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Fireball Ministry, live in Hollywood

Support: Spirit In The Room

Thought to be missing in action, LA perennials Fireball Ministry return with a new bass player, and prove that you can’t keep a good band down. Here’s five reasons why The Viper Room doesn’t suck any more.

The Right Amount Of Wrong…

One expects a certain degree of decadence and sleaze from a place that was once a mobster hangout frequented by the likes of Bugsy Siegel. In his day it would have been jazz bands on stage, but tonight there is a gentleman with tattooed hands and hangover hair, all unwashed and unkempt, wearing a suit that suggests he just got out of prison. He sings for the aptly named Spirit In The Room, and he looks like he might break something, accidentally knock his own teeth out, or possibly hit one of his band-mates. This is a good thing.

You Heard It Here First

Or possibly not since there’s nothing particularly new about what Spirit In The Room are doing. Describing themselves as ‘lizard rock’, the band infuse the grime and swagger of The Cramps with dashes of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and undertones of Joy Division and perhaps even Sisters Of Mercy. The point is that they do it well, and they do it convincingly. There’s some Nick Cave and The Birthday Party in there, too, and the slower tunes sound like they might have STDs or drug habits, or, at the very least, wake up not knowing where they are. This is also a good thing.

Tourists Are Welcome

Seriously. Tourists will show up early, ensuring the supports get a decent crowd, and then get drunk, ensuring the headliners get a lively crowd. Tourists don’t have to get up in the morning. And so, when local rockers Fireball Ministry take to the stage it’s to a packed house that’s ready to dance. Tourists dance, too, something LA residents often find difficult, although, to be fair, the home fans are singing along from the off. With the asshole bouncers long replaced, The Viper Room has become a great home for rock n roll in LA. This, once again, is a good thing.

No Cameras Please

They’re funny about cameras in The Viper Room, wary of paparazzi on the hunt for celebrities behaving badly, but the welcome side-effect is that people put their damn phones away and listen to the band. Fireball Ministry kick off with Save The Saved from 2005’s Their Rock Is Not Our Rock, a driving stoner rock tune, and heads are banging like Twitter doesn’t exist. To an extent Fireball Ministry is LA’s Orange Goblin, a no-nonsense rock band for a no-nonsense audience. Tweets about Spill The Demons and Death Dealer can wait ‘til they’ve done playing them. This is definitely not a bad thing.

And Scott Fucking Reeder!

We mentioned the new bass player, right? Fireball Ministry has struggled, over the years, to maintain a solid line-up, but it doesn’t get much more solid than the barefoot beast that is Scott Reeder. You’ll know him better from legends like The Obsessed and Kyuss, of course, but for a while he’s struggled to find the right bands for his talents. Fireball Ministry has the right rumbling groove for his rolling thunder to flow, and if this is his new home then that, too, is a bloody great thing. Welcome back guys (and girl). We’ll have to do this again sometime soon.