On any given week in the Capital, you’d be hard-pressed to not find a gig to attend, this week in particular, you are actually stuck with the struggle of knowing which gig to find yourself going to! This week alone finds Jinjer, Pig Iron, Torpor, Skid Row, Amon Amarth and Halestorm all playing just to name a few. With competition for gigs high, we find ourselves taking a trip to the big smoke on hump day for something a little special, twenty three years after their last release, Sacred Reich returned to the studio and released their latest album Awakening; bringing them to Europe on a huge tour.
Slowly as the dark Underworld crowd fills in, we get our faces blown off with the only support of the show, and the main support throughout this tour, Night Demon. We’re Going in blind to these, not even knowing what style to expect, but holy hell they are an experience! Imagine the metal offspring of Motorhead and Thin Lizzy and you wouldn’t be far off. Energy, riffs, showmanship and the all important rock and roll attitude. The three-piece make the small stage seem huge with their movement. Clearly, they’re very much in their element whenever they hit the stage. Straight off the bat, they’re in the crowds face, hammering through a monster-sized set to perfection like Michelangelo sculpting Pieta.
The crowd keeps growing and even if they came in without checking out the support beforehand, just to get a good spot for the main act, they all steadily found themselves sold with arms raised and heads banging. But as if the crowd wasn’t hyped enough, towards the closing of the set they bring out their mascot “Rocky”, chalice in hand to celebrate the song’s namesake and entertain the crowd some more. As the set finishes, they waste no time in getting straight back out to the front of the stage and spend time thanking every single person they could. As opening bands go, these are up there with the finest!
With the place finally brimming, there isn’t much turn around between sets and the place is actively moving with anticipation. The Underworld finally erupts into a constant battering sea not leaving a single person a chance for air before drowning in the frenzy. The start is promising, the reaction to hearing something from the first new album in 23 years is something special. The set doesn’t shy away from the new material either, 5 out of the 8 tracks from Awakening getting some road time, three straight from the start! Nestled further through the set you can find another two, pretty early on we get another treat with the title track ‘Awakening’, but then there is definitely plenty of the classic era to get through before being thrown another newbie.
The impressive new material has the crowd singing and going nuts, but it’s when we hear the material from the previous four albums that the place hits it up a gear. It’s hard to tell who is enjoying it more, the crowd or the band. One thing that is hard not to notice is the effort, showmanship and enjoyment that young guitarist Joey is having in the band, not even being born before Sacred Reich’s last release, it goes to show how age means nothing when it comes to music. McClain is hidden away at the back behind his kit in between two stacks and seems to be having the time of his life back there, while lead guitarist Wiley thrashes through his solo’s like a hot knife through butter. Vocalist/bassist Phil never looking more at home than when centre stage smiling ear to ear.
Looking around the crowd finds a more veteran aged crowd, but there are many young faces around and despite their youthful looks, they themselves are full of voice song after song. Sacred Reich have always had a die-hard following, and although there seems to be a fair share of Machine Head shirts around, this place is positively overflowing with those of the die-hard fan base. Start to end has proved fantastic, considering it is a midweek gig too, the turnout is nuts. Hangovers and bangovers would be hitting work places all over the place tomorrow, but not a single regret will be in mind, for we have witnessed and been a part of something really special as the year of gigs rounds up.
Sacred Reich setlist:
1. Divide & Conquer
2. The American Way
3. Manifest Reality
4. One Nation
8. Crimes Against Humanity
9. Who’s to Blame
13. Killing Machine
14. Death Squad
15. Surf Nicaragua