Mastodon impressed both old friends and new with this set.
A friend and I arrive at the Academy as support band Big Business are beginning. The place is totally rammed so it takes us a moment to get a drink, but we’re able to enjoy the majority of these sludge/doom boys from Seattle. They make a surprisingly full sound for a two-piece (drummer and bassist/vocalist). I draw various comparisons in my head throughout the set, but my friend calls it best when she says they sound like “a faster Cathedral”. Yep, I’ll take that. Not amazing but not balls either, Big Business turn out to be a perfectly decent support, getting us nicely warmed up for…
Mastodon, who explode onto the stage with bags of energy, and are met with a resounding roar of approval. The Atlanta titans run through a selection of their best songs from across their fourteen-year history, with ‘High Road’ in particular drawing an enormous roar and accordingly massive mosh pit, which seems to encapsulate the majority of the ground floor. The band are super tight. It may all be a little twiddly and wanky at times, as is often the case with more prog-orientated bands, but these moments are mercifully rare.
Overall, Mastodon treat us to a wicked set of greasy, sludgy, rock and f**king roll, and despite my earlier comment about it sometimes being a bit high-brow, the musician in me does smile when they make playing in 7/4 seem like the easiest thing imaginable. I really wish they would actually talk to the crowd, mind. Their reasoning is quite easy to understand (“It’s all about the music, maaaaan”), but I still don’t like it. We don’t even hear them ask how the crowd is doing until two thirds of the way through their set, and the final thanks after ‘Blood and Thunder’ are provided by the drummer, who speaks earnestly but awkwardly.
Overall however, my couple of little gripes should not detract from what was a thoroughly energetic and accomplished performance. With this set, Mastodon impressed both old friends and new, and I’ll certainly catch them again if the chance is presented to me.
Check out ‘High Road’ right here: