Live Review : Nightwish + Beast In Black @ MEN Arena, Manchester on December 11th 2018

I've traveled all over this country and to the continent to see Nightwish, so it was quite nice for once to see them with just a simple twenty minute tram ride home. Though, to be honest I suspect booking the cavernous Manchester Arena may have been a slightly over-ambitious move on their part as it is only about at best, a third full and there was enough space at the back of the seating area to build a small nuclear reactor. Though I shouldn't really complain as taking residence in the biggest venue Manchester has to offer means that they have been able to bring their full mega production and that production includes obligatory support act that haven't played UK before.

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Live Review : Spock's Beard + The Flower KIngs @ Academy Club, Manchester on December 10th 2018

I regularly dip my toe into Prog and my signed vinyl copy of ‘Misplaced Childhood’ would be the thing I would save in a fire, but tonight I may be out of my depth as I am in serious hardcore Prog devotee territory. This is top shelf, sold in a brown paper bag, hundred percent proof, not for lightweights full strength stuff and this is an audience of devotees and connoisseurs, very much not the ‘I heard one song on the radio I thought I would check them out’ crowd. 

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Live Review : Graveyard + Bombus @ Academy 3, Manchester on December 6th 2018

It may be cold out but tonight, in the wind tunnel that is the Academy 3 we are gathered to be warmed once more by the great blues rock revival (though I was at University here in the nineties so this room with always be the Hop and Grape or even the hope and grope…). Anyway there is a vague feeling of hip and trendy about this evening as the moustaches and beards are out in strength and the PA is pumping out obscure Swedish rock n roll, sung in Swedish. 

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Live Review : Zeal & Ardor @ Gorilla, Manchester on December 5th 2018

The question of where Metal goes next is something, we fans debate frequently as there are very few genre's left that Metal hasn't sidled up to and fluttered it's eyelashes at. Zeal & Ardor have taken a very unique direction by looking for inspiration from the musical cornerstones that shaped the Blues, namely Gospel and Afro-spiritual. By combing the raw power of Black Metal with these two equally earthy and guttural influences they have managed to create something that sounds completely and utterly unique. 

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Live Review : The Magpie Salute + Maker @ Academy 2, Manchester on December 3rd 2018

The most satisfying success comes when you push and push and something happens beyond the prescribed boundaries. Often it is where you can see opportunity that others can’t. So it was, that in the sixth minute of four minutes injury time, Divock Origi saw what no one else did and caused much celebration for one middle aged Frenchman, who now sits beside me, bottle of water to hand and the effects of a 96th minute derby winner steering him nauseously to Manchester in the red, bullet wagon of death.  “I don’t skimp on brakes and tyres” he assures me, testing his unnerving creed to the limit, but thankfully not past it.

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Live Review : Aborted + Cryptosis + Ingested + Unfathomable Ruination @ Rebellion, Manchester

It is very apt that as we enter the festive season that Rebellion should provide such a celebration of the strength, power and utter hedonistic joy that is Death Metal. In fact the bill is so strong that even though it has been upgraded from the much smaller Factory, the venue is still packed to the rafters from the first notes of the first band until we are unceremoniously kicked out 10pm to make way for a Trance Night.

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Live Review : Dan Reed Network + Mason Hill + Hollowstar @ Academy Club, Manchester on November 25th 2018

It’s getting to the busy time of year for gigs, Johann is out most nights. We agree 2018 is a year we could both forget. March onwards, 2019 beckons and omens are looking good.  Transition is in the air. The countdown, the car & the traffic jams are all there. The European driving style is better suited to the city streets and tonight gets to the gig for the opening act. It’s dark all the time now, I see in perpetual orange and rain magnifies the colours in the windscreen. I’m a shit passenger, hanging on to the handrail on the passenger side for dear life.

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Live Review : TesseracT + Between The Buried And Me @ Academy 2, Manchester on November 28th 2018

Welcome to Clash of the Titans: the polyrythmic, ever shifting time signatures edition. If you like your metal complex, intelligent and highly technical then this is probably the finest double header you will find. First out the gates are Between the Buried and Me and without wanting to get a reputation as the reviewer always moaning about the sound, Tommy Giles Rogers Jnr's vocals are just about audible. Now usually this would annoy the hell out of me but, truth be told, I would be gushing lyrically about Between the Buried and Me even if our Tommy did his entire vocal delivery via the medium of mime.

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Live Review : Lord Of The Lost + Dead Film Star + Auger + Nature Of Wires @ the Ruby Lounge, Manchester on November 23rd 2018

Last week as I was running to Of Mice and Men, I commented on the wintery chill in the air. Well tonight as Johann and I descend on Manchester, we're stuck in tail backs, amongst a sea of Christmas lights. Winter is coming. If I was to be honest, the thought of my supremely un-goth Minnie Mouse onesie holds all the appeal. There's something about the rush hour traffic that winds me up.

