It felt strangely appropriate to talk to Tommy Victor, the frontman of legendary but hard to define metal band Prong, about his time working behind the scenes at the iconic CBGB club in New York City. A small but potent venue which hosted an array of cult metal bands in its day, that little concert hall was a lot like Sound Control is to Manchester today. Over the past year this club has become a home away from home for me as I continually find myself back there to check out a member of extreme metal royalty, and this night was no exception. Not for the first time I found myself wondering as I took my place at the upstairs bar and prepared myself for the show whether in twenty in years time people will be talking about this place with the same deference as legendary venues like CBGB. I know I will be at least!
Unfortunately my analogy runs a little bit flat when I report that during the first half of opening act Klogr’s set Sound Control was the emptiest I have ever seen it. It was a shame too because these guys were really good. Frontman Gabriele “Rusty” Rustichelli had an awesome, confident singing voice and the way that he would emphasise certain lyrics with a forceful yell rather than a scream was quite masterful. The overall sound was deep and sludgy but with a distinctly modern edge to it. Indeed ‘Guinea Pigs’ had a touch of the Skindred vibe about it. The place did start to fill up a little bit towards the end of the band’s set but unfortunately they crowd that did form were not overly into what they were seeing. Gabriele at one point asked that the people move closer to the stage so that he might have “a real cute memory” of the place, but alas most of the audience were having none of it. Still, with a good sound and a really charismatic performance, I thought that these guys did a great job on that stage.
Ennio Morricone’s theme to For A Few Dollars More brought the headliners out on stage and all of the crowd’s apparent apathy soon dissipated as the band launched into thrashy opening number ‘For Dear Life’. Tommy was tremendously energetic up on stage it must be said, jumping and moving all around vibrantly, he encouraged full participation from the audience right the way through the set. The crowd responded to this, every head was banging during ‘Unconditional’.
The crowd responded well to brand new numbers ‘Turnover’ and ‘Ruining Lives’, after which this tour was named, and they also seemed to really dig a cover of the Chrome classic ‘Third From The Sun’. The most impressive element of the night though was the way in which snare drum hits combined with the bass notes to create an all powerful cacophony that figuratively shook the room. The room seemed to be soaking that up so much that Tommy had to gently remind them that ‘Cut-Rate’ is “a good slam-dance” number, and once he did a pit did indeed break out. There were a couple of awkward moments between songs where Tommy’s humour seemed to get lost in translation, such as his insistence that because the soundman was from London that made him a hillbilly, being a Southerner and all, but on the whole this was a night that by the end a half full Sound Control seemed to really enjoy.
A frenetic closing crescendo of ‘Whose Fist Is This Anyway?’ ‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’ and ‘Power of the Damager’ brought the night to a close before an encore of ‘Revenge…Best Served Cold’ and ‘Prove You Wrong’ sent the crowd home happy after another night of unique metal at what is rapidly becoming Manchester’s best underground venue.
Review: Michael Dodd