Thursday, March 13th 2014 – words by Matt Hill, photos by Jamie Giberti
Though bands come and go and, these days, their success ultimately varies on their luck rather than the quality of their outputs or touring activities, some remain hardcore stalwarts regardless of the path they tread…
I’d suggest it were impossible you’d be able to find anybody who’s ever been to a gig in London, or for that matter anywhere in the UK, who hasn’t at least HEARD of Gibraltar-born UK-based Breed77, one of the most unique, talented and relentlessly dedicated groups of the last 15 years. It’s a damn near certainty that pretty much every gig-goer of the last decade worth their salt would have seen the band perform at least once…
Merging a tight, twiddly and emotive blend of hard rock and metal with classical flamenco guitar passages and arrangements, their unique mix has not only led them to be respected musicians, but also hardened veterans of the UK underground (and mainstream) circuits.
Now, to lay the cards out straight away; Breed77 are a band who are deserving of far, far more. That isn’t to take away from their success thus-far, but as a long-term fan (and to a point, a fellow Gibraltarian) I have followed and loved them since I first heard them. Whilst not the case for all, most of their fans (and indeed for those who know the name) will be know so as a result of their paramount release, 2004’s ‘Cultura’, which among a number of classics, features their most famous song, ‘La Ultima Hora’.
Tonight’s sold out and packed Borderline is a celebration of that very release and is also a ‘reunion’ as Paul Isola, vocalist and frontman since the beginning, returns following his departure back around November. The venue is filled with familiar faces and, as a refreshing change, a more mature audience. The people here aren’t out to kill time or just catch some tunes… we’re all here to watch a fantastic band celebrate a decade since their paramount release.
Those that know me personally know I’m a no-bullshit kinda fellow, and as such, I’ll get it out the way; support act Generation Graveyard are as generic, stereotypical and honestly as appalling as you would expect from a gang of mid-twenties posers. Musically, they’re not the worst I’ve heard, but there is nothing that sets their pseudo-crust punk downtuned chug aside from every other band doing the same thing. If they wore jeans and t-shirts, I genuinely think people would take them more seriously, but the whole Black Veil Brides / Defiled style look really doesn’t work, especially in front of a mature audience who are unlikely to be their target reception-group (the t-shirts on show include Mastodon, Arcturus, Opeth, Porcupine Tree and Faith No More to give you some idea).
That out of the way, onto the main event. There’s an anticipation as always with smaller venues playing host to important shows from respected outfits and as Breed77 take to the stage and launch into ‘Individuo’, the place swells to a bouncing mess of grinning champions belting out every word.
I personally waver between holding and swaying my girlfriend and air-guitaring betwix verse and solo and Pedro throws a knowing finger my way, which almost serves as some sort of encouragement-taser and I turn it up a gear, screaming so hard I even change key mid-word.
As classic follows classic, one of my favourite tracks ‘A Matter of Time’ is pulled out the bag and I, for want of a better expression, ruin my trousers.
Paul reminds us how grateful they are for the support and the many recognisable faces; I for one spot a number of fellow stalwarts of the underground scene and I even spot a couple who were at Breed77‘s show with The Inbreds in 2004… this is truly a special night for everyone in the building.
It should be mentioned that this evening it becomes clear that Stuart is no longer in the band. Replacement Ben (Edis) fits in and performs flawlessly, yet I can’t help but feel a sense of disappointment that this is the case (having met and spoken with all the guys on more than one occasion, it should be noted that Stuart was a warm and friendly fellow who would take the time to chat to the fans). That said, life is life and what happens happens. Both Jim and I share knowing looks that something tonight seems different; Paul’s words and emotions do not match that of a man passing through and performing a gig for the sake of it. We suspect (and later find out to be correct) that this is not just a celebration of the ‘Cultura’ album, but a return for Isola. How much of Stuart’s absence ties in with this and how much is convenience is really, after it all, of little consequence.
As the set plays out and groups of strangers link arms and voices to belt out ‘The River’, causing (as ever) emotive and knowing glances between the band and the fans, it strikes me that THIS is what a gig should be. THIS is what it’s like to love a band who’ve put their whole ass and more into doing what they love.
In a world where talentless, generic and manufactured shite stands commercially ahead of the good stuff, it’s a rare treat to be able to be involved in an evening like tonight.
Looking through my own ticket collection and indeed the archives of the internet, you can see a list of bands that Breed77 have played with over the years and almost all of them have long collapsed. Gone are the local day-long festivals that meant you got to see 20 incredible bands for £10, but as long as these lads continue to power on, there will always been the hardcore faithful there to support them.
01 – ‘Individuo’
02 – ‘Calling Out’
03 – ‘Matter Of Time’
04 – ‘World’s On Fire’
05 – ‘Final Prayer’
06 – ‘The Only Ones’
07 – ‘Floods’
08 – ‘The River’
09 – ‘Drown’
10 – ‘Insects’
11 – ‘Zombie’
12 – ‘Blind’
13 – ‘La Ultima Hora’