Geoff Tate’s Operation Mindcrime Greatest Hits Tour w/Gin Annie The Underworld, Camden, London 29/08/2019 Review by Dawn ‘The Metal Priestess’ King
Having attended Bloodstock at the beginning of August for the first time in what seemed like an eternity (it was actually six years, but you know how time can play tricks on us!), I was in the mood for some more live music. Tickets for this had been booked well in advance so it was a gig I was really looking forward to.
Having seen Queensryche perform a stonker at Bloodstock with the fantastic Todd le Torre, I wanted to see just how Geoff Tate’s Operation Mindcrime would measure up. Would they have the magic of the “old” Queensryche (although I had only seen the “original” Queensryche once before at High Voltage Festival way back in 2011 and, if I’m honest, they were pretty dire then!) or would they just sound like a covers band, which, I guess, technically, they are!?
So, the venue? The Underworld in London’s Camden Town. I, personally, like The Underworld. Its small so you don’t get the humungous amounts of people but large enough to have a decent crowd. There are a few pillars (holding up the ceiling I’m guessing!!) so depending on where you stand, your view could be obstructed a bit, but it really is only a problem if the downstairs (half a dozen steps down) is jam-packed!
So, amazingly for me, I arrived at the venue in plenty of time, so I actually managed to watch the support band (something I very rarely do!) I must admit I hadn’t heard of them before the gig but then I was expecting a band with ‘Wolf’ in their name for some reason!! Must be the blonde in me!!
Anyway, the support were a hard rock band called ‘Gin Annie’ and I must say I was VERY impressed. Hailing from Wolverhampton in the UK they feature (and I quote this from their website) “heavy guitar driven songs whilst maintaining a melodic vocal style; hook-laden choruses, and classy melodies.” I couldn’t have put it better myself! They were absolutely fantastic and judging by the reaction they were getting from some of the crowd, I am guessing they were already pretty well known (late to the party AGAIN!!)
They had a contagious energy that just made you want to get up and dance along with them, and if I had drunk one or two vodkas, I think I probably would have done. The guitarists were awesome, and the singer’s voice just blew me away. There was nothing fancy about them. They are a good old-fashioned heavy rock band, who obviously enjoy what they do. I don’t think there was a time when all five of them weren’t up on that stage smiling! A great sign of a band that work hard but have immense pleasure in what they do.
They played nine tracks in total and I must say I was rather disappointed when they had to leave the stage! I wanted more…..so on my way out I bought the CD from the merch stand and had it in my car for over a week! Instead of getting bored with it each time I played it, I loved it more and more!! I would really love to see these guys as a headline
band, and I will now make it my mission to see them as such!
Outstanding work guys!!
So, after a break of what felt like forever (I don’t understand why there must be such a long break between supports and the headliners. Festivals manage a quick turnaround, so why can’t they?) it was Geoff Tate’s turn. I was looking forward to it, but I must admit I also had a bit of trepidation about the gig. Going by the previous time I had seen him perform, and reports of other gigs over the years, I wondered if it was just all going to be a waste of time.
The band came on first, playing the introduction to track ‘Neue Regel’ followed by the main man himself, to rapturous applause and cheering!
Now, I have been a Queensryche fan for as long as I can remember and to hear all of my favourite Queensryche tracks being played right there in front of me was awesome BUT….and yes there is a but….there was just a little something missing for me! I loved Geoff’s voice during his heyday, but I don’t think he can quite cut some of the notes now. And yes, before I get bombarded with messages of hate etc, I know singers can tend to lose their voice as they get older, but this is a review and I have to be honest!
Despite this, he did do the songs justice, but then he should have done, shouldn’t he? He has been singing these songs for three decades and should know them inside out and upside down. The heroes of the evening, for me, were the musicians he had backing him, Felix Bohnke, the drummer from EdGuy and Avantasia being one of them.
These guys were simply magnificent and if you closed your eyes it could quite easily have been the Queensryche of yesteryear up there on that stage. Personally, I think they are all too good to be in what could only be described as a Queensryche covers band but if that’s what they are happy doing, then good luck to them.
I had heard of Geoff being somewhat arrogant (something I really do not like), and this did come across occasionally while he was onstage and again, I am ducking to avoid anything that could be thrown at me at this point!
Overall, though, Geoff and the boys did a grand job. They played all the old Queensryche classics from ‘Operation:Mindcrime’ (the track) to ‘Empire’ to crowd favourite ‘Silent Lucidity’ and more. I am gutted I missed them on the tour when they played the whole of Operation Mindcrime 1 and 2 but this gig did make up for that.
So, Gin Annie get massive double thumbs up, for me, being the better band on the night and I WILL be going to see them again, while Operation:Mindcrime, although great, came in second!
Gin Annie – Setlist:
New Bad Habit
All I Want
Next 2 Me
Dying To Live Again
Love Ain’t Here
Born To Rock n Roll
Geoff Tate’s Operation Mindcrime – Setlist:
Screaming In Digital
Spreading The Disease
Take Hold Of The Flame
I Dream In Infrared
The Lady Wore Black
Walk In The Shadows
Breaking The Silence
I Don’t Believe In Love
Jet City Woman
Eyes Of A Stranger
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Rabidfest 2019 The Bullingdon, Oxford 18/08/2019, Day Three Review by Beth Jones & Rick Tilley
They say that as you get older, time goes quicker. They also say that time flies when you are having fun, so for us oldies having fun, time seems to go very quickly indeed, and in what seemed like the blink of an eye, here we were at the last day of Rabidfest, which again promised a very full, and very heavy line-up back at the Bullingdon. Bring on the metal!!!
The task of opening the final day fell to Oxford based, King Bolete, who offer a fusion of blues riffs, fuzz and groove, and harsh vocals, combining to make a sort of sleazy stoner metal which was very akin to a lazy, and for some, slightly hungover Sunday lunch time. They were the perfect way to start, went down well with the crowd and set the tone for the day ahead.
The Final Clause Of Tacitus
From the moment these guys took to the stage, I could see they had the 90’s written all over them, and this made me pay attention – this was my era!! If you liked Rage Against The Machine and Clawfinger, you will love these guys. Rick already knew about them and really likes them because they had been featured on Ever Metal before. They offered a solid dose of Rap/Funk Metal executed brilliantly. I know this doesn’t happen very often, but I am going to give a special mention to Andy, the bass player (I know right – get the flags out)! He was the epitome of funk and was great to watch – definitely grand master level cool! The guitarist Tom, on the other hand, was a total nutter!! I have never seen someone go quite as bat shit on stage – there was definitely some sort of exorcism brought on by their music I would say! Trying to take his picture was like trying to herd cats! When we spoke to them afterwards, he told us that he had actually passed out on stage not so long back, from all the crazy jumping about! Lunatic! They were, very definitely, one of our highlights of the whole event, and when we got home I ordered both of their EP’s straight away!
From the old to the new, with a good dose of modern hard rock, Broken Empire! We liked these guys because they are fresh and very current – I could see my teenage daughters going wild to them, especially frontman ‘Ieuan’ with his far-out hairstyle! They have only been together since 2017 but have been gigging regularly and with two EP’s released already they are very well rehearsed and know exactly what sound works for them. Very enjoyable and definitely a band to keep an eye on!
This was a band that we had been really looking forward to seeing. We had heard a lot about them, and they are Welsh, so that alone makes them better than everyone else by default! They didn’t disappoint! Melodic death metal, with a more than sizable nod to classic metal, they ripped up the room for the entire of their set, with vocal powerhouse Steve Jenkins telling a story with his facial expressions, and engaging the assembled throng with some audience participation! There music was like a checklist of how to make it sound good – soaring power vocals – check, face melting guitar – check, epic rhythms – check, a hangman’s noose – che-wait, what?! Yes readers, you did read that right – towards the end of their set things became slightly more menacing when Steve produced a noose and promptly simulated hanging the other band members then himself, which was fun! (Don’t try that at home kids, not unless you are into that kind of stuff of course!) This was a really great performance and Democratus are now definitely on the list of bands to see again!
