O2 Academy Sheffield, September 30, 2017
Party starters. Rabble rousers. And dare we say it, metal messiahs.
Yes, Orange Goblin don’t have the international clout they have long deserved, but on home soil, on a Saturday night, playing to a packed hall of doom heads, stoner freaks and groove-worshippers, they sound like the best band in the world.
Back for their second stint at HRH Doom Vs Stoner, the Londoners made sure that no-one left without a smile on their face, or indeed without an aching neck, by kicking-out time. They have festival shows down to a tee, these lads. They know how to work a crowd, how to make sure everyone feels part of something special. They’re adept at creating a sense of community, a place where the hassles and heartaches of everyday existence feel a million miles away.
What’s the secret? Start with towering frontman Ben Ward, resplendent in his Entombed t-shirt, bellowing out anthems like Some You Win, Some You Lose and Scorpionica. Then check out guitarist Joe Hoare – one of the UK’s most underrated six-stringers – whose infectious riffs have a life of their own. And then there’s the gargantuan rhythm section of Martyn Millard and Chris Turner, the bassist and drummer who been bringing the thunder to Orange Goblin since 1995, and at this two-day shindig, shook the Academy to its foundations.
Indeed, the quartet – together for 22 years – were as tight and confident as ever in Sheffield. Familiarity breeds contempt, or arrogance, where some bands are concerned. Not with Orange Goblin, who’ve spent more than two decades at rock’s rough and ready edges, strengthening their bonds with their fans at every step, and making the transition from stoner rock basecamp to the top of the metal mountain with real aplomb.
Yet it’s only when the band are afforded a lengthy headlining slot that you can really appreciate the true depth of their back catalogue. At HRH’s Sabbathian love-in, for instance, the desert meets southern vibes of Time Travelling Blues mixed with Motörheadbanger The Devil’s Whip, zombie-hymn They Come Back (dedicated by Ward to the late George A Romero) and a steaming version of The Fog. Their songs are so potent that despite being on crutches, Saint Vitus guitarist Dave Chandler rejected the safety of the dressing room and cheered along with everyone else from his perch at the bar. And at one point, his bandmate, Down and Crowbar alumnus Pat Bruders, even joined Ward on stage, cheerily adding his backing vocals to the mix.
Moments like that make you wonder where Orange Goblin would be if they born in New Orleans, Washington DC or New York. And in another, more just universe, the boys would surely be headlining arenas. But perhaps that would put an end to night like this one, where the metal community – bands and fans alike – came together to get wasted… and rock out.
And we wouldn’t want that to stop, now would we?