Saturday, 14 October 2017

Found an envelope full of old ticket stubs for concerts that bought back some memories and also a bit sad because what with online booking and the fact most tickets are now kept by the venues its a collection that isn't going to grow soon....

Anyway below are 10 that recall some amazing nights (it's not a list of my favourite gigs ever just the ones that these tickets remind me of)

Thunder - Sheffield City Hall (06/10/1992) - A band at the absolute height of their power touring Laughing on Judgement Day

Def Leppard - Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield (06/06/1993) - One of only two outdoor gigs I've ever been to and what a line up: Terrovision, Ugly Kid Joe and Thunder supporting

Marillion - St David Hall, Cardiff (25/09/1995) - Remember waiting for the milk train at Cardiff Station while the batteries slowly died in my Walkman

My Ruin - Exeter Phoenix (14/09/1999) - One of the most intimidating front woman I have ever see, take a bow Tarrie B

All About Eve - Tavistock Wharf (03/02/2001) - Driving through the fog to see Eve play acoustic with only a few hours notice

Sisters of Mercy - Bristol Academy (22/04/2003) - Unused ticket as my darling youngest daughter decided to be born 5 days late....

The Damned - Torquay Town Hall (04/12/2003) - Hungover from a gig the night before and the bounciest floor I've ever experienced at a venue (and All Living Fear supported!)

New Model Army - Lemon Grove, Exeter (13/10/20005) - Convincing some girl I met at the gig that it was safe to wander into the mosh pit, only for the next song to be Here Comes the War and it all kicked off!!

Fields of the Nephilim - Astoria, London (24/05/2007) - Just simply the best

Acoustica Festival - Exeter Phoenix (15/09/2012) - I've enjoyed all the Acoustica gigs but watching the Smoke Fairies play ABBA at their sound check was magical

Monday, 9 October 2017

Black metal is a strange genre…. Whilst to most people is just a noise and one band/song is indistinguishable from the next there are some variations of note

Bands form the UK seem to lack that cold nihilism that the Scandinavians do so well and the music seem to be more sort of widescreen, ‘epic’ even

This is especially true of the new (released earlier this year) album from Fen. Over just 6 tracks Winter is a huge feeling album. The length of the tracks ranger from 9 to 17 minutes is part of the reason but the changes in pace, mixed with some brutal musicianship and possibly some sort of concept make it a really fascinating listen

It’s not really worth picking out individual tracks but IV (Internment) has some amazing instrumental passages and even a false ending, the switch in gear on track III (Fear) where the atmospheric intro suddenly takes off with the drums just being pummelled into submission is exhilarating

This is a very English take on black metal, more in line with Winterfylleth but there is also a bit of goth (Nephilim style) and elements of post rock (the density and atmosphere of it all)

It could do with a bit more light and shade in the vocal department to make it a truly classic album – the clean vocals are used very sparingly and you wonder if just adding an occasional female voice in there would take it to the next level  

I bought this on vinyl and the packaging is brilliant…. Double LP in translucent green to match the artwork, fully printed sleeves with all the lyrics and even bonus tracks exclusive to the vinyl. Some more established bands should take note, you can produce an amazing physical product for under £25.

Friday, 22 September 2017

It's Autumn so here come all the new releases.... Admittedly Mareidt is more a freezing winter album but timing isn't everything

On her second full length album Myrkur has really mixed things up and its very impressive. The ferocious black metal is largely gone and replaced in part by a slower grinding metal more in line with Sabbath - this is shown to great effect on the Serpent

It's produced by Randall Dunn who's previous work includes Sunn O))) and Wolves in the Throne Room and some of that influence is evident here

Elsewhere the opening track is all Danish herding calls (!) and ominous storms before Maneblot arrives in a maelstrom of vicious riffing and screams, easily the blackest metal of the album. Even then there are clean vocals and a bit of a Scandinavian jig halfway through

The duet with Chelsea Wolfe is more in line with the guests musical output but is still fantastic.

Within the bonus tracks there are a couple of real oddities.... Bornehjem is all sweet choral work whilst a seriously creepy child's voice explains why it want to hurt people. Very, very strange
At the other end of the spectrum Death of Days could easily be played on daytime radio. Its an exquisitely sung, slightly downbeat tune

Overall it's going to take a while to get my head round all the styles on show but this is an artist spreading her wings and not afraid to mix the beauty with the brutal

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Another year, another masterpiece from Public Service Broadcasting.....

Again we have a concept album in the shape of Every Valley about the mining industry in South Wales. What I love about this band is while the sound is recognisable each album has it's own feel - The War Room was all about defiance, The Race for Space dealt in the euphoria of discovering the new and Every Valley is all resigned melancholy

As ever, the samples are perfectly thought out and fit the tracks seamlessly. Its no gimmick just another way to add words to a song. The difference this time around is the use of real vocalist which adds another layer to sound.

In Turn no More, we have James Dean Bradfield giving his usual passion to lyrics from a welsh poem and Haiku Salut repeat the trick of the Smoke Fairies from the last album

There are a couple of surprises.... The anger of All Out is a bit off a shock, as is hearing the first vocals of J Willgoose himself on You + Me - an odd track which is a duet with Lisa Jen Brown who sing in Welsh and no samples. It's rather twee but the faltering vocal of the PSB main man give it an endearing quality.

The album fittingly ends with a Welsh male voice choir on Take Me Home.

The Race for Space is still the better album because it has the highs of discovery alongside the lows of the disasters rather than Every Valley which is more consistent in mood but this is still going to be one of the albums of the year.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Ah, Roger Waters – apparently a Prog God. Which is ironic because since The Wall he hasn’t progressed musically one iota.

Still railing against authority, decrying the futility of war and generally shouting at the world.

What is slightly sadder is that everything he was ranting against 40 years ago is still relevant now.

As to the new album, Is this the life we really want?, most people will know what to expect before the even hear it...
The second track is called Déjà vu. It starts off with the chords straight off Fearless from the Echoes album, has samples of breaking glass and planes (a la The Wall) and yet the irony of the title has probably completely passed Roger by

The use of samples on the Last Refugee are probably now best left to Public Service Broadcasting who now do that sort of thing much better.

There’s a nice modern production (courtesy of Radiohead's producer) and there are tracks good enough to have been on the Final Cut or Amused to Death

The cynicism is relentless and we all know the whole thing would benefit from a healthy dose of Gilmour but if you like Roger Waters then this is a really good album but if you didn’t already this is never going to convert you  

Seemingly out of nowhere brand new recordings from Rose McDowall have appeared…

OK. It’s only a 3 track EP but it’s a start.

The title track, Twisted Love starts slowly (over 3 and a half mins) of just harmonium chords and occasional guitar flourishes over a story of betrayed love.

Things then pick up with some strident cello reminiscent of ELO and some additional tambourine but while it seems to be building to a climax it never happens and it’s soon back to the minimal instrumentation. The vocals are almost painful to listen to as even the ‘doo, doo’s’ sung over the coda suggest this is a woman who has had her heart shattered.

This Calling is closer to the sound of Strawberry Switchblade, all tambourines and strings with some of the lyrics spoken and others sung. (I honestly did expect her to start singing “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” though….)   

The final track is a slightly sinister cover of Make It Easy on Yourself – A basic vocal and piano song is given some disturbing occasional background electronic noises.

It’s great to her Rose’s voice again but this is a very depressing set and not recommended to anyone suffering from a recent breakup