Life of Agony have been on quite the journey throughout their career, much of it well documented and of which there is no need to repeat in a gig review such as this. But it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to the bands second reformation in 2014. The original line up performing on stage again, what more could the scene within which we all reside ask for?
Since that reformation and a few years of touring the band have written and released a new album, something which just 5 years ago they said they would never do again. A Place Where There’s No More Pain ,delivered in April, carried on where Broken Valley left off twelve years prior. Completely in fitting with the rest of the back catalogue and unmistakably delivering the unique Life of Agony sound.
Touring now in support of this new album, Life of Agony have returned to the UK, a stronghold of support for the band, to do a long string of dates up and down the country brining Blood Runs Deep and Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics on the road with them.
The Birmingham stop on the tour has incredibly early doors, so much so that a mere twenty people had
arrived by the time Blood Runs Deep take to the stage. What must have been an incredibly frustrating situation for the band didn’t seem to stop them getting in their stride. A dark slow dirge is forthcoming from the three piece, not particularly what you would expect from a Life of Agony support. Brutally throbbing baseline and heavy as hell riffs.
In complete contrast, and to a slightly busier room, Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classic are the main support for this tour. The former Heaven’s Basement frontman with his new ensemble and also touring off the back of a critically acclaimed new album. Aaron cuts quite the figure as a sharply dressed front man and takes the sounds of classic hard rock and melds it with a strong hint of grunge.
A fast paced onslaught from his new album follows, upbeat rock anthems with Aaron throwing himself round the stage throwing shapes that resemble a young Freddie Mercury at times. Aarons strong vocals drive the live performance of a band he moulded around himself. A really enjoyable forty five minute set, rounded out with a cover of Alice in Chains Them Bones.
So at the ridiculously early time of 8:30, the headline act take to the stage, and the New York legends open with fan favourite River Runs Red. A very strong starter followed swiftly by This Time.
Bassist Alan Robert swings the neck of his bass around the stage like a man possessed through Method of Groove and Love to Let You Down. Wearing his trademark hat on stage and performing with the energy of a man twenty years his junior.
The set for the first hour is a greatest hits show, playing song after song from the first four albums, the room now full, heaves and throbs in unison as the band play on. The pit opens and limbs fly in time with the music as we are treated to Lost at 22, Otherside of the River and Bad Seed.
As the set draws to an end two songs from the A Place Where There’s No More Pain opus are added to the set. Dead Speak Kindly and World Gone Mad demonstrate that the new material fits so well with the old. In the live arena these new tracks may not sound quite as well polished as the old, but in keeping with the atmosphere that surrounds this group they certainly are.
Closing out the set are the staples of the LOA back catalogue. Through and Through is followed by an apologetic 5 minute monologue from Mina regarding the early doors and even earlier curfew enforced on them tonight. But even at 9:45nothing can overshadow a Life of Agony set closed out with Underground, the all-time classic has us bouncing off the walls in this basement venue, enjoying and lapping up every second of the songs delivery.
The band may have gone through their changes in recent years, but their edge is not lost. Without doubt this is still the Life of Agony of old, and long may they continue.