Live Review : Graveyard + Bombus @ Academy 3, Manchester on December 6th 2018

It may be cold out but tonight, in the wind tunnel that is the Academy 3 we are gathered to be warmed once more by the great blues rock revival (though I was at University here in the nineties so this room with always be the Hop and Grape or even the hope and grope…). Anyway there is a vague feeling of hip and trendy about this evening as the moustaches and beards are out in strength and the PA is pumping out obscure Swedish rock n roll, sung in Swedish. 

Bombus are first on and they have evidently reached that point on a tour where you run out of clean clothes as they seem to have conducted a Viking raid on their own merch stand with every member sporting their Bombus branded caps or T-shirts. I’m all for a bit of self-publicity but they look like they have just fallen out of the EMP catalogue. Musically they are at the heavier end of blues rock with much owed to both Clutch and Motorhead, but they do have a secret weapon in the way that Feffe Berglund and Matte Säker trade vocals and harmonise. It reminds me of both the Beach Boys, in that their vocals meld into one, and the vintage days of my beloved Kiss when Gene and Paul traded lines in effortless fashion. It just works so well and manages to lift their rather simplistic stab at heavy metal to another level and results in their short but energetic set being well received by the growing crowd of Mancunian hipsters, I just could have done without the drum solo (‘you’re a support act, get some perspective’).

Graveyard do what they do effortlessly, their music is both ethereal and organic and feels like it just appears in the air around them. Tonight as ever, they are laid-back, minimal and magnificent, there is such a warm authentic vibe about the way that operate all the way from the vintage Ludwig drums logo to the subtle back lighting. Bands such Greta Van Fleet and Temperance Movement may have passed them in the popularity stakes but Graveyard are still reverentially received by those gathered here tonight. 'Uncomfortably Numb' and 'Cold Love' get a particularly rapturously welcome and the passionate audience manage to tread the thin line between energetic adulation and respectfully giving the music the space and silence required to all its impact to fully hit home.

As ever, their laid back blues grove is both infectious and immersive but what is of note tonight is how wonderful Joakim Nilsson’s sounds. His tones are rich, textured and utterly hypnotic. He has such range and depth in those vocal cords that it is all you can do to just close your eyes and let the waves of aural silk wash over you. 

Yep, there is nothing new in what Graveyard do but god do they do it well, They are both sophisticated and earthy in equal measure but what makes the whole thing extra special are the vocals as I can’t stress enough that they are utterly amazing tonight and the next best thing when you don’t have Jim Morrison in the room. If you haven’t checked Graveyard out do it just to experience Joakim as he has a very pure gift. He could sing anywhere, you would stop and listen. Superb.

Setlists : Graveyard, Bombus.

Words by Stewart Lucas
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki