Reef & Toseland @ The Ritz Manchester – 18th Nov 2013

Once again, I find myself visiting one of Manchester’s main venues for the first time, The Ritz.

It looks somewhat like the Academy 1 just half the size.

We arrived just before the support group Toseland began, and we managed to secure ourselves a spot right up front.

Frontman James Toseland jogged onstage with a big grin on his face, this might be because he is a former 2 time Superbike World Champion-turned-musician or as if that is not enough, because he is married to the lovely Katie Melua, some people have it all!

They started their set and immediately you could grasp their groove, they were catchy bouncy rock tunes that you could play anywhere and people would start to tap their feet to it. In the crowd, people took a couple of songs to warm up to them, but by the 3rd song there were fists in the air and heads nodding.

I had never heard any of their songs before, but this one song, Crash Landing, had me singing along to the chorus despite never having heard it before! That goes to prove that less is more, as the lyrics were simple, it made the song instantly catchy.

In short, their performance was fun and the music catchy, and Mr Toseland’s onstage antics reminded my husband of Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise)  from the film Rock of Ages. This is a band I shall keep an eye on as I have a feeling we will be seeing more of them in the music scene in the near future.

Sadly, the stage lighting was atrocious and I barely managed to get a visible photo of any of them with my compact camera, despite being right at the front and taking hundreds of photos!

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Up next, Reef!

On stage first was bassist Jack Bessant, looking like Father Christmas’ little brother due to his long and silver hair and beard which made him look much older than his 42 years, but once he started smiling and bouncing around the stage, you could see he was still as youthful as ever (yes, I consider 42 to be young still)

Lead singer, Gary Stringer, had a quick chat with the audience and reminded us that this was their 20th anniversary tour, even though they had a 7 year break in between ”typical Reef style, a very long Wednesday”

They started the gig off in a slow tempo for the first few songs, which was sadly compromised by the vocals and guitar being very low, despite them signalling at the sound engineer to turn them up on various occasions.

Eventually the sound engineer woke up and turned them up, and they kicked some power into the show by playing the classic Place Your Hands, to which the crowd danced and chorused and really got into the swing.

Gary had a cheeky grin on his face the whole time and kept purposely pushing his mic stand over so someone had to run on stage and pick it up and accidentally hit Jack’s fretboard on one occasion.

The whole band constantly interacted with the crowd thanking them for being there, and my husband got a thumbs up from guitarist Kenwyn House, a peace hand gesture and later a handshake from Garry Stinger and a wink from Jack Bessant.

Gary also jumped off the stage and came down to give some high-fives and fist-bumps to the crowd.

The crowd responded greatly when they played New Bird from their 1999 album Rides and their 1997 anthem Yer Old, to which everyone in the building bounced around with their hands in the air.

They then played a couple of mellow songs that they had composed for their drummer Dominic Greensmith’s wife who is making a film; and finished off the gig with Choose To Live, which was elongated by the band members’ impromptu instrumentals.

It was an all-round great night with a great vibe and great musicians, my only opinion would be that they should have ended the night with a bang rather than a slow-tempo song.

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*All photos in this article were taken with a compact point-and-shoot camera

Alice in Chains, Ghost & Walking Papers @ Manchester Academy 1 – 11th Nov 2013

I had been looking forward to this concert ever since we purchased the tickets, and the time had finally come.

We arrived at the Academy nearing the end of support band Walking Paper’s set. I had not heard of them until I found out they were supporting AIC, and after a quick google of them, I found that former Guns N’Roses bassist Duff McKagen was part of the band.

Hailing from Seattle, they are a band of blues rockers with a charismatic frontman with good vocals. Lead singer Jeff Angell finished off their set by jumping in the crowd and saying a big thank you everyone for being there.

Duff McKagen of Walking Papers - Photo taken with a compact camera

Duff McKagen of Walking Papers – Photo taken with a compact camera

After what seemed like forever, the roadies managed to get the Ghost backdrop up and then the lights dimmed, followed by slowly swaying green spotlights pointing into the crowd. Then, eerie-satanic-monk-funeral music started oozing out of the speakers, making what I have left of my eardrums tremble. This went on for a good 4 minutes before the first ”Nameless Ghoul” (essentially any band member that is not the frontman is known as a nameless ghoul) drifted on stage, slowly followed by the rest of them.

The ”Nameless Ghouls” started to play an instrumental over the already creepy enough music that was playing, and after yet another 3 or 4 minutes, lead singer Papa Emeritus II proudly walked on stage whilst giving a Pope-esque wave.

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Halfway through their first song my husband and I mouthed to each other ”WTF?!”. As much as I love fancy dress and stage make-up, and Papa Emeritu’s was cool,  it was apparent that they were compensating for the lack of musical expertise. The first thing that I noticed throughout their whole set was that they must have run out of lyrics along the way, because in almost every verse they used the word Satanus,Sathanas or just plain Satan.

I couldn’t really pinpoint what genre they were supposed to be, as in one song they sounded like Italian folk music and the opening of the next song sounded like Megadeth.

With verses of their songs looking suspiciously like extracts from the Satanic bible, monotonous use of words such as Satan and Unholy and Papa Emeritu’s less than impressive vocals, I am sorry to say, it was not a show that I enjoyed musically.

I’d advise less theatricals and more effort in to the music, if not, I doubt they will be remembered 20 years down the line.

I must admit that there were a bunch of people in the crowd who loved the show and sang every lyric along with the band, especially a guy standing right behind me, chanting in my ear.

After recuperating from that experience, Alice in Chains took to the stage, with very cool and colourful back-lighting panels.

Immediately, they jumped into Again and the packed-to-the-brim Academy erupted into a mighty roar of approval, and to make it even better they quickly followed it up with Check My Brain, to which the crowd were going nuts.

Unlike at The Cult’s concert last week, there was no moshing going on tonight, everyone was just jumping on the spot, singing to their hearts content and even crowd-surfing right at the front of the venue.

Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains - Photo taken with a compact camera

Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains – Photo taken with a compact camera

Now, I thought that I would have started by commending Jerry Cantrell, but instead, the man who really deserves a medal for that performance is frontman William DuVall, who really made that show come alive!

With his powerful and versatile vocals and buzzing energy he made the show his own, and despite having Layne Staley’s big shoes to fill, he really did a great job of it and I cannot fault him in any way.

Bassist Mike Inez was also on fire that night, and he lit up the crowd with his cheshire-cat smile throughout the whole show, and drummer Sean Kinney was thunderous and versatile and also had a big smile on his face.

The person who I was most looking forward to seeing was obviously Jerry Cantrell; but after getting over the initial wow-moment of seeing him in person, I realised that he was somewhat subdued.

His guitar playing and vocals were top-notch, but he, as a person seemed lethargic and in need of a good night’s sleep…which is totally understandable when you are touring and nearing your 50’s, but DuVall who is only 1 year younger than him (but looks like he is in his 30’s) gave a very contrasting performance to his.

The band played songs from their new album The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here including Stone and Hollow, but my favourite from this album was Voices, which was played beautifully to perfection.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole show, every band members was musically ardent and to top it off, they wrapped up the night with Rooster to which every person in the crowd chorused until the very last word.

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*All photos in this article were taken with a compact point-and-shoot camera

Robert Plant and The Sensational Spaceshifters & Bite the Bullet @ 02 Apollo Manchester 29 Oct 2013

This was my 3rd concert in the space of 6 days and I was tired from all the late nights, so it was a pleasant surprise when arriving at the 02 Apollo to find that the concert was seated rather than standing.

First impressions of the Apollo were good, it looks very elegant and spacious,  the balcony is lovely and the stage is a good size, plus it is very easily accessible for disabled persons.

The crowd that night was a mixture of old and young alike, all eager and intrigued to watch the man who provided unmistakeable vocals to one of the greatest rock bands of all time and whom was ranked #1 in Rolling Stone’s 2011 list of ‘Best Lead Singers of All Time’.

Duo of brothers, Bite the Bullet, took to the stage. For being a 2 piece band, drums and vocals/guitar, they were very good, thoroughly enjoyed what they were doing and had a good vibe between them. They were very grateful for being on tour with Mr Plant; they shared a story of how when they were little boys their uncle brought a Led Zeppelin album to their house and that was the first rock they ever heard, so it was a ‘dream come true’ to be on tour with the man himself.

Bite The Bullet - Photo taken with a compact camera

Bite The Bullet – Photo taken with a compact camera

Shortly after they finished,the man himself sauntered on stage and received a standing ovation.

He thanked everyone for attending and introduced his band. As the audience settled in to their seats the band commenced the gig with Babe, I’m Going To Leave You. The music was amazing and coupled with the turquoise lights and incense sticks, it created a mesmerising atmosphere.

I personally loved his cover of blues legend Howlin’ Wolf’s song Spoonful; as with all the songs that night, he elongated the song by including instrumental segments that were played by the multi-talented group of musicians, who played whichever instrument they picked up to perfection; some of which instruments I do not even know the name of.

He then went in to Led Zeppelin classic Black Dog, and the crowd’s applause thundered throughout the venue. Straight away you could feel the strong Moroccan influence in his version of the song, and I could tell that some people would not particularly like it as they are set in their ways and love the classic original, but I loved it, and it stirred up a feeling of inner peace and made you feel almost transported to the aromatic and colourful Moroccan land. Robert Plant pointed the microphone at the crowd during the iconic ‘Ah Ah Ah Ah’ part of the song and then jokingly told us off for not singing loud enough.

Slowing down the tempo, they played Going To California, and there was barely a dry eye in the crowd. It was played so beautifully and peacefully that it touched the soul of almost everyone in the room. It was truly musical and vocal beauty.

Robert Plant - Photo taken with a compact camera

Robert Plant – Photo taken with a compact camera

Nearing the end of the show, they played a more upbeat but still mystically infused Whole Lot Of Love at which point the whole audience collectively took to their feet and danced, clapped and sang at the top of their lungs. Mr Plant jokingly told us all off by saying: ”You could have all been standing up throughout the whole show!” and then left the stage before returning for the encore.

The encore started with Big Log and then they finished off the gig with Rock and Roll, for which the crowd were on their feet again and singing the song lyric by lyric.

This show has most definitely ruined me for other shows to come, as the amount of emotion,talent,magic and love in the show was overwhelming and I left that night feeling like I had been in deep mediation rather than at a concert. Pure bliss!

Robert Plant and The Sensational Spaceshifters - Photo taken with a compact camera

Robert Plant and The Sensational Spaceshifters – Photo taken with a compact camera

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*All photos in this article were taken with a compact point-and-shoot camera

The Cult & Bo Ningen @ The Manchester Academy 1 – 25th Oct 2013

My second night in a row of musical mayhem was rounded off by The Cult & Bo Ningen at the Manchester Academy 1.

Tonight is my first time attending a gig at the Academy 1 and it is a big contrast to the cosy Club Academy last night. This venue is much more spacious, and reminded me of the Camden Roundhouse, except that the Academy is square!

We learnt from last night that gigs do not start at the time stated on the ticket, so tonight we turned up an hour after the scheduled starting time, and the support act had not even taken to the stage yet.

Soon after arrival though, Japanese psychedelic rockers Bo Ningen took to the stage.Now, let me try and explain what I saw; they looked like androgynous extraterrestrials in dresses with stunning straight raven locks down to their waists.

After contemplating their bizarre but unique look and trying to distinguish whether they were male of female, they started their set, and my, oh my, I did not foresee that coming.

Frontman Taigen Kawabe shrieked indigestible lyrics down the microphone and danced around like a man possessed, as did the rest of the band.

Their musical style is one that cannot be described in one word alone, but the first word that comes to mind is definitely psychedelia, followed by acid,funk,punk,drum&bass,rock…and the list could go on as this band cannot be defined to one genre alone.

Their set was high-pitched, fast, colourful and like nothing I had seen before, and while I won’t be going out to buy their album in a hurry, they are definitely a band I will not forget and if anyone were to take LSD whilst at a gig of theirs, well that would be one hell of a trip!

Taigen Kawabe of Bo Ningen - Photo taken with a compact camera

Taigen Kawabe of Bo Ningen – Photo taken with a compact camera

Taigen Kawabe of Bo Ningen - Photo taken with a compact camera

Taigen Kawabe of Bo Ningen – Photo taken with a compact camera

After a short wait, John Tempesta, former White Zombie drummer,emerged on stage followed by the rest of the band and they went straight in to Wildflower (one of my personal favourites) and a moshpit erupted.

Yes, people were inexplicably and violently moshing to Wildflower, to the point that they were hurting people, which was worrying as there were kids in the crowd as it was a family friendly gig – or was supposed to be!

They continued their gig and frontman Ian Astbury belted out all the songs proving that his iconic voice was still as powerful as ever.

They had a recess and during it they play an Elemental Light Video, which Ian Astbury said would only be appreciated by the ‘artsy’ kind in the crowd, as it was essentially snippets of news video footage and photos with inspiring music over it.

Back on stage, they played Rain and people started hurling pints everywhere to create the effect of rain – what was wrong with the crowd that night?!, followed by other favourites such as Ember and She Sells Sanctuary.

Along the night, the crowd chanted for guitarist Billy Duffy during many of his solos, Ian Astbury gave away 3 of his tambourines to the kids in the audience and it was an all round great energetic show with outstanding musicians and memorable showmanship from start to finish.

The Cult - Photo taken with a compact camera

The Cult – Photo taken with a compact camera

Billy Duffy of The Cult - Photo taken with a compact camera

Billy Duffy of The Cult – Photo taken with a compact camera

Ian Astbury of The Cult - Photo taken with a compact camera

Ian Astbury of The Cult – Photo taken with a compact camera

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*All photos in this article were taken with a compact point-and-shoot camera

 

Skid Row, Ugly Kid Joe & Dead City Ruins @ Manchester Club Academy – 24 Oct 2013

After almost bang on a year since my last concert, I now had 2 killer gigs 2 nights in a row; and kicking of my duo of musical mayhem was Skid Row, Ugly Kid Joe & Dead City Ruins at the Manchester Club Academy.

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This was the first time I had been to a concert in Manchester, and I had no idea of what to expect of the venue. It turns out it is a nice little club, with a capacity of about 400, I’d say, and a nice seating area at the back.

Up first that night were Dead City Ruins, a band of Australian hard rocker keeping the rock’n’roll dream alive, old-school style!

Living out of their ”shitty van that has broken down a dozen times” and ”living off beer and pizza”, they are thousands of miles from home, living without the comforts that we all take for granted, and yet they are gigging every night giving it their all and loving every second of it.

During their set, the frontman at one point decided to get in to the crowd with the microphone and almost decapitated a few people with the cable, but it was all good fun and everyone cheered in approval, apart from security, they were shaking their heads in disapproval.

Their set as a whole was great, very energetic good old rock, with Bruce Dickinson-style vocals present in various songs.

I’d also like to give a virtual high-five to their drummer, who at only 21 years of age can whoop the asses of many drummer twice his age that I have encountered in my time.

The whole band seem like a genuine bunch of nice guys you’d like to have a BBQ with, I wish them all the best in their endeavour to rock’n’roll stardom!

Soon after their departure, Ugly Kid Joe guitarist Dave Fortman takes to the stage followed by their drummer who looked like Jesus Christ wearing Speedos , meanwhile everyone eagerly awaited Whitfield Crane’s arrival.

Suddenly, he runs on stage and electrifies the place, he jumped in to the song V.I.P and followed that up with Neighbour and by this point the mosh pit is going wild and all of us at the front are getting crushed to a pulp, but it was definitely worth it!

