Monday, 30 January 2017

Black Sabbath Live @ the O2 Arena

Well this was my first and last time seeing the legend that is Black Sabbath. Granted the opportunities to see them in the past have been fairly few and far in between but I've never purposefully sought them out as a band that I definitely must see. I've always respected BS but I can't say I've really been a huge fan but I have liked numerous songs enough to show great respect to the band.

With this tour billed as The End I thought let me buckle down and go and see them. Sure their best times have long gone but this'll be it and the opportunity will never arise again. The ticket price ended up costing me a hefty £70 in total which was a bit eye watering to say the least but I paid, shut up, and bared witness to some classic riffs.

I missed the start of openers Rival Sons sadly. I thought they were coming on at around 7.40 but they must've already played a few songs as I took my seat. I must admit I liked these guys when they supported another legend, Deep Purple, in this same arena a year or so back. They sounded right at home as an Arena classic rock band and it was no different last night. They have a great soulful singer to boot. They are like Sabbath's less neanderthal and more soulful cousin basically. Strangely when I tried the band's studio material I found it a bit pedestrian and so so, but they come to life in the live arena that's for sure. They have a natty set of tunes and some cool swaggering riffage and some Hammond as well to give you the Purple or 70s angle. Good set!

Finally at the reasonably early hour of 8.15 the intro video was played on the curtain covering the stage and it dropped to reveal that familiar creepy intro to the band's self titled song. The band is fairly static and grim faced it must be said. You won't get too many smiles out of these grim overlords of dark metal that's for sure. But I guess this ain't exactly happy music!

As the band progressed through the doomy opening track I started to believe the hype. This tour has been getting rave reviews for the performance of than band an in particular Ozzy's performance on the mic. I'm not saying he was up to the level of his younger days but for a shuffling old fool approaching his 70th birthday he wasn't half bad at all. he sounded dreary and doomy as his voice boomed across the hall. He still has that dodgy gait about him and some of his kid jumps and stamps are still hilarious to watch but he knows how to work a crowd that's for sure.

The setlist consisted of no new material at all and in fact all these songs were recorded in the 70s. This is understandable since Ozzy is the front man and it wouldn't be the done thing to sing newer material but one track from 13 is not so impossible is it? Not that I like 13 but I just want to hear how it would have sounded.

In any case as I said the band sounded excellent indeed. Iommi needs no introduction from me now does he! The man is the originator and true legend of the riff! Every Sabbath song is blessed with either a monumentally memorable riff or a great rollicking groove. They even played a nice riff medley in the middle which was very cool to hear. The new young drummer is very good too. He had an extended drum solo to show off his skills.

Songs of the night where the intricate and progressive Into the Void, War Pigs with mass sing along by almost the whole of the Arena, Iron Man with it's catchy unearthly riffs and roaring groove and the rollicking, hammering set closer Children of the Grave.

Of course they encored with Paranoid and we said one last goodbye to these legends. They've still got another show to play here tomorrow and two more hometown shows in Birmingham but for my first and last ever Sabbath show I have to hand it to them. Their bodies maybe beat, and the fire for heavy metal maybe diminished somewhat, but they don't half still make a monstrous sound. Farewell to the true originators of heavy metal - Black Sabbath.

Black Sabbath
Fairies Wear Boots
Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes
After Forever
Into the Void
War Pigs
Behind the Wall of Sleep
Rat Salad
Riff Medley, including Supernaut
Iron Man
Dirty Women
Children of the Grave


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Sabaton Live Report

Just a few days on from Poets and I re-assembled at the Brixton version of the Academy clan to bare witness to those pesky Swedes, Sabaton once again. It's basically like an annual pilgrimage going to see the Saba boys. I am not sure how many times I've seen them but it's probably around 7-8 since I first saw them in the Purple Turtle in front of 150 all those years back. This time there was the added draw of legends Accept and new comer adventure metallers Twilight Force.

Sadly even though I got in the venue not much after the allotted 7 o'clock door time, Twilight Force were already well into their set and were in fact playing their last song, their namesake Twilight Force. A sorry state of affairs indeed and I am not sure how they started so early.

Anyway I have seen those guys before and hopefully I'll see them again if they play a headline slot here soon.

Next up were legends Accept. The guitar sound was immediately much thicker and better than the one song I heard for TF. The band is a well oiled machine these days. I think it's safe to say that they sound better on the Tornillo era songs than they do doing the classic era. I recently saw UDO performing his final Accept song shows and it was so much better than how Tornillo sounded to me. The metal heart was stronger and the whole vibe sounded cooler though maybe that's just me. Accept were god even great if you like but I was here for my dose of the Swedish war machine and I wanted to hear some new tunes!

The all important setlist has thankfully been changed since the last time. They still open with Ghost Division which is getting very old now but I guess it's a just great rabble rouser of a song and they wanna stick with it. However of course on this tour we would be getting many new songs from The Last Stand.

The band sounded as good as ever and new guitarist Tommy from Reinxeed fits in like a glove. In fact he makes the band sound a bit more musical and I hope they let him contribute to the song writing next time round as the guy is a great writer of power metal tunes in his own right. The night flew by in a flash as we were treated to many cool tunes and a couple of surprises even.

My fave tunes were Blood of Bannockburn, Carolus Rex with it's mighty chorus, Winged Hussars which sounded amazing live, the acoustic version of The Final Solution which was one of the surprises I was talking about, Night Witches and the almost unknown little played Union from a few albums back.

The encore started with the set staple Primo Victoria which will probably be played from now until the last ever Sabaton show, the magically catchy and fun tune Shroyama and the flute laden and extremely catchy To Hell and Back.

And so the night was over and everyone is left with smiles and horns as they leave having played their biggest ever show in the UK to probably close to 2000 people although the venue was not sold out as I was expecting. Sabaton is a band that seemingly unites the metal community here in the UK at least. Even those hardcore black metal guys can smile and wave a fist at a Sabaton gig..well for a minute or two at least!

Intro..In the Army Now
The March To War
Ghost Division
Blood of Bannockburn
Swedish Pagans
Carolus Rex
The Last Stand
Far From The Fame
Winged Hussars
The Final Solution (acoustic)
Resist and Bite
Night Witches
The Lion from The North
The Lost Battalion
Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)

Primo Victoria
To Hell and Back

Poets of the Fall Live Report

I saw my first gig of the year on a reasonably mild January night at the Islington Academy last week. The headline band in question was Finnish goth pop rock crew Poets of the Fall, a band who I've grown to appreciate greatly over the last few years. This is in fact the second time I've seen them. Their latest album Clearview came out last year and is as usual a very nice record indeed.

Two support bands were billed as part of this gig. I didn't quite catch their names but both sounded quite pleasant and suitable for the headline act. The first one was like a modern dream pop rock with very funky bass lines and clear vocals. The second band was a band in similar style but with more of a dream aspect. Their melodies were actually rather good and I need to try and find their names.

Poets came on and did what they did last time. Play fantastically well to a pretty much adoring crowd. Marco is a great front man for any band make no mistake. The guy can sing any old crap and the first few rows will be eating out of his hand. The band has a great list of material to choose from and every single song is blessed with a giant sized hook with which to reel you in. I even enjoyed the acoustic segments, something which I don't normally like. A good way to start off the gigging year no doubt, but there will be better shows ahead.

Drama For Life
The Child in Me
Dreaming Wide Awake
Diamonds for Tears
The Game
Someone Special
Running Out of Time
Once Upon a Playground Rainy
Locking Up The Sun
Carnival Of Ruse