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)
S.O.S.
Stand in Line
(Impellitteri song)
Island in the Sun
(Alcatrazz song)
Into the Night
Samurai
Jet to Jet
(Alcatrazz song)
Desert Song
(Michael Schenker Group song)
Rider
Skyfire
(Alcatrazz song)
Since You Been Gone
(Russ Ballard cover)
Assault Attack
(Michael Schenker Group song)

Encore:
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
Pain
Department of Youth
The World Needs Guts
Woman of Mass Distraction
Guitar Solo
(Nita Strauss)
Poison
Halo of Flies
Drum and Bass solo
Feed My Frankenstein
Cold Ethyl
Only Women Bleed
Paranoiac Personality
Ballad of Dwight Fry
Killer
(partial)
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!

Orden Ogan Live

A really cool triple bill of power metal on a Tuesday night to keep the diehard metalheads happy. First up Unleash The Archers from Canada. I forget the girl's name but her voice was superb. The songs were enjoyable too being speedy or fairly mid paced. I enjoyed the faster tunes more but it's all about the chick and her booming voice piercing the sky. Good start and perfect opener for this bill.

Next up were Rhapsody of Fire which is now solely Alex Staropoli's outfit these days with Fabio having jumped ship. People question the need for their existence but to be fair they were pretty amazing. Their set featured all great and classic Rhapsody tunes sung brilliantly by new singer Giacomo. I'll whisper this slowly so no one hears me...Giacomo > Fabio!
The guy is superb all night and sings the songs perfectly. Their set was nigh on perfect. Distant Sky was from the latest album but the rest of the songs were from the classic era. Dawn of Victory was completely awesome as was Holy Thunderforce and the rousing band anthem Emeral Sword was the pinnacle of the night with mass singalong by a very healthy crowd of 500. Yes, people loved Rhapsody of Fire!

Distant Sky
Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain
Flames of Revenge
Dawn of Victory
The Magic of the Wizard's Dream
Holy Thunderforce
The March of the Swordmaster
When Demons Awake
Emerald Sword

At 9.45pm the intro song Orden Ogan played over the PA as the Ogan lads took to the stage whilst main man Seeb was loitering backstage ready to launch into opener To New Shores of Sadness. The sound was crisp and loud but not annoyingly so as I've noticed in gigs lately. No point having it so loud but I guess I'm old! Anyway the band sounded great and looked the part all with the Gunman look. There's even a Gunman statue pointing a gun at the audience on the riser at the back. A nice stage set up indeed linking in with the western theme. Seeb's voice was in fine form as they launched into FEVER and every one's fist was pumping and voice was raised.

Gunman was the first new track we heard and a chance to raise our voices once again. What a great tune indeed. Sorrow is Your Tale, was a personal fave tune followed by my absolute fave from the new album Fields of Sorrow. A very emotional tune indeed and sung brilliantly by Seeb and the crowd too I should add. Come With Me To The Other Side was another magnificent track. Last two songs were brilliant once again. All their songs have this fantastic majestic quality that really sound great live. Though I will admit those massive choirs you hear on the records are somewhat lost in the live sound even though the rest of the band do a sterling job backing Seeb up, it's not quite as huge sounding obviously unless you had a 50 strong choir on stage!

A 4 song encore was a big bonus and they saved some of their epic tunes till the end with We Are Pirates particularly getting everyone dancing. The Things We Believe In brought things to an epic end and the band left to loud cheers from the crowd ringing in their ears. A great night for London's power metal fiends and a very decent turn out for a Tuesday night.

To New Shores of Sadness
F.E.V.E.R.
Here at the End of the World
Gunman
Deaf Among the Blind
Sorrow Is Your Tale
Fields of Sorrow
The Lords of the Flies
Come With Me To The Other Side
Forlorn and Forsaken
One Last Chance

Encore:
To the End
Angels War
We Are Pirates
The Things We Believe In

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Fozzy Live Report

I was supposed to see Fozzy once way back in the mid 2000s or something. I had a ticket booked etc but I fell very ill and couldn't go. Here were are a decade later and finally seeing Y2J and his chums Rich Ward etc. Three bands were listed as supported. In fact I should point out this was a dual headline gig with Hardcore Superstar both getting an hour on stage.

First band was called The Last Band but strangely they were on first! Let's get the crap jokes out of the way. They were fairly average for me and held no interest so I just milled around and got a beer and went up to the balcony to sit down and see them from above. They were a sort of heavy groovy nu metal/aggro metal band. Not my cuppa really but I guess they were ok for this kinds modern metal crowd.

After that were a band called Madame Mayhem fronted a by dark haired chick. There's a lot of bands around these days playing modern metal with a hot gothy chick fronting them. It can be ok but mostly it's not. MM were ok but not great, but the gal IS great. Great looker and a nice focal point for her band. They need to work on making the songs more catchy like say in Skarlett Riot. Not too bad though and like I said the gal is watchable haha!

Next up were joint headlines, Hardcore Superstar and their souped up glam metal. I am a big fan of one of their earlier albums although I find their most recent stuff a bit average sounding. I've seen them live before and they blew the roof off the stage. I don't think they quite managed it this time. The floor was still bloody packed for them though and I couldn't get anywhere near the stage so I could get a better feel for them. They sound good though but for some reason not as OTT animated as I remembered the last time I saw. I guess they were solid though and played all their best and most memorable tunes. THey are a good band as far as Swedish glam goes though and I far prefer them so say someone like Steel Panther.

I think this was a Fozzy crowd even though it was a dual headline show and that's one of the reasons HS didn't really ignite. However Fozzy did as the intro played and the band took their spots before the man himself, Mr Jericho burst on stage and they launched head on into opening cut Judas. The crowd sing along during the chorus was pretty impressive as the fans lurched forward to get a bit closer. Seems Mr Jericho creates some excitement with his fans. The chants of "Fozzy! Fozzy!" soon start up between every song as the man soaks up the adulation. Seems people really like Fozzy lol, never knew! The band continued with all the big hits from current album and a few classics and played 11 songs in total in their allotted one hour. Which to be fair made for a disappointingly short set. People could have easily had another 30 minutes of this but it was a dual headline so that's what we got. Enemy was my particular highlight. Always loved that tune and it had an extended Ward solo spot too. Jericho's live vocals are a little more gritty and dirty live than they are in the studio but I guess every tries to singer tougher live than in the studio. It's an understandable trait when you're competing with all these massively loud instruments. I should mention the ABBA cover SOS which was really quite fun. The night ended with Sandpaper that catchy tune from the previous album.

Chris seemed genuinely pleased and thanked the crowd for coming and the attendance was very good considering there was another rock gig down the road with MSG. Although I'm not too sure if MSG shares too many fans with Fozzy but to be fair there were a fair number of old school rockers at Fozzy but the crowd was mainly made up of youngsters below 30. Fozzy was fun live, Rich Ward's guitar sounds heavy as fuck and he's actually a really good singer too and provided nice back vocals to Y2J. They left with the crowd's cheers ringing in their ears. Till the next time dudes!

Power Quest Live

After their great support slot with Dragonforce, it's time for the Quest to have a chance to shine all for themselves. A Sunday night gig is always a bit of a drag but I didn't really wanna miss them as the new album is really so good after all. Two support bands were billed. Nightmare World led by ex Threshold guitarist Pete Morton and Death Valley Knights who I saw earlier in the year at the Stone Free Festival.

NW played their entire album in full in their allotted 40 minutes. It's a good album but not amazing for me. Pete Morton only sings in this band and leaves the instruments to the other chaps. They definitely have a nice line in heavy and melodic riffage. Not sure the songs really capture the moment well enough but they are all fairly decent. A nice start.

Next is was DVK and their testosterone fuelled old school heavy metal. Just a straight up bally metal band really with little subtlety. They turn it up to 11 and pound away on the riffs whilst the singer screams his nuts off. They play excruciatingly loud too and blasted the audience. I guess that's what metallers love! These guys are cool and have a mean attitude and tick all the true metal boxes. Their songs are mainly good but not amazing. Could do with the choruses being a bit catchier but if you wanna head bang and pump your fist then DVK will help your cause.

Finally the PQ guys took to the stage and played a 90 minute set of classic new and old Power Quest. The new tunes were great and well received by the crowd of around 150. Everyone seems to love the happy go lucky nature of the songs. New singer Ashley is a great fit for the band. The "Power Quest!" chants between songs are a regular feature throughout their set. All the songs are very catchy. The band plays with huge smiles and everyone enjoys themselves and hails the might Quest on their journey. The band ends with their super hit Temple of Fire with that unbelievably catchy chorus that everyone loves to sing a long to. Ashley said they'll be back in 2018 with Freedom Call. Obviously these 150 diehards will be there! Till then!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

WASP Live

My first and last time seeing them basically. I've never really been a fan bar a few tunes. Just needed to tick them off the bucket list so to speak.

They played the whole of Crimson Idol live. I've never heard the album in full as I recall. The band sounds good it must be said. Blackie's shrill voice is pretty much the same as the old days. He's not really singing lower or more controlled like some old dinosaurs. He's just moving slower I guess and he's not so animated and shocking like what I've seen in old videos.

There is a touch of going through the motions about the songs. That's the feeling I get though I could be wrong but I'm not familiar with the tunes. A video or film has been created to go with the songs which is quite cool as you get more involved in the story of the album about a hot shot guitarist's rise from poor beginnings to the trappings of success and his ultimate downfall and demise. I never actually had really any clue about the story of the album. The video backdrops put into context the story nicely for a total noob. WASP's music tends to be slightly grating on my ears but it does have something about it that separates it from the other bands of that shock rock era. It's sort of more substantive especially when they get to the moodier parts. Special mention for the drumming. Literally the best thing of the night to be honest. The drum parts on the album seem to be very complex and difficult and the drummer played them with ease.

I didn't know who he was last night but tonight I checked him out and it turns out o be Aquiles Priester the Brazillian dude from Angra. The guy was playing fast and very skilfully from my non-drummer amateur perspective with constant lightning fast fills. Dread to think how fast his feet were moving. He was basically the star of the night for me.

The main set of Crimson Idol came to a momentous and rousing end as our hero takes his own life. Blackie never talked between the songs as the album has a lot of narration explaining the story. He only talked after a short 5 minute break as the band regrouped for a little greatest hit set to end things off. He mentioned that in some previous show there was moshing in a slow number in one of the songs and that he didn't like that at all. he prefers you to absorb and watch during the emotional parts lol. He also thanked the crowd for coming and it was pretty packed indeed. Probably a couple of thousand easy seeing as it's a Friday night.

Wild Child is basically the only really great song I like from WASP and everyone but everyone belts that one out. I made a hasty exit half way through the final song to beat the crowds. Not a gig that will live long in my memory, but at least I can say I've seen the band once at least! :-)


The Titanic Overture
The Invisible Boy
Arena of Pleasure
Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)
The Gypsy Meets the Boy
Doctor Rockter
I Am One
The Idol
Hold on to My Heart
The Great Misconceptions of Me

Encore:
The Real Me
(The Who cover)
L.O.V.E. Machine
Wild Child
Golgotha
I Wanna Be Somebody

Monday, 23 October 2017

3 gigs in 3 days

Phew that was a blast!

So much of a blast in fact that I had to take a day off work to recover from three nights of excess. Well not that I'm getting hammered at every gig I go to, but what with the odd beer or two, food, standing around for hours and lack of sleep in the night..well you get the picture when you're not far from 50!

Things started off on Friday at the Electric Ballroom with Inglorious and Wayward Sons. A night of great new British classic rock. I saw Inglorious earlier on this year at a special release show and was blown away by lead singer Nathan. The big lad's voice is just something else and it was a no brainer to get a ticket for this proper tour date. The Ballroom was completely rammed so I wasn't the only one with that thought. Easily a 1000 if not more. The first band I didn't like too much but I never caught their name. They were meat and potatoes rock/metal.

Next were Wayward Sons who's album I really enjoy. They are fronted by Toby Jepson ex of Little Angels, a band I never actually liked. But I liked WS a lot. They play good time swaggering rock with a big riff and a big attitude. Very fun stuff and the Angus Young like goose stepping by Toby was quite fun to watch. Very nice warm up!

then it was time for Nathan and co to really start the Rock! And boy did they do that. The sound was absolutely perfect and the band sounded shit hot. It's all about Nathan and that voice though. The guy is a bonafide star but boy does he cuss a lot on stage! Tone it down mate, there's old people in the crowd not used to that many F bombs lol!

Anyway the Friday night crowd was pumped, the band was hot and the songs were epic. From speedier run throughs to slower blues based rock which I normally wouldn't like but I'm telling you this guy Nathan can sing any old crap and make it sound good. Great night and two more nights yet to come.

On to Saturday we go and a night of the lighter and fluffier side of rock with the London debut of Brother Firetribe supported ably By Shiraz Lane at the Borderline. This is not a big venue by any means but it was packed full to 300 and everyone was in the mood for a party. Shiraz Lane, pronounced Shira Lane with no "z" as I found out started things off pretty well with their energetic pretty boy edgy melodic rock. The lead singer's voice was a bit high pitched and whiny but the band rocked. They had the energy and look to be stars and a decent set of tunes. New single Harder To Breathe was particularly great.

At 9 o'clock sharp the BF boys took to the stage and immediately there was a look of amazement on Pekka's face as they launched into Help Is On The Way as the crowd was well into it. Indelible Heroes followed with complete singalong. You can't go wrong with that one-two! Cert KO. Pekka is quite a funny guy on stage whilst Nightwish man Empuu does the classy riffs and solos. Keyboards sounded very loud and centre stage in the mix of course. Heart of the Matter was great. There's not any real duff songs. Not a huge fan of slow burner Shock. Taste of a Champion again has everyone singing their nuts off so to speak hehe! Last four songs of the main set were all incendiary. I'm on Fire a big highlight. Pekka forgot the words to one song, I forget which but who cared, no one. Main set ended with the magical energetic Heart full Of Fire and everyone really let loose on that one.

Just a one song encore I am Rock. Not a bad song but another one would have been nice since there was still time until the 10.30 curfew. Pekka said they'd be back and let's hope it's not another 15 years this time!

Final stop...Metallicaaa!

Paid through the nose for a ticket so they better be good right? Actually they were more than good. I think they sound better now than in quite a while. James looks lean and mean and even his voice is acceptable these days though not perfect. he still has a tendency to change the odd melody slightly which throws the sing alongers as they sing it how it is on the record.

The support was Kvelertak which are like Hetfield's fave band or something. Must admit I don't like their black n' roll much but they actually sounded pretty cool. A few nice riffs here and there though I don't care for those vocals. Not sure they were that well appreciated by the Metallica diehards and the older members of the audience either. It's more for people who can just about stomach black metal and then watch it be bastardised into a Motorhead wannabe band.

Special mention for the stage which was set in the middle of the Arena giving everyone a great view. The stage set was pretty elaborate with video cubes dropping up and down as each song is played with various effects and videos. pretty cool and I guess that's what our ticket price went on haha!

The guys start up a storm with the thrash fest that is Hardwired followed by Atlas Rise. Pretty cool start and every one is rocking hard from band to crowd. Sound is heavy and crisp as hell which always helps. Seek and Destroy's stomp follows and the old schoolers get to have a field day before newer songs are played. Must admit Dream No More's super heavy stomp sounds quite cool even though I find the song boring on record.

new songs go down OK and even well but still the majority just wanna hear the classics. Now That We're Dead is notable for its 4 man drum section played on cubes with drum pads on I guess. I loved Through The Never. That is one underrated Metallica cut that's for sure. Sanitarium is very cool of course and everyone sings the guitar parts. Fuel doesn't do much for me at all but has energy but I would have preferred a track from Death Magnetic even. The last 4 tracks of the main set are full on crowd pleasers. Moth Into Flame is perhaps the best cut from Hardwired and then there's the lumbering hulk of SBT which literally everyone either sings to or wrecks their necks with. The epic One follows followed by Master which obviously gets everyone's air guitar out for the umpteenth time.

A triumphant four punch end leave the band to leave and return for a three song encore. Two of which were obvious with the other being perhaps the best song of the night for me. Namely Damage Inc. Man that was cool as hell to watch Hetfield ripping thrash riffs and spitting lyrics like a 25 year old again. The following two were played a gazillion times NEM and Sandman closed the set. Whatever, great tunes but personally I far prefer the Unforgiven to NEM. SAndman has to be played whether anyone likes it or not but by this point beers have been drunk, hair has been splayed and air guitars smashed so no one gives a shit really Light has exited and night has eneterd so to speak! Even at the death they tease out the riff to Frayed Ends just to say "Gotcha thrashers!"

Metallica gets a lot of flak coming their way and their ticket price is getting a little out of hand but they still deliver the goods. Kirk ain't the best and Lars is Lars but I don't listen to Metallica for those guys it's all about the main man Het. The guy is adored like a metal God when he stalks around pumping those bad riffs out macine gun like. The glory days maybe over but they aren't a fading force quite yet either. Lars spoke at the end and said Metallica have been playing London since 33 years ago and have played in and around the London area around 30 times and that they've only just started! Obviously he was having a laugh but there's still a little bite left in the old dog yet as the band looks meaner and sharper than they've probably done for a while. I guess healthy old age living helps. Not sure about Lars's old man knees and back though! :-)

The Ecstasy of Gold
(Ennio Morricone song)
Hardwired Intro
Hardwired
Atlas, Rise!
Seek & Destroy
Through the Never
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Now That We're Dead
(with extended middle drum solo with all)
Dream No More
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Halo on Fire
(followed by Kirk & Rob's solos with London Calling, Immigrant Song and Anesthesia Pulling Teeth)
Die, Die My Darling
(Misfits cover)
Fuel
Moth Into Flame
Sad but True
One
Master of Puppets

Encore:
Damage, Inc.
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
(with 'The Frayed Ends of Sanity' outro)


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Dragonforce Live

Ok how many times is is watching Dragonforce live now? I actually dread to think and here I am yet again. To be honest I wouldn't have bothered if I didn't enjoy the new album so much plus the mighty Power Quest was the support and it's a Friday so what better way to start the weekend!

First up were the PQ guys. They were awesome plain and simple. New Front man Ashley from Dendera fits like a glove. The melodic riffing and super happy memorable choruses go whirling round your head. I was quite close to the stage for PQ but I had a slight foot problem and retreated to the side for Dragonforce. Anyway I loved PQ. The couple of new songs sounded ace but the song of the night was final track Temple of Fire which was sung and played brilliantly. I'll be catching these guys on their own headline date in 2 weeks at the Underworld.

Finally at the earlier time of 8 sharp due to a Friday curfew, da 'Force hit the stage and the usual barrage of energetic notes started up and we were off and running with new track Ashes of the Dawn. Damn it sounded good and much ballsier and heavier than they've ever sounded. I guess that's what happens when you let the death metal guy in the band write most of the tunes. Anyway the band sounded dead on and are by now almost veterans at this game. They are still complete goofballs though and fuck around on stage like 10 year old let loose in a toy shop! The set list these days is very difficult but I guess there are some songs that they just have to play.

Marc Hudson sounded very good for the most part but he has a tendency to go full whine at times which can be a little grating but his voice is pretty much crystal clear and I don't think the ZP fanboys are missing him that much and have accepted Marc as the voice of the band. The stand out song of the night is epic newie The Edge of the World. A big departure for the band with it's mid paced epic feel and use of death growls and heavy parts. Obviously again written by bassist Fred who is responsible for most of the new album. Fury of the Storm is a manic melodic song that always gets the juices flowing from the rabid crowd. Cry Thunder got every one bouncing and singing and brought the main set to rousing finale though it did include a somewhat tedius and prolonged crowd sing along which all bands seem to do these day, before a three pronged encore after s short period off stage.

I've heard people decrying the Ring of Fire cover but I quite like it. Their signature song Through The Fire and the Flames ended proceedings at not far off 10 pm after nearly 2 hours on stage. Mind you they did waste 20 minutes with a medley of music to give Marc a rest no doubt but nearly 20 minutes of that was stretching it. oh and I should mention that the Electric Ballroom was absolutely rammed to the rafters front to back. Easily a 1000 in there if not more and a vast mix from young to really old haha. Dragonforce maybe be old news now but their popularity amongst metal heads is still something and Marc mentioned a couple of times that the band is as big as it's even been and thanked the fans for the huge turn out. Will I go again? If I said "nahhh" you'd call me a fucking liar anyway!!! :-)


Reaching Into Infinity
Ashes of the Dawn
Operation Ground and Pound
Judgement Day
Seasons
Curse of Darkness
Fury of the Storm
Guitar Solo / Drum Solo
(Fred on Guitar and Marc on… more )
Heart of a Dragon
The Edge of the World
Cry Thunder

Encore:
Valley of the Damned
Ring of Fire
(Merle Kilgore cover)
Through the Fire and Flames

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Cats in Space

First time seeing the Cats at the Borderline although they seem to be a bit of a fixture at the venue although they did have to cancel a gig due to one member having a dodgy ticker at the start of the tour. This was the last night of the tour and a triumphant end no doubt with a very decent turnout of over 200 with the Borderline pretty full.

First band was Kaato, a young looking bunch with one foot firmly in the 80s glam scene. The singer had a very high pitched voice that was on the sleazy side for my taste. A couple of their songs were pretty heavily riffed affairs and I quite enjoyed those. They they resorted more regular sleazeballs which were not exactly my cuppa. But they weren't actually that bad. I'm not sure they are really a suitable support for the more grown up Cats in Space fans though.

Anyway at 9pm the Cats took to the stage and sounded bloody great almost from the word go. I am not familiar with the band enough to know their names but they sounded like long in the tooth pros who had been doing the rock game for years. Lead singer sounded bloody great too with great vocal melodies. I am not so familiar with the first album and it's only with Scarecrow that I finally became a Cats fan so to speak. I do know Mr. heartache from the debut though and I must admit all the songs from the debut sounded as good if not better than the songs I know from Scarecrow.

The band sounded great no doubt and everyone was enjoying them and singing a long when they could. I love the energetic moments in certain songs like Timebomb and the epic title track Scarecrow. I get a Uriah Heep vibe from them at times. The keyboardist is a bit of a showman too though I couldn't see him too well from my vantage point. Special mention for the great harmony vocals provided by the bass player which were spot on. So there you have it. cats in Space are a great band and make effortless epic pop/rock music that anyone with a taste for classic melody can enjoy.
Don't miss them live if you get a chance.

Too Many Gods
Mad Hatter's Tea Party
Last Man Standing
Unfinished Symphony
September Rain
Scars
Timebomb
Scarecrow
Mr. Heartache
How Does It Feel?
(Slade cover)
Broken Wing

Encore:

The Greatest Story Never Told (inc. Andrew Stewart solo)
Five Minute Celebrity














Sunday, 17 September 2017

Serious Black Live at the Underworld

Well I haven't been to a gig since the Stone Free Festival back in mid June. I've missed a fair few gigs for various reasons but to be honest it's been good to get a break for live music to renew the appetite again so to speak. From now on in till December it's going to be pretty busy for me on the live music front and what better way to start it off with than Serious Black.

Sadly not many other people thought so and the attendance was around 70 at its height. Obviously SB hasn't made headway in the UK power metal scene like some bands but that doesn't mean they don't have everything it takes to be a reasonably successful act as far as power metal goes.

Two supports bands were listed. First was a female fronted melodic metal band called My Own Ghost whom I've never actually heard of. I couldn't quite make out if they were English or from somewhere else as the chubby front gal didn't have much of an accent . Anyway they were OK and I've heard worse on the hallowed Underworld stage. Still not really my cuppa and the songs didn't seem to garner much excitement but were reasonably pleasant.

Main support was the Herman Frank band. I must admit I didn't like the sample I heard from his album but the Accept man was on fire and really rocked the riffs out hard. he does look a bit weird though with straggly sideburns and fisherman's cap. I had forgotten that mic for hire man Rick Altzi was the singer in the band. They played well and Rick's voice was somewhat good if a little hoarse at times. I don't know the songs at all, but they are simple chugging or speedier roaring affairs. Simple rocking Accept style heavy metal. Not rocket science and a decent warm up although the samey-ness of the same old Accept riffs gets a little tedious by the end. Herman is fun to watch on stage though with his funny movements and antics despite his age!

Finally at 9.15 the lights went down and it was time for Serious Black to show us what they can do live. Of course I've already seen them live before supporting Gamma Ray but this was a chance to shine all of their own. To say that the band has gone for the theatrical look for the new album would be the understatement of the year. Urban looks like King Diamond without the falsetto and make up basically and the album is not far from classic KD either.

The band sounded killer as they tore into the opener Akhenaton from the debut album. That's all well and good but I far prefer the latest two albums and I was looking forward to hearing that material and I wasn't disappointed in the least. Mr Nightmist with it's superbly catchy hook was the first track aired from Magic followed directly by the title track from the last album. That was absolutely superb and had everyone singing the chorus well about 40 of us down the front! What a song though and Urban sounds superb on that tune.

I should also point out that Bob Katsionis was absent on this tour for some reason. They had instead hired ex Obscura guitarist Christian Muenzer who I almost didn't recognise at first due to his shock of blond hair. The guy had totally black hair last time I saw him on this very stage with Obscura a few years ago. But then the more I looked at him, I recognised his style and even Urban introduced him as Chris and said he'd had a collision of some sort with a bottle of blond dye etc!

The band were hitting their stride mid set and there was no stopping them. the songs continued to flow between all three of their records with Castor Skies particularly going down well as the super energetic Lone Gunman Rules. The next song actually surprised me. I wasn't expecting to hear This Machine is Broken which is almost my fave song from the last album. I was very glad indeed when they played that one. It was followed by Now You'll Never Know which is one of the catchiest choruses on the latest album. Everyone enjoyed that one I think, very melodic indeed.

Setting Fire To the Earth was awesome as was the KD worship of Burn Witches Burn! the band played until just before 11pm their curfew and considering the paltry attendance, played with smiles on their faces and didn't play a shortened set as some bands might have done and rush to get off stage. A very full set list, a solid performance, playing songs with so many memorable melodies for the 70 who bothered to turn up to enjoy. Urban did comment on the low attendance from the stage but he said even though there are not many people here we are the RIGHT people haha. Made me chuckle. He also mentioned that last time he played the Underworld he was in Tad Morose and I was there that night too in 2003 I think it was. Guess what? there were only about 60-70 that night too! Guess you're just not that popular here Mr. Breed! Chin up mate!

Anyway the show was good and Serious Black deserve more success but I guess they won't find it in the UK but I'm sure they will have more fans on the continent on the rest of the tour. I do hope they come back though maybe on a tour with Sabaton or something that's what everybody else does to get exposure haha!


Akhenaton
Older and Wiser
Mr. Nightmist
Mirrorworld
Trail of Murder
I Can Do Magic
Heartbroken Soul
Serious Black Magic
The Life That You Want
Castor Skies
Lone Gunman Rules
This Machine Is Broken
Now You'll Never Know
As Long As I'm Alive
Setting Fire to the Earth
Burn Witches Burn!
I Seek No Other Life
High and Low


















































Sunday, 18 June 2017

Stone Free Festival

This fest has been going a couple of years now and it's basically a classic rock all-dayer at the O2 Arena. I missed last year's event but I thought let me give it a shot this time with Rainbow headlining. At the time I bought my ticket I had no idea who all the other bands were going to be bar UK old time glamsters Sweet.

Eventually I found out the list of bands and it was an interesting mix of classic rock and newer less well known bands. I've never actually ever been to an all day fest like this in London so it was good to break that duck. I wasn't sure how it all worked out with the stages etc but well I'll find these things out won't I.

To say it was hot in London yesterday was an understatement though it's actually even a bit hotter today. But anyhow yesterday the thermometer was hitting highs which makes us Brits a little uncomfortable shall we say! The event was due to start at 12pm dead with a band called Riff Rath on the Orange Amps stage which was as it turns out a makeshift stage actually inside the forecourt of the O2 as soon as you walk in. These gigs were actually free as anyone is allowed to walk in to the venue after a security check without actually going into the main arena and the other larger venue Indigo which is a 3000 or so venue also inside the O2 complex. All these stages are within 30 seconds walk which was very handy indeed.

I walked in and immediately you could see a band playing on the Orange Amps stage and my festival guide revealed that they were called Tequila Mockyngbird. Nice name and nice gals for they were an all-girl group playing hard and ready hard rock ala Girlschool or Warlock or other rough voiced female led bands. I saw about 3 songs from them they were quite fun and the 150 or so early gatherers seemed to enjoy their set.Nice start and time to get a beer, the first of a fair few!

