Pentagram - LIVE: The Garage, London 2012

Relentless Tour
November 1 (21:30-22:50)
Capacity 630

With the postponement of their show in Bristol due to Hurricane Sandy, the London show became the opening night of the European tour celebrating the anniversary of debut album Relentless, and was a return to the venue at which Pentagram made their emotional UK live debut after four decades of existence in 2011 to a near-sold-out crowd.

This time the crowd wasn't quite so big; without that novelty value of it being a 40-year-old band's first ever UK show it was probably stripped down to the real Pentagram fans. Although live music ticket prices are noticeably starting to affect attendance levels too. Nevertheless, The Garage was still busy, and if all that's missing from a crowd are the less-committed fans, that's never likely to make a difference to the atmosphere.

Locals Hark kicked off proceedings quite early, and they were followed closely by the tour's special guests Gentlemans Pistols, still supporting their 2011 album At Her Majesty's Pleasure. Barely afforded half an hour on stage they hurried through their set as best they could, but for a band who specialise in jamming on the solos in their songs, time is always an issue. They thought they were going to have to cut their set short when told they had time for only one more, so dropped The Ravisher in order to close with Lying And Fooling, only to finish that one quickly enough that there was time for The Ravisher after all. They enjoyed moderate success with the crowd, but would probably benefit from pushing guitar legend Bill Steer to the front more often instead of letting him solo in the shadows.

When Pentagram arrived on stage it was obvious they were tired. The Bristol show had been cancelled because Trans-Atlantic flights were grounded by the hurricane, but they'd managed to get an overnight flight in order to begin the tour in London. So after spending the entire previous day working on getting to the UK, all night traveling, and the day of the show going through the usual preparations and soundchecks etc. the band had barely slept for two days, plus jet lag. They could therefore be forgiven for being a little less energetic on stage than they were last year, and getting mixed up on Run My Course, although guitarist Victor Griffin, on his last tour with the band before leaving to focus on his other projects, seemed less affected than the others.

The focal point of the tour is the whole Relentless album, which they have chosen not to play in order, or in one go. The inclusion of the usually-absent songs from that disc has meant no room for a few other fan-favourites (When The Screams Come in particular), or very many songs from latest album Last Rites (just two), but the chance to see uncommon songs like You're Lost, I'm Free, Run My Course and the excellent The Ghoul is a rare treat.

Obviously the rarer songs included in their previous tour setlist, like Review Your Choices and Vampyre Love, lost their place this time around, but Wolf's Blood from third album Be Forewarned was surprisingly aired instead. Whatever they played though, the show was highlighted by the immense Victor Griffin, who seemed to be able to make any riff twice as heavy as it was originally, and pealed off solos with ease. His presence in the rejuvenated Pentagram will be sorely missed.

Up until this tour the band could do no wrong. Their terribly underrated body of work always has first-class songs to offer up, and their performances have won over every audience they've played to. The key now will be getting someone who can step into Griffin's shoes as the dependable and engaging straight-man to Liebling's tireless madman.

“ highlighted by the immense Victor Griffin ”

Gentlemans Pistols setlist: Living In Sin Again / Comfortably Crazy / Widow Maker / Some Girls Don't Know What's Good For Them / Personal Fantasy / I Wouldn't Let You / Lying And Fooling / The Ravisher

Pentagram setlist: Death Row / All Your Sins / Wolf's Blood / Sign of The Wolf (Pentagram) / The Ghoul / Forever My Queen / You're Lost, I'm Free / The Deist / Run My Course / Sinister / Treat Me Right / Wartime / 20 Buck Spin // Dying World / Relentless/Nothing Left

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2012, Doom Metal, Gigs, ,

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