Iron Maiden at SSE Hydro, Glasgow 16 May 2017

It’s been six years since Iron Maiden played Glasgow and, I’ll be honest here, I swithered about going to see them this time round. However, common sense prevailed and tickets were duly procured.

Three firsts happened before we were even in the venue, Glasgow’s SSE Hydro arena.

The first of these is that we made it to the car park without taking a wrong turn. (We miss that turn every time!)

The second was that Boy Child and I found ourselves queuing in warm, evening sunshine. (Every other time we’ve visited this venue it’s been cold, dark, windy and usually raining.)

And the third? Well, this was the first arena show I’d attended when it was just Boy Child and I. No chaperones. Just a mother and son outing.

As we queued in the sunshine, we counted up the number of shows we’ve been to together. This one marked the twenty sixth mother and son outing.

Doors were soon open though and the arena bowl beckoned us in once more.

Shinedown were the support band for the evening. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Shinedown fan but I have to admit that they had been a bit “off the boil” the last couple of times I’d seen them live so I was more than a little concerned as we stood a couple of rows off the rail.

Purple light swathed the huge Shinedown backdrop as the pa system played Prince (definite improvement from 2016’s meditation tape!) My concerns were still twitching a little however Shinedown blasted their way into their hour long set with Adrenaline. This was closely followed by Fly From Inside and, after a little vocal coaching for the crowd from Brent Smith, Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom). What an opening trio!

It was a joy to see these guys back on top form and commanding the stage. It’s a pity, certainly from where we were standing, that the audience weren’t more enthusiastic. C’est la vie!

Current single, How Did You Love, from the album Threat To Survival, slowed things down a little before Shinedown revved the crowd back up with Unity, Enemies, the awesome Second Chance and Cut The Cord.

Around us the arena was rapidly filling up and the crowd’s enthusiasm for these guys was growing with it.

All four members of Shinedown were in top form. It’s always a joy to behold Eric Bass’s frenetic performance and, yay I got a pick from this guy! Zach Myers made a few ventures over to our side of the room , looking all too like Ed Sheeran’s long lost brother. Up at the back on drums, Barry Kerch’s dreads were flying all night. Sign of a great performance.

All too soon Brent Smith was thanking the crowd, thanking Iron Maiden for having them along and introducing the epic Sound of Madness to close out their set.

It’s never goodbye. It’s just till next time. It sure is. We’ll be there next time for sure!

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The well-oiled machine that is the Iron Maiden stage crew swarmed all over the stage for the next half hour as they transformed the setting into Mayan ruins.

Shortly before nine, the lights dimmed once more and two video screens either side of the stage played an animation of Eddie journeying through the Mayan temple as the walls crashed down around him and us from the sound effects.

On stage, smoke billowed from a cauldron on the runway above the drum kit. The sconces were lit and the intro for If Eternity Should Fail began. Druid like, Bruce Dickinson emerged behind the cauldron, gazing into its smoking depths. His distinctive voice rang true over the capacity crowd. With a flash of lights and flames, the rest of Iron Maiden joined in and the Scottish fans went wild. The crowd around us erupted!

Iron Maiden’s fifteen song set was top heavy with tracks from their latest album, The Book Of Souls, as was to be expected. With a back catalogue as extensive as theirs, there may have been some fans who left a couple of hours later wishing that they’d played their favourite track. If they’d played everyone’s favourites these guys would have been playing till dawn.

Wrathchild and Children of the Damned proved that some thirty five years down the line they still stood the test of time. Both sounded as fresh as they did circa 1982.

Every member of Iron Maiden looked to be having a blast out on stage. If the band are enjoying themselves then you know you are in a for a hell of a night.

Dave Murray was positioned in front of us and was grinning all night. When Steve Harris bounded over there was a piercing intensity to his gaze as he scanned the throngs of fans in front of him. One thing all of them quickly had in common was the fact that the sweat was pouring off them. Iron Maiden play hard!

One of the highlights from The Book of Souls was The Red And The Black. It’s probably my personal  from the album and live it was awesome! All ten and a half minutes of eargasmic awesomeness.

The mighty The Trooper followed. With a patriotic Eddie backdrop, Bruce Dickinson emerged on the walkway above and behind drummer, Nicko McBrain, in his distinguished red military jacket waving a huge Union Jack flag. As he prowled the huge stage, the Scottish fans proved they were still in fine voice.

Title track from the album The Book Of Souls saw the arrival on stage of Eddie. Wielding a short handled axe, he roamed the stage menacingly, pausing for a few moments to “play” with Janick Gers who ran rings round the towering Eddie as he sprinted round through his legs in taunting circles. Eventually Eddie came face to face with Bruce, who after a short tussle, ripped his heart from his chest and held his trophy aloft for the fans to see. Awesome performance with just the right level of gruesome theatricals.

Fear Of The Dark, my all time favourite Maiden song, followed. The gentle hi hats from Nicko introduced the immediately recognisable intro. Instantly, the fans were singing along to it. Bruce’s voice sounded as strong as ever as the crowd erupted into a writhing mass in front of him. Glasgow sure does love this song!

“Scream for me, Scotland,” declared Bruce at the end of Fear Of The Dark. He didn’t need to ask twice. The fans obliged at a deafening volume as the band launched into the final song of the main set , Iron Maiden.

With red eyes blazing,  a Mayan Eddie head emerged at the back of the stage. The flaming sconces remained lit and Iron Maiden rounded out their main set as energetically as they had begun.

After a brief pause, Iron Maiden returned to the stage for a three song encore. The iconic voice over tape echoed round the arena, introducing encore opener The Number Of The Beast, another anthem that has stood the test of time. As huge flames shot up into the air behind him, Bruce led the Glasgow choir once more. Behind Janick Gers, the huge inflatable horned Beast gazed down menacingly upon proceedings.

Blood Brothers followed before Iron Maiden brought the evening to a climax with Wasted Years. Awesome end to an incredible set.

I’ll not lie here, I was totally wasted after this. My legs were like jelly and the world was beginning to spin through dehydration and heat exhaustion. Down at the front of the crowd, it had been hot as hell, sweaty and odorous (thanks to the guy in front of me who really needed to check his underwear) and it had been a boisterous two hours. I was battered and bruised (I’m still bruised) but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Don’t leave it another six years, guys, please. Haste ye back!

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Biters – The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

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The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be is Atlanta quartet, Biters, latest album. Released on 19th May via Earache Records it’s a long anticipated follow up to 2015’s critically acclaimed Electric Blood.

This record is not so much an album to be added to your collection but is a musical time machine.

Biters take their listeners on a whirlwind 33 minute, 10 stop trip through the 1970’s with a foray into the 1980’s.

The first stop is Let It Roll. Instantly catchy. Toe tapping. This is a strong choice for an opening track and sets the scene nicely for the journey ahead.

Stone Cold Love that follows is a stronger choice of track, launching the listener into the glam rock hey day of the 1970’s. Vocalist Tuk Smith is definitely channelling his inner Marc Bolan here. Love this track.

A couple of songs further along our sonic journey and we voyage into the mid-1980’s. There’s a distinctive pop vibe in the air. Perhaps a swing away from their rock roots but Don’t Turn This Good Heart Bad is a first rate, radio friendly tune with perhaps a hint of Brian Adams. A subtle diversion from the classic sounds of the 1970’s that these boys excel at.

The next track Gypsy Rose is one of my personal favourites on this album. This is a classic 1970’s stomp. It’s Sweet, Mud, Slade and the Bay City Rollers all squeezed into 3 mins 8 secs of prime glam rock. Having had the pleasure of seeing Biters live last month, this is a monster live that the Glasgow fans lapped up. Love it!

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be is full of surprises. One of these is Vulture City. Just when you think you’ve got Biters’ genre sussed, they toss in a dose of punk. This one oozes anger and angst. Right from the off, the head’s nodding to this one. Great track.

Biters change the mood with the following song and slow things down with Hollywood. Love the piano intro here. Hollywood is a powerful sweeping ballad. Tuk’s vocals are raw and emotion filled. Who doesn’t dream of a star on Hollywood Boulevard? Beautiful.

When I saw Biters supporting Blackberry Smoke last month, the final song on this record was on the set list. The audience were treated to a story of how this song came into being after a few drunken band adventures or should that be mis-adventures in Helsinki before finally boarding their flight home. Goin’ Back To Georgia is the only track, in my humble opinion, to hint at their southern rock roots. You can take the boy out of Atlanta….well you know the rest! This is a gentle ballad. It’s an emotional song about going home, something every weary traveller the world over can relate to. Stunning song to bring our time travelling to an end.

This record takes you on an incredible sonic journey spanning decades and, quite simply, I love it.

 

10/10

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Royal Thunder – Wick

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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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