Monday, 20 October 2014

The State of Metal Today - a bit of a rant. Or - 'Death to false Metal!'

It's been in a piss-poor state since the shower of shite that was Nu-metal was foisted upon us - hasn't it? Things are starting to look up a bit though - there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe things were getting a bit stale before Nu-metal came along and a breath of fresh air was needed? What we got instead was some foul smelling dogbreath. Yes - Nu-metal stank!

Change can be a very positive force in music - look at Punk, and more recently Grunge. There was nothing positive about Nu-metal - it was negative and dumbed down to the Nnnnnth degree. It was no longer 'cool' to be able to sing or play a decent guitar solo. Talent was 'out' and downtuning was 'in'. Having 'issues' was in too. Like nobody ever had issues before? Some of us remember Bon Scott singing "and my mother hates me!" in AC/DC's 'Problem Child'. The art of of creating a good riff went out the window - two note riffs repeated for most the song were good enough. You hardly even needed anything you could call a 'song' anymore - a shit two note riff with someone screaming or shouting over it was fine.

The music media were happy - they had discovered the 'Next big thing'. Here kids - buy this! Yes - this will really piss your parents off! And that was all that mattered. Just like rock & roll, heavy metal, punk, and eventually grunge - kids want to rebel against their parents, so they need to find some music their parents will hate. Hey kid - here's Limp Bizkit. Look - this (middle aged record company CEO) has his (tailored) baseball cap on back to front just like you - he's 'down with the kids'. Here's some music about hating your parents - here's some music about your parents not understanding you. Look - these guys hate their parents too - they're just like you.

And the kids bought it - just like the music press told them to, after the big record companies had told them to - and bought loads of advertising space. Job done.Suddenly all these new groups are saying Black Sabbath is their favourite band - 'cos they're so heavy man! But when these same new bands are interviewed and asked who they grew up listening to and who's records they bought as kids it's all Duran Duran, Human League, Soft Cell, and Depeche Mode. What the fuck? I wasn't buying any of their bullshit, but Kerrang! were pushing it all down their throats and the kids were swallowing it hook line and sinker. It didn't seem to matter that all these bands looked and sounded virtually the same. And if any kid thought they were virtually the same? 'Hey kid - here's Slipknot'. That kept them quiet - and their parents hated that shit even more. Job done.

Most the older (post teenage) generation weren't fooled, but the kids didn't know any better. Most of them had never heard the classic rock bands of old - they went straight from chart pop music to Nu-metal. They didn't know there was anything else - anything better - anything with decent songs. I didn't buy into all the fake angst at all, but a generation of kids did. I don't need to hear a band of millionaires whining about how shit their life is. I've got enough of my own shit to deal with - fuck off - I don't want to hear about yours as well. Go and listen to the blues instead. Or even play the blues - then maybe I'll be able to relate to you. At least if it's more sincere than the fake shit you are churning out 'for the kids'.

Inevitably, those kids grew up and grew tired of the same old 'Nu' shit. Trends change and the media had to find something new, but nothing new was coming along. The ever evolving Metallica even seemed to get influenced by Nu-metal and made an album with simpler songs and NO guitar solos. 'St Anger'. Most their fans hated it! I actually rather liked it because of it's aggression and filthy guitar sound, but the less said about that snare drum sound the better...

Meanwhile, metal was evolving on another more extreme tangent. It wasn't about pissing-off your parents and whining about how shit your life was like Nu-metal. This was something evolving from thrash metal and taking something from Nu-metal too. Now all the bands were competing to be the heaviest and most extreme bands around. They are all striving desperately to out-do each other by being heavier and more extreme than the other bands. The result is they all sound exactly the same. It's just metal by numbers - turn the amps up 'louder' than all the others (although you are all using pretty similar amps and they only go so loud) get a more distorted sound than all the other bands (by using the same effects to overdrive the amps) play faster than the other bands (but actually you can't 'cos they are all playing really fast too) and get your shit singer to scream and/or shout even more. Don't worry about trying to write a good song or anything. Even if you did manage to write a good song you would murder it just like you do when you cover a classic song to try and get noticed. Oh yes - you also need a logo with a really shit font so no one can read the name of your band on the posters. Then you can complain about how no one comes to your gigs 'cos your are so underground. Self inflicted yes?

