Live Review: Graveyard and Kadavar - SWX, Bristol
3rd May 2023
Words: Richard Oliver
It was a solid night of groove and riffs as the Graveyard and Kadavar co-headlining European tour landed in Bristol for the first of a handful of UK shows which will culminate in Desertfest in London on the weekend.
The venue was rather empty when I arrived which didn’t bode well as tour support Polymoon were about to hit the stage. The Finnish band did have a small but enthusiastic crowd watching as they played their first ever UK show. They have an interesting sound that mixes elements of psychedelic rock, prog rock, stoner rock and shoegaze together with ever shifting songs that switch from delicate to trippy to heavy and dense. Unfortunately the sound mix worked against the band coming across a bit muddy and losing the intricacies of the band's sound that can be found on their recordings. The band themselves have a varied image looking like a cross between a 70’s glam band and 80’s metal band. The performance itself was intense with drummer Tuomas Heikura impressing with an energetic battering of his kit whilst frontman Kalle Erik Kosonen has quite an understated vocal style which suits the atmospheric nature of the music. It was only a short set but the band had definitely earned some new followers by the close of their set.
Things had filled up quite a bit by the time the first of the co-headliners Kadavar came on stage and the German stoner rock bands started off with a bang and barely let up throughout the entirety of their set. Riffs and groove were the order of things with a selection of heavy hitting songs with the majority of the set taken from their early albums with ‘All Our Thoughts’, ‘Last Living Dinosaur’ and ‘Doomsday Machine’ bringing forth those Sabbathian riffs with plenty of rock and roll swagger. The band kept chat to a minimum and let the music do the talking and it was a balls out performance which demonstrated the immense talent of the band from the gorgeous lead guitar solos of frontman Christoph Lindemann to the thunderous bass of Simon Bouteloup. My attention was mainly drawn to drummer Christoph Bartlett who was all big smiles and enthusiasm and seemed to be having the time of his life hammering away at his drums. Fan favourite ‘Die Baby Die’ got the biggest response from the crowd though the band wound things down with the psychedelic trip-fest of ‘Purple Sage’ before leaving the stage and leaving the audience wondering how Graveyard were going to follow that.
Graveyard did manage to follow Kadavar’s set and then some. Unlike Kadavar, Graveyard started out in low key fashion with the bluesy and soulful ‘Hard Times Lovin’ easing in the audience gently before building in intensity throughout the set. With no new material from the band since the last time they toured the UK supporting Clutch in 2019 the band offered up a nice setlist with a good chunk taken from the now classic “Hisingen Blues” as well as 2018’s “Peace”. It was the material from Hisingen Blues which got the audience going the most with the fantastic title track getting an early spot in the set but ‘Uncomfortably Numb’ and ‘The Siren’ had the audience in stunned awe. My arm hairs were certainly standing on end. The bluesy groove was in full flow for other cuts such as ‘Goliath’, ‘Please Don’t’ and ‘Bird Of Paradise’ and at the times the crowd were so wound up that there was even a pit of sorts though it was more people jumping around with joy rather than anything aggressive. The band themselves were on absolute fire with the rough yet soulful voice of frontman Joakim Nilsson on fine form though eyes and ears were on Jonathan Larraca whose stunning lead guitar work had everyone in awe. Like all the bands this evening Graveyard
were men of few words but when the music is this damn good then let it do the talking. An encore of ‘Walk On’ and ‘Ain’t Fit To Live Here’ ensured that the crowd were left satisfied but very much wanting more by the time Graveyard left the stage. The last time I managed to see Graveyard perform live was at Bloodstock 2014 so this evening was a long overdue reminder of just what an amazing band that Graveyard are.