Flotsam and Jetsam w/ support – Glasgow, Scotland
Circle Of Tyrants, Black Talon, Bliksem, Flotsam And Jetsam
Stereo, Glasgow (UK)
20th May 2015
It’s been over a month since Flotsam and Jetsam returned to Scotland – the first time in a couple of decades, none-the-less – and yet, their performance at Glasgow’s Stereo venue is still stuck in my mind, firmly holding one of the top spots in the list of memorable events. It seems only justified to put pen to paper, or text to internet in this case, to spread the good word.
Holding only a capacity of 300, the venue’s main gig room provided a very much up-close-and-personal atmosphere, aided in no small part by the fact that there are no crowd barriers for the three foot high stage, and members of Flotsam were quite happily mingling with the rest of the crowd. It’s testament to their down to earth nature that a band who have featured former members who went on to join the likes of Metallica and Prong, and who have played to massive audiences all over the world, still clearly see themselves as ‘one of us’.
The supports for the night are all very apt; Circle Of Tyrants step up first, receiving a warm response for their Testament-meets-Beholder stylings, followed closely by technical street-thrashers, Black Talon, promoting their fresh debut Endless Realities. There’s a constant stream of stage diving on the go, with enthusiastic thrashers repeatedly braving the possibility of cranial damage from the support pillars on the dance floor. When Bliksem take the stage, it’s much to the surprise of those few in the audience who have checked them out in advance. They blast out a sterling performance, which, according to the opinions of those in the know, surpasses the recorded works available from them online.
Of course, the crown absolutely and positively goes to Flotsam and Jetsam themselves. They know their audience well, and don’t try to push newer material on them as hard as some others may do in a similar position. In fact, it only seems to be Gitty Up which makes an appearance from 2012’s Ugly Noise. The initial focus is firmly on the early classics, and it’s a decision that sets necks a-snapping; No Place For Disgrace, She Took An Axe, Desecrator – even Der Fuhrer makes an appearance later in the set. Surprisingly, the crowd erupts even further when mid-nineties number, Smoked Out, comes powering in with its iconic opening riff.
While it is a little sad that Jason B Ward and Kelly Smith (formerly bass and drums respectively) couldn’t make this outing, but the lack of their presence is more than made up for by the sheer enthusiasm of Michael Spencer and Shadows Fall’s Jason Bittner (again, bass and drums respectively). Throughout the performance, there’s no slacking. No making do. When it’s full force thrash, it’s full force thrash, no quarter asked or given. Where frontman Eric A K maybe can’t quite hit some of the high notes he could in his youth, he has developed equally as effective means of delivering the same power. The riffing is as fast, tight and furious as ever on all fronts, and younger bands could learn a thing or two here about dedication and determination. Flotsam and Jetsam may be a band that’s getting grey, but this ain’t no placid dinosaur! It’s a sabre-toothed cat the size of a school bus!
by Paul Macmillan