Live Review : Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs + Mésange @ The Live Rooms, Chester on April 14th 2019

I’m still trying to get over the jetlag from my trip to New York, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to take in a rock gig by an original band at my local venue. The Live Rooms in Chester has tended to move away from original rock and metal gigs in recent times, spending more time with tribute, cover and dance/funk acts, so when the chance to see something relevant to ROCKFLESH comes around it has to be jumped on. In fact, the lack of opportunities means this is the first time I’ve been back to the venue since they completely renovated the innards, and they’ve done a great job. Gone are the mega gooey, sticky carpeted floors, and instead we have wood finish floors, walls, fixtures, the lot. It’s like a log cabin gig venue but with the same reassuring layout that means it still feels like an old friend.

Tonight’s support consists of only one band…well in fact it consists of one violin and one guitar. Mésange describe their music as “possessed and steered by a solemn power that embraces the elements and careers through dense electric skies; exposing signs that flutter and flare in dark elegance.” Yep, this is a full flavoured, unashamed avant-garde act. It feels much more like a performance art piece, possibly even more befitting as an installation, than a pair you’d expect to see supporting a rock band. Mésange deliver soundscapes akin to a stripped-back Sigur Rós; the film score music to a Scandinavian murder serial, Game of Thrones episode or, when they really click, elements of Vangelis. It’s suffice to say that the film they’ve scored would probably be something truly chilling and unnerving.

They could possibly be the the most unique support band I've ever seen – even more so than a man singing reggae along to a stretching tape-deck (that was at a Mad Caddies gig). I'll be honest that I'm no violin expert but they produce a fullness of sound which in itself is impressive, the guitar providing an adequate backdrop without necessarily technically impressing. They’re dark and brooding, but their reliance on heavy reverb and delay can only mask to an extent their meandering structure and composition. It’s certainly not your usual gig fare, and I honestly can't tell if the crowd are into this or just respectfully taking it in.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs take to the stage and start as they mean to go on, laying down sludgy stoner metal riffs which hypnotically drive into your skull over and over. They embody a modern take on the very earliest of heavy metal influences – Black Sabbath. Sleazy dirty Sabbath riffs with a bluesy vibe churn through oversaturated vintage amps. Their performance isn’t as intense as I’d been led to believe if would be from rave reviews, and it might be due to the sound tonight; drums tinkling in the background, guitars blaring overbearingly and singing an undecipherable thin wail. That’s disappointing on the vocal front, as I’d been led to believe Matt Baty’s delivery was more of a guttural bellow, and the lyrics witty and engaging, but if that’s true it’s unfortunately lost tonight. Instead I can see a portal into what the Sabbath might’ve been like with Iggy Pop as frontman.

It feels like they’re trying to be arty and intense rather than actually being arty and intense, and this is typified by one of the guitarists actually spending the whole gig looking either bored beyond belief or about to drift into a drooling coma. However, I can see why their offering of an almost sludgy version of Kasabian is lining them up to be mainstream darlings - there's an accessible familiarity to their overdriven Sabbath riffs that means they are enjoyable and listenable if not always challenging to listen to. The final song has variety in tempo, time signatures, groove-inducing harmonised guitars and intelligible vocals. It’s a shame it took an entire hour to get there, but finally the band and crowd truly unleash for a violent crescendo of a finale.

Words by Matt Fraser
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki