Despite Machine Head playing to many thousands at Wembley Arena tonight, the final ever Cathedral show was suitably packed out with around 1500 people turned out to pay homage at the altar of Cathedral one last time. I used to be huge into Cathedral back in the early 90s when they got fully going with The Ethereal Mirror album and the great albums that followed. I was never into the first album though and some of the throwback albums that followed after in the noughties however I have lost count how many times I've seen Lee and co live although it's been many years since the last time probably in the late 90s early 2000s maybe. When this show was announced I thought I better make one last hurrah with the band. I am not a big fan anymore but who can resist a fat groove riff and Lee Dorrian's madcap lyrics and fun stage movements. One of the support bands namely Grand Magus was also a draw for me as I really like their recent output.
There were two other bands playing who I didn't care about. One of them, Comus, didn't actually play due to illness so a band called Cressida stepped in. I missed the first band Gentleman's Pistols altogether as they had finished as I walked into the rather packed out Kentish Town Forum which is a very nice sized venue. The turn out was very respectable indeed and a big send off for Lee and crew on what is billed as their last ever show in the Northern Hemisphere at least. They must have some gigs in the southern half of the world to come obviously.
Anyway I saw Cressida who were a bunch of old man playing prog rock like a mix between The Doors and psychedelia of some kind. They were not my cuppa but if you enjoy Doors-esque keyboard you could get something out of it. I think most of the Cathedral crowd were totally bemused by these gentleman!
The main support was of course going to be a treat although they barely played 40 minutes or so in the end. Grand Magus have been kicking ass for a good while now with their heroic manly songs and they make a hell of a noise for a three piece. The baldy guitar toting front man has the crowd eating out of his hand as he thunders slow and heavy riffs alike whilst the bass player head bangs for Sweden. Hammer of the North was the best song of the night with full participation by the very rowdy crowd. Final song Iron Will also killed. The crowd was a little too rowdy for my liking as a few drunkards were getting a bit too full of themselves a few rows from the front where I was standing. Having moved back a little I could enjoy the show a bit more and finally wait for Lee and co to take to the stage which they did do at 9.20pm to rapturous cheers from the excitable crowd.
Vampire Sun is a great way to start any Cathedral gig with it's insistent groove and thumping lyrical play with ample lines to sing along to. The sound was a little bass and drum heavy but Lee's vocals were surprisingly clear. In fact the band sounded in fine form. Gaz Jennings mammoth riffs were yet to cut through well in the mix but it wasn't too long before those heavy as hell groove riffs would get everyone banging grooving. Lee's legendary stage movements and face pulls are very fun to look at indeed and he seemed to be having a lot of fun. The set list was always going to be a crowd pleasing one with all the Cathedral hits that every one loves played to perfection.
The first five songs of the set were in fact my favourite of the whole night barring the encore song of which more later. Midnight Mountain has always been my favourite Cathedral song ever with it's fat grooving and it never disappoints live and it was good to hear it played to perfection one last time. North Berwick With Trials is a newer Cathedral classic and very catchy to boot. Cosmic Funeral was also amazing as it always is with it's slow melodic doomy build. The second half of the set featured songs which are less my cuppa and more doomy until of course the groovalicious final song of the set namely Ride picks things right back up and got a tremendous response from the crowd. For the last five or six songs I took to the balcony were the sound was actually much crisper and better funnily enough and I enjoyed the band as more of a spectacle from above where you can watch Lee's funny doom walking and dancing antics!
There were two encores first was Utopian Blaster a killer riffed up song with monster grooving. And finally perhaps the ultimate Cathedral anthem Witchfinder General without which no Cathedral gig is complete. The crowd was in full participation during that one and the band played with complete abandon like they didn't give a shit any more as this is it for Cathedral forever. A perfect song to end with and a funny and apt end which I will recount. On the last line of the song which Lee sings he garrotes himself with his mic cable and lies dead on the stage floor as if to indicate that yes Cathedral is finally dead. Whilst two red hooded men shuffle slowly on stage, check for signs of life and drag Lee slowly off stage as if to show that the band really has nothing more left to give. I'm sure it'll be on youtube sooner or later. It was a funny and understandable end to the band as live entity as the instrumentalists played out a final crescendo and left to rapturous cheers. Of course there will be a final Cathedral album as well though I don't hold out much hope that I will like it as I didn't like The Guessing Game at all. I think it's the right time for the band to go out though Cathedral remains a much loved, it's time for the Cathedral to crumble to dust...until the reunion that is!
Stained Glass Horizon
North Berwick Witch Trials
Funeral of Dreams
The Carnival Bizarre
Hopkins (Witchfinder General)