The first concert of 2016 is gonna be tough to top for show of the year. Seeing Sleep at The Phoenix wasn’t just another gig–it was a religious experience. Let’s just say there might have been more than one bearded dude bowing down to the almighty riff last night. And when the whole band came in at the beginning of “Dopesmoker,” everybody up front started headbanging in unison, like a buncha drugged-out monks. Faaaaar out, maaaaaan!
Sleep hadn’t played Toronto in possibly forever (I can’t find tour dates for their ’94 trek with Hawkwind, but I don’t believe it stopped here), so it was no surprise they sold out a fairly sizable concert hall. This was actually my third time seeing them live–I caught ’em in Portland in 2010, and saw ’em headline a surreal outdoor concert in Calgary in 2011. And yes, I’ve been writing for this site so long that I had documented both shows for Hellbound. But y’see, I didn’t really know how to use a camera in those days, so I have no visual evidence of said occurrences, save a couple concert stubs somewhere, a dirty baseball jersey and a bitchin’ poster with Tony Iommi’s head on a sphinx.
But hey, I gotta say, their set hasn’t changed much in six years. They opened with their lone new tune, “The Clarity,” which didn’t really hold up well next to “Dragonaut,” “Holy Mountain,” “Sonic Titan,” “From Beyond” and “Aquarian”–not to mention two hearty helpings of “Dopesmoker”–but hey, at least it gave me the chance to take some pics before the heavy riffs kicked in.