Saturday, 26 November 2016

Alter Bridge - Live at the O2 Arena

A four band bill was the order of the day at the huge O2 arena featuring rock monsters Alter Bridge, supported by the mighty Volbeat with the death metal eco warriors Gojira as third support and lesser known openers Like a Storm starting things off.

I missed all of Like a Storm. I heard them through the doors as I was standing in the foyer but they didn't sound too good. No great loss. Maybe I'll give 'em a shot on youtube one of these days.

French death metal groovers Gojira were third support and they seemed to go down pretty well with "Gojira!" chants starting up after most songs. They played a 40 minute set of brutal, driving death metal with pummelling double bass and grating riffs. Very very different compared to the two main acts but still no totally unpleasant either. It all sounds a bit dark and ominous though and far far apart from the main two acts who are much more mainstream rock acts in every sense.

Next up were Volbeat who I've seen a few times now. Michael Poulsen's voice never fails to excite with his hillybilly rock n roll delivery and good time grooving songs. They were pretty much perfect for their 50 minute set. Plenty of people in teh crowd were up and dancing to their happy go lucky melodic tunes. I could have happily sat through another 30 minutes of Volbeat no bother.

Finally at 9.30 it was time for the heavyweight modern rockers to show what they were made of. The set list was drawn heavily from their new album which is understandable but since it's my least favourite in their catalogue it took me a while to warm to them as the set progressed. They still have standout goose bump moments and the song Blackbird is a pure emotional moment that never fails live. Open Your Eyes was another of those fantastic moments. The band is less enthusiastic than you would think although Myles sounds pretty perfect and renders the songs beautifully. They definitely make
Arena rock music but are their personalities suited to a huge Arena like this? I'm not so sure.
I've seen them in Hammersmith and Wembley Arena and I think they were better on those occasions not that they weren't good on this night but I'm sure they've had better. Volbeat stole the show for me and I go see them again no problem but I think Alter Bridge whilst tight professional and perfectly good could not command the same level of enthusiasm from me on this occasion.

FM - Live at the Islington Assembly Hall

Just a very quick report on this great gig. My first time seeing the mighty FM so late in their career but boy was it worth the wait. First up was Bernie Marsden ex Whitesnake guitarist doing his acoustic thing. Actually it was surprisingly very good indeed. The crowd sang all of Ain't No Love In The Heart of the City as Bernie requested. Might have been acoustic but this was an excellent warm up.

I've read a lot of good things about the live FM experience and boy did they live up to it. They were absolutely pristine live with a perfect sound mix and the golden voice of Steve Overland in spectacular form. Of course they played the whole of the classic 30 years old Indiscreet live with some songs from Tough it Out and newer tunes mixed in. They were absolutely glorious and the old fans were lapping it up with a decent Saturday night turn. Very oddly enough, English porn baron Ben Dover was there with an Indiscreet 25 shirt. Obviously a big fan! I didn't actually know who he was until someone pointed it out to me though!

It's hard to pick out stand outs as it was all so perfect. Bad Luck always rocks as does the sing along That Girl. Let Love Be The Leader another massive highlight. Steve Overland is a vocal genius and he proved he can do it live as well. Utterly loved this show. It was one of the year's best. I'll go and see FM again in a heartbeat!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Graham Bonnet Band live at the Boston Music Room

Having missed the Saxon gig in Shepherds Bush for various reasons, my triumvirate of gigs was completed by Graham Bonnet Band at the Tufnell Park venue. Unfortunately for Graham and co only about 50-60 people bothered to turn up. Much less than the last time he played at the Islington Academy 2.

Two support bands played. One called Void from Wales who were actually not bad at all. They played standard rock with some decent melody here and there. I'll have to check more of them someday.

First support were Chrome Molly. A bunch of old guys doing 80s pub rock. I've heard their music before and it never grasped me. It's catchy in a sense that the choruses are quite big and memorable but nothing is really great at all. They were ok but not my cuppa really.

Finally Graham and his band took to the stage and I think their disappointment showed in the piss poor turn out. Luckily they still play good and Graham sings ok. I say only ok because he still has plenty of shaky moments and difficulty with the higher notes. He also sweats up a storm and drinks profusely. Can't blame the man he is nearly 70! Anyway the band sounds really good and Graham sings the songs well, but there's a slight air of going through the motions about things.

They play a couple of new tunes which are actually rather good as is the whole of the new CD. Graham sounds fine on recorded output but live singing brings more difficulties but I don't think he should retire completely. Maybe he needs to sing the songs in a slightly lower register so it sounds a bit more comfortable for him and the listener. The band played for around 80 minutes with plenty of classics from throughout his career. The band left and though there were half hearted cheers for an encore they didn't return and I don't blame them. It's always sad to see a semi-legend and former well known rock singer performing to 50-60 people in a pub but Graham tried his best and was still jovial if not doubt disappointed. As he pointed out "There must be something on the telly tonight!"