Next I entered into the Indigo by virtue of producing my ticket which allowed me quick and free entry to the hall which was on a first come first serve basis. It was time for the Crazy world of Arthur Brown. Never seen the old man obviously and I know Fire of course, who doesn't, but my knowledge of Arthur ends there. To say the show is an experience is an understatement. Musically it's a bit dark and mystical and sometimes progressive dark rock. A bit hypnotic and always very interesting to witness and observe. Arthur is a crazy old man that's for sure! Sadly they got the plug pulled on them right towards the end of Fire as they over-ran their 40 minutes. But that was weird and always a spectacle. never seen a show like that. He introduced the song Devil's Grip and said someone told him he's the reason why heavy metal exists when he wrote that song! Definitely a mystical and slightly satanic song! At the end Arthur said he turns 75 next week and we better keep coming as he doesn't know if he'll be alive much longer haha! Mind you more than a few of the band members of all the bands kept mentioning their ages from the stage during each of their sets!

I quickly exited the Indigo and  walked round to catch a few songs from Death Valley Knights. I think they're Brits but not sure but these guys are full on big trad metal with a piercing vocal. I heard about 3 songs but I was gasping for another beer by now so I went to the bar opposite where I can still hear the band but I could also quench my thirst. They were OK but I couldn't really make out any memorable tunes but they looked the part. Big hair, denim and leather and pounding metal! Probably the heavist and most metal band on the whole bill.

Back to the Indigo for a quick listen to Scots Gun who've been around since late 80s early 90s. They were actually rather good and I saw them for about 25 minutes. Very decent catchy hard rock and roll indeed with memorable, poppy tunes. The cover of Word Up was funny and good too. I made for the exits and missed the last 15 minutes of their set as I wanted to catch the full 30 minutes from Massive Wagons, Yorkshire's finest rock and roll band! Or is that only haha!

Got to the Orange Amps stage and the MW dudes strode on and the little fireball Yorkshireman, front man was flying and twirling his mic stand all over the place, nearly knocking his band mates over the stage was that small! The crowd was filling well for them as Gun ended and more than a couple of hundred watched the band. They really have a fantastic set of tunes that are guaranteed to get everyone moving. Their 30 minutes ended rapidly and was very enjoyable indeed. One of the few bands on the bill that I know well and was looking forward to immensely. Could've easy watched another half hour no probs.

I had set aside the next 45 minutes to go and eat some food as I had seen The Answer before and thought I could miss some of their set. I thought I'd maybe catch a few of the songs towards the end if I finished eating quickly enough. I went to eat a pretty hefty burger and chips which went down well obviously and then quickly made my way back to the Indigo to see The Answer, Northern Ireland's finest rock band.

The Indigo was rammed and they closed the main hall but I was allowed to go upstairs to the balcony and it was hopeless up there too with no seat in sight. I must admit The Answer sounded great and put on a really rocking 20 minutes. The front man has a great voice indeed. I should've maybe caught the whole of their set but my stomach won out as usual!

After their set ended a few people left their seats but not many and I managed to find a solitary seat with not a great view of the stage at all but I was just happy to rest the legs to be honest. It would be 45 minutes before epic blues rock legends Blue Oyster Cult would take to the stage. Other bands would be playing outside on the Orange Amps (Massive, Buck & Evans, Evil Blizzard) stage but I don't know them well or at all in some cases and I was just glad to rest a bit and wait for the 'Cult.

Finally after a good wait the old timers, who are celebrating their 45th anniversary, strode out to great applause. The Indigo was rammed to the rafters and any late comers would've been disappointed as the house full signs were up. What I know about BOC you can some up in a couple of abbreviated words. Reaper and Cities. Maybe I've heard more as well, in fact I know I have but I don't call myself a fan so recollection is minimal. But who doesn't love Reaper. One of the best epic pop rock songs ever.

The band sounded good or even great considering the main guys are probably ancient by now haha! One of 'em never took off his dark glasses. I guess he doesn't like house lights or has bad eyes or something. Some of the members were obviously not original as well. probably the bass guy and the keys/guitar guy, "something Castellano" as he was announced. They all sang they, All had extended solo spots. It turns out they were celebrating the 45th anniversary of their debut album and played it in its entirety. Some parts were a bit tedious to be honest but there were interesting and more melodic parts too. Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll was treated with great glee by all the old bastards in the house.

After ending the album the band played about 5-6 hits which were to be honest much better sounding than the debut album which was far too blues and Honky Tonk for my tastes. Of course THAT song is played and everyone loves it and then some. The band played a two song encore as well and finally the proceedings were bought to a close at the Indigo for the night as the fest moved to the man Arena for the final two bands in Sweet and Rainbow.