I reckon most these bands know how shit they really are, and they know they will never make it 'cos they are so bad - they choose to make themselves martyrs and know they can be big fish in a (very) small pond while making out the real reason for their lack of success is because they are so extreme and so underground and rebellious that society and the rock mainstream can't take them. No guys - it's just because you aren't good enough.

All you have to do is write a 'song' with a shit two note riff that a five year old kid could play with one finger. Downtune your guitars to sound really heavy (just like all the other bands) and play really fast (just like all the other bands) and even if you have a good singer - whatever you do don't let him/her actually sing! Every band has to use double bass drums played at machine gun speed and with a shit drum sound so the bass drum sounds more like a snare - it sounds like all the bands have the same drummer. It doesn't matter how rubbish your song is - just follow these simple rules and Team Rock will rave about how amazing it is.

What annoys me about these bands is that they are usually very good musicians (as were most the Nu-metal guys) but they dumb down their act. Some of these bands have singers who are actually really good, but instead of using their talent they scream/shout/grunt. Any fucker can do that. Some of these singers have great voices, but they don't use them - they just scream away. Why be deliberately shit and churn out this metal-by-numbers when you can be so much better? Like the Nu-metal bands most these guys are technically really good players - if you are actually a good band - why pretend you aren't? It's all so fake. Is is because metal is just as fashion and trend led as pop music? You've got to scream 'cos that's 'what the kids want?' But do they really?

You've got the emo/screamo metal merchants as well - this seems to me more of an American thing and is more image based because of that. Bands with a mixture of  'pop star' and Goth looks. Usually the music isn't so heavy or extreme, but certain rules have to be followed with the vocals. Maybe have two singers - a good one and a shit one who screams. Often I hear a song by one of these bands and think 'Hey - what's this? It sounds OK, decent music, a bit of a song in there, this guy can sing too'. And then after a minute in comes some fucker screaming for no reason - and I lose interest straight away. Another potentially good song ruined. Why? It's like it's back to the 'Metal-by-numbers' thing - these guys are in the studio writing a song and they are doing OK. Then someone in the band (or maybe the record company?) says "Hey guys - we've got to put some screaming in - otherwise 'the kids' won't buy it".

This is why I can't listen to Team Rock Radio all day. I like Team Rock. I like the wider variety of rock music compared to the other 'rock stations. Absolute Classic Rock is like 'rock music for beginners' with it's crushingly unimaginative and predictable playlist of the same few desperately tired old songs. Planet Rock plays good music but is boring and repetitive - I never turn the station off because the music isn't any good (although it's not all to my taste) but it's not usually long before I'm bored. So I'll change to Team Rock - where I know I'm not likely to get bored of the music. Then after a few songs they will inevitably play something utterly dreadful with really shit vocals - so I change back to Planet Rock or Absolute Crock again. Soon I'll get bored again and have to go back to Team Rock, but after another few songs they will play something else really bad and I'll be reaching for my DAB presets again. And so it goes all day long...  I wish I could leave my radio on Team Rock all the time, but they will insist on playing stuff which is utter shite and then bigging it up like it's amazing - when it SO obviously isn't to anyone who hasn't either got defective hearing or mental issues. I really do appreciate the wide variety of music they play, but they do have some serious quality control issues... These 'rock' stations are between them slowly. killing my love of rock music, so at the weekends I mostly listen to 6 Music instead - particularly mornings until mid-afternoon.

Sorry - my train of thought got derailed there. I've already had a good rant about DAB radio in an earlier post on here. Back on track...

I know I'm having a go here, but I do like metal really - as long as it's good. As in, a good song and good performances from the band members. Meaning in particular a singer with a decent voice who can actually sing - or at least really tries to. OK - not everyone has a voice like Paul Rogers or David Coverdale, but I really appreciate it when a singer really puts some genuine effort and emotion into a song even if the voice isn't amazing. What I don't like is fake anger and aggression - I didn't buy all the faux angst of Nu-metal, and I don't believe the fake anger of most current metal either.As Manowar sang - "Death to false Metal!" It's my belief that a lot of the current really extreme rock and metal with all it's anger and aggression is not what it pretends to be at all - it's actually very commercially minded 'metal-by-numbers' made by deliberately dumbed-down bands in hand with record companies and certain sections of the rock media just to make money - not for any genuine or sincere artistic reasons. It's just neatly packaged mass produced 'rebellion' for the kids. And now we have neatly packaged rebellion for grown-ups too - I give you Nickleback.

However, the current metal scene isn't all bad. Some of the old classic metal bands are still round and making decent new music - Black Sabbath, Saxon, and Judas Priest for instance. Iron Maiden are still a terrific live band and have released quality new music in recent years. Metallica have matured into a 'classic' metal band while not losing touch with their thrash roots. Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer are still kicking around in various forms too. And there are good new bands coming though amidst all the terrible ones.

The encouraging thing is that songs and good musicianship seem to be slowly making a comeback - as do bands with an individual identity of their own fighting their way through all the metal-by-numbers clones trying to out-heavy each other. Some of the screamy/shouty/growly vocalist bands of the last few years seem to have realized why their careers have stalled and they can't progress beyond a certain level - there is only a very limited market for bands with shit singers - even if the music is OK. For instance, Fish Finger Death Punch. For years I thought they were rubbish and found their music unlistenable - largely because of the vocals, although I couldn't hear much resembling a decent actual song beneath all the aggression either. Then on the radio I heard them cover a Bad Company song - the actual song 'Bad Company' in fact. Guess what? Their singer can actually sing and even has quite a good voice! So why didn't he use it before? He's been deliberately being shit and wasting his talent for years - this sort of thing really annoys me. The guitarist can actually play a good solo as well - instead of constantly overplaying like the guys in all these bands do. I remember Paul Rogers saying of the late great Paul Kossoff  "He didn't play a million notes a second - but every note he played meant something". Most of the current metal guys could could learn a lot from that... Even if Five Finger Death Punch do progress and grow into a genuinely good band as they have shown the potential to - they have painted themselves into a corner with their name and that will prevent them getting to the next level....

Avenged Sevenfold are an interesting example too. Another band who I have been aware of for years, but have failed to make any impression on me with their screamy, downtuned overplaying and fake aggression. Suddenly, for them the penny seems to have dropped - Metallica were really loud, fast, aggressive, and the vocals weren't good - yet they managed to break though. Why? Because they learned to write good songs with interesting arrangements, light & shade and very melodic bits. Then they made the 'Black' album. BANG! Avenged Sevenfold decided they needed a 'Black album' - so they made 'Hail to the King'. Guess what? Suddenly people are taking notice of A7X and they are headlining Download. It's not a perfect album, and maybe they have taken the 'Black Album' influence a bit far - the song 'This Means War' is virtually a cover of Metallica's 'Sad But True'. There is still some pointless screaming on the album, but there is a lot good singing too - the guy has a much better voice and is a much better singer than James Hetfield - who himself has worked at it and improved greatly as a vocalist over the years. This album has the makings of a minor classic and I'm sure will be regarded as such in a few years. It ticks virtually all the boxes that the 'Black' album ticked, although it doesn't quite have an 'Enter Sandman' or 'Nothing Else Matters'. It's a good strong album, and like Metallica's classic breakthrough album it has massively divided their fans - I'm sure many of them were crying "Sell out!" from the minute it came out. Suddenly A7X are getting playlisted on stations like Planet Rock which wouldn't touch them with a bargepole last year. Most the band's fans are pretty young and have only recently got into rock music - so they don't realize that 'Hail To The King' is a far from original sounding album. Metallica's 'Black' album was fresh and groundbreaking when it came out, but A7X's breakthrough album is far from it. From the rain sound effects which open the album (exactly as Black Sabbath opened their first album) to the blatant 'Sad But True' rip-off, to the tolling bell (Metallica again - as well as AC/DC among others) and the Lord of the Rings/Game Of Thrones themes - much of this album is good, but not original, although it is polished and well produced. It will be interesting to see where this band take things next. Like Fish Finger Death Punch I think their lack of foresight might have painted themselves into a corner - not only do they look like they can't make up their mind if they are a rock band or a pop group, but also how many people are going to take artists with names like Synyster Gates and M. Shadows seriously? Good luck in the future with that....