I have decided that I am definitely getting old, as here was yet another band that looked like they could be my daughter’s mates! From just up the road in Whitney, Bloodshot brought us some progressive death metal, with tricky stops and cross rhythms, and harsh vocals, on top of intricate guitar work. They were good to bang your head to and two characters in the crowd, who we very originally named ‘Dancing Guy’ and ‘Dancing Girl’, were having an absolute blast to them! I’m going to again mention the bass player, Will, just because he pulled some epic bass faces, a couple of which I managed to capture on camera!
Rick Here, I’m going to add that sometimes I find the harsher, more extreme bands a little difficult to listen along to at home or in the car, but seeing them live is a different thing entirely. To me this is where really heavy music completely comes alive and shines, it’s almost primal and Bloodshot were definitely a band that invaded my brain and intestines in a good way!
The Five Hundred
Guitars with too many strings alert!! It was time to get technical again with The Five Hundred. Thankfully I have no need to rant about having too many strings just for the sake of it, as the technical prowess of the musicians in this band required the extra strings. They were very very good. Down tuned and powerful riffs, intricate melodies, and on point vocals, mixed with killer drops that made the roof rattle, made their performance exciting and exhilarating. We were at the mid-point of the day, which historically is where I start to flag, however The Five Hundred made sure that this was a break from the norm by really waking me up! Again I am putting these on the ones to see again list!
Next up were Groove/Sludge Metal quartet, Gutlocker (or Stomach Padlock as many in the know were calling them!!). Again they were a name that we had heard quite a bit about and were looking forward to seeing. They were groovy, they were sludgy, and front man Craig McBrearty’s vocals were terrifying (in a good way, of course). I don’t know about my guts being locked – the rumbling bass licks were enough to replace all the fibre in my diet in that department – oosh! Again one thing that was not lacking in their performance was energy – a running theme from just about every band over the weekend, and they had the entire room banging their heads good style. Very pleasing indeed!
Coming to us all the way from the wild North, Scotland to be more precise (you know, that place where wild Haggis roam the hills – Rick), were Dog Tired. They were a mix of the brutality of Death Metal with the riffs of good old-fashioned Thrash but also a thundering Groove which, brought together, quite simply makes battle music! It kind of made us want to paint our faces blue, grab a big mother of a sword and stand on a hill shouting FREEEDOMMMMMMMMMM!! They were bloody good. We got a bit of hair envy again though, as guitarist Luke James has a proper mane of Pantene hair which was incredibly flickable! Their whole set was fast paced and full of growl and we loved it! Who’d have thunk that two genres I don’t get on with usually (You’re on your own there Beth, I love Death and Thrash – Rick) could come together to make something pretty frikkin good! Bought the album, listened to it in the car on the way home! Their new album is out in September and it’s a beast, in fact it makes us a want a pet haggis!!
This may make me unpopular, so be warned. If you are a fan of doom, these guys are for you. For me, there is only one thing worse than doom, and that’s experimental doom. Bast are experimental doom. Whilst there is no denying that they are talented and competent musicians, and that they work well together as a group, I just don’t get it. I want to feel excited, like the rest of the weekend has built me up to be, but I just couldn’t get into a groove. Admittedly some of the songs were quicker paced than the sort of slow doom that Conan inflicted the night before, but I just couldn’t do the guttural screamed vocals, the melodies that were kind of smudged together, and the weird beats that were impossible to go nuts to. Sorry!
So, yeah, erm. Papa Shango. It wasn’t what we were expecting! I spent a good few minutes wondering if my Pepsi had been spiked, and if this was a very vivid hallucination! Rick was actually concerned he had overdosed on his medication! Papa Shango are a many many pieced group of complete nutters, who bring together a Day of the Dead-esque shaman, a rock band, and RaRa girls adorned with Day of the Dead make-up, because why not eh? Whilst musically Papa Steve, Papa Dale, Papa Ryan and Papa Barry would be just a normal, half decent rock band on their own, the addition of The Pappettes Shango, and Papa Shango himself, turns them into a very hallucinogenic experience, full of double entendre, crazy naughtiness and hundreds of props! They were such good fun, and most of the musicians, including Papa Shango, spent a lot of time out in the audience! Were they under-rehearsed with some of the change overs? Yes! Did they go completely over the top? Yes! Were they extremely silly? Yes! Did anyone care? Not one bit in the slightest! They were good, light-hearted Sunday afternoon madness and we loved it! If you love the thought of Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen TV Series joining forces with The Rocky Horror Show then Papa Shango will be your bag. They were also a photographer’s dream because of all the vivid colours and beautiful make-up. Awesome!
After the half hour transportation to the lunatic asylum that had just happened, things got quickly back to normal for our penultimate band of the festival, with the entry of Desert Storm. Another local band, they brought a good mix of sludge and blues into their metal, and they did it very well. The room was full and getting back into the groove. There were definite nods to the old greats such as Sabbath and Zeppelin, but they were very current, and their performance notched up a level for me when there was suddenly a digeridoo type sound which took me aback for a moment – I was wondering who was playing it, then realised that it was actually a technique that vocalist Matt Ryan was using, which was similar to Tibetan throat singing, and was very mysterious and enticing, and gave the whole sound an added depth which was impressive and made them unique. They were a perfect balance of modern and classic, with some really great riffs and melodies, and toe tapping rhythms. I like this sort of stuff because it is clever, but not pretentious. Well done guys! We are Desert Storm converts!
Here we were at the final band, and it appeared it was going to be Groundhog Day. Once again, on paper, they were a good choice as they have a large following but they just didn’t do it for us. It was an anti-climax. They spent more than twice as long as any other band sound-checking, a large proportion of which was getting their Apple MacBook to work, only for it to stop working three songs in, when they stopped playing half way through a song because most of the song was on samples. Call me old fashioned, but if you rely that heavily on samples, and can’t play it live, don’t put it in. Whilst they did manage to carry on without it after, what I’m guessing was a quick set-list change, I, like a fair proportion of the crowd, had seen enough. I know this will again make me unpopular, but honesty is the best policy and I don’t do blowing smoke up people’s arses. If I reflect on them from a purely musical point of view, yes they could play their instruments well, and the front man did have an angry sort of charisma, and they are indeed slamming death metal, but without the samples it was just another death metal band. If you like death metal, you will love them – so definitely check them out. If you don’t, then don’t. That’s all I have to say.
And that was that. We took some last pictures, said our goodbyes, and headed off for our digs, via our new favourite food place, the Chinese restaurant a bit further down the road for take-two of the night before’s supper. It had been a great three days. We met some absolutely fab people and saw some really cracking bands. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the organisers for having us, and the great team that made the whole event run like clockwork. A huge shout out must go to the in-house sound guys at The Bullingdon, who were seasoned pros and were in control at every second – hats off to you chaps, a great job well done! Also to Mark Gibbs for being mad enough to attempt a three day festival, and to Greg Brown and our own Sheri Bicheno for making the chaos organised, and to the rest of the team for doing all the jobs that needed doing, and being genuinely fab people – we look forward to seeing you all again.
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Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones, Richard Tilley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Rabidfest 2019 The Bullingdon, Oxford 17/08/2019, Day Two Review by Beth Jones & Rick Tilley
Before we mention anything music based in this review, we would like to compliment the Cherwell Guesthouse for the comfort of their beds! I had an amazing night’s sleep, which is something I never say about hotels and even Rick managed a few hours which is not something that happens often! Feeling refreshed and full of the joys of spring (or apparently summer, although I am yet to see evidence that this season exists!) we headed off to the second venue, The Bullingdon, which was usefully only a couple of minutes’ walk from where we were staying and where the rest of the Festival would take place! Winner!! Today we would be seeing eleven bands grace the stage and all of them were bands we hadn’t seen before, so we were very much looking forward to checking them out.
We arrived slightly early and met up with the crew at the ‘stage door’ to the back of the venue, where they were attempting the near impossible feet of erecting two gazebos in quite strong wind! But with a bit of logical thought and knot skills any boy scout would be proud of, said gazebos stood firm and the first band loaded in, meaning it was time for some music!
