WORDS: Laura McCarthy, PHOTOS: Laura McCarthy
With a hugely successful album released earlier this year, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME have set themselves some pretty high standards when it came to touring. Standing outside The Gorilla in Manchester, the buzz around the doors even an hour before the gig started was enough to tell you that fans of BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME were seriously ready to be impressed.
However, before the main event, the crowd was treated to the offerings of HAKEN, a seven piece from London. With an initial instrumental with complicated licks and changes at every turn, it was clear to anyone who hadn’t yet heard the likes of this band that they know their stuff. This wasn’t going to be your standard warm up act. With a head of notably frizzy hair, vocalist Ross Jennings bounced around the stage with great enjoyment. Prog is a strange genre of music to watch- it’s more complicated than simple mosh-inducing tunes, yet there has to be an element of musicality to it to get the crowd going. Thankfully there was a huge amount of fun to be had at a gig like this, and with Jennings help, the crowd were truly into the performance; getting involved with keyboardist Diego Tejeida, dodging in between the rest of the band and hi-fiving the crowd, there was no shortage of drive throughout the set. The dynamic was fantastic, with Tejeida bringing out the keytar to play side by side with Charlie Griffiths, the whole event felt like a big jam. All bit it a very well-played, and completely well-polished jam. The whole band seemed to enjoy themselves a lot and by the final song, the cheers suggested the crowd did too. Indeed, the set was a great hit, and a very welcome way to warm into the evening.
Before long, the lights came low, and the first notes of Selkies: The Endless Obsession boomed into existence to cries and applause. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME had finally arrived, and fans of the new album, Coma Ecliptic, which we gave 10/10, were treated to an awesome performance of The Come Machine, and the hugely popular Astral Boy.
From the off, the audience shouted along and were immediately captivated. If anyone was wondering if the band would live up to the immensity of Coma Ecliptic, they really needn’t have. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, having seven previous albums and countless tours under their belts, are seasoned pro’s at this. The crowd was alive under the intensity of the sound, roaring metal elements sending the crowd into a frenzy, yet the more complex prog elements creating a huge sound scape. These are a band that are so technically impressive, you’re glad the songs are so long so you can appreciate every section of each in all its glory.
Tommy Giles Rodgers Jr gave an impressive performance not only vocally but also on the keys. He commanded the crowd with a simple throw of his arm in the air, and never over preformed. There’s truly little need in this kind of environment- he simply let the music do the talking. The same can be said for bassist Dan Briggs, who was as always cool and composed as he flitted between his axe and the keys, sharing a smile now and again with the ever talented Dustie Waring.
The dynamism of the set was both captivating and enlivening which is no surprise as that is after all what the group are renowned for being, it was hard to know whether to stand and analyse the playing or just give yourself to the music and let your mind be well and truly rinsed through with the huge technical workings of the band.
Most interestingly, a particular delight to behold was the way in which BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME interacted. It’s all very subtle, underplayed and even unnoticeable, yet for something this tight the understanding of the each musician with the others is clear. The band has been together for fifteen years, any while this particular incarnation has been working together for around ten of them, that kind of prowess as a cooperative reign’s supreme in progmetal.
Paul Waggoner preformed complicated riffs with genuine vigour and ease, all the while throwing his mane of hair around; Blake Richardson was as ever, majestic. His drumming was the complete heart of the set and there was never a beat dropped. Metal and prog are always hard to play well live, let alone in this mind-bending meld, but BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME are totally in control of their sound. Having said that, even slight sound issues mid-set seemed to be of little consequence, as the band belted through into Memory Palace, and Famine Wolf. The new album is a huge merit to the bands back catalogue, and yet there was as much verve to the reception of Ant To The Sky, Lay Your Ghosts To Rest and the spectacular White Walls as any of the new material.
Suddenly, the lights were up and the crowd was shaking hands with Waring and Briggs, commending them on their performance, and there was a sense that this audience really weren’t ready to go home. Truly, the only problem with this gig, and this is something of a cliché, it was seemingly over so quickly. It was all too good to really take in in on go. Nevertheless, it was all genuinely brilliant; great fun and an amazing way to end an awesome evening.
With heads throbbing from the onslaught that was the last three hours, there are already engrossed conversations on the street about how genuinely impressive this has all been. Needless to say those on their way to see BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME can wait with the solid and exciting prospect that they are in for something very special.
Check out our exclusive photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester: