Powerful live show by rock acts from Croatia and Serbia stunned UK crowd
VIZELJ and FROM ANOTHER MOTHER special mention
Beginning of a new dawn for bands from Balkans
London is a megalopolis like no other in the World. UK music industry is a 4 billion pounds money making machine so it is understandable artist from all over the World still consider UK along with USA a Holy Grail of music, for glory reasons too, the last and the most important obstacle on their way to stardom, and immortality.
When the idea about the tour started shaping, I was already heavily involved with LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY. Croatians M.O.R.T. had an amazing appearance over there the previous year so it was a natural progression to get new bands, new blood hungry for playing, brave enough to follow their dream, and ready to work their socks off to achieve it.
It did not take long. Luckily my connections and the knowledge of the scene, and I will like to emphasise a very rich rock scene, made my job that much easier.
And so it was born: BEAST FROM THE EAST TOUR was live and looking well. And the bands were first class. But let’s start from the beginning.
The Tour was scheduled for a first week of May. Starting in Liverpool at SOUND CITY taking us to Dublin, Edinburgh and finally London. Four bands from Balkans. Three from Croatia and the youngest of the bunch from Belgrade, Serbia. For the very first time, rock bands from these two countries, sworn enemies in a none-too distant past, were joining forces and touring UK together. Voice of a new generations, those who oppose nationalistic political shenanigans back home, artists with fresh look, and ideas about the future, and an energy storage the size of a nuclear plant.
The gathering started on 3. May. First to arrive were THEM MOOSE RUSH. Two days early, I guess they could not wait to get out on the road. Prog rock trio from Croatia have been very busy last 2 years. A lot of live shows, recognition at showcase festivals, a new album that caused a few head turns. And three eager space rock cowboys. Great, this is looking awesome.
Following day, the rest of the crew arrived. Blues punk rockers M.O.R.T. ready to pounce after an incredible last year gig at Sound City, FROM ANOTHER OTHER, prog punk maths fusion Molotov cocktail, and last but not least VIZELJ, Belgrade born, and bread on IGGY AND THE STOOGES, EXPLOITED and SEX PISTOLS, but also flying the flag for other rock bands in Serbia.
Sunday 5. May and early start to collect the bands, and make it to Liverpool Sound City, where M.OR.T. was to first hit the stage in the early afternoon. Memories of last year appearance and the reality of task at hand were challenging but at the same time sending excitement and shivers, and buzz thru everyone’s veins.
M.O.R.T. kicked off with their usual assault, a breathless and unrestrained showcase of raw power, telling tales and voicing thought provoking tunes. New album “Standing Runningman” is a band’s first in English and shows Croats in their full glory, unrepentant and bold, just the way you’d expect it. It is 2pm but that does not stop them in delivering a brutal and honest view of the World and life as they see it. Frontman John is a sight to behold: man’s face tells thousand stories while he runs around a makeshift stage, leaving a few early visitors surprised and perked up. What a start!
Soon after VIZELJ occupy the same stage. Serbia’s young protégés and guardians of rock and roll are so comfortable on stage that one cannot but be impressed. Not even ensuing chaos around the previous band, TV cameras and interviews could not cause a distraction. And the plan is there, at every gig. Deliver, rock ’til you drop, have mega fun, make sure fans get the message. VIZELJ’s punk rock message is clear. And if you don’t like it you must be on a wrong planet. From the in-your-face-gabba-gabba-hey-three-riff ballistic missiles to slower more intimate numbers, our young warriors are in control, taking you on a rollercoaster ride you beg never finishes. Stage presence, understanding amongst themselves, all three of them deliver an important part that makes the VIZELJ picture just that: whole.
Belgrade trio Vizelj wowing the growing crowds with impassioned and visceral displays of isolation and anger dressed up with glorious overdriven riffs
Sound City has got more than 300 artists playing various stages around the famous Baltic Triangle. And while such a noble idea is to be commended, reality of an impossible task soon kicks in. 30 minutes’ set are a must in order to give all the bands theirs, well 30 minutes under the shy Liverpool sun, though getting to see more than a handful is turning up to be a major challenge. Punters and bands running around from one stage to another leaves a rather desperate sense of confusion and loss.I sympathize with organisers as logistically this is no child’s toy. However, one has to wonder why are we there in a first place if not to see, hear and process all these young upstarts have to say, and more importantly react to it by offering our support to all those already making that giant first step.
After a minor crisis, instrument and set times swapping (one stage running late, and yes these things do happen) all is well, and THEM MOOSE RUSH take the bow and start their set. Calling them prog rockers probably undermine everything these guys stand for. They are so much more than just prog although prog it is, no doubt. I guess first association when prog is mentioned probably gives one a wrong idea as to what to expect. In a same way stoner rock can allude to never ending downturn elegies and yet truth is somewhat different. Comments and parallels with Led Zeppelin are not wide off the mark, albeit Zep’s of a 21st Century and I have to agree with that one wholeheartedly. Opening tune announce without any ambiguity what lays ahead. Post core romance, space rock opera shrouded in a funkalitious groove. And then some. Nikola’s haunting vocals scream rock and roll while Brane ‘s bass and Vedran’s drumming give this magic another dimension. Metal Storm zine called their “Don’t pick your noise” one of the best prog albums of the 2018. Close to the end of their set, bass guitar died sudden but infinite death. While Brane sat on the amp and the other two improvised, as if by magic a new bass guitar was introduced from a well-wisher in the crowd, and the magic continued to the standing ovations and cheering. THEM MOOSE RUSH but these are here to stay.
