Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Poodles Live at the Underworld

It's always good to see a band you've liked for a good while for the first time, so I was looking forward to my meeting with The Poodles on Friday night. These guys are quite big in their native Sweden and regular chart botherers of course but their UK profile is really quite minuscule it must be said. This is not the first time they've played the UK as I found out. They played the much bigger Electric Ballroom 100 meters down the road. Not sure if they headlined but to book that place again would have been a folly as this gig was very poorly attended indeed with the crowd barely reaching 100 people or so by the end of the night. This was in the main due to either rank bad scheduling or just bad luck as Gotthard were playing in Islington and they would've taken a fair chunk of The Poodles audience no doubt. In fact I would've gone to Gotthard myself had The Poodles not been playing but I'm a much bigger fan of the Swedish troop especially since Gotthard got their new singer whom I'm not really a fan of.

Their were two support bands for The Poodles, namely Maverik and COP UK or Crimes of Passion as I know them as or as they used to be before the abbreviated name change. Unfortunately both bands played to roughly 20 people on the floor max with a few dotted around the small balcony.

Maverik is a band I've heard before on youtube and I didn't really think too much of them. They were actually sounding better live than in the studio. The band is from Northern Ireland and have their hearts in the right place alright, playing a classic form of melodic rock. It's just the song writing is not quite good enough yet to win them more fans. They have good instrumentalists though so credit due for that and for playing in front of a paltry crowd. Mind you I've seen a band play to even less on the famous Underworld floor before.

After Maverik came the newly name changed COP UK which confused me a little as I know them quite well as Crimes of Passion but didn't realise COP UK was their new moniker. I've seen them live before and their brand of melodic definitely has it's moments for sure. There is a decent sense of melody here and there by the long haired front man but the songs just don't have the wow factor. Once again good musicianship all round but not a stunning set of tunes.

at 8.15 sharp the stage was finally ready for the Swedes to take to the stage. I was pretty much right at the front and ready to see them strutting their stuff right in my face. The sound was a little too loud at stage front unfortunately and frontman Jake's vocals got drowned out quite often. The new album Devil in in the Details has some great tunes on it and the band made sure they played the biggest hits including their new anthem The Greatest with it's strong modern day Coldplay flavour. The slightly fuller floor was in strong voice despite lacking in number and Jake Samuels got a strong response from the crowd. He really is a very cool front man as well with a lot of acrobatic dancing in time with the music. He's only a small guy actually when you see him up close so is energy is totally understandable.

The band played a long set with many of their classics rightfully played with my faves being Metal Will Stand Tall, Night of Passion and that new gem The Greatest. The acoustic medley they played was superbly sung by Jake and since the guitars were acoustic, you could really see what a strong and melodic voice he has when not having to fight to be heard over the guitars.

The band played until it was nearly 10, so pretty close to the Friday night curfew and came out backstage afterwards to meet the few fans who had bothered to turn out. Overall they are a really fun band to watch live and in Jake they have a real live wire front man with a great voice too. It's a shame the gig clashed with Gotthard as I'm sure many of those fans would've been here instead. Maybe they might be disheartened by the poor attendance and not come back again though who knows, but at least I've seen this fun band once at least.

Set list

1. Before I Die
2. Caroline
3. House of Cards
4. Shut Up
5. I Rule The Night
6. Flesh and Blood
7. Cuts Like a Knife
8. Line of Fire
9. Everything
10. Acoustic Medley
11. The Greatest
12. Instrumental
13. Thunderball
14. Crack in the Wall
15. Metal Will Stand Tall
16. Like No Tomorrow
17. Night of Passion


18. Echoes from the Past
19. Seven Seas

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Wolf/Enforcer Live at the Underworld

but not amazing by any stretch. I have seen Wolf already this year at the Underworld and I was a little surprised to see them back so quickly but they are very good live and the chance to see Enforcer again was enticing as well.

First up were ACDC clones Dynamite. The bits I've heard of them on youtube made them out to be an ACDC clone of the Bon Scott era. It's a bit more raw and earthy than the better produced current era. I must admit ACDC clones ain't usually my cuppa but Dynamite sounded really good live. A nice and crisp and thankfully not overly loud mix helped matters no end. Their song writing is of course samey as you would expect but they are fun to watch and the rock and roll grooves are easily passable and warm up the crowd quite well. Not a bad 30 minutes or so indeed. I don't think I'll like'm on record but live, and with a beer in my hand, my horns were raised.

Next up were speed metal warriors Enforcer. I saw them at this very same venue a year or so back on the previous album tour when I first got into them. They have this dark and mysterious air about their stage set with lots of dry ice being pumped up to create a ghoulish atmosphere before the breaks into their breakneck speed metal. On their new CD they've become a bit more refined as well and not so hell for leather all the time and a touch more melodic, but in the live setting all subtleties are cast aside for speed and more speed. The tall blond front man and is an imposing guy and sings at the top of his lungs throughout the set. This was more or less a joint headline with Wolf so they got roughly an hour each which was fine and dandy. My favourite song was the title track from the new album From Beyond. It's an awesome live sing along. Enforcer got a great response and the biggest crowd of the night as well.

After they left the stage hands got the stage ready for Wolf but unfortunately for some reason the crowd had rather thinned out completely never to return so Wolf maybe played to about a 100 people max which is a shame as it was less than last time. This did not stop the boys from turning in their usual tight performance though. That little guy Niklas was his usual tightly muscled self at the front whilst his band mates flitted around stage swapping positions regularly. The sound was much louder for Wolf than the other bands and it was quite hard to hear Niklas's vocals but he was much louder than last time at least. Shark Attack is such a brilliant opener it never fails to impress. My Demon is a killer sing along. Speed On is an anthem which will be an impressive end for any set of true heavy metal. In between we got some rockier tracks like Hail Caesar and some speed metal ones like Steelwinged Savage Reaper which went down well with the front rows. Wolf played for just about the hour same as Enforcer and a night of true Swemetal was finally at an end. Not a huge attendance but for those that didn't make it well, it's their loss as the ticket price was pretty cheap.

Hopefully a new album will appear by Wolf next year and I advise any one with a chance to see Wolf to take it as you'll see a very energetic and fun live set and the same goes for Enforcer as well of course. Both bands bleed heavy metal from every pore and then some.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Annihilator - Live at the Islington Academy

Sunday night's are never really great are they so a night of pure classic Thrash was a no brainer really. I have seen Annihilator once before, quite a long time ago now. That was at the Underworld but this time they played the much larger Islington Academy although the venue was by no means full the crowd was pretty healthy for a Sunday night. Probably around the 400 mark or maybe a bit more. That in itself was quite good considering there was another thrash bill down in the Underworld with Xentrix playing with two other bands. To top off the competition Paradise Lost also played down the road. So metalheads had a lot of options for a Sunday that's for sure. I opted for the Canadian thrashers as the support band was Harlott whom I love and another band called Archer who I've never heard of.

So first up were the Aussies Harlott and their blistering brand of in your face thrash metal. Now on record they sound pretty damn intense but live it was just too much intensity than one can take. Plenty of Aussie chirpy Aussie banter from the stage though. Tee Wallabies knocked England out of the World Cup at Rugby so there was a bit of humour there to kick around. The music from the band was played at a frenetic pace and some of the riffing got lost in a blur of speed but the tightness of the band blew me away. I don't know how the singer remembers all the lyrics either they are spat forth with complete abandon. I was hoping to hear the song Civil Unrest from Proliferation but it wasn't to be but they opened with the title track and it was incendiary. A great warm up act for Annihilator indeed and the band deserves to be far bigger than they are.

Next up were a Cali band called Archer from Santa Cruz to be precise. I actually looked at their cd and talked to the merch guy and he tried to make a sale of their cd saying it was produced by the guy who produced Megadeth's stuff. I said well let's see if I like them live and if I did I promised I'd buy their cd on the way out. They came on as a three piece band led by a young looking dude who was obviously a huge fan of all things 'deth and he even looked like a young Dave with flowing golden mane etc. The band's music was pretty tight and clean melodic thrash metal with decent snarling vocals. The song writing maybe needs work but I was pretty impressed to be honest. They even threw in a cover of Tornado of Souls which was very cool indeed but I guess standing next to their own material made it sounded far superior to their own song writing abilities. Special mention for the bass player. The guy had a superb tone and a great finger playing style obviously influenced by Steve Harris. Archer were pretty good and as I promised I did actually buy their cd and shook hands with the singer on the way out.

At 9.15 or so the intro song to Annihilator's set started which happens to be Rock You Like a Hurricane which is a pretty cool way to get the crowd pumped up with a classic singalong anthem. Soon it ended and the band dove headlong into King of the Kill which is pretty stomping opener. Jeff sounded pretty good though his voice has no real quality to it live, it still sounds sharp and clear. Jeff even joked from the stage about being equal to Halford, Dickinson and Dio with a big smirk on his face!

Being the new album tour of course meant we'd be getting some cool new tunes such as Snap, the title track, Creepin' Again which all sounded very cool. One interesting fact little did I know that Rich Hinks from the UK prog metal band Aeon Zen actually plays bass for Annihilator. Quite odd but I guess it's cheaper to have a European based guy for a Euro tour. Both Jeff and the other guitarist were in shit hot form all night. Jeff's solos were a bit severe at times and I prefered the more melodic rendering of the other guitarist. The highlights of the night included Never, Neverland which was awesome, Brain Dance which was just bonkers and Phantasmagoria which was thrashtastic. Refresh the Demon is a song I've never liked but Jeff always plays it in Annihilaor sets. I'd have preferred another tune from Feast. The night of course ends with Alison Hell and gives the moshers one last chance to rock out to that classic set closer.

Annihilator are a fun band to watch live and Jeff's duck walking and guitar swinging acrobatics are quite cool to watch. I've never been the hugest Annhilator fan but I'd go see them live again in a heartbeat. I was gonna buy the album but it was too expensive and I'd already spent my dosh on the other two band's cds. Fun night overall and cool support. Made a good choice in not seeing those miserable Yorkshire bastards PL..hehe I've seen them enough!

1. King of the Kill
2. Snap
3. Suicide Society
4. Creepin' Again
5. No Way Out
6. Set The World On Fire
7. W.T.Y.D.
8. Never, Neverland
9. Tricks and Traps
10. Bliss
11. Second To None
12. Refresh the Demon
13. Drum Solo
14. Brain Dance
15. Phantasmagoria
16. Chicken and Corn/Kraf Dinner/21/Reduced to Ash
17. Alison Hell