Ward XVI – The Boulevard, Wigan – 25th February 2022
Tonight Wigan is black and white. Nothing to do with the bleakness of the industrial North as portrayed by George Orwell in The road To Wigan Pier. The town centre is brightly lit with the bars and cafes attracting the Friday night revellers. An inconspicuous door set between a couple of said establishments provides a protal that leads down to the standard black floor, walls and ceiling of The Boulevard bleed into the (black and white, naturally) prop filled stage set of Ward XVI. Wittingham Asylum is open.
But first, a word to note the nice work from KDS Promotions in putting together a bill combining local band-ish band Devil’s Henchmen and Death Ingloria, to provide a no-nonsense Metal assault in the case of the former and a Sci-Fi themed (their Death By Admin album sees the world destroyed by admin errors…) visual performance from the latter.
However, the pull of Ward XVI is the magnet that sees us (well, not ‘us‘ obviously) donning our inmate’s gladrags and heading into Wigan Rock City for a night of Gothic shock-rock horror in the safe company of others of a similar persuasion (safety in numbers apprently) and from the relative safety of The Boulevard dancefloor.
The band’s Metamorphosis album, released waaay back in September 2020 was, and still is, a tour de force that explores the road to insanity of an arresting character accompanied by a merry-go-round of a soundtrack that cavorts between a miasma of ambitious styles but rooted in hard rock. A brilliant record that received worthy praise. And after a festival slot or two of recent times, we’ve finally got the tour to appreciate the album played out, nay ‘performed’, in close quarters.
It’s a very upclose and very personal experience. We can see the whites of the eyes of the band and more worrying, they can see ours. Psychoberries isn’t averse to gently leaning out to torment anyone brave enough to venture close and the non playing members of the outfit (think Bez but cast as the Devils and Demons of Psychoberrie’s subconscious) take it one step further and destroy any unmarked boundaries.
From the singsong intro where cradles and cuddly bears appear, there’s a sense that we’re not far from disatsre. We know where this is heading as the soundtrack plays out and the broken toys – and the song of the same name – soon give a sign that all is not well. It’s a soundtrack managed by a three piece band focussed on the guitar of the good Dr Van Stottenstein and a little preset assistance. Any thoughts of happy endings, like the toys, are battered into submission as the realityis is revealed…yes, costme changes too, the metamorphosis that we know is coming is revealed in front of our eyes; a fully formed monster born.
Musically, the Migration trilogy of the album, flashes by after the might (and blasts of smoke) in Burn The Witch to climax in the massive Shadows. It’s actually quite mesmerising. A genuine feeling that you don’t want this show to end – or even wonder what’s going to come next. On the one hand, those who know the music can tune into the production, but there’so much going on visually, so many blink and you’ll miss it subtleties, that Metamorphosis is something in which to indulge repeatedly.
There’s only one solution; do the obvious thing and get the album (and invest in the backstory that comes in The Art Of Manipulation) go to more shows. See it again and again while you can; before Ward XVI metamorphosise into something much bigger. They have the ambition and the vision. Word will soon be out. Metamorphsis live is an experience that begs for repeat viewings.
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