GIG REVIEW: BARONESS & VITAMIN X Live at Utrecht, NL
On a chill Wednesday evening, only a day after Europe was shook up by another capital city terror attack, this time in Brussels, I make my way to Utrecht to go see Baroness. Just yesterday they were meant to play Brussels themselves, and the rifled guards at Utrecht Central station are a grim reminder of the tension in Europe right now. Thankfully Baroness powered through, and even played a replacement show yesterday for the one cancelled in Brussels.
Opening are Vitamin X, a hardcore punk outfit from Amsterdam, who throw themselves into their set with incredible energy. Considering Punk takes technical playing as optional, these guys sound surprisingly solid musically, and even have some very nice melodic interludes and very nice bass sound hidden between the general happy mayhem and violence that is punk. Singer Marko Korac runs and bounces around the stage, jumping off the kick drum and generally causing a bunch of crazy mayhem on stage while much of the crowd seem a little confused as to what a punk band is doing opening for Baroness. But the answer to that question comes when John Baizley himself joins the band on stage with a guitar, almost bouncing in happy excitement and with huge grin on his face. Clearly Baizley loves the band, and that should be good enough for everyone else. And considering Vitamin X give one hell of an energetic show they’re more than good enough for me, even if they’re an odd opener for the main act.
After a brief interlude the crowd pile back into the cozy room just before Baroness is about to start. A big purple morphed skull from the interior art of ‘Purple’ graces the backdrop, as the band walks out. They fly right into ‘Purple’ with the first tunes, playing very well. Sadly in the first few rows the vocals are completely inaudible, an issue eventually mentioned by one of the fans in the front as well, but that could not be fixed. A little further back in the room the vocals are excellent though, and a great point of improvement in the live shows of the juggernaut band from the southern United States. Especially in the tune “Shock me” the vocals and harmonies between vocals really shine, and in general the ‘Purple’ material holds up a lot better live than it even did for me on record. The lighting this evening is pretty smart too, where the color of the lights change according to what album the tune is of. The lights sadly stay predominantly purple, green and yellow, with only the odd blue or red in there. Still considering how well the new material works live, and how thrilled the fan reception is, that’s not a bad thing.
In conclusion, we get treated to two completely different acts that share a similar vigor and driving force in their energetic show and musically heavy impact. Where Vitamin X shows that hardcore punk isn’t just fast and loud, and Baroness proved that they’ve certainly not lost their heaviness in their recent more melodic leanings, and show they can still grow.