Damaj 1st Ever Headline gig @ Ivory Blacks, Glasgow
Damaj 1st Ever Headline gig @ Ivory Blacks, Glasgow
Tonight was a very special night for the boys from Damaj. I have seen these guys support all manner of bands over the last year or so and now it was finally their turn to leave the stage last. They threw everything at this the 1st night of a three date headline tour, from the set list to the new backdrop(although we could only see about a third of it) and the amp covers. All this preparation ended up in a very memorable night where the band showed they deserved the name headline act.
We will get to Damaj later but they had also put together a cracking bill which saw a late entry to the roster for the band Heart Stalk Lunatic. I am sure there is a very murky reason behind how they got on the bill as singer Mark Shankland informed us he had just shared Billy Ocean’s cabin with lead singer and guitarist from Damaj Daniel( I will delve no further).
They were a bit of an unusual fit for tonight but I was definitely open to seeing what they had to offer.Their sound was more akin to an indie stage I would think but they are definitely good at what they do and I was very proud that the crowd of metal heads here tonight also gave them a chance and all I spoke to later enjoyed their set. I reckon they could garner a large amount of Biffy Clyro fans as there is definitely some similarities, with a little dose of Idlewild thrown in too. A special mention must go for their amazing rendition of 5FDP “The Bleeding”. This had me singing at full volume and they were note perfect. A band to watch out that is for sure.
Next up tonight were Circle Of Tyrants who were booked for the full three dates of the tour and were determined to bring a huge slice of heaviness to the occasion. When a band has a tagline of “Baw Booting Thrash” you just know your ears are going to take a beating(luckily no baws were damaged in tonight’s show). They have a massive axe attack in the form of Austin and Andy and with vocalist Kwondo screaming like his life depended on it they gave you an old school lesson in brutality. They garnered some new fans tonight that is for sure.
Last up tonight before the headliners were Splintered Halo, a band I first saw supporting Butcher Babies earlier this year. I instantly fell in love with their weirdness, from the mannequin masks for band members and an S&M poster girl in lead singer Evilyn. They instantly grab you with their look and once the music starts you are drawn in hook, line and sinker. Add to that song compositions set around movies of all description and you have a shock rock band with the look, music and determination to go all the way.
With songs based around Leatherface, Wizard of Oz and Alice In wonderland you are in for a very trippy show. On the likes of “Dark Side Of Oz” you have Evilyn changing character from Dorothy to the wicked witch….throw in the singalong of”Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and you have a dark and very twisted masterpiece. I once again enjoyed the hell out of this set and I for one will be back at the same venue on 17th of September for this bands own headline gig. Do not miss that show.
And now for Damaj themselves, this foursome is almost unrecognisable from the band I first heard. There may have been a line up change with Scott Macleod now full time owner of the drum stool and although Scott has had a massive impact on the band dynamics the changes are far more widespread and all encompassing. The set list tonight tells a story. Some of the older songs have been kicked into touch but when you have songs like “The King” and “Wrath Of The Tide” you can see the progression and the work both Daniel and James do on guitar is mesmerising.
Every one of the guys stepped up to the plate tonight and with a very rowdy crowd cheering them on and even getting a moshpit on the go they could not wipe the smiles off their faces. They had to cut their set due to the addition of the first band so we didn’t get the full hour and a half promised but we did get a perfect rendition of thrash music by a band that grows with every gig, a band that have made friends with every headline act they have played with…a real compliment to them and their ability.
The songs came thick and fast and the ever present bond between both guitarists gels in front of your eyes. Their intermingled lead and rhythm licks bounce from one to the other and even a buggered guitar cannot slow them down….James just gets on with the job while Daniel switches guitar, plugs back in and gets back on track.
Now as much as these guys are the finesse and show from Damaj the real backbone is the David on Bass and Scott on drums. David has really come out of his shell over the last six months and his bass licks are amazing…and he is actually enjoying himself now. Tonight was the first time I really got a good chance to watch Scott on his unbelievably cheap and beautiful new drum kit. I ended up side of stage doing photos and I saw him batter the living daylights out of it. These two band members lay down the beat for the double axe attack that drives the songs and everything is now a perfectly working unit. Everyone is happy and they know how well they work together live…there is no learning station like a live stage and the hours done in the small clubs have paid off and led them to this point.
As much as I love their own songs the way the boys wrapped up their set with four cover songs was brilliant. They had hinted to me earlier that they were throwing some into the set and I was surprised to hear the chuddering riff from Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak as it burst from the PA. They nailed this one and had the crowd singing along. Next up was Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper”, a song I have seen Maiden perform since it was introduced to their set in 1984 and just less than two months ago both myself and James witnessed it at Download. The guitar work was spot on but unfortunately Daniel was too intent on Adrian Smith’s guitar work to remember all the lyrics but luckily we were on hand to assist there.
We then moved onto band favourites with a rousing rendition of “Peace Sells” and finally, after much harassment from the crowd an amazing version of “Seek And Destroy” The final four songs were the icing on the cake to what was a brilliant night and one I am sure the band will never forget.
The calibre of tonight’s performance just reinforces my faith in this band. They may only be young but they are extremely talented and at this stage the world really is their oyster. I cannot wait to see the next chapter in the Damaj story.
Review and Images Ritchie Birnie