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Live Review : Therapy? + King Creature @ Gorilla, Manchester on November 16th 2018

After my Liverpudlian midweek logistical nightmare of shooting 2 gigs in the same venue at the same time, it becomes increasingly evident that tonight may also be one of those night. As I reach the door of Gorilla in Manchester for Northern Irish band Therapy?, my name is nowhere to be found on the list of approved photographers. After some lengthy conversation outside on the pavement (backed up by the hard evidence of email conversations) my name miraculously reappears on the guest list and I’m in. 

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Live Review : The Dead Daisies + Massive Wagons @ O2 Academy, Liverpool on November 13th 2018

One of the most startling developments of the last few years has been the re-emergence of heavy, bluesy rock as a dominant force in our musical world. Classic (or you can call it hard, heavy, bluesy or commercial it really doesn’t matter) rock was seemingly dead and buried ten years ago or at least only worth a dollop of tongue in cheek irony (The Darkness, I’m looking at you). But now there is a virtual Smorgasbord of young whipper-snappers playing the type of infectious guitar-driven danceable rock that was last in vogue before any of them were glints in the soundman’s eye.

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Live Review : Of Mice & Men + Loathe + SHVPES @ O2 Academy, Liverpool on November 13th 2018

There's a wintery chill in the air as I make my way to the legendary venue that is O2 Academy. I've got some stories about this place... but I’m not here to reminisce. I’m here tonight to review what promised to be a “wild" night. 

Maybe it’s traditional to review things in the order they happened.

I’m not a traditional person.

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Live Review : Michael Schenker Fest + Eden's Curse @ Academy, Manchester on November 11th 2018

Eden’s Curse have an uphill struggle from the off. Theirs is smooth retro AOR and whilst it is melodic and even sweet in places, it just echoes around an almost empty Academy. The Schenker devotees that have crawled in early, look like they are still shaking off their Sunday morning hangovers and look in no mood to be swayed by Survivor-esque light rock, it is almost like they are playing into a void.

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Live Review : Within Temptation @ O2 Apollo, Manchester on November 10th 2018

Let's get this out there first, during the entire gig the sound is utterly atrocious. It is far too quiet, the guitar and bass are lost in a muddy quagmire and the whole thing sounds like it is being relayed through a dodgy mono radio. I believe that protracted conversations at gigs should be defined as a criminal offence and with the sound so muffled and faint you can hear quite clearly every single conversation happening across the packed Apollo, most of them about why the sound is so dreadful.

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Live Review : Slayer + Lamb Of God + Anthrax + Obituary @ MEN Arena, Manchester on November 9th 2018

It was only in 2010 that I saw Slayer headline a three quarters full Academy, just eight short years later they pretty much filled the Arena. But this is no bog standard Slayer gig, this is, apparently, the end and everyone wants to get one last look at Slayer before its all over. Because the truth is at some point over the last decade Slayer replaced Black Sabbath as being the officially recognised dictionary definition of Metal. They have become metal's spirit and essence distilled into one band. And now they are going away.

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Live Review : Shining + Alithia + Countless Skies + Saurr @ Satan's Hollow, Manchester on November 4th 2018

It’s been that long since I jumped in the Johann’s Crimson, German death wagon that I have changed career paths, got past a serious medical scare (not mine) and watched Johann jet-set about Europe.  Going to a unvisited venue is always exciting.  Aside form the new things too write about each venue has its own character.  Satan’s Hollow is off the beaten track a little, situated in the back roads between Oxford road and Piccadilly it sits askew to its corporate surroundings.  A large, dark, heavy gate greets the visitor, a portent of things inside?  We traverse the usual entry problems, god help us if Johann forgets his phone.  Once inside we can see an unusual layout.  It’s a small venue, 500 people would see this uncomfortable. The stage is a small penned garden of metal right in the centre of the oddly shaped room. Shining have wrapped a large banner around one side of the pen creating a temporary backdrop to the normally circular stage.  The room is intimate but has space for two separate bars.  

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Live Review : Damnation Festival @ Leeds University Students Union on November 3rd 2018

Damnation is like a choose your own adventure experience for Metalheads. Four stages spread across the bewildering labyrinth that is Leeds University Students Union (the Citadel of Chaos ain’t got nothing on here) provides access to some of the finest morsels of black, doom, death and post metal available. With twenty-seven acts spread over twelve hours simply remember which band you wanted to see next (never mind which stage they are on) is a chore all in itself, hence the reason you see plenty of confused looking people wandering around with spreadsheets and maps wondering why the keep ending up back at the pasty shop.

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Live Review : Eric Martin + Rob Wheeler @ Eleven, Stoke-On-Trent on October 30th 2018

Rob Wheeler appeared on stage for his acoustic set to an excited crowd no doubt waiting to see the local lad perform. Rob was accompanied on stage for his 9 songs set by Stephen Tams on keyboards & Elizabeth Birks on backing vocals, he played a mixture of songs from his debut album 'Little Ghosts Full Of Songs' from last year & his new album 'Luxury of Time' that will be released early next year.

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