SO.CO Team

2 weeks ago

Live: Cancer Bats perform as Bat Sabbath in Newcastle

Think Tank - Newcastle Upon Tyne

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Canadian hardcore punk legends Cancer Bats brought their Bat Sabbath alter-egos to Newcastle for an evening of dark celebration of the metal behemoths. If that doesn't sound like a superb use of a Wednesday night to you, then I'm not sure we can be friends. 

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

As a rule, I don’t like tribute bands. I don’t see the point. Even if I have literally no chance of seeing the ‘real’ thing, either because they’re dead, or because they’re Taylor Swift, I’d rather just put my feet up with a glass of something delicious, and drop the needle on their records, than bother with a band pretending to be another band. Bat Sabbath, however, are somehow different. I don’t quite know how they’re different, but they are. Maybe it’s because Cancer Bats are a superb band in their own right. Maybe it’s because the love they clearly have for the source material is infectious (much like a decapitated bat, I’m told). Maybe it’s because when you do something so utterly ridiculous as to have an entire alter-ego for an entire band, people just sit up and take notice and come along for the ride. Whatever… Bat Sabbath is already a contender for my gig of the year.  

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

The last time Bat Sabbath graced these parts was 2017, in the now defunct Academy 2. Among North-East metallers, that gig is something of a legend. I have a feeling that tonight’s show will go down a similar route. A capacity 250 crowd, mostly made up of hirsute men of indeterminate age, is packed into the upstairs room at Digital, one of the few remaining decent nightclubs in Newcastle. It’s a small, oddly shaped room, which in any other city would qualify for dive-bar status, but tonight, it’s a stadium, and Cancer Bats *are* Bat Sabbath, and there’s not a person in this room who is not screaming along as the band tear through eleven of Sabbath’s best. They open with Children Of The Grave, they obviously close with War Pigs, and in the middle we’re treated to storming takes on Paranoid, Into The Void, and an incendiary Iron Man, along with everything else you’d expect. 

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

The whole show is absolutely pitch perfect. The band aren’t afraid to get playful between songs, and there’s a huge dose of high camp, full on metal theatre, but the music is treated with the respect and dignity needed to make this most ridiculous of endeavours work. Following the crushing ending of War Pigs, the band return to the stage to tear through a riotous, and quite frankly dangerous, take on Pneumonia Hawk, which sends the packed room into chaos. The crazy thing is, it’s a Cancer Bats song, but by now, it feels like a cover. 

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

Bat Sabbath by Thomas Jackson

Words and photos: Thomas Jackson