Hell Live in Derby

Hear the sound of distant thunder, the time has come again, erm, again. After a well earned break from live shows following their exhaustive (and probably exhausting) tour of the big European metal festivals Hell kicked of their 2013 campaign with a sell out show at Derby’s monument to 60s concrete architecture, the Assembly Rooms.

This was a show that had been eagerly anticipated since Kev first mentioned it last year, where he promised it’d be an explosive occasion as the band had invested in a weapons grade gas fueled pyrotechnic system. On arrival at the venue all the photographers were given a letter the likes of which I’ve not seen before. Something about Gargoyles that shoot out 4m jets of flame, and the fact that the photo pit was inside the 3m safe firing zone, so the band accepted no liability for singed eyebrows.. or immolation.

Mind you, incinerating the press may have a negative impact on the reviews šŸ™‚

When the curtain dropped the impact of the full stage set was simply stunning. The stained glass backdrop has been joined by illuminated risers, a split level with ramps and a drum riser that completes the whole Church Of Hell look. Even the stage crew were wearing monastic robes.

Talk about attention to detail…

After a build up that included mysterious robed figures setting light to things Tim took his place behind the kit, leading the crowd in a deafening chant of “Hell, Hell, Hell” before he was joined on stage by his bandmates and we were off. Now another thing in the warning letter was that there would be, erm, quite a lot of flame in the first song.. Well it made a Rammstein gig look like kids playing with sparklers. I’ve never been a couple of meters from a propane fueled flame thrower before.. and the band had several lined up across the front of the stage.. and half way through Let Battle Commence I had to check that my eyebrows were still there.

I’ve seen Hell in small clubs, and on the big stages at festivals, but this was the first time I had seen them play a headline show in a big venue. No one has done anything on quite the theatrical scale as the Church Of Hell for ages. Now given the tunes that they have Hell could come on stage in jeans and t-shirts and it’d still be a great gig, but this is more than a gig, it’s a proper full blown theatrical extravaganza… with an awesome soundtrack.

From the photo pit, Hell have to be just about the most photogenic band on the planet with so much visual stuff going on. David Bower playing a different role in each track with a mad, marvellous, intensity. We all know the story of how he came to be in the band (and if you don’t, it’s all here), there’s simply not another frontman like him..

And there’s not another band like Hell..

Tonight Hell were sharing the limelight in Derby with well known celebrity fraud Derek Acorah, something that didn’t go unnoticed by David. “Derek, there’s someone called Derek in the building, someone with hair and eyes… does that mean anything to anyone”

The first of the promised new tracks in tonight’s set was (according to the setlist) Darkhangel, and if you thought the priest, plague collector and flagellant were interesting characters, this one saw David come on stage…

on stilts…

with massive horns…

furry leg warmers…

and a trident…

that spat fire.

Honestly, what are these guys on when they come up with stuff like this? As if all the stuff they’ve done before wasn’t quite over-the-top enough..

The tracks from Human Remains, as you’d expect, sounded as good as ever, but I’m happy to report that the news stuff (well some new and some reworkings of old) sounds every bit as awesome. Alongside the aforementioned Darkhangel tonight we were treated to Something Wicked This Way Comes (which they played at the last MFN gig) and Disposer Supreme which saw Hell go Thrash…. The guy next to me was headbanging so hard I thought he was going to bugger his neck.

Great to see there’s still plenty of classics in the bands back catalogue for album number two along with some killer new stuff. How do you follow up something like Human Remains ?? Well I guess we’ll find out soon enough. And if this was anything to go by I, for one, can’t bloody wait.

The 100minute masterclass in what a metal show should be drew to a close, as is tradition for Hell headline shows, with the Race Against Time track Bedtime which David dedicated (as always) to the band’s late frontman Dave Halliday.

Maybe they should have asked Derek Acorah what Dave Halliday thought of that šŸ˜‰