Rob Zombie: O2 Academy, Glasgow
9th June 2017

ian sutherland
Words and Pictures: Ian Sutherland

rob zombie

Despite flitting between parallel careers of directing horror films and performing his own horror rock take on metal Rob Zombie has managed to stay relevant and maintain his popularity with fans of his music side since the making his name with White Zombie in the nineties. Certainly Glasgow's O2 Academy is packed to the rafters for his return to the city.

Sometimes referred to as the Alice Cooper of his generation, often his stageshows are loaded up with pyro and monsters but tonight the spectacle is kept to basics, just a backdrop featuring the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood also known as King Kong and some lights. A chance then to see what kind of pure frontman the Zombie man is and it turns out he is a pretty effective one. Dressed in a garish yet cool looking suit only he could get away with, he does a lot of dancing on stage for a Metal singer, but the crowd love him whether he is showing off his moves Steven Tyler style, encouraging them to get more raucous or even sitting cross legged on the stage and showing off the quiet authority of an authentic rock star.

rob zombie

He is backed up in the presentation stakes by his band with guitarist John 5 in particular getting to show off his theatrical bent with a variety of minor costume additions and a seemingly endless succession of guitars which light up in one way or another. Bass player Piggy D seems to have less costume choices but won the funky instrument war with a cumbersome looking but very impressive crucifix shaped bass. These guys play very well and everything is nailed right down but they know this is meant to be a show and act accordingly.

Everything looks good then but the reason that everyone is here is for the music. The Rob Zombie way is to write some dirty, twisted, riff based rock and roll and then stick a patented stomping groove over it which makes his stuff a popular choice for Metal club DJs and no doubt some strippers in his native homeland. This should also work really well in a live situation, especially on a Friday night in Glasgow with a partisan crowd ready to let rip. Opening with the wonderfully titled 'Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown' and following up with old favourite 'Superbeast', the sound is really bass heavy and manages to deaden the natural groove of the songs somehow.

rob zombie

The setlist is mostly grounded in the 'Hellbilly Deluxe' album and latest release 'The Electric Warlord Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser' and not every song works, leaving the set with an uneven feel. The place is ready to explode but the combination of song choice and muddy sound means it feels like we're teetering on the edge but never quite getting there. Even when he dips into the White Zombie era with the classic 'More Human Than Human' it's not quite the tour de force I expected.

By the time we get to 'House Of 1000 Corpses' though the energy levels are starting to rise further so I was disappointed when John 5 started to do one of those show off guitar solos while the rest of the band took a break. Fortunately it turned out to be only the soundtrack to a walkabout in the audience by Mr Zombie himself who made many people's night by getting up close and personal right around the stalls of the hall.

rob zombie

Arriving back on stage to a hero's welcome he worked the crowd up into a further frenzy and played his ace card with the insistent, cutting riff of 'Thunder Kiss '65'. A standard in his live show since the early days of White Zombie, this classic tune really put the audience over the edge and mayhem ensued. I have rarely seen crowd surfers starting their trip to the front from so far back in the hall. The song turned into even more of a crowd pleaser when turned into a medley with nods to his influences in 'Blitzkrieg Bop' and 'School's Out'. These were welcomed like the old friends they are before returning to his own classic riff to draw the set to a close.

Encore time included a nice Sabbathy stomp through 'The Lords Of Salem' but what everyone was waiting for was the bigger, bouncing energy of 'Dragula' and he didn't disappoint, with the crowd bouncing and singing along like their lives depended on it.

Rob Zombie certainly showed why he is such a popular live act, but not every song was killer and the sound could and should have been better but overall this combination of charisma, cool, Metal stomp and balloons sometimes shaped like aliens was a really fun place to be. With a couple of tweaks to the setlist it would have been even more spectacular. The hardcore fans certainly went home sweaty and satisfied.

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Check out more of Ian Sutherland right here.

15th June 2017

metal talk