a combination of zebra spandex and skeleton paint I’m on board, cowboy boots and smoke machines never hurt either. A comedy intro set the tone for a half hour of unique horror punk and hard rock. S.L.U.T.S clearly don’t take themselves too seriously a trait that has long been appreciated in the punk scene. Their act can best be described as Wednesday 13 meets Steel Panther with occasional high screams reminiscent of Cradle Of Filth. It’s an interesting blend and the comedic elements put the crowd in high spirits, however the set is not without it’s faults, 16 days on the road with no break has taken it’s toll on the front man's voice who’s bottle of beer is probably not helping either and the drummer has to compete with both his kick drum and a cymbal running away from him at various times throughout the performance. The jokey tone is enjoyable but with the act centred around one gimmick it’s hard to imagine S.L.U.T.S doing more than the half hour they play here. That said, playing just before Michale Graves is no easy task and through no fault of the band, there was a sense that the crowd were just waiting for the main event, with a more enthusiastic audience and refined stage show there is definitely potential here. A few more drinks would probably help too.
Best known for his 5 year tenure as frontman of punk icons the Misfits, Michale Graves took to the stage with a surprising lack of fan fair, the lights didn’t dim, no smoke machine and the only banners on stage are those of the support bands. However the crowd's excitement is more powerful than any stage show, after an evening of underwhelming reactions, the audience lurches into life and is treated to a set of Misfits classics interspersed with Graves’ solo material that blends seamlessly. Graves speeds through ‘American Psycho’, ‘Speak Of The Devil’ and ‘Walk Among Us’ whipping the crowd into a frenzy. His performance and instantly recognisable vocals haven’t changed a bit and despite the gruelling tour schedule he is active and entertaining throughout. With an impressive solo catalogue created in the years since his departure from the Misfits, Michale could easily favour his solo material more but is clearly well aware of what the crowd came to see and gives them classic after classic being rewarded in return by rowdy sing-alongs from the Bristol crowd.
As the set drew to a close, Graves opted not to go through the typical walk on and off stage encore routine that most touring bands go through every night (A personal pet peeve of mine) and instead took this time to thank everyone for coming out. Thanking crowds is another staple of all headliner's sets but this may be the most genuine thank you I’ve ever heard. Michale seems truly grateful for the crowd's attendance and his positivity radiates around the room as he talks about music's magical ability to bond people. The encore was sensational, ‘Descending Angel’ ‘Helena’ and ‘Dig Up Her Bones’ rounded off a brilliant performance and true to his words, Michale stayed behind to meet every audience member, take pictures and sign records. The magic is still very much alive with Michale Graves.
Words: Hena Larkin
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