Avatar at The Garage, Glasgow 16 January 2019

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The time had finally come…..time to head to Glasgow for the first show of 2019.

“Doors Open” had been brought forward by thirty minutes so instead of the 525 to Glasgow, Boy Child and I boarded the 1638 to Glasgow (definitely doesn’t have the same ring to it) as were joined one station further down the tracks by FB Son.
Our destination for the evening was The Garage.
So who had earned the honour of being my first headline act of 2019?
Swedish metal band Avatar!
There were two support acts advertised for the tour and as we queued outside on a thankfully dry chilly January evening, we debated what genre would be suitable to open for the headliners. (I did also note that The Garage’s iconic truck had been painted since my last visit in December) As we trooped into the building (I’d love to say warmth but it was cold indoors as well as out) we were none the wiser at to what to expect.
Let’s just say our thoughts were WAY off the mark!
First out on stage was Irish singer-songwriter Dylan Walshe. The immediately likeable Irishman who is currently residing in Nashville charmed the growing crowd with a solid if short six song set, which included Wraggle Taggle Gypsies, a song I’ve not heard since my childhood.
From the stunned expressions on the faces of the die hard Avatar fans centre front, I’m hazarding an educated guess that very few of the had ever heard a live folk-singer before! Personally, I really enjoyed Dylan’s set. It was certainly a pleasant surprise but I can’t help but feel he was a tad out of place….

 

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Next out were Irish-Canadians The Mahones. These guys and girl are the polar opposite to Dylan Walshe. Subtle they are not! The Mahones delivered a ten song set of high energy Irish Punk rock (Think The Pogues or The Dropkick Murphys meet The Undertones) I’d love to be able to tell you what these guys played for their fifty minutes but there was an accent barrier here. If my life depended on it, I couldn’t tell you a word of what their front man said all night.
The Mahones delivered one of the most energetic renditions of the traditional Irish folk song The Wild Rover that I’ve ever heard. (Another blast from my childhood long since past) plus a stomping version of The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks. Star of the band was undoubtedly their drummer, Guillaume Lauzon. WOW! Easy on the eye and one of the most impressive drummers I’ve ever heard.

 

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By now The Garage was most definitely ready for a trip to Avatar Country.
Oh, where to begin to describe the next ninety minutes?……
As we waited for the headliners to come out, two things struck me about Avatar’s stage set up. First, the drummer was going to have a bit of climb to get up to his drumkit and secondly the wheeled platform for the King’s throne looked a bit precarious!
The house lights dimmed. The radio show-esque PA tape stopped and on stage the circus style AVATAR lit up one letter at a time, proclaiming the arrival of the Swedes and their King.
From behind his scarlet lectern, front man Johannes Eckerstromm, welcome the crowd. He could charm the birds from the trees with that charisma. Avatar opened the show and the tour with two “regal” songs – A Statue To The King and Legend Of The King, Resplendent in his crown and robes, Kungen, have climbed up a little cautiously, held court over his loyal Scottish subjects. Majestic start!

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With the throne removed from the stage, Avatar were free to roam from the third song on the set, Paint It Red onwards.
One thing is for sure, there is very little that is subtle about this band!
At some six foot five (approx) front man Johannes was a commanding presence on the relatively small stage. He cuts a dashing figure in his tailed coats and is a natural “clown” with his over exaggerated facial expressions. He plays the semi-tragic, overly dramatic, clown persona to creepy perfection. (I’m sure he’s a really sweet down to earth guy out of make up and off stage) Love him!
I’ll be honest, Avatar are not a band who feature on my playlists. To appreciate their music at its best you need to be able to see them at their theatrical best as well as hear them. I love the quirkiness of it all. Smartly turned out, Avatar deliver light frivalrous melodious intros to lure you into a song then hit you with the song with full Avatar-metal style.
Watching the two guitarists and bass player lined up with Johannes in front of them windmilling in sync is an impressive spectacle to behold!
I do have to say that playing a song called Let It Burn in Glasgow only a few short months after we lost our beloved O2 ABC to fire was a calculated risk and a bit sick but it paid off! The citizens of Avatar Country loved it!
Highlight songs for me personally were Tower, mid-set, then Smells Like A Freakshow towards the end plus The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country.
Avatar are heavy pounding metal heads. We’d already been treated to some pyro early in the set but I expected something special as we were welcomed into Avatar Country. What I didn’t expect was bubbles! Thousands and thousands of them that floated out over the Glasgow fans. Loved it! More bands need to use bubbles!
Hail The Apocalypse brought the night and the constant stream of crowd surfing to an end.
For a first show of the year Avatar hit the mark and were good for my soul.
Already looking forward to my next trip to Avatar Country…really must learn how to windmill…….

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2018….the musical highlights

Well I’ve been to my last gig of the year so I guess now is as good a time as any to reflect on the musical highlights of the year.

There have been some incredible moments this year….some highs and some lows. The highs are most definitely the Myles Kennedy solo shows. The low point was the demise of the O2 ABC in June. R.I.P. Glitterball.

There were some bitterly cold gigs (Myles Kennedy in Birmingham in March) and some incredibly hot gigs (Tremonti in Glasgow in June and Myles Kennedy in Liverpool in July).

There were some newcomers (Greta Van Fleet in April) and some old favourites (Def Leppard in December).

There were also some nights with old friends (Myles Kennedy,  Brian Fallon, Massive, Volbeat, Tremonti, Halestorm,TC3 and Black Stone Cherry)

The diary is already filling up for 2019 – Avatar, Slash ft Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Rival Sons, Greta Van Fleet, Disturbed,  Monster Truck and Halestorm so far.

Here’s a quick photographic reminder of this year’s gigs.

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Plus a few very precious moments too….

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Have a very Merry Christmas when it comes and a music filled Happy 2019!

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Def Leppard @ the SSE Hydro, Glasgow 11 December 2018

Some shows you go to wondering if the band in question are going to be as good as or better than the last time you saw them.

Tuesday night was one such night as I headed up the M8 for the second time this week. This time I was ably chaperoned by Mr A (less chance of getting lost on the way home – long story for another time)

Twenty six years have passed since I had last seen this band play live. That show still ranks in my top ten of all time shows. Could this one match it?

We were heading to the SSE Hydro to see Def Leppard on their Hysteria tour. The Sheffield rockers are celebrating that classic album’s 30th anniversary. (Lord, I suddenly feel old!) In actual fact, Joe Elliott advised the fans later that Hysteria is now 31 years old!

Again, the Rock Gods were smiling on us and we secured a wee rail spot, slightly to the left of the stage. Happy days!

There was only one support band on the bill – Cheap Trick. Words almost fail me here….. I’m not sure where to begin.

I’m unfamiliar with Cheap Trick’s music. They were never a band I chose to listen to so I suspect that I just don’t “get it”.

They opened their set with Hello There to an almost full room. Obviously, a lot of the crowd were fans who had perhaps come to see them rather than the headliners. There was a geeky nerdiness to the set, a slightly older than average geeky nerdiness. Guitarist Rick Nielson, who is just a few days shy of his 70th birthday, was uber enthusiastic, particularly when it came to tossing out picks by the handful and at changing one bizarre guitar for another throughout their ten song set. (Not convinced how much he was actually contributing musically.)

Front man Robin Zander remains a flamboyant presence on stage under his large white wide brimmed hat.

Bassist Tom Petersson had apparently been warned that Glasgow in December is somewhat chilly as he was wrapped up in a large scarf all night.

Did I enjoy their set? Yes. Was I entertained by it? Yes, both in a semi-comedy and musical manner.

Highlight song for me was definitely I Want You To Want Me. Definite earworm material as several days later I’m still singing it periodically.

And as for the five necked guitar Rick Nielson produced latterly….WTF?

Cheap Trick ended their set to thunderous applause with Goodnight Now.

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A large screen came down to obscure the view of the stage and also to provide a countdown for the arrival of the mighty Def Leppard.

 

The lights dimmed, the intro tape played, a huge Def Leppard logo lit up then Phil Collen stood in the spotlight, stripped to the waist, playing the instantly recognisable intro to Women. The laser light show began and Joe Elliott’s echoing vocal rang out.

