"Orange Goblin have made the journey, and they're very much the real thing." London's stoner metal legends finally reach New Zealand and put on a magnificent rock 'n' roll show

Orange Goblin level Wellington's Valhalla during their first ever New Zealand tour

Orange Goblin
(Image: © Tina Korhonen)

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New Zealand is a long way from anywhere. While this has its advantages – it's beyond the reach of most wars, for example – there is a downside. And that downside is reflected on the walls of Valhalla, Wellington's premiere metal bar. They're adorned by Battle Of The Band posters and flyers advertising cover acts: this week it's Damage Effect, who play songs from the first five Metallica albums; Funhaus, who "do" Iggy & The Stooges; and W.A.S.P Tribute, a Google-friendly W.A.S.P. tribute. The real thing doesn't get here very often, see.

Orange Goblin have made the journey, and they're very much the real thing. It's the last show of a quick whirl around Asia and Australasia, and lead Goblin Ben Ward appears to be having the time of his life. "It's taken us 30 years to get here," he says, as if he can't believe what's happening. "And it's been a long walk".  

Orange Goblin, or Orange "Fucking" Goblin, as Ward refers to them, are clearly having a ball. The venue is perfect. There's a giant skeletal hand nailed to the ceiling, and a helmet from a suit of armour sporting deer antlers next to the DJ booth. And at the centre of it all is Ward, grinning and rubbing his hands with glee and shaking his fists at the heavens and looking like the unfolding chaos is a delightful accident rather than what happens when you put a great band in a sold-out room that's a little too small for them.
They're magnificent, from the elastic opening riff of Solarisphere to the death rattle. Sons Of Salem is renamed Sons Of Wellington. A racing Renegade is dedicated to Lemmy ("who we miss every day of our lives", says Ward), while standout The Devil's Whip remains the best Mötorhead song not written or performed by Mötorhead themselves. Some You Win, Some You Lose is triumphant, They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls) even more so, as a pit opens on the floor. Every era of Orange Goblin is mined for greatness, from debut single Aquatic Fanatic to recent single (Not) Rocket Science.

There's no encore. Instead, Orange "Fucking" Goblin stay onstage for a final romp through Scorpionica, Quincy The Pigboy and a riotous Red Tide Rising. And Ben Ward tosses his wristbands into the crowd, having apparently had exactly the same amount of fun as everyone else in the room. And that's a lot. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.