Live Review: Acid Reign – Preston

Live Review: Acid Reign – The Ferret, Preston
29th March 2024
Support: Solitary, Wrath of Man
Words: Dan Barnes
Photos: Tim Finch

I had to venture into the secret archives beneath Razor’s Edge Tower and search through the old scrolls and parchment to find the last time Acid Regin came to Preston. From the darkness, I heard wretched sobbing; is it La Llorona? Or Tim, reflecting on Wales’ Six Nations campaign? Whatever, I’m not hanging around to find out. After all, it might not be La Llorona!

Anyhoo, it was 14 October 1988 when Acid Reign played support to Nuclear Assault, over at the Charter Theatre, and it’s taken (uses fingers) quite some time for the band to find their way back to town.

Local lads, Wrath of Man take to the stage to the theme from Jaws and set about knocking out a set of hard-edged Thrash metal with a whole heap of modern death vibes thrown in for good measure. It’s early on a Good Friday evening, but already there’s a sizable gathering in the venue and Wrath of Man are playing to a friendly audience. Made up of members of bands from all over the Parish, they have a ready-made reception for tunes from The Abstract Grotesque album, and even a couple of new ones, hot off the recording desk. Their sound is raw and heavy, with the occasional flourish of a Slayer riff, or an Anthrax motif, but generally stays closer to the extreme end of things. And, just as he did back in October, fronting All Consumed, Mike Skeech abandons the stage during the final song, to engage with his people and deliver his vocal from the pit.

Celebrating their third decade, Thrash veterans, Solitary, rarely miss an opportunity for a home-town show. It comes as no surprise then that Rich Sherrington and his troops, are bathed in the glories of the genre’s hey-day. With riffs that harken back to the late Eighties and an energy that defies the band’s tooth-length, Solitary is the real deal: no ballads, no bending to trends, just a head-down approach to making some of the most caustic music of their careers.

You can’t have spent so long in a movement without picking something up - a Testament bridge here, a Chris Astley-ism there – but we lap it up because we know it’s done from a place of homage. Back in 2014, the band released the live album I Promise to Thrash Forever and, on tonight’s showing, a decade later Solitary is still keeping to that vow.

H confirmed from the stage that it had been thirty-six years since Acid Reign supported New Jersey’s finest on their Can You Survive Early Brain Death tour and that this was their first return to Preston. P-town wasn’t even a city the last time Britain’s Square-Danciest Band plied their trade here and in honour of the intervening years, they open with Reflections of Truth, just as they did back then.

Time and personal revisions haven’t changed the band’s general ethos of delivering a highly energetic performance, all of which is focused around the only remaining member, H. He’s the epitome of ball of energy, like a kitten or a puppy, not knowing where he is or what he’s up to at any given time. One minute he’s on the stairs, the next he on (literally) the bar, but he’s constantly the genial host of the evening.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

Anyone got the pink album? he asks, before Acid Reign throw themselves into Creative Restraint; his comment referring to Obnoxious’ unconventional album sleeve. Humanoia is as infectious now as it was back when The Fear was released, and the most polite pit ever seen is having a blast at the front of the stage.

Someone mentions drug and H responds with: Statins? Making fun at the age of the band and, many of us old schoolers. A New Low, from 2019’s The Age of Entitlement record, leans into Acid Reign’s crossover credentials with a two-stepping beat, continued on Life in Forms, before which H expresses his dislike for playing in Manchester.

The title track from The Fear is as big and effective as ever and me and me old mucker, Paul, cannot hear Goddess without a flash back to a night in 1990 when a mate, moshing to the song, damn-near garrotted himself on a washing line. Oh, happy days.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

A couple of covers: Blondie’s Hanging on the Telephone and Suzanne Vega’s Blood Makes Noise means the show is in the final strait, but not without a massive run though of Blind Aggression and Ripped Apart. The pit is in perpetual motion throughout and some kindly punter hoists H onto his shoulders and bears him high during set closer, Motherly Love.

“We’ve made Good Friday into a Great Friday” states H and promises it’ll not be another thirty-six years until Acid Reign darken Preston’s door again. For us who were there that night in October 1988, fresh-faced and button-nosed, before the weight of the world destroyed our spirit, this was a glorious walk down Memory Lane. For those of a certain age it was a change to forget those aching joints and spend ninety minutes reliving mis-spent youths.

Great band, great evening, great crowd. Let’s do it again soon!

Photo credits: Tim Finch Photography

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