Crippled Black Phoenix at The DomeSupport: The Devil's Trade| Publicist UK
December 9, 2016 at The Dome
“Please note the very early stage times… Doors at 6pm, first band at 6:30.”
Six PM? What kind of gig starts before 7:30? In fairness, Crippled Black Phoenix are a prog band and I have to assume that if they play less than six hours Roger Waters will send his hammer-branded assassins after them, in which case making me catch an earlier train can be forgiven.
So I got there for six, though things had been shifted around and Devil’s Trade didn’t start till 6:50 when a single performer walked on stage. I admit I was a little surprised to see anything that wasn’t an elaborate prog-rock band come out, as the last time I saw Crippled Black Phoenix they were supported by The Fierce and The Dead, but I wasn’t disappointed. Devil’s Trade, it turns out, is a blues-y-Americana-tinged Hungarian folk singer. While his songs were simple and his style was recognisable, he made the performance memorable and powerful with his passionate vocals. Unfortunately just two songs in, his acoustic guitar suffered a broken string, but he simply rearranged his set to include couple more Magyar songs with electric guitar, which despite not knowing that they were about (it’s folk music, so probably people drowning), I thought were the highlights of his set.
After one of the quickest changeovers I’ve ever seen (I didn’t even have time to use the loo), Publicist UK (who, despite what their name would suggest, are American) filled the room with a metal-tinged-goth-sound. They were immediately impressive, capturing the goth sound fantastically, while Dave Witte (who was previously a live drummer for Melt Banana and is a current member of Municipal Waste) brought a more extreme style of drumming to the table than is usually seen in post-punk and its derivatives. However, by the end of their set I found I couldn’t really tell any of their songs apart. They’re one trick, but in fairness, it’s a pretty good trick.
After another short intermission, the synthesisers of ‘Dead Imperial Bastard’ signalled that Crippled Black Phoenix would soon take the stage and people shifted toward the stage. The seven of them took their places on stage and launched right into ‘Rise Up And Fight’. Though Crippled Black Phoenix’s line-up has shifted dramatically over the years, with Justin Greaves being the only consistent member of the band, the band he’s assembled now is as tight as ever.
Their set was really built around showing off the new album (which is fantastic, if you’re wondering) but had some great selections going back as far as 2009’s The Resurrectionists. The Devil’s Trade joined them to perform a blistering cover of Joe Walsh’s ‘Turn To Stone’, which was one of my absolute highlights of the night. It was one of those moments where the whole band just seemed to come together and absolutely love it, the energy just seemed to radiate from the stage. Another great moment, but from the opposite direction, was ‘Scared and Alone’, sung by frequent collaborator Belinda Kordic, had an incredibly melancholic presence and stood out for me as one of those amazing “so much better than the album” moments.
They ended on their usual ‘Burnt Reynolds’, a song everyone knew and excitedly sang along as loudly as any British audience can be expected to (Jack Ringca of Radical Face once confided to me that the British are the worst people in the world at singing along). Crippled Black Phoenix know how to put on an excellent show, and they’re as powerful and relevant as ever.
Photos by Angelique Le Marchand