Converge: Live in Birmingham

Update: Marc Broussely of LoudPixels.net took some high quality video of the concert for your viewing pleasure. Make sure you check it out!

I’m in there somewhere too

This one I’ve been waiting for for a long, long time. I mentioned last week that Converge were one of the bands that made me heavy. Shamefully, in all this time, I’ve never seen them live – and it’s not for lack of presence. Two summers ago they passed through London twice – but I was indisposed being poor and jobless back home in the Midlands.

So when they announced their European tour in support of the phenomenal Axe to Fall, I made a (Broken) vow to catch them this time. “No problem,” I thinks, “I’ll definitely be in London this time!”

Then the night I went to book my tickets I get a call from the guy on the left in the picture above who looks like a duck (and he’s going to hate me for saying that if he ever reads this). “Hey Chris,” he says, “why don’t you come to the Birmingham show? Everyone from home is going!”

I could hardly say no. I mean for God’s sake, I met up with only three of the guys, but half the room was from my town.

But I get ahead of myself. I arrived a little to late to see openers Kvelertak, but was bang on time for a £4(!!) pint and the beginning of Gaza‘s set.

Of all the bands on the bill bar Converge, I’m the most familiar with Gaza. I had my eye on I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die, (which is a damn good album) for a while, but my pursuit of them was lazy at best. Either way, I’m glad they received the positive reaction they did, as they were a powerful force to be reckoned with; the material from their new album He Is Never Coming Back also going down a storm.

Kylesa – next up – were tipped by one of my compatriots as being amazing, but unfortunately for me they failed to deliver. There was nothing particularly wrong with their music, but I found their tempo a little too uniform, and the incusion of a second drummer to be somewhat redundant. The vocals, too, were quite monotonal, even between the three of them who handled these duties.

After a short wait, during which we made several excited and schoolgirl-like pointing gestures towards the stage as each member emerged to help set up their own equipment (20 years and no massive egos – commendable) we put ourselves in harm’s way.

As expected, they ripped right into Concubine, which was followed immediately by Dark Horse – and we were away. Time literally flew by as the guys flew through amazing song after amazing song – Lonewolves straight into Hanging Moon; Distance and Meaning; Axe to Fall. The highlight of the evening for me, however, was the encore: the sublime First Light and Eagles Become Vultures from You Fail Me, and rounded off with Bitter and Then Some.

I have no idea how they kept up their furious pace for over an hour, but they did: Ben Koller pounding away at his drums furiously; Jacob Bannon leaping about the stage like a short-short-wearing loony. The near-perfect execution of the songs aside, Converge are a band that just know how to ingratiate themselves with, and more importantly hold a crowd. Both Bannon and Nate Newton were in frequent contact with the crowd between songs, and early on in the set Bannon cleared the front-of-stage area of photographers so that he could really get involved with the crowd, barrier or no.

I’ve waited a good four years for this, and I tell you, I was not disappointed. If they ever roll through your town, I urge you to make the effort to see them. Even if hardcore isn’t usually your thing, these veterans are masters of their craft, and are well worth the entrance fee.

– CG