Plainride haven’t come all the way from Cologne – presumably a plane was involved at some point – to mess about. No, rather; the group are here to plug their new album. Self titled, it only came out last Friday, and it forms the backbone of the set here. “S.O.T.U”, the brilliant album opener “Fire In The Sky” (on my notes, it simply says “Clutch” next to this one) and “Hour Of The Mumakil” are the first three, and the latter in particular is a window into their world. There’s a air of the jam band here, the thought that we are a heartbeat away from watching the Grateful Dead if things had worked out differently. There’s certainly a blues thread running through this, as one of the new record’s standout moments “Hello, Operator” proves and if “Wanderer” is a change of pace, then it’s mellow tones only serve to through a spotlight on Max Rebel’s superb voice. By and large, however, this is a band that exists in big grooves. They’ve always had that. I reviewed their debut in 2017 and “Beermachine” from it, is still as great as it was six years ago. Back then I wrote that they’d be leaving Germany and reaching for the skies. They still deserve those accolades, but with one more: they look like the sort of people who, if they weren’t on the stage would be in the crowd watching. Plainride have a wonderful authenticity about them.
“Hey, lighting guy!” enquires Pepper Keenan towards the end of the Corrosion Of Conformity set. “Give me some of that hippy light”. Before asking the crowd, “do you like hippy music?”
With that they launch headlong into ’13 Angels” and there’s the air of a band who would have been able to fit in anywhere, at any point in rock history. They could do this simply by fitting in nowhere.
Watch them here for 80 minutes and spot a single gimmick. Spot one moment where they follow trends, in short, spot one moment where they aren’t full on CoC..
The four, now with Jason Patterson back behind the kit even arrive slightly understatedly, opening with a jam, “Bottom Feeder (El que come abajo)” before “Paranoid Opioid” comes out, swinging hard.
What is interesting is that “…..Opioid” at 17 years old is the newest song they play, choosing instead to focus on the middle part of their career.
That means the seminal “Deliverance” record gets a lot of time tonight. Not least “Shake Like You” (one of its more underrated tracks).
About halfway through, there’s a real change of gear. They play “Wiseblood” and it’s as if a switch is flicked, and “Who Got The Fire” appears to be a challenge to each of them to see who has.
At its core the group is Mike Dean and Woody Weatherman, and they, along with Keenan have a mastery of their craft, of their sound. It’s interesting, for example, to hear this vintage of the group play work like “Vote With A Bullet” as vicious a put down as there can be, but with the lived experience of 30 odd years, it somehow sounds different.
The encore is perfect. “Born Again For The Last Time” (“we’re going deep, we need the practice” smiles Keenan) is good enough as they haven’t played it in a while before this tour, but it’s all about the big two. “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds”. Look, I’m not the only one in here for whom these are two of their favourite songs ever made, I’m sure, but here they underline why.
Before he’d played the latter, Keenan had said something that on reflection was the whole gig summed up: “thanks for coming to see a real rock band…..there aren’t many of us these days”. And there aren’t. Certainly not like CoC, for almost 40 years in all their different guises, they’ve always been all about the music – and that shone through brightly here.