Black Sabbath have barely finished the drawn-out announcement of their return with a new album and Download Festival 2012 appearance before we skipped merrily into The Worst Venue In London™ to see one of the best bands of all time. Will Haven have returned. OH, THEY HAVE RETURNED. All together now, “HOORAY!!”
Six things we learnt from Will Haven playing in London:
1) Nostalgia is a strong emotion. Once they started playing all their old material, it felt like it was 2001 all over again. The past is largely viewed with rose-tinted glasses. Songs can imbue proceedings with memories of wonderful days gone but more often than not, bands who revisit old material sound hackneyed and tired. Despite the majority of the audience having experienced Will Haven the first time round, when they played ‘Carpe Diem’, there was no stopping the moshpit. A couple of hundred pairs of rose-tinted heels couldn’t deny the power of one of the finest riffs in one of the finest songs of all time.
2) There’s plenty of life in Will Haven yet. Opening with plenty of new songs (Voir Dire in its entirety, none the less) with images projected behind the band, they’ve gone all out. They believe in their latest material enough to really make the effort in putting it across and they’re absolutely right to – it sounds enormous. Notably, there’s not a single song of The Hierophant tonight. With absolutely no offence to Mr Jaworski, everyone’s ok with that. We would’ve like to have heard the song ‘Jaworski’ if that helps?
3) This isn’t about money. This about being Will Haven again. When Grady Avenell returned to the band and they announced a one-off show, there were some dissenting voices claiming that bands ever do things like this “for the money”. At £13.50 a ticket and with only one date on this tour, it would be mighty surprising if that’s the case.
4) There is no disputing that Chris Fehn is a world class bassist but as with any classic band, without original existing member, Mike Martin there was something missing, if only from a purist’s point of view. There was a stoic dynamism about the way Mike Martin’s giant frame straddled the lip of the stage that the permanently phlegm-gobbing Fehn doesn’t try to ape. Instead, Fehn stalks his area of the stage, snarling at the crowd much in the way he does as Mr Picklenose/the custom percussionist/#3 in his other band. He’s damn good at it but basically, we still miss Mike a bit.
5) As for the original existing members, Mitch Wheeler is still an absolute colossus behind the drumkit. Along with Fehn’s almost sub-sonic bass rumblings, the low end was a dangerous thing to be in the room with after tonight’s burrito. Shouldn’t have gone for the hot salsa, admittedly, but talking of hot salsa, Jeff Irwin’s distinctive and beautiful guitar tone is still smoking hot. Grady Avenell’s voice may well be a thing of furious wonder but it’s the ethereal, atmospheric sound that Irwin ekes out of his guitar allied with the superb, joint-loosening rhythm section that makes this band what it is: EXCELLENT.
6) Will Haven haven’t translated to the next generation yet but they will. They have to. We may bemoan how the burgeoning appreciation of heavy music has meant that a wider spectrum of rockers are emerging – ones who appreciate far more melody, far more often than we may be used to – but nobody was born loving Slayer, Death or Converge. The heaviest music is an acquired taste and while Will Haven are riding the crest of a new wave, their music is a taste that the youth must acquire. With haste!