Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Testament Live at the Brooklyn Bowl

This gig was billed as Thrash n' bowl as it basically took place at a bowling alley which happens to have a large stage and standing area. The concept behind the venue is to have live music playing whilst groups of people bowl and have drinks. This actually took place whilst Testament was playing at ear splitting volume on stage! And the bowlers weren't metalheads either. Not sure they could actually enjoy their bowling whilst metalheads were going ape next to them.

A little bit about the venue. The Brooklyn Bowl as it's called is a very Americanised place with beers such as Brooklyn Lager and other novelty house beers. The BB is situated inside the O2 Arena complex underneath one corner of the 20,000 seat venue which just happened to have the legendary Barry Manilow headlining. Obviously there were lots of older clientele in the Arena looking disapprovingly at the Metalheads queueing up for Testament! Quite funny really hehe!

Two supports were listed first was a band I've never heard of called Broken Teeth and the main support being local heavyweights Savage Messiah who I was looking forward to see again immensely. Broken Teeth came on and were surprisingly OK by opening band standards. They had some decent nodding grooves going on and whilst the singer was just a regular tuneless growlers, he was actually quite cool to watch with his rocking moves. I need to check a song from these guys out on youtube.

Local heroes Savage Messiah were up next and the crowd had pretty much filled out to its maximum of about 500 or so which was by no means capacity. Savage Messiah sounded ace from where I was watching and they have songs like Cross of Babylon and Hellblazer in their arsenal so you can't go wrong there. Dave Silver the golden maned front man looks more and more like Dave Mustaine every time I see him and he even adopts Mustaine like poses all the time. I was waiting for someone to make a quip about Manilow and Mr Silver duly obliged, as he questioned whether we were at the right gig and shouldn't we be watching Mr Manilow next door! With the gig being on a momentous day for us with the in/out referendum taking place, Dave also said: "Today is a momentous day for our nation! Barry Manilow plays his final gig in the UK!" Gotta a few laughs that one hehe. SM got a very good reception for their short support slot as they finally left and the roadies got the stage ready for Testament.

I've seen these legends many times in the past and the live shows have always been incendiary. I found a very cool spot at the side of the stage but on a raised platform which allowed me a great view of the band. Over The Wall is a classic energetic opener and the band soon picked up the pace of the song whilst Chuck screams his nuts off belting the lyrics out. I always look forward to the cool and old classics whenever I see Testament and they never fail to deliver. DiGiorgio on bass is very audible in the mix and adds quite a subtle bit of melody to some of the thrashier tunes. The Preacher was superb as always mass woooaahss from the crowd to the guitar melodies. Dog Faced Gods was a monster heavy tune and perhaps the heaviest of the night.

Practice What You Preach and The New Order can never a fail a rabid thrash crowd and they bloody well don't this time either.

One of my absolute fave Testa tracks, Into the Pit followed with large pit action as always. Everyone head bangs and enjoys that one, it's just too much fun. Newer tracks were played which also went down as well but I'm not such a huge fan of though I really like Native Blood which Chuck always dedicates to his indigenous heritage and by the way it was also his birthday and he thanked the crowd for making it a great day for him. The main set ended with Disciples of the Watch, which is perhaps my fave Testament song of all time, well apart from maybe Trial By Fire which was sadly missing from the set.

A note about the security at this place. It was basically non existent. I don't think they are used to a metal crowd. Normally you have security standing in front of the barrier ready to catch crowd surfers. A guy crowd surfed to the front and there was no security to catch him. He literally fell in the photo pit as there was no one to catch him. I saw all of this as the guy fell he must've caught his head, as he finally walked down the photo pit and in front of me the guy's head was covered in blood and yet he was still going back in the pit! I tried to catch site of the guy later but I never saw him again. How can you have a thrash gig and have no security to catch people at the front?? And yet another fucking nutter still surfed but luckily for him he landed on his feet.

To end on a positive note I really liked this venue although the beers are typical O2 pricey but it's a nice spacey venue and I'd go again maybe next time I'll even bowl!

Over the Wall
Rise Up
The Preacher
Dog Faced Gods
More Than Meets the Eye
Practice What You Preach
The New Order
Into the Pit
Dark Roots of Earth
D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
3 Days in Darkness
Native Blood
Disciples of the Watch

The Formation of Damnation

Saturday, 25 June 2016

King Diamond Live Report

King Diamond has been touring round Europe doing the festivals and select dates showcasing the whole of the seminal Abigail album and finally it was London's to bare witness to the glorious dark tales of Mr Diamond and co. To say I have been looking forward to this gig would be the understatement of the year. I have had my ticket for no less than six months!

The show was indeed sold out with more than 2000 packed into the Kentish Town Forum. This was the hot ticket in town this week as far as metal fans were concerned. A warm Tuesday night greeted us and thankfully no rain although nothing could really put a dampener on things as far as I was concerned anyway. By all accounts and viewing recent clips on youtube, King Diamond the man and band, were on tip top form and everyone was gonna be in for a treat.

First up were Angel Witch. Of course I know their namesake song, who doesn't, but I don't know a lot else although I've heard their albums. I just wasn't compelled to listen more. They seemed to be reasonably well tolerated by the hordes downstairs. Personally I couldn't see the real appeal. They are a pretty solid galloping NWOBHM band with cult status and an anthem of a song which they'll always be associated with but I wasn't won over by the rest, but plenty were and almost everyone sang the chorus to Angel Witch of course.

At just gone 9pm the intro Out from the Asylum was played and the band took their positions and dove headlong into Welcome Home whilst King strode on with the old and haggard looking grandma sitting in her rocking chair and King ready to act out the song lyrics to her. I tell you something, Welcome Home never fails as an opener. The opening "Grandmaaaaa!" makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up! King himself sounded great, hitting the falsetto notes effortlessly and even sounding quite aggressive during the lower pitched parts which was rather cool to see and hear.

The stage was very cool as well with a two sided staircase which allowed King and the actors to walk up and down as the song called for. Abigail was played in it's entirety of course but not before a selection of KD and Fate hits were played. Sleepless Nights was absolutely bloody amazing. The band sounded so tight and the sound was perfect for once and it sometimes isn't in the Forum being far too loud and echoey.

Six songs were played from the hits era and I would possibly liked a couple more but I guess King tires a little and they have fixed the setlist pretty much to what it is and don't want to over burden his vocals. Not that he was in any way strained. The guy was pretty amazing all night. He really seemed to be enjoying himself and thanked the crowd a lot for their amazing response as people downstairs were going ape.

The Abigail portion of the show soon arrived and the theatrics went into overdrive with a girl playing the Abigail character very well and also an older gentleman playing the priest. King Diamond himself prowls around the stage pulling shapes and always air guitaring the riffs and solos. I always like to see a frontman engaging with the music and KD definitely does that and then some. It's been years since I played Abigail so I don't know the album back to front but I absolutely love the famous songs from the album, Like Arrival and The Family Ghost which was just perfection and played with total precision.

The rest of the night flew by and soon the last notes of the album were played and everyone in the house was cheering KD and the band to the rafters. I hope KD the band soon returns and this time plays a normal show with different newer songs from the KD back catalogue. They need to capitalise on KD's god health. KD the man was the last to leave the stage and kept tapping his chest and giving the horns to the crowd as he left to tremendous applause. Metal needs characters like KD and he's so well loved by the metal crowd that's for sure and it was good to see him in such amazing and fine form. The best gig I have seen so far this year!

Set List:

Welcome Home
Sleepless Nights
Eye of the Witch
Come to the Sabbath

A Mansion in Darkness
The Family Ghost
The 7th day of July 1777
The Possession
Black Horsemen

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Foreigner - Live at the Palladium

Easily the best of the 3 gigs I saw in a few days! Foreigner were on top form especially lead vocalist, Kelly Hansen. The guy has a phenomenal voice and used it to its maximum to deliver every Foreigner classic at its best.

John Parr was supposed to be the support but he was ill I guess. Deborah Bonham stepped in ad did a good job. It's not my style of music but I couldn't fault her voice and performance. Better than what's in the charts by miles and a lush vocal performance.

Lots of older folk in the Palladium and I was one of the younger people unlike at the Hands Like Houses gig! Either way the band was on fire with a perfect sound almost immediately from the word go. Mick Jones is getting on a bit and does not move around as much as the other guys. The musicians in Foreigner these days are all A standard musos and play the songs effortlessly and tighter than the proverbial gnat's snatch.

It's hard to pick out faves in the setlist but I must admit I am a bit tired of the two ballads but I don't think it's possible for the band to omit them this late in their career. The other songs were all perfectly played. Strangely enough I really enjoyed the acoustic Say You Will a lot. Other songs I liked are Urgent, Juke Box Hero and all of them basically.

The band was faultless. Kelly Hansen had the crowd eating out of his hand but his language was a bit blue..I'm not sure the hallowed atmosphere of the Palladium has ever heard the word "motherfucker" uttered before!

Highly recommended to catch these old timers before they finally hang it up when Mick Jones can't walk any more!

Rock on the Green fest with Tarja and Amaranthe

This fest was initially billed for the Saturday but was moved to the Sunday. Unfortunately the venue booked was vastly undersold. Booking the 2000+ Forum and then getting barely 500 people in there was obviously not a financially sound move. The problem was the bill was just not up to scratch. You need a bigger draw plus this little fest was set around the time of many other gigs and fests and I'm sure that had a detrimental effect on the turnout.

I didn't even bother turning up for the first three bands. Well I did catch a few songs from Octanic who were boring. I missed the first two bands completely.

I wanted to see Amaranthe most of all as I've never seen them. Their hour long set was pretty enjoyable and the band sounded pretty heavy despite having only one guitarist. The melodies are still very strong and melodic. Elize is the star of the band of course most eyes are on her as she belts out the melodies. I'm sure the band were disappointed at the piss-poor turnout but they didn't let it show and put in a solid hour long performance.

Tarja's band is a bunch of guys I've never actually heard of even though she did introduce them. In any case Tarja's fans were here to see the gal herself do her solo thing. I must admit I'm not a fan of her solo material though I do like her a lot in Nightwish. She actually sang very well and her band sounded pretty heavy too. She played just over and hour before this disappointing one day fest came to an end. Next time book better bands!

Hands Like Houses Live

Starting off my 3 gigs in 5 days with the Aussie modern rockers Hands Like Houses. I discovered this band this year with their new album Dissonants. This sort of modern almost emo style of modern rock is not normally my thing but I fell in love with this album after a few plays. Their sense of melody is really quite engrossing.

The bill was fleshed out with 3 more bands unfortunately I didn't like any of them. They were all of the modern variety and similar to HLH but just totally not up to that level so I won't even waste time talking about them.

HLH were pretty good and played all the new songs I liked from their latest long player and the crowd seemed to really love them and sing every lyric back at the singer. This crowd is totally different from the crowds I usually see with the same old metal faces. I was easily one of the oldest people there. There were lots of pretty young people there, something I definitely can't claim to be.

I enjoyed the gig overall but I won't go and see them again now I've seen them once.