Live Review : SikTh + Loathe + Lotus Eater + Vulture Cult + @ Hangar 34 in Liverpool on September 15th 2018.

It’s the second part of a trilogy of live rock viewings this weekend and tonight I am heading to Hangar 34 in Liverpool for the djent founding father SikTh. Situated in the middle of the rejuvenated Baltic Triangle, the venue lends itself well to the dance scene happening most weekends. Now that our familiar rock venue, the Krazyhouse has closed its doors and is unlikely to be developed into a new rock club, Hangar 34 have recently taken up the mantle by picking up the occasional metal gigs here in scouse land.

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Live Review : Europe + King King @ The Academy, in Manchester on September 14th

The red Audi screeches to a stop outside my door. I jump in, Johann is drumming the steering wheel. He is super excited and roars up the road. Manchester can’t come soon enough. I’d already been warned that Europe are a first love. Still integrity and all that.  No one is fast enough and Manchester’s myriad of perma-road works aren’t helping. Doors open at 7:00pm so a 7:30 kick off isn’t unlikely and there is the usual gauntlet of getting in to run.  The Academy has a large pool of staff so we don’t get recognised as press quite so quickly.  There is also the matter of the little jaunt between parking and entry.  All aforementioned problems evaporate, a smooth entry and we are at the bar. King King are due to start at 8:00pm. This is the start of Europe’s European tour.

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Live Review : L.A. Guns + Jared James Nichols + Stone Trigger @ The Tivoli, Buckley on September 8th 2018

We’re in Wales, well Buckley, on a wet Saturday night on what feels like the start of winter.  The accents in the queue are thick with wool.  Why the queue? Technical difficulties are holding back the doors.  I always wonder why they don’t just let us in, they’re not keeping a secret from us.  We know how bands sound check.  The bar is still working.

Johann is nervous, I missed the deadline for last review, by some way, a gig I requested.  There is talk of interlopers, a support slot for the headlining act. I don’t blame him, I’m a naturally lazy fucker and he’s not. I must be a pain in the arse to know. 

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Live Review : Blaze Bayley + The Clan + Fugitive @ Tivoli, Buckley on September 1st 2018.

With no particular expectations as to what the evening may bring, I am, tonight travelling down the M56 to the Tivoli in Buckley. Once again, as well as photographing I am back on penning duties. Rock writers these days are as unpredictable in their delivery as a deal for Brexit.

Blaze Bayley is currently on a 4 date mini UK tour before heading for the continent, showcasing his latest release “The Redemption of William Black”, the final instalment of the trilogy “Infinite Entanglement”. Blaze Bayley is infamous for being the guy who was a lead singer for a decade in the band ‘Wolfsbane’ with no notable success (compared with his peers of the late 80s). That is, until Blaze got to be that guy who was picked to replace Bruce Dickinson; Iron Maiden lead singer during the mid 90s Just for a couple of albums whilst Bruce Dickinson was going through a bit of a midlife crisis, being an airline pilot, writer in no particular order. Anyway, I digress.

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Live Review : Ryders Creed + Lost Sovereign + Savage Outlaw @ EBGBS, Liverpool on August 10th 2018.

So with jaunty anticipation, I bounded into Johann’s car knowing only one thing, tonight’s gig is in The ‘Pool'.  Normally we find ourselves hurtling against time to get to Manchester, not tonight.  A quick stroll of the Audi’s ever aging frame and we are in the city.  Heebie Jeebies has seen a few radical transformations.  The early nineties saw it as a Jazz bar, replete with stoned philosophy students and blues clarinet players.  As the city’s nightlife boomed into the early 2000’s it became another student gaff with no discernible musical direction.  So it is with tremendous relief that we come to see EBGBs has transformed into a rock and metal bar.  The upper, main bar is decorated sparcely in the saloon style.  While beneath the street lurks a brick bare cavern.  It’s a fantastic venue for live music that could easily measure up to Rebellion given time. The show started at 7:30.

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Live Review : Ministry + Chelsea Wolfe @ The Albert Hall, Manchester, July 30th 2018.

It’s starting to become de rigueur, to shoot for a racing jaunt into Manchester.  Manchester's live scene is so far ahead of my own city’s it is depressing.  The Frenchman is in good spirits with a bit of long overdue good news in a what has been a fairly awful year for both of us.  The car seems in good shape despite a quick check under the hood. Neither of us have been to the Albert Hall before and as ever, we are absurdly early. It sits in a row of upmarket bars on the north side of Deansgate. They have completely overlooked the plus one request and just confirmed the photographer.  After some negotiation I get in on a press pass. The venue is upstairs. The Hall lies somewhere between a hollowed out church and a unused court.  It has high sided balconies and is all dark wood.  Bars line either side of the theatre and are slightly overpriced even in the live music realm.

