It had been a bit of a worrying weekend (for reasons that I won’t go into here) but I was looking forward to a solo outing to Fibbers to see an amended version of one of my favourite bands. Before I set off, I took the opportunity to do a little bit of research about the support band and slightly spoiled my anticipation by letting my preconceptions take over.
According to their Facebook page, Mörderstein are primarily a Rammstein covers band and according to their Wikipedia entry, Rammstein are a German industrial metal band. An ex-colleague of mine is a fan of the genre and, having described it to me, had somewhat put me off (although I freely admit that I hadn’t heard any of the bands he recommended). So, if I’m honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to hearing Mörderstein. This was their first gig and they had, handily, already published their set-list as Intro (a sort of choral and bells opening), Ich Tu Dir Weh, Feuer Frie!, Keine Lust, Links 2, 3, 4, Du Hast and Sonne. Of course, I have no idea whether they stuck to this. Being a six-piece band and, tonight, using their own drum-kit, which had been placed in front of the headliners’ own kit, they appeared a bit cramped on stage. So much so that newly appointed keyboard player (John Diver, also of Rubix Cube) was hidden behind one of the large speakers. The music was pretty much as I expected it – huge guitar sounds and crashing drums making the floor and walls vibrate, with more subtle sounds from both guitar and synthesizer occasionally coming through. Being in German, the lyrics sounded barked and harsh but, unusually for the venue, were very clear. To me, the synthesizer sometimes sounded a little out of place but at other times added a nice extra layer of sound. This may have been the band’s first gig but it was a very assured and entertaining performance. By the time the set came to a rather abrupt end (if the last song was announced, I missed it) I had changed my opinion slightly – I had thought that the genre would consist of very similar songs of mostly noise. Rammstein and, by extension, Mörderstein can obviously be slightly more melodic than I expected and songs such as the faster-paced Feuer Frie! show that it’s not the near-plod that I was expecting. See what I mean about preconceptions? There’s probably still very little chance that I’ll add any Rammstein (or similar) albums to my collection, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Mörderstein perform again. Oh yeah, and at least one band member seems to be a Leeds United fan. Good man!
While clearly not their first gig, tonight was the first for Morpheus Rising with new vocalist Simon Wright (Graeme Tennick having departed for work-pastures new and currently working on new music under the name Scaedunengan). This was a warm-up for their appearance at the Cambridge Rock Festival next weekend and, by tonight’s showing, they could well be gaining a whole new set of fans down there. Opening with a different, heavier piece of music to the usual Carmina Burana, before launching into Save The Day and Brave New World, the band gave us a familiar but slightly different set. The vocals on the first two songs sounded incredibly clear and I initially put this down to a mix of Simon’s talent and a good soundman. However, as the set went on, I realised that it was also, at least in part, my growing familiarity of the songs as during newer ones I couldn’t make out the lyrics as easily. As with any band, however, the lyrics are only part of the live experience. In the case of Morpheus Rising, the guitar solos (and duets) are equally important (and as ubiquitous as three-word song titles). Tonight both Pete and Daymo were, pretty much as usual, on fire and as tight as can be when playing together. Daymo seemed particularly proud of what I think was a new toy – an illuminated guitar. With Gibbo and Andy performing thumping rhythms, the audience got the usual high-standard of heavy metal. There seemed to be some slightly amended arrangements to some of the songs tonight. Those Who Watch opened with a keyboard-like sound that I don’t remember from previous gigs and Gypsy King (another song that I struggled to hear the lyrics for) contained a superb guitar solo that I didn’t recognise, but that could just have been my memory.
In terms of performance and stage presence, Simon is very similar to Graeme. He doesn’t quite conduct the band in the same way, his vocals are slightly lighter in tone while still retaining the required power and there’s no small amount of humour in the banter with the audience – song titles were mangled during the introductions so Those Who Watch became Those Who Wash and Quench Your Thirst became Clench something else. Whether he will become as much as an ambassador for the band as Graeme was remains to be seen (by me, anyway – I couldn’t hang around to chat after the gig, as I suspect many did.) So, if the question is whether Morpheus Rising have suffered from the loss of one of their founding members I would say not. Conversely, have they been enhanced by the recruitment of Simon – that’s something we’ll probably never know. From Graeme’s perspective, it may have been a bad time to leave the band, with their biggest gig to date on the horizon and work still continuing on the debut album and, again, conversely, it may be a good time for Simon to join. But we will never know what might have been and, let’s face it, plenty of bands survive line-up changes and plenty of frontmen have enjoyed solo careers.