Corrosion of Conformity + Orange Goblin @ The Institute, Digbeth – Saturday 27 October 2018


This particular Saturday night in Birmingham is a cold one. A smidge of snow in the morning and low temperatures in the evening. Winter has arrived. And so, in a splendidly timely manner, so have Corrosion of Conformity and Orange Goblin on their co-headline UK tour. Both long – and sharp – in the tooth, with age comes experience, and nothing can slow them down. Why? Because both bands know three things: how to write a killer tune, how to put together a killer set, and how to deliver it.

First up is Orange Goblin, (incredibly) big Ben Ward (seriously, have you seen the size of him!) stomping straight to the front of the stage and bellowing, “I wanna see chaos! I wanna see turmoil!” Yep, tonight’s a party. And as if his immense presence isn’t enough to get the crowd going already, ‘Sons of Salem’ from this year’s – and the band’s ninth – album The Wolf Bites Back is. Headbangingly hard and heavy, with four of the first six tracks of the set being taken from this album, it’s apparent that writing the album with the live environment in mind was a wise decision and one executed very well.

With ‘Quincy The Pigboy’ from their 2000 third album The Big Black and ‘Saruman’s Wish’ from their 1998 debut album Frequencies From Planet Ten sandwiched between them, it’s clear that Orange Goblin have stuck to their guns and maintained and refined their hefty sound. The remainder of their set spanning their now-twenty three year career, Ben leads the crowd in headbanging, fist-raising unison while guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Chris Turner chuck out slab after slab of Black Sabbath / Motörhead / Stoner Doom-infused beer-drinking biker rock. The pit surges, the party gets wilder, and the classic ‘Red Tide Rising’ closes a killer set that only a band of Corrosion of Conformity’s prestige and prowess could follow.

Set list:

  1. Sons Of Salem
  2. Quincy The Pigboy
  3. Renegade
  4. Saruman’s Wish
  5. The Wolf Bites Back
  6. Burn The Ships
  7. Acid Trial
  8. Made Of Rats
  9. Scorpionica
  10. The Devil’s Whip
  11. They Come Back (Harvest Of Skulls)
  12. Red Tide Rising

Monday 30 March 1992 was the first time I saw Corrosion of Conformity, in this very venue supporting Soundgarden on their Badmotorfinger tour no less. With Blind released the previous year, Pepper Keenan had made his recording debut as guitarist with the band and, most importantly, as vocalist on one track, the incendiary ‘Vote With A Bullet’. Yes, it was a fucking amazing gig. And no, that’s not nostalgia talking. It was incredible. Having seen Corrosion of Conformity a few times since then – 1995 at Donington’s Monsters of Rock, 1996 at the Birmingham NEC supporting Metallica, and 2006 with Clutch in Wolverhampton – I’ve not been disappointed. Tonight was no exception.

And so, with such a powerful and stirring set to follow, you’d think that Corrosion of Conformity would go at it with something heavy, hard, fast. Nope. Corrosion of Conformity never conform to expectations (pun intended, though a poor one I grant you). Instead, they take us down into swamp-dragged tempos and Southern-tinged smoky melodies with ‘Seven Days’ from the album where Keenan first made his presence very much felt: 1994’s Deliverance. Next up, ‘The Luddite’ brings us to the present day with latest album No Cross No Crown. Like Orange Goblin, Corrosion of Conformity’s sound, while not losing any of its power, has only improved over time. Back to Deliverance for ‘Broken Man’, we’re back in 2018 for ‘Forgive Me’ before ‘Wiseblood’ breaks up the back-and-forth pattern and we’re blasted with ‘Who’s Got The Fire’ and ‘13 Angels’ from America’s Volume Dealer. And ‘Vote With A Bullet’ is introduced with the ugly reminder that sometimes this song’s time comes around time and again. Hmm. Can’t seem to think why it might be relevant today. Can you?

Headed for the end of tonight’s set, ‘Wolf Named Crow’ is followed by anthemic ‘Albatross’ before Keenan thanks Birmingham for its immeasurable inspiration: “If this city didn’t exist, we wouldn’t even be here.” Tonight, the band played like they own the place, like the stage is their natural abode. And while Keenan, Woody Weatherman and Mike Dean – who somehow don’t seem to be getting any older – dish out the dirt in true Corrosion of Conformity style, kudos goes to John Green, Reed Mullin’s drum tech who is sitting in and playing like he’s been in the band since day one. With ‘Clean My Wounds’ to close out, it’s out into winter-worn Birmingham with ringing ears, grinning faces, and beer-warmed bellies to keep out the cold.

Set list:

  1. Seven Days
  2. The Luddite
  3. Broken Man
  4. Forgive Me
  5. Wiseblood
  6. Who’s Got Fire
  7. 13 Angels
  8. Vote With A Bullet
  9. Wolf Named Crow
  10. Albatross
  11. Clean My Wounds