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Live Review : The Wildhearts + Headsticks @ Tivoli, Buckley on June 29th 2018.

I venture for Rock far out West tonight to Buckley, a small town stuck between the Town of Mold and the larger Chester. Tivoli is one of those venues you wouldn't expect to do well when it comes to rock concerts purely based on its location. As some of you, my oldest followers will know, I have been many times to Chester's Live Rooms and more often than not, it has been a struggle for them to get 50 people in there. I arrive in good time to The Tivoli, the old theatre/cinema from the 1920's which is rather empty and as I wait patiently for the support band under no less than 6 disco balls, I have grave concerns regarding the demographics and live attendance in North Wales. In a corner, Mind the mental health charity sets up a stall selling CDs to fundraise, I manage to pick up a Stone Sour and a Stereophonics. At the merch stall, the support act from Stoke, Headsticks is offering the most varied items you can put your band name on, while the Wildhearts team is trying to figure out which boxes to open.

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Live Review : The Struts + The Second Sons @ Gorilla, Manchester on June 20th 2018.

The groove has gone.  It’s been a month, a long time in rock and roll.  Friends have fell out, families argued, jobs have changed and life has stamped it’s leaden boot over everyone.  The countdown begins, a tradition that might cut short this escape one day.  Johann is agitated, tense probably hungry. There’s a rasp in my voice, I’m lethargic from doing fuck all, all day, every day. I can feel Hyde’s shadow creeping through the axons. I want the bands to be terrible, I want the pressure in my head to burst out of my hands and evaporate the keyboard.  It’s at this point Johann points out we have fifty miles in the tank and the coolant is leaking out, but he has a 16 seater death wagon somewhere, lurking in our near future. 

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Live Review : Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown + Sonia Leigh @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester on June 28th 2018.

Going to a gig while England is playing a soccer game in a World competition can only mean two things. First Paul will inform me at short notice of his unavailability to attend the gig for reporting duties, second, the M62 as well as Manchester could be part of the set for a new series of The Walking Dead, if it wasn't for the lack of tumbleweed.

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Live Review : Bonafide + Greybeards + The New Breed + Black Cat Bones @ Rebellion, Manchester on May 13th 2018.

An admission, nothing too shameful, I can’t drive.   The thought like an itch scratches the inside of my skull, we are powering along the M62 towards rebellion.  Johann is nursing a can of lemonade.  Rehydration, he looks fucked, it was a long night. “Fuck it”, he shrugs, accent thick with nonchalance.  I’m inclined to agree. Friday was a good gig, I have high hopes for tonight. I grew-up fast, on 70’s swagger, eighties excess, my first night out was my mates thirteenth Birthday, it was a different time then.  I had a denim jacket, arms cut off, patches everywhere, like a less ginger mate of John Connor minus the mullet and PTSD.  

We knew for certain we where going to see Bonafide, Swedish, denim, sports shoes and more than a seasoning of high energy, short fuse rock and roll.   What we didn’t know then, there would be three other bands of equally high energy and full of punk, blues and rock so prevalent in the 70’s and 80’s.  

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Live Review : 3TEETH + CREEPIING @ Rebellion, Manchester on May 11th 2018.

In a complete Juxtaposition to the previous evenings night of mellow blues, Rebellion in Manchester was serving metal on an industrial scale. The tight, noisy little venue is situated on a corner in the upmarket area that is Deansgate.  Nestled among trendy restaurants and wine bars, this is wonderfully grungy bar.  I like to think it reminds the normal that we are still here, angry, disturbed and wild. So it was great disappointment that the event kicked off behind schedule meaning we had to queue, outside, in the rain.  Thankfully before the rust set in on the less than industrious queue we where ushered inside.  A small dimly lit venue, I was immediately home.  I don’t like seated venues for music.  It steals the vigour and energy from a crowd.  Makes meek the heckler.  So tonight, was after two or three seated affairs, refreshing.  We were not entirely sure if 3Teeth had organised support, they had, a London Duo called Creepiing who have an incredibly low online presence.

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Live Review : King King + Steve Hill @ Epstein Theatre, Liverpool on May 10th 2018.

Late, early, on time! Not usually an issue for press given that access is given by the bands/promoter.  Not so tonight though.  We were told 19:30 doors, support starts at 20:00.  Steve Hill was well under way when we arrived at 19:45.  The Epstein Theatre is a weird and magical auditorium, a venue designed for dance, plays and Vaudeville.  The stage is deep and wide, it lends itself to that very specific kind of stage ownership you don’t see often enough. 