A/M (Altered Myths)
When these guys came on to sound check, and there was only two of them, I was concerned that maybe some of the other band members hadn’t got the memo that they were on first, and were still asleep, but no – there were actually only two members in the band! But flipping heck did they make a big sound! They played through their set to the small gathered crowd, sounding huge and very well-rehearsed. Drummer ‘Matik’ was also the vocalist, and was adept at both jobs, whilst guitarist ‘Eskay’ managed to make his guitar sound like two guitars and a bass all at the same time. I believe they may be wizards – anyone who can tell me otherwise gets a gold star! They call themselves a ‘Two piece original recipe meal’ and that is spot on because they aren’t easy to pigeonhole! We both thought they were a great start to the day!
From a reasonably empty stage, to a very busy one – next up were Villainous, A four piece heavy prog metal outfit from Brighton. They hit you in the face straight away with punchy rhythms and clever melodies, but the most mesmerising part of their performance was front man Sean Stakim, who was the re-embodiment of the late great Keith Flint! His punk look, with check trousers and skin head, combined with his use of the available space, movements and mannerisms, and wild eyes which were only tamed by the lights on a pair of night vision style goggles that he donned for most of the set, took me right back to a festival in Switzerland in 1997, where The Prodigy gave a performance that left 17 year old me speechless. Seeing this performance at Rabidfest excited me, because, whilst musically they were far flung from The Prodigy, the mannerisms and charisma that exuded from them on stage was right there! I spoke to Sean afterwards and he confirmed that Keith Flint was one of his biggest influences. We absolutely loved these guys! Well done!
Any band that was to follow Villainous had a tough job in my opinion. That job fell to Master Charger, who were a late addition to the bill, and were heading straight off after this performance to a gig in Nottingham later that day – that is dedication! In contrast to what we had seen so far, Master Charger served up a dose of Stoner/Groove Rock, which was sludgy and in places quite grungy. For me it was a good, solid performance and they made a good sound, but it didn’t excite me as much as Villainous had, however Rick really loves their monster Southern Groove riffs and was very pleased that he had finally got to see them!
Next up were local chaps, Damaged Reich, who we had heard a lot about, but had never seen. If anyone else is in that same boat and you like good, honest Thrash, I suggest you seek them out and go and bang your heads to one of their performances – they were really good! I am fussy with thrash – some of it bores me and leaves me cold, but this was not one of those bands, as for Rick, Thrash is one of his favourite genres so he was in his element. Again the stage was full of energy, and frontman Joe Samuels commanded the audience and drew them into his powerful vocals, backed up by the speed and groove of Adrian Irving and Liam Hodgkins on guitar, the meaty bass and backing vocals of Dan Atkins and metronomic beats of Hayden Wheable on drums.
So far this was a very successful day of metal in my book, as everyone was playing a blinder!
Want to make a statement on stage, and inflict heat exhaustion on yourself in the process? If the answer to this question is yes, then do what Ascaris do, and play a set in the height of summer, wearing full dinner suits! Why not eh!! That’s exactly what these three nutters from Gloucester did and it was bloody good! I did spend way too much time trying to get the perfect photo of guitarist Sam Godding’s hair flick, which was mighty impressive! They took us through a rip-roaring 30 minutes of Blackened Death Metal, with some killer vocals and licks, and many facial expressions, showing that a good sense of humour and Black/Death Metal can work in harmony! Again, I am fussy when it comes to this style, and like very little of it, but I could get into Ascaris and, yet again, Rick had a massive grin on his face when watching them.
Again, this is a band we had heard lots about, but not seen in a live setting. I have one word to sum up their performance – WOW!! This took it to a whole new level. This was proper! We both loved every minute of it. Hard Rock, tight as hell, and full of life! The energy and passion this performance held was truly commendable – frontman Cole Bryant reminded us of Freddie Mercury in his performance (no mean feat), giving an incredibly lively performance, most of which was spent vaulting over the pit barrier and performing in the crowd! It was exciting and accomplished in equal measures and for us was the performance of the day so far! We cannot wait to see these guys again, and will be seeking them out very soon!
From down that there Somerset way, Kinasis brought to the table some uber technical extreme metal, and they were rather good at it too! All their guitars had too many strings, and their stunningly technical riffs and rhythms made use of all of them! Whilst some technical stuff makes me look on with disdain for the level of twattishness, these guys just made me look on in awe and disbelief, because they all appeared almost shy of their talent, and gave a very humble, but completely brilliant and lively performance! They also looked so young, none more so than drummer Noah, who has the cherubic face of a child, but the timing of a seasoned master – which made Rick, a former drummer of 30 years, very, very jealous ! Damn fine technical shizzle chaps!
It was now time for one of the event organisers, Mark Gibbs, to take to the stage for the final ever performance of his band VIG. Again hailing from the local area, they brought a proper dose of thumping groove metal to the day, and the audience lapped it up. Having spoken to Mark a fair bit since arriving in Oxford, it was quite a surprise to see this pleasant and mild-mannered gent roaring like a man possessed up on the stage! They again were a band that made your rib cage vibrate! I mean, is it really a gig if you don’t come out with at least one of your internal organs slightly displaced, right? It is a shame that they are not going to be a thing any more really, because we would have recommended you all to go and see them, but now you can’t, and we have seen them so ha!
Confessions Of A Traitor
Now we were getting towards the business end of the day, the stakes were higher, and it was time to ramp things up yet again with some metalcore in the form of London’s own, Confessions Of A Traitor. To me they were basically what you would get if you fed Aerosmith lots of sugar, cigars, and bourbon, and them made them really, really angry! They were a pretty bunch who had the look of a much lighter style, but they were lively, heavy and technical as hell, and frontman Stephen MacConville’s hair metal appearance was all a ruse, as his vocals were powerful hellish growls that had the audience, which was now much larger than earlier, going absolutely wild!! Again he spent a lot of time in the crowd – even getting involved in the pit whilst still singing, whilst the rest of the band kept things kicking on stage in impeccable fashion! Energy and effort was a ‘10 out of 10’ from me!
We were outside, in the ‘performers’ area’ when these guys turned up, gurning out of the window of their lovingly titled ‘tour bus’, which was more like the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo, and we knew at that point that they were going to be good fun to be around. What we didn’t know however was how flipping astronomically good they were going to be live!! Heavy/progressive/tech/death/metalcore shouldn’t work, but Red Method were here to prove that wrong! Bloody hell did they put on a show. They had everything right – the sound, the look, the energy, the charisma, the staging and the actual music itself was so fresh and exciting and heavy and punchy that you could not help but be blown away by their performance. We absolutely adored it, and definitely need more Red Method in our life! This was by a country mile our performance of the day, and it was going to take something very, very special to beat it as the performance of the weekend! But the best part was that they were all such great guys too – humble and down to earth, with no airs and graces – the way it should be. Considering they have only been around a short time you might wonder how they seem to have generated such a following, but knowing they are made up of ex members of Meta-Stasis and The Defiled puts a different spin on things. They know what not to do this time around and if they carry on like this then a Metal juggernaut has been well and truly created!!
We had heard a lot about Conan, and knew that they had a very large following, explaining their headline slot here. From what we had heard from various people, we were looking forward to seeing them. Sadly, for us, after what we had just seen, their performance was somewhat of an anti-climax. Firstly, they are Doom, which Rick likes but I don’t really do, but I was willing to give them a go. Secondly, and more importantly, because of their style, there was no lively jumping about, filling the stage, and drawing the audience in – it was more about the music than the performance. This is ok if you like that sort of thing, but for the members of the audience who wanted to bang their heads and were hyped after the likes of VIG, Kinasis, Confessions Of A Traitor, and Red Method, it was a bit like being a fly on the wall in a rehearsal room. That said, they were very tight in their performance, and the fans that had come to see them were obviously enjoying it. Perhaps at one of their own gigs, we would have had a different experience, but in the festival setting it didn’t quite work for us.
That was Day Two in the bag. There was an after party for the people with more energy but we were both very tired, very sore and very hungry, so we stopped off at one of the many Chinese restaurants on Cowley Road for some proper Chinese food and it was bloody delicious!! With full bellies and reflective thoughts, we headed back to the lovely guesthouse to get our heads down and prepare for the final instalment of Day Three!
