Corrosion Of Conformity Secret Show @ Star & Garter
Corrosion of Conformity storm Manchester for a surprise Desert Fest warm-up show
Words: Phil Weller
“We’re literally practicing right now,” smiles Pepper Keenan, almost apologetically. A minor f**k up just behind them, he raises a muscular arm into the air, fist clenched. The crowd cheers.
A mere eight hours after arriving in the UK ahead of their headline slot at this year’s Desert Fest, Corrosion of Conformity find themselves in impromptu company. Struggling to find a rehearsal space to iron out the creases of jetlag, they stand before the tiny, dingy intimacy of Manchester’s Star and Garter, savouring a much less run-of-the-mill practice session. Sure, there are mistakes occasionally creeping in – and that’s to be expected - but they manage to turn that into their most effective weapon tonight. They are human after all it seems.
A packed room, given just a handful of hours to get to the venue for their surprise performance – and one which unites Manchester’s alternative scene in an electrifying manner – gets to witness the band roll out the punches Camden is about to be pummelled by.
A monsoon of tracks charting their rich recording history – such as the adrenalised thrust of King Of The Rotten and feral grind of Broken Man – make themselves known unto a crowd still coming to terms with what was actually happening.
Yet, for a band which is cited as such an important influence upon many of today’s artists, this a show founded on humility rather than egos. They hang out at the bar before and after the show, and the entire evening has a wonderful down-to-earth demeanour. It only adds to the raw, last-minute lightning that strikes the building tonight.
It takes just three songs for Pepper Keenan to join the crowd, stepping off stage to solo as baying, admiring hands and pumping fists rise above him. Paranoid Opiod sounds more monstrous as ever in these confines while the oft overshadowed America’s Volume Dealer is cited with a thrilling performance of 13 Angels.
Vote For A Bullet is dedicated to their ‘friend’ Donald Trump and the room reacts with elation, filthy, unkempt guitar tones giving it a guttural edge. The floor rumbles, almost buckling under people’s stomping feet while Stonebreaker, coated in its psychadelia intro, then channels Hendrix in its own gruff way.
Feedback prickles the atmosphere before the sandpaper smooth riff work of Albatross gains one of the biggest roars of the night. Glazed by Keenan’s drawl, and echoed by the crowd, they play with the kind of unshackled frenzy that vies to define these kind of low key, last minute and low down and dirty performances.
News of the gig had spread like wildfire on Facebook in the hours running up to the show and, as the band disappear for a ten minute beer break, they leave behind them proof that live music in Manchester is far from a dying art. People have dropped everything to be here.
They return, thirst quenched, with the honey drenched harmonies of Señor Limpio’s brazen boogie. As they roll into closing number Clean My Wounds the fizzing excitement threatens to explode and their nine minute rendition, complete with a lucid and free improvised jam in the middle, shows a band extremely comfortable in themselves.
Camden, heed this as your warning.