Last year a tragic event interrupted Baroness’s European tour. The aftermath of the tour-buss crash lead to doubt whether they’d ever be able to play again or if they would quit. Both the drummer and bassist gave up, but John Baizley and Peter Adams decided to power on through and promised us they’d visit the continent again soon. Now that time has arrived. With two new members, Baroness open their European tour on the 27th of September in the 013 in Tilburg their “home away from home” as the band put it.
Opening will be Royal Thunder, an ambitious rocking three-piece from Atlanta, Georgia. The room of the sold out venue is half packed by the time Royal thunder take the stage. Parsonz husky voice opens into some powerful heavy rock, with a dark bluesy progressive edge. Sadly the mix is a little off, where the drums drown out Parsonz vocals quite often. The music is expertly preformed, and even though there is a very distracting burnt plastic smell making its way through the venue from near the sound booth, Royal Thunder leave a powerful impression on the crowd that’s already there. Only the stage presence and connection to the audience fails a little. Guitarist Weaver honors his name and moves like a caged animal, engrossed in his playing back and forth and back and forth in a stereotypical manner, Parsonz plays her bass like a wild minx and gives her all in the mic, and the faces drummer Diprima makes are enticing to say the least, but none of it seems directed at the crowd. When they launch into their final dark more atmospheric song do they really manage to suck me into the music.
During the change over the room slowly fills and fills, and people move forward more. With their last record the crowd has changed to that from early 2010 when I last saw them, touring Blue. There are less long haired, bearded metal fans and more people you wouldn’t expect necessarily expect at a rock gig. There are couples holding hands, more girls and very neat looking guys with short hair. Even band shirts aren’t a norm, though there are a fair amount of Mastodon shirts around.
As Baroness enters the stage, the packed room goes ecstatic. They launch into a surprisingly heavy set. Even though it’s mostly material from Yellow, a little Green and some of the gentler pieces of Blue this set sound pretty brutal. Yellow is clearly played louder live than on record. With Baroness the vocals also drown a little in the violent torrent of guitars, drums and bass, but this doesn’t matter much. With Baroness you don’t sing the lyrics, you sing the guitars. John’s vocals are a little thin in the clean and sometimes a little off, though they improved from before. A real surprise is actually how strong Peter Adams voice is. Whenever the two of them harmonize Adams voice gives some real backbone to hold of the tide of the music. The stage presence of the band has also changed for the better since 2010. Back then there was hardly any light or interaction with the crowd, they didn’t move as much but played technically very well. Now there is more room for banter in between songs, to move and bounce around the stage more and play face offs to each other. This leads to some minor misses in the musical field, namely in ‘Cocainium’ Sebastian Thomson (drums) being a little off beat for a while but correcting himself, some minor misses in guitar parts and new bassist Nick Jost playing a little off key once, but all this cannot dampen the experience. The chemistry in the band is exceptional; though it’s obvious the two new members still have to find their footing a little. The band is obviously more than happy to be on the road again and express their joy of playing in Tilburg many a time. The new crowd is clearly very happy to be here, but a little more tame than the former, more metal, crowd. They nod along and stick up the horns, but very few really headbang. Still the vibe is great and songs get sung along full throttle, especially when John Baizley invites us to join more, where music is a communal process. At the end we get an encore of three louder songs, ending with the fabulous Isak from Red, a blasting end to an awesome musical evening. Baroness still got it.
Baroness & Royal Thunder
013 Tilburg, The Netherlands
September 27th, 2013
Text & pictures: Susanne Maathuis