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Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones, Rick Tilley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Rabidfest 2019 The Wheatsheaf, Oxford 16/08/2019, Day One Review by Beth Jones & Rick Tilley
After a journey down to Oxford marred with torrential rain, traffic jams, road works, more biblical rain and a fair amount of motorway madness, Rick and I were more than ready for some R & R in the form of epic music. After we had checked into our digs for the weekend, we headed off to The Wheatsheaf on Oxford High Street. Before I start talking about the bands, I want to say a bit about this pub, as it is now my new favourite pub in the world! Down a small alleyway, it crosses the divide between old and modern, and melds them together in perfect quirky harmony. The staff and clientele were friendly, and the beer was good (they really did serve a fabulous pint of Guinness – Rick). It took me back to my youth, and how real pubs used to be, but also made me revel in the wonders of modern technology, when I realised that a Guinness advertising stand on the bar was actually a USB charging hub!! THIS is what every pub should be like, everywhere!
We also finally got to meet Rabidfest and Ever Metal team member Sheri Bicheno who proved to be even more lovely in person than she is on social media. After lots of hugs, selfies and waxing lyrical about the USB charging hub on the bar it was time for some music, so we headed upstairs to see what was on offer!
First up for our delight and pleasure where Oxford based four piece, The Crushing! What a way to start – they were lively and funny and gave a charismatic performance of good, solid and well executed metal. We were really impressed, and they instantly blew away the slightly irritable cloud that the journey had hung over us. Front man Snuffy Walden had such an expressive face that it was difficult to take your eyes off him, and his discourse between the songs was witty and Monty Pythonesque, as was his enthusiastic jogging on the spot whilst playing, that endeared him to the gathered crowd, which was growing by the minute. If the whole festival carried on like this, it was going to be great!
Next on the bill were Aylesbury’s Imminent Annihilation, bringing to the table a more serious, but equally adept sound, with chunky riffs and rhythms, and powerful vocals! Even though the room wasn’t big (it was long and narrow), there was some serious headbanging going on and the atmosphere was electric! The gruff and raw vocals of Jordan Gray, combined with the power of the music really made your internal organs rattle, which is the sign of a good night in our book!!
Having seen these guys on a couple of occasions previously, we knew we were in for a good show, and Fahran didn’t disappoint. The energy that every single member of the band always brings to the table is immense, and their style is a unique combination of current and classic which makes them a timeless band that I hope we will enjoy for many years yet. I seem to be going on about vocalists a lot in this review, but thus far, they had all been stunning, and Matt Black’s were no exception – Jesus this guy has some pipes! However, it was bass player Joshua Ballatyne that I found myself following like a hawk here, just for his sheer Tigger level bounciness!! Great performance!!
Closing the first day were four fine fellows from Lancashire, Troyen, who have been kicking it for a good while, and reformed in 2014 after a sizable thirty-two-year break!! Rick had really been looking forward to seeing them as he remembers the name from way back but had never seen them live. They bring to the table a very adept and tight hit of NWOBHM, which is always a treat for any classic metal fan. They looked so cool and collected on stage, which showed their experience, and it was impossible not to be drawn in and rock along with them. Like a fine wine, they have aged and matured, and were chilled to perfection making them an incredibly enjoyable end to Day One. Brandy and cigars anyone?!
It was safe to say that everyone in attendance had a fantastic evening and afterwards a bunch of us went in search of the magical thing that is food and, as is usually the case, there was a McDonalds about two minutes away from the venue. After filling our faces we said our goodbyes and Beth and I had a very pleasant walk back to where we were staying. Oxford is a very beautiful place, architecture wise! It was then time to get as much sleep as possible before meeting up with everyone at The Bullingdon venue on the Saturday where a much longer day of Metal and Rock awaited us!
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Stonedeaf Festival 2019 Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire, UK 24/08/2019 Review by Paul Monkhouse
Welcome to your new favourite festival. It’s quite a bold opening statement but from the moment you step on site things are different. This truly is a festival that is all about the love of the music and the community of rock and metal fans joining together in celebration. The fact that this is only the second year and the numbers have swollen so much is testament to this. Here everyone is family.
Dublin based four-piece Samarkind kicked off the day in fine style, their bluesy hard rock fitting perfectly in with the sunshine vibe of the festival. Like a tougher version of Bad Company, they dripped cool in a set that showed just why there is such a tradition of great music from the Emerald Isles. Absolute stormers like ‘Fire and Blood’ and ‘Blue Mountain’ just scream quality and when the former slips in a snatch of ‘Heaven and Hell’ you just realise how natural these guys are. They work incredibly hard at what they do but it all pays off in no uncertain terms, making you wonder how anyone can follow such a performance.
Feral street fighting Aussie brawlers Massive followed and showed how their constant touring and never stop until you’ve given 110% attitude has won over a growing legion of fans this side of the World. There truly must be something in the water that produces such tough rock and roll bands and these guys are more akin to the incendiary Rose Tattoo than Angus and Co, glorying in the rougher edge of all out gonzo tracks like opener ‘Generation Riot’. Guaranteed to wake you up, the band ripped through a set that absolutely nailed it every time and the cover of ‘If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)’ slot perfectly in as a nice tip of the hat to their fellow countrymen. It should be pointed out that they aren’t a one note band but there’s some great songwriting with light and shade as the brilliant ‘Ghost’ proved. Set closer ‘Long Time Coming’ brought back the fire and as lead singer Brad Marr drained a can of beer and poured the last few drops over his head you just knew that you’d witnessed a band giving their all for the crowd.
Next up were The Amorettes and it was the turn for the girls to show that they can rock just as hard as the boys with a positively red-hot set that matched the rising temperature of the day. This new version of the group featuring original singer / guitarist Gill Montgomery, Tequila Mockingbird’s Jacinta Jaye and Josie O’Toole and second guitarist Laurie Buchanan (Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics) are truly firing on all cylinders. Despite one or two technical issues they powered through a set packed with great songs, melody and a snotty bubblegum rock attitude. Numbers like the pounding ‘Coming Up the Middle’ and the ridiculously catchy ‘Everything I Learned (I Learned from Rock and Roll)’ ensured that The Amorettes continue their upwards trajectory and may well be headlining festivals like this one in the future.
Very few bands can be genuinely be called ‘legendary’ but Diamond Head are rightly part of that club, founding member Brian Tatler proudly steering the band ever forward with a cracking new album in ‘The Coffin Train’ and not just happy to rest on his laurels, feeding off the past. New numbers like ‘Death by Design’, ‘Belly of the Beast’ and ‘The Messenger’ pepper the set, showing the confidence the band have with the latest material and it’s well placed. Of course, most people are waiting to hear the classics and they certainly weren’t disappointed as ‘Borrowed Time’, ‘Lightning to the Nations’, ‘In the Heat of the Night’ and ‘It’s Electric’ were greeted like old friends, this incarnation of the band brilliantly injecting new life into songs written almost forty years ago. Rasmus Bom Anderson has both the voice and stage presence to make you forget that anyone else originally sung these songs and Tatler spends the set smiling, obviously loving playing the songs whose strength brought bands like Metallica and Megadeth into being. When a World War II Dakota flew in the skies over the stage during ‘Am I Evil?’ this mix of the sight and sound of two spine tingling classics was one of the outstanding moments of the day and was one of those moments long to be remembered.
Bringing his ‘Operation Mindcrime’ show to Stonedeaf, former Queensryche front man Geoff Tate stole the show for a lot of people as he put on a peerless show, featuring some of the greatest tracks cherry-picked from his time with the Washington rockers. The time flew by from the moment that the first notes of ‘Empire’ rang out to the final seconds of ‘Eyes of a Stranger’, each song perfectly played and a testament to just how seminal the bands output was at this time. Tate seemed relaxed and happy, a tight group of musicians behind him, his voice better than ever and bringing out every nuance in the lyrics, powerful, moving and out and out jaw-dropping. Metal to stimulate your intellect as much as your eardrums, ‘Operation Mindcrime’, ‘Jet City Woman’ and an incredible rendition of ‘Silent Lucidity’ that was arguably the highlight of the whole day, all transported the audience to their own euphoric state where the only choice was to give themselves over totally to the music. Geoff Tate was utterly thrilling and untouchable.
