Digbeth on the outside may look like an area of Birmingham you wouldn’t want to frequent. It’s look still very much neglected and stuck in the 1970’s. But scratch that surface and it’s being revived, venues, clubs, bars, eateries popping up in abandoned industrial units. On the outside dying 1970s industry on the inside a revival of nightlife which is breathing life back into the city.
As we approach “The Mill” you’d be forgiven for walking past and missing it. A roller shutter covers the front door of what looks like an abandoned lock up. The only sign we are in the right place is a small neon sign, yet to be turned on, with the new Venues logo.
As we walk in through a maze of wooden and steel lined corridors we find the arena itself, a wonderful urban/industrial venue that epitomises “Birmingham Cool” in 2018. I’ll be honest, it looks ace.
Tonight the co-headline behemoth of a tour that is Enslaved and High on Fire’s trek across Europe hits Birmingham in the venue which has been open just two weeks.
Evening appetisers are Krakow, a post rock/shoe-gaze ensemble producing dark throbbing bass tones, beautifully whining riffs and harmonic vocals. Half an hour of low light don’t goodness and an up & coming band well worth checking out.
It has barely passed 19:00 when the first co-headliner hits the stage. Enslaved, despite being first up have the longer set time tonight. With the stage dark, red smoke flares hit the roof as the band appear from the shadows.
Opening with Roots of The Mountain, the band create an Erie atmosphere on stage through lighting and smoke. Their melodic, dark riffs twisting through the air as the crowd raise their horns and bang their heads in unison.
The bands progressive music edge sets them apart from their compatriots not fearing the slow number sandwiches between dark blistering material. The anthemic battery that is Havenless and the barbaric undertones of the epic Sacred Horse the highlights of the hour and a half show.
When you’re putting a tour together and looking for a co headliner to fit alongside Enslaved many names spring to mind. Not really anywhere on that list would be High On Fire the Californian stoner/sludge band.
So it’s somewhat of an unusual site to see the two touring together. However, the mix of styles works well and even compliments each other.
As legendary guitarist Matt Pike takes to the stage he barks a tribute to being in Black Sabbath country before the riffs take over. The three piece have just over an our before the early curfew kicks in and they are up to pace quickly. Sons of Thunder rings around the arena, heads bang and past paced stoner riffs rule the roost.
Throughout Jeff Matz and Matt Pike take turns taking centre stage, low bass tones and heavy as hell guitars thunderous throughout. Spewn From the Earth gets fists pumping in unison with the banging of heads.
The 75 minutes is over too soon, rounded out by the fabulous Electric Messiah, leaving hundreds of fans wanting for more. Despite the eclectic line up across the three acts, this evening proved the demand for such tours is high and all three bands we more than worth the ticket price.