Speaking to eonmusic ahead of the show, guitarist Woody Weatherman admitted that although "you can't replace Reed", the band, who have been through various guises over the years, are, as always, moving forward. There's a new album in the works, but before that there are these live dates; their first since December 2022, and their first outside of the American continent since early 2020.
Kicking off with a relatively obscure instrumental in 1996 non-album track 'Bottom Feeder (El Que Come Abajo)', a lone Mike Dean casually strolled onto the stage and began jamming out the song's opening refrain. With the sludgy bass tone booming, the rest of the band arrived one by one, as the overture bled into the pulverising 'Paranoid Opioid'.
Continuing with the 'Deliverance' pairing of deeper cut 'Shake Like You' and the immense 'Seven Days' - an early set highlight - the band showed no signs of either their jetlag, or the dreaded tour kick-off cobwebs.
Greeting the elated crowd, Keenan, declared; "thank you Ireland. It's good to be back here, and that's no bullshit!"
Leaning heavily on their '90s catalogue, from 'Wiseblood's title track and 'Born Again for the Last Time' to 'Deliverance's perennial favourite 'Señor Limpio', underrated 2000 album 'America's Volume Dealer' also got a welcome nod with the irresistible 'Who's Got the Fire' and epic penultimate set closer '13 Angels'.
And while 2018's 'No Cross No Crown' was, surprisingly, completely ignored, there was no shortage of killer cuts, such as risible 'In The Arms of God' opener 'Stone Breaker', which proved among the night's highlights.
Closing out act one with a rousing 'Vote With a Bullet', the encores mixed deep cuts - the aforementioned 'Born Again...' with the classics, in pounding stoner anthem 'Albatross', before the North Carolina / Louisiana act brought the curtain down with an extended 'Clean My Wounds', which included, as usual, a psychedelic dub jam.
Taking their bows and professing their love for Ireland's own Thin Lizzy, Keenan declared; "all the shit you guys do has a huge influence. We're grateful to be here, and we'll see you next time"
With a new album coming in 2024 with 'In the Arms of God' player Stanton Moore likely to be laying down the rhythms, another new chapter lies ahead for the sludge metal titans. With the band in this form, it can only be another classic.