One Night Only…The Jazz Club

In the recently refurbished Ragged Staff Magazine, a stunning venue with its high arched ceilings and rugged charm, the 2nd event of the 5th International Jazz Festival is taking place.

Tonight there is a great line up of locals bands including Surianne and Peter Montegriffo (on guitar) but firstly the host for the night Daniel Guerrero introduced local poet David Bentata who opened the night with 3 of his poems.

Then to kick off the night musically is the The Jazz Club House Band featuring Atzuko Shimada, a 3 piece consisting of a piano, drums and stand up bass.

They warmed up the crowd by playing song such as Skylark by Ella Fitzgerald in Bosa-Samba style, All Of Me, My Ideal and even a composition of their own.

Next up, Paul Riley Big Band, they really got the crowd going with an array of guest vocalists including Jamie De La Rosa who wowed the crowd with his rendition of Feeling Good, and the Suzettes provided backing vocals for many of the artists. Other songs covered were ones such as Sway Me More, Afternoon In Paris (Big Band style), Lullaby On Broadway and Frank Sinatra’s New York New York covered by Dennis Beltran.

Following shortly after, Surianne & Peter Montegriffo on guitar took to the stage.

There was a rumbling of conversation going on in the background, but the second Surianne opened her mouth and that surreal and haunting voice came belting out of her, you could hear a pin drop in the venue; the silence of the crowd was deafening.

Peter who accompanied her on guitar is a very well known and talented local musician who has been around for years, and his playing was second to none on the night; he also provided Surianne with backing vocals.

She kicked off the set with She Flies, a beautiful song. Followed by the likes of Confessions, A Place Called Home and Something In Your Eyes.

At the end of the set, she asked the audience if anyone had a harmonica with them, and it just so happened that among the many musicians there that night there was a harmonica player who had his instrument with him. Philip Warne took to the stage and they jammed, to the crowd’s delight, for a while until the set ended.

Apart from being a very lovely and charismatic person off stage, Surianne proved that night that she is one hell of a singer-songwriter and performer on stage!

And the last act of the night was Saxomania which included local radio jazz DJ Raphael Gonzalez. They played a whole array of popular songs beautifully on sax. They were very tight and had the  audience engaged the whole gig and ended the night with a great vibe.

 

 

 

Matt Bianco & The New Cool Collective, Al Di Meola and Levanter Breeze

Set in the iconic and fairy-tale looking venue of St. Michael’s Cave, the 5th Annual International Jazz Festival is taking place.

The crowd began to stream in and along the aisles to their seats, soon after the host took to the stage, thanked all the sponsors and gave a short introduction for tonight’s opening band, locals Levanter Breeze.

The 4 piece band took their places and the guitarist Peter Martinez told the crowd that their set was dedicated to the late Tyrone Moya, local bass-player and musician friend.

They began with a couple of swaying jazzy songs, followed by a slower ”Sands of Time”

The rest of the set was engulfed with jazz fusion licks on guitar, fluid detailed drums, precision bass playing and a wizard on piano, who plays effortlessly.

The whole repertoire was tight and beautifully composed and they received a standing ovation.

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Next up was Al Di Meola.

He was accompanied by a rhythm guitarist and an accordion player.

They delved straight in to playing, and immediately enraptured the whole audience with their clean, elegant and soothing playing.

Al took a moment to tell the crowd how he had written a lullaby for his daughter Ava called Dream Sequence, and as the name implies it was a dreamy and sweet melody.

They then played Turquoise from his 2006 album Consequence of Chaos.

Al then began to speak about music originating in the UK in the 60’s, most notably The Beatles and how he was so lucky to record his renditions of their songs at Abbey Road, which he said made him feel like a kid in Disneyland. They then went on to play his rendition of Because.

They followed this up with a song for Al’s grandfather’s place of origin, Cerreto Sannita in Italy; where Al says half of the town were called Di Meola. It was a sharp and piercing piece with his fingers working the fret-board at the speed of light.

The accordion player deserves a mention as he was a master at his art, and even accompanied the songs with animalesque vocal sounds and whistling along to the tunes.

Finishing off his set, he dedicated a song to the legendary Paco de Lucia, and played Mediterranean Sundance which had the whole floor clapping along in unison and ended in an eruption of a standing ovation.

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After a short wait, The New Cool Collective bounced on stage and awoke everyone from the beautiful tranquil trance that Al Di Meola had left us all in.

They began with an instrumental, including instruments such as bongos, the triangle, saxphone, trumpet, flute and piano, and then introduced Matt Bianco’s singer Mark Reilly.

The songs had a cuban-latin feeling to them, and one of the songs had an African opening which had the crowd bewitched.