Whitfield spent the first half of the gig literally bouncing off the walls and the crowd followed his lead; with sweat,dreadlocks and pints of beer flying everywhere,it was awesome!

It all calmed down slightly when they started playing their well known cover of Harry Chapin’s Cat’s In The Cradle; and the crowd sung along at the top of their voices.

Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe - Photo taken with compact camera

Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe – Photo taken with compact camera

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, but the memory shall definitely remain, and as the band left the stage everyone ran to the bar in seek of hydration.

At this point, my husband and I moved to the back of the venue to watch Skid Row, as my poor husband was knackered from shielding me throughout the U.K.J set.

On marched Skid Row, and the crowd flocked back to the stage area.

They kicked off the set with Let’s Go, which got the crowd going, then played fan favourites such as 18 And Life and In a Darkened Room.

Then, I caught a glimpse of guitarist Scotti Hill, who had been out of sight behind a pillar, and as he walked to the other side of the stage to join Dave ‘The Snake’, I realised that he was wearing more eye-liner than all the groupies put together. What had possessed him to use that amount of make-up, I do not know, but he looked almost like a drag queen. Nevertheless his die-hard fans chanted ‘We love Scotti Hill, we love Scotti Hill!’ repeatedly and he responded by flailing his tongue at them in a Gene Simmons manner.

Bassist Rachel Bolan then took to the microphone to sing a cover of The Ramones’ Psycho Therapy which he dedicated to Marky Ramone who was playing upstairs that night.

Rachel Bolan of Skid Row - Photo taken with compact camera

Rachel Bolan of Skid Row – Photo taken with compact camera

Following that, frontman Johnny Solinger re-emerged and changed the vibe of the crowd when he went straight in to the ballad I Remember You, and at this point I felt kind of emotional seeing the crowd getting their lighters and Iphones out and swaying and singing the song with them. Dave ‘The Snake’ went on to thank the crowd after the song, saying that hearing them singing their lyrics back to them is what  keeps him alive. I felt kind of proud of them at that point; they are touring, away from their families and at an age where they must be tired from all the gigging, and yet they are still devoted to their fans and are still living their dream.

Finishing off with Youth Gone Wild, the youth (or not so youthful now!) did go wild and it was the perfect ending to the night.

*All photos in this article were taken with a compact point-and-shoot camera

Jettblack,Night by Night,The Mercy House & Sondura @ Camden Underworld – 26th October 2012

Opening tonight was Sondura, a quintet that includes brothers Jack Watson, on guitar, and frontman Tom Watson. I really enjoyed this band, they delivered heavy groovy riffs and it was plain to see that they were really enjoying what they were doing.

Sondura

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Up next, The Mercy House. The moment the frontman walked on stage, a striking resemblence came to mind; Curt Cobain. He  immediately started talking to the crowd and said something along the lines of: ”It is a shame we are not playing 80’s music tonight” and then went on to let out an almighty glass shattering scream, like in the film Rockstar, to prove his vocal range.

Sadly, their set list did not contain any songs that really showcased his vocal ability, but saying that, the show was still good, with a gritty dark sound that had their fanbase singing along the whole time.

The Mercy House

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Night by Night, the main support act, took to the stage. The then frontman waltzed on stage in a flamboyant manner and sporting a lot of eye liner. I don’t really know how to define this band musically; they sounded kind of like Fall Out Boy but with Journey-esq vocals and big choruses. They also had a decent fanbase in the crowd that night.

Night by Night

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

On to the headliners, High Wycombe hard rockers, Jettblack.

Straight away, you could tell they were  influenced by AC/DC and the 80’s era.

Due to the hype that everyone had created about this band, I think I was expecting more from them, but they failed to take my breath away.

Then my husband pointed out that the bass player, Tom Wright,who had a huge smile on his face, had played half of a song in the wrong key.

Person expectation aside,it was their penultimate night of their first UK headline tour and the gig was fast paced and fun and their fans loved them; so who am I to say otherwise?

