Conjurer at The Flapper & Firkin

Support: Giver| Up River | Attan
February 24, 2018 at The Flapper & Firkin
Promoter: Surprise, You're Dead Music

The hours before concert can be a great joy, whether it is the nerves and adrenaline about to kick in or the calm before the storm. There is an even greater joy when you arrive at the concert and two bands you like have been added to the bill by surprise. That is what happened at The Flapper in Birmingham for the Conjurer headline show; already supported by Attan and the Birmingham-native Creature, Up River, and Conjurer’s label-buddies Giver had been added, owing to a cancellation of another show. There were a few people who knew what the two new additions would bring, for everyone else, it was a shock.

Giver opened proceedings, after a short introduction, with ‘Shock of the Fall,’ the first song off their new album, Where the Cycle Breaks. The first band is often lucky to get a decent crowd, but Giver made the best of the trickle who came to see the early slot and would not have been disappointed. Their set was only short, perhaps due to them being unexpected guests, but when they closed their set with ‘Pills,’ everybody was suitably warmed up.

Giver – Photo: Joshua Crawley

As the crowd started to bolster, Creature took to the stage. A three-piece by appearance, but an audible beast. Attention should be drawn to the bass player, who could produce a powerful driving force, to counter the erratic guitar lines, but the technicality behind his playing was brilliant; like watching a hardcore John Entwhistle.

Creature – Photo: Joshua Crawley

The second surprise announcement, Up River, finally saw a thicker crowd who was slowly growing into the music. They performed a new song released on February 6 called ‘Evocation,’ which may or may not be on their upcoming release; the band confirmed they were in the studio later in the year. They were probably the most unique and cohesive of the acts so far, and after their intense offering of If There Is A Judge That Is Judging Me Constantly, this is one of the ones to watch in 2018.

Up River – Photo: Joshua Crawley

Whilst Conjurer were headlining, there were a great number in the crowd waiting for Attan; one gentleman had seen them on all but one of the UK dates. At this point, the hardcore music began to take a sludge-driven tone. The Norwegians are also in the studio this year, recording the follow up to their 2015 release, From Nothing. The unison between the high pitch rasp of the lead vocals, and the brooding low, near guttural, sound of the bassist lent great character to this performance, with the hardcore elements adopting traits heard in the mid-Mastodon era. Songs like ‘Nocebo (I Shall Harm)’ and ‘Black Liquid Marrow’ kicked the crowd into new vigour.

Attan – Photo: Joshua Crawley

Conjurer have been gathering a lot of speed lately, having had their releases played on the Radio One Rock Show, and many touted 2018 as their year. Their upcoming release Mire, sadly delayed by a week, is one of the most hotly anticipated underground metal albums, and Conjurer have been playing it in full during their tour. Whilst the review of the album itself can be read separately on Echoes and Dust, if it is anything like their performance then they have surpassed many expectations.

For those who have seen them before, you know what to expect with Conjurer. Massive, crushing guitar riffs, with a pounding rhythm section, polished off with two heavily contrasting vocalists. As the set went on, it was impressive seeing how many times people could have their spirits destroyed, as each smash of the cymbals brought a thundering wave of destruction down on each poor soul inside The Flapper.

Conjurer – Photo: Joshua Crawley

The two singles ‘The Mire’ and ‘Retch’ went down as brilliantly as expected, whilst ‘Behold the Swine’ and ‘Scorn’ prompted sing-alongs from the faithful. The recent songs too, despite being completely new to most in attendance, went off without a hitch. Their closing few minutes featured one of the most prolonged, destructive and violent breakdowns to bear witness to.

Conjurer is an immense force live but seeing the joy on the band’s faces whilst playing adds another human element to their performance. Seeing this band must be encouraged, and hopefully, there will be more opportunities in the future. If Mire is received as well as it should be, then Conjurer will only improve their already stellar live performance. It was a pleasure to witness them play The Flapper, once again.

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