Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall / (C) MindHex Media
Starting a tour on a Monday night, especially right in the middle of festival season was always a tall ask but by the time the lights dimmed and the masked members of Mushroomhead arrived on stage, the (thankfully) air conditioned O2 Academy in Islington began to fill and then the water fight commenced. Water fight is probably the wrong expression as the battle was completely one sided with the band safely positioned behind massive water drums on either side of the stage and the first few rows of the audience, caught like rabbits in the headlights, had no alternative but to stand there, get sprayed with water, love it and just get into the music.
Thankfully the music was easy to get into. Thunderous drumming (hardly difficult when you have 3 different kits on stage for the duration of the show) driving the intensity of the music and allowing a multitude of musicians and vocalists, all wearing similar yet unique looking boiler suits and masks that look like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe book, to really get into the show and what a show it was…
In theory we would have seen the band performing at Amplified Festival this year as well, an event that would have certainly increased the band’s profile and added to their global collective of fans. Sadly, as many will know, the festival was cancelled so the tour was the only opportunity to see the band in action. For those that made it, the trip was worthwhile. A handful of dates up and down the country also saw the band putting in the effort and the miles to reach as many people as possible. Leeds, Manchester, Southampton, Brighton, Birmingham and Exeter all got their change to experience a drenching but the London show was all the more special as the band had also taken time out to head into the world famous Abbey Road Studios to record tracks for the new album. If you’re going to do studio time, do it in style !
Opening with ’43’ we were given a potted history of the band as they went through their back catalogue with Qwerty , Solitaire/Unraveling, We Are The Truth, Empty Spaces / Born of Desire and of course Sun Doesn’t Rise , the song that made them known internationally, all being great highlights.
You might think that space for so many would be a struggle. Larger shows even include 2 dancers and an additional musician. That would take the tally up to around 11 people and it’s fair to say that the stage at the Academy would probably buckle if 11 including three drum kits were to perform there. Dropping the three and sticking with the core of the band including Jackie LaPonza who joined them on vocals for a few songs, worked a treat and the show looked and felt arena sized. Jackie of course managing to climb over the barriers and walk across heads, hands and shoulders as she made her way into the centre of the floor to sing. The other musicians got their time in the spot light as well with both Tommy Tankx (guitar) and Dr F (bass) climbing on to the top of the water drums at the front of the stage when they had the opportunity to. With the under drum lighting making them look like a nightmare scene from a horror movie thanks to the colours and the masks, the effects continued when both Stitch and Roberto Diablo return to pound the drums once more and soak (again) the front few rows of the crowd. By the end of the show, anyone would think we’d just finished watching Shamu at Seaworld. No ponchos or ‘wet zone’ warning for the faithful though as they gleefully stood under the constant rain barrage.
If you managed to catch a show on this short club tour, well done, you managed to see one of the highlights of the year. If not, do it next time!