30 Years Ago: CELTIC FROST live at Hammersmith Odeon

Daily Noise - / 2019

30 Years Ago: CELTIC FROST live at Hammersmith Odeon

CELTIC FROST during their UK / US Cold Lake tour at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, on this day in 1989.

I think it's fair to say this performance is, at best, a huge disappointment and far from prime FROST - the performances alone are disorientingly poor. It gets better as the set progresses, but still...

Towards the end of the UK (Scotland and England) leg - all dates supported by DESTRUCTION - which ended in Newcastle on the 5th. A couple of weeks later they travelled to the US, ending the tour in Los Angeles on 7 April.

The gig didn't disappoint everyone, here's Metal Force's review from issue 38 (1989) by Mike Exley:

The night after Nuclear Assault was not the ideal night for this show, yet promoters continue to book gigs in groups. How they expect fans to fork out £6 / £7 night after night to see their favourite bands astounds me. Maybe the smaller than expected turn out at this show will drive the message home still further? This has got nothing to do with the bands (I for one don't accept that floods of people have turned their backs on Celtic Frost; sales of Cold Lake should back me up), it goes back a stage further to the organisations that put on bands in the UK. The whole of February was devoid of gigs after cancellations, so why is it that March is so packed?

Destruction were very unfortunate. Because of this their excellent set, although a little too loud in its later stages, seemed lost in such an empty hall as Hammersmith. Clarity was the main failing I have to pinpoint. The mix allowed few of Harry Wilkens' solos to permeate the rhythm, and, although I loved tracks like 'Invincible Force' and 'Eternal Ban', some tracks were torn to shreds by the lack of clarity both on and off the stage (the band had a very bad monitor sound onstage apparently, so once again blame must be taken back a few steps).

It makes you realise just how hard it is for a support band. Of course, Celtic Frost are not directly responsible, but Destruction certainly had their best efforts (this show was the best I've seen from the playing point of view) greatly weakened. 'Release From Agony' was a temporary reversal which worked well, but I'm afraid Schmier summed it with a shrug of his shoulders when I spoke to him about the sound, as if to say "What do we have to do?". Keep it up guys, one day you'll headline, and then...?

As for Celtic Frost, they nearly went the same way. Early tracks seemed quite muted, but as time went on the old razor's edge returned and the gig improved dramatically, firmly supporting, at least to me, everything Tom G. Warrior has promised in our recent interview. As soon as the band relaxed - I would say it really showed at the time of '(Once) They Were Eagles' and an old song 'Jewel Throne' - they were in tip top form. I'll agree that there's not the same live mysticism of the old Frost line-up where Tom had two or three spotlights on him all night, but it can't be like that and people should never have come if they had that expectation.

This set should have laid the critics to rest if there's any justice, if not they should just let Tom and the lads get on with it, because 'Cherry Orchards' and its ilk mixed perfectly with 'Into The Crypts Of Rays'. It's just a shame that others don't want to take any notice.

The real winners though were Celtic Frost. Guitarist Oliver Amberg was the only person who seemed to take time to relax, and the effect later on was all worth it. The encores were total commitment, especially 'Roses Without Thorns' and 'Dethroned Emperor', and the new Frost must be due some fair respect. The live situation is the best place to prove that your interviews aren't hollow words, unlike some, and Frost have done it. What's next Tom?