It’s Saturday morning and most of the country is still sleeping off the night before, but down in Shoreditch, London a group of punks are already up and moving for the day ahead. The reason? Cancer Bats are in town. Generally speaking the gig-going public don’t have to face the outside world until the evening, but at 11am the Old Blue Last is opening its doors for the start of one of the most ambitious feats attempted by any band – six shows at five venues in one city in a day. Dubbed the Pentagram Tour (after the symbol it represents on a map) the Canadian crushers aren’t pulling any punches, even at this time of day.
All six of the shows are sold out, and for good reason. Cancer Bats have been a mainstay of the UK hardcore scene since being adopted back in 2007 after the release of their breakthrough album Birthing The Giant. In fact, 2007 was the last time the Bats played OBL supporting Gallows. When frontman Liam Cormier announces this fact, however, none of the crowd attended the show five years ago – possibly down to the average age of those in attendance.
With no support band, Cancer Bats launch head first into a frenzied hour of hardcore punk and metal from their back catalogue. Of course there’s the odd new ‘un as the chaos-bringers have just released new LP Dead Set On Living to critical acclaim. ‘R.A.T.S.’ has the mini-pit open its lungs to scream “there’s a special place in hell for people like you” as daylight streams through the open windows. A surreal experience.
Cynics would claim the first show is nothing more than a glorified warmup/sound check but these noiseniks are giving it everything. Fan-favourites ‘Let It Pour’ and ‘Scared To Death’ get the topless sweat merchants down the front moving harder and surfing their way toward their idols, with Cormier thrusting his mic in their face at any given opportunity.
Fresh tracks ‘Bricks & Mortar’ and ‘Roadsick’ (soon to be played at a rock club near you) delight those who have already been spinning the new record to death, but ’100 Grand Canyon’ is definitely the best dish served to the masses today.
Of course certain setlist staples were omitted for this show (including the party starting ‘Sabotage’ cover) as the Bats are playing a different set at each show, but that doesn’t lessen the impact. For those lucky or indeed crazy enough to attend all shows, six hours of Cancer Bats in a day is the only way to hear everything you desire. But for the kids here this morning, it’s one hell of an alarm clock that is left ringing in your ears for the rest of the weekend.
Cancer Bats’ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cancerbats