Starting reviews with personal stories is always a danger, so if you aren’t interested in this one skip to the next paragraph. The last time I saw Baroness in Glasgow was in a tiny sweatbox, and I had to leave ten minutes into their set. I was ill, and the heat made me want to puke, which I did ten minutes later in a nearby alley. A few weeks later they were involved in a bus crash that would nearly destroy their career. The chance to see them once again off arguably the best album of their career is one I wasn’t going to miss.
Before we get there though No Spill Blood kick things off, an Irish three piece they enter the stage without a guitarist and quickly make the need for one seem daft. The lack of guitarist puts a lot of emphasis on the rhythm section and they are one hell of a pairing. The bassists riffs drive the music forward and there are times when you could almost forget there wasn’t a six string on stage. The synths they use in place of one are not normally my bag but here they work and as the set goes on it is hard not to be carried away by their stoner rock sound. It’s good preparation for the riff feast to come.
Oh, and what a feast it is. It has taken Baroness a while to step out of the shadows of comparisons to the much bigger Mastodon but with a near sold out Garage here tonight, it feels like they have finally taken that step. In fact, they may have gone one better. Those three to four-minute slabs of stoner rock that Mastodon have made their point of call are all here, and they may just be better.
It is a set mainly made up of tracks from their last two albums, with only one song from Red and one from Blue. In fact, we hear nearly the entirity of Purple, with only one song not inclded in the set. A risky choice, but one that pays off. Those songs are populated by big choruses and even bigger riffs and even though a few idiots shout for tracks from Red the majority in attendance are happy to sit back and bang their heads to brilliant rock and roll like ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Try To Disappear’.
In essence, Baroness are still a stoner rock band. However, four albums into their career they have risen above that. They no longer require categorisation. They are just one of the best rock and roll bands that we have and if there is any justice in the world, next time they’re in Glasgow it will be an even bigger venue.