They had 2 musicians on percussion who would exchange instruments between songs and they both played the bongos and the timbales excellently.

Crowd-pleasers such as Whose Side Are You On? and Count Me In had the crowd singing and dancing in the aisles.

They also played More Than I Can Bear and Do The Right Thing, all topped off with the crowd’s favourite Don’t Blame It On That Girl, which had my mother, and many other people’s mothers, dancing in their seats.

The crowd gave their last standing ovation of the night and everyone danced on out of the cave.

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Gabriel Moreno & The Quivering Poets Album Launch in Gibraltar

Gabriel Moreno & The Quivering Poets’ Farewell Belief Album Launch Gibraltar

In the quaint and quirky setting of The Kasbar, people begin to flood in and take their seats in the small and cavern-like venue iluminated by mostly by candles and filled with the smell of wine.

Tonight is the night, Gabriel Moreno & The Quivering Poets are finally releasing their album Farewell Belief in Gabriel’s hometown of Gibraltar.

A rumbling of anticipation fills the air as Gabriel personally meets and greets all his guests, most of whom are childhood friends and fellow musicians.

The room fell quiet as Rebecca Faller entered and kicked off the night with her poetic music.

 

Accompanying her are her dad, Distopian Dave, and her daughter, Tranquil Trev, and Barbara Bartz (The Quivering Poets’ violinist).

They performed various gleeful anecdotal songs including Conchita Leon, The washing machine blues, Rivers of blood and years & years, which had everyone clapping along and aroused various bouts of laughter. They also played the more sombre Saint Theresa’s at 3, which saw the audience reflect on their own experience dealing with Saint Theresa’s.

All too soon, their set was over and the room hummed with the sound of people discussing what they had just watched and reminiscing over the lyrics.

After a short wait, the band began to take to the stage and the main event got under way.

Farewell Belief is the 2nd album by Gabriel & The Poets, which consist of Gabriel Moreno the bilingual poet on vocals and nylon guitar, Pablo Campos the percussionist, Adam Beattie the multi-instrumentalist on bass, Barbara Bartz violin virtuoso and last but not least Pablo Yupton the instrumentalist and poet on electric guitar.

The first song was one referencing a drunken man in Jerez de la Frontera, a place that Gabriel jokingly said that in the UK  nobody knew where he was talking about, so I feel that he enjoyed having that identification that we all had with his lyrics.

Poetry and music were in symbiotic embrace from the very beginning and the violinist entranced us all with her ethereal playing.

The whole band were in sync and flowing beautifully and Gabriel seized the moment and had everyone captivated by his lyrics and jubilation.

They played such songs as Rosalind, Maggie Magee and Farewell Belief, which had the crowd engaged by clapping along and singing what bits they knew.

The gig was more reminiscent of a pagan wedding or ceremony of some sorts rather than a concert.

After the last song, Gabriel & The Poets received a standing ovation from the crowd which lasted a good few minutes. After an encore pleaded for by the fans, it was all hugs and kisses between the band and the audience and the night ended on a high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Inch Nails & Cold Cave @ Manchester Phones 4 U Arena 25th May 2014

On arrival at the Phones 4 U Arena, it was not at all what I was expecting. Hailed as being the biggest indoor arena in Europe, the standing area is only a bit bigger than that of the Manchester Academy 1, and the seating areas on the sides are what makes up its 21,000 capacity.

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First up tonight was the band Cold Cave, who despite having had lots of contributors, is solely composed of vocalist Wesley Eisold, who due being born with one hand, has focused his musical abilities on electronic music.

For this tour he was accompanied by Amy Lee on the mixing table, who has been touring with him since Spring 2013.

After sitting on the venue’s floor for a while, staring at the empty stage with Cold Cave’s logo on it, which reminded me of the vegetarian society’s logo, finally at 8 o’clock Cold Cave walked on stage, said hello and instantly started their 8 song set.

The lights went down and images begin to be projected onto the stage, each relevant to the song that is playing. Starting with the song Underworld USA, and an American flag projected on to the stage, Wesley sets the mood for the rest of his act, a dark 80’s synth-pop mood that is.

The set carried on, the imaged kept changing, he danced around, flinging his fringe from side to side, but the crowd that night were just not ”feeling” his music at all, except for a handful of gay men who were absolutely loving it and jumping around non stop.

I think that due to the crowd being mainly closed minded metal heads, and Cold Cave being very 80’s darkwave Depeche Mode-esque, it was not a good combination, and even led to some people booing them at the end of the show, which I was quite horrified by, as I had never seen that before.

Moving on swiftly…

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Nine Inch Nails kicked off their set with the hypnotic Me I’m Not, coupled with a mystical backdrop and lights, which made them look like they were being beamed down from a space craft.