Took a while getting out of the Indigo as everyone is fucking old beyond belief and it takes us all time to sort our bits and pieces out before we head out and make for the Arena! This is an old man fest make no mistake. I am fairly young compared to plenty here that's for sure but I still feel as bloody old as everyone else. Still time for a cooling beer though as it was dark and baking inside the Indigo. Phew!

Walked up to find that our allocated seats in the Arena had been changed as obviously the venue was vastly undersold. I was given a replacement ticket for a seat much closer than my own but still on the upper tier, but a far better view. The thing was I didn't even sit in my second allocated seat either. There were still expanses of seats available as the lights went down for Sweet. But slowly the old folks filled up the venue and it wasn't too bad as Sweet started things up with their slightly pomp, glam rock. My knowledge of Sweet is built around the two massive hits Blockbuster and Ballroom Blitz. After that I'm tested greatly! I did end up knowing more songs too such as the punky Teenage Rampage and the epic Love Is Like Oxygen which was actually awesome. They played Fanfare for The Common Man in between that song which was nice too. There were lots of people up and dancing to old timers Sweet. I liked them as well and Blockbuster is always fun to listen to. The sound was a bit cavernous for Sweet though and left me feeling they would be far better suited to a club show.

Time for yet another beer and a wander before Ricthie's new mob would entertain us to bring this epic day to a close. The venue was as full as it was going to be, maybe just around 10,000 or a little more in a 20,000 seat venue. To be fair Gun n' Roses were playing 20 minutes down the road and that venue holds probably 50k so that took away a fair few fans from Stone Free I guess. The planning was perhaps unfortunate but it couldn't be helped. At just before 9pm, Land Of Hope and Glory was played over the PA as the Union Jack floated on the massive video backdrop behind the stage to signal the start of the show as the band strode on to cheers from the all seated crowd on the main floor. Although everyone was standing up in any case by the time the band started.

The band starts with Spotlight Kid which is not a song I'm familiar with but it was obvious that everyone sounded good with the star being Ronnie, with his voice ringing out loud and clear. This Ronnie chap is a God send for this version of the resurrected Rainbow. Sure JLT should have been considered as he's great but Ronnie Romero has a youthful enthusiasm and power that JLT wouldn't be able to match. Although I'm sure 90% of these old codgers have never heard of him! It's great that Ritchie has given an unknown talent a chance like this and man has not let him down either. I Surrender has everyone singing the chorus and sounds great too with Russ Ballard the original writer joining the band on stage.

Mistreated slows things down and allows Ronnie to use his full range and power. Since You Been Gone brings us back to hit single territory and everyone laps it up. Man On The Silver Mountain is immense and it's a nice tribute to see images of Dio on the video screen behind the current band as the song is played. Quite emotional to watch actually. The set continues with a mixture of Rainbow and Purple classics. Rainbow bring hits like All Night Long and Purple has epic tales like Child In Time and the big blues rock of set closer Black Night.

The band return for a 3 song encore and all three were classics with Burn which everyone sings along with a nice flame effect video behind the band as they play. The epic and mystical Catch the Rainbow follows and finally the world's most famous riff rears its ugly head as we head on to the end with Smoke. A word about Ritchie. The guy's lead work is still as classy as hell though his tone is a bit unclean sounding for my taste. Maybe it will sound much better in a smaller Arena but it sounds too echoe-y in a big arena. However his actual solos are tasteful and as melodic as any. The man is no doubt a legend and a huge influence to the power metal movement that followed in his footsteps. It's good that he decided to pick up the electric again and play a few dates here and there. Special mention to Mr Romero again. They guy was perfect. He sings with emotion and power in spades and is a worthy guy in a long line of great singers that Ricthie has used in his previous bands.

So Stone Free was over for another year and it had been an epic day indeed. However it wasn't even quite over yet! There was an after party held back in the Indigo which I decided to attend and ended up staying an hour and a half! A band from Finland played humpa and hillbilly covers of metal and rock songs and they were the most fun and hilarious thing ever. They were called Steve 'n Seagulls and they put a final smile on every one's face as the more drunk of us were dancing on the floor including some sorry old man dancing sights! The DJ s played metal and rock classics and it was a chance to have a final dance and party before heading home. That's what you call an epic day folks!

Land of Hope and Glory
(Edward Elgar song)
Over the Rainbow
(Harold Arlen song) (Intro)
Spotlight Kid
I Surrender
(Russ Ballard cover)
Mistreated
(Deep Purple cover)
Since You Been Gone
(Russ Ballard cover) (with Russ Ballard)
Man on the Silver Mountain
(incl. Woman From Tokyo snippet)
Soldier of Fortune
(Deep Purple cover)
All Night Long
Difficult to Cure
Child in Time
(Deep Purple cover)
Stargazer
Still I'm Sad / Drum Solo
(The Yardbirds cover)
Long Live Rock 'n' Roll
Black Night
(Deep Purple cover)


Encore:
Burn
(Deep Purple cover)
Catch the Rainbow
Smoke on the Water