It's festival season in the UK, hence it's time to keep your eyes peeled for those stand alone warm up shows that usually find a band tearing their way through a greatest hits set that's sure to please fans of all ages. With the mighty Rob Zombie headlining the second stage at Download the next day, before heading out on the festival trail across Europe, his Scottish fans were treated to an astounding night of the best Zombie - both Rob and White - that they could have wished for. Living Dead Girl for the night, Sea of Tranquility's Steven Reid.
You have to feel sorry for local lads Centrilla, their brutal hammer blast of metal quickly buried under an abysmal sound that left much of the vocals a myth and the bass guitar so dominant that the rest of the band could have gone home early. To their credit these young lads seemed determined to grab this opportunity to play to a quickly filling Glasgow Academy. Their efforts may have been toiling against the odds, but by the end of their stint Centrilla had made a few new friends. Under better circumstances, this lot might be on to something.
Thankfully, once the crew had spent an eternity building an almost full stage sized platform for Rob and his Zombie's to parade upon, John 5, Piggy D and Ginger Fish immediately set about blowing away the earlier sound issues as they tore into "Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown", before "Superbeast" confirmed that tonight was going to be a set to please the fans. Not many music artists genuinely emit so much charisma that they look 10 foot tall (well, 12 if you include the platform dominating the stage) but Rob Zombie sure as hell does. The ghouls either side of him are hardly shy retiring violets and yet as the dreadlocks swirl, the leather jacket tassels flail and the lyrics hit their mark, it's the main man that you simply can't take your eye off. And when he can throw out hard hitting, groove smashing, hip-grind popping fare such as "Demonoid Phenomenon" and "In The Age Of The Consecrated Vampire We All Get High", there's no way it's all just b-movie bluster. As if the crowd hadn't already been whipped into a frenzy, the stone cold classic "Living Dead Girl" ensured mayhem broke out, all manner of unsightly demonic shenanigans carried out in the pit at front of the stage, as Rob held court. And all this before the human grind of "Well Everybody's Fucking In A U.F.O." became a sea of sweat and well….
Acknowledging where it all began, Rob and his killer crew also sunk their fangs into a selection of White Zombie killer cuts, "More Human Than Human" and "Thunder Kiss '65" blasted through, the latter of the two beautifully mangling the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" and Alice's "Schools Out" into a Zombified state of mind. John 5 did get his moment in the spotlight, his fingers a blur as he melted his frets and gave a hint of what he's capable of when not playing the devil's music. Although even then Rob demanded the attention as he roamed around the Academy, climbing on the bar tops and raised platforms in the crowd, spraying out the beam of a high powered flashlight across the assembled throng. "The Lord Of Salem" and the stomping "Get Your Boots On! That's The End Of Rock And Roll" were hammered home as two well deserved encores but there's no doubt that everybody in attendance had been waiting for the slam-smash-dunk of "Dragula" to bring an utterly astounding night's entertainment to an end.
Usually I'd say that an act is so astoundingly good at what they do, that you really need to see them before you die. In the case of Rob Zombie and his deathly cohorts, I'm not so sure it matters, the ghosts, ghouls and zombies that make up his audience all heading off into the night with ghastly grins on their deathly white faces. This is theatric rock n' roll at its very best.