So, I went to a gig last week, which in my world is a thing. And on my own, too. Somehow, that doesn’t seem like quite the badge of sadness that it might once have been – when your other half doesn’t get into the same music that you do (but is wholly supportive of your enthusiasm for it), and you would quite like to see a band, then it makes sense to go along and see that band whilst rolling solo – because who knows when you’ll get a chance to see a band again. Not that I had tickets to see Refused or At The Drive-In back in the day or anything quite so dramatic, but I think you get the picture.
The band in question that so spurred me into action is Italy’s finest purveyors of glacially cool metallic melancholia, Lacuna Coil, who I am quite a fan of – they’ve got heaviness but don’t stint on melody, do the male/female co-vocals thing and rock the odd song sung in their native language, which is a fine change of pace in this Anglophone world in which we live. They are a band with style and can certainly boast an evolution in their sound, which is ongoing even if it doesn’t always connect with critics. I had never seen them before but they’re got a very decent reputation live and I was more than keen to see whether it was justified.
Added to that was the fact that they were playing the Corporation in Sheffield, which is possibly my favourite place to see bands in Sheffield – it’s not very big, the crowd’s friendly and diverse and on a Friday night, whenever I’ve been, the gig’s usually done by 10:00pm to allow the Club Night to start – a fact remarked upon with some bemusement and ethereal comic disdain by Melissa Auf Der Maur when I saw her last year.
Supporting Lacuna Coil this time around were Straight Line Stitch, who I had heard a few songs by prior to the show and embodied that most welcome of live music cliches – a band who is much heavier live than they are on record.
Alexis the singer was quite the live wire, as you might expect for a front person, and operated on the principle that the crowd wasn’t necessarily expecting a support band with quite as heavy a sound as SLS has. She worked the audience with aplomb, bigging-up Lacuna Coil, thanking the fans between songs, inviting us to go and hang out in the merch room after their set and generally did her best to introduce the band to a new set of fans, leaping up and down and head-banging herself into a right old state. I felt very bloody old watching her, but utterly entertained at the same time.
The Straight Line Stitch sound is somewhere betwixt the Metalcore style of a band like Avenged Sevenfold or Killswitch Engage, with a hint of the impassioned, raging vocals of Bring Me The Horizon or Parkway Drive. We’re talking grinding beat-downs, vocals so harsh and startling that they could easily peel paint from the walls at fifty paces and drums so satisfyingly meaty that you could feel them in your chest – which isn’t to say that SLS were unlistenably harsh but more that they attacked from the outset and made it their task to win people over – I’m pretty sure that they did, as people were going absolutely nuts for them from where I was standing.
The best song that they played was “Conversion”, which is brutal metalcore at it’s best – grunted verses, soaring melodic chorus and a pummeling riff which went to interesting time-signature-based places. Plus, pounding double-bass runs from the drummer.
If they were the surprise of the night, Lacuna Coil were equally satisfying and so completely worth going to see that I really hope to see them if they make it to the UK next year after the release of “Dark Adrenaline”.
The band played stuff from all over their career – with a couple of new songs from “…Adrenaline” thrown in to test out the crowd’s reaction, to good effect.
Highlights for me were “Heaven’s a Lie” – I apologise to those around me who were regaled with a caterwauling, out-of-key rendition of the chorus not once but twice – and “I Won’t Tell You” (ditto), with “Swamped” also standing out alongside new tune, “Kill The Light”.
The band was a few shows into the tour and very polished – I get the sense that this was very much the same kind of show that they might play outside at a festival in Europe or in a larger hall. Though this was a smaller house than they might regularly play, I didn’t get the sense that they were going through well-rehearsed motions or phoning a performance in – not at all. They’ve been around a fairly long time now and know how to play to a crowd – if Andrea’s singing lead, Cristina Scabbia supports and doesn’t have to grab attention – similarly, Andrea backs up his co-lead singer on her lead lines.
If you get a chance to see them on this tour – or the next – be sure to grab it. They’re melodic, dark, heavy and quintessentially European Metal with a touch of melancholic class which is very particular to them.