Live from Relentless Garage, London, 23/9/11
Onslaught - 4/5
Gama Bomb - 5/5
Nightlord - 2.5/5
It's been twenty years since Onslaught have headlined a show in the UK, and they haven't exactly made their triumphant return all that easy on themselves. Time, for one thing, has not been kind to this posse of ageing headbangers, many have gained a significant amount of weight over the years – though one of the guitarists is a new arrival, not that you'd notice – and all the drugs and booze has aged the lead guitarist quite significantly. It doesn't help matters that they had the vocalist from Acid Reign announce that no, they aren't reforming and we could all fuck off, but Nightlord ARE, and were playing their 3rd show in 17 years as a last minute surprise. And that's all before Gama Bomb came out, known for their live antics and on stage energy to wear out the youthful crowd before the headliners could even appear.
As they approached the stage, the youngsters that looked like they'd only really arrived for Gama Bomb anyway - and being the on stage tour de force that they are, I don't blame them - stepped back from the front and a flock of guys in their late twenties and early thirties forced their way forward, and it only took a couple of tracks for them to realise that they probably should have fought for that front row view they previously occupied. You see, whilst Onslaught don't have the vigour of youth on their side, I'll be damned if they don't know exactly what a crowd wants; plenty of riffs to bang your head to, solo's to jump in the pit for (and not a single HXC dancer in sight! Huzzah!) and enough banter to make the crowd feel a part of an experience rather than just watching them play an album from start to finish. That they pulled it off at all after what came before seems somewhat miraculous, but they did more than that. They delivered a message: "We're Back"
Photograph by me. Re-use as you please, just please properly accredit the source.