Live Gig Review by: David Locklear
Any time a male bassist is wearing platform shoes during a live gig without a hint of irony, I am going to have a smile on my face.
While already a very tall man, Spider’s bassist Olle Griphammar was now made several inches taller because of the Gene Simmons/David Bowie platforms he wore, and it made his presence a glamorous threat.
And while he is a man of few words, he was certainly expressive with his thunderous riffs and stage presence when he took to the stage with rest of the Spiders on January 30 at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC.
During their roughly one hour set, the Spiders tore through the songs from their last three records, 2012’s Flash Point, 2014’s Shake Electric, and 2015’s Why Don’t You? with a rock energy that organically emulated the sounds of the 70’s underground bands that have heavily influenced their music and image.
“The first album (2011’s E.P.) was more like a smash in your face, like Kiss or The Dictators, stuff like that,” singer Ann-Sofia Hoyles told me when I spoke with band backstage prior to the show. “The songs from Flash Point and Shake Electric are more influenced by the glam rock scene.”
Forming in 2010, the Spiders have been recording and touring relentlessly, releasing two full-length albums and two E.P.’s, and also going from performing small gigs in small venues in Sweden to supporting the likes of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Metallica.
”We’ve been doing this for about five years now,” guitarist John Hoyles added. “We work really hard and [success] hasn’t happened overnight…but it’s getting better and better.”
As the Swedish natives took to the stage, they began immediately bashing through many songs from Shake Electric and Why Don’t You? with an energy that distilled the tracks down to their truest rock form. And as what happens with many opening bands, it was up to them to dismantle the wall of audience indifference and find a connection that wins them over.
Opening the show with the Native American tribal swagger of “Mad Dog”, to the bluesy, Howlin’ Wolf bluster of “Love Me”, and later crashing through the sweaty, sex wrapped tease of “Why Don’t You?”, the Spiders steamrolled the audience members with their expansive sound and grabbed their attention. Even when they later conjured the ghost of Janis Joplin on the slow jam, “Hard Times”, the band kept the audience charged up and alive.
“Of course, you want people to like [the music]…but, that’s an extremely soft song. It’s more like backing vocals, and piano,” Ann-Sofia Hoyles says. “That’s the nicest thing about the Spiders-you can do whatever you want. We are so free in our minds when we create music and what we want to do. That’s why it’s different, because we can evolve.”
As they galloped to the finish line of their set, Ann-Sofia Hoyles ceaselessly attacked the stage with a confident energy that is only reserved for the best front women as they played the anthemic “Give Up The Fight” and the punkish “Rules of the Game”. She bounded back and forth across the stage, collapsed to the ground and held the audience in her thrall without fail.
Drummer Pontus Jordan-who usually plays with the Swedish retro band Horisont-was filling in on drumming duty for this tour, as Spider’s original drummer, Ricard Harryson, was back home in Sweden awaiting the birth of his child. But Jordan kept the beats strong and beastly for the duration of the show, displaying a controlled fury behind his sweat drenched mane of dark hair that surely would have made Harryson proud.
Throughout the entire set, the crowd cheered and danced, but never looked away. They were enamored with the wild, primal energy that Ann-Sofia Hoyles, John Hoyles, Olle Griphammar and Pontus Jordan were concocting-an energy that sometimes seemed like it would spin off its axis, smash into the crowd, and finally destroy them all. Which really wouldn’t be a bad way to go, would it? Killed by the power of rock n roll.
Give Up The Fight
Only Your Skin
Why Don’t You
Rules Of The Game