Harris Flights, Harris Museum, Market Square, Preston
It was a Friday night and the rain had ceased for a brief spell, as we gathered on Preston’s Flag Market. Dark clouds were forming above us on the cold September evening, which was the best, and most appropriate atmosphere to witness a group of middle age men in masks soundtrack a silent horror film.
Assembled at the Harris we were there for Cinema on the Steps as part of the Harris Flights festival.
The film being shown was 30 minutes of footage from Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922), a historical view of witchcraft directed by Benjamin Christensen, with the score being provided by Evil Blizzard.
The dark undertones of the music blended well with the imagery on the big screen. Whether this was cleverly planned, or a happy coincidence, Blizzard’s tribal, often ambient songs fitted the piece as if they had been written specifically for it.
The band, which consisted of a drummer and four bass players, played a relatively short set of Hawkwind-meets-Black Sabbath-style riffs; with the singer adapting a hint of the vocal style of PIL-era John Lydon.
Their music is heavy with thundering bass lines but still manages to maintain a melodic tune.
On the night they had a good clear sound and with the film being shown behind them this was both visually and musically impressive.
You can understand why there is a lot of interested being generated in Evil Blizzard at the moment.
Although not unique, their music is refreshing and stands out compared to the other bands currently gigging around Preston.
But it is not just the music that Blizzard has to offer, but also an energetic and dominant stage presence.
The group are incredibly active on stage and have a mascot (a guy in a pig mask) that interacts with the crowd to get them moving.
The band all wear masks and white overalls which fitted perfectly with the horror film images on screen. On the last song of the show they added a smoke machine.
Although the gig was not packed out, enough people were present to make this an exciting performance.
The crowd at the front got behind Blizzard, and at times were as interesting to watch as the band themselves.
Hopefully this is a taste of events to come, and kudos to the event organiser and the band for putting on a very entertaining 30 minutes which at times did feel a little surreal but very enjoyable.
Photos: Richard Nixon