Since the release of “Hisingen Blues” (Brainfart’s Top Album of 2011) about a year ago, I have been waiting very impatiently to see Graveyard perform live. After two US tours as an opening act a few years ago, Graveyard returned to North America as a headliner and rightfully so. Graveyard seems to finally be making some serious waves here in the States and have done so the old school way. Word of mouth, relentless touring and the fact that they have timeless, inspired and soulful music is something that connects with the people. For their first headlining tour, Graveyard has taken out California based band Radio Moscow and for this show tapped the local band Stonerider as the opening act. I just found myself entertained by the thought of seeing a band called Graveyard in dark, cavernous venue called “Hell.” Talk about setting the pace for the evening right?
This was probably one of the most cohesive concert bills I have seen in a long time. This particular show was a great pairing of bands that while they all played similar styles of music, each one was completely unique and different from the other. The show opened with local psychedelic rockers Stonerider and let me just say that this has to be the best band in Atlanta. Stonerider delivered a powerful and moving 30 minute set and it didn’t take long for the crowd to completely connect with them. The trio, lead by singer/guitarist Matt Tanner, is the total package. Great songs, great delivery and no over indulgence. Performing a lot of new material from their upcoming double LP release, Stonerider managed to win over fans this night and really impress me with the quality of songwriting and performance. Tanner is an amazing guitarist but he exercises a level of restraint that keeps the songs from being wanky and eye rolling unlike the following band Radio Moscow. Radio Moscow took the stage and started off really strong but something just wasn’t connecting with me. There didn’t seem to be much consistency in the songs that they performed and while this band is a really awesome and talented group, I think it was the self indulgent noodling of guitarist/singer Parker Griggs that kinda turned me off. A few sore thumb instrumental songs actually diverted my attention from the few songs that I did enjoy seeing them perform. All in all, I didn’t love them but I didn’t hate them either. I think I was mostly just slightly annoyed by them.
When Graveyard stepped out onto the stage, they seemed plagued by an issue with Rickard Edlund’s bass amp not working but in true rock n’ roll fashion, a borrowed amp was brought up on stage and this seemed nothing more than a minor setback. As the band picked up their instruments and started to drift into a nice jam, the near capacity room roared with such enthusiasm that the band seemed almost taken back by it. The opening notes of “Blue Soul” filled the room as a roar came from the crowd who loudly sang along. “Buying Truth” from “Hisingen Blues” brought yet another huge roar from the crowd and that was all it took. We were moving, jumping around and just feeling the music. As cheesy as it sounds, this show was nothing short of a religious experience. The people were literally so moved by the energy and pure unadulterated passion of these songs that they jumped up and down, sang and just moved swaying back and forth as a sea of rabid stoner rock fans. “As The Years Pass By, The Hours Bend” was an amazing treat to hear live along with a fine mix of songs from the debut album and “Hisingen Blues.”
The Mad Alchemist Liquid Light Show
The “Hisingen Blues” b-side “Granny & Davis” whipped up an old school punk inspired mosh pit which had the band laughing and being playful with crowd as drummer Axel Sjöberg shouted for everyone to go crazy. “No Good, Mr. Holden” was another fan favorite that was welcomed with another huge roar and served as one of my favorite moments of the night. Lead singer/guitarist Joakim Nilsson’s voice was every bit as powerful and soulful live as it is on the albums. This man pours every bit of passion and soul that he’s go inside of himself into every single song as if it was going to be the last time he’d ever sing. The crowd was feeding off of this energy and giving it right back to the band only to get it back again. Bassist Rikard Edlund stood front and center stage banging out some of the most mind blowing bass playing I have ever seen and heard while lead guitarist Jonatan Nilsson shined on songs like “Ain’t Fit To Live Here” and “Uncomfortable Numb.” There was very little banter to the audience which I really dug as these guys were letting their music do the talking. “Satan’s Finest” brought on a huge roar and proved to be one of my favorite songs. It’s funny how I dug the studio version but after hearing it live, it’s now in my top three favorite Graveyard songs. The band was very humble, appreciative and even surprised by the massive response they were getting and closed things out with “Hisingen Blues.” The crowd went absolutely ape shit and much like the band, the crowd give them 100%. I really couldn’t imagine it getting much better but the band returned to give us, in my opinion, the highlight of the night and probably the best 3 song encore I have ever seen at a live performance. “The Siren” is such a beautifully intense song but closing out with “Evil Ways” from the debut album reminded of just what it must have been like to see Black Sabbath in those old, cavernous European clubs back in the early 70’s.
Graveyard really delivered an amazing and awe inspiring performance. From the amazing old school liquid light show of Lance (aka. The Mad Alchemist) to the perfectly mixed (best I have ever heard in this venue) sound, everything about this show was top shelf. The band themselves opted to speak through their music transcending any language barriers that may keep them from being able to verbally express themselves to their audience. In a time where most touring bands can’t even play live without backing tracks or effects, it’s great to see a band walk out onto a stage with no fluff and find that magical connection between music and their audience. What I witnessed at this show is that Graveyard possesses this magical ability to musically reach out to their fans and hit a chord with them. I don’t know how else to really describe it but call it pure magic. For an hour and a half, I felt like I was seeing a live performance unlike anything I have ever seen and in all honesty, just behind Iron Maiden for the best show I have seen in my life. A Graveyard show is something that every fan of great, classic rock n’ roll music should see. It’s so much more than just a show. It is an experience like none other that will inspire you and move you.
GRAVEYARD ATLANTA SETLIST
Buying Truth (Tack & Förlåt)
As the Years Pass By, The Hours Bend
Ungrateful Are the Dead
Granny and Davis
Ain’t Fit to Live Here
No Good, Mr. Holden