Following that up with the more upbeat Copy Of A, a song from their eighth studio album Hesitation Marks. Despite having a variety of new material from this album, they deliver all the fan favourites from previous albums such as Head Like a Hole, Hand That Feeds, Closer,March Of The Pigs

The tempo and the crowd get more up-beat as the set goes on, and at one point the backdrop falls away and reveals multi-instrumentalist Ilan Rubin really going for it on the drums.

Also on stage that night with vocalist Trent Reznor, were the side-burn clad former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Robin Finckand Italian multi-instrumentalist Alessandro Cortini on syths/keyboards and guitar.

The whole band demonstrated their versatility during the set, chopping and changing instruments with such fluidity and ease; and with the eerie light-show they had behind them, you couldn’t really keep track of who was playing what any more, so it was better to just let yourself be hypnotised by the spectacular multi-sensory show.

The backdrops ranged from simple videos to perfectly musically synced lights that formed a spinning 3D box around the band. Each song was perfectly complemented by a visual enhancer and the set was played to perfection.

The concert came to an end with the encore songs The Day The World Went Away and Hurt, after which, the band simply waved and then walked off stage; and I don’t blame them, as they played the whole concert non-stop, with no chatting to the audience between songs, and a mere 60 seconds rest between their last song and the beginning of their encore. Pretty hard-core if you ask me!

Courtney Love & White Miles @ Manchester Academy 13th May 2014

Having searched the internet high and low,to no avail, trying to find out who Courtney’s support act was going to be, I was preparing myself for a very mediocre support band.

At the box office, I found out that the support band was Austrian rock duo White Miles.

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The duo is composed by vocalist/guitarist Medina Rekic and drummer/vocalist Hansjörg Loferer (Lofi). They describe themselves as a ”dirty pole dance stoner blues rock duo” and much to my liking, that is exactly what they are!

Starting their show at bang on 7:30, and wearing little more than a jean vest and a bra, Medina introduced the band and their debut album Job: Genius Diagnose: Madness.

They had a punk rock feel to their music, and coupled with Medina’s voice that was reminiscent of Joan Jett’s, it gave for a  great dirty, groovy, rock set. They were entertaining and upbeat, and the crowd started joining in with the songs, especially during Do What The Devil Says.

They are one of few support bands that I have actually enjoyed as a band in their own right, and not just stood through their set politely waiting for the main band to come on. They were a nice surprise.

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On to the main act; Courtney Love walked out in a black kimono with an e-cig hanging from her neck, and the crowd screamed.

I forgot to mention, that the crowd was made up by 90% women and only 10% men. Never have I been to a concert with so many women!

Kicking off with one of her newer singles, Wedding Day, she set the mood for the rest of the show.

Her set was mainly composed of Hole songs, which we all know and love, and with the rumours of a Hole reunion on the horizon, classics such as Malibu, Celebrity Skin, Asking For It & Awful were the best received and most anticipated by the crowd.

She threw a couple of covers into the mix, including K’s Choice’s Not An Addict, which she said she wished she had written, and Leonard Cohen’s Take This Longing during the acoustic part of her encore.

Letter To God was dedicated to ”All the fat girls, goths, faggots, chavs who live on council estates and all the underdogs”, and after a moving rendition, she explained that the song was written by the same person who wrote Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful (Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes), and that she actually asked for the song Beautiful, but was told that she would ‘‘take it to number 1 in an alternative way, and it was intended to be a softer, more commercial success song”. She then said, ”And speaking of anorexics” and dove straight into the song Skinny Little Bitch, which woke everyone up again.

In between songs she made random requests such as a ”small/medium shot of tequila” or a ”Kleenex, tissue, toilet paper, whatever you call it, I just want to blow my nose” and she kept poking fun at a few  premiership footballer’s who were rumoured to be in the crowd. She also put on a strong Northern/Mancunian accent at various stages throughout the show, at one point making fun of herself saying ”I liked her old stuff. I liked Courtney when she was 26”  before ripping into Celebrity Skin.

Backed by a band of great musicians, including guitarist Ginger Wildheart, she stole the show, and the hearts of many young girls there too, as I heard many of them shouting ”Marry me, Courtney” while gazing at her with a mixture of admiration and lust.

Finishing off with Awful & Doll Parts, the show was a complete success,including witty banter, never knowing what she was going to do or say next and a lot of high energy songs .

 

 

Soulfly, Savage Messiah & Boss Keloid @ Sound Control 26th Feb 2014

Tonight was the first time I had attended a gig at Sound Control. Sadly I had not been granted a photo pass for this particular gig, so I did not take any photographic equipment along, but to my surprise, no one got searched on the door and there was no security by the stage (even when Soulfly were on!) which meant that I could have easily taken my cameras along with no problems. I suppose it is because the venue is more of a laid-back-pub type of venue in comparison to the other music venues in Manchester. Another thing I noticed straight away, was that the photo-pit was non existent, and the 1 photographer that was there, had to end up taking photos from the crowd whilst trying to keep his equipment from being trashed by the mosh-pit. So, why there was such a hoo-ha about photo pass issuing in this venue, I do not know!

Tonight’s gig was kicked off with the mighty Boss Keloid. It is now the second time I have watched them (the first time was at Grand Central in 2013) and they didn’t fail to impress a second time round.

Boss Keloid 2013 - Photo taken with a point-and-shoot camera

Boss Keloid 2013 – Photo taken with a point-and-shoot camera

With a heavy, beefy, and colossally groove infested sound and the charisma and vocals of front-man Alex Hurst, this band has all the ingredients to make it big. They are even better live than they are on CD, unlike some bands who don’t meet your expectations when playing live; this is because each band member is so unique and brings his own touch to the band.

Bass player Liam Pendlebury-Green, is by far one of the best and most energetic bass player in this area. Alex Hurst is a great vocalist and is pure lunacy, from his facial expressions to his strange epileptic-fit-style dancing. Paul Swarbrick looks like he should be in Lynard Skynard, but shows that appearances can be misleading by producing these fist clenching groovy riffs that get the crowd going wild. And on drums, Ste Arands keeps the beat heavy and groovy!

Boss Keloid 2013 - Photo taken with a point-and-shoot camera

Boss Keloid 2013 – Photo taken with a point-and-shoot camera

 

 

 

Up next, Savage Messiah. ”I did not expect them to be that young!” was my first thought as they ran on-stage.

For some reason I imagined them to be middle aged men. maybe due to their ample success since forming the band in 2007 in the form of two worldwide official releases and one independent EP release, along with various tours.

Straight away you could feel the classic thrash metal vibe in their music and influences like Iron Maiden, Metallica & Megadeth were very apparent.

Drummer Andrea Gorio blast kicked that double pedal throughout a large percent of the show, which made standing on the vibrating floorboards feel like you were on one of those Power Plates they have at the gym.

After a couple of songs, front-man Dave Silver had to ask the sound engineers to turn him up because no-one could hear him.

I feel truly sorry for bands when they have to do that, because it is a buzz-kill and appears highly unprofessional, but it was handled quickly and they swiftly moved on with their next song.

The band got to a song called Hammered Down from their new album The Fateful Dark, out on March 10th, which I particularly liked as it was fast paced thrash but with clusters of groove oozing out of it from time to time. 

Also, right at the end of their set, their ”mascot” ran on-stage in his Papal attire.

On to the head-liners now. After a long wait, gazing at the Brazilian flag hanging on stage, Max Cavalera appeared and the crowd chanted ”Soulfly” incessantly.

From the word go, the crowd bounced continuously until an relentlessness mosh pit broke out, at which point I moved to the back of the venue, after being punched in the chest.

From the back, it was easier to observe the band, and it was very nice to see the second generation of the Cavalera’s; 21 year old Zyon Cavalera on drums, who is Max’s son.

Soulfly are on their 2014 Savages tour. Their 9th studio album,Savages, was released in September last year, and bears the unmistakeable thick, tribal and rhythmically heavy sound that defines Soulfly.

The album was their first to be released on Nuclear Blast Records; it was produced by mastermind Terry Date, and features a few guest vocalists including Max’s other son Igor, Neil Fallon of Clutch, Mitch Harris of Napalm Death and Jamie Hanks of I Declare War.

In my opinion the band’s performance was hindered due to lack of space & sound quality.I hope to see them perform at a festival and therefore be able to experience Soulfly to their full capacity.

On the way out, we bumped into Savage Messiah’s guitarist Joff Bailey, who apologised profusely for the sound issues during their set.

Win Fernandez & Joff Bailey (Savage Messiah)

Win & Joff Bailey (Savage Messiah) Photo taken with point-and-shoot camera

Skindred, Soil & Viza @ Manchester Academy 02/02/14

Only 2 weeks after my first gig of the year, Lamb of God, I am back queueing up outside the Academy in the freezing cold again, but the up-side to getting to a gig really early, is that you are sometimes lucky enough to run into band members as they are buying their dinner, like I ran into Mikey Demus (Mike Fry) of Skindred in a kebab shop down the road from the Academy.

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Soon after the crowds began to flock in from the cold, Californian rockers Viza took to the stage. A very eclectic looking bunch, I must say!

So, on one side of the stage you have a guitarist with a Salvador-Dali-meets-Rollie-Fingers moustache and on the other side you have a deranged looking Oud player with a funky beard, making facial gestures that resemble that of someone who has escaped from an asylum.

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During their first couple of songs you could feel the System Of A Down influences strongly coming through, and after a quick google session about the band, it turns out they are associated with Serjical Strike Management headed by the lead singer of SOAD, Serj Tankian.

It is hard to pigeon-hole their sound, it is so varied; one moment they have a Mediterranean vibe going on, the next minute they are rockier and in the song My Mona Lisa, I felt the urge to start Cossack dancing (the Russian dance, where you squat and kick your legs out alternately).

After front man, K’noup Tomopoulos, had finished having a chat to the audience, he said: ”If you do not know the lyrics to this next song, you should leave the building”.  I was surprised to hear this, as I didn’t think so many people would know their lyrics that well, but it turns out that the next song was actually a cover of Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar), which was made famous by The Doors in 1966.

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After an enjoyable, weird and upbeat set, they said their goodbyes and left the crowd nicely warmed up for SOiL.

For more photos of Viza:

click here

I was very excited to be seeing SOiL, as it was their last show in the UK for this European tour.

After an eager wait, on marched the band and everyone erupted into an applause.

They kicked off their set with Breaking Me Down, which was one of various songs played during their set, from their 2nd and most well known studio album, Scars.

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During the rests between the songs, frontman Ryan McCombs, would thank everyone insatiably for being there that night and for continuing to support an ”old” band like SOiL.  I especially liked when he said: ”The music begins and ends with you, without you there would be no music…”   It is nice to see famous bands being so humble and having such a lack of an ego trip.

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Then, a familiar intro started playing, it was Shine On Me, their powerful first single from their sixth studio album Whole, released in 2013. The power that song emits is goose-bump inducing even on Youtube, so I was expecting the crowd to explode when they played this, but much to my astonishment, the crowd seemed to have entered into a mass coma, because apart from the mosh pit in the middle, the rest of the crowd were not very receptive to this groove-infested beast of a song. Shame on you all!

Yet, when the band ripped into a cover of Ram Jam’s Black Betty, everyone seemed to suddenly  re-awaken, and chanted the lyrics whilst dancing around. And that was that, the crowd was alive again and totally engaged with the music. Just as well too, as Ryan decided to jump into the crowd during the performance of the ultimate fan favourite Halo. I couldn’t see him from where I was standing but I could occasionally see his iconic microphone being thrust into the air like a knights sword before entering battle.

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They also played other great songs like Loaded Gun, Redefine, Hate Song & Unreal, to which the crowd were asked show their metal unicorn (to raise their middle finger in the air)

All too soon though, their set drew to a close and after another display of gratitude from the band, they vacated the stage. I would have loved to see them do a longer set to be honest.

For more photos of SOiL:

click here

During the break, as the stage was being prepared for Skindred, they played Pantera’s I’m broken; that is the second gig consecutively in the Academy that has played Pantera during the break. Love it! Although one thing I would like to say to the sound engineer is: All bands deserve to have the same quality and volume of sound as the headliners.

Then, the lights go out and the iconic sound of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck booms out of the speakers accompanied by synchronised strobe lights , and the crowd chanted the lyrics and crowd surfed as if AC/DC were actually performing it.

Suddenly the Imperial March song came on and the band appeared on stage halfway through the song. Another very eclectic looking bunch, with guitarist Mikey Demus sporting his statement ginger ZZ Top-esque beard and white Ray Ban Wayfarer glasses; and frontman Benji Webbe in his silky silver shirt and black waistcoat with spiky shoulder pads and sunglasses with equally huge spikes on the side.

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Starting off their set with Rat Race was the perfect appetiser for the rest of the insanity that was to come in their set.

In all honesty, I do not recall noticing when one song ended and the next one started because there was so much going on in each song, random snippets of music would be thrown into the mix and then Benji would start urging the crowd to ”wave like the queen” or to boo their DJ for not liking Metallica or Slipknot. 

One intro to a song that cannot be lost in the midst of the mayhem was that of Ninja. We all heard the well known narration blasting through the speakers: ”In a far away land 4 brothers and 1 bastard son, you. Became known as the ultimate fighting machine. I bring you The Ninja!”

And then everyone screamed ”Enter the Ninja” and then BOOM the crowd just erupted into a sea of people jumping in synchronism. It was truly, electric!

