For Brighton-based Brit-supergroup Blackstorm, it was their first gig of the year; for the venue, The Hobgoblin, it was it’s last gig ever. To record this momentous occasion, our man Andy Parker was on hand for both words and pictures.
You’ve got to be pretty bold in this day and age to have your first gig of the year 4 months in, but when you have the pedigree of the swaggering creature that’s known as Blackstorm, you really don’t care. When your founding line-up can boast past and present membership of earthtone9, The Ghost Of A Thousand, The Fall of Efrafa, Twin Zero, Skull Dozer, The Blueprint, This Is Menace, and Thrown To The Wolves, you can afford to take your time.
That founding line-up of Karl Middleton (vocals), Gez Waldron (bass), Neil Kingsbury (guitar/vocals) and Jon Perry (drums), are taking the opportunity tonight to introduce a second axe-wielding maniac into their fold. Guitarist Tom Bates (formerly of One Knuckle Fist) seems like a final brush stroke to their musical Mona Lisa – the layered guitar work between Bates and Kingsbury’s drives the most infectious groove laden riffery to to a shuddering resolve.
The band traverse their recent release, the Rise Rebel Seers EP, along with a couple of new tracks which go down well with the mob. An intense rendition of ‘Weakened By Division’ pulls no stops, and includes the perfect opportunity for some serious fist pumping chorus participation. If there is any logical reason for getting a big bastard flag to wave in the air, then this would be it.
There are many things which make Blackstorm such a fantastic outfit to watch. It’s not just the high caliber of the musicians involved, each clearly brings their diverse tastes and background into the mix, or the fact that they are clearly doing something that excites them, not even the fact that every song is end to end rock perfection. When you are in the swathing crowd for Blackstorm, you are Blackstorm, you have been welcomed into the club of all that is good and true about British music.
It also helps that Middleton’s stage presence is engrossing to watch. At times, he reminds me of Donkey Kong, towering over head, arms flailing back and forth as if he is hurling wooden barrels towards an untoward Italian plumber. Despite a cramped stage, the band hold their own and although bassist Gez Waldron plays most of the set seemingly acting as the guard for the ladies’ toilets, his lush sounds break through the bodies and give you a damn good slap. The surroundings also offer a rare opportunity to watch a masterful tub thumper in action up close, and right down to the extended fill that concludes ‘Closing In’, Perry doesn’t falter once.
Blackstorm @ Brighton Hobgoblin photos c/o Andy Parker.
Tonight’s venue though, The Hobgoblin, is of equal importance tonight as the band on stage, as tonight is the last time a band will ever play here. After decades of being the rock/sleaze/dive in Brighton, the pub has finally ran aground. The toilets may have been hanging off the walls for years, most of the time there was no water, there was never any soap, the beer was always complete shit, and the floor stuck to the sole of your show for your every step, but the juke box has blasted Pantera for years, they stayed open late, and hosted some of the most bizarre and brilliant shows from bands from all over the world (Circle Takes The Square still one of my highlights). For years, to many it was very much a safe haven for the dirty degenerates of the rock, punk, metal, and alternative scene.
The bell rings early, all the booze has gone. And as the doors close for the last time, they are blasted clean off their hinges for the future of Blackstorm, truly one of the most exciting bands to have emerged in recent times.