Other heavy bands are starting to realize there is no longer any future in dumbing-down their act. One of the most promising songs I've heard recently is from a new band from Norway called Audrey Horne - it's very melodic, well written and arranged - excellent singing too. Some of the guys in the band (named after a character from 'Twin Peaks') used to be in Black Metal bands. Go figure. There is still loads of great new rock music out there, but I don't much of it is heavy metal at the moment. Where are the 'classic' metal bands of the future? - I'm sorry, but I just don't see any at the moment. There are certainly plenty of fresh new bands coming though in the more 'classic rock' and blues styles who don't sound old or dated at all - I reckon the best places on the radio to check out quality new rock acts are Nicky Horne's show on Team Rock and Phil Alexander's Mojo Rocks show on Planet Rock. Also focusing on new music are Wyatt's New Rock Show on Saturday nights on Planet Rock and Sophie K's Breaking Bands show at midnight on Team Rock Radio.

As for Metal...

Sunday, 19 October 2014

4/10/2014 Supersuckers @ Islington Academy

Hey - what's this? It looks like a rock 'n' roll show!
It sure is - it's a Supersuckers show!

The band take a bit of a chance starting off the set with several songs from their new album 'Get The Hell'. From the opening title track this sounds like good stuff and the crowd lap it up. Then frontman Eddie Spaghetti stops and says "OK - I think it's time to start the show". And then things really kick off! We get a whole bunch of the old crowd pleasing favourites like 'Bad Bad Bad', 'I Want The Drugs', 'Creepy Jacalope Eye', 'Paid', and the inevitable 'Pretty Fucked Up'.
Tonight Islington is 'Gold Top City'! Not one, not two, but three Gibson Gold Top guitars on the stage - even the bass guitar is a Les Paul Gold Top! That's pretty rock 'n' roll by anyone's standards, but then The Supersuckers are the (self proclaimed) 'Best rock 'n' roll band in the World'. And judging by tonight's performance that's a fair claim. They distill old school 1950's rock & roll with punk, country and hard rock. Some of their own favourite bands are AC/DC, The Ramones, and Motörhead - and it shows. Indeed at one point tonight if you closed your eyes it almost sounded like we were listening to Motörhead! Not just do Supersuckers play very loud, but at times they play very fast too. Make no mistake - this is good-time music, and the band love playing it. And they want you to have just as good a time as they are having. And we do.
They tell us there are a rock 'n' roll band who play rock 'n' roll music - and they like songs that have rock 'n' roll in the title. So they play some - 'The Evil Powers Of Rock 'N' Roll' and 'Rock 'N' Roll Records (Ain't Selling This Year)' and they play them very well. They are a pretty good live band, but they also have a pick-up truckload of great songs too.
I've seen this band from Seattle quite a few times and from the first time they were really good. Then several years ago they seemed to take a dip - possibly because it was the last date of a long tour and they were tired. Tonight they are back on form and we get blasted with a full on high energy rock 'n' roll show from the first song to the last. This time there is no acoustic 'country' section mid-set - in fact there isn't a single acoustic guitar in sight all night.
As well as the old favourites we get some newer songs like 'What It Takes' and 'When I Go, I'm Gone' before we get the Patent Supersuckers Fake Encore where to save time leaving the stage, waiting for the applause and calls of "More!", the band just stay on the stage and play their 'encore' songs straight away - making time to play more actual music instead of keeping people waiting. We like this idea. The last song is as usual an extended version of 'Born With A Tail' - which has become their 'Ace Of Spades' and is the song which got me into the band in the first place quite a few years ago. I don't think anyone goes home disappointed.

The band finish a few minutes before the curfew time of 11.00 - which leaves loads of time for a few beers in the Wetherspoons pub upstairs..

