Scorpion Child

support Jackson Firebird + Horisont
author BV date 15/04/14 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

It’s been quite a while since I last went to a heritage rock/retro-rock gig. - Mainly because the psychedelic scene has been growing at such an exponential rate that I have been far too occupied with it as of late. However, on this very night I felt far too tempted by the triple lineup of Jackson Firebird, Horisont and Scorpion Child to skip out on what seemed to have the potential of becoming a memorable evening.

All photos courtesy of Stefan thor Straten

Jackson Firebird

Opening the show of the night, Jackson Firebird from Australia seemed like an odd fit on the bill. Whereas both Horisont and Scorpion Child strive to sound as reminiscent of the 70’s as possible, albeit in a slightly updated fashion, Jackson Firebird pay far more tribute to the alt-rock of the 90’s coupled with some hillbilly grooves and some dirty-sounding slide-guitar. The duo blasted their way through a 40-minute set concocted of riff-based tracks that oozed of simplicity, often accompanied by rather forgettable lyrics about being a bad motherfucker or the like. A peculiar part of their set was how the drummer alternated between a traditional drum-kit and what seemed to be like some sort of regular box or crate on the stage, which had been amplified through a microphone – which he would then beat with brutal force to accompany the fierce guitar sounds. Quite befitting of the sort of lo-fi looking outfit, the vocals were mainly delivered via microphones that, as far as I could tell, are usually being used for harmonicas and the like – providing an odd sense of distortion on the vocals reminiscent of certain parts of Jack White’s back-catalogue. The highlight of Jackson Firebird’s set was undoubtedly their no-holds-barred rendition of Nirvana’s “School” which had the ferocity and nerve a song like that deserves, all the while conveying that same energy to a crowd which, at first, seemed quite hesitant towards them, yet opened up towards the end. A solid opening for the night, as far as support bands go.

7

Horisont

Having checked out Horisont’s recent album “Time Warriors” I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what to expect of their set. However, as the band took the stage one thing was abundantly clear: the vocals would most definitely face an uphill battle throughout their set as Axel, the vocalist, immediately sounded like he was struggling with the higher notes from the very get-go. Off-nights occur, sadly, but when this one did, it was nice to realize that although the vocals might have been a few high-notes shy of brilliance, the grooves provided by the instrumental backbone of the band were still quite intact – in fact, they were incredibly potent. Coming off as a blend of Iron Maiden and The Eagles (according to AP), Horisont’s set was ripe with dual-lead guitars, soothing balladry and steady groove throughout the show that explained why the venue seemed to be sold out at this point.

With “Crusaders of Death” the band displayed an all-encompassing will to make the set work to its fullest in spite of the vocal-based troubles. However, groove-laden as it were, a track like “Crusaders of Death” sadly falls short when not supported by the powerful, melancholic vocal work. With “Nightrider” the band seemed to fare much, much better as the vocals never quite had to reach the highest of high notes. The dual guitar leads were enthralling and the boogie-based bass and drum grooves remained entirely convincing and forceful throughout the performance, reassuring me once again of the fact that this particular genre of music might have branded with the words ‘dated’ but the statement behind the branding remains consistently wrong.

Scorpion Child

At last the time came for Scorpion Child, a band I have previously praised but completely missed out on in the live setting, much to my regret. Entering in a rather grandiose manner to an orchestral, almost theatrical backingtrack, the band set themselves up for either massive success or a harsh crash and burn situation. However, as the quartet (which used to be a quintet a few months back) launched into a veritable barrage of riffs it became quite clear that crashing and burning was not an option on this night. A few songs in, Scorpion Child launched in to the first highlight of their set, “Kings Highway”, sounding like it came from the hands of Led Zeppelin themselves – complete with the properly fitting aesthetics towards stage-personas as well as the hauntingly effective vocal work of Aryn Jonathan Black. Impressing me the most, however, was the guitar-work of Christopher Jay Cowart as he had to fill the shoes formerly worn by two guitarists – all the while managing to have the soundscape come off as crisp, vital and full-bodied as on their acclaimed debut album.

With “Salvation Slaves” the band kicked up the tempo a notch and served the crowd yet another batch of tasty riffs from Cowart, hypnotizing bass grooves provided by a stand-in on this evening, powerful drumming by Jon Rice and utterly enticing vocal work by Black. Whilst pointing at an object by the side of the stage which had, at this point, fascinated me to no end, vocalist Aryn Black proclaimed; “This is his plant (pointing at the bass player). It came from the fucking woods man, for real!” - all the while smoothly unveiling the ‘celebratory whisky’ which had been stashed inside the plant – much to the crowd’s amusement. As they then progressed into the soothing “Antioch”, Scorpion Child slowed down the pace at a much needed time, as the barrage of riff-based songs had the crowd seeming slightly weary from the triple-bill of the night.

However, as Scorpion Child had left and once again returned for their encores, spirits were once again on the rise as the band launched into crowd-favorite “Polygon of Eyes” which, in turn, launched unexpected singalongs from most of the crowd – including myself. Singing along to the infectious chorus-lines; “I live on the mountain /and dream of the open sky / a time sent event horizon / will leave our stories behind”, I couldn’t help but realize just how blindingly infectious a live-band Scorpion Child really is – prompting me to make a promise to myself as they left the stage: I absolutely have to check them out again next time they’re in town.

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