After something like a 15 to 20-year wait, Michale Graves is touring the UK. For many folk, certainly in Edinburgh, this was the first time seeing the man in action. Pleasingly the set gave us all the chance to hear some of the choice cuts of the two Misfits albums he sang on from the late 1990s. Those being American Psycho and Famous Monsters. However, he also gave us songs from some of his solo albums including his latest CD When World’s Collide which stretches out into a more hard rock style with on occasion lyrics which are more thoughtful and even slightly political!
The band plays like a well-oiled machine having been on the road for most of the last six months. And he himself is in fine shape doing leaps, jumps, and twirls that I certainly couldn’t manage even 20 to 30 years ago! With some of the best face paint I have ever seen on an artist making him look like he had two sets of teeth at points, Michale himself is certainly a strong focal point as well as fun to watch.
On the whole, he doesn’t speak much between songs. The intros are almost part of the eeriness of the songs as he speaks over the music itself. Staying in character is perhaps the way to describe it.
Very pleasingly his voice is also in great shape. His low end nice and haunting but live he also has a higher range, stronger than I ever noticed from listening to the albums. Not every singer I have seen sounds even better live than on recordings!
“The Beginning Of The End” showed off his voice very nicely as well as the fact he did some jumps. Which with the height of the venue roof was possibly quite dangerous. And still he was belting out the lyrics with great aplomb.
If there is a faster song to sing than “Crimson Ghost” I think I have still to hear it. How he can get all the lyrics out audibly is quite incredible.
One of the best songs recorded in my view from his catalog from the Misfits is the ballad “Saturday Night”. Which on one hand sounds like a song from the 1950s and would not have sounded out of place in the musical Grease (if that had a more horror theme obviously). And to which some of Volbeat’s songs owe something too in sound and vibe (along with all the “oooooos”), this had the crowd swaying and singing along nicely.
To be honest, there were lots of audience participation between the “Carol Anne” section in “Shining”, the “never gonna get me” on the previously mentioned “Crimson Ghost” and, of course, the chorus “Why don’t you love me anyway” from “Helena” which in the heavier or punkier section led to quite a pit going on. I feared I might end up splattered on the stage being quite a small guy!
There was a real party type atmosphere in the Bannermans venue with its close confines and cavern shape. The vibe between band and audience was one of joy and fun with everyone wanting to sing and dance. Although on one occasion there was a very near collision between Michale and Loki. They nearly smacked into each other due to the stage not being the biggest! There was laughter from on stage and off it.
The band didn’t leave the stage to do encores, Michale explaining that they see no point in all that (to be honest, there is nowhere for a band to go off stage in Bannermans even if they wanted too) and explained the connection between himself and the audience. He went so far as to say should he die and we meet his kids to tell them how their dad affected them as a singer and songwriter as that would be the finest legacy.
Before the encore, they even held the show up to help someone who had lost their phone in the mayhem down the front, although it took a couple of attempts for the band to get what the person was asking due to the Scottish accent! Again there was laughter and jokes about all that between band and audience.
Before Michale, we had the fun of the Irish band So Long Until The Séance (SLUTS for short). A band I didn’t know much about. The only song I had heard was “The Bride Of Frankenstein” which was on YouTube and made me think of the Murderdolls. However, there was much more to them than that. In a couple of songs, there was some nice dual guitar work which had hints of Thin Lizzy about them including if memory serves me correctly “Dead Pretty”.
The second song in their support set was top drawer. As far as I can tell (from the stage setlist) a song called “Stake” had some great guitar work and some fantastic bass work going on. Even some time changes that hinted at a prog rock vibe!
They had good stage presence and were all made up facially. One of the guitarists had a pair of strides on that would make any glam band jealous. They were incredibly bright. The fact they were all smiling and having fun rubbed off on the crowd and they went down very well indeed. A band to keep eyes and ears peeled for in the future. If a band is there to warm up an audience and get them in the mood for the main act they can consider it a job well done.
A great night overall and fingers crossed that both bands play Edinburgh soon and that Mr. Graves doesn’t leave it so long next time to visit the UK.
Words: Tom Cornell. Photographs: Sinclair MacKenzie.