Mastodon + Red Fang + Russian Circles @ Civic Hall, Wolverhampton – Monday 4 December 2017


A mighty racket…

Witnessed by Jason Guest

Instrumental trio Russian Circles take on the challenge of addressing a huge crowd with the unmatched self-assurance of a sold-out headliner. Shaking, rattling and rolling many a bone with their filmic, atmospheric and meaty riffs, rhythms and melodies, the crowd are won over, the applause filling the room as they leave us dumbfounded at what we have just been privy to.

Red Fang take to the stage and, gentlemen that they are, shake each other’s hands. Then they begin playing. Then the walls start shaking. Massive riffs, massive melodies and pointed lead lines, Red Fang are all dirt, all metal and all entertaining, head-banging loveliness. Moustachioed, and bearded, and as heavy as ten tonnes of ten tonne stone, the number of bobbing heads and horns held high grows as their set proceeds and they leave us pleasantly pummelled in preparation for tonight’s headliners.

Is there a better way to open a show than with a 13-minute prog metal classic such as ‘The Last Baron’? Short answer, nope. Long answer, nope, just ask Mastodon. With an elaborate and impressive light show raining down on both band and audience, the mighty Mastodon has galloped into town to bring seventeen of their sumptuous songs to the Civic stage. With the very rather excellent Emperor of Sand released earlier this year, Mastodon delivered another remarkable album, an album so good that this evening’s set will include seven tracks from it. ‘Sultan’s Curse’ being the first receives the welcome it deserves, as does ‘Divinations’ from Crack The Skye. ‘Ancient Kingdom’ next and four songs in and Mastodon are owning the Civic. That refurb wasn’t all in vain after all….

The time-twisting and madness-inducing ‘Bladecatcher’ sees the band showing off both their musical prowess and their warped humour, grind, thrash, prog and melody mashing this very big and very zealous collection of metalheads into a sweaty pulp. The circle pit opens up for ‘Black Tongue’ and stays for the metal groove of ‘Colony of Birchmen’ and the melodic splendour of ‘Ember City’. Taking us back to 2004’s Leviathan, ‘Megalodon’ is as heavy as that marine mammal that emblazons the album’s cover and informs its concept, as is ‘Andromeda’ and cosmic crusher ‘Oblivion’. With four tracks from Emperor of Sand, ‘Mother Puncher’ from their 2002 debut album Remission, and ‘Blood and Thunder’ from Leviathan to close, Mastodon can do no wrong.

These four men make a mighty racket. Drawing on metal, thrash, grind, and prog and continuously pushing their musical boundaries, watching them perform, one’s gast has never been so flabbered. Mastodon have little if any need of clichéd rock ‘n roll histrionics, the closest any of them come is Troy Sanders whose many grimaces complement the emotional range of the band’s lyrics and melodies. The combined guitar work of Kelliher and Hinds is extraordinary, riff after riff displaying their musical and instrumental dexterity and their lead work a lesson in how to write a song within a song. And little need be said about Brann Dailor’s exceptional drumming save that he pulls all off it while singing at the same time. We should be happy about that, but he’s just too good. Yep, jealous. Resplendent in a breath-taking lightshow and stunning visuals, this evening will remain an indelible impression on all who were in attendance.

Mastodon Band 1017Set List:

  • The Last Baron
  • Sultan’s Curse
  • Divinations
  • Ancient Kingdom
  • Bladecatcher
  • Black Tongue
  • Colony Of Birchmen
  • Ember City
  • Megalodon
  • Andromeda
  • Oblivion
  • Show Yourself
  • Precious Stones
  • Roots Remain
  • Mother Puncher
  • Steambreather
  • Blood And Thunder

Mastodon UK Tour 2017