Despite having to entertain the early knockers at the HMV Forum tonight, Hawk Eyes (4/5) seem so comfortable with this set, which is teeming with tracks off their new album, that they could happily perform to an empty room. Luckily, this isn’t case, as those standing around become quickly embroiled in the sweaty riff-fest that this Leeds fourpiece care to shove down our gullets tonight.
New songs off the magnificent Ideas are starting to really gain a presence live; the bulk of the set is made up of this record, including the gargantuan album opener ‘Witch Hunt’ and the splintered charm of ‘Kiss This’, which sound purely maniacal in this setting. ‘You Deserve a Medal’ is all savagery and yet showcases its irresistibly catchy chorus that soon sees the increasingly kinetic crowd catching the words and throwing them back at them. Breaking into the feverish ‘I Hate This, Do you Like It?’ it starts to become clear that Hawk Eyes, if there’s any justice, should be headlining venues line this in the very near future; a combination of their impeccable studio output and the sheer wall-to-wall energy they bring to a live setting make them one of the most appealing modern metal bands that care to lay down a riff.
Turbowolf (4.5/5) match their energy, but they sink their teeth into the crowd like a rabid dog, and don’t let go until the thunderously dark ‘Let’s Die’ fades out eight songs later. This eccentric and furious band sound mesmerising on record, but in a live environment, they explode, and so do the all-too-willing audience. The insatiable urge to throw elbows to the likes of crunchy opener ‘Ancient Snake’ and the electric cover of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody To Love’ is almost too much to stand. The ‘wolf always feel like they’re right on the edge of irrationality, mashing the maniacal edge of the theremin and synth against the heavy groove of their guitars, and tonight they’re pitched over the edge into near perfect insanity.
Andrew WK (4/5), on the other hand, is party by numbers, but is all the more amazing for it; gracing us with a setlist that appropriately mirrors the name of the [I Get Wet] tour, tonight is a demonstration of everything that’s brilliant about the New York eccentric. The main man seems completely at ease whether it’s through the numerous stage invasions or during his rabble rousing calls to party, he appears truly delighted to be playing a venue of this size.
The first twelve songs are straight off his first album, being played as they were originally intended (bar the crowd-pleasing adjustment of ‘I Love NYC’ being changed to ‘I Love London Town’). The overwhelming reaction to songs like ‘Party Hard’ and ‘She Is Beautiful’ are expected, but it’s amazing to hear how well tunes like ‘Girls Own Love’ transfer to a live environment. When he’s done with I Get Wet, Andrew WK moves in the direction of his other big crowd churners, such as ‘Victory Strikes Again’; not having quite the same impact as the glorious first album, the set is nonetheless buoyed by the vocals of his wife Cherie Lily, and the endless enthusiasm of his long-time touring band. New song ‘Headbang‘ finds a receptive crowd who follow the fairly non-cerebral lyrics to the letter and showcase how tonight, performer and audience have become symbiotic in this insatiably fun atmosphere.
Andrew WK will have doused whatever cynicism you might have about his studio output with the sheer encapsulating atmosphere in the HMV Forum tonight. If there ever was proof that the setting is vital to the consumption of music, then it’s here, tonight, that Andrew WK has proved the worth of his brand of metal. Let it never be doubted again.