Royal Thunder – Wick

Royal-Thunder-Wick

Recently released via Spinefarm Records, Wick is the third full length studio album from Atlanta based outfit Royal Thunder.

Royal Thunder formed back in 2004 originally and have gone through numerous line up transformations before settling with the current line up of Mlny Parsonz on vocals, bass and piano, Josh Weaver and Will Fiore on guitar and Evan Diprima on drums.

I’ve been wrestling with the dilemma of pigeon-holing Royal Thunder into one genre for the purposes of this review. I’ve failed miserably. These guys are heavily rock influenced but aren’t quite metal. There’s a strong blues influence to their music. There’s a 90’s grunge vibe to their music. There’s no denying their Southern Rock roots and there’s even a hint of gospel in there too.

At first listen this twelve track album didn’t really grab me. However, (now humour me here, please) it’s a bit like an onion. With every listen, another layer is revealed and then another and another…..

Wick deals with a lot of deep powerful emotions and is not always the most uplifting of albums. During the recording phase, three of the band members lost their fathers and the songs that Royal Thunder have presented here are open and honest and emotional.

This record take you through all the emotions on the grief curve  from the loss and hurt to the acceptance and healing of these open wounds.

Burning Tree opens the record with a hypnotic riff and almost chanted opening vocals. It’s a sonorous start.

With April Showers, the first single from Wick, proceedings take on a more haunted feel. Strong Fleetwood Mac vibes here as front woman Mlny Parsonz channels her inner Stevie Nicks. This track simmers with tension. Love it!

We Slipped is perhaps the most radio friendly track on Wick. A contender to be the second single perhaps? With its strong chorus this one is sure to be a fan favourite in the live arena.

The vibe changes yet again on The Sinking Chair as Royal Thunder deliver a heavier rock sound with a hint of Led Zeppelin shining through. At times it sounds as though the vocal is more shouted than sung. Sounds a bit forced but the angst of the song lends itself to it.

Plans may be my personal favourite track on Wick. There’s beautiful stripped back performances by both Josh Weaver and Will Fiore here. Plans is a heart wrenching blues based ballad. Subtle yet powerful drumming by Evan Diprima provides a heartbeat to this song. This, in my humble opinion, is Mlny at her best. Her vocal performance is straight from her very soul. Think Janis Joplin and Robert Plan combined at their very best. Stunning song.

Push is another emotional and brooding ballad-esque track. There’s an ait of melancholy to it but a sense of hope too. Have we reached acceptance on our grief curve?

The final track is We Never Fell Asleep. If I had to describe this track in one word it would be anger. This is a superbly powerful anthem to round off proceedings. There’s just  bit more of an aggressive almost defiant edge to the performances of all four members of Royal Thunder here. We Never Fell Asleep comes to a climax with ethereal gospel vocals. Have we finally healed on our journey through grief?

This is a powerful album. You can’t take it all in with just one or two listens. It needs to burn slowly and warm the embers of your soul. Love it!

 

9/10

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Blackberry Smoke at Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow 03 April 2017

For the second time in a week, I boarded the 5:25 to Glasgow. This time I was accompanied by “Miss Rose Wine”. She was about to lose her Barrowlands virginity!

The legendary Barrowlands Ballroom can be found in the city’s Gallowgate and is illuminated by one of the largest neon signs in the UK.

Confession time –  Barrowlands is probably my least favourite venue.

So, who were we heading there to see?

We were off to spend the evening with those gentlemen from Georgia, Blackberry Smoke (ok they’re not all from Georgia) and it was a sell out show!

Arriving about forty minutes before doors open, we queued patiently, hoping to secure a spot on the rail for the evening.

As we waited in line,  I overheard probably the best description of Blackberry Smoke that I’ve heard to date – too rock to be country and too country to be rock.

A short while later Miss Rose Wine and I found ourselves standing just off the rail with a clear view of the stage.

First up were a band from Atlanta, Georgia (I’m sensing a geographical theme to this tour) called Biters. These four boys seized the opportunity to win over a whole new legion of Scottish fans. At first glance front man, Tuk, looks as though he has travelled in time from circa 1975 and is some 40 plus years too late for his party. There was a real 1970’s vibe to Biters performance as they delivered a solid nine song set that included several numbers from their forthcoming album The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be. These guys knew how to rock the joint as the last of the fans trooped in for the evening. They play with a sound that is inspired by the 1970’s (think Slade) with a hint of punk (think Ramones) and a shed load of talent and passion for their craft. Highlights for me, including the story that went with it of a memorable drunken experience in Helsinki were  Back to Georgia, current single Stone Cold Love and set closer 1975. Great band live. I’d pay to hear these guys again and they’re album will no doubt be added to my playlist come release date in May. Check them out.

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By the time Blackberry Smoke took to the stage, Barrowlands was hotter than Hell!

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They opened their set with arousing version of Fire In The Hole which was swiftly followed by firm fan favourite Six Ways To Sunday. Charlie Starr and his boys could do no wrong. Already they had the capacity crowd in the palm of their hands.

Their twenty  song set was peppered with fan favourites plus songs from their latest album Like An Arrow. The first of these was the awesome Waiting For The Thunder. There was an angry, almost aggressive, edge to Charlie’s vocals on this that were spot on for the song. Loved it!

This was followed by the energetic Rock And Roll Again. The fans were loving it – and so were the band!

Guitarist Paul Jackson was immediately in front of where we were standing and its fair to say he was grinning all night.

Mid-set Blackberry  Smoke played one of my personal favourites – Shakin’ Hands With The Holy Ghost. Love love love this one!

Having thanked someone in the crowd for bringing along the Georgia flag, Charlie introduced a Dan Baird cover, Another Chance. Blackberry Smoke’s version may be better than the original….or maybe I’m just a little bit biased.

Then it was time to slow things down a bit. Charlie had barely started picking the intro when the fans started clapping in time. A question as to whether the fans felt like singing tonight was superfluous as the Glasgow rock choir almost drowned Charlie out. The band stood back and smiled in unison as the fans sang their hearts out. This moment sure was filled with “big sparkling shine.”

The beautiful Woman In The Moon followed. A mellow moment in an otherwise highly energised show. Another one of my favourite Blackberry Smoke songs. Simply gorgeous.

Title track Like An Arrow from the band’s latest album rounded off the main set.

After what, in the heat of the ballroom, felt like an eternity, Blackberry Smoke returned to the stage to thunderous cheers.

Sunrise In Texas, long time live favourite, opened the encore. Beautiful song that was finally recorded and include on Like An Arrow. Sporting a wide brimmed cowboy hat with a jaunty feather, Charlie led the bluesy vocal to then the Glasgow choir joined in for the chorus. Stunning mellow song. Love it!

After a brief chorus of Amazing Grace, Ain’t Much Left Of Me ended a fantastic evening’s entertainment.

An aptly title tune to end on as that’s precisely the way I felt, having melted in heat for the previous two hours. The chill, damp evening air was most welcome when we exited the ballroom.

Till next time, boys. Hurry back.

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A Memorable Night With Some Nameless Ghouls – Ghost at O2 ABC Glasgow 29/03/17

It’s been seventy seven days since my last fix…..2017 gig season is off to a VERY slow start!

(Hence the silence on here….apologies)

So, finally, and for the first time this year, I boarded the 5:25 train to Glasgow chaperoned by Boy Child. Together, we headed to Glasgow and an eagerly anticipated date with some Swedish nameless ghouls, otherwise known as Ghost.

We arrived at my favourite venue, the O2 ABC, to find a queue already forming. While we waited, we both enjoyed the delights of “people watching.” With some amusement, we listened to an American Ghost fan attempt to converse with a “Glesga drunk”, who for some unknown insane reason she had gifted her spare ticket to. Their conversation was highly entertaining as she patiently explained that she didn’t speak Gaelic and that he’d have to speak American English to her. (Ma’am, most likely he doesn’t speak Gaelic either. He was talking a local dialect known as “pished oot his face.”)

Eventually we found ourselves on the rail ready for our evening’s musical entertainment.

First on stage were American duo Zombi.  Hailing from Pittburgh, PA, Zombi comprise of a keyboard/bass player and a drummer. I’m going to endeavour to be polite here. Zombi play progressive, electronic, synthesised rock..of sorts. Two songs in and my mind was visualising a late 1980’s  movie scene where the hero rides in on his Harley Davidson to a sunset backdrop overdubbed with “hair metal” keyboard effect.s Three songs in and I’m thinking “I Know this one!” – it’s the same as the first one and the second one. Four songs in and I’m thinking that the pillar of spotlights in front and to my left looks like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. (It did, honest!) Zombi are not for me, I’m afraid. And, judging by the luke warm reaction from the assembled Ghost fans, not for them either. All that was missing was a rendition of Axel F.

Next…….

Amid clouds of incense (LOTS of incense) we patiently awaited the arrival of Papa Emeritus III. There was a far more theatrical feel to the build up than there had been back at the 2015 show as their crew ceremoniously unveiled the drum kit and keyboards. Nicely done, gentlemen.

The stage was set up with a raised drum kit and raised keyboards on opposite sides of a mock marble staircase. The stage itself had been transformed into a black and white chequerboard. (Nice lino, Ghouls)

As the smoke swirled around us the air was filled with strains of Misere Mei, Deus and Masked Ball before the lights fully dimmed. Red spots roamed the room.

Ghost opened their eighty minute set with a stunning rendition of Square Hammer from their recent Popestar EP. Swathed in blue light, Papa appeared at the top of the stairs and instantly took command of the capacity Scottish crowd. The Glasgow fans were in fine hymnal voice!

The hard and heavy From The Pinnacle To The Pit followed   and what quickly struck me was that the current nameless ghouls (rumoured to be a fresh line up but it’s hard to tell under those masks) were far more animated than on their previous Scottish outing.

Following a rousing Per Aspera ad Inferi, resplendent in his papal robes and mitre, Papa paused to address the fans and to enquire if,  that despite it being a Wednesday evening, they were in the mood for drinking. The resulting cheer could be taken as a Yes! Seasoned Ghost fans knew what was coming next and cheered wildly as Papa welcomed out the evening’s Sisters of Sin. After a brief explanation of the rules to the proceedings, Papa commanded them to “Go to church.”

It could only mean one thing- communion Papa Emeritus style for those on the rail, while on stage Ghost played the stunning Body and Blood with all their hearts and souls.

(Boy Child declined to take “communion” as the Sisters of Sin passed by.)

The crowd were loving it!

As the song drew to a close, the lights dimmed to allow Papa to retire discretely from the stage to de-robe.

Meanwhile out on stage, the five nameless ghouls delivered a thunderous performance of the instrumental Devil Church from Meliora.

Amid swirling smoke, the two guitarist ghouls stood in their own spotlight circles, gently duelling on their guitars, with one even throwing in  touch of Duelling Banjoes for good measure, before beginning the distinctive intro  to Cirice. As the smoke billowed, the remaining ghouls joined in. A spotlight was trained onto the top step and there stood Papa in his tailcoat and spats, still a commanding presence on stage. Spectacular performance of Cirice and one of my highlight moments.

A couple of songs later, following the taped version of the delicate Spoksonat, it was time for another highlight moment. Perhaps the highlight song of the night – He Is. Papa gazed out appreciatively over the adoring fans as he began his vocals. He had every fan in the room in the palm of his white gloved hand. Beautiful song. Beautiful performance. Loved it!

A few minutes later Papa introduced a song by saying it was so heavy not even he could stay on his feet for it ( a veiled reference to his tumble from the stage the night before in Leeds)  It was time for Mummy Dust! My absolute favourite Ghost song. The hard, heavy, pounding intro filled the ABC as Papa roared “Are you ready?” Of course we were!

The ghouls played in formation as Papa prowled the stage menacingly. (He managed not to fall off this time.) It was brilliant to see the ghouls interacting more with the crowd and not seeming so aloof. Two confetti cannons either side of the stage went off and the fans were showered in “dust” – well, colourful confetti and Ghost dollars. Absolutely awesome song and I got a fistful of dollars in the process! Happy days!

However, the end was fast approaching….

Ghuleh/Zombie Queen were followed by Ritual bringing the main body of the sermon…sorry set… to a soaring conclusion. Papa graciously allowed each of the ghouls their moment of glory and their own round of applause before the band took their bows.

Having posed for the obligatory crowd photos, Papa and his nameless ghouls brought the show to a climax with Monstrance Clock, a tribute to the female orgasm and standard show closer. What more can I say…

The lights went up on the confetti littered room, the last few Ghost dollars were rescued from the floor and the fans trooped out feeling suitable blessed and satiated….till next time.

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First Gig Of The Year – Avenged Sevenfold

It’s been forty days since my last fix…..

Yes, 2017 Gig Season has opened!

So ,which show enjoyed the honour of being my first of 2017? Well, I started off big this year –  Avenged Sevenfold at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro.

Accompanied by Little Miss Green Tea, I’d driven up to Glasgow (have I mentioned before how much I dislike driving in rush hour motorway traffic?), rendezvoused with Boy Child and Facebook Son at the Science Centre car park then headed off across the bridge on foot to the arena in time for doors opening (early doors 5.30!)

We then divided and conquered for the remainder of the evening. The boys disappeared off in search of friends and moshing mayhem. Little Miss Green Tea kept me company in the queue for merchandise then headed off to take her seat. Or should I say headed up…..and up!  When I entered the arena bowl, I scanned the seating for her and found her WAY up in very back row almost at the roof. Talk about a bird’s eye view! (Wonder if they supply fans with oxygen that high up?)

The stage set up was instantly impressive- huge video screens, runway out into the centre of the arena, elevated side sections to the stage. Things were looking good.

First up were Swedish melodic metal giants, In Flames. The arena was about half full as they began the opening set of the night. I’ll be honest, In Flames are not one of my bands of choice but the diehards down at the front were loving their set. Having opened proceedings with Bullet Ride, from their Clayman album circa 2000, they powered their way through their seven song set. The Truth from  their latest album Battles was the highlight for me. The Swedes rounded things off with Take This Life. Solid opening set and the arena was filling up nicely.

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Disturbed from Chicago, fronted by David Draiman, were next out on stage. I love their current album Immortalized and was keenly awaiting their set.

I wasn’t disappointed! In fact, I kind of wish this had been a co-headline show and that their set could’ve been longer than the hour they had. Disturbed filled every second of their allotted time and squeezed in an impressive fifteen songs!

From the amount of pyro interspersed throughout their set, these guys were more “in flames” than the Swedes! The heat from those jets was awesome! Little Miss Green Tea said afterwards that she could feel the heat way up at the top. Down the front, we were all getting crispy crittered!

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I’m getting ahead of myself here…

Disturbed opened their set with the title track from their current album Immortalized and immediately had the Glasgow crowd in the palm of their hands. Resplendent in his long black coat, David Draiman commanded the stage. His stage presences, with its hint of anger, is quite something to behold.

The highlight of their set for me, and for thousands of other present no doubt was their rendition of the Sound of Silence. This truly was a goosebumps moment. A strong section and piano were brought on stage while David Draiman encouraged the fans to light up the arena with their phones and lighters. What a beautiful sight to behold. Breathtaking performance. Loved it!

Two songs further into the set, Disturbed played another of my personal favourites, The Light, also from Immortalized. The phones and lighters were back in the air! Amazing song!

Ten Thousand Fists and Down With The Sickness brought Disturbed’s set to a thunderous conclusion. Almost ten thousand Scottish fists were in the air! Hurry back, guys. Glasgow needs a headline show! (hint!)

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A half hour interval had been advertised between Disturbed and the headliners. While the fans watched the stage being prepared for Avenged Sevenfold, two space age roving eyes scanned the arena from giant screens on the stage.

Appropriately at none o’clock, David Bowie’s Space Oddity echoed round the arena as the lights dimmedand the huge screen lit up to show a vast galaxy of planets and stars. Lightning flashed across the screens. The death bat hovered…

Avenged Sevenfold were on the stage opening their set with The Stage, the title track from their current album. Using every square inch available to them they prowled the stage. M Shadows had barely sung a not yet the fans were hanging on his every move.

A couple of tracks in and M Shadows humbly apologised for missing Glasgow out on their Hail To The King Tour. He promised that they would make up for this oversight then, much to his amusement, the Glasgow fans began their customary chant of “Here we, here we, here we f**king go!” M Shadows loved it!

The fans loved Hail To The King which followed. Incredible performance of an amazing song.

The two hour, eighteen song set, spanned the entire Avenged  Sevenfold catalogue. There wasn’t a weak spot in it, although there were a few minor pauses.

Bassist Johnny Christ and guitarist Zacky Vengeance paced and prowled the width of the stage throughout the set, engaging with the fans. (I blew Johnny Christ a kiss and got one back) Synster Gates showed a preference for the opposite site to where I was positioned and favoured the run way alongside M Shadows. Towards the latter part of the show Synster Gates did venture across to where I was watching from. It would’ve been nice to see more of him.

Personally, I’m not a fan of runways as I feel it divides the crowd, however they do mean more “rail” space for the fans to get close to their fans.

There were so many highlights to this set that it is hard to pinpoint the key moments. God Damn, from The Stage, swiftly won favour with the assembled masses. Nightmare was welcomed like an old friend. Among my personal favourites were Planets and the awesome Acid Rain (that’s when I blew the kiss to Johnny Christ) which rounded off the main body of the set.

Having taken a bow, Avenged Sevenfold returned for a three song encore. M Shadows asked the fans if they were ready to go right back to the start and to return to Bat Country. The answer was an overwhelming yes! A Little Piece Of Heaven, in all it’s wonderful chaos, followed. The video screens were working overtime here! Unholy Confessions brought the evening to an end. What a show!

If I have one confession to make it’s this – I wish Gunslinger had made the set. Next time, guys, please!

Tired and weary we all met up as arranged and headed off into the cold dark wet night, having picked up an extra waif in need of a lift home. Bread Boy joined Boy Child and Facebook Son in the back of the car for the wet and windy drive home. 

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Alter Bridge at the SSE Hydro Glasgow 01 Dec 2016

There’s only one venue in Glasgow that, for me, necessitates a car ride instead of a train ride – the SSE Hydro on the banks of the River Clyde.

Having negotiated the rush hour traffic (I loathe motorway driving at rush hour), I arrived safely at the Science Centre Car Park, having taken the obligatory wrong turn. I was chaperoned for the evening by Boy Child, FB Son and Four.

We were heading across the river to see Alter Bridge.

Having seen the show a few days before, I knew what we were in for musically. Deliberately, I’d told the others very little about the show in Nottingham.

Once in the arena bowl, Boy Child and FB Son headed out towards the front centre, hoping for some moshing.

Four and I positioned ourselves a couple of rows off the barrier to the left, in front of where Myles would be in a few short hours. There really isn’t any other place to be at an Alter Bridge show for me.

Like A Storm were first out on stage. The haunting sound of the didgeridoo echoed out across the rapidly filling arena, as they opened their set. Their six song set was all too short for my liking. Part way through, front man, Chris, jumped down from the stage and appeared perched on the rail in front of me. The crowd parted easily as he walked through the arena in a large arc. WOW! As before, their set ended with Love The Way You Hate Me. Absolutely nothing to hate about these boys! Love them!

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Next up were French metalcore masters, Gojira. Four and I had found ourselves in the midst of a nest of Gojira fans. I can’t truly fault Gojira’s performance. There is no doubt that they deliver a loud, hard and heavy powerful set but try as I might, it’s just not for me. (Boy Child loved them). Judging by the size of the crowd, a lot of folk had come out just to see them. For a band playing second support, they had that arena almost full before 7pm. Impressive. The lighting for their set is worth commenting on. It was fantastic!

It didn’t take their Glasgow fans long to find their energy once Gojira launched into their seven song set. The moshing most definitely kicked off. Around us the crowd got a bit tighter and ,as was to be expected, we were jostled throughout the set. Finally, these French metalheads concluded their set with a thunderous rendition of Vacuity. I suspect this was the last time I’ll see them live.

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By the time Volbeat took to the stage, the crowd were in the mood to party. There were a large number of Volbeat fans in the room. In fact, the guy to our right said he’d stay till they played Evelyn then he was leaving. Leaving? Before Alter Bridge?….shocked!

I love Volbeat, however, in hindsight, perhaps front man Michael Poulsen should’ve been warned that a Glasgow crowd needs little encouragement to mosh and crowd surf. Let’s just say things got a little rough during this set. Crowd surfing concerns aside, Volbeat’s set was fantastic.

I adore their set opener The Devil’s Bleeding Crown. Awesome song live! A couple of songs later we were invited to connect with our inner “Man In Black” as they played a brilliant version of Ring Of Fire (Glasgow knows its Johnny Cash lyrics much better than Nottingham did!)

The fans were given the chance to practice their Danish as they were invited to sing along to For Evigt. Their efforts were met with approval from the stage.

After a blistering rendtion of Seal The Deal, Michael Poulsen asked the younger members of the audience to join them up on stage for Still Counting. Within ninety seconds the stage was crammed with overexcited fans, the band were calling for a circle pit and rock mayhem ensued! It was a memorable if rowdy climax to an awesome set.

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It’s safe to say the fans were now  all fired up for headliners Alter Bridge!

The lights dimmed, blue spotlight beams pulsed out from the stage, the huge video screen lit up in a blue throbbing target then Alter Bridge were on stage opening their ninety minute set with The Writing On The Wall! Monster set opener from their latest album The Last Hero.

It was promptly followed by Come To Life and Addicted To Pain. What an opening! Alter Bridge were on fire! The engine room that is Brian Marshall and Scott “Flip” Phillips were tuned to perfection!

Myles didn’t have to ask the crowd twice to get their hands up for the next song – the incredible Ghosts Of Days Gone By. I love this song!

Around us the crowd were tightly packed and growing very pushy. There was a lot of jostling and unnecessary shoving. Myles appealed for folk to move back a little to stop the folk at the front from being crushed. His polite pleas fell on deaf ears.

As Cry Of Achilles rang out over the arena, the crowd got rougher and I became separated from Four for the remainder of the show.

Mid-set Glasgow was treated to another song from The Last Hero, Crows On A Wire. This song is eargasmic live! Every member of Alter Bridge were on point during this one. Thunderous performance!

It was great to see Waters Rising still made the cut for the set list. Mark Tremonti has really evolved as a vocalist and I love the tone to his voice. Not as pure as Myles’ but equally passionate and genuine. The fans loved this one!

The time had come to slow things down a little as Myles appeared, acoustic guitar in hand. Having declared “You guys are the best, thank you,” he began the delicate intro to Watch Over You. Spotlit centre stage, it was the perfect setting (not a bee in sight!) Right on cue, the Glasgow choir joined in with the vocals. Lighters and phones lit  the arena right up to the rafters. Stunningly beautiful moment amidst the mayhem.

A treat followed. Standing in the spotlight once more, Myles began to play You Will Be Remembered. This was the first time I’d heard this one performed live. Loved it! I hope it finds its niche in the set for tours to come.

 A powerhouse delivery of Isolation soon restored the  rowdy energy of the Scottish fans.

The ever poignant Blackbird came next with its soaring, sweeping solos. Myles’ vocals were as passionate and emotion fuelled as ever. Truly a magnificent song. At the back of the stage the huge screen displayed a blackbird on a branch. Perfect.

Metalingus, always a fan favourite, and Open Your Eyes rounded out the main set and Alter Bridge left the stage to tumultuous applause.

A few moments later, the boys returned for a two song encore- Show Me A Leader and standard show closer Rise Today. I’d finally wriggled forward and had a clear view of the stage for the culmination of the show. An awesome climax to a fantastic set.

As the lights went up “mum mode” re-engaged as I scanned the crowd for Boy Child and FB Son. All night the crowd had been as rough as I’d experienced. I found Four first. He’d been only a few feet behind me. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found both of the boys more or less intact a few moments later.

I’m not a killjoy  and I don’t have any issues with mosh pits and circle pits but, having watched  the crowd surfers being ineptly passed over head all night, I wish venues would ban it. Too many folk who are enjoying the show, with their feet firmly planted on the ground, leave battered and bruised because of these surfers.

There really is no need!

Come on venues, Rise Today and ban crowd surfing!

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Alter Bridge at the Motorpoint Arena Nottingham 26/11/16

Instead of my usual 5:25 to Glasgow, last Saturday morning, I found myself in Glasgow Airport boarding a flight to East Midlands Airport (tiny propeller plane!) as I headed off to Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena.

Having met many friends and made several new ones along the way at lunch and the meet and greet, I found myself in a prime spot on the rail for the show.

First out on stage were Like A Storm. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a show open with some didgeridoo playing before! This young band from New Zealand are fantastic and, despite a lack of space on the busy stage, played a spectacular half hour set. Their all too short appearance opened with Chaos from their debut album, Awaken The Fire. The remainder of the six song set comprised of songs from the album with one exception. These Kiwis played a storming cover of ACDC’s TNT. They wound things up with Love The Way You Hate Me. Brilliant. Nothing to hate about these guys!

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Next up were French band, Gojira. I’ll be honest here. I’ve listened to their latest album Magma and some of their older stuff and I just can’t get into them. Live they were certainly loud, hard and heavy and much better than I’d expected. The highlights of their eight song set for me were Silvera and Vacuity. Check them out and make your own mind up. For me, the jury’s still out.

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Volbeat from Denmark followed. Slowly drum kit by drum kit layer the stage space was increasing. Since hearing Volbeat’s latest album Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie, I hoped and prayed that one particular track from it would open their set. The Danes didn’t disappoint.  The Devil’s Bleeding Crown is the perfect set opener. Loved it!

Three songs in and we were treated to some Johnny Cash as they played Ring Of Fire and Sad Man’s Tongue. Front man, Michael Poulsen asked the crowd to sing along. I think some of them need to brush up in their knowledge of the Man In Black.

A special guest joined them on stage a few songs later to lend his vocal support on Evelyn. Barney Greenway from Napalm Death helped with the vocal chores. Personally, I wish he hadn’t but the crowd around me seemed to enjoy it.

Volbeat’s ten song set drew to a thunderous climax with Seal The Deal (plus some added Back In Black) and Still Counting.

One criticism of an otherwise awesome set – don’t encourage crowd surfing please guys. Having previously been badly kicked by a flailing crowd surfer, it’s not funny to those underneath.

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Finally, the lights dimmed for the final time, the stage lit up as the intro played. Spotlights flashed out over the capacity crowd and Alter Bridge took to the stage, opening their set with The Writing On The Wall. Awesome choice from The Last Hero to open proceedings.

This was followed by Come To Life and Farther Than The Sun.

All four members of the band were on fire! From my position on the rail, the sound was incredible. Myles was certainly in fine voice!

I was relieved that Ghosts Of Days Gone By was still on the set. It’s one of my personal favourites. Love it!

The seventeen song set was a pretty fair mix of old and new anthems. Four songs from The Last Hero were spread throughout the ninety minute set.

Waters Rising was one of the highlights of the night. Mark Tremonti’s confidence as a vocalist has noticeably increased following his recent runs with Tremonti. At the end of the song, he passed the PRS guitar that he had just played to a young boy down at the front, citing him as the future of rock n roll.

Crows On A Wire followed. This is a monster of a song and is sure to remain on the standard set for a long time to come. Eargasmic!

Then it was time to slow things down for a moment or two. Myles appeared with his acoustic guitar and we all knew what was coming. It was the eve of his birthday and the fans were keen to see him celebrate, even if he confessed to not looking forward to being a year older (For the record, he’s 47)

Watch Over You is a truly beautiful ballad. I love this one. It’s a very emotional song and I think its close to the heart of every Alter Bridge fan. Beautiful crystal clear vocals from Myles. Stunning!

Two songs later the emotions were running high again as the boys played the iconic Blackbird. Incredible!  The solos in this one were amazing. Wow…that’s all..WOW!

Two old favourites rounded off the main body of the set – Metalingus and Open Your Eyes.

It’s worth commenting on the spectacular lighting and impressive screen that dominated the back of the stage. This has to be one of the most colourful shows I’ve been to. By the end of the night, the psychedelic  screen was a bit over powering but that’s perhaps just me.

After a few moments Alter Bridge returned for their two song encore. Show Me A Leader was first then all too swiftly followed by standard set closer Rise Today.

With a few final waves and bows, flicked picks (Yes, Myles tossed one to me!) and hurled drum sticks that was it. Over. Done.

Roll on Dec 1st when I get to do it all again in Glasgow’s SSE Hydro.

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An Evening With Black Stone Cherry:The Kentucky Experience

For the third time in a week I boarded the 5:25 to Glasgow on Friday evening. This time I had a new chaperone – Little Miss Green Tea.

We were scheduled to rendezvous with Boy Child and FB Son at the venue.

Our destination this time was the city’s Royal Concert Hall. We were heading out to enjoy An Evening With Black Stone Cherry: The Kentucky Experience. (Yes, I know I saw them last Friday night too).

Having been found by the boys in the venue’s café (coffee was required), we made the obligatory pilgrimage to the merchandise stall then took our seats – yes, seats all round for this show.

Black Stone Cherry had promised something special and seeing the stage all set up with stools, rugs and occasional tables, I knew instantly what it was.

The first half of the show was an acoustic set! (Those boys really have spoiled their Scottish fans this week)

The show opened with In Our Dreams which much to my surprise really leant itself to an acoustic arrangement. It was followed by Hell And High Water and Like I Roll. Seeing those four boys from Kentucky sitting on stage relaxed and having fun with these songs was a joy to behold!

Whether in an electric or an acoustic setting the next two songs are probably the most powerfully emotional songs that Chris Robertson sings. His heartfelt vocals during The Rambler had the hairs on the back of my neck tingling. Things My Father Said had a tear in every eye in the room. Two breathtakingly beautiful songs.

Stay and Big City Lights followed with Chris encouraging the audience to sing along, especially on Big City Lights.

To close the acoustic set off Chris asked everyone to get on their feet for All I’m Dreamin’ Of.

Acoustic Black Stone Cherry were better than I could ever have dreamed of!

After a thirty minute interval- yes, an interval mid-rock show – things got a little louder in the Royal Concert Hall.

With the stage set up in its usual format plus fairy lights across John Fred’s drum riser, Chris yelled for everyone to get on their feet as Black Stone Cherry launched into the second longer half of the show with Devil’s Queen. Awesome set opener and, with a bigger stage than in The Cathouse last week, even more energetic! Does Ben Wells ever stand still? His energy is rubbing off on Jon Lawhon who was bounding about almost as energetically! Devil’s Queen was swiftly followed by Soul Machine that had everyone in the room singing “S O U L” in fine voice. An amazing cover of Bad To The Bone followed.

Darkest Secret from the latest album Kentucky is a recent addition to the set but it’s a monster of song played live. Love it! This was followed by one of my favourites Killing Floor.

Black Stone Cherry were certainly killing it!

The Glasgow choir were in fine voice during White Trash Millionaire and Me and Mary Jane. There was definitely “a thing goin’ on” here!

Another of my favourites made the set a couple of songs later – In My Blood. Awesome!

A thunderous performance of Blind Man led us into John Fred Young’s drum solo. His display was as high energy as ever with the addition of some harmonica. Awesome stuff!

Having certainly been “Shakin’ My Cage” the main set ended with the best performance I’ve seen from these boys of Blame It On The Boom Boom.

Twenty four songs in and these boys weren’t done yet.

The evening had been made all the more special by the fact it was Ben Wells’ 31st birthday and I’m pretty confident that Glasgow ensure it was one he’ll remember for a while.

The kinship and friendship of the guys shines through as bright as the musical talent in display. Maybe I’m a little biased  but each and every one of them is amazing.

As every Black Stone Cherry fan knows, a show always ends with Lonely Train and this one was no exception. The fans’ singing almost raised the roof off the Royal Concert Hall.

After blasting out Ace Of Spades our Kentucky Experience was at an end.

Judging by the smiles on Little Miss Green Tea’s face, I think I’ve found a convert, someone else who can now say that Black Stone Cherry are “In My Blood.”

Hurry back boys, we miss you already!

 

(images sourced from Facebook & Google – credits to the owners)

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