This gig was highly anticipated for me, having never seen either band before when the announcement was made last year they were coming and playing in the city I live it was very easy for me to make the decision to attend. However the day of this show (22nd of February) ended up with New Zealand’s biggest natural disaster in the last 80 years (or so they say) taking place in Christchurch. Now this took place well away from Wellington but this was much closer to both bands. Both bands were checking into Christchurch airport when the earthquake hit, both bands fine, but now had no way of making the Wellington show, making it postponed till the 23rd.
Now to the show, High on Fire were up first and the three piece metal act from Oakland, California came out and tore it up from start to finish. Starting the set with Speed Wolf from the album Surrounded By Thieves was a welcome opener and showed their intentions to play songs from later album and not just last year’s Snakes for the Divine. Next they played Frost Hammer one of the better tracks off the latest and it seemed like it was well known within the crowd because the crowd really got into this one with Matt Pike showing similar intensity on stage with his sludge metal sounding guitar work and Brent Hinds like vocals (or you could say Brent sounds like Matt). It’s always nice when bands never played in your country before and have multiple albums in their discography that they play some older tracks and this was the case even more with High on Fire. Playing the songs Blood From Zion, Hung Drawn and Quartered and Rumours Of War, from the albums The Art Of Self Defense, Surrounded By Thieves and Death is This Communion.
They ended the set with two more tracks off Snakes for the Divine, those two being my favourites Bastard Samurai and the other being the album title track Snakes for the Divine. Both tracks were probably the most explosive of the set and the crowd were into it till the end. Between tracks the band dedicated their last track to Christchurch a nice gesture after all they of all people would understand what happened being there and all. A Great set of about 45 minutes that showed a polished performance putting absolutely everything into it.
Next up were none other than the Melvins, this was not only the first time of me seeing them but also a band that incorporates two drummers. Once started this was nothing less than spectacular standing two from the front and in front of Buzz you could see early on why they are such a revered live act. Kicking off the set with The Water Glass from their latest album The Bride Screamed Murder we were immediately shown how tight this live show was and why the duel drumming combination of Dale Crover and Coady Willis is so good to watch. Now other bands that incorporate two drummers play the exact same note but what I loved about the Melvins was that they weren’t playing the same thing at all times. The set is full of songs from the latest album and while the set is missing classic songs from it (particularly my favourite Honeybucket) it still produces an amazing set.
Being in front of Buzz one thing you notice is the man’s stage presence, he owns the stage from start to finish and pulls off a perfect performance and one that I’ve rarely witnessed. The man has everything he does down to a tee and shows all his experience throughout. Standout tracks from the gig include Evil New War God and Electric Flower. The sheer heaviness of the show but at the same time still being able to pick up all the small things involved makes it even more amazing.
This was truly an amazing show and for those that decided to choose Queens of the Stoneage (which was cancelled on the day) you sure did miss out on something we might never see here again and I’d certainly hope not under the same circumstances.