Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats + Blood Ceremony @ O2 Institute, Birmingham – Wednesday 23 January 2019


Witnessed by Jason Guest

Last time I saw Blood Ceremony in Birmingham (April 2016) was downstairs in some cellar or other at The Rainbow (reviewed here) where the absence of a stage meant that only those in the first row or two could see the band. The rest of us stared at the backs of the heads of the giants who’d flocked to the front while listening to what was a great performance. While I did manage to squeeze myself around to the side of the “stage” after 3 songs and witness the set about as close up as any fan would want, tonight, downstairs in the Institute, never has a stage been so appreciated.

With songs such as ‘Goodbye Gemini’, ‘Old Fires’, ‘Drawing Down the Moon’ and ‘Oliver Haddo’ as part of the set, Blood Ceremony can do no wrong this evening. And with their latest album, Lord of Misrule, celebrating its third birthday soon, the brand spanking new and fantastic song ‘Lolly Willows’ (available on this tour as a limited edition 7” with a cover of The Who’s ‘Heaven & Hell’ on the B-side) has us craving a new album all the more. Blood Ceremony have the riffs, the beats, the basslines, the haunting organ, the enchanting flute, numinous vocals and all things occult lyrics that, when combined, makes their Hammer Horror rock so very majestic and infinitely enthralling. And on stage, they are outstanding.

For those not in the know, Uncle Acid (aka Kevin Starrs, the simultaneously least and most rock ‘n roll name in the world) has some new Deadbeats with him. I don’t know, maybe the three others got a haircut and got real jobs. Who knows? Anyway, the rhythm guitarist, the bassist and the drummer may very well have all been slowly replaced since 2015 but the beards, the hair, the 70s counterculture couture, and the riffs are still in place (the bassist looking not dissimilar to a diminutive Geezer Butler). And speaking of riffs, do they have riffs! And with their recently released fifth album, Wasteland, to show off, it’s not long before many a head is bopping along to the band’s Beatles-meets-Sabbath-meets-flower-power-meets-LSD-laced-psychedelic rock.

When I saw them in December 2016 (with the incredible Vodun as support; review here), though the band delivered a remarkable set, the visual aspect was lacking. Four lanky long-haired layabouts standing (or sitting, in the case of the drummer) stock still on a stage was barely enough to hold a crowd’s attention. As if by magic, tonight we get a backdrop upon which many a psychedelic splatter is projected, the perfect visual accompaniment to the band’s doom-weighted grooves.

Yep, Wasteland is another belter, Uncle Acid and his ne’er-do-wells’ bad-trip, mind-blowing, flower-powered, 70s-flared groove fills every ‘orrible orifice. And with the band exploring ever deeper the souls of their influences, Uncle ‘sid and co. continue to hammer out horror after head-banging horror without becoming a simulacrum of their icons. And on stage, the new tracks heard tonight sit well with the old and are welcomed by everyone in attendance, the misty mix of the macabre, the melodic and the mighty coming together magnificently in a solid performance.