‘Stick it to me, you know you want to…’ Ms. B proclaimed with defiance, my first glimpse into a new and intimate aspect of the hard rocking heavy metal group, My Ruin on a Metal Hammer sampler in late 2000.
Unlike much of the contemporary misogynistic and homophobic hardcore metal scene, MY RUIN embody a distinctly other presence. Lead singer and directional force, Tairrie B, reincarnated from Eazy-E rapper to brutalising rock goddess with grace and ferocity. Her lyrics spoke of personal trauma and devotional strength. Resulting albums showcased a progression from electronic experimentation (Speak and Deestroy) to gutteral blues and ecclesiast tinged heavy metal (Throat Full of Heart, A Southern Revelation et al.) Confrontational and tangible, My Ruin have carved a special place in the hearts of many and remain a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary underground. When I heard that this ‘Sacred Mood’ tour (in support of their latest album of the same name) would be the last, there would be no excuses for missing out on what could only be a brilliant live performance I have so many times before.
Bristol’s long standing venue for alternative rock, the Fleece was playing host and My Ruin were supported by Sanctorum, NEANDERTHAL and Servers. Due to unforseen circumstances I was late to the gig and so, only caught the tail end of SANCTORUM’S set – a classic blend of hard rock and heavy metal featuring some serious hook and talon! The crowd assembled however, related huge praise for Mick Murphy’s (M.R.) set with Neanderthal and for the awesome talents of SERVERS.
Whilst the building wasn’t as packed as I would have hoped for, the atmosphere was phenomenal – I often find most metal shows to be steeped in anger and machismo, not here! The difference between a My Ruin show and the classic heavy rock event is massive, partly because of the way in which the band connects with their fans – Tairrie and Mick are renowned for their huge and personable following, often fans tour from one show to the next and speak at length with the band on social media and in person celebrating birthdays and special occasions together without pretence.
By the time the band were beginning to take the stage, the fans had swarmed and were in super high spirits. Fresh cuts from ‘The Sacred Mood’ such as ‘God is a Girl with Butchers Knife’ had become established as firm fan favourites alongside the lamentably underexposed ‘Ghosts and Good Stories’ featuring track, ‘Diggin for Ghosts’.
Tairrie, and her bandmates took their swagger and sneer to the crowd with a sense of vigour that rivals many larger stadium rock bands, and, more importantly, they engaged with their crowd on a level that few performers could claim. At one point, a man at the front of the stage was holding his camera phone inches from his face videoing the proceedings. Mrs. B cut the song marginally short and relayed to him her experience of attending shows during her early years; ‘There was no facebook and YouTube to upload a crappy quality video to, you just enjoyed the moment and stopped obsessing about recording everything to live it vicariously later. Why don’t you put down the camera and enjoy the show with us – we don’t want you to miss our last UK gigs because you’re behind your phone screen’.
Back catalogue favourites, ‘Made to Measure’ and ‘Beauty Fiend’ whipped the crowd (including myself) into a frenzy, now more than ever, it seemed poignant to take strength from lyrics that embody a defiant opposition to mainstream standards of beauty as the internet and print media transform even more women and men into emaciated icons of consumer culture. My Ruin stand out as bloody and as violently honest as they ever were. Servers’ Lee Storrar joined the band on stage for an electric rendition of Mudhoney’s ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ (A personal favourite amongst their many covers) before plunging headlong into ‘The Horror of Beauty’ featured, ‘Burn the Witch’.
When the time came to depart, there were no encores, they weren’t necessary.
Many stayed behind to wish the band well or to catch up with them before they took to the road in tandem, preparing for the next show. Tairrie knew many by first name and had photos taken with all who waited, engaging with every person. We chatted briefy regarding an interview (watch this space) and wished them well on tour before Mrs. B and Mick turned to another section of fans, hugging, smiling and signing merchandise as they went.
Here’s hoping they haven’t been so burned by poor promoters and press that their ‘Final’ tour will not be for years to come…
Forever a #BlasphemousGirl