It seemed rather unusual to see a band named Priest in the locality of KK’s Steel Mill,. Priest were radically different from their Black Country (Part) Namesakes. For the uninitiated, Priest are a Swedish Synthwave band comprising a pair of former Ghosts. Mercury handles the vocals, Salt the keyboards and are joined by Sulfur on additional keyboards, programming and percussion.
KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 25 April 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: John Inglis
Their multifaceted prophecy is to “Safely guide humanity unto the next evolutionary step – the merging with machines – and in doing so, throw you into the Neon Lights of 80’s Sci-Fi mixed with Gothic Soundscapes.” One can already start to build a picture of the sights and sounds that lie in wait.
As is befitting their former employ, the air of mystery and anonymity is retained with the use of radical headgear, which includes a bondage hood and its Terminator-style Red Eye plus a Plague Doctor Mask, to name but two.
Without much further ado, on to the set. The low end of opener The Pit shook the auditorium to its very core. With my proximity to the PA Stack, no word of a lie, my nose was positively rippling from the pressure of the sound waves. Its quirky melody showcased their obvious musical influences. Can imagine this being a floor filler in the clubs. “Come closer to me, come closer to me,” Mercury beckoned from the barrier, weaving into his performance what a million support bands desperately implore.
The momentum continued with the most infectious Neuromancer, which has tremendous crossover appeal. The inclusion of several references to a modern superstar can only assist that. “I need a lover, I need a romance” – no other explanation required.
The pace slackened with Dead Ringer before Mercury instructed, “It’s getting hot in here. Take off your clothes,” which precluded the sauntering and atmospheric A Signal In The Noise. More on that later.
Pacewise, they were still cruising as the aficionados immediately cheered the opening chords of Nightmare Hotel. “Nice to see you so obedient tonight,” he joked. The Exorcist-style intro of The Cross was a somewhat musical sleight of hand before the Depeche Mode influenced main body. One should not underestimate the influence of the latter across the band’s catalogue. Influenced but not defined by.
The cutting social comment of Blacklisted saw the deployable keyboard finally deployed. No doubt, each of us has our own opinions on this particular instrument, but in this setting, it sure worked. “You call me paranoid, I’m just a realist. Do you want to want to live in their world?” and so much more.
Let Your Body Go has that rapid pulsing driving vibe that one could imagine being used within an F1 Simulator before the chorus consolidates it as a classic dance club anthem. Obey was another that exuded the SynthPop sensibilities of the band. Mercury went walkabout once more, touching the heads of the ‘faithful’ as he passed. For a second time, Salt deployed the Keytar and never have I seen this instrument appear so ‘cool’. I adored the way the song built to a climactic ending. “Now that’s what I call a Keytar solo,” quipped Mercury.
The lady next to me lost it as the brooding History in Black commenced, excitedly shouting something incomprehensible, which was lost in the sonics from the neighbouring PA. One wonders at the inspiration for the lyrics, whose counterbalanced musical mood was reminiscent of ’80s hit Wonderful Life by the coincidentally named Black.
“Think this will entertain you,” heralded the galloping closer Vaudeville. “The way they gained your trust is so bizarre, so bizarre, It’s Vaudeville.” Another view of a dystopian future or a parallel to the current dimension? Like much of their lyrics, that perspective lies within the domain of the listener.
A thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable set that was over all too soon.
There is acumen to their songwriting, and the results should attract a much broader audience. The fact that A Signal In The Noise was used on the soundtrack of the recent Mel Gibson action thriller Hot Seat over the closing credits may be a very good indicator of things to come.
Mercury is a highly accomplished vocalist with tremendous presence. The band deliver mightily fine tunes with an energy and power befitting of a live arena which perfectly lays the foundation for the imminent Combichrist.
Mercury – Vocals – Formerly known as Water while the bassist in Ghost
Salt – Keyboards – Formerly known as Air while in Ghost
Sulphur/Sulfur – Additional Keyboards, Programming & Percussion
A Signal In The Noise
Let Your Body Go
History in Black