I have never put a video on here before, but you need to watch the first 30 seconds of this video to see what I mean about this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuC3n7brNmo

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Benji carried on engaging with the crowd in a way I have never seen any other frontman do, he literally had everyone eating out of his hand. I found it particularly amusing when he got a Skindred t-shirt and said ”Who wants a t-shirt?”, then dangled it in front of the crowd as if he was dangling a fillet steak in front of a lion. Everyone screamed for the t-shirt, and Benji simply looked at them and said ”Well, they are £20 from the merch store at the back, you stingy bastards!” (Remember he has a strong Welsh accent, so it made it even funnier)

By this time it was halfway though the show and while Benji went to get changed into his gold attire, the DJ played a variety of random tracks from different artists, perfectly blended to create a seamless flow (Jay Z/ Beastie Boys/ House of Pain/ Queen/ The Prodigy/ Jason Derulo) and drummer Arya Goggin was an absolute beast on the drums, keeping up with all the song changes and really going for it.

A couple of songs later, Arya was replaced on the drums by the roadie, I do not know what happened there.

It was truly a lot more than just a concert, it was one hell of a show, with a huge amount of energy, a light show, musical diversity and great musicians. Also, in contrast to other frontmen, Benji did not use his status to encourage the crowd to be violent or disrespectful, on the contrary, he said: ”Does anyone hate gays? Does anyone hate black people? No? Good. Because when you come to a Skindred concert you are all here as a big family” That is a thumbs up from me!

They played other great songs like Nobody, Pressure, State of Emergency and of course the very catchy Kill The Power, which is still stuck in my head now.

For more photos of Skindred:

click here

On the way out, we were lucky enough to bump into Ryan from SOiL who was chilling by the merchandise stall. Despite hesitating to ask if I could photograph him, because even though he is an artist, he is also a human being and might not want to have a camera shoved in his face while he is relaxing post-gig, I decided to ask him and he did not mind at all. He was very nice to my husband and shook his hand insatiably and thanked him for his support. This guy gets 10/10 for humbleness! Great end to the night!

Lamb of God, Decapitated & Huntress @ Manchester Academy 19/01/2014

First gig of the year!

What better way to kick-off the year than to jump straight in the deep end with heavy metal heavy-weights Lamb of God.

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It was my first time shooting at the Manchester Academy 1, and I loved it!

The first thing I noticed before even getting near the venue, was the colossal queue of people down the street all in the black and camouflage ”metal uniform”, you know, black t-shirt and camouflage pants.

To my dismay, most of that queue was for the box office, which just happens to be where they issue the photography passes from, so I got in line. The queue didn’t move in over 15 minutes, and 5 minutes before Huntress took to the stage a nice security guard let me jump into a shorter 2nd queue that had formed because they opened a 2nd box office window, hallelujah!

Just as I finally got my pass, I hear Huntress starting to play, so I ran into the venue and bulldozed my way through the crowds and made it just in time!

I had never heard of Huntress before, so I had a close listen to the Los Angeles thrashers.

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Fronted by blond-haired-leather-clad-screecher Jill Janus, the band have a classic metal sound accompanied by pretty mystical and folkloric lyrics, which reminded me of lyrics by The Sword.

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Janus kept the crowd, especially the males, entertained strutting her stuff on the stage, whilst piercing everyone’s eardrums with songs such as Spell Eater and I Want To Fuck You To Death (which was written by Lemmy of Motorhead)

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To view more photos of Huntress, please click below:

click here

 

 

After a short while, the stage was ready for Decapitated, but before they came on stage, they did a sound check…Little did they know, it would be the highlight of everyone’s night!

I could not see who was playing the guitar from where I was standing, but suddenly a very familiar opening to a song started blaring through the speakers. It was Walk by the mighty Pantera! I kid you not, suddenly the whole crowd woke up and roared in approval. Every person in the crowd, fellow photographers and even the security guards were throwing fists in the air and chanting the iconic lyrics ”Can’t you see I’m easily bothered by persistence.One step from lashing out at you…Respect, Walk, what did you say?”

Honestly, the reaction was amazing, it was as if Dimebag himself was there on stage, and the best part was that even after the 30 second sound-check was over, the crowd carried on and sang the song to the end. It was inspiring to see what a mark Pantera left on a whole generation, and how just the beginning of one of their songs being used during sound-check drew everyone together as one.

Now, I had better write a bit about Decapitated, if not I’ll be here all night rambling on about Pantera.

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Hailing from Poland, Decapitated are not new on the scene; they formed in 1996 by founding member and guitarist Vogg and have since toured the world and released 5 albums.

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The band suffered a terrible road accident in 2007, which resulted in the death of the founding drummer known as Vitek, and after an understandable period of disbandment, Vogg decided to continue the band and reformed Decapitated with new members.

They became known for their song-writing and technical instrumental approach at a very young age and earned themselves an international fan base in the underground music community.

Kicking off the set with the song 404, the band got the crowd’s juices flowing. I personally couldn’t understand a word that frontman Rafał Piotrowski  was saying, but the crowd seemed to be enjoying it, and as he circle head-banged with his waist length dreadlocks and pierced face, he tried to keep a straight face, he couldn’t help but to crack a smile, like that of a little boy, every time the crowd cheered.

