With their fourth album Youngblood, Audrey Horne have made such a bold statement that their brand of melodic Classic Rock finally looks set to eclipse the heavier, more progressive tendencies of the band members other outfits - I, Enslaved, Sahg and Deride. Something that this Glasgow show, packed with a stunning display of power, melody and grin inducing good old fashioned fun, reinforced in spectacular style. Add to that the bristling riffs of opening band Sahg and the in your face, like us or loathe us attack of The Mercy House and Glasgow was treated to a triple bill of eclecticism that was brought together by the craft and skill of all three bands.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, however in the case of Norway's Sahg, having witnessed their no nonsense riff laden Metal merely four weeks previous, in the very same venue, it was actually more a case of familiarity making this band all the more irresistible. Frontman Olav Iversen again illustrated a fine mix of riffery, guitar solo extravaganzas and singing that hit the mark time and again. Aided and abetted by fellow six string magician Thomas Thofthagen (the Audrey Horne guitarist putting in the first of two stints on stage tonight), brooding bassman Tom Cato Visnes and drummer Thomas Lonnheim, Iversen set about hammering out a brutal run through of "Pyromancer" and "The Executioner Undead". The latter containing a scintillating rendition of the Thin Lizzy classic "Emerald" slap bang in the middle of it; Iversen and Tofthagen trading lead lines superbly, before a mighty "Echoes Ring Forever" closed out the set in majestically heavy style. Not content however with showcasing the best of their three albums so far, Sahg also treated the small yet vociferous crowd to two new numbers, which actually proved to be the highlight of their all too short set. "Firechild", which is the first single from the band's new album due in October, galloped along at full pace, toms rattling, guitars soaring, while "Edge Of The Universe" was powerful, intricate and simply magnificent. If these two tracks are any indication of what the fourth helping of Sahg will be like, it is going to be an essential purchase for riff led, metal fans everywhere. Phew!
So with a lot to live up to, The UK's The Mercy House stepped out in front of an audience thoroughly warmed up and ready to rock. However while Sahg managed to get bums off seats and fill the floor in front of the stage, this more uncompromising five-piece actually sent some of the less hearty souls scurrying back to the corners. Not that they weren't good - actually they were excellent - however the change in style - both in terms of music and stage presence - was so stark, that it genuinely took most in attendance aback. Blasts of grunge shattered through a Rage Against The Machine like attack, oddly however Queensryche sprang to mind, but then so do Tool, causing styles and attacks to blur as they sped past in a merge of anger and precision. Self admitted "angry young men", frontman Drew Davis spent the set spitting out political-social commentary, while drummer Nick Schlesinger eyeballed anyone daring not to get into The Mercy House grinding groove. "Ask Yourself" shuddered into life through a throb of bass and a scything blast of twin guitar, while Davis proved his posturing was well earned with a vocal performance during "Greed" and "Weight" that hit the heights beautifully, while still stinging with fury. "With A Kiss" signing TMH off with a glorious bulging riff and pointed, "Fuck You!" lyric. Tonight The Mercy House were a bit too much for some in attendance to cope with. However this band are going places - and fast!
Audrey Horne on the other hand are a band who should by rights have already reached the heights, their most recent album Youngblood being an absolute barnstorming piece of Classic Rock that throws out hints of classic era Kiss, Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC and Zeppelin. If you haven't heard it, you must! Live however they take it to the next level, simply bursting with an infectious energy that is simply too joyous to ignore. "Redemption Blues" roared into life, setting the tone through its catchy as hell chorus. Frontman Toschie immediately proving that his voice is every bit as enormously melodic and powerful in person, as it is on record. His unruly fringe swishing madly as he cavorted round the stage and onto the barrier at the audience's faces. However unlike The Mercy House, his brand of engagement brought those catching his glare into a world of devilish excitement that was too tempting to resist. "Bridges And Anchors" - highlighting the band's earlier material superbly - and "Youngblood" kept up the intensity, with the fire-breathing riffs from the already stage hardened Tofthagen and his guitaring partner Ice Dale proving monstrous, yet memorable beyond belief - a rare combination indeed. Bassist Espen Lien, who singer Toschie actually credits with pushing the band to new heights with the Youngblood album, was clearly having a ball, not content simply laying out gargantuan bass lines as thick as a thick thing, he also provided stunning backing and harmony vocals, while drummer Kjetil Greve laid down the law behind the kit. "Show And Tell" hammered past, before Scotland was treated to a special rendition of "There Goes A Lassie" (usually "There Goes A Lady"), before another older number "Firehose" finally slowed the pace to less than warp speed.
It was a brief respite however with "Cards With The Devil" and the insanely catchy "Pretty Little Sunshine" reaching full melodic velocity again. Not content with singing into the faces of the ever attentive front row, Toschie then proceeded to vault the barrier, joining the crowd for glorious run throughs of "Threshold" and "Blaze Of Ashes", while Tofthagen, Ice Dale and Lien lined the front of the stage virtually jabbing the fervent masses with their guitar necks in a truly audience and band together moment. "This Ends Here" was probably meant to bring the main set to a glorious conclusion, but with Ivory Blacks stage being at the opposite end of the venue from "back-stage", Audrey Horne simply kept going. Toschie once again joined the throng to high-five, hug and share the mic with the crowd as "Straight Into Your Grave" hit the spot in the same precise manner that every song had before, finally bringing an end to a set that made it ridiculous that a band of this skill, talent and charisma, with songs that delight, seduce and raise the spirits, are still playing venues as compact as Ivory Blacks. This is a band fully equipped for the big time, to see them this up close and personal was truly a privilege. One that if the opportunity arises, you do not want to miss out on!