Following almost constant touring, barring a break to record their new album, the Toby Jepson fronted Wayward Sons are quickly engendering as much love and respect as his previous outfit, Little Angels. Whilst the Scarborough outfit saw their youthful hard rock take them from Yorkshire pubs to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall, Wayward Sons channel more of a spirit of classic rock and new wave bands into an instantly likeable mix that has the energy and fire of The Who and The Clash but adds some extra weight into the mix. Always a very good songwriter, Jepson has matured into a great one and the material the band have now is some of the very strongest he’s put his name too. Blistering opener ‘Alive’ hits like a prize fighter and for the whole of the eleven-song set you can hear more and more converts being made in the crowd, Jepson the consummate front man welcoming each and every one into the Wayward Sons family. Aside from their rollicking good tunes, the key ingredient in the success of the band is the feeling that the musicians themselves are having as enjoyable a time as the audience, like Massive before them they work hard but obviously love what they are doing.
Guitarist Sam Wood and bass player Nic Wastell made the most of the stage, throwing shapes and along with Jepson, drummer Phil Martini and keys players Dave Kemp exuded effortless cool, slamming into numbers like the debut album title track ‘Ghosts of Yet to Come’ and new anthem ‘Any Other Way’. ‘Crush’ featured a snippet of the Stranglers ‘No More Heroes’ and showed that the band are proud of their influences whilst another new song ‘Little White Lies’ had a real feel of The Beatles and ELO in it’s perfect grandeur. By the time that ‘Jokes on You’, ‘Something Wrong’ and ‘Until the End’ had finished the set, despite sound issues, the band had conquered Stonedeaf and are definitely set to be future headliners.
Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons
Absolutely the only way to follow them was with the visceral thrill of Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, the long serving guitarist from the legendary Motörhead and his band truly ripping the place apart. They are without doubt the real deal and Campbell’s years with Lemmy let him shine and develop into one of the most astute musicians on the scene, never overplaying but happy to step back and make the band and the music more important than the individuals. More than any other group on the day, they captured the dangerous spirit of rock and roll, walking the fine line between euphoria, recklessness and perfect control, Campbell cool with his gold plated Gibson Flying V glinting in the sunlight whilst his three sons Todd, Tyler and Dane wreaked havoc as vocalist Neil Starr’s powerhouse voice brings everything home.
It really is a testament to the band when self-penned tracks like ‘Big Mouth’, ‘Step into the Fire’ and ‘Straight Up’ make as much of an impression as Motörhead classics like ‘Rock Out’, ‘Born to Raise Hell’ and ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S.’. Hawkwind cover ‘Silver Machine’ was a brilliant touch but it was the almost inevitable ‘Ace of Spades’ that switched the crowd into a seething mass of flying hair, lunatic dancing and mass singing. Final number ‘High Rule’ could have proven an anti-climax after that but once again showed the band to be very much their own men and a totally formidable rock machine that absolutely took no prisoners. If you’re not for them, prepare to get crushed under their wheels.
The placing of Inglorious in the special guest slot was always a bit controversial, playing after such established artists, but the up and coming classic hard rockers rose to the challenge and won over the crowd by sheer force of personality and craftsmanship. A seismic change in line-up could have shattered the band but by sheer force of will main man Nathan James brought the band through this and they came out fighting even harder; leaner, meaner and determined to defy the odds. Opening number ‘Where Are You Now’ could have been directed to the departed members of the band as a bitter riposte but was instead a monstrous slab of hard rock, full of drama and melody.
Three albums into a career, you can’t help but wonder just how huge the band is going to get as they launch into anthemic number after anthemic number, each one perfectly suited for filling stadiums. Sure, the riff in ‘High Flying Gypsy’ owes a huge debt to ‘Kashmir’ but if you’re going to have influences make them the very best you can and ‘Read All About It’ is hard rock with a real groove and edge that most bands would give their right arms for. One thing that James shouldn’t do though is to trade in the six string wonder that is Danny Dela Cruz, considering he is only just out of his teens (having just celebrated his birthday a few days previously) the guitarist is very much a future axe hero and one to watch. Long-time drummer Phil Beaver, guitarist Dan Stevens and perfectly quiffed bassist Vinnie Colla all play their part though, making their own individual mark and certainly not being pushed into the role of sidemen. A magnificent and unexpected cover of Alanis Morrisette’s towering ‘Uninvited’ caused goosebumps but it was the punishing ‘Ride to Nowhere’ and mass singalong of ‘Holy Water’ that left the most lasting impressions, showing that the future is really what they want to make of it.
Anyone who has ever seen Glenn Hughes live will know exactly why the K.L.F. dubbed him ‘The Voice of Rock’ when they featured him on their track ‘America: What Time is Love’. The man is a giant in an industry that seldom sees talent as anything but disposable, a survivor of a decade or so of excess that would have finished off most people and someone who has never been prepared to just accept second best, always pushing forward and stretching himself. An astounding singer, brilliant bass player and songwriter, there couldn’t have been a better choice to finish of the night and his current set that focuses on Deep Purple classics. The opening salvo of ‘Stormbringer’ and ‘Might Just Take Your Life’ were thrilling and made everyone forget the technical issues that extended the wait for Hughes coming on stage in an instant and ‘You Keep on Moving’ was so scorching that it threatened to turn the already dry field into a tinderbox. Ever appreciative of those who come to see him, the singer was a true professional, talking to the audience and singing A cappella through a set plagued by equipment problems, totally free of superstar tantrums and just wanting to get on with entertaining the people. ‘Mistreated’ couldn’t have been much bigger and the pairing of DP Mk II staple ‘Smoke on the Water’ with a beautiful and heartfelt ‘Georgia on My Mind’ was an unexpected but literally show-stopping end to the main set. Whilst neither song was penned by Hughes, he very much made them both his own and the playing of guitarist Soran Anderson, keyboard player Jesper Bo Hansen and the utterly phenomenal drumming of Ash Sheenan complemented every note. For the encores, the adrenalin rush of ‘Burn’ never fails to thrill and ‘Highway Star’ closed the festival in utter triumph: a definitive classic by one of the greatest bands in rock history, sung by a true giant of the genre. Quite how the organisers will top things next year who knows, but one thing’s for certain, they’ll certainly try. Due to copyright issues the festival is having to change its name so whilst Stonedeaf may have lasted two brief but beautiful years, Stonedead will continue to grow and grow. Rock will never die.
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Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
NozFest The 1865, Southampton, UK 10/08/2019 Review by Lotty Whittingham
The concert hangover is a common thing amongst the rock and metal community; these usually take place after experiencing an excellent live show. Symptoms can often include sore muscles, pounding heads and ringing ears. The most common of the symptoms is a huge desire to go back and experience it all over again.
I definitely experienced this concert hangover the day after NozFest. This fantastic event took place at ‘The 1865’, Southampton on 10th August. Given it was the same weekend as Bloodstock and Boomtown, lots of people came through the door which was great to see. JodieBowie was the promoter of this event; after running successful Rock Nights around the UK, this was her first festival.
It was clear that the high winds were not going to dampen the spirits of festival goers better known as Nozzers. As the venue began to fill, you could instantly see fans securing their spots to watch the bands, buying their first pints, browsing the band’s merchandise and talking excitedly amongst themselves about what bands they were most looking forward to seeing.
To kick off the proceedings, Bournemouth based 27 Days were the first band to take to the stage. As the opening act, the pressure is higher than ever to get the crowds warmed up. Especially when it’s early doors and alcohol consumption had barely begun. 27 Days conquered that pressure and showed NozFest what they were made of. Their performance consisted of great guitar solos, brilliant harmonies and infectious energy on stage and their cover of the Darkness classic ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ went down a treat with the crowd and got them participating. This is another achievement for an opening band to conquer and 27 Days did just that.
As the day went on, the venue started filling. With a performance from the next band The Wicked Jackals looming, this couldn’t have come at a better time. Their melodies contained some great hooks that kept the crowd alive and engaged. Their charismatic and passionate stage presence also seemed to win fans over, particularly when the booze gun came out. Advice: be sure to catch The Wicked Jackals when they come to your hometown. Where else are you going to see a water-pistol filled with alcohol?!
For the next act The Outlaw Orchestra this was their first hometown show for a long time and given the warm reception they received; it was evident it was an anticipated one. The first thing I noticed with their stage performance was it was clear they were having a great time. This energy and positivity passed onto the crowd alongside their tight live sound as they performed a selection of material from across their EP’s. After experiencing their live show, I instantly felt much happier. I will call this ‘The Outlaw Orchestra Effect’. If you wish to feel this effect, experience hard rock with a country tinge and watch banjo solos then catch them soon!
There was no beating around the bush when Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters took to the stage. They got straight to the point to play us some no-nonsense Rock and Roll. Their dominant stage presence and excellent live sound meant that audience members were under their control. They performed an eclectic selection of songs from the emotional ‘You & I’ to new drinking anthem ‘Jack & Coke’. With their fire, passion and energy; they could quite easily be the UK’s answer to Halestorm. It’s highly recommended you catch them when they next tour.
The appearance of StOp, sToP! was baffling at first. It seemed they had dressed as elderly men as they played the first song ‘The Last Call’. As they finished the grey wigs came off and the glam rock outfits were gallantly revealed. The message behind this appearance became clear: rock and roll makes you feel alive, it keeps you young and can turn back the years. A great message told in a fun way. If AC/DC decided to go glam, then StOp, sToP! would fit that category easily. Their live show was fun and energetic, which matches their uplifting music. They are due to play HRH Sleaze in a couple of weeks so if you are attending this, then be sure to catch them and get involved.
The name Marco Mendoza is a household name in the Classic Rock community. Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake and The Dead Daisies are among the portfolio of bands that he has played alongside. This was the first date of the UK Tour and with his previous work with JodieBowie, it couldn’t be a better date to start the tour on. For this performance, he played his solo material alongside Micky Crystal (Tygers Of Pan Tang) and Kyle Hughes (Bumblefoot). From the word go, it was evident who was in control. The mighty opener ‘Viva La Rock’ got the crowd going instantly, this gave the audience a first taste of his excellent showmanship and tight live sound. His set consisted of solo material and cover songs that went down well with the crowds. His passion for the community shone through during his performance, as he sang and spoke you could feel that heartfelt, genuine, spirit that caught on in the crowd. He is currently on tour so be sure to catch him.
For Bigfoot, this was one of their last performances before they go their separate ways. Whether you are a long-time fan or a new listener, it was the perfect chance to catch them live before they call it a day. It is more than safe to say that this was a great performance from the band. When listening to them, Alter Bridge and The Answer come to mind. Their harmonies were on point and their stage presence was fierce. There was a high amount of passion and energy on the stage. They provided a more chilled out vibe to the evening and were a great warm up for the two main bands of the night. (Rick Here – I will be just one of many very sorry to see them go)
As the night drew in, the crowd got bigger and the atmosphere was happy, people excited to catch the two main acts of the night. The main support Those Damn Crows are one of the best new up and coming bands. They were fresh from appearing at Download Festival this year and from their live performance it’s easy to see why they are receiving high praise from fans and critics. Their stage presence was incredibly energetic and it was clear that this passed on to the Nozzers that were still standing, bearing in mind some of them had been standing all day. They provided a modern edge to the evening with their sound reminding me of Shinedown. They performed a great selection of music from both their albums. They ended with the new album track ‘Rock And Roll Ain’t Dead’ which was very apt. Those Damn Crows are easily the future of rock and provided the perfect set to get the crowds ready for headliners Massive Wagons.
Having got off an arena tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Status Quo, NozFest headliners Massive Wagons were a hugely anticipated performance for the evening. From the moment they took to the stage and opened with ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’, it was very easy to see why they were the headliners for the night. They did a fantastic job bringing a stadium like atmosphere to a small venue and they got everyone involved with their performance, even the newer listeners who didn’t know what to expect. This stadium like atmosphere included fans singing along to their anthems such as ‘Ratio’, ‘Billy Balloon Head’ and ‘Red Dress’. Hearing the chants echoing around the venue truly was one of the magical moments of their set. Whether you have two albums or ten albums in your discography, it can be tricky picking the right balance of songs for a setlist.
Massive Wagons got this balance perfectly and showcased songs from each of their albums. This setlist seemed to go down well with the crowd. Their boundless energy on stage was incredibly infectious, so much so that they even got those sitting standing up. They ended with the classic ‘Back To The Stack’ that marked the end of a triumphant set and a successful festival.
It’s now a week after the event and the positivity for the festival on social media is still rolling in. People are already booking hotels and time off work ready for next year’s date. If this doesn’t show how much people and bands enjoyed the festival, I don’t know what will!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Lotty Whittingham and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Papa Roach Who Do You Trust? USA Tour W/Asking Alexandria, Bad Wolves Stone Pony Summer Stage, Asbury Park, NJ 09/08/2019 Review and Pictures by Andy Jansons
There are a lot of bands that have already lost their relevancy in recent years and cannot live up to their previous glory, but not Papa Roach. Since their meteoric rise to stardom in the early 2000’s they have maintained their popularity and since the release of their ninth album “Crooked Teeth” in May 2017 have regained new life in mainstream rock. They continued to build on Crooked Teeth’s success releasing tenth album “Who Do You Trust?” in January of this year so they are taking this summer to tour across the US with British Hard Rock (formerly Metalcore) band Asking Alexandria and American rising stars Bad Wolves.
On a beautiful summer evening in popular New Jersey shore town Asbury Park, which is known as rock legend Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, the tour came to the Open Air Summer Stage at the legendary Stone Pony venue. After Bad Wolves set a fantastic mood, British rockers Asking Alexandria came on to ignite the crowd. Vocalist Danny Worsnop was dressed in an elegant suit and vest to go along with expensive loafers. His outfit may not exactly have been made for a hot summer night, but it was his performance that made it count!
They opened the set with a brand new song called ‘The Violence’ and followed that up with two songs from their latest self-titled album ‘Into The Fire’ and ‘Where Did it Go?’ After those Danny took some time to talk with the audience and asked if there were any fans who have never heard of them. Surprisingly many hands went up. Using the situation he cracked a joke by saying that their next song would be a new one that the band had never played before. Well, it was one of their biggest hits ‘Run Free’ off of third studio album “From Death To Destiny”.
There was no swearing coming from Danny this evening though, as he said, those words were just simmering inside of him to come out. The Stone Pony stage is located by the Ocean boardwalk, where many families were enjoying their vacation with kids, and because only thing that separated them from this rock concert was a simple fence, the venue made a request for artists to mind their language. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. What’s a rock concert without a few F- bombs?
While a majority of their songs came from latest self titled album, none of them came from their 2016 work called “Black”. At the time Danny was not with the band and they had eccentric Dennis Stoff as vocalist. Although the album was popular they haven’t played anything that was not made with Danny in the lineup so the set was wrapped up with their last biggest hit ‘Alone In The Room’.
I’ve seen Asking Alexandria three times already and they never disappoint. Their performance was absolutely electrifying. James Cassells on drums, Sam Bentley on bass and Cameron Liddell with Ben Bruce on guitars were full of energy and all had a great show!
Papa Roach seem like they have taken the rule book and thrown it in the fire. Every album they do is something new with a fresh approach to their style. Many bands claim this but rarely deliver the goods; on the other hand Papa Roach succeed. Ten studio albums to date and every one of them have something special. “F.E.A.R.” was Traditional Hard Rock “Crooked Teeth” incorporated new electronic sounds and there are even more of those on “Who Do You Trust”? One thing is certain; Papa Roach enjoy making new music and do not shy away from invention!
Their set for the night was mostly made up of their two latest albums with a sprinkle of classics. Opening track was the latest album’s title track ‘Who Do You Trust?’ followed by ‘Help’ and ‘American Dreams’. They then followed this with their fifteen year old mega hit ‘Getting Away With Murder’. They also played ‘She Loves Me Not’, ‘Between Angels And Insects’ and ‘Last Resort’. Notably the band and vocalist Jacoby Shaddix made a tribute to the late British music legend Keith Flint from The Prodigy who took his life earlier this year. They played a Rock version of The Prodigy hit ‘Firestarter’ and, oh boy, did that start the fire with the assembled crowd absolutely loving it. Somewhat fittingly the next song Papa Roach played was Born For Greatness!
Jerry Horton on guitar, Tobin Esperance on bass and Tony Palermo on drums delivered the same greatness that they do every night. Also, an integral part of the band is Anthony Esperance who joins Papa Roach on on tours and does a little bit of everything playing rhythm guitar, keyboards and percussion!
Last time I saw Papa Roach they played a two hour set so for tonight their hour and a half set felt far too short. We all needed more of their music. What an amazing band they are to see live.
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Andy Jansons and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Photograph reproduced here with kind permission from Andy Jansons
The Alma Inn July Showcase 2019 The Alma Inn, Bolton 20/07/2019 Review by Beth Jones
What is the best way to drown your sorrows about not being sat in a field listening to great bands with the best people? That’s easy – go and sit in a pub and listen to great bands with the best people instead! And that is exactly what we did on Saturday 20th July, by making a trek up to Bolton, to the Alma Inn for the Badgerfest Promotions / Alma Inn Presents July Showcase. It promised a cracking day of music, with some familiar names, and some that were new to us, and it didn’t disappoint!
We had never been to the much talked about Alma Inn before, so weren’t entirely sure what to expect. What we found was this: It is a cosy little venue, and really has the feel of a classic metal pub from the 80’s / 90’s, with some spectacular graffiti art in the beer garden, and interesting toilets! But the atmosphere was instantly warm, and the girl behind the bar, whose name I didn’t catch, was great!
Ninety Nine Mercies
First on the bill, and a new name to us, Ninety Nine Mercies kicked off the proceedings. Being the first band up is always a tough job, and their set was delayed by, and then hampered by a range of technical difficulties and sound issues that were beyond their control, so it was difficult really to get a good judgement of them. They were pretty solid, but had a few timing issues in places, but again this may be because they couldn’t really hear properly what each member was doing. I think I need to see them again to make a better judgement of them. They certainly gave it their all, which is always good to see at that time on a Saturday!
Fresh from their comeback show after a 6 year hiatus, the Severenth guys put on yet another stonking show here, and gained a whole pub full of new fans in the process! They are exciting to watch and musically they are spot on. Peet Bailey, as a front man, is brilliant. He can scream and do clean vocals with ease, and has a very expressive face, which makes the performance hypnotising to watch. The rest of the band are also not afraid of showing their spirit, and don’t hide in the background. Bass player, Ben Jones, provides some mighty powerful backing vocals, and this, combined with the heavy rhythms of Dave Roberts on drums, and some really technical guitar work from Adam Sidor and Jack Somers make for an all-round package that would not look out of place much higher up on a bill. I cannot wait to see these guys again very soon and would love to see them back on the festival circuit next year.
Black Sheets Of Rain
This band had actually recently done an EMQ’s for us, so it was nice to put faces to names and see what they were about. They were very different from what we had seen already today, in so much as they were more a classic hard rock band, so a lot lighter in style. They were very tight, and very good, but my one ask would be that they didn’t look quite so nervous on stage. They all looked slightly terrified, possibly because they were having to follow the Severenth performance we had just seen, but they had no reason to be, as they were very good, and we certainly enjoyed their set!
Lost In Lavender Town
In a showcase, you always like to see a bit of variety, and what better way to do that could there be than to chuck in an instrumental prog band, with three guitarists?! These guys were a bunch of insanely talented musicians who clearly live for noodling! They were like Pink Floyd after a marijuana binge, and it was incredibly relaxing! It was certainly music to chill out too!! I was however disappointed, as they had a brilliant ambient keyboard sound running through each track, but sadly no real life keyboard player, instead opting to use a backing track. Call me an old fuddy duddy if you like, but I do like live music to be 100% live, and if you are going to have keys as an integral part of your music, please use a real keyboard player!
Portrayal Of Ruinn
So, now we were all nicely mellow, it was time to get the shit beaten out of us, in a metal sense, by the insanely heavy Portrayal Of Ruinn. There are times when being a gig photographer can make you realise why the sofa and a nice cup of tea are so comforting – this was one of those times! Trying to take pictures when lots of big gents are erupting into pits in a space not much bigger than my living room is, err, interesting shall we say!! That aside, Portrayal Of Ruinn really know how to put on a great show, and delivered a punchy brand of melodic deathcore to the delighted crowd. Frontman Calvin Fayle has a terrifically manic look in his eyes when performing, and this captured the audience. Whilst vocally they are a little heavy for me, I really enjoyed their performance, and I didn’t die, so that’s a win in my book!
I saw Daybreaker opening last year’s Badgerfest, and was impressed, so I was looking forward to seeing them again today and was glad that Rick also got a chance to see them. Again, they put in a great performance, which produced another lively reaction from the crowd. Bass player Lynden Garrad has a hugely expressive face and looked like he was having a ball on stage, whilst front man Sam Higgins paced the performance area like a man possessed, delivering some hellish hardcore vocals that bang you right in the gut. They are fun to watch. I like them.
Kringer And The Battle Katz
Well! This performance was an experience. I want you to imagine The Sex Pistols, but with more musical skill, and heavier, having a crazed party following a month-long binge of mayhem and debauchery, and that kind of explains this performance! They describe themselves as Idiotcore, and are a mixture of punk, groove and deathcore, which bizarrely works pretty well! Even if you didn’t really like the music, it is impossible not to smile and get drawn in by their madcap insanity. They were perfect for this point in the day when us oldies are starting to flag a little – it peps you up and gives you a second wind! Bonkers. That is all!
We have seen these guys almost as many times as we have seen Lullaby For A Unicorn (and that is quite a few!!), but we never get tired of them. They are pure funky groove metal, and playing music is their life – this comes across in every show, and this one was no exception. It was hot, it was sweaty, but it was so much fun. Their all-round performance is always exceptionally tight, and the now packed out venue lapped it up. Their new drummer, Gary-Eric Evans, has really added a further depth to their music, that has enhanced an already superb product, which is brilliant. Add to this the fact that they are all truly lovely chaps, and it is easy to see how they have endeared themselves to so many audiences around the country and further afield.
Finishing off a great day of metal were Vice, a gang of three young and aspirational local lads, who you can’t help but love. Again, we have seen them a few times now, and absolutely loved their first album, “The First Chapter”, and are eagerly awaiting their second. They are superbly polished, and each show is measured and well thought out. They delivered a sterling performance again here, and it was great to see them getting such a warm reception from the crowd. We had to duck out a little before the end again, because we have no staying power! But we left a venue full of very happy people behind us, with big smiles on our faces.
Again, this was another brilliant day created by the seemingly unstoppable John Badger! There had been a few technical and sound issues towards the beginning of the day, which delayed things a little, but the people didn’t care, and it didn’t take away from the day at all in the end. It was great to see so many familiar and friendly faces, and to make some new acquaintances along the way. The metal scene in Manchester is alive and well and totally thriving, thanks to a host of brilliant underground bands, and the tireless work of people like John Badger, and James and Jayne at 0161 Manchester Underground Metal Community, and it really is a joy to be close enough, location wise, to be part of it.
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Pentre Fest Summer Session 2019 McLean’s Pentre 06/07/2019 Review by Beth Jones
Is there anything better on a summer’s day than having a good time with friends, with good music and cheap beer? The answer to that question is of course ‘No’ and this year’s Pentre Fest Summer Session was one such summer’s day that we have had the pleasure of enjoying so far this year! The weather this year looked questionable, but thankfully by the time everything kicked off, the sun had decided to get its arse into gear and put in an appearance!
The lineup was a great mix of styles from classic heavy metal to groove death metal and everything in between, and it also saw the return of the now infamous Edd Case and his acoustic stage, which is just the best way to chill out between bands ever. This takes place out on the veranda (!!) and this year saw Edd kicking off proceedings there, and then going inside to do an opening slot on ‘the big stage’, which he was uber happy about!!
What can I say about Edd that hasn’t already been said?! If you don’t know him, or haven’t seen him perform, then you really do need to check him out. He is so much fun, and he never fails to put you in a good mood. This is a man who has come close to death and now has a newfound love of life, and it is infectious. He finished his ‘big stage’ set with a song he penned himself, called ‘Letters Back Home’, which personally I think is lyrically one of the most emotive songs I have ever heard. I have seen him perform it a number of times now, and I can’t watch it without getting the mother of all lumps in my throat. Every god damn time! You have no idea how much will power it takes me not to turn into a blubbering mess!
Again, we have seen these guys on a good number of occasions, the most recent being the Bloodstock M2TM Semi Final. This was a very different performance to their last few however, and they seemed a lot more relaxed, which came through in their performance. Lead singer / Guitarist Oliver Carins came out of his shell a bit more and really looked like he was enjoying the performance – something which I haven’t always seen in the past. Drummer Phil Eakins was solid as ever on the beats, and his voice came through really well thanks to the impeccable sound, which once again the sound man has to be applauded for.
After their shock exit at the semi-finals of Bloodstock M2TM, it was great to see these guys back to their culinary best! Their madcap meld of food and thrash is always a welcome teatime treat in my book, and they again pulled off a brilliant performance here, with some new songs as well as the classics, finishing up with the temporarily named ‘Chocolate Romance’, as they hadn’t been able to get their hands on a Red Velvet cake for front man Rob Sutton to smash into his face at the end! They played a super tight set and had a great laugh. It was also amusing to see the ever-lovely Nick Gregory of Radio Deeside being turned into a human hoopla peg, with giant inflatable donuts!
These guys are really starting to find themselves properly now. They have a great new logo and a real identity as a band now, and that is showing through in their madcap, post-apocalyptic punk thrash performances that continue to amuse and delight us! This performance was no exception, and yet again they looked like they were having immense fun, with Michael Randall bouncing about like Tigger on speed (I swear he is trying to get a sponsorship deal from Duracell), and the immense power of Dan Ashley’s guitar and Ben Codd’s drums making sure that everyone knew that it was Mad Spanner time! I love these guys because they are just totally nuts and don’t take themselves too seriously, and this is what performing should be all about. Manowar could learn some useful life lessons from Mad Spanner!
We saw Midnight Prophecy last Christmas at the Twisted Illusion Christmas Gig in Manchester, and were completely blown away by them, so we were super chuffed that we would get the chance to see them again on our doorstep! They didn’t disappoint. Their performance was exquisite. They are old school classic British Heavy Metal. They are melodic and impeccable and exciting and enticing, and I love it. Lead singer Craig Cairns has such an amazing voice and reminds me very much of a young Bruce Dickinson, and the rest of the band provide enough energy and noodling skills to competently cement their sound together into something very, very exciting. I thoroughly recommend them to everyone. One of the Pentre regulars, who had never seen them before, said to me that they were probably the best band he had ever seen there, and I have to say that I totally agree.
I watched the soundcheck for these guys and it made me chuckle in amazement because Donna Hurd’s powerhouse vocals literally made my eardrums bleed, and then they stopped and a tiny little voice said, ‘Yeah that sounds good’, and it blew my mind! How the hell she does that roar I do not know but flipping heck it is powerful!! They are a North West based Groove Death Metal four-piece and for this performance they had a stand in bass player, but you wouldn’t have known – they were super tight and super heavy, and Donna absolutely owned the stage. We had to leave a little early, as we are both old and broken and these all-dayers take their toll on us now, but we caught most of Bloodyard’s set and they are definitely worth checking out if you like metal to punch you in the face with RRRRRRRAWRR!
Before I sign off on another live review, I must also mention in more detail the acoustic stage, run by the acoustic king himself, Mr. Edd Case, which kept us chilled and entertained during the main stage breaks, and saw a couple of sets from Edd, along with performances from Neill Murphy, Captain Andy, Zanda Stone, and Scarfoot’s Oliver Carins. It is such a calming place to be between the main acts and I love it. All the acoustic performances were spot on again, and full of the feel of a long summer’s day.
Yet again we had a smashing time at Mclean’s, and I for one feel quite lucky that we get to go there, because it is quite possibly one of the friendliest places to be, where airs and graces are left at the door, and everyone is relaxed, which creates the wonderful and warm atmosphere that surrounds every event there. Thanks again to Fozzy and Beany for their tireless work putting on these showcases, to Edd Case for working like a trojan for the love of the acoustic stage, and to all the bands and acoustic acts for keeping us thoroughly entertained. Here’s to doing it all again next year!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Jared James Nichols The Waterfront, Norwich, UK 16/07/2019 Review by Paul Monkhouse
Jared James Nichols has built up a solid reputation as one of the leading lights in modern blues rock, his firey gumbo of influences winning the hearts of audiences during tours with Glenn Hughes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, UFO, Saxon, Blue Oyster Cult and ZZ Top amongst others. It speaks a lot about the guitarist that he not only held his own against such legendary artists but gave them all a run for their money and on many nights blew away the headliners. His latest tour of the UK is part of a diverse triple band line-up that also includes Toby Jepson’s 70’s style hard rocking Wayward Sons and the topped-billed game-changers Living Colour. Despite the huge talent on show, Nichols opening set was the one that left the most lasting impression and brought the largest number of converts, all of whom stunned by the power of this three-piece.
Despite the early start time, a sizeable crowd was already pushing against the barrier as a siren rang out and Nichols strolled onto the stage, ripping into opening song ‘Last Chance’. This was rock ‘n’ roll as dirty and loud as you could have wished for, the muscular playing reminiscent of Cream at their most forceful but with an edge that spoke of years spent playing in rough bars all over small towns in the States. There was a real ferocity here that screamed to be let loose, all whilst being totally controlled by a band who knew exactly what they were doing. This juxtaposition of the feral and the crafted in their performance was such a fine balance that it equally thrilled and amazed, the adrenaline rush of being strapped into a turbocharged supercar driven by a Nascar champion.
‘Don’t Be Scared’ was a blistering display of heavy blues and saw Nichols flicking his guitar lead to slam and dance across the strings as he played the solo. This wasn’t the only extraordinary thing that struck about the performance as it was impossible not to marvel at how he played with such dexterity and heaviness without a pick, his right hand wrenching and dancing on the frets bereft of a plectrum to take the strain across the tight wound steel strings of his beloved Les Paul. The funky ‘Honey Forgive Me’ dripped with a raw passion and ‘End of Time’ rode along with a loping rhythm whilst conjuring a sound that brought to mind something akin to Jimi Hendrix jamming with Led Zeppelin.
The heads-down boogie of ‘Baby Can You Feel It’ really swung as bass player Ronnie Elvis James and drummer Dennis Holms were watertight, James a study in trucker cool whilst Holms was a mass of flying blonde hair. Nichols himself cuts an imposing figure, standing well over six feet tall and all muscles, tattoos and hair and it’s one of these tattoos that catches the eye: a curled snake on his left arm. Whilst a first glance looking like the one Metallica had on the cover of the ‘Black Album’, this was actually part of the Gadsden Flag, depicting a coiled rattlesnake ready to strike and such it was with the jabs and controlled ferocity of his playing on new single ‘Nails in the Coffin’. The track opened to the sound of rolling thunder and rain and continued in this vein, a brooding and atmospheric track full of dread and dark power, providing an appetite whetting taster of things to come.
‘Hardwired’ may have shared a title with the San Francisco thrash giants but this was purely titular as the track came over as the love child of Whitesnake and Ted Nugent, all lascivious guitar work and macho strutting but none the worse for either. Closing the set was a staggering cover of Mountain’s classic ‘Mississippi Queen’, replete with the greatest cowbell playing in rock outside of ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ and a freshness that captured the vitality of the original but turned up several notches. Closing with such a well-known and much-loved song was a gamble but the fact that their own material can stand shoulder to shoulder and not feel out of place with it speaks volumes. The future, seemingly, belongs to him. All hail the new King of Blues Rock.
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Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.