Monday, 31 August 2015

Praying Mantis - Legacy Launch SHow

Praying Mantis are one of those bands I've come to appreciate more in their latter period than their earlier formations. This show was billed as the "Legacy" launch show in honour of their brand spanking new album. It was held at the rather small Borderline but I guess it was a very suitable venue as it was pretty full by the time these stalwarts took to the stage at 8.30pm.

They have two new members in the band, the singer and drummer, and both were in excellent form especially front man and new vocalist Jaycee who was in superb form all night. I can't pretend to know all the classic Mantis material how ever the new material sounded excellent indeed. The band played for around 75 minutes although the set list was not the best I did get to hear all the new tunes that I wanted to hear like Fight For Your Honour, The One, The Runner but Tokyo was unfortunately missing although it's a brilliant song. This incarnation of the band sounds super tight and pretty cool whilst the mainstays of the band the Troy brothers know the melodic rock song book inside out.

The new front man gets into the music more than the previous guy and his powerful vocals were pretty spot on all night. I would have liked some Tony O'Hora era numbers but that's by the by, I'll get over it. It was good to hear the Mantis boys in top form and promoting a super new album to a decent sized bank holiday Sunday night crowd.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Queensryche Live at the Electric Ballroon

Oddly enough this is the first time I've seen Queensryche. I was due to go once before when Geoff Tate was in the band a few years ago but something happened and I couldn't make it. This time I thought let me give them a shot with new man Todd La Torre and see how they are. I've never been a huge fan of the band and their best album Operation Mindcrime which gathers massive praise in the metal community is merely a good album in my opinion. I've always thought Tate was a cool singer though and he had such a distinctive tone that you know it's him from the first note.

Of course Geoff is not here tonight but the chap who is here is a note for note perfect replacement but more on that later. Two famous support bands were on the bill in the packed out Electric Ballroom in Camden. First up were thrashers Death Angel. I enjoyed their last album quite a bit but I've never been huge into the band. But their live energy is through the roof and they know how to get a metal crowd reaching fever pitch. Although this particular crowd was not their own and it was a touch harder going for them. These were not veteran thrash fans by any means so getting them moving or jumping was a slightly harder job. Still Death Angel played damn well in their allotted time and were afforded a crisp sound mix. Nice start indeed.

Next up were Armored Saint and their classic brand of heavy metal. Of course this was my first time seeing the Saint here in the UK and I must admit I was rather taken with their performance. John bush sounded great on vocals and his band mates strike a decent array of catchy tunes and steady riffage to keep the punters heads moving. John Bush comes across as a very cool and amiable front man I must say. For some reason I didn't listen to the new AS album as of yet but I should remedy this situation sooner or later. The guys were very cool and went down very well by the packed floor of more than 700 at a guess.

Finally it was Queensryche's turn to impress their fans with their brand of thinking man's metal. All eyes were on Todd La Torre as he sings the first few words to the opening song. People are looking for mistakes etc or his tone but the guy was pitch perfect all night. The only problem with Todd seems to be some of his own character seems to be lost in trying to sing the songs as close to Tate as possible. He shouldn't feel he's in a competition with Tate in my opinion and just do his own thing but more often than not you get the impression he's trying to out-Tate Tate. Having said that the guys sings perfectly and brings to the table what Tate refused to bring and that is to recognise older classic songs that the fans loved so much.

The only problem I had with the band live is that they can come off sounding a touch bored. I mean they play the songs flawlessly and Todd sings flawlessly but is the emotion sometimes lost? I just get the feeling they can do a bit better than this or maybe I've just got the wrong end of the stick. The highlights of the night were numerous as most songs were sung to perfection with large crowd participation. Todd is an engaging front man even when he's not singing so no problem on that score. He gets the crowd fully involved and this particular crowd needed no second invitation to join in all the classic hits. The sound of the band is spot on as well with a perfectly clear live sound.

I doubt I will go to see Queensryche again but it was definitely worth it to see them once even though they were without the true voice of the band. Maybe I should go to see Operation Mindcrime the band if they come this way and contrast and compare. Definitely would be interesting if nothing else!

Breaking the Silence
Walk in the Shadows
The Whisper
En Force
Silent Lucidity
Where Dreams Go to Die
Guitar Solo
The Needle Lies
NM 156
Arrow of Time
Eyes of a Stranger

Queen of the Reich
Take Hold of the Flame

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Tyketto Live at the Underworld

First time seeing the Tyketto boys and front man Danny Vaughan in particular, so I was looking forward to see how he sang and how they sounded live. Danny lives in the UK now so a couple of the members are English guys I believe whilst the old drummer remains. For a Tuesday night and for a band with such a low profile I must admit I was highly surprised to see the attendance pushing past 300. I'm sure the Danny and the guys were pretty stoked with the turn out. A lot of melodic rock gigs in recent times have barely made three figures but it seems that Danny and co have a lot of older fans who are more than happy to attend the gigs for old times sake.

We had one support band to get through first by the name of Bad Touch. These guys were actually pretty good with a really nice bluesy singer. They played a sort of 70s groove and funk rock with a heavy accent on licks from the guitarist and songs that were pretty catchy and memorable. Most of the crowd seemed to enjoy them as well and they definitely didn't go down like the proverbial lead balloon as some bands seem to at melodic rock gigs at the Underworld.

So at around 9pm or so Danny and his merry men took their positions to a full packed floor and very little space on the balcony either. A lot of women in attendance as well, I guess Danny himself is something to do with that. For a 54 year old that guy can sure bounce around the stage like a man half his age. To top it all off he doesn't miss a note. He's also a very engaging front man and talks quite for a good while to the audience about the old days and whatever subject is close to his heart regarding the next song to be played or music in general and how much he appreciates the fans. Like I said with a turnout like this in mid week Danny must've been over the moon. I must admit I am not a huge Tyketto fan but their Don't Come Easy has some corking tunes and guitar playing as well.

It is actually coming up to the 25th anniversary of that album as Danny explained from the stage and it is nigh on time for a re-release and one would be forthcoming next year. The disk sells for something ridiculous on ebay so it was time to address that as Danny explained.

The band played a couple of numbers from Danny's solo disk as well with Danny himself on an electric acoustic guitar which was pretty cool. I must admit I was totally taken aback by how many people were actually singing a long and dancing to all the tunes. I really didn't think Tyketto would create such fervour and adulation at this late stage. Mind you this is the UK so I don't know if they took thisback to the states how many people would care enough.

The band was on top form and being only a one guitar band didn't hurt them much either. The guitarist was very good and played some tasty riffs and licks like the ones in Strength in Numbers and my own particular fave Tyketto track Wings which was sung heartily by near enough all in the crowd.

Danny's vocals were spot on all night and never wavered once. The guy is still a whirling dervish of a front man who really gives it his all. The night of course ends with Tyketto's number one song Forever Young and another cool gig comes to a heady end. Tyketto maybe yesterday's men but Danny can still rock as hard as anyone out there in the melodic rock field make no mistake and Danny promised that they are working on a new album. Let's hope they make it a classic Tyketto record 'cos live they need no lessons on how to deliver what the fans want that's for sure.

Love to Love
Burning Down Inside
Rescue Me
Meet Me in the Night
(Vaughn cover)
Dig in Deep
Lay Your Body Down
Let It Go
Write Your Name in the Sky
Sound Off
Strength in Numbers
Catch My Fall
Standing Alone
The Last Sunset
Forever Young