Earlier this week, Evile and Savage Messiah teamed up and took over the Old Blue Last for a charity show in aid of the British Lung Foundation. We sent Hugh Platt to squeeze in at the back and witness one of the most hectic shows he’s ever seen at the OBL.
Six things we learned when we saw Evile at the OBL:
1) Savage Messiah really were the right choice for tonight’s only support act. Okay, so seeing as they’re labelmates of Evile and happen to be based in London, it was probably the easiest choice too, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that both the band and the crowd are clearly beyond stoked to be wallowing in thrash this early in the week. You couldn’t fake the enthusiasm on display either on or off stage, and even when Dave Messiah’s guitar string breaks, he cackles his way through it as it gave him “the opportunity to pretend to be Bruce Dickinson”. Hell, if we had that set of pipes, we’d want to ditch the guitar and pretend to be Bruce too. We can’t remember the last time we saw a support band enjoy themselves – and conversely be enjoyed by a crowd – this much in agggges.
2) Evile might’ve snuck on stage when half the crowd were out having a cheeky cigarette, but the Old Blue Last didn’t stay spacious for long. Before the end of ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’, the venue was positively boiling with bodies. That Evile are now three albums deep into their career means that maintaining a setlist full of songs that people seem to almost instinctively know in their very bones is easy. From the rougher-edged ‘Thrasher’ to the chunkier Tallica-esque construction of ‘Cult’, Evile have managed to carve a considerable modern niche out within a genre normally hamstrung by overcrowding from its past.
3) Perhaps given the circumstances for tonight, the mid-set slowdown for ‘In Memoriam’ doesn’t feel as jarring a departure from the jagged thrash of the rest of Evile’s set as it could’ve been. We couldn’t help but stifle a laugh though at the trio of lighters that started being waved about above the (temporarily-static) crowd. It’s a moving song, yes, but that doesn’t mean we’re at a Foreigner show.
Watch the video to ‘In Memoriam’ by Evile:
4) Evile’s cover of ‘Through The Never’ (their contribution to Kerrang! Magazine’s recreation of Metallica’s Black Album via modern covers) could’ve sounded a touch indulgent if this had been an ordinary Evile show, but Matt Drake’s claim early on that tonight’s gig was just about “having a laugh, playing some songs” gave the band’s set the right amount of playful levity to carry it off. That Drake also claimed they’d barely rehearsed it (a fact that you’d never know, given the high quality of the band’s performance), coupled with the huge amount of goodwill that Evile have in spades, means they more than get away with it tonight.
5) Tonight’s gig was also the point we moved from being slightly-surly-music-fans into full-blown-miserable-old-man territory. What set us off? Stage divers. Yeah, we remember what it was like to be young, but the revolving half-dozen stage divers bordered on the ridiculous. Seriously, guys, if your stage diving is knocking over mic stands and, y’know, starting to interfere with the band’s performance, then you’re doing it wrong. (Yeah, we know: moan moan moan moan moan).
6) Despite Matt Drake joking throughout the night about how cheap everyone who goes to a free gig is, if there’s one thing that tonight shows, it’s that people really, really, honestly love Evile. The reason the Old Blue Last is packed tonight isn’t because tonight is a “free” gig – after all, everyone who walked through the door tonight threw some money into the donation buckets for the British Lung Foundation – but because of two factors. Firstly, despite its umpteenth “revivals”, Thrash has existed as a constant among metal fans, and even more so among the particularly feverish sub-set of metal fans who live in the high-tops and for whom skinny-jeans have always been a thing. And secondly, because despite all the artifice and bands jockeying for position as “scene leaders”, the easy-going they’ve-just-got-better-songs approach of Evile is what brings them out on top. It’s why they can tease a crowd with a line or two from Megadeth or Black Sabbath and not leave people disappointed when they laugh and break it off. It’s why people greet the set closer, ‘Infected Nation’, with as much enthusiasm as they did the very first song tonight.
Evile’s third studio album, Five Serpents Teeth, is out now on Earache Records – go buy yourself a copy here. Savage Messiah’s debut album is also out now via Earache, but you can download a digital copy of it for free is your head on over to the Earache Records website. Evile will be touring the UK again later this year – check out the dates below.
Evile Autumn 2012 UK tour dates
18 Glasgow O2 ABC 2
19 Manchester Academy 3
20 Belfast Limelight
21 Dublin The Pint
23 Newcastle Academy 2
24 Sheffield Corporation
25 Birmingham Academy 3
26 Oxford O2 Academy 2
27 Norwich Open
28 London Highbury Garage
03 Holmfirth Picturedrome
Tickets are available now from all the usual places, and should set you back about £13, depending on what nonsense fees the ticket sellers pile on the top and what venue you end up seeing them at.