Till the next time Graham, we'll enjoy the new album, The Book, it's good!

Amon Amarth with Testament and Grand Magus @ the Roundhouse

Not often you get a bill with only great bands so this was a night to be savoured. Walking into the Roundhouse you're immediately impressed with the massive dome and the great looking venue and stage. It was only a quarter full for Grand Magus as they took to the stage but slowly filled out more by the end of their set. GM are a great band in their own right and have great battle anthems in their own right and got a great response from those who left the bar to see them. The volume was a bi loud and the sound a bit too drum heavy for my liking but my ears soon adjusted to their sound and I started enjoying their Manowaresque battle hymns. Varangian Way especially from the new album got my fist raised! A very good opening slot by the Swedish warriors.

Next up were thrash legends Testament whom I had seen a few months back at the Brooklyn Bowl. They were even better on this night although the sound was again a little unclear for my ears but I soon adjusted. the new songs from Brotherhood of the Snake especially sounded very good but the pits start up for the classics, The New Order, Disciples and the self explanatory Into The Pit. You can't beat Testament for killer classic thrash and with Chuck Billy in roaring form, he had the crowd worked up to a frenzy, ready for the Vikings to follow.

I have seen AA a few times now and I was toying with the idea of missing this gig but that would've turned out to be a massive mistake. They sounded on their absolute best form! It was definitely not to be missed indeed as the band turned in a superb performance. This band is a melodic, neck breaking riff machine I tell ya. People just love the fist pumping melodic grooves. Yo can set your watch by the next magical riff as surely the occur on a regular basis. It's hard to pick out best songs as the whole set was excellent and the stage was epic too. AA are one of those bands that appeal to literally all types of metalheads be they a power or black or thrash fan. Anyone can get into AA pure and simple and they aced it on this particular night!

Annihilator - Live at the Islington Academy

The first of 3 gigs in a few days. A good start to a good few days of live music. First up were Aussies Mason and their ripping thrash. They were good but I think I enjoyed them more when I heard their previous CD than live. Still look forward to the new album, should rip. A good warm up for Annihilator.

Saw them not long ago in the same venue, but unfortunately the turn out was a little less than before. Still there were a lot of gigs as Jeff himself remarked from the stage. We had the Amon Amarth/Testament gig and the Saxon the day after. Saw Annihilator started it all off with some sleek thrash. I'm still not sold on Jeff's live vocals. They sound a bit weak but I guess it's not that big a deal. Musically his multinational band are very tight. They play a mix of songs as usual. The best will always be Alison Hell. It's just awesome hehe and never fails to illicit a reaction from the die hard fans. A good but not great gig.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Raveneye - Live at Islington Academy 2

I wasn't expecting to like Raveneye not being a fan of blues based rock and metal but by Jove the album is rather listenable. It has a good sense of melody and front man Oli sounds very energised. When I saw they were playing a headline show I thought I'd give them a shot to see how they sounded live.

Two support bands were in the offing before hand. One was a local band Rough Justice who I've never heard of. They were a suitable warm up act but I couldn't say I was blown away by them. They played regular modern heavy rock similar to Raveneye in many ways. Some decent grooving here and there but nothing that overly impressed me but they were ok.

Next up were Americans Cairo Son. I think I've actually heard their songs before but they obviously never made a strong impression on me at that time as I had no recollection of their tunes. The sound was really heavy and groovy with decent vocals from the amiable front man. It was all a bit too heavy going for me and lacked the melody and bounce that I require. They were still better than Rough Justice and I'm sure there's a place for them in the modern rock market.

Finally it was time for the Raveneyed ones to take to the tiny stage in the Academy 2 and strut their stuff. For a three piece they have a big groove thing going on and they know all about how to make a song work by adding oodles of melody to that groove. The crowd was loving the band too and it was actually quite surprising to me how well attended the show was with about 200 people there at a guess.

The band sounds tight and has a very engaging front man in Oli who whilst singing also rips out his blues solos and riffs like there's no tomorrow. The band is on a long UK tour at the moment and it seems they've honed their songs to perfection. Like I said those slow blues sections send me to sleep so I was less interested in those but when I heard the cool tunes like Hero and Inside I was a happy camper. Raveneye will never be a total fave of mine but I look forward to see how they progress from here and maybe to a bigger venue next time as they slowly build their fan base. They don't lack, energy and confidence that's for sure and they can only get better as they become better songwriters and musicians.