Tuesday, 12 December 2017

3 more gigs

Too sick and tired for detailed reviews. But the gigging year is coming to a hectic end as I finally break my record of 42 gigs and will ultimately reach 44 for 2017.

Saw Kobra and The Lotus last Sunday. Kobra is always great. Third time seeing her and the band. Thumbs up young lady

Next gig I saw was one from the leftfield for me. Creeper is a band going places but it's not really my thing but the gig was immense even if the supports were all dire and we had to wait ages for the main act. Creeper will be even huger than they are now. This venue was rammed to the rafters and everyone was in love with the band including a hell of a lot of girls.

To complete the trio I saw Mastodon for the very first and probably last time. I love them on record but the live experience was a bit meh. They sound good but not as great as the records IMO. The drummer is great whatever way you look at it though.

Final 3 gigs of the year left over this week and next before I breathe a huge sigh of relief. No gig till Jan 27 next year. Sick as a dog with a wretched cold that has plagued me for weeks and these late nights are no bloody help either! :-)

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Graham Bonnet Band Live

I've seen a fair bit of Mr. Bonnet over the last couple of years and this is in fact the third time in that period. I toyed with the idea of giving this one a miss but caved in out of curiosity as he has some new guys in his band.

First support was Evyltyde who also supported Graham the first time I saw him a couple of years ago. This band unfortunately doesn't excite too much. They are like a traditional NWOBHM band with a female voice. They are ok but the songs don't really excite as I was saying.

The main support was a new band called The Brink who I was hearing for the first time. They were an exuberant bunch of rockers with an energetic front man. They were decentish but I never really got a great feel for their songs. The singer said their debut album is coming out in April 2018, so we'll see how that turns out. Not bad overall and worth keeping an eye on. Oh and the band was notable for having a tiny chick guitarist. Well you don't often see a band with a gal on guitar while everyone else is a lad.

Anyway we're all here to see the old codger Graham and his brand spanking new guys show us what they can do. To be honest Graham sounded better than he did on the previous two night that I saw him. He sounded in fine form indeed. He still has a tendency to look like he's struggling for air on the higher notes but the man is 70 soon so we'll forgive him that. The new guitarist is Joey Tafolla and he whips up a storm on the riffs and solos. New Keysman is Jimmy Waldo who used to be with Graham back in Alcatrazz. The new drummer is also some guy or other who's been in loads of bands etc.

The band sounded really good I must admit. They played a very long set of mixed tunes from throughout Graham's career including of course all the hits. Standouts for me were new song California Air and Into the Night, plus classics Since U Been Gone and All Night Long. I was also amazed that Graham played Stand in Line from his time in Impellitteri. The last two times I saw him I was dying for him to play this as it's one of my fave songs from his career and finally he did it! Thanks Graham!

The band played for just over 90 minutes and Graham's shirt was covered in sweat patches by the end! Nice going old man..keep rocking forever!

Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live
(Alcatrazz song)
All Night Long
(Rainbow song)
California Air
Night Games
God Blessed Video
(Alcatrazz song)
Stand in Line
(Impellitteri song)
Island in the Sun
(Alcatrazz song)
Into the Night
Jet to Jet
(Alcatrazz song)
Desert Song
(Michael Schenker Group song)
(Alcatrazz song)
Since You Been Gone
(Russ Ballard cover)
Assault Attack
(Michael Schenker Group song)

Eyes of the World
(Rainbow song)
Lost in Hollywood
(Rainbow song)

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Deep Purple Live at the O2 Arena

So this is Purple's Long Goodbye Tour, and well we better say a very long goodbye because they still seemed to be firing on all cylinders. But more on that later. First up were cool cats, well Cats in Space to be precise. And boy did they not disappoint. They are just a great band. Shame that they played to an extremely sparse crowd. The DP crowd didn't give them the time of day which is sad. they missed a great 30 minute set of Cats tunes. Of course I think a club show suits these guys much better but they were fully at home of the O2 stage and sounded truly good. I'll be seeing them again in 2018 no doubt in much cosier surroundings no doubt.

I broke my duck with Europe which is one of the reasons I gave this gig a shot. I need to hear The Final Countdown live at least once haha! To be honest I am not a fan of this more bluesy incarnation of the band but I gave them a good shot live. Joey's voice doesn't go as high as the old days which is understandable but he was in fine form as was the band. They were the perfect foil to Purple in fact. Coming across as very Purple-y at various points. They were also pretty heavy at times. John Norum is a great guitarist no doubt. I loved the song Last look At Eden. That was a great tune. Scream of Anger was a full paced heavy metal tune that was for the diehards out there. Ended with of course those parping keys for The Final Countdown. Finally seen it live. Europe were cool but not amazing.

