Live Reviews : Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and John Baizley (Baroness); a live review
Scott Kelly and John Dyer Baizley @ Anu Bar 8/02/2012
For those of you that don’t know, Scott Kelly is the bitter, growling frontman of post-metal legends Neurosis, who have been ruining people’s shit live for the better part of three decades. John Dyer Baizley is the younger, less beardy frontman of the sludge metal pioneers Baroness. In essence these two men have, in their respective generations, been helping to craft a new face for metal music. Ignoring my clear admiration for these two manliest of men, it is also objectively true that they have both been hugely important for metal. Given all this, when I heard the good folks over at Heathen Skull records were bringing out these masters to tour Australia, I marked the date down on my mental calendar in anticipation and eagerly await the day.
I was unfortunate, or perhaps fortunate enough to miss the first act, which was the guitarist from Looking Glass playing solo, and was, in all likelihood a good set. Looking around the now familiar venue, I couldn’t help but notice a rather piss poor turnout. Only about twenty people had shown up to the gig, and I noticed a couple of them weren’t even from Canberra. This had serious repercussions as Scott Kelly announced during his set that when Neurosis come to Australia, (and he phrased it as a matter of when not if), they would probably be skipping Canberra. Way to fuck up, Australian Capital Territory.
At about nine o’clock, John Dyer Baizley took the stage. Acoustic guitar in hand, he took a quick moment to introduce himself, before bursting into an elongated and simplified version of “Steel That Sleeps The Eye”, a track off of Baroness’ The Blue Album. His set however was mostly original solo material, and it was a definite departure from his usual work with Baroness: pedal free and lacking the usual layered and melodic complexity, it was honest and raw. As John said himself, he had nothing to hide behind. The songs he played tended to be quite melancholic and occasionally intense, as on more than one occasion he produced his famed Baroness growl, shocking a few audience members. He closed his rather enjoyable and affecting set with a Bruce Springsteen cover, which induced a single lone audience cry of “YEEEAAAAHHHHH!”, produced by yours truly.
Scott Kelly took the stage next, a mammoth of a man, sitting square in the middle of the stage, staring down the audience. His songs were gloomy and doomy, and of course excellently preformed. It wasn’t a high energy performance, but then again, that would not have fitted the music emanating from Mr.Kelly’s trusted string box. The set was more hypnotic than monotonous, drawing the audience in to the gaps and spaces between chords and vocals, drenching the entire ANU Bar in Scott Kelly’s smoky vocals and hazy melodies.
For the grand finale of the evening, Scott Kelly and John Baizley took the stage together, to churn through two songs, combing their different approaches to acoustic music, and allowing the audience to witness something wonderful and unique. The whole show was a rather different experience: calm, but still intense, as oppose to the sometimes seemingly forced chaos of most gigs. It was enjoyable to see two legends of music to play their solo material, and to see them come together in the end and play together.