Review by Sophie Maughan, photos by Alex Peace
As a long-time fan (and admirer) of original “Blasphemous Girl” Tairrie B Murphy and My Ruin, it was a bittersweet moment on hearing that this August’s ‘The Sacred Mood’ tour would also serve as a fond farewell to UK shores. At least for the immediate future. And considering that this is a band with a predominantly British fanbase, I could not hide my initial disappointment on witnessing the somewhat lacklustre turnout in Academy 3 tonight.
The show, however, must go on and I am forced to put my impending sense of gloom to one side with the arrival of Coventry’s General, and the five-piece quickly go to work titillating one and all with their infectious blend of upbeat psychedelia and badass blues. My feet are certainly tapping and I’d put good money on everybody else experiencing a similar reaction. It is a killer set I am chuffed to hear that the lads will be back in Brum in September with a full headline show at the infamous Scruffy Murphy’s. Result.
The overpriced pint that I picked up during the brief interlude is subsequently spilled over myself (and an unfortunate punter nearby) as the enamel peeling, gut wrenching vocals of Extreme OD’s Katie Cairns begin mercilessly assaulting my eardrums. I feel compelled to check for blood but I am far too enamoured with the accompanying blast beats and bass rumbles courtesy of Kieran Berry and Don Jackson-Wyatt to actually give a damn. Holy mother of Lucifer – who knew that Stoke-On-Trent was harbouring such a fearsome powerhouse? These guys are one of those rare delights who can effortlessly fuse sheer brutality and gorgeous grooves whilst still retaining an absolutely uncompromising approach to their performance. Imagine if you chucked Randy Blythe, Angela Gossow and Dimebag Darrell into a blender and hit the puree button for a sonic smoothie of sorts – well, Extreme OD would be the result. Fucking sick. A new fan is born.
The illustrious task of opening for LA’s finest rock monoliths falls to Sanctorum and the reception that this metal quartet receives is rapturous to say the least. And, I might add, thoroughly deserved as frontman Aaron Sly incites some of the most intense on stage windmilling I have ever clapped eyes on. I experience immediate hair envy. Sadly, the vocals are a tad obscured during the first couple of songs (‘False Idols’ and ‘Sons of Perdition’), and it is difficult to ascertain which subsequent tracks I am actually hearing due to a dodgy mix. Nevertheless, guitars are grasped and thrashed to within an inch of their collective lives and the mid set profanities of “Fuck it who gives a shit!” and “smile for the fucking camera!” have the assembled throng cheering and throwing their fists skyward in unison. We also learn that this is the band’s fourth time out on the road with My Ruin and their appreciation is both genuine and heartfelt. Sly goes on to dedicate ‘Paradigm’ to “that guy in the Sanctorum t-shirt” and gestures wildly to a beaming punter front and centre of the stage – clearly loving life after the shout-out. As Sanctorum round off an otherwise blistering set, I am truly impressed by the definite sense of cohesion that these guys have with one another. New record Old Ghosts New Wars look set to drop September 1st and after what we have witnessed tonight, you would be a fool not to check this band out.
9.45 rolls quickly around and a single spotlight illuminates a mic stand which appears to be draped in fur and finery. I am thrilled to notice that the amount of bodies in here has increased considerably. The sheer excitement hanging in the dense Academy air is palpable and the dimming of those house lights is the cue for the male contingent of My Ruin to hit the stage. And whilst the thundering applause is undeniable, it’s probably not unfair to say that the crescendo truly hits its peak with the arrival of the incomparable Tairrie B Murphy moments later. All big hair and enchanting eyes, there’s no doubting Mrs M’s ability in making the grandest of grand entrances. Tonight is no exception and the diminutive vixen heads straight to the barrier and proceeds to sit on said barrier to belt out down tuned opener ‘Monolith of Wrath’ directly to the crowd. The temperature rockets and it’s akin to a sultry Deep South summer evening, but whilst us mere mortals drip with sweat, Tairrie simply oozes with the charisma and ease of a seasoned pro. She halts proceedings to enquire who gave her “the most bad ass bouquet of roses” and demands that “this motherfucker” be in the front row so that they can have a photo together. Unsurprisingly, the dude in question is happy to oblige and I’m temporarily blinded by the sea of smartphone / camera flashes.
Mrs M informs us that she’s ditched the leopard print dress in favour of an all black ensemble (“Coz it’s Brum and for Sabbath!”) and gives shout outs to all the support bands before dedicating the intoxicating ‘Digging for Ghosts’ to “our bros in Sanctorum”. In between bouts of crowd surfing and stalking the stage like a woman possessed, she’s dropping to her knees and rocking out next to guitarist and hubby Mick Murphy. Their chemistry is undeniable and his gargantuan riffs reverberate around the venue to the delight of everyone here. ‘The Harsh Light Of Day’ (for “rad” photographer Samantha Davis) follows suit before we are treated to an absolutely smoking cover of grunge darlings Mudhoney’s ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ complete with vitriol soaked vocals MR style and plenty of low end bass from Luciano Ferrea. I am grinning from ear to ear when the ferocious ‘God is a Girl with a Butcher Knife’ drops and this one truly showcases Tairrie’s innate ability to weave seamlessly between the sultry spoken word and her trademark blood curdling shrieks.
Band introductions are made (from the barrier!) and then things take on a more intimate, personal vibe as Tairrie shares with us a story regarding her less than favourable press treatment a few years back. The subject was body image – more precisely her weight – but instead of falling foul to cruel words, she and Mick were simply inspired to create a record of such scathing precision, those same individuals would be well and truly silenced. I am of course referring to 2003’s Horror of Beauty and judging by the crowd’s impassioned cries of “Fuck them!” on hearing this tale we are all in agreement that it’s all about the music. Nothing else. And as the band launch full throttle into a beautifully venomous rendition of ‘M2M’, you would struggle to find a head that is not being banged with absolute vigour. Stunning.
We have been witness to something incredibly special this evening. My aforementioned gripe about the venue only being half full was totally unfounded, and to be perfectly honest being in such a small space only added to the sense of intimacy – something that you don’t get very often these days. It may be fifteen years since their inception, but My Ruin remain as raw and unapologetically fierce to this day. And as a self-confessed workaholic, I’m sure the British fans are praying that Mrs M et al miss us so much that they have to come back. Here’s hoping!
P.S Midlands Rocks would also like to say a big thank you to the lovely Jack Osborne (merch man extraordinaire) and Tairrie B Murphy herself for allowing this reviewer backstage and taking the time out to say hello.