Immediately I was mentally transported back in time to the late 1980’s/ early 1990’s.

Guitarist Vivian Campbell and bassist Rick Savage roamed the stage all smiles. It’s fair to say that Rick Savage has kept up the 1980’s hair metal pin up boy look but he carries it off expertly, much to the delight of a group of women of a certain age who were standing behind us screaming like teenagers. On his raised platform at the rear of the stage the awesome Rick Allen was reigning supreme on drums.

Def Leppard played through their Hysteria album track by track and went from strength to strength. My favourite track from the album proved also to be the highlight track live- Pour Some Sugar On Me. Awesome stuff!

Joe Elliott was making the most of the space and catwalk available to him as he strutted his stuff, twirled his scarf be-decked mic stand and had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand from the off.

For Hysteria highlights, Armageddon It came a close second. Brilliant song.

A few songs later we reached the title track Hysteria and things became more mellow for a few minutes. Beautiful timeless rock balled…..love it!

I don’t often comment on the lighting at shows but Def Leppard’s was well worth a mention. Spectacular doesn’t begin to cover it! Lasers pulsed in all colours creating a magical web of light above our heads.

I have to confess I personally found the video screens a distraction. Yes, it was great to see the old footage of the band that was shown. It was touching to see their tribute to the late great Steve Clark. A poignant memory. However, on the whole, I feel the video footage detracted a bit from the show going on in front of us. I didn’t come to the show to watch tv.

Love And Affection rounded off the Hysteria section of the set and judging by the screams of adoration from the large number of female fans and some of the male fans, there was plenty love and affection in the air for the band.

The encore was almost a mini set at five songs long and showcased the harder, heavier side of Def Leppard’s back catalogue that I prefer. Wasted was followed by When Love And Hate Collide then the Scottish fans rocked out to the closing trio of Let’s Get Rocked, Rock Of Ages and Photograph. Awesome stuff!

It’s difficult not to view this show with an air of nostalgia but as the band took their final bows and waved farewell to the fans with promises to return soon, the loudest and longest cheers went to Rick Allan. So much respect for this man.

I just hope it isn’t another twenty six years before I see these guys again.

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Black Stone Cherry at the SEC Centre, Glasgow 09/12/18

Last Sunday night Boy Child, FB Son and I headed up the M8 by car (no trains involved this time) to a venue I’ve not been in for seven and a half years.
It’s also the venue that I first saw this evening’s headliners perform in over nine years ago. (They were supporting Nickelback on that occasion)
We were headed for the SEC Centre, formerly known as the SECC, to see Black Stone Cherry.
My chaperones met up with one of their friends as soon as we arrived and I was swiftly set free (yeah, they ditched me in favour of a trip to the bar) With my new-found freedom, I joined the queue to enter Hall 4 and duly secured myself my ideal rail spot for the night. Happy days.
First up were Canadian rockers Monster Truck. Their intro tape played Long Live Rock And Roll and the following thirty minutes or so in their company proved that rock and roll is very much alive. They opened their set with True Rocker, the title track from their third album. This was the first time I’d seen these guys live and it won’t be the last (tickets for their headline show in April have already been purchased). I just wish the room had filled up a little quicker for them.

MT 2MT 4MT 7MT 10Next out on stage were The Cadillac Three. I love these guys. Having seen them headline late last year in the O2 ABC, I was keen to see them again. TC3 opened their fifty minute set with I’m Southern then slickly moved into Peace Love And Dixie and Slide…great opening trio to set the mood. Jaren Johnson was in fine form! With the room now filling up nicely, TC3 delivered a sensational version of Bury Me In My Boots. They slowed things down a little a few minutes later with Hank & Jesus, from their most recent album Legacy, then delivered a beautiful, sultry rendition of White Lightning. Time was limited so several of my personal favourites failed to make the set list. I do wish however that Legacy, title track from the current album, had made the cut. Next time, boys.

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I’ve lost count but I think this was my ninth Black Stone Cherry show and I excited to see these guys again. It’s been two years since they last played Glasgow…too long, boys, too long!

They opened the set with Burnin’ from their current album Family Tree. CO2 jets blasted high into the air as Black Stone Cherry launched headlong into the song. Huge video screens at the back of the stage showed a mass of flames. Right from the off, guitarist Ben Wells was fired up. That boy truly is the Duracell Bunny Rocker! He has SO much energy!!!
The ever popular Me And Mary Jane followed and the Glasgow fans almost raised the roof with their voices as they sang along. Rain Wizard, one of my favourites and the actually the first song I ever heard these boys play, followed. Awesome!
(Trivia fact – having checked back, five out of the nine songs from the 2009 set made the cut for this 2018 show.)
Black Stone Cherry never disappoint. Fact! Over the years, and after the Magic Mountain era, they have developed a more blues based vibe mixed in with their swampy Southern rock roots but it only enhances the mix.
My Last Breath, again from Family Tree, was one of the highlight moments of the set. There’s so much raw emotion in Chris Robertson’s vocals. Every song is sung straight from the heart.
Cheaper To Drink Alone and James Brown, also from Family Tree followed but were split by the awesome Soul Creek.
Ben Wells wasn’t letting up as he bounded all over the expansive SEC stage. His energy was rubbing off on bassist Jon Lawhorn. Centre stage, with his hat and shades on, Chris was holding court. It would have been nice to see him lose the shades and to see him venture to either side of the stage a bit more.
Things My Father Said is always a poignant moment in a Black Stone Cherry set and this evening was no different. Not a dry eye in the house.
The fantastic Blind Man was followed by a spectacular drum solo from John Fred Young. I swear he gets better every time I see these guys play! He is an incredible drummer and towards the end of his eargasmic solo proved he plays a mean harmonica too as he eased the band into Hoochie Coochie Man with it’s lengthy (maybe a little too lengthy) blues solo.
The classic Lonely Train followed and was definitely one of the high points of the night for me personally.
The boys from Kentucky rounded off the main body of the set with Blame It On The Boom Boom, White Trash Millionaire and Family Tree, the title track from the current album.
With the Glasgow crowd roaring for “one more song”, Black Stone Cherry returned to the stage to end the evening with their standard set closer, Peace Is Free. Love this one and it was the perfect ending to a near perfect show.
Hurry back, boys.

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Sevendust at The Garage, Glasgow 05/12/18

It doesn’t happen too often but I boarded the 525 to Glasgow the other night unchaperoned.

My destination was The Garage on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street. As I walked up the street, I passed my beloved fire damaged O2 ABC. It was my first view of this awesome venue since The Art School fire back in June destroyed it. Heart breaking… #RIP Glitterball

The familiar sight of the yellow truck front sticking out from the building signalled I’d arrived at my destination.

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And who was I there to see? Well, it was billed as a co- headline show with All That Remains and Sevendust. In truth though, I was there to see Sevendust.

With a rail spot secured safely to one side to avoid the inevitable crowd surfers (seriously, I wish venues would ban it), I watched the opening act Blind Channel take to the stage.

Sorry…time to adopt my Thumper philosophy “If you can’t say nuffin’ nice, don’t say nuffin’ at all.”

Moving on….

All That Remains are one of those bands I’d heard of but never heard. Recently, like many music fans, I’d read of the tragic death of their guitarist Oli Herbert. It’s a testament to these guys that they were even out on stage at all.

With his baseball cap pulled down low, front man Phil Labonte led the band through a strong fifteen song set.

Filling in on guitar was Jason Richardson. Noticeably youngers than the rest of the band, Jason is one talented young musician. His playing is breathtakingly fast! An awesome sight to behold at close quarters.

As I mentioned, I’m unfamiliar with All That Remains’ music. I thoroughly enjoyed what I heard. I feel slightly guilty that I can’t name any stand out songs from their set but I can’t help but feel that this band are understandably still a little bit broken and need more time to recover from the loss of one of their founding members.

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Sevendust have been on my “bands to see live” list for a few years and this was the first opportunity I’d had to tick them of that list.

They were worth waiting for!

Sevendust opened their all too short set with Dirty from their current album All I See Is War.

Glasgow immediately took these guys to their hearts. Lajon Witherspoon had them eating out of the palm of his hand within seconds.

Sound and guitar issues seemed to plague John Connolly for much of the set but ever the professional, he worked his way through all the guitar and lead changes.

Highlight song of the night for me was Enemy from their 2003 album Seasons. Awesome song. Here have a listen: –

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku8tAJ_tGLk

 

In true Glasgow style, the crowd began to chant “here we, here we, here we fucking go” mid-set much to Lajon’s amusement. Having clarified what the Scottish fans were actually singing, the band joined in for a couple of rounds then Lajon said they may just have to write a song based on it. It’s just a matter of time until someone does!

So about eighty minutes after they started, Sevendust closed their set with Face To Face.

After waiting for so long to finally see this band “face to face”, I just wish their set had been longer…well long enough to include some of my personal favourite songs. Next time….

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Blackberry Smoke at the O2 Academy, Glasgow 3 Nov 2018

On a wet and windy Saturday evening, I boarded the 525 to Glasgow with my accomplice for the evening.   For only the second time, I was accompanied by Mr A and, compared to our last outing around about this time last year, he didn’t appear to be scared….hee hee.

Despite the stormy weather, we were heading to Glasgow for a double first for my chaperone- his first visit to the city’s O2 Academy and his first opportunity to see Blackberry Smoke play live.

The Weather Gods took pity on us and we didn’t get completely drenched as we walked down to the venue. The Construction Gods then shone on us as we were able to queue under the plank staging of the scaffolding outside the venue. Happy days indeed!

There was only one support act on the bill for the evening – Quaker City Night Hawks. However, security were a little slow in getting folk inside and the support band were very prompt on stage. The end result was that by the time Mr A and I took up our rail positions, the QCNH were out on stage and halfway through their first number. Hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, this quartet played a solid forty-five minute set of blues based Southern rock. The rapidly growing crowd around us were certainly enjoying the ten song set. These guys were a new band to my ears but highlights for me were Rattlesnake Boogie, Mockingbird and their set closer Fox In The Hole.

If I was to offer up one piece of constructive criticism here, for my personal taste, they were a little too laid back. I’d have preferred some more lively numbers in the set to really get the fans buoyed up for the headliners. That said, I enjoyed QCNH and will be checking out their new album when it lands early next year.

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Earlier in the day, I’d been listening to Blackberry Smoke and had been wondering which songs would make the setlist. I was wishing there was a way to put in a request  as there was one in particular that I hoped to hear live.

The Music Gods must have been listening because at eight thirty Blackberry Smoke stepped out onto the Glasgow stage to thundering cheers and opened their two hour set with Six Ways To Sunday. I was a happy girl!

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg-kae3TxWA

 Waiting For The Thunder and Good One Comin’ On made up the remainder of the opening trio.

I could feel a “good one comin’ on”! A good gig!  And Blackberry Smoke didn’t disappoint!

 On stage, the band seemed totally at ease and all looked genuinely relaxed and happy to be playing for their Scottish fans.

Their twenty song set was a balanced mix of old and new with all albums represented. Several of my personal favourites made the list.

Pretty Little Lie is always a fan favourite and the Glasgow choir didn’t disappoint here or at any other point during the evening. Charlie Starr complimented the fans on more than one occasion for the quality of their singing.

Medicate My Mind from their current album Find A Light was one of the highlights of the night. It was also promptly followed flawless renditions of Sleeping Dogs and another of my personal favourites, Shakin’ Hands With The Holy Ghost. 

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 As the final chorus of Ain’t Got The Blues died away, a fan to my right called out a request. With a glance to his bandmates, Charlie checked that the audience were happy to hear that song instead of what was planned. He never said what had been next on their set list but Scare The Devil Outta You from their 2011 album Bad Luck Ain’t No Crime made a rare live appearance. The Scottish crowd loved it!

One Horse Town and Like An Arrow rounded off the main body of the set.

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One thing had been missing all night however….. Charlie was hat-less!

 This matter was resolved when the band returned to the stage for their two song encore. Flesh And Bone from Find A Light opened the encore in storming style. Live that is one powerful song!

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_wJLht9ueI

 And after two full hours the appropriately titled Ain’t Much Left of Me brought the night to a successful conclusion.

 Till next time, guys. Hurry back.

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As we walked back towards the station among many other happy Southern rock fans, a group a few yards behind us started singing and so the music continued into the night……..

 

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Massive @ Ivory Blacks Glasgow 12 Oct 2018

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Slightly later than usual, Boy Child and I boarded the train to Glasgow in search of a new venue and old friends.

We were heading off in search of Ivory Blacks, one of the city’s smaller venues to  see Australian rock band Massive.

These guys from Melbourne are on the verge of releasing their third album and really deserve to be playing bigger rooms. Just saying….. but maybe I’m biased. I love these boys and have done since I first heard their debut album in 2014.

We found the venue … well, I found it. Boy Child walked past it! We were also first there.

As we stood waiting in the doorway,sheltering from the rain, the door opened and a tousled dark mop of curls stuck its head out before stepping out for a sneaky smoke – the band’s guitarist Ben Laguda. We chatted happily for a few minutes then Ben apologised that he needed to go back in and get changed for the show.

Doors opened a few minutes later and we found that the venue was even more intimate than anticipated.

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Originally there were meant to be three bands on the bill but the opening support act had to cancel due to ill health. The job of opening proceedings fell to Brighton based trio, The Rocket Dolls. This band’s strength is its front man Nikki Smash (and those perfect teeth as Massive’s Brad Marr pointed out later on.) The guys played a solid half hour set. Perhaps it was the sound quality (I really struggled to make out the vocals) or the lack of numbers in the room but overall I grew a little bored here. Sorry, guys….

 

By the time Massive climbed onto the stage, a small but passionate crowd had gathered, several sporting Massive t-shirts from the 2014 and 2016 shows.

All credit to these boys, they played with as much passion and enthusiasm as if they were playing to five thousand folk instead of to less than a hundred rock fans plus half of Ben Laguda’s Scottish relatives.

Massive opened their ninety minute “set” (and I use the term loosely here) with Blood Money Blues, from their 2016 album Destination Somewhere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTUq1p9p8d0

Since I last saw these guys there has been a line up re-shuffle and this was the first chance I’d had to check out their new bass player and drummer. All four members of the band were in good form. Ben was in a particularly mischievous mood all night. (Maybe we should be thankful he only “mooned” us once!) As ever at a Massive show, the beer was flowing as fast as the music.

Part way through the set, post -Ben pee break, front man Brad Marr disappeared to the side to pull on a Scottish top. Sorry, Brad, it was neither a football top nor a rugby top but was a nice touch. Personally, I preferred the Saltire flag cape circa Oct2014.

The set proved to be quite fluid – Ben encouraged his bandmates to play a bit of The Proclaimers 500Miles (twice). We had a brief bit of Vanilla Ice rapping then a snatch of Under Pressure by Queen after an ice cube incident thanks to the mischievous Mr Laguda. Massive also played three awesome covers. I’ll come back to the third one in a moment but their renditions of Highway Star and Immigrant Song were brilliant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwGIcxFg3R0

Two of my favourite songs made the set, both from the band’s debut album Full Throttle. Dancefloor got everyone moving, including Boy Child. Great party rock song. Highlight for me is always Ghost  – I freely admit it….I love this song! Although, thanks to the arrival of a round of Jagerbombs on stage, it did dissolve into chaos in the middle. Here check it out for yourself as the vibe here sums up the whole show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1kM_XfcOUU

Glasgow was treated to a couple of new songs from the band’s forthcoming third album Rebuild Destroy. Loved Long Time Coming and current sing Roses.

Sadly, all good things have to come to an end (before the beer runs out) and Massive rounded the night off with a rousing version of ACDC’s Highway To Hell.

As we made our way back to the stations, Boy Child and I debated whether we had been to a gig or a party. Either way, it was awesome!

Hurry back, boys!

 

 

 

 

 

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