LIVE: Bastions @ The Underground, Stoke-on-Trent (18/08/2012)

Date: August 18th, 2012
Venue: The Underground, Stoke-on-Trent
Support: Atmospheres / Palm Reader / Brotherhood Of The Lake
Website: None available


A grey Stoke afternoon extends across the venue, the mood quiet and sulky. With doors open, there are but a handful of people that aren’t a member of a band or a part of their entourage outside The Underground, a favourite venue of Stoke. With this scene all too familiar, there isn’t so much a feeling of disheartening, but just being used to the (let’s face it) dire state of the UK music scene at the moment.

Unfortunately, due to travel issues, I missed the opening support act Atmospheres, which I apologise for but hope to see in the future.

This meant, for me, that Palm Reader (****) were up first. We are greeted with a fairly lonely concrete dance floor and a darkened stage. High expectations are to be had for the young band who recently gained much exposure making into on to the Metal Hammer top 5 records of the year list. They begin the set, and instantly you can see the performance has been extremely fine-tuned and perfected without compromising any of the spontaneity and impulse of a live show. They are cripplingly heavy and wildly energetic, not a single member allowing a single moment of rest. Bassist, Josh, makes up for the lack of crowd by jumping down on to the floor, swinging his bass savagely: a blistering performance all-round.

The mood shifts slightly as Brotherhood Of The Lake (****) take to the stage. Visceral, haunting soundclips play and you know you’re not just watching any old metal/hardcore band. These guys are darker and more sinister than most. Each track more intense than the last, they take pummel you with fast, noisy thrash before again returning to more sound clips between songs. The performance was more of an experience than a show, the menace consuming the audience.

Even though the support bands were greatly received by the audience, the feeling they were solely there to see Bastions (*****) was rife. I had heard in the past that Bastions‘ performances, particularly from vocalist Jamie, conveyed more emotion and was more honesty than any other. However, this did not prepare me for what I was about to witness. Any singer can scream down a mic, and even if they put on an incredible show, there’s always an air of detachment. This performance was heartfelt and pure and you realised that the lyrics being conveyed were genuine, not simply ‘filler’ between the music. Aside from the vocals, the music was beautiful and melodic, yet powerful and hard-hitting. The set would dip into near silence, drawing the audience in before smashing into another intense arrangement. This was a piece of art, not a gig.

Written by Jack Bastard

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