Live Review: Midnight – Manchester

Live Review: Midnight - Rebellion, Manchester
16th April 2023
Support: High Command, Cyclone
Words: Matthew Williams
Photos: Bill Mawdsley

For anyone who attended Damnation Festival last year, they might have stumbled across the name of High Command, as they made their debut UK appearance at the festival. I had the pleasure of interviewing singer Kevin Fitzgerald and guitarist Razzle that day, and they were genuinely excited to be playing in Manchester, and last night with the intro music blaring, they set foot in the city for a second time.

Opening support for the Hellish Expectations Over Europe Tour, could have been a difficult slot to fill, but not for these, with his fist pumping, Kevin wakes the crowd up and they steam into “Omniscient Flail of Infamy”, which kicks off a slick set from the band. “Come on you sick fucks, let’s go” as the solos get crazier and the heads are banging along to “Merciless Steel”.

“Fortified by Bloodshed” gets the first pit action going and with the riffs flowing they plough on with “The Commander’s Code” which was full of energy and then their best song of the night, “Immortal Savagery” where Kevin invites the crowd to “split this place” and “fuck shit up”, which they promptly do and chaos ensues. “This last song is the first song we ever wrote” and with sword held aloft they play “Sword of Wisdom” and show that thrash is alive and kicking.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

And what comes next, surprises me and probably everyone else in the room who probably hadn’t heard of Belgian thrashers Cyclone. The five piece just play heads down thrash metal, and they go down an absolute storm, from the first riff to the last.

“This is a special night for us, as it’s our first ever UK gig, and we are here to kick your ass” screams out singer Guido Gevels as they go back to their first album from 1986 with “Take They Breath” and “In the Grip of Evil” which gets the crowd moving around all over the place, responding to the awesome riffs from the band. The crowd reaction is impressive, with full fists in the air for the excellent “Neurotic” and the crazy ass solos just continue.

“How many of you were even born in 1986?” questions Gevels as they bring out “Fall Under his Command” and follow this up with a newer track, from 1990, “Throw the First Stone”. With the end sadly approaching they thank the crowd for their support and want them to “get your shit moving” with “Fighting the Fatal” another blistering thrash track which sends the pit wild, and with beaming smiles, the band genuinely look like they’ve enjoyed their first gig in England.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

With the crowd condensed between the pillars, they lights go out, bells begin to toll and an eeriness fills the stage as the hooded trio of Midnight come out of the shadows, the guitarist standing on the amp as they begin their impressive live show. There’s no fluff or filler, just full on black n' roll played at a breakneck speed, with frontman Athenar in complete control.

With their latest impressive album “Hellish Expectations” out earlier this year, we are treated to several tracks off it, but they open up with the superb “Lord in Chains” before we get one of my favourites, the wonderfully titled “Lust, Filth and Sleaze” which sees the two crisscrossing on stage and the crowd going absolutely nuts. It’s a frantic opening which just gets better with “Black Rock n Roll” and the stunning “Expect Total Hell”, as Athenar thanks England “for giving the world Black Sabbath….and Bauhaus”.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

It's hard to think of more superlatives for Midnight, as the whole show is just a mixture of anarchy, bedlam and chaos all night long both on and off the stage, as the band give off so much energy and the crowd feed of that and you can see the band respond to that. They literally rip through their impressive catalogue of songs, with “Gash Scrape”, followed by “Masked and Deadly” and it’s genuinely surprising that it takes until “Dungeon Lust” before we get the first stage diver, then all hell breaks loose.

After a relentless start, they have a quick pause to tune the guitars and thank both High Command and Cyclone for joining them on tour, and Athenar tells the story of how he used “to hate all people” but loves the fans for turning up to shows as “Fucking Speed & Darkness” pierces our eardrums, and he madness continues. We are then treated to “Szex Witchery” and “Evil Like a Knife” as they both stand on the amps at the back, with huge chants of Midnight bellowing out from the assembled masses.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

The carnage is embraced further with “Nuclear Savior”, “Mercyless Slaughtor” and the awesome “Doom Death Desire” before we get the unbelievable “F.O.A.L” . “Three more?” shouts Athenar, “No, we can do seven more” as he dedicates “Satanic Royalty” to England before speeding proceeds up with “You Can’t Stop Steel” and “Violence on Violence”. We are then subjected to loads of feedback with “Unholy and Rotten” with Athenar smacking the big speaker repeatedly first with his hand, then his head, then he slides the bass up and down the speaker before pushing it out into the crowd for them to touch, as they go along the front row shaking the hands of as many people as possible, to conclude what has been one hell of a gig.

Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley
Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley
Photo Credit: Bill Mawdsley

Photo credits: Bill Mawdsley

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