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Duxford Air Show 2014


A nice late summer day and an excuse for a good run on the bike. A motorcycle is by far the best way to travel to an air display anyway - unless you can fly in of course! No queuing to get in or out again afterwards - car drivers can sometimes spend well over an hour trying to get in to this place, and it can take a long time to get out again as well. On the bike I just cruise straight past all the queues, and there is are dedicated motorcycle parking areas very close to where the action is - in a car you will probably have to park some distance away on the field or even over on the other side of the main road. Obviously the journey to and from the airfield is (much) faster and more enjoyable on a motorcycle too - it's the nearest thing you can get to flying without leaving the ground. You might have the most expensive Porsche or Ferrari - but I'll get there quicker and have more fun doing it!

I didn't bother trying to take pictures of aircraft actually in the air as even with my digicam's 5X zoom they are still just tiny dots - it's a waste of time unless you have a HUGE telephoto lens. If I'm on the bike I'm only going to take what fits in my pocket - same as going to gigs - I hate carrying stuff around.

Duxford is well worth a visit even when there isn't an air display taking place - the museum itself is fascinating and it's easy to spend a whole day there looking at all the aircraft in the hangers, outside, and under restoration. The American Air Museum also on the site is spectacular and well worth seeing even on it's own. However, I have little time for all that on this occasion...

 Unfortunately this F-86 Sabre wasn't flying - shame as in my opinion it's one of the
most beautiful jets ever built. I've been lucky enough to see it fly a few times though.

Corsair and Bearcat starting up.
 It's more fun being close behind these aircraft when they start up - especially
when flames shoot out their exhausts!
 Hellcat starting up.

 A nautical theme...

Hurricane getting ready as a Hellcat takes off.

More Spitfires than you can shake a stick at!

 A very rare Mk 1 Spitfire.

 Mk V Spitfire.

 Mk XII Hurricane.

 Mk 1 Spitfire.

 Another rare Mk1 Spitfire.

 Mk XII Hurricane.

 Not much in this Blog to interest my usual music fan readers, but one of those tiny dots
in the sky is a Fokker Triplane flown by Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson!
Those tiny dots are actually the Great War Display Team.

 This is one of the main reasons I'm here today - to see the mighty Avro Vulcan!
Seen here in a rare formation with two Folland Gnats. This Vulcan is the only
British 4 engined jet left flying anywhere in the world - a piece of flying history.
It's a spectacular sight and sound. 2015 will almost certainly be it's last year flying...

 The ever popular B-17G Sally B - as featured in the David Puttnam feature film 'Memphis Belle'.

 Hawker Hunter T7.

 After the storm...

 It's nice to have a wander round afterwards as the crowds have dispersed.

 A rare Curtis Hawk in early WW2 French markings.

If you hang around after the display has finished you can get very
close to some of the aircraft as they are put away for the night...
Only a couple of hours earlier this WW1 replica Fokker Triplane was
being flown by Iron Maiden's singer Bruce Dickinson - he actually owns it.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

7/9/2014 London SS, Riot In Paradise & Levyathan @ The Dublin Castle

Most gigs I've been to recently seems to be in Camden, and here's another one - at The Dublin Castle again for this one. Missing the first band (as usual) I arrived in time to see Riot In Paradise. This is a band who always seem to go on early on a bill and I've missed them at least twice because of this, so it's good to finally see them for the first time.
They were odd to say the least - a bit dancey, a bit rocky, and a bit pop. A guitarist who looks like he should be playing rock 'n' roll but plays some sort of alt-rock instead. The bass player seemed to be playing through a laptop with various effects instead of a bass amp, and seemed to experience a few technical problems a a result. The singer had an interesting stage presence, but the band as a whole didn't grab me.

