Murderdolls - Middlesbrough Empire (08/02/2011)

Wayne Madden | Sunday, 13 February 2011

Murderdolls - Middlesbrough Empire (08/02/2011)

The queue stretches down Corporation Road, while many of tonight's concert attendees can be heard to ask 'why Middlesbrough?' as they shuffle into the venue, a hoard of black and facepaint mixed with old Halloween costumes. 

If Ziggy Stardust shocked and provoked audiences in 1972, and Marilyn Manson took it to new extremes in 1994, then the Murderdolls must be old hat. At the band's core is Joe Poole (also known as Wednesday 13) and Joey Jordison (better known as the drummer from Slipknot) who released the album Beyond The Valley of the Murderdolls in 2001 as a rather fun side project and then watched it become something of a phenomenon.

Nine year's later and the Murderdolls are back, only main commitments have forced radical changes, their second album Women and Children Last is a more straight up Motley Crue type record with only a hint of the stupidity remaining from the first. Certainly, their new album is a straight up rock and roll affair, with guest spots from the Crue's own Mick Mars. 

Surveying the crowd tonight makes for an interesting fan base. The staple of which seem, between 14 and 16, not to have grown with the band (in fact most would have been fresh out of nappies at the time of their last album) but rather to have just found them for the first time. There are a minority representation from almost a decade ago, but you get the distinct feeling this is a young person's band, maybe even one of their first major introductions to the genre as a whole.

Support comes from two bands, British based The Defiled and the US's Black Veil Brides. The former provide excellent highlights, alongside a drummer named Jesus Christ, and a keyboard that just can't seem to stay still for more than two seconds. The band have just given their new album 'Grave Times' away free with the latest issue of UK publication Metal Hammer - a neat trick to ensure everyone knows the words - and it seems to have worked, although it would have been nice if someone had caught bassist Vincent Hyde as he stage dived into the crowd during the band's final song of the evening.

Black Veil Brides seem, in some ways, to be more of a draw than tonight's headline act. Indeed, with their album 'We Stitch These Wounds' reaching #56 on the US Billboard (an admirable feat when you consider the band is independent of a major label) it's no wonder that news has found it's way across the Atlantic. The sold out audience know the words to every track, from 'Knives and Pens' to 'Heaven's Calling', their revolving line up in a relatively short period hasn't left "Andy Six" without the inspiration needed to write more material and this audience is lapping it up.

As the Murderdolls take to the stage it's obvious this is going to be a set to remember - think Marilyn Manson meets Ann Summers - and you're heading in the right direction. But rather then shock any parents, some of whom have decided to accompany their children here tonight, the Murderdolls are more interested in straight up entertainment. Their set is a mixture of old and new with cuts from both albums. 'Nowhere', the band's latest single, fits like a well worn glove with tracks such as '18666' and 'She Was a Teenage Zombie'.

The band are on fine form, their set is militaristic, with all the energy of early Punk as they bounce from one three minute song to another. No overblown solos or piano intros a la Axl Rose, this is short sharp and shocking. The only minor qualm being the absence of their infamous Billy Idol cover 'White Wedding' - a song that even got them on TOTP!

As they wind it down, their encore being the song that started it all - 'Dead In Hollywood' - the band affirm that they've been delighted to perform for such a strong and loyal crowd here tonight with a passion and a hunger for the music they perform. It's obvious their energy has been recycled by a town hungry for a live performance and tired with being passed up in favour of it's bigger neighbours. Why Middlesbrough indeed?

Rating: 4/5