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Live Review : G3 Joe Satriani + John Petrucci + Uli Jon Roth @ Apollo, Manchester on April 27th 2018.

I tend towards social media sound bites when compiling a review at the actual venue.  I email myself two and three-word descriptions unless my thought process absolutely warrants more.  So it was with some amusement on Saturday morning when I read the opening gambit from last nights flurry of emails.

Old school sweeps. Esoteric winged horse imagery.

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Live Review : Planet Of Zeus + Lionize @ Academy 3, Manchester on April 18th 2018.

It’s Wednesday and hopefully, with the first balmy day of the year we turn our back on one of the longest winters for a generation.  Manchester streets are trying hard, shorts, hot pants and sunglasses are out.  We aren’t quite there yet, but we northerners don’t know when we might get a consecutive day without rain.  It’s a well-travelled route to the academy, I’m starting to recognise the yellow jacketed security staff. Rockflesh founder and all round photographic wizard, Johann, the brobdingnagian European has left his phone in the car.  This is a problem, we aren’t down on the press list and the staff aren’t volunteering options.  Back to the car.  After a few calls we get in touch with the tour manager, Bill.  Problem solved. 

The Academy 3 is a rectangle, bar, mixing desk & stage, all in line.  The sound has no where to escape, a wind tunnel of rock and roll. The stage is small, a four piece fills the stage and there is an absurdly large gap for pro photogs (take note Hangar 34).  In a venue this small, there isn’t the sense of anticipation, people lean awkwardly at the sides of the hall, or meander around waiting for focus.

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Live Review : Savage Messiah + The Raven Age @ Academy 3, Manchester on April 14th 2018.

An injection of Heavy Metal was on the cards this past Saturday at the Academy 3 in Manchester with the London based metal newcomers Savage Messiah on their UK tour supported by The Raven Age.

Fresh from a recent Japanese tour, currently on their UK tour and with an appearance in the pipeline at the Download Festival later on in June, they seem unstoppable. I did say 'newcomers', and maybe they aren't exactly as they formed in 2007 and are now promoting their 4th release, the excellent 'Hands Of Fate'.

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Live Review : Epica + Myrkur + Oceans Of Slumber @ O2 Ritz, Manchester on April 12th 2018.

This Thursday led me to the glitzy ballroom of the O2 Ritz for an evening of symphonic metal, courtesy of the Dutch band Epica currently on their UK tour.

As I got to the ticket office to pick up my photo pass, I found out progressive Oceans Of Slumber and Myrkur were the support acts for the evening. I am one of those who do my research post-gig, it allows me to take new bands at face value with no misconception, whatever they may be. Considering that Epica musical genre is far from being mainstream, unbeknown to me, they have acquired a decent following in the UK as the venue is nicely packed early.

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Live Review : Damim + Midnight Prophecy + Stormrider + Paladin @ The Peer Hat, Manchester on March 23rd 2018.

Quireboys were at the Manchester Academy 3 last Friday but unfortunately no guest pass for me. Not one to miss out on Rock or Metal for the lack of a plan B, I headed to the small basement of a Manchester pub where foreign beers are served, The Peer Hat.

As I went down the stairs and entered the room, Paladin were in full swing, rocking out on a rather small stage for 6 band members. The poor lighting situation of this place like so many other venues definitely wasn't going to help me tonight, but I would try to make the most of it.

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Live Review : In Depths + Fear Me December + Devil's Henchmen + Deh-Yey

As this week was rather quiet on the Metal scene in the North-West, I remembered that I was invited to Mammothfest Heat 2 at The Live Rooms in Chester by In Depths. One of those battle of the bands style competition to gain access to a stage at the Brighton based Mammothfest festival this summer.

As I got to the Live Rooms, I found the place to be anything but live, not surprising considering that the venue did not bother to advertise the event on their own website.

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Live Review : Skid Row + Toseland Bad Touch @ Hangar 34, Liverpool on March 16th 2018.

Bad Touch, the Norwich born rockers clad in paisley shirts and leather waistcoats, swagger comfortably between that very British brand of classic rock and country blues.  They have previously toured with the likes of The Quireboys and Tyketto.  Bad Touch are a rockier outfit than either of these bands and it is no surprise to learn that they have undertaken their own tours on the back of their 2015 release Half Way Home.

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Live Review : Massive Wagons @ Rebellion, Manchester on March 9th 2018.

In my previous post, I mentioned how I felt the rock scene was well and truly happening in the Northwest with an endless list of local bands performing for anyone who took the time to rock out between snow storms. Last Friday night, Massive Wagons at Rebellion with the support from Manchester's KYNGS and Welsh Henry's Funeral Shoe only reinforced that feeling.

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