Down - Birmingham Academy - 9th April 2008

Keep this one quiet... no support band(s)!! However what preceded the band's arrival on stage was one of the dullest films I have ever seen. Don't think too many people made it all the way through without visiting the bar or yawning profusely and in a lot of cases both.

Then Down hit the stage and all was forgiven. Thanks to the soundman for the setlist, no need for your plea to big up the sound, it was fine fella! Before starting the review I have to mention the number of local bands represented tonight. Slab, Hellfire, I Am Colossus, Overproof, Deceptor, Rotunda and Mindless Torture were in attendance, which has got to be a recommendation - good to catch up with you all guys...

From the moment Down launched into "Pillars Of Eternity" until the last chord of the final encore nearly two hours later, this was a special performance. Fine musicians, they are incredibly tight as a band. Audience response was frenzied from the word go and didn't let up at any point throughout the set. Staging and effects were minimal, this was a back to basics exercise in what a rock band is all about. Describe them in whatever way you will, their take on sludge/stoner has to be seen to be believed; it's very difficult to explain just how good they are live. Bar has been raised very high for the gig of the year award! Phil's lengthy ramblings between songs wore a bit thin at times, otherwise I can't fault them at all.

Back to the setlist then. "Lysergik Funeral Procession", "Path", "Lifer", "Hail The Leaf" and "Three Suns And One Star" were delivered in stunning fashion before the band went into the opening section of Zeppelin's "Dazed And Confused", pity they didn't play it in entirity. Back to originals with "Swan Song", "Ghosts Along The Mississippi", "Learn From This Mistake", "On March The Saints", "N.O.D", "Beneath The Tides", "In The Thrall Of It All", "Losing All" before "Eyes Of The South" concluded the main set which ran for an hour and a half. Four encores followed; "New Orleans Is A Dying Whore", "Jail", "Stone The Crow" before the final killer blow "Bury Me In Smoke".

Haven't seen this level of adulation and crowd involvement too often. Megadeth at this venue earlier in the year is the obvious one that springs to mind. Superb gig with the tedious film and the lengthy waffling between songs being the only minus points detracting from a spellbinding performance. A must see when they next tour.



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