Finally it was time for the grand daddy's of classic rock to show us what they could do. To be honest last time I saw Purple here 2 years ago I thought they were good but not amazing. On this night I really DID think they were amazing! They were on shit hot form. Ian's voice was great, although I do find some of his shrieking a bit OTT, Granddad screaming to the kids "shut up!" but when he does more of his normal singing he sounds pretty great.

The band all sound great especially Steve Morse. Guy, is a six string maestro of coolness. The set list was a bit mixed. No Highway Star was a bit strange also no Child In Time which left a few old timers groaning. However they played to perfecting for a full 90 minute set. I love the new track The Surprising. That was a huge highlight for me. The rest was pretty standard classic Purple performed flawlessly with pristine sound.

Judging by this show the band is still at the top of its game so I don't know why they are slowly quitting to be honest. Let's hope they are just toying with quitting. They never embarrass themselves for a nano second on stage. They all still have it and them some although Ian looks more and more like a shuffling Granddad standing up at the karaoke after a few too many sherries! Keep standing and rocking old man, you still got it!

Heat Live Report

Always good to see the energy enthused Swedish rockers again after a good while. Two support bands to get through. Black Diemonds are a Swiss hard rock band with a slight glam edge. Pretty apt support for a gig like this. Their album is ok but not anything that special. It's pleasant though. Live they were merely OK IMO. They just don't quite have the catchiness and edge that I need in my hard rock.

Next up were Heat's fellow Swedes, Degreed. They are a much better proposition indeed. Their new album is their heaviest but I'm not sure it's their best song wise. However they were very good live if not spectacular. This was the last night of the tour so they were drinking on stage etc and having a lot of fun. I seemed to enjoy the older tunes more than the new ones, however I have no complaints for them as a warm up act for the great Heat.

And then it was time for that ball of energy aka Erik Gronwall to let us know yet again what it means to really rock. Opening with Bastard of Society is a wise move indeed with it's killer opening riff and full on energy. When Erik yells "let's go!" well he, his band mates and everyone in the crowd does just that! You can't beat that immediate rush that you get from a Heat show that's for sure.

The lads played a lot of new songs from Into The Great Unknown which was fine with me. I even enjoyed the so called more poppy tunes. They sounded great live and Erik's voice was top notch all night, even though it was the last night of a month long Euro trek for the guys. I loved the classic AOR of 1000 miles as did most no doubt. No "Best of the the Broken" from the new album was a slight disappointment as that simply rocks you to hell and back. However I can safely say there really wasn't a moment that wasn't great. A nice tribute to Malcolm and AC/DC with Whole Lotta Rosie snippet complete with Erik crowd surfing to the bar and starting the song off standing on the bar and then running back and completing it on stage. Typical of that crazy dude. he really is a live wire.

With it being the last night of the tour the stage became a free for all with members of others coming and going as they pleased singing bits and playing bits and filming it all on their mobiles. It may have only been a Tuesday night but a Heat show feels like a Saturday night and then some! One of the most fun and energetic bands from Sweden these days that's for sure. Heat, Eclipse and Work of Art. I swear by this trinity of melodic magic!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Alice Cooper Live Report

Had to see Alice at least once before he finally gives up the ghost didn't I. A night at the Wembley Arena was a no brainer thoughts like this don't exactly come cheap but alas the Coops needs the money before he finally retires and lives out his days playing golf non stop.

Anyway we digress. Two support bands were listed neither of which I had ever seen so three birds were killed with one stone last night. First up were somewhat legendary and cult band The Tubes. A sort of 70s hybrid of rock, funk and AOR. Fee Waybill their singer is bloody ancient. he's probably as old as Alice though I have no idea how old he actually is. But he does sound very very old with a voice as rough as a tramp's arsehole. Their songs are mildly entertaining but it's their semi comedy garb that entertains the folks closer to the stage. Sadly I was about as far away from the stage as it was possible to get. But the sound was very good indeed and the bass and drummer for The Tubes were both excellent. Not really my thing overall but the last song was really catchy in an AOR kinda way. It turns out that this band supported Alice in the 70s hence their long lost return.

Next and main support were Brit gothy doom popsters, The Mission. In the early 90s this band used to bother the charts regularly with their twangy dark goth pop. It's a bit of a strange support slot for Alice but maybe he hand picked them and likes them a lot. I must admit I probably haven't heard a Mission tune in 25 years and then only once or twice. I was always a Sisters of Mercy fan me haha! Never got into The Mish meself! Anyway they played about 8 songs including all their biggest hits. They actually sounded really quite good but if slightly droning on and on and yet still danceable. A few old goths were I'm sure in nostalgia heaven with these guys.