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Vogg’s influence was clear, with his Vulgar Display Of Power t-shirt, and custom made RAN guitar with the iconic Dean-eque headstock, it was not a surprise to hear little bits of Dimebag Darrell tributes in his playing.

Most of the songs were fast paced, ear bashing metal, but the last song Spheres Of Madness had a good dose of groove in it, which by the swirling crowd surfers in the pit, you could tell was a hit with the fans.

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After waiting next to the stage like a kid at Christmas, finally the time came to get in the pit for Lamb of God!

With Chris Adler’s drumkit on a monstrously tall drum-riser, it was clear that the big guns were up next.

After a couple of minutes of the whole crowd chanting the band’s name, they emerged onstage and security had to stop people from trying to jump over the barrier with excitement.

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They get straight into Desolation and the crowd are going off their hinges, the testosterone is flowing and everyone is in full swing.

After a few ”How you doing Manchester?” from frontman Randy Blythe, they went into the thunderous Ghost Walking.

By this point, I had already been looking at the right side of the stage for about 2 minutes, and wondering if I was going crazy, because the man I saw there with his blue Ibanez guitar did not look like Mark Morton at all, yet no one had seemed to notice this yet.

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To my sanity’s relief, right after Ghost WalkingRandy took a moment to point out and explain to the crowd, that Mark had not been able to make it due to a ”family emergency”. Later that night I read in Metal Hammer that Mark’s absence from the European tour had been stated in their press release on the 7th of January.

Anyhow, the man on the axe was Mr Paul Waggoner of Between The Buried And Me. The crowd, who seemed like they had only just realised that it wasn’t Mark, gave him a warm welcome. I knew all too well someone in the crowd who I was sure had noticed his absence the second Mr Waggoner walked onstage, my husband. I was right, he was devastated, as he only likes LoG because of Mark Morton.

After pouring yet another bottle of water over his head, Randy asked the crowd if they would ”Take a walk with him?” and he dived in to the explosive Walk With Me In Hell. By this point the moshpit was going full force but sadly it was the last song I could enjoy from the pit.

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I focused on John Campbell and Willie Adler during the last song, and even though they are showing signs of the passing of time, they are still as agile and energetic as any kid in their 20’s. Campbell’s snow white hair and beard make a lovely contrast with his pillarbox red bass guitar. Sadly, I couldn’t see much of Chris Adler at all, as his drumkit was so high up.

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After the 3 song curfew was up, we got ushered out of the pit by the biggest security guard ever, and just as we were going out of the side door, I heard the band rip into Set To Fail.

They played other favourites such as Now You’ve Got Something To Die For, Omerta & Redneck, and in true Lamb Of God style they arranged their Wall Of Death, which is where the crowd divides into 2 sections and then on Randy’s count, run at each other like Vikings in battle and try and hurt each other as much as possible. What’s the point? I do not know. I would definitely not recommend getting into a Wall Of Death though.

To view more photos of Lamb of God, please click below:

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Buckcherry, Hardcore Superstar & Venrez @ The Ritz, Manchester – 25th Nov 2013

In all my blogs to date, the photos have all been taken with a compact camera, because that is what is allowed in venues without a photo pass; but tonight I was on the photographer’s list and would be able to get some quality concert photos for the first time ever.

This dream was almost cut shot when I arrived at The Ritz and the receptionist said that my name wasn’t on the list; I had heard of this happening to many people at this venue so I had brought an email confirmation with me, but that wasn’t enough. I got on the phone to the PR company who had put me on the list and I offered the receptionist the chance to talk to them to confirm my attendance, but he declined and instead he just gave me the pass and ushered me in to the venue. I don’t see why he didn’t do that it the first place, but hey, I was in and on time, so I was happy.

I went over to the stage,security let me in, and for the first time I stood in the pit. After many months of getting sweaty and squashed at the front of the crowd just to try and get a half decent photos with a point-and-shoot camera; tonight I felt like I had a VIP ticket. I had the whole length of the stage to roam around and take photos from all different angles, and all this without getting beaten to a pulp by other fans.

Anyway, enough about how much I enjoyed the experience; L.A rockers Venrez took to the stage at 7pm.

At first glance, frontman Ven (I take it the band is named after him) looks a lot like Howard Stern.

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They started the show and the initial genre that came to mind was grunge, but a huge Ramones influence was apparent in the vocals. Personally, the vocals sounded like Joey Ramone and Kermit the Frog entwined.

