Cardiff's Barfly, 24th November 2007
Reviewed by Nadine Ballantyne
London's Panic Cell overseeing a British headline tour was an inevitable occurrence, as opposed to a vague possibility. Beneficial support slots, most notably under the likes of Ill Nino, American Head Charge and various other outfits, have spearheaded a momentous rise in the group's media profile. Besides those noteworthy opportunities, privileged chances to carve a favourable impression arrived in the guise of two slots on the third stage (dubbed the Napster Stage in 2005, and then the Tuborg Stage in 2007) at Donington, UK's Download Festival in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Taking those aforementioned achievements into account, you'd naturally expect that the audience figures would be less modest. Prohibiting all devotees whose age falls shy of eighteen, this courageous measure may fatally harm attendance figures. Having said that, the Welsh rugby national team's fixture against South Africa at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium may have stolen the brittle limelight.
A malignant sign in itself, unlisted amongst tonight's billing is Macabre Deluxe - who, in actual fact, materialise as the concert's inaugural support. A rather strange mixture, the myriad contrast of chosen image styles lie firmly juxtaposed. To the casual eye, you'd blindly assume the individuals which comprise Macabre Deluxe ardently belong to the following genre classifications; Nu Metal, Indie and guitar oriented Metal a la virtuoso Joe Satriani. As concerns the group's final member, his anxious demeanour suggests a clear discomfort when confronted against live surroundings. When due credit needs to be issued, then solely Macabre Deluxe guitarist Arsen should duly receive said compliments. The whole performance's stressful burden rests against his shoulders, and during specific moments, Arsen even fervently urges mainman Stephen Baker to assume a central position situated towards the stage's front section. Both aloof and hesitant, Baker bears the disheartening knowledge that this specific live performance will fail to reap any genuine dividends. The axeman wields rapid solos, and Baker nervously lingers in situ. Baker may boast talented pipes, although Macabre Deluxe's chosen musical ingredients still form a bizarre mixture overall. Nonetheless, Arsen cultivates a mildly flamboyant onstage persona. Whenever the camera lens focuses upon bassist Toad, Toad occasionally unveils a menacing Rock complexion. Shamelessly flaunting their respective timing skills, Macabre Deluxe employ an array of offbeat patterns. Somewhat displeasing, this preferred method of execution fatally hampers any remotely attractive elements found within the group's music. A local outfit usually assumes the inaugural support slot as well, and not a visiting group.
Architects of Victory
Familiar with minimal audience figures (in comparison to tonight's inaugural support, Macabre Deluxe), Architects of Victory exhibit more onstage dynamism. Nonetheless, the collective nurture a fiercely passionate ethic - well, such can be said for most of the Swansea native's group members. A complacently shameless flaunt, guitarist Adam Whomes sedately ponders the reasons as to why nobody is carefully taking note. In truth, tickets were purchased in the anticipation of one group's performance, and this isn't the group in question. Whereas certain parts shine, others fail to impress. Various instances recall a heavier version of defunct Floridan conglomerate Creed, woefully lacking traces of distinct qualities. An unfulfilled opportunity, specific aspects would benefit from hints of screaming. Lead vocalist Dave Thomas' rhythm guitar suffers technical difficulties throughout, an unfortunate circumstance which fails to aid in any respect. Having said that, Architects of Victory gallantly ply their trade. When Cardiff Barfly's minmal audience figures are taken into account, it's a commendable feat.
SpeedTheory previously undertook the inaugural support slot on the British leg of American Head Charge's European Occupation Tour during late October and November 2006, a slot which saw the Wolverhampton quartet paired alongside Panic Cell. That tour hit Cardiff's Clwb Ifor Bach on 2nd November 2006, and the West Midlands thrashers affirmed a distinguished performance that night. Since that time, SpeedTheory has graced Cardiff venues on a few other occasions. SpeedTheory demonstrate more enthusiasm, an approach which fosters audience loyalty. A self-assured affair, this stimulates affection in turn. Frontman Wesley Alexander Davies III pays earnest tribute to Panic Cell in regards to the group's slot, to which an intoxicated gentleman genuinely clamors “Who the fuck is Panic Cell?”. A peculiar query, we'll also blame this on today's rugby international match. In all, SpeedTheory comprise the official article; brisk, they employ heavier stylings, and, in praise of every active riff, their bobbing heads rotate in a windmill motion. This cannot be said of the afro sporting Davies though, who endures bullish jeers to “Get a haircut”. Davies shifts his adopted vocal style, ranging from guttural screams to soft intonations. This minor quibble aside, SpeedTheory submit a compelling display - despite the low key atmosphere.
Finally, Panic Cell's keenly anticipated performance arrives. Material lifted from April 2007's What Doesn't Kill Us introduces the set, all met with a timid audience response. Little known, Kent's Panic Cell can be merely categorised as an underground assemblage. In light of those obstacles, it proves to be a courageous decision. Once the group culls tracks from August 2004 debut Bitter Part Of Me, the crowd's emotional investment sharply increases. Admirers contently wail along, and SpeedTheory's frontman Davies vocally contributes - however, it should be carefully recorded that Davies supplies notes through the stolen microphone of Panic Cell guitarist Harjeet Virdee. Vocalist Luke Bell unveils Jägermeister beverage (a possible explanation as to why tonight's event has a strict eighteen years of age and over policy), and pours the alcohol down the avid gullets of fellow group members. Bell motions towards the front row, and the devotees situated there fervently consume Bell's Jägermeister. The set dwindles to its midway point, and Panic Cell's genuine potential is visibly evident - the live chemistry is truly magical. Alcohol plays a key role though, an indulgence which has caused the cancellation of several past gigs (such as the planned April 18th 2007 appearance alongside Ill Nino and Drowning Pool at Cardiff University). Having said that, Bell concedes the fact that Panic Cell need to make amends. Final track “Away From Here” forms an earnest apology, a sublime number to depart with. Audience members yell along, and so does SpeedTheory's Davies atop an amp which holds little space to accomodate the man's skull. When a passionate devotee is observed screaming the lyrics word for word, beaming smiles radiate from each and every Panic Cell member. At the very least, Cardiff holds affection for the Kent Metallers.