I started to recognise a few snippets of their songs and they were toe tappingly gloomy and pleasant on the ear. Not a bad little set from these guys but overall I find them just good and not something I'll get all nostalgic about and go and seek their songs on youtube all over again or something! I enjoyed them for what they were though. I can imagine a bill with them Sisters and Fields of the Nephilim going down a storm with all the nostalgia gothsters!

At 9.20 sharp the house lights went down and the current Alice Cooper band launched into the heavy and semi-industrial sounding Brutal Planer, the title track of the album from a few years back. That was a heavy start indeed. Alice's voice is a bit rougher live than I was expecting but he still sounds good. Unfortunately whilst the gig was taking place in Wembley, I was actually sitting in the next borough down the road and all facial expressions and band interaction were rendered by midgets in the distance as far as I could tell. I really wanted to see guitarist Nita up close for she is a bit of a shred queen. Sadly the Arena doesn't have TV screens by the side of the stage either.

Not being a huge Alice aficionado I didn't recognise the next few songs. Lost in America stood out most. Great tune. Dept of Youth was also very catchy. Enough for me to go and seek out a studio version of it from the Welcome to my Nightmare album. Woman of Mass Distraction was funny and catchy too.

By the way, Alice never says a word in between songs. No talking not a word. He just lets the music do the talking it seems but he does say the odd "thank you London!" but apart from that no anecdotes just singing and a nice stage show. I just wish I was closer so i could see it better! Any how the show carried swiftly on with a Nita guitar solo followed by his first big 80s hit that I know. Obviously Poison is sung by literally 1000s in the Arena as Alice commands. Halo of Flies I don't know but then Feed My Frankenstein followed with a running Frankestein monster on stage running round like what Eddie does with Maiden. Great tune anyway and Alice puts feeling in that chorus! Cold Ethyl sees him carrying a lifeless rag doll around trying to inject life into the damn thing but she remained cold to no avail. Only Women Bleed followed. No doubt a classic but would you believe I have never ever heard this song before in my life? Not even by accident. I didn't even know that it was mostly a ballad lol. Oh well you live and learn eh Alice!

Paranoic Personality, the immensely catchy new track was given an airing and I think it went down very well. WHo can not love that chorus eh? Then we reached the theatrical section of every Alice show with the balld of Dwight Fry and the beheading of your man Mr Cooper. Now sitting where I was I could hardly even tell what was going on with my poor eyesight. All I could see was some gal in ghoulish white holding up Alice's severed head! Hey hold on he's got to the rest of the songs..anyway the songs segues into Killer and I See The Dead. I don't recall too much of the musical value as I was concentrating on what the hell was going on stage. Youtube will help me there no doubt.

There the main set ends and Alice finally returns with the original AC band doing 5 of the band's biggest hits. I'm Eighteen believe it or not I have never heard! Can you actually believe it? It's a good song though and I can see all the bald drunkards with their pints shoved in the air screaming "I'm Eighteen!!!" Nah mate you WERE 18 haha!
Billion Dollar Babies followed again not massively familiar to me but it was good and got everyone off their feet to sing. Then it's my fave AC song of all time. Who can not love NMMNG? That song is just made to be sung along with. Alice's old band plays it a bit slower than I'm used to. I only first heard the song when Megadeth done it decades ago and they speeded it up for the better. But Alice sings it the original way of course. Everyone loves it anyway and is in delirium by now!
Next we have Muscle of Love another song I have never ever heard. Damn it was quite catchy though! The set ends with all the old band and all the current band on stage as Alice goes through them all and introduces them one by one before a rousing School's Out complete with pretty cool Brick in the wall snippet in the middle.

Alice has still got it no doubt for an old timer. His movements maybe a bit slower and the voice not as clean as earlier times but the man can entertain pure and simple. How much longer he'll go is anyone's guess but he's far from shaming his legacy and whilst he's still enjoying it then long may it continue and who knows maybe I'll go to another AC show if he returns. On a side not the merch at this show had unacceptably high prices. Even higher than the Metallica show and the ticket price was already quite expensive. I don't know who sets the merch prices but if it's Alice's management then they need to have a word with themselves haha! Anyway keep rocking Alice till the grave!

Spend the Night intro
Brutal Planet
Under My Wheels
Lost in America
Department of Youth
The World Needs Guts
Woman of Mass Distraction
Guitar Solo
(Nita Strauss)
Halo of Flies
Drum and Bass solo
Feed My Frankenstein
Cold Ethyl
Only Women Bleed
Paranoiac Personality
Ballad of Dwight Fry
I Love the Dead

I'm Eighteen
(with original Alice Cooper Band)
Billion Dollar Babies
(with original Alice Cooper Band)
No More Mr. Nice Guy
(with original Alice Cooper Band)
Muscle of Love
(with original Alice Cooper Band)
School's Out
(with original Alice Cooper Band) (with 'Another Brick in the Wall Part 2' snippet by Pink Floyd)

Helloween - Pumpkins United

Well it had to happen I guess. Everyone in Helloween past and present buried the hatchet and not in each others back! Well at least put the hatchet away for another day and took the money and had a lot of fun for two and a half hours of happy happy Helloween.

