Unlike some who found the debut Adrenaline Mob album Omerta to be too intensely heavy or "modern", I must admit that over recent days I've come to think of the surprisingly - given the past endeavours of those involved - un-prog effort, as a rather excellent take on the sort of metal that has propelled the likes of Disturbed toward superstardom. Albeit with a touch more virtuosity. However that in no way prepared me for the stunningly stupendous performance that Messer's Portnoy, Allen, Orlando and Moyer ripped out in front of a fervent crowd who were up for it from the start and positively rabid by the conclusion of one of the best live shows I've had the honour of witnessing. Heady words I know, but the unfettered enthusiasm, ridiculously pin-point musicianship and expert stage-craft, combined to make Adrenaline Mob a zip-lock tight outfit that I've seldom seen matched in any department.
Having recently witnessed an excellent performance by UK rockers Voodoo Six when they supported Michael Monroe, I was thoroughly looking forward to seeing the band once more strut their stuff in Scotland, especially as health problems had forced them to cancel a recent headline show in Glasgow. The V6 ethos is to take electrifying riffs, give them a shot of hard hitting heavy blues and present them as in your face rock 'n' roll anthems that convince from start to finish. Tonight was no exception. Cherry picking the strongest material from their second album Fluke? and recent EP Falling Knives, songs like "Take The Blame", "Falling Knives" and "Something For You" proved that Voodoo Six are one of the most exciting rock bands to come out of the UK in a long time. The guitar pairing of Chris Jones and Matt Pierce spat out tasty solos and classy, striking riffs with ease, while drummer Joe Lazarus was a joy to watch as he raced round his kit and back again. Add to that the rich, easy vocal delivery of Luke Purdie and Voodoo Six have already mastered the recipe for success, something that more shows like this will only confirm. If you check out only one UK rock act, make it Voodoo Six. The only down side was no matter how good they were - and Voodoo Six were very good indeed - in truth by the time Adrenaline Mob had obliterated King Tut's, any support slot would have seemed a long time in the past...
We all know that one-time Dream Theater fulcrum Mike Portnoy is a drummer par excellence and that Symphony X frontman Russell Allen possesses one of the strongest, most authoritative voices in music. However it has to be said that the real Adrenaline Mob revelation is the pairing of blurring guitarist Mike Orlando (whose two solo albums I now need to hear) and Disturbed bassist John Moyer, who is as much a second guitarist in this band as he is standard bass player. In fact during one of Orlando's many dazzling guitar showcases, singer Allen could, unaware that while off-stage he was still in full view of many in the room, be seen simply staring and smiling at what he was witnessing. Remember this is from a man who, in Symphony X, usually fronts one of the most musically dextrous bands out there! Airing every one of the eleven tracks from Omerta, the dense riffs came thick and fast with the simmering stomp of "Freight Train", the don't fuck with me attitude of "Indifferent" and the fist of fury that makes for "Hit The Wall" hammering home with even more terror than they do on record. Much talk pre-gig had been as to whether Portnoy would bring his entire gargantuan drum-kit to the compact King Tut's stage, but not a man, or indeed a band to compromise, every roto-tom and splash cymbal was in place and thrashed to within an inch of its life, although his classy backing vocals were equally, if somewhat more surprisingly effective contributions.
However even with the fact that many in attendance had paid their money because this was "Portnoy's band", never did the multi-tentacled percussion master hog the limelight, not even taking a full solo spot. Although he did commandeer the microphone to entice a rather large bloke in the audience to reveal his "man boobs" in exchange for a drum stick - much to the amusement of the crowd and the bemusement of Allen!
The main set closed with a brutal run through of "Undaunted", with Allen, as he had all night, masterfully cajoling every single person in attendance to raise their hands, stamp their feet and generally convulse to every razor sharp snare smack, while Moyer threatened to decapitate the front few rows with his dreadlocks as he manically cavorted across the stage, punishing his five string bass to extremes as he went. Orlando however was content to let his fingers do the talking, well that and his fixed grin, with yet more blistering, but never superfluous fret runs swooping and diving for all they were worth.
With the entire album already dispensed with in unmerciful style, Adrenaline Mob returned for a phenomenal and fittingly titled encore of the Dio era Sabbath classic "Mob Rules", before finishing off a blindingly good set with the older Ozzy era Sab's number "War Pigs".
The opportunity to see musicians of this calibre in a venue as small as Glasgow's King Tut's doesn't come around too often and even if you haven't been completely sold on the Adrenaline Mob sound, as my companion at the gig wasn't (he was however absolutely blown away by how stunning they were on the night), you really can't afford to miss this mob if they play anywhere near you. Seriously, I kid you not, very few gigs are as good as this!
(Pictures - Steven Craven)