Saturday, August 8, 2015

Gig Review: Head Like A Hole, San Fran, Wellington, 6 August 2015

Last Thursday night marked the Wellington leg of Head Like A Hole’s 2015 nationwide Narcocorrido tour, something of a homecoming gig for Aotearoa’s finest “stench rock” exponents ...

Support band 8 Foot Sativa kicked things off with a solid half hour (or so) set of tight energetic metal, and while they’re very good at what they do, the indecipherable vocals and an overwhelming sense of in-yer-face-ness render this band a bit beyond the comfort zone of your blogger’s delicate pop-loving ears. Which, I guess, is exactly the point. There’s no question 8 Foot Sativa’s set was well received and there’s a very good reason they’ve survived at the forefront the genre – in a local context at least – for as long as they have.

Head Like A Hole opened with a foreboding, tension-building take on 'The Great Wall', replicating the dramatic opening moments found on Narcocorrido, the band’s latest album. Booga Beazley immediately reminded the two-thirds-full venue – a relatively disappointing "hometown” turnout I’d have thought? – of why Head Like A Hole enjoy such a fierce live reputation, with the vocalist’s theatrical Rock God persona at its most pronounced (and grin-worthy) throughout the first couple of songs. It’s been far too long …

As the set progressed we got a perfect blend of past and present. Exactly what the vast majority of punters wanted. The best material, or personal highlights, from the recent Narcocorrido album included a great version of 'Rotten', the menacing dirty blues of 'Mexico', and what was perhaps a eureka moment in terms of pure dual/dueling guitar riffery, 'The Rise and Fall of the Sun'.

Then there was the older material; an early outing for 'Fish Across Face', sleazy mid-set workings of 'Comfortably Shagged' and 'Wet Rubber', with the show steadily building to the climactic peak of closing numbers ‘Cornbag’, and the much loved ‘Hootenanny’, after which the band downed tools and walked off …

And just when we thought it was safe, the band returned for a three-song encore – oldies ‘A Crying Shame’ and ‘I’m On Fire’, plus ‘Glory Glory’ off the 2011 “comeback” album Blood Will Out, to close.

It was very much one of those Increasingly Rare Hard Rock Occasions for yours truly (I’m getting soft in my dotage) and all the more enjoyable because of that. The gig served to reinforce what (I suspect) most of us in attendance already knew, that the years may be rolling on, the laughter lines may be more pronounced, and the numbers may be dwindling slightly these days, but Head Like A Hole refuse to compromise, and the band was as professionally chaotic and chaotically professional as it ever was.

It’s just a shame more locals let the gig slip by unnoticed … (though Lydia Lunch and Ahoribuzz playing elsewhere – separately – may have had something to do with that).

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