Gig Review - The Hu
Fire From The Gods appeared to be a slightly incongruous support for this show – they blend a melodic axe attack with a beautiful deep resonant voice, some big screams, some rapping and thoughtful lyrics – think Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed and Skindred mashed together into a Texan five-piece. Singer AJ Channer is a commanding presence on stage, towering over the rest of the band and boasting a technical range that would normally need two or three vocalists. Unfortunately, the sound mix where I was standing meant the drums crowded out the rest of the band only allowing us glimpses of what they were bringing. Moments of magic shone through: they bookended their act with two really strong tunes, launching their show with “The Voiceless” and rounding it out with “Excuse Me”. They are set to play the Dogtooth Stage on the Saturday at Download this year where I reckon they’ll be in their element.
Before The HU came on stage, I was trying to think of a line about how a group of huns singing their traditional music should be popular with about half the population in Glasgow, but this Mongolian four-piece are way above that. Jaya (jaw harp, flutes and throat), Gala and Enkush (throats and morin khuur – a horsehead fiddle worn like a guitar) and Temka (tovshuur – a Mongolian guitar), backed by a guitarist, bassist, drummer and percussionist for the tour, can do more to bring Mongolian culture to the wider world than Genghis Khan can (didn’t he introduce that dance in France?).
Mongolian throat music is a style of singing from somewhere deep in the belly and sounds a bit like a didgeridoo that can form words. It is sometimes menacing, sometimes soothing, always amazing, and The HU blend it with Western style rock and their traditional instruments. Profiles I have seen describe their music as heavy metal but it is much broader and more accessible than that, and despite the lack of fluent Mongolian speakers in the Garage crowd, there was plenty that the crowd could chant along with. Between songs we chanted “Hu Hu Hu Hu”, getting faster and faster until it became a big raucous roar of appreciation.
They played the whole “Gereg” album, kicking off with “Shoog Shoog” (which sounds like “Shug! Shug!”, confusing for any Scottish Hughs in the audience but an easy one for the crowd to sing along to), and followed by “The Same” (which was different!). Third up was “Gereg”, title track of the album and a cracking live tune. Their songs are beautifully crafted, heavier live than on the album, and nothing feels like a filler. Particular standouts on the night for me were the menacing “The Great Chinggis Khaan”, “Shoog Shoog” as a brilliant opener, “Gereg”, “The Legend of Mother Swan” (mercifully nothing like Mother Goose) and a real crowd pleaser in “Yuve Yuve Yu”.
I hope you’re getting the impression that this was a brilliant show? Big grins and enthusiastic chatter on the way out verified the breadth of appeal this band have. My summary in no more than 15 words? AWESOME!