Jettblack

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

Photo taken with a compact camera

*All photos in this article were taken with a compact point-and-shoot camera

Down, Orange Goblin & Warbeast @ Camden Roundhouse – 21st October 2012

Kicking off the night were Texan thrashers Warbeast. I, personally had never heard of them before, but with their old-school thrash sound and ear shattering vocals, you can see why Phil Anselmo chose to give them a chance and signed them up to his label, Housecore records.
Following Warbeast, the mighty Orange Goblin took to the stage and blew the crowd away by opening with Red Tide Rising. I had listened to that song a million times on my headphones, but I never expected it to be so powerful live; the hairs on my arms literally stood up on end due to the pure energy coming from the band.
They played many other favourites like Acid Trial, The Fog and The Filthy and the Few.
Lead singer, Ben Ward, interacted with the crowd throughout the whole set and encouraged everyone to join in and kept giving everyone a ”thumbs-up” after they had joined in with the chorus.
All in all they played an amazing gig, sound a lot heavier live and seem like nice down to earth guys; my husband and I even got a chance to have a photo taken with them.
Then, after a long wait, Phil Anselmo finally emerged on stage and the venue erupted.
At this point I must admit to being a bit star-struck, from watching so many Pantera videoclips to actually seeing that person up close, was a very cool experience.
Down played all the songs that the crowd wanted to hear, so there was a massive moshpit going on, as you can imagine!
Phil Anselmo also encouraged the crowd to join in with the well-known choruses, as Ben Ward did, but this was because he had almost lost his voice cheering for his favourite football team that day and he needed some vocal assistance.
Vocal strain aside, he delivered an energetic and charismatic show, as did the rest of the band; Pepper Keenan who was right in front of me kept throwing his head back and silently screaming, so I take it he was enjoying himself too!
Just before the end of the show, Phil started to dedicate a song to Dimebag Darrell, but got all choked up halfway through; and at that point the whole crowd started chanting ”Dimebag,Dimebag!”
This was a very emotional moment throughout the whole venue, but especially for me and my husband, as he is a huge Dimebag fan and would have loved to have seen Pantera before it all crumbled.
They finished off the concert with the song Bury Me In Smoke and all the members of the other bands came on stage and shared and exchanged instruments to finish off the song; and in typical Anselmo fashion, the last line of the night was: ”And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.”

Scott Shelby of Warbeast

Photograph taken with point-and-shoot compact camera

Photograph taken with point-and-shoot compact camera

Orange Goblin

Photograph taken with point-and-shoot compact camera

Photograph taken with point-and-shoot compact camera

 

Martyn Millard of Orange Goblin

Photograph taken with point-and-shoot compact camera

Photograph taken with point-and-shoot compact camera

 The ever charismatic Phil Anselmo

Photograph taken with point-and-shoot compact camera

Photograph taken with point-and-shoot compact camera

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*All photos in this article were taken with a compact point-and-shoot camera

Big Elf & Priestess @ Camden Underworld 25th Feb 2010

Big Elf & Priestess @ Camden Underworld 25th Feb 2010

So, this is my first ever blog post, and although the event is nearly 4 years old and the photograph is definitely not one that I pride myself on or would choose to showcase, it was my first ”real” concert and back then I wasn’t bothered about getting a great shot of the band; I just wanted to immortalise a fragment of that night and have a keepsake of my first concert.
Speaking of first times, it was the first time I had been to Camden too, so I was extremely excited when a punk-rock-fairytale-looking shop assistant told us that these 2 bands were playing.
At the gig, the first thing I noticed was that there was no alopecia going on in the club as the guys (and girls) head-banged to the Black Sabbath-esque sound of Priestess, their set was great and opened everyone’s musical appetite for Big Elf.
Now, I don’t really have much to say about Big Elf, as we left 3 songs in to their set due to their front man, Damon Fox, being abusive towards his bandmates and making disrespectful comments to the audience. It is a shame, as I would have liked to hear more of the organ wielding mad hatter’s musical talent.
*Please note, this blog post is about the story behind the photo,a fond memory of my first concert, and not about the photo, as it was taken with a point-and-shoot compact camera*