No support, just a whole night's worth of happy metal at the Brixton Academy. The venue was rammed pretty solid with easily over 3k people at a guess but could be way more. There were a lot of people on stage as the curtain goes up and the band launches into the epic Halloween with both Kiske and Deris handling vocal duties.

The sound took a while to settle down and was a little incoherent at first but once our ears had adjusted it was a pretty decent sound with both vocalist's booming voices piercing the sky. Let me be honest here. Old school Helloween never really floated my boat at all. I came on board with The Dark Ride. I liked some songs here and there but never a full album and to be even more honest I don't really even recall half of these classics. Whilst I love the new material.

However I am far in the minority judging by the huge sing along's the classics muster up among the happy Helloween faithful. I guess seeing Kai, Michi and Weiki and Marcus all on stage together is the stuff of legend and the fans were lapping it up with a big spoon.

There was plenty of on stage banter with the boys with especially with Kai and Andi joking and taking the piss out if each other's age and ability to still perform. But perform well they did and Kai even sang one song, namely Ride The Sky. They played a very long time but had lost of short little intermissions with a cartoon video backdrop to entertain us. Two characters by the name of Seth and Doc with Pumpkin heads doing inane stuff. The videos during the songs were actually really funny and cool. Especially the character during Dr Stein was hilarious!

Each song had an effective video back drop to suit the song with even lyrics at times for these that fancied a sing along but had forgotten the words. Both Andi and Miki sang great to be honest with Andi more than holding his own. The rumours had been that Kiske had been having vocal trouble but he seemed great to me. Of course his warbling falsetto is the stuff of legend and he tested it to the max on a couple of ballads.

Believe it or not I actually missed the last two songs Future World and I Want Out as I was feeling dead after more than 3 hours of straight standing and bailed out. Even walking was preferable to standing at that point!

So the Pumpkins were United but I don't know if their heart was fully in it but they played with a lot of smiles apart from Weiki, he mostly never smiles of course. The cash was too good to turn down no doubt and the tour has been doing great business around the world. Oh and Kai's look is something else. Looks like a washed up glamster from the 80s still trying hard to be very 80s! You're not in Motley Crue dude!

Anyway an enjoyable night of classic Helloween material interrupted with the odd newer song. Good stuff if not amazing and for long time fans of the band, just a must see really.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Dying Fetus Live

Haven't been to a death metal gig for ages. Let's break that cycle with 4 bands of technical brutality. First band up was the least technical of the lot. They were Disentomb from Australia I believe judging by the singer's accent in between songs. They were the most brutal band of the night. Just sheer savagery from blasts to stomping riffs and grooves. Heads were banging for these guys but they know nothing about subtlety and that's just the way the nutters down the front like it. I've never heard the c-word as many times as I did from a singer either. We were called "sick cunts" regularly and often haha!

Next up were Canadian tech death wizards Beyond Creation. These guys upped the tech ante to a whole new level, especially the bassist whose fingers constantly moving up the fret board to widdle away. The band is very tight but I found they lost some of their clarity trying to over brutal. They were still tight as fuck and it makes for quite a spectacle watching them wrapping their spidery fingers up and their axes. Tasty tech death!

Main support was yet another Aussie band with Psycroptic. I've sort of gone off them of late but I swore by their Scepter of the Ancients album. I must admit to me they were absolutely wicked sounding on the night. The sound was not as ball bustingly brutal as for the previous two bands but very crisp and tight. The guitarists were absolutely locked into a tight as hell groove but with lightning fast notes at warp speed drilling into your brain. A very killer performance from these guys even though the singer said his voice was fucked at the end of a long tour.

Finally my first time seeing the Fetus guys. I could have sworn they were a 4 piece but it turns out they are only a 3 piece. The bald dude on the riffs and main vocals with the bassist on vocals as well. These guys have monster monster grooves. This is why everyone seems to love them so much. They can play like pretty tech but then lock into a jamming groove to get the moshers rocking. There weer loads of stage divers and one drunk idiot got thrown out for refusing to leave the stage haha! The band was greeted with pure frenzy by the packed crowd. Death metal fans are very fucking loyal in their fandom that's for sure and the Fetus are treated like all conquering heroes as every note is worshipped. A very savage and tight performance from the New Yorkers. The bald dude thanked us for coming and the "Fetus Fetus!" chants soon drowned him out before they launched into the final savage song. A night of brutal and technical death metal - once or twice a year it's not so bad!