Next band is the infamous London SS. The lineup of this band remains fluid - there is a new bass player in place of Andi M. The band's livewire singer Jimi seems to have gone (again?) too.
Instead of getting a new singer the vocals have now been taken over by guitarist and only original member Brady. As far as I'm aware this is the first time he has sung with the band, but it seems to work surprisingly well - although it seems a different band without Jimi bounding around all over the place - he's a hard act to follow! Brady seems fairly confident singing, although his vocals are hard to hear as his guitar is REALLY LOUD!
I don't know if there any plans to replace Jimi, but they seem to do OK as a four piece band tonight. The eagle eyed regular reader might recognize the band's second guitarist Taj - seen playing guitar with his old band Paradise Alley at the Purple Turtle a couple of weeks ago.

Last band is Levyathan. I've not heard of this lot before but they sound pretty good. Their music sounds like heavy stoner rock mixed with Led Zeppelin.
I would have got more pictures of this band if some bloke didn't insist on standing right in front of the stage videoing their entire set from point blank range. Things were running pretty late and the tube stops early on Sunday nights so I don't hang about until the end - downing my last pint of Westons I head off home instead of making my usual mistake of missing the last tube...

5/9/2014 Gasoline Queens, Bamboo Vipers & Far From Life @ The Unicorn

This Friday finds me at The Unicorn for another great value for money night - free admission and beer at normal pub prices. That's normal North London pub prices - not inflated Camden prices. Unlike many in Camden or the West End, this is a venue that really encourages you to go back - provided the music is to your liking. And tonight it is to my liking.

First band of the night is Far From Life. Rather an odd mixture visually as they all look like they should be in different bands playing different styles of music - one rock 'n' roll guy, a couple of serious looking indie or prog types, and a chav. Fortunately, they sound a lot better than you'd expect.
The frontman is the only livewire in the band and the only one to hold your attention. The other guitarist and the bassist play well and have a good sound but come across as very dull and pedestrian in comparison. Rather than feeling you are getting a real performance, it's more like some guys practicing in their bedrooms or earnestly toiling away in a rehearsal studio - only the singer seems to be making any real effort to engage the audience. The music is decent enough though, and the band are certainly interesting to listen to with influences ranging from the likes of Metallica to indie and alt-rock.

The next band certainly take things up a level or two with their performance and particularly their attitude.This is Bamboo Vipers. They may look pretty much like a standard pub band, but they certainly don't sound like one.
They play with conviction and attitude - these guys mean it. There is something about these guys that suggests these are not people you want to mess with. You definitely get the impression that although this is a new band the members have all been around the block a few times with other bands over the years and have 'paid their dues'. They all look old enough to have been playing in bands in the first wave of UK punk back in the late 70's, and they way they sound backs that up. These aren't just oiks who've picked up guitars - they can really play and their no-holds-barred performance and attitude is totally convincing. The sound is hard and heavy without being 'metal'. Oddly, they claim to be a 'Punk/Glam Rock 'n' Roll' band - but this is possibly the least 'Glam' band I've seen all year. The sound is more 1977 gritty UK punk, with a singer who sounds a bit like a British Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys fame. To help you remember Bamboo Vipers the singer hands out free promo CDs of their album afterwards. The songs are good too, and there is some humour along with all the punk attitude.

Main band tonight is the Gasoline Queens - playing their last ever show. Maybe. Splitting up seems to be all the rage at the moment...
Rejoining the band on bass for this gig is former rhythm guitarist Dave Renegade - more recently seen playing in Healthy Junkies.
Also joining the band for a few songs (for the second time) is Chris Röckson who has come down from Manchester to kick out the jams and give us some New York influenced rock 'n' roll - which fits in perfectly with this band.
The Gasoline Queens knock out  a sleazy dirty brand of rock 'n roll - heavily influenced by Dogs D'Amour (they do a great cover of 'Last Bandit') Johnny Thunders, The Ramones, Quireboys and old school UK punk.
It's good time rock 'n' roll with catchy memorable original tunes. Their shows are always good fun, and as usual at this venue they get a good atmosphere going.
The end of the show sees more guests joining the band on backing vocals - Shaun Morris from Bamboo Vipers and Paul Brightman of Swampstomper - a band to be seen at this venue later in the year...
Hopefully we haven't seen the last of the Gasoline Queens, but in the meantime singer/guitarist Nigel has a new band called The Kult 45s who are already out there gigging.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

