Australian fans never thought they’d get the chance to see Saint Vitus live so this tour has been highly anticipated.
When Saint Vitus’ Lillie: F-65 album came across my path last year to review I was very keen to give it a listen and was suitably impressed. The band have been around in various forms since 1978. Vocalist Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich has been up front of some pretty influential bands including The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and none more than Saint Vitus itself.
Opening up was Clagg. I haven’t seen them for a while and holy crap they’ve come a long way. I’ve always been impressed, but now I am gobsmacked! Their sludgey doom is punishing and just belts you in the teeth like a six foot high set of brass knuckles. The guitars are, at times, long and drawn out, yet so driven and forceful making your entire body sway in time. Doom can be monotonous if it’s kept at the same tempo, yet I find that’s where Clagg are at their strongest, when they’re keeping it slow and steady. They’ve definitely honed their style and sound over their ten year existence and are at the top of their game in Australia, surely Europe must eat them up as they’re destined to take over the festival circuit.
This is French drone doom band Monarch’s fourth tour of Australia and I have to say I am pretty late on the ol’ Monarch bandwagon. Not many people I know have heard them and I guess that may be as they’re quite an acquired taste.
Vocalist Emilie Bresson sat lit candles amongst a pile of pedals all connected up to her mic. They sat on top of what appeared to be a guitar road case on a keyboard stand, not the usual instrument set up seen on stage. After a steady rumble of distortion that built up like an underground monster coming for vengeance, Bresson opened up her vocal chords. She created the most saddened howling banshee ever heard by running her vocals through cathedrals of dying echoes. Rob Shaffer’s drumming, especially to my non-trained ears, was like organised chaos; seemingly random beats that kept pounding away. His timing the centre of the bands universe as they all watched on, feeding off his energy and direction.
I was really blown away by Monarch yet when speaking to people after their set there seems to be a bit of a love/hate philosophy; mainly due to Bresson’s unique and haunting vocal style. I agree it’s different, but it also adds such an atmospheric layer and unique quality that wouldn’t usually be a part of a doom band’s sound.
It was surprising the room wasn’t already full for the first two incredible bands, though it didn’t take long for it to fill just before the godfathers of doom, Saint Vitus, hit the stage. As they walked out, the band commanded the room’s attention without doing anything and before they even spoke a word. Punters went nuts when they opened straight up with Living Backwards and I Bleed Black from their 1990 album V. Saint Vitus are old school; the Aussie pub rock biker version of Sabbath, straight up classic doom metal. Dave Chandler’s guitar playing is better than ever and he pulled out some of the craziest and fuzziest muted wah solo’s ever heard. Chandler scoffed at an apparent ‘fan’ wearing a Vitus shirt on the rail at the front. He’d been giving the band the thumbs down for some time so Chandler told him to take off his shirt and directed security to remove the guy as he wouldn’t continue with him there. Then we were introduced to “Lillie”.
The set was a solid mix of old and new. They did an encore of Dying Inside and Born Too Late from the latter’s namesake album from 1986, fans went crazy. The night culminated with Chandler and drummer Henry Vasquez jumping out into the crowd and getting amongst it all with fans. Wino casually wandered down the side and watched his mates have some fun; definitely one of the greatest front men out there and it was an honour to be present. It was clear that after all this time Saint Vitus really do enjoy themselves and appreciate what they do.
Highlights: The Waste Of Time, The Troll, Dying Inside, Born Too Late.
Props also have to go to Heathen Skulls Touring for setting up another massive tour and for never letting us down!
Saint Vitus Set list:
I Bleed Black
War Is Our Destiny
Look Behind You
Let Them Fall
The Bleeding Ground
The Waste Of Time
Born Too Late
Photos by Adam Russ – Right Eye Media.