They kicked into their song Sancity and I really liked this song, the music had groove to it and the lyrics ”Stop putting our hopes and dreams on sale, to the highest bidder of the Holy Grail” were really catchy, the crowd were singing along and the lyrics are still stuck in my head now.

While the rest of the band jumped around and head-banged, frontman Ven stood tall at the mic stand in a very Ozzy Osbourne-eque manner.

I enjoyed their music, it was up-beat American rock n’ roll and got everyone warmed up for the rest of the night ahead.

For more photos of Venrez, please click below:

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Soon after, I headed back to the photo pit, and Swedish rockers Hardcore Superstar bounded on-stage.

From the second that singer, Joakim “Jocke” Berg, got on to the stage, he sprung from side to side and to say that he was energetic would be a massive understatement.

They kicked off the set with Moonshine and rapidly followed it up with the crowd-pleaser One More Minute, to which the crowd chorused.

There was a great chemistry between the band members, which was especially notable when bass player Martin Sandvik and guitarist Vic Zino switched places on stage, and Martin stepped on Vic’s Wah-wah pedal at the precise moment it was meant to be played in that song. That showed that they all knew not just their parts in the song, but also the other band member’s. They both had a high-five brotherly love moment after that great show of impromptu musicianship.

They played other great up-beat hard rock songs such as Guestlist, Dreamin’ In a Casket, Wild Boys  and a slower but still powerful Someone Special, that he dedicated to the crowd.

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This band truly knows how to make sure that their show is memorable. During the song Last Call for Alcohol, frontman Jocke, picked a few girls and one guy (because he was wearing a Foreigner t-shirt and the drummer is a big fan of them) from the audience and invited them on-stage to join in with the chorus and to have a shot of Jägermeister with them. I have only ever seen this on video-clips of bands from the 80’s, so it was very cool to see a band interacting to such a degree with the crowd in this day and age.

Drummer Magnus “Adde” Andreasson, was also very engaging with the crowd and told us how they are from Gothenburg (Sweden) which was a lot like Manchester, and he felt very at home here, so  at home that at the end of their set he pulled his bum out and started hopping around the stage.

Frontman  Jocke’s vocal range,style, attire and energy is very similar to that of Jizzy Pearl of Love/Hate,  and he takes the cake for the best vocals of the night, 10/10!

All in all it was a great show, so great that they turned my very-set-in-his-ways-metal-head friend into a fan of their by the end of the show.

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Now, onto the head-liners, Buckcherry.

Frontman Josh Todd did a little warm up dance beside the stage before belting on-stage and ripping straight into their hit song Lit Up from their 1999 debut album Buckcherry.

The crowd erupted and jumped non-stop throughout the whole track and continued to do so for the rest of the set, come to think of it!

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The band initially came out fully clothed, but by the time they got to Porno Star, most of them had stripped to the waist thus showcasing their interesting collection on tattoos, including Josh Todd’s large King of hearts playing card backpiece with the words Love and Desire on it.

Mr Todd likes to do a little monologue before or during each song, and for me the most notable and surprising one was that of the song Gluttony from their 2013 album, Confessions. He stated that everyone has confessions to make (referencing their album title) and that now was the time to ”get clean with your shit, like, if when I was young I fucked a cat, or I let my first cousin blow me, you know, that kind of thing”’, I couldn’t stop laughing at how vulgar her was!

A couple of tracks later, they started to play the extremely catchy Crazy Bitch and everyone (including myself) sang the sex-fuelled lyrics at the top of our voices. Nearing the end of the song, Todd went into another monologue reminiscing on when his friend got a blow-job; ”So my friend is getting blown, and he has one of those glow stick thing and he breaks it and starts splashing glow stick liquid all over the walls, while I was right there in the room! I was like, dude I am right here, don’t do that shit. Anyway, I just went and fucked the girl’s friend all night”  and then went straight back into the chorus of the song.Josh Todd of Buckcherry The Ritz Manchester 2013-19

Throughout the whole set, you could see the great chemistry between the band members. Guitarist Stevie D and session bass player Kelly LeMieux had massive grins on their faces and shared many moments on stage rocking out together. Guitarist Keith Nelson was on-top of his game and very focused that night, but still found time to shower the crowd with guitar plectrums, as did Stevie D.

Drummer Xavier Muriel drove the show with his hard rocking drumming on his Yamaha kit, and Josh Todd combined his Steven Tyler-meets-Axl Rose attitude,charisma and on-stage antics seamlessly to produce the perfect hard rock front-man.

It was an all-round great night, Buckcherry were fantastic live, very tight as a band and kept the crowd on their toes the whole night with their drug-and-sex-fuelled dirty hard rock.

They finished the night with Wrath, another song from their 7-sins-inspired-album Confessions.

To view more photos of Buckcherry, please click below:

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