Although this bunch of crazies from New York (correctly billed as ‘Tragedy: All-Metal Tribute To The Bee Gees And Beyond’) have been around for several years now, having hit upon the genius idea of giving classic disco hits a Heavy Metal twist, this was the first time I’d seen them live. Playing in the downstairs part of the o2 Academy, it appeared to be another ‘throw ’em in’ setup with the bar and merchandise side sectioned off, and it was an almost empty venue I entered. As a result it was an empty barrier, and I’d wanted to get in early in order to catch support Bigfoot, a hotly-tipped quintet hailing from Wigan.
By the time the Bigfoot lads got on stage the place had filled somewhat, suggesting a lot had come along to see these guys. They were performing with a stand-in drummer, for reasons I couldn’t quite catch, and from my spot on the front I was actually struggling to hear vocalist Ant Ellis. The sound mix was a little bit bass-heavy (not for the first time in this venue!) and that did take the edge off their performance. The guitars (courtesy of axemen Sam Millar and Mick McCullagh) still cut through with some tasty leads from both, and the depping drummer was both powerful and showy but it was still dominated by Matt Avery’s bass. From what I could make out, what they bring to the table is familiar enough, but for a band that’s still new to the scene, they gave an accomplished performance. I’d like to see these guys again soon, and with luck the sound mix will give the lads a better shake.
The changeover was swift, with several guys in glittery face paint setting up. It was obvious that these were the guys from Tragedy, and I was amused to see that although they’d changed the drums over, they’d left Bigfoot’s kick drum (complete with their logo) in place. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gig before that saw the headliners play with a support’s bit of kit! When they eventually came on, it was a bunch of blokes clearly well into middle age, clad in the sort of ridiculous silver lame that looked naff even in the 1980s! One of the guitarists even topped off his KISS-inspired look with an inverted crucifix, while the other wore silver shorts with matching boots! Before all of that, a mysterious figure in a white jumpsuit decorated with flame effects on the sleeves and legs wandered through the crowd brandishing a flashing light – this was ‘Lance’, as detailed on the back of his outfit. Not a musician, but he was seen throughout the show as the target for slapstick abuse from the rest of the band! The band opened, naturally enough with their metallic cover of ‘Tragedy’ but from there, the set performed was a lot more varied than I’d anticipated. Covers of the likes of ‘Funky Town’ (Lipps Inc/Pseudo Echo), ‘Maneater’ (Hall and Oates) ‘Little Red Corvette’ (Prince) featured among many others; with Lance appearing on stage regularly to towel down the band members – a running gag being that he was perpetually being batted away by the players! When not doing that, he’d brandish confetti cannons, blasting out coloured ticker tape at frequent intervals. Lance was there mainly as ‘chew toy’, subjected to being thrown around the stage but towards the end, was given a ‘solo spot’ where he ‘played’ along to a blistering guitar solo, while brandishing a pink toy ukelele!
Among several amusing points in the set, the guys gave Lance a satanic-ish face mask for their cover of ‘Sweet Caroline’; for this they renamed themselves ‘King NEIL Diamond’ (!) In addition, a recognisable drum beat heralded what appeared to be a cover of Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ but, after playing the opening guitar riff to that number, it transformed into a Metal rendition of ‘It’s Raining Men’! Of course they closed proceedings with their take on ‘Staying Alive’ before inviting numerous female members up on stage.
The gig was a lot of fun, once again though their sound was swamped a bit much by bass. They’re actually good players, and vocals were taken not just by singer/occasional keyboardist Disco Mountain Man, but by guitarists Mo’Royce Peterson/Garry Bibb and also (prominent!) bassist Andy Gibbous Waning. Again, I’d see these again, but again I’d hope for a better sound balance next time out.