30/8/2014 Johnny Cola & The A-Grades + The Dogbones @ Buffalo Bar

I haven't been down to the Some Weird Sin club at Buffalo Bar so much this year. This is partly because there haven't been as many bands on the bills that I wanted to see, and partly because I haven't been able to afford to go out as much anyway. However, tonight's bill is good - and it's also the last gig maybe ever by Johnny Cola & The A-Grades. However, first on the bill are The Dogbones with their punk and grunge inspired chaos.
This lot are always exciting and unpredictable. Something that certainly wasn't predictable is the bump appearing in Nomi's stomach - so I think this band will be taking a break for a while soon...
Sorry the pictures are even more crap than usual - it was rammed in there! My current digicam as pretty useless in poor lighting in spite of having better spec on paper than my previous one.

So we will probably be saying goodbye to The Dogbones for a while, and after tonight we will be saying goodbye to Jonny Cola and the A-Grades too - possibly for good. This is billed as their final show ever as they have decided to split up.
It's a shame to say goodbye to this band as their brand of punk and glam inspired indie rock has been getting them an increasing following over the last couple of years or so. Last year they released their debut album Spitfire and it's a rather fine piece of work. They are a good live band as well, with Suede, Placebo, and Bowie influences coming to the fore as well as a punky Manic Street Preachers edge. They will be missed. Lets hope they are as crap at 'splitting up' as Thunder...

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

24/8/2014 Maleficent, The Camden Cat & Paradise Alley @ The Purple Turtle

...So for the second time this month I find myself rushing off from afternoon gig in a North London park to see more live music in Camden. Tonight see's the return of the 'Dusk Till Dawn' club. I arrive at Purple Turtle in time to see the last song from 90's sleaze/glam rockers Paradise Alley.
I don't get time to form much of an impression, but it seems like competently played but generic stuff.

Next up is The Camden Cat (or Cats) AKA Daniel Jeanrenaud. This guy is the real deal and can be seen busking on the tube or playing with his band at venues all over Camden and the West End.
This is very authentic sounding and looking 1950's style rock & roll, played by someone who has actually played with many of the greats in the past. This guy knows how real rock & roll should sound and how it should be played. Daniel has an excellent band - I think the double bass player used to be in King Kurt and the drummer was in The Quireboys.

The next band is something a little different.
Maleficent have been continually evolving for several years and singers 'Maleficent Martini' and 'Mortimer Cain' are the only members remaining from the first time I saw the band.
The band's live performance has also developed dramatically. In the band's early days there didn't seem to be that much that was actually 'live' apart from the vocals, and the dependence on technology rather than musicians often led to things going wrong during live shows.
These days this is far more of a real live band with guitar, bass, and drums being much more to the fore - and the show is all the better for it. The sound is still heavy with an industrial slant, but the feel is more organic.
This show is intended to promote the band's debut single 'Model Song' - always a highlight of their live set. I think the show is a success from that point of view as the band play to a fairly full room tonight and their set is well received.

The headliners Vince Ray and the Boneshakers are due to end the night with more authentic looking and sounding rock & roll and rockabilly, but things are already running late and I can see that if I stay to see them I will miss the last tube yet again. As I have to be up at six in the morning I decide to cut my losses and head for home while there are still trains running...

24/8/2014 The Haunting @ Broomfield Park

Another outdoor North London event in August, and another appearance by The Haunting.
The location this time is Broomfield Park. Plenty of people have turned out for this free event - the weather is fine (as is the music) and there is a beer tent. What's not to like?
It's nice to see an old bandstand in a park actually being used by a band - not something that seems to happen much these days. Not that you can keep every member of the band confined to the bandstand!
The Haunting are also joined for a few songs by well known local musician Noel Martin on guitar - the twin guitar fueled version of 'Freebird' we are treated to really rocks!
It's a very relaxed vibe at this event and the location is beautiful. It brings back a few memories as mum used to take us for walks in this park to feed the ducks when I was very young.
Lovely though it is in the park, I can't hang about after the band finish - just like last time I saw The Haunting play outdoors on a Sunday afternoon I have to rush off as I have a gig in Camden to get to later...