It all begins rather surreally as the snaking queue that have been waiting to get into the bar's separate venue are funnelled past Scroobius Pip's merchandise stand, which he is manning himself, where you can purchase what is billed as a 'Metal Pip Face tee'.

For those quite unsure of what this term means, it is a black t-shirt, taken up almost entirely by a rather terrifying close-up of his distinctly recognisable face (and beard, of course) with blank, hollowed out eyes, across the top is his name, but scrawled in a kind of faux gothic text that you will doubtless have seen, and possibly ignored, a million or so metal bands using to ensure they stick to the stereotypical formula.

Some shell out for the product, others purchase his 'not so metal book of poetry', but I doubt many were expecting the t-shirt to reflect the direction of Scroobius Pip's forthcoming solo album.

The night begins proper as he launches into 'Introdiction', the slightest hint of backing track built upon by live guitars and drums whilst Scroobius works his words as only he knows how to and that has clearly won him a dedicated following, as the sold out crowd clearly attests to, released as a teaser for the album recently, it is a track that the crowd recognises, and Scroobius acknowledges it as such once it is over, apologising that from here on in, everything else is brand new.

Seeing as this is Scroobius Pip's debut solo show, nobody seems to protest too much and should have been expecting as much, we will be the first people to be hearing the album in full, from start to finish, as it was intended, ahead of it's release in September, and as receptive as the audience are, I don't think think anyone was expecting it to sound quite like it does.

The cranked up guitar and thrashing of drums is present for virtually most of the set as Pip bounces around delivering lyrical themes including wanting to live forever, domestic violence and the effect the internet has had on music journalism, as well as a clever riffing on Soulja Boy's hit Crank That, examining the roles of soldiers today.  Those familiar with Pip's clever word play and tackling of a broad spectrum of subjects will find none of this as any surprise, but the sole difference was the style of music used to convey these ideas.

It was as if we was watching an alternative reality Scroobius Pip, one where he hadn't teamed with Dan Le Sac for two albums, but had instead devoted his time to tirelessly practising with his metal band in his mum's garage since his late teens and playing weekly gigs in known heavy-rock haunts with a tirade of irksome bands with ominous names and recycled riffs, gone was any sign of twitching glitchy electronic beats that have served as a bed for his words for the past five years, instead we had balls-to-the-wall rock, and strangely, it all seemed to work.

The energy and delivery of the words clashing against the heavy backing serves to add weight to the message being spat at us, the band were extremely tight as the album run-through quickly careered headlong to it's all-too-soon conclusion, and Scroobius Pip seemed to be living out his rock star fantasies as he fronted his own metal behemoth and his visage looked out from his own metal t-shirt.

Perhaps those hoping for at least a couple of Dan Le Sac co-features may have left disappointed, but this was a showcase for something new, something disconnected from his past endeavours.

Yes, the music may have changed, but this was still the same Scroobius Pip, undeniably so.


(Photo credit: Craig Thomas)

Released: Fri 19th Aug 2011