Live Review: Mastodon – O2 Academy, Newcastle, February 21st 2010

Sunday nights are terrible for turnouts, so it’s not surprising that Mastodon‘s turnout tonight in Newcastle is somewhat pitiful. Still, those who have made it out are to catch a real treat; with new album Crack The Skye under their belts, the quartet have decided to play it in its entirety this tour. Get ’em while they’re hot…

Not much can really be said for Totimoshi tonight. Armed with songs that stretch close to the ten-minute mark, and fourty minutes in which to display them in, they get round to playing just a few songs, but it can be argued that’s probably too much. For the better part, they’re boring, for the worse, they’re just shit. Their prog-noise doesn’t really absorb the crowd – bearing in mind this is an extremely open-minded crowd tonight, too – and polite applause is spared. Be sure to catch them again this year in the UK with Eye Hate God at your own risk.

Tonight’s headliners have a special treat in store for its crowd; playing new album Crack The Skye in its entirety is something that has to be seen live to be believed and appreciated. With a giant videoscreen containing all matters of star formations, strange old-film-esque clips and such, they launch straight into the chug-a-chug of Oblivion, which sends more than a few shivers up the spine.

The band have evolved into a more stand-and-appreciate outfit over the new-wave of American heavy metal they once were. It’s worth standing, tracks like The Czar are positively mind-bending, and with not a single word uttered between the set that’s not a lyric, it suits the style of the show very well. Closing with the staggeringly lengthy The Last Baron would have been a buzzkill for any other show, but with Mastodon, it just works. It brings the end to a fantastic set, as bassist Troy Sanders and guitarist Brent Hinds swap vocal duties as if they were in mid-duel.

As if that wasn’t enough to satisfy the masses, the band step back out to run through a mass encore of back catalogue classics. Harking back to the heavier, riffier material from Leviathan and back, it bursts a new hole through the thick atmosphere Crack The Skye created. Tracks like the mammoth Iron Tusk and closer March Of The Fire Ants show the raw behemoth power Mastodon create with their music, and it’s backed up by eye-of-the-needle playing. For anyone who didn’t see this brilliant display of musicianship, you missed out. Big time.

George Cannings.

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