Iron Butterfly @ Robin 2, Bilston – 27th February 2012

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Review and photos by Rob Stanley

One of the earliest memories I have is sneaking a peak at my dad’s extensive collection of vinyl and coming across a compilation album called The Age of Atlantic.  At that time I didn’t have a clue who any of the artists were, such as Clapton, The Allman Brothers, Led Zep, Iron Butterfly, etc. But I was attracted to the rather distinctive album art which is the only reason that I ever put it on the old record player, but it soon became a firm favourite and got played quite a lot during my youth.

Until quite recently I didn’t realize the significance that this one album has had on my life, but it suddenly dawned on me a month ago that over the last two or three years I’ve subconsciously been targeting the groups and remnants of the groups to shoot and review that were on this one album and now it’s Iron Butterfly’s turn.

The In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album is one of the classic albums of the last forty years, it broke many boundaries and many quite rightly believe it to be right at the root source of modern day metal that we know today. So the chance to see Iron Butterfly not only tour the UK for the first time in four years, but also see them dedicate a concert to this album really was a no-brainer.

The years have certainly taken their toll on bass player Lee Dorman who required assistance from the stage hand to reach his centre stage perch, but once there you’d never know there was a problem and he commands the good ship Iron Butterfly effortlessly.  With what can only be described as drug educed bass lines and complementary monologue regarding the history of IB and the reason and meaning behind each song Lee is a joy to behold and a fantastic history lesson for anyone willing to listen.

Although none of the band members could be classed as spring chickens you’d never guess it as they perform this classic opus with ease conveying both delicate and heavy aspects of this psychedelic meander through the mind perfectly and in many respects much better than the original album ever managed to do. Their musicianship is without question possibly the most fluid and fluent that I have ever witnessed and paints a perfect backdrop for the vocals shared by everyone except Ron Bushy, the man who invented the drum solo sitting way back there on skins.  And obviously when you have the creator you get to listen to his creation which was awe inspiring and just long enough to keep you interested before trailing off into the lead of ’Are You Happy’, which is a rhetorical question to say the least.

Highlight of the night and what we had all been waiting for was the last track from the album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.  Martin Gerschwitz (keyboards) rendition of Bach’s ‘Tocota and Fuge in D minor’ fitted perfectly as a lead into what is a monumental track that just washed over the crowd here at the Robin 2. What ensued was over eighteen minutes of musical perfection which provided yet another perfect platform for Charlie Marinkovich to shine again with blistering riffs that make the hairs on the back of the neck stand firmly to attention.

As the last note fades the band leave the stage.  There is no encore, but in truth none was expected as nor needed.  Iron Butterfly have given their all and left myself and everyone here at The Robin 2 is completely satisfied.

I had high hopes for this gig, but my expectations were by far exceeded.  This has without question ticked one of the boxes in my things to do before I die list. Fantastic gig!

And you can see Rob’s photos from the show here: