Live Review: Paradise Lost / Moonspell – Club Academy, Manchester 16.02.2022

Phil Pountney

As much as I ponder and try to get my head round it, I still can’t understand why two giants in the Gothic Metal universe were only gracing the small confines of the Club Academy here in Manchester tonight. They have both been high on the main stage at Bloodstock as well as gracing numerous main stages at huge Metal festivals worldwide, so why, oh why, are they only visiting a relatively small basement in Manchester tonight? Hmmmm, I’ll park that there as I’m sure there must be a valid reason somewhere!

So, the ‘Club’ was visibly swelling with palpable excitement and anticipation for the openers, Gothic Deities Moonspell, all the way from the warmer climates of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal. As they strode onto the oversized step that is the stage, Ribeiro et al looked genuinely happy to be spending the evening in our company, and again able to destroy a crowd with their fairly unique brand of Gothic, Blackesque Metal. As they launched into ‘The Greater Good’, the amassed contingency before them went crazy, the volume turned up to max and the heads banged as one unit in unison to the delectable chords and beats being thrown from the speaker stacks. The set time was respectable for a support and allowed the Portuguese warriors to exhibit their wares with attitude and pride, each member of the Moonspell camp were exerting energy and passion with oversized enthusiasm and this was reflected in the quality and precision each track was delivered with. The set chartered the bands history with tracks from either end of the band’s discography and some carefully selected tracks from albums in between. There were several stand out moments in tonight’s set, an absolutely brutal and barbaric ‘Alma Mater’ as well as the almost anthemic ‘Opium’, both of which made the door price worthwhile alone.

As the clock struck, the gents from Yorkshire took to the stage and treated us to an evening of new tracks sitting beautifully alongside true anthems and classics as if they were lifetime friends, even siblings at times. ‘Widow’ carved us open and then it was a flood of an unrelenting masterclass of Gothic proportions. Most of their back catalogue showed an appearance tonight, the majority of the albums selected had just one or two tracks aired, leaving a third of the set to the latest offering, ‘Obsidian’, which seemed only fair as it is a tour on the back of said album. It has to be said though that the ‘classics’ which punctuated the set got the loudest and most heartfelt response from those in attendance, ‘One Second’, ‘Say Just Words’, ‘The Last Time’, ‘Eternal’, ‘Widow’ and ‘As I Die’ is enough to get the juices
from even those with only a passing interest in Paradise Lost flowing, let alone the die hard and rabid devotees packed in the venue tonight.

Nick was on point with his vocals (apart from his fairly dubious attempt at a Mancunian accent when he first greeted the crowd) and delivered each word with a thirst and hunger, each lyric liberated with precision and fire. The sound was a little muddy to begin with but seemed to improve with each note that passed, the string work from Mackintosh and Aedy was captivating and alluring with the thicker strings of Edmondson being battered to generate a beast of a backbone, sitting firmly along a titanium effort from Vayrynen, the skins being battered with calculated fastidiousness from start to finish.

The band are due to close out their obsidian moon tour in our capital just a few days after I’d caught them in Manchester, and then it’s on to a summer of festivals for these Gothic Masters, and I for one will be front and centre at the truly awesome Brutal Assault, roll on August.

Previous Live Review: Boston Manor +Jools - o2 Academy, Birmingham 17.02.2022 plus gallery
Next Live Review: Smoke Fairies - Lafayette, King's Cross 15.02.2022

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