From February 2011, we knew that Cathedral would say their last goodbye to their fans with the Farewell Tour, after serving loyally the metal scene for almost 20 years. When you hear that such a great band is retiring from the music business, and that you are given a chance to see them live for the last time, there should be no second thoughts. And for me, as well as for many others, there were no second thoughts.
Athens, Saturday, October 1st 2011. At 21:00 the doors of Gagarin were ready to open and welcome the Greek audience who came to enjoy the last show of the British doomsters. Half an hour later, the first act went on stage. Infidel started their set with a song from their debut album “I, Oathbreaker”, but they informed us that the rest of the set would be based on their upcoming release, “King of Cynical Control”. Nice, heavy, slow doom metal and vocals that remind strongly of Candlemass. The sound was good enough for an opening band and I can say that I really enjoyed them. For half an hour, Infidel warmed the audience up well and they received a big applause.
Next in line were Violet Vortex, and it's not hard to guess that these guys are heavily influenced by the headliners (Violet Vortex being the opening track of “The Ethereal Mirror”).
They took the stage at 22:30 and with a set based on “Lure Elegant”, they prepared the fans in the best way. We heard some nice guitar work, groovier sound than the first band, a bit more stoner elements. The band was full of energy and in good communication with the audience, even though they forgot to introduce themselves. After completing the set, the frontman and singer of the group thanked Cathedral and said “we miss you already”, speaking on behalf of all the attendants.
It was 23:30 when the lights went out and an intro started playing from the keyboards. Gaz Jennings, Scott Carlson and Brian Dixon took their places on guitar, bass and drums respectively. The last one to enter the stage was of course Lee Dorrian. They started off with “Vampire Sun” and the crowd went wild, followed by “Enter The Worms” and “Soul Sacrifice”. Their whole set was a best of, though the first three albums held a special place, and the period 1996-2002 was completely left out. The sound was a bit off, with the guitar covering everything at times, but I'm sure only a few noticed it. Dorrian was an amazing and weird frontman as always, tying the microphone cable around his head, swallowing the microphone itself, lying down in front of the drum kit, or acting all zombie-like. The doom anthems followed one another, as we went from the uplifting “Midnight Mountain”, to the slower “Carnival Bizarre” and to the mournful “Ebony Tears”. There was no doubt that you couldn't get easily bored. The fans followed Dorrian's lead, singing with him, forming mosh-pits during the groovier songs, and even crowd-surfing. “The Casket Chasers”, “Upon Azrael's Wings” and “Corpsecycle” came up, being the representatives of the more recent Cathedral releases. Unfortunately the concert was slowly reaching its end. The band left the stage for a few minutes. It was time for the first encore, with “Ride” and “Utopian Blaster”. More craziness, more mosh-pits, more crowd-surfing. And the band was out again, only to return for one last song. “I am Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder” yelled Dorrian and chaos prevailed, and as a final act, Dorrian hanged himself with the microphone cable.
The British doomsters have left a great legacy for the new generation of doom and beyond, and we have yet to wait for their last words, “The Last Spire”. I don't know if this was truly the last we saw of Cathedral, but if it is so, then the band left us with the best memory possible. A show to remember. Farewell.