Heaven’s Basement - Slade Rooms, 22.08.13
Five years since forming and several line up changes later, it’s fair to say Heaven’s Basement have somewhat exploded onto the music scene since the release of their debut album Filthy Empire. Sandwiched between appearances at some of the biggest festivals across Europe is a headline UK tour. A sold out Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton brings them their highest pre-show ticket sales, and it’s easy to see why this quartet are making a mark. Striding ontage brimming with confidence and passion for their art, they have the crowd in of the palm of their hands from the opening chords of Welcome Home. The setlist is relentless and commands the attention of the audience from the pounding beats of I Am Electric to an acoustic Price We Pay with the energy levels never once dipping. The crowd are only too happy to mirror their enthusiasm, bouncing around and singing along at the top of their voices, particularly in the brilliant Nothing Left To Lose. Vocalist Aaron Buchanan is one of the most charismatic frontmen around, bounding around the stage and even taking part in a little crowd surfing. As the final part of the Heaven’s Basement puzzle, they appear a solid unit with a bright future.
Fire Fire and Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch send the crowd into a frenzy and by the time the foursome walk off stage, the chant of we want more is being yelled by everybody in the room. Returning to blast Executioners Day, a tired, thrilled, and extremely sweaty audience make their way out knowing they’ve just seen one of the leading names in the future of rock.
Hellfest 2013 - Day one
For festival season this year, we took ourselves off to Hellfest in Clisson, France. We fancied a bit of a change from the dull weather of England, only to be greeted with more rain there, can’t have it all! Anyway, what a great weekend we had, tons of brilliant bands and lots of new ones discovered! Here is our report from the first day…
Kicking off a festival on the mainstage is no easy task, but Kissin’ Dynamite aren’t fazed at all. They grasp their opportunity and deliver an energetic half an hour to get everyone pumped for the weekend ahead. Following them on the mainstage 2 are SSS, a very different group from their predecessors signalling the heavier of the two stages; they even get the first pits of the festival going. Black Spiders are up next and have the crowd following their every command. Opening with the brilliant KISS Tried To Kill Me (who are of course headlining the Saturday), they’re a great band to get the crowd going, even encouraging the middle finger salute as early as a Friday lunchtime, what more could you want!
Back to mainstage 2 and Vektor take to the stage for a very screechy set with no stand out tracks. Nevertheless, their fans are out in force and they receive a good reception. Bouncing out next are Swedish quartet Hardcore Superstar straight into the snappy drum rhythm of opener Moonshine. Frontman Jocke Berg has great stage presence and is bounding round the stage with the energy of a 5 year old! His charisma creates a great connection with the crowd and their set is perfect festival material with plenty of audience participation required. Pioneers Saxon blast through a set of classics which are always received well at festivals and a welcome addition to any line up.
On with another great festival band and it’s Europes turn. Despite the fact that the majority of people will be turning up for the massive Final Countdown (which went down a treat of course), they are thoroughly enjoyable to watch and Joey Tempest vocals are still on top form. The heavy rhythms of Testament boom around the field to a huge showing and the thrash pioneers blitz through a frantic set, lapped up by their audience. A switch in the line up presents Twisted Sister earlier than expected and they absolutely steal the day. Declaring in their earlier press conference that they are the best around and they challenge every band playing over the weekend to top them, they stick to their word and deliver a fantastic set full of energy, passion and precision. They are without doubt one of the bands of the weekend and are always an absolute pleasure to watch. The huge We’re Not Gonna Take It encourages 3 encores of the chorus, one started by the crowd which echoes round the field before frontman Dee Snider counts the band back in, long live Twisted Sister! The Who's My Generation signals the beginning of Whitesnake's set, and whilst the big hits such as Still Of The Night and Here I Go Again please the crowd, the newer tracks fall flat and there are a few too many solo’s to keep the crowds full attention. David Coverdale's voice is sadly not what it used to be as he croaks through the higher notes, when he decides to attempt them! Helloween on the other hand are sounding great, complete with giant inflatable pumpkins, and their enthusiasm is matched by their audience.
On to tonight’s main act and Def Leppard sneak onstage, kicking off with Good Morning Freedom. The first part of their headlining set is a mixture of classic hits, including Let’s Get Rocked, before a video interval which sadly got lost in translation with the