Review: William Control at The Joiners (14/07/2014)

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The venerable Southampton institution The Joiners has played host to almost every feasible genre of music at some point in its life. Country troubadours, fearsomely self-conscious indie bands, gravel throated metal acts and even the odd rapper have all passed through the doors of this hallowed institution, trailing their assembled groups of fans with them. However, last night The Joiners played host to something very special indeed, namely a bill featuring 3 of the finest gothic rock acts in recent memory, from both sides of the Atlantic.

First up were Bad Pollyanna, a female fronted rock band from Huddersfield, with a sound that evokes Evanescence with less piano and more of an industrial edge. They were a fantastically polished outfit and gave an amazing performance, to the point that no one would have been surprised if they were headlining the show, not opening it. They ran through a short but sweet set which showcased a selection of tracks from their debut album Monstrous Child, including the title track and lead single ‘Hollow’ which really showed off the range and power of vocalist Olivia Hyde.

Next up were Bristol goth punks Ashestoangels, a band who are no strangers to The Joiners and always manage to bring their own inimitable style of rock madness to the stage. Last night’s show was business as usual for the band, and within the first two songs of their set, the crowd were already moshing, dancing and forming spontaneous circle pits. They have more of a raw sound then Bad Pollyanna, but what Ashestoangels lacked in refinement, they made up for in sheer energy.  The songs off their new album Horror Cult were particularly infectious, especially ‘Heavy Words and Hollow Bones’, a perfect shout-along revenge anthem. As Ashes performance drew to a close, with a copious amount of crowd-surfing and lead singer Crilly spending more time in the crowd than on the stage, it was clear the Ashestoangels set had provided the second resounding success of the night.

Following two performances like that would prove something of a challenge for most normal acts. Luckily though, William Control is not most normal acts. He took to the stage with only a set of spotlights, bassist and backing vocalist Kenneth Fletcher, and a laptop-operating gimp for company. Following two such extravagant acts with such a sparse stage set-up would generally be a risk, but not for a man such as William Control and his frankly nuclear levels of stage presence and charisma, from the second he burst out onto the stage to the strains of ‘New World Order’ his every word was accompanied by the frenzied shrieks of the audience.

He played a set heavy with tracks from his new album Neuromancer, including set highlight ‘Price We Pay’; a rich, dark ode to hedonism that fits in perfectly with the mood of the evening. By the time the encore drew to a close with ‘I’m Only Human Sometimes’, Will had flagrantly flouted the venue’s smoking ban and curfew and lightly whipped a couple of lucky ladies on the front row. So, if that sounds like your sort of thing, and you are interested in something altogether more dark and fascinating than the average rock show, make sure you catch William Control on tour as soon as you can, for an evening you’ll never forget.

If you missed William Control on this tour, he will be back in the UK in December supporting industrial metal kings Combichrist.

Photograph by David Cornforth @ The Joiners

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