LIVE REVIEW: Earth, The Cluny, Newcastle

Seattle doom legends Earth played a thunderous set at The Cluny.
Seattle doom legends Earth played a thunderous set at The Cluny.

THE BBC may have decamped back to Salford, but for Ouseburn’s music venues the past week has been very much business as usual.

For The Cluny, that meant welcoming back Seattle doom legends Earth; four years since their stone-paced jams and leaden riffs last extended its hardy PA.

With their inscrutable heaviness and songs rarely stopping short of 10 minutes, Dylan Carlson’s group are, admittedly a hard sell to beginners, but if Monday’s appearance proved anything, it’s that they’re by no means the impenetrable monstrosity many assume.

First, though, they enlisted a pair of enveloping support acts, headed by their own Don McGreevy and his musical partner Rogier Smal.

Stooped over his electro-acoustic guitar, McGreevy’s stylish sounds and appreciation of space evoked, among other things, the subtle brood of early Mogwai; though with Smal’s creative percussion they were equally liable to break into spates of free jazz.

Next up were another duo in Black Spirituals, whose palette was defined by the sonic splurges laid down by guitarist/drone master Zachary Watkins.

Amid all this, it was again impossible not to be beguiled by a drummer, with Marshall Trammell injecting a drive and dynamism few associate with this most protracted of genres.

Energy perhaps isn’t something you’d expect from Earth either, but their monotone riffs and sluggish psychedelics exude it in spades thanks to the sheer power of Carlson’s guitar.

Wielding his instrument like a lightning conductor, the mustachioed leader and his characteristic axe are forces unto themselves; distorted and incalculably dense in tone, yet blaring through with both warmth and crystal clarity.

Having spent the afternoon sightseeing and acquiring local mementos, the 46-year-old seemed genuinely buoyed to be back, and together with bassist McGreevy and drummer Adrienne Davies rewarded his faithful with a set which crammed in a full eight songs(!).

With last year’s Primitive and Deadly LP the biggest seller in their 25-year existence, it figured that the majority consisted of new material.

And far from riling old acquaintances, each and every one went down a treat, from the bleak post-Sabbath trudge of Even Hell Has Its Heroes to Torn By The Fox Of The Crescent Moon’s bulky, monolithic chug.

They found room for a handful of older numbers too, with The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull, in particular, rattling the room and shaking the crowd to its core.

It’s a command of heaviness few past or present can hold a candle to, and after this mammoth exhibition their next visit can’t come soon enough.