The first great thing about going to gigs at the Portland Arms in Cambridge is the short bus ride to the venue, the second is the great ales they sell and the third is that they manage to attract some really great bands. Tonight’s trip was to see Firebird – heavy bluesy jam style rock from an all star band fronted up by Carcass grindcore legend Bill Steer. Carcass’s Descanting the Insalubrious was a well played record during my youth – at the time we were searching for the most extreme metal and Carcass were the most extreme we could find, but tonight couldn’t be further away from that.
Firs up we have Snakerama for some slow metal with deathly growls from frontman Gaz – dirty and heavy stoner rock. Following Snakearama Buzzard King take to the stage for another session of heavy stoner with a more classic rock feel to many cheers from the crowd.
Firebird’s set kicks off with For Crying Out Loud from the Double Diamond album – galloping classic rock blues bass lines and the great lyric “But for cying out loud you won’t change me“. The latest album Double Diamond gets a fair few songs in the set – Soul Saviour, Bright Lights, Ruined and we get a new song Bird on a Wire which is tonight available on 7″ vinyl.
The music was Zeppelin meets Cream, Purple even faint shades of very iron maiden ( or at least image a mellow version of Prowler) – Firebird are a pounding three piece. The audience, chilled out supping file ales and cheering enthusiastically. There was no devil horns, no moshing just appreciative head nodding and foot tapping.
Bill Steer played an old style Les Paul for the whole set, Greyum May (ex Ozric Tentacles) with an Gibson SG bass and Ludwig Witt (Spiritual Beggars) pounding his drums looking vaguely like Ginger – I wonderred if this is what it would have been like to have seen the likes of Cream in 70s. As a guitarist Bill is an awesome player, but there is no posing muppetry, just a broad happy smile
Sipping a couple of Abbot ales and watching this band slide through an hour set was a pleasure. I got my digital camera out to take a couple of snaps for this blog and it felt totally out of place, it was the only one I could see in the room – I think it would have been more appropriate had it have contained a 35mm film. For the final jam of the night Bill Steer puts down his guitar and plays the harmonica. We get an encore – and for the first time ever in my 21 years of going to gigs it felt like a genuine unplanned encore in response to the crowds enthusiasm and they got back up to play a unprepared song. I leave with a vinyl copy of Double Diamond, A great night.
Firebird Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/firebirdblues
Firebird on RiseAboveRecord (where you can buy their vinyl!): http://www.riseaboverecords.com/artists/riseabove/firebird/
Buzzard King: http://www.myspace.com/buzzardking