It is a relatively cold, grey Monday in gloomy North London, but hardcore Zombie fans with priority tickets have already been queuing outside the O2 Forum since the early afternoon. It seems somewhat unfair then later, that despite having a queue all to themselves, they don’t seem to be let in any sooner when doors finally open.
Tonight’s show is the finale of the Three Days in Hell tour, following performances in Berlin and Paris. It is stated first-hand that this will be their last for “a while…” and despite performing at Bloodstock Open Air festival as part of their EU tour in the latter half of last year, some fans were paying touts nearly £100 for standing tickets in this 2,300 capacity venue. Perhaps this has something to do with Rob Zombie’s reluctance to play more than one city on EU tours before moving to the next country in addition to their preference for festival shows. Many here tonight will not have seen the outfit perform in this kind of setting since 2011 despite the release of two studio albums since.
Unbeknownst to the vast majority of the crowd, Ginger Fish, the band’s drummer provides the warm-up DJ set an hour-and-then-some in. There are no live acts, something a group of angry bearded men seem to take personal offence to (or perhaps it was ‘Raining Men’ playing through the PA, challenging their masculine insecurities?), heckling the corpsepainted, violently gesticulating man, raising their middle fingers and shouting. Many people would have of course preferred a live act or two prior, but surely this is more interesting than nothing. It is a shame then, that this, in addition to the waning interest of those who rather enjoy hearing tracks by The Cure, and Patti Smith covers appears to affect Mr. Fish enough to send him running off stage mid-song.
When it is finally Rob Zombie’s turn to take the stage, it’s business as usual, ‘The Last of the Demons Defeated’ plays from tape while the band take their positions, seamlessly segueing into ‘Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown’ from ‘Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor’. Then it’s a huge time leap back to 1998 with ‘Superbeast’. More songs are played from this ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ release (five) than any of their other albums tonight, closely followed by four from newest offering ‘The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser’. The set is varied, offering a selection of their best work, also playing covers of ‘Wild Thing’ (Tone Lōc not Chip Taylor), as well as tracks from Alice Cooper and Ramones. Even ‘More Human Than Human’ and ‘Thunder Kiss ’65’ (from pre-Rob Zombie group White Zombie) get resurrected tonight, though they lack the fire, punch and delivery of the group’s original material (note that White Zombie actually started off in 1985 as a noise rock band). Ten years later, 1995’s ‘Astro Creep: 2000’, while more similar in sound to Rob Zombie’s current style, still had certain noise rock qualities and effects that don’t seem to shine through tonight.
The band play together as a heavy, monstrous, glamorous outfit, the playing is clean and tight and the bassist’s sound is massive (think ‘Song 2’ by Blur, where the main riff is carried entirely by bass, but fuzzier and heavier). The guitar solos are perfect to a tee (and it is incredibly satisfying to hear the virtuosity note-for-note, the complete opposite to what Slayer deliver with their live solos).
With the shock rock light show pyrotechnics and eye-catching futuristic gear, LED and stained-glass guitar bodies, giant balloons, blow-up aliens (with an appearance of spouse Cheri Moon Zombie), the fantastic setlist and the captivating stage presence of the band, their twenty-one songs and two encores are over before any true fan has the chance to get remotely bored.
Leaving, some fans bemoan the lack of ‘American Witch’ from the setlist, though this, ‘Teenage Nosferatu Pussy’, and ‘Electric Head Pt. 1 (The Agony)’ – [by White Zombie], would have been welcome additions for many, but no one is displeased, even those spending a week’s rent in one night.