Mighty is the Mastodon !!! 7/10
Photos (c) Rebecca Bush. Words by DR and Rebecca Bush.
Mastodon‘s UK tour has been a pretty epic affair with Mutoid Man and Kverlertak opening for them, plus the added bonus of Neurosis‘ Scott Kelly joining them onstage for the last third of their set.
Kverlertak have a lot to prove after Erlend Hjelvik left the band last year and the crowd at both dates are definitely into them. This is a band who definitely want to steal the show and prove that Hjelvik’s departure hasn’t slowed them down. Unfortunately, this is the most animated the crowd will get each night.
Mastodon open with the massive Iron Tusk then go straight into March of the Fire Ants and while the front row are very much alive, the rest of the crowd seem quite tame. Five songs in we get the first song from most recent album Emperor of Sand in the form of Steambreather. A lot of bands will go heavy on new material live irrespective of what the fans want, but to Mastodon’s credit they only play four new songs out of their twenty song set, instead delivering crowd pleasers across the back catalogue. Classics like Ghost of Karelia, I Am Ahab and Megalodon are out in force.
Front man Troy Sanders isn’t one to engage the crowd and instead lets the music do the talking, but a little encouragement wouldn’t have gone amiss, although the trippy backdrop is probably quite engaging for some in the audience. We’re well past the half way mark before Troy thanks everyone for coming before unleashing Ancient Kingdom.
After which, Scott Kelly walks onto stage to perform Scorpion Breath. Kelly stays on stage for Crystal Skull, Aqua Dementia, Crack the Skye and a host of other songs until Mastodon bring the evening to a close with Blood and Thunder.
Despite material from Leviathan getting more of an airing than new material, Mastodon live just don’t quite satisfy as there’s something missing. They are without doubt an awesome band, Emperor of Sand rightfully won a lot of year end awards in 2017 but it feels like overall, Mastodon are an experience that you sit at home to savour. Maybe a little something extra is required to fully appreciate the psychedelic light show, backdrop and live musical experience, but Mastodon aren’t a “go wild in the pit” live band.
Mastodon do absolutely nothing wrong live, but perhaps they need to look at bigger bands and see how they can make the live experience more engaging with video backdrop or crowd interaction maybe. Mastodon are one of the best current metal bands around and seeing them live should be exciting, but both nights firmly belong to the hungry Kverlertak.