Looking at satisfying punters nodding approvingly it’s fair to say this has gone swimmingly. Others just stood there bewildered not comprehending what’s hit them. Loving it. Hurriedly we make our way to the last stage on “our list”. FROM ANOTHER MOTHER are already busy setting up what is definitely the smallest stage, make that floor space today as that’s what it is. No raised stage, just a corner of a coffee bar. And some really dark lights. Whoever came up with these, should rethink his/her existence at the festival.
Not that such trivial matter could distract our latest bunch of heroes. Announcing the start of their show, frontman Vlado informed everyone what is about to happen. And then proceeded in timely fashion in delivering one hell of a set. For, telling people “We’re about to fuck your venue up” might have caused problems with the organisers. Only this is Sunday, last day of a 3-day festival, and that coffee does smell inviting. Or maybe it did, before Vlado rushes off the imaginable stage and off to the crowd…and…then he disappeared. Well sort of. Quick maths beats blowing hot riffs and small adjustment on my behalf and there he was! Staring down on us from a far end of the bar, spewing fast solo parts as if under the spell of some intergalactic force. FROM ANOTHER MOTHER will no doubt have made a strong impression on all in attendance, if not only for their uplifting energised punk rock fusion, but for the entertainment value too.
From Another Mother are a Croatian punk band that shook the Baltic Social to the point that it seemed some customers didn’t know what had hit them. “This is our last song and we’re about to fuck your venue up’’ said their guitarist while running frantically around the tables and doing handstands on the stage.
A few refreshing beers later, and all relaxed that we got the first day out of the way, I knew we had made it. It was a valuable experience, and the one we are all going to cherish for years to come. For now, the cold smooth beer felt satisfyingly great. And my mind wondered towards tomorrow.
Dublin, Ireland was and still is one of the dearest cities I like to visit. It is the people, of course that make you so welcomed you just can’t get it out of your system. And why would you. After all we are all human.
FIBBER MAGEES is a small club on O’Connell street. Loud, great lights and sound tech that brings his little kid to the show. Tonight will be special.
FROM ANOTHER MOTHER open up proceedings in a great fashion, shaking the club to the core. You can tell they are enjoying themselves. Jumps, screams, running off stage, it’s all there. And crowd loved it too. VIZELJ continued what Mothers have started but gave the whole thing their own stamp. Raw punk rock, exquisite playing, perfect sound.
THEM MOOSE RUSH stamp their authority with yet another twisted space rock saga. Superior but not tonight. As this is Dublin, and M.O.R.T. stomping ground. Many fans present tonight have not heard nor expected to see all these guys. Only M.O.R.T. And they dully obliged. From the opening track to the last one, throughout the encore fans sang every word but new material. Following John as he fought his demons while delivering an intricate insight into the band’s last decade or so. What moves them, how they react to this or that, why they react… If I didn’t know better, I would have suggested M.O.R.T. as a compulsory listening in schools. Because we could all learn a hell of a lot from them. And because they wear their heart on their sleeve.
Happy as Larry as we share a few drinks after the show but touring is tough animal. It drains you, slows you down and yet you cannot allow it to happen. Edinburgh tomorrow, and London afterwards.
Early morning flight back to Liverpool for yours truly and his trusted sidekick Denis to get our Mean Machine a.k.a. tour bus and before you know it we are swallowing tarmac on M6 racing towards Auld Reekie on Scotland’s east coast. Weather in Edinburgh is as expected: overcast with some rain now, more later. Refreshing, as we pull outside BANNERMAN’S and place of our tonight’s show.
Tiredness is evident. But spirits are high. That was something that kept everyone going. Jokes and good times. Why even today, a month after the tour finished a group chat’s buzzing on a daily basis.
Bands going thru their set list, I am everywhere as I know they need me. Tonight’s show we have Rob from Exploited on tech duties and Aleksa from VIZELJ is visibly under the spell. “Wait a minute, Exploited as in the band?! But I’ve listened to you so many times. OMG I can die now.”
Spending all of next day on the road was tough but we made it back to London, and our own surroundings. Much needed rest, and then some free time before the last show at OLD BLUE LAST in Shoreditch.
By now we’re a well-oiled machine, everyone knows their task, what to do and when. Bumping into Lofi from WHITE MILES in Edinburgh he asked” Do you guys always tour together? Looks like you having a whale of a time.” I guess it shows as every single member of our touring party made their own donation to make the whole experience that much more unique.
London sees some old faces, friends and family but also fans from Dublin who made the trip without a question. I love this. We are making imprints in people’s lives. Changing and shaping their future, because they respond to the band’s music, their sacrifice and ethos. And I could shout from the top of my voice with excitement.
Regular turnaround of bands tonight but everyone seems to be trying even harder, pulling no punches, and the crowd sense it too. They did for, without any prior notion stage is overtaken by fans, crowd of twenty or so jumped on stage and only a soundman, who was by that time invisible, made them get off it. But by then the bubble has burst as in the next song stage diving starts, crowd surfing and its VIZELJ’s own drum machine, Nikola, being carried by adoring fans. Before that M.O.R.T. firing duo John and Zvrk singing backing vocals for VIZELJ, and later on everyone else pays the compliment back.
What an end to a spectacle that was Beast from the East! I am proud beyond belief that we pulled this tour together and together we stayed. Coming out of Balkans where politics still plays a main role, and nationalistic interest work hard on dividing people, these guys proved without a shadow of a doubt, what a great artist and people they are, for the lasting impression I will hold of this tour is friendship, unity, love. I hope this is just a beginning as many other talented bands and artist wait over there for their chance. Who knows, you might like them too.