The Dandy Warhols – Juniore: Live at Albert Hall, Manchester (UK)

Sub-zero temperatures are the norm at the moment, so after having to cancel a gig last-minute the previous night due to travel issues, I redoubled my effort to make it for The Dandy Warhols, touring for their 25th anniversary. A single support band, in the form of French Psych-Pop outfit Juniore were around to warm up the crowd, so I braved the cold and head on across to Manchester’s Albert Hall for the evening’s entertainment. It’s also my first time at the venue, and being a Grade 2 listed building means that accessibility help is hard for them, but they bend over backwards to help however they can (even when I only asked for help on arrival), which they deserve a lot of praise for, while the setting itself is stunning, providing a great backdrop for the evening’s music.  Continue reading

TesseracT – Between The Buried And Me – Plini: Live at O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

Djent never really took off as the next big thing, but it did spawn a few world-class bands that are probably more happy simply living under the Progressive Metal banner. And tonight London’s Shepherds Bush Empire hosts two of the scenes leading lights, Between the Buried and Me and TesseracT. Continue reading

Ben Ward of Orange Goblin Talks UK tour with COC, And More!

When you talk about dream touring packages, very few co-headliners feel like such a glorious match as Corrosion of Conformity and Orange Goblin – the best of the US “Stoner Rock” and the UK’s finest down-and-dirty bluesy Heavy Metal troupe, tearing it up round the UK with Fireball Ministry and Black Moth in tow to warm things up. Continue reading

Magnum Live At Islington Assembly Hall, London

There aren’t many bands who mark forty plus years with an extensive UK tour promoting a brand new album as opposed to a full-on nostalgia show; but then again Magnum hasn’t followed the trend of many of their peers since their return from hiatus in the early 2000’s. As mentioned by our own Sir Tovey in his Lost on The Road To Eternity (Steamhammer) review, Magnum missed the nostalgia wave of recent times and thus, perhaps as a result, haven’t exactly been media darlings or more a recognisable name more on the periphery. This was certainly the case for me until finally discovering them with the aforementioned Lost …, discovering with it a rich and highly consistent catalogue; a new album more than capable of standing its own with even the band’s more highly regarded efforts. Continue reading

Download Festival: Day Three – Castle Donington, UK

Download lineup

The final day of a festival is often filled with many emotions: a wonderful weekend sadly coming to an end; another day spent celebrating brilliant innovative and life affirming music; hours spent trying to dry your tent out… So it again proved with Sunday at Download.

Leaden skies greet the hordes either nursing hangovers of epic proportions or gathering their belongings for the trudge back to cars and the dreaded long trip home. It’s cold on the field so a bit of warming up is required. Bacon rolls and coffee do part of the job but Dead Daisies do the rest in a punchy late morning slot that has a much bigger crowd than perhaps even they were expecting. Dead Daisies inhabit that strange world where it is perpetually 1986, eternally sun-soaked California and every band is the last gang in town, riding steel horses into sunsets or the arms of star crossed maidens. As you have probably guessed, I thought it was terrific and an object lesson in how to warm up a crowd.

Sweden’s h.e.a.t. have gathered plenty of plaudits for their two albums of 80’s inspired rock and from this performance it’s easy to see why – they are pumped full of energy and chutzpah and have a genuine love of big tunes and even bigger riffs. It may not be the most original sound of the day but it does the job very nicely indeed. Finland’s Von Hertzen Brothers finish the morning off in predictably brilliant fashion with vocalist Mikko Von Hertzen channelling his best John Travolta via a natty white suit that he does well not to get covered in the ubiquitous festival mud. The VHB brand of rock is so packed full of intelligence and hummable tunes, particularly the peerless ‘Flowers and Rust’, it does make you scratch your head as to why these guys aren’t absolutely massive but their time will come…..Please make it so.

Backyard Babies’ raucous and efficient cock rock gives way to the studied and equally efficient metal of Mark Tremonti who does Alter Bridge without the tunes (if you’re not a convert) and Alter Bridge with added metal (if you are).  I’m in the latter camp, as are most of an appreciative if slightly wet crowd on the main stage. The new songs from his second album, Cauterize seem to stand up equally well with the more familiar tunes from All I Was (both Fret12) too. Boxes ticked, job done.

Blackberry Smoke are the perfect band for a warm sunset, cold beers and a barbecue, so the presence of rain, wind, rain and some more rain probably didn’t help their cause but I found their performance compelling in an insouciant and entirely charming way. Billy Idol, by contrast, is a bit of a man for all seasons and you can tell why: he has an arsenal of hits that most bands would give their right arm for. You have to pinch yourself that this is 2015 and not 1985 but Idol turns in an effortless performance of crowd pleasers that you know and love- of course there’s ‘White Wedding’ and ‘Rebel Yell’ but it’s ‘Flesh for Fantasy’ and ‘Eyes Without a Face’ that are the standout tunes. Idol has this look of a man who won the lottery, the football pools and the EuroMillions over one weekend – he simply cannot quite believe that he is still the draw that he is – and, even more brilliant, no one in the crowd seems to begrudge him one iota of his considerable success. Bless him.

In much the same way that people gripe about Cavalera Conspiracy and how it’s not the REAL Sepultura (yawn, boring, get over it) so there is a similar constituency that seems to surround former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and his latest incarnation with Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. Honestly, I don’t know what the problem is: what’s not to love about an artist playing a blinding set of classic song after classic song peppered with huge tune after huge tune from his latest solo records? I tell you what’s not to love: nothing. Slash clearly writes mega tunes in his sleep and his set is one hour of aural bliss. The 55,000 or so on the main field lap it up like a horde of very thirsty Pavlovian dogs. And rightly so.

Lamb of God, photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

Lamb of God, photo by Susanne A. Maathuis

Likewise, the same old situation (song pun entirely intended) for LA’s Motley Crue. Crue, midway through a thoroughly deserved and valedictory world tour to say farewell are another act that many can’t seem to wait to sneer at. “It would be better if Vince Neil could sing better”- kids, Vince Neil hasn’t been able to sing since 1981. This isn’t the point at all. Crue are about the glamour, the sleaze, the rock, the roll, the girls, girls, girls. They bring a show that is part rock opera, part vaudeville, all fire and brimstone. Of course they are absurd and ridiculous- THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT. It is absolutely silly and absolutely brilliant- all at the same time.

And so we come, finally, inexorably, to the self-styled hottest band in the world, Kiss. Arriving on site in a fully badged up Kiss-copter, the New York quartet turn this corner of a foreign field into a veritable circus of pomp, circumstance and old style rock n roll. There are stadium rock shows and then there is a Kiss show. There isn’t one second that passes by in this blistering set where there isn’t something going on – fireworks, drum risers, zip wires, crowd singalongs, flame throwing, blood vomiting all in glorious technicolour and all set to a soundtrack that you know and love. As an end to the best music festival I know, it is both fitting and invigorating.

I’ve booked my place for next year already.

 

MAT DAVIES

Von Hertzen Brothers – Black Wolf – Ulysses: Live at The Dome, Tufnell Park, London

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The Tufnell Park Dome in darkest North London has had a bit of a resurgence of late with its mid-sized entertainment room  being more regularly frequented by touring bands that Ghost Cult readers would heartily approve of. So it’s here we schlepp off to, catching up with our favourite brothers in rock music, the Von Hertzens. Tube delays and refreshment catch ups mean we miss most of the set by the charming and sprightly indie/glam/rock stomp music of Ulysses for which, if the last few songs were any indication, we are very sorry about. Next time, gents, I promise.

Black Wolf play muscular heavy metal, reminiscent of Judas Priest or Iron Maiden or – well, insert any number of hard rockin’ bands here – and they are pretty decent if you like this sort of thing, which, judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd here tonight, many people evidently do. There’s not much that you haven’t heard before but they do a decent set that leaves you warming to them and wishing them well. Given the crowded market place within which they have decided to play their art, it is important you get people on your side: they certainly did tonight.

We are all here for the Von Hertzens though and the room seems to fill almost instantly with less than five mins to their arrival on stage. A loud and almost valedictory opening of ‘New Day Rising; sets the bar at an astonishingly high level which, to their credit, they not only stick to but,on ‘Flowers and Rust’, they move into another league altogether; its swooning harmonies and melody leaving many wondering whether they had, ahem, something in their eye. ‘Black Rain’ has a larger sense of brooding and foreboding than perhaps original listens on record would suggest and ‘Let Thy Will Be Done’ is funkier than a funk convention. Or something. ‘Freedom Fighter’ is full of verve and panache and makes you feel a little bit better with the world; a bit like the band themselves to be honest.

This evening’s performance is full of charm, warmth and energy; they have a brilliant talent that they showcase with a level of insouciant charm and brilliance. This is a band who have gathered their mojo up and twisted it gloriously – they are a fine group of songwriters with not just a cracking new album to promote but a back catalogue of enviable riches. As my companion said to me, tonight felt like a bit of a privilege seeing them. Well said. Glorious, glorious stuff.

 

The Von Hertzen Brothers on Facebook

 

MAT DAVIES