OFFICIAL  – Just when you have written your best of lists for the end of the year you know something is gonna pop up and try and pinch one of those spots. The (almost) annual Orange Goblin Christmas party is that gig. This year Camden’s Electric Venue hosted the event and with a very diverse line up there really was something there for everyone to enjoy.

Opening the proceedings was Bristol’s Naut, who due to the early start was only playing to a small crowd, but by the end of their short set had held the interest of all those who ventured into the venue and won over a good few new fans. Naut kicked out a dark, almost hypnotic sound that brought to mind the best bits of Killing Joke and The Sisters of Mercy all held together by the powerful soaring vocals of Gavin Laubscher. By the time their all too brief set was over I’d already made my mind up they were a band I needed to see and hear more of.

 

“That was like deep-fried Scottish Venom” were the words one excited friend used to describe what he has just witnessed after Hellripper left the stage, and he wasn’t far wrong. Hellripper wandered onto the stage and frankly ripped the faces off everyone in the building with a fantastic display of blackened speed metal. They had that raw aggression of early Megadeth and Venom, but with some huge catchy hooks like Kill ‘em All era Metallica, and tracks like “All hail the Goat” had the crowd screaming along with the band with hair flying everywhere. As a bloke of a certain age, I immediately wanted to try and grow another mullet and find that long lost bullet belt. Joyous stuff!

After missing their soundcheck there was a point during the day that people were beginning to wonder if legendary punks Discharge would even make the gig. With travel mayhem all over the country due to horrendous weather conditions combined with the mass Christmas exodus home, Discharge cut things fine, but from the savage display they put in when hitting the stage, you wouldn’t have known any different. Vocalist Jeff “JJ” Janiak prowled the stage like a caged beast while spitting out lyrics to tracks like Protest and Survive making them sound even more relevant now as to when they recorded over 35 years ago.

 

AC/DC’s “It’s a long way to the Top (if you wanna rock n roll)” booms from the PA to welcome London’s favourite sons Orange Goblin onto the Electric Ballroom stage. From that moment on the next hour and a bit flies by as band and crowd give it their all.

As with every Orange Goblin gig you don’t know what to expect from the setlist, with some of the standards you expect to hear sitting nicely alongside deep cuts you don’t hear that often. Tonight’s set sees the gig opening with Diesel (Phunt) from Time Travelling Blues, and then scattered elsewhere throughout the night we got Hard Luck, Magic Carpet, Vagrant Stomp, and Bloodzilla, all of which are greeted with bodies smashing into each other and hair flying.

One thing that makes an Orange Goblin so good is that the band never take themselves that seriously or realise just what a great live band they are. Rhythm section Martyn Millard and Chris Turner hold the whole thing together and are as tight as a Yorkshire man with the generosity kicked out of him, while guitarist Joe Hoare really is one of the most underrated players out there playing with a real feel and precision throughout. Frontman Ben Ward is that perfect band leader with an obvious passion for what he does, demanding that the crowd goes “batshit fucking crazy” from the minute he walks on stage and continuously demanding and getting more.

 

By the time the monstrous riff of set closer Red Tide Rising kicks in the whole venue is bouncing in unison and when the song ends smiling faces and broken bodies can be seen all round the venue knowing that tonight they witnessed a band at their very best even though they are coming into their 25th year of playing together.

Gig of the year? Too fucking right!

Author: Nigel Taylor

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