High On Fire. Lizzard and Jumping Jack melt the faces of Portsmouth’s residents

By on 12 February 2013

High on fire 2

‘You’re a little crowd but we sure appreciate your enthusiasm!’ quips High On Fire’s frontman Matt Pike. He’s not wrong, you’ve probably seen longer queues at a deli counter than at tonight’s show, but to the credit of all of tonight’s bands they play as if to a crowd ten times the size.

France’s Jumping Jack kick off with a set of retro-worshipping riffs that place them somewhere between Down and The Sword circa ’76. Their bluesy stoner-swagger sometimes lapses into thrashier territory, keeping things varied enough to have the crowd behind them despite their strange habit of spitting on each other.

Both ‘Jack and fellow French act Lizzard are dogged by mic issues that take a set and a half to sort out, much to the latter’s chagrin. Cleaner in tone but no less heavy than the openers, their A Perfect Circle-esque experimentation matches a tight rhythm section to various FX driven licks. Perhaps an odd match for the headliners, however, as the audience seem undecided until a few songs in.

Taking to the stage without much fanfare, High On Fire immediately set about melting faces and breaking necks. Drummer Des Kensel opens up with the tribal pummelling of ‘Serums Of Liao’ and maintains a frantic pace. The (of course) shirtless Mr Pike is on fine form, bellowing his way through a varied setlist including much of their back catalogue. Highlights include a thundering ‘Spiritual Rites’, a fuzz-tastic crawl through ’10,000 years’ and an absolutely blistering set-closer ‘Snakes for the Divine’. It’s a rare experience to witness such metal royalty in this initmate a setting; be jealous.

Jamie Hampshire

About Eilish

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

%d bloggers like this: