WHEN you think of American metallers the Butcher Babies, what comes to mind? Is it the way frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey look, or dress? Or is it their music – hard, heavy and full of fire? If it’s the former then believe me friend, you are missing out.
A freezing cold Sunday night in Glasgow saw a breathless crowd of the latter hit the Garage for a bit of blasting Butcher Babies action – and they weren’t disappointed. First up, Italian/American hard rockers Klogr take to the task of warming up the crowd with gusto, pummelling the room with their brisk, buoyant muscular brand of nu metal-tinged rock.
Proving that the headliners have nothing if not varied taste in warm up acts, Eyes Set to Kill further ramp up the crowd with their pile-driving, grungy riffs and ‘A Day to Remember meets Marmozets’ sound – in fact, frontwoman and lead guitarist Alexia Rodriguez even sounds a wee bit like the latter’s powerhouse vocalist Becca McIntyre. Their second song goes down a treat with the audience – a spirited, heartfelt version of The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’, which they dedicate to the sadly departed Dolores O’Riordan.
Fizzing with youthful energy, they depart half an hour later having undoubtedly making some new fans.
Running ‘slightly’ late (ok, twenty minutes), when headliners The Butcher Babies finally take to the stage the excitement in the room is at fever pitch. Beginning their set with the title track from their stonking new album Lilith does absolutely nothing to calm the crowd, who immediately respond in kind to the passion and energy emanating from the stage.
“We are the Butcher Babies and we are here to f**k sh*t up!” Shepherd declares gleefully, before they launch into much loved crowd favourite ‘Monster’s Ball’. The crowd duly erupt, starting up a frenzied moshpit which basically lingers for the duration of the show.
Both Shepherd and Harvey hold the crowd in the palm of their collective hands throughout, with commands for circle pits, raised horns, middle fingers and fists in the air promptly obeyed by the enraptured audience. And it’s easy to see why: not only are they (and the rest of the band) talented, consummate performers, but they give their absolute all, wringing out every last drop of themselves in order to put on a hell of a show.
Above all, the crowd respond to the passion and sincerity of the two women; metalheads can tell when someone is just ‘punching the clock’ at a gig, and who is there for the sheer love of the music. Shepherd and Harvey most assuredly belong in the latter category: they sing their hearts out, share some easy banter with the audience, and clearly have the time of their lives. Their interplay is fluid, unforced and even slightly goofy, and their bond is as clear as it is genuine; a notable example of this is when Harvey apparently randomly includes the word ‘poop’ in the litany of curse words at the end of ‘Pomona’ and sends Shepherd into a fit of giggles.
Their set naturally tends towards material from Lilith but they also go back to the start of their career and cover every aspect, from the wistful, clean-sung ‘Thrown Away’ taken from 2015’s Take It Like a Man, their delirious, rocked-up to the rafters cover of ‘They’re Coming to Take Me Away’ from early in their nine year run, and the silly, party animal-friendly
‘Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers’, also from Lilith. Throughout, the intensity and energy level never drops for a second; seriously, the Duracell Bunny has got nothing on these two.
They end the main body of the show with ‘Underground and Overrated’, which sees Shepherd clamber off the stage and demand a circle pit to surround her (!), and leave the stage to huge applause. Following a four song encore (which goes beyond the venue’s strict 10pm curfew but absolutely no one is complaining) which finishes with the towering breakdown-fest of ‘Magnolia Blvd’, they again bid a fond farewell to the crowd, leaving behind a mess of sweaty torsos, spilt beer and hoarse voices.
It all just goes to show that while the haters will continue to hate, those in the know will always see a simply outstanding show whenever the Butcher Babies are in town. Superb.
Burn the Strawman
Pomona (Sh*t Happens)
Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers
Underground and Overrated
They’re Coming to Take Me Away
Review by Melanie Brehaut
Pictures by Darren McVeigh