After an overpriced meal in a local Camden grease-shop and a coffee to pick up my somewhat fried-out mind, myself and CoC's German scribe of great gigs galore and, as I know from finally meeting him in person, top dude Matthias Noll arrived slightly too late to catch all of Soilent Green's set. What I did get to see well preserved the jarring structures and violent riffage of their recorded efforts. Not being a close follower of their work I unfortunately caught no songs in specific but the experience, however short, was backed by a clear sound which preserved a surprising degree of the band's uneasy charm and harsh musical character.
Eyehategod took the stage soon after and requested that the crowd be "Stupid: stupid drunk". Instantly erecting a solid wall-of-noise sound with their over-driven guitars, they proceeded to pleasantly dirge and groove their way through a loud, extreme, but strangely toe-tapable set which I again could pick out no specifics from but which left me smiling. Their vocalist complained a number of times of the crowd's under-enthusiasm -- a complaint not uncommon in London, though I recall Immortal at this very venue two years ago getting a huge and unprecedented crowd response --, but by the set's end things had gone from luke-warm to a near-boil down the front. Impressively listenable live act, I must admit, considering the ear-shattering tones of their recorded works.
Finally, it was time for the final, headlining act of this Nawlins triple-treat to take the Underworld's undersized stage. Despite their average weight having lowered since the apparent retirement of original bass player Todd Strange and the re-recruitment of Craig Nunenmacher on drums, Crowbar have lost nothing in heaviness, and live is where they make the most sense. I love their albums, but God damn, watching this band rip up a stage live (especially in a small sweaty club like the Underworld, because on the main stage at Milwaukee '98 they really didn't make the kind of sense they did this evening) reminds you why live play is such a key feature to more or less any great band's existence. Crowbar pour their heart and soul into jamming out their trademark barrage of low chords and thumping rhythm section beats. Kirk Windstein positively belts his vocal performance into the microphone with such vigour you're almost surprised the stand doesn't fly across the room. The overall effect succeeds, as any live performance should, but, I find, surprisingly few do, in improving on the album-recorded versions of songs ranging from depressive dirges like "Fixation" or "All I Had (I Gave)" to the immense, melodic "Planets Collide", to the riffier numbers off their newly released _Equilibrium_ offering like "I Feel the Burning Sun" or "Down Into the Rotting Earth". Thus, despite some setlist changes I would personally have implemented and the over-long breaks taken between each song (some seamless shifts would not have gone amiss for preserving the momentum of the set), Crowbar were a pleasure to behold on this evening and I dearly hope that now that they are backed by a bigger, more solid record company than before their visits to the UK will be more frequent than every three to four years. Do not pass up the chance to see this monstrous package tear it up: pay up, drink up, smoke up, but definitely turn up, and let these hard-drinkin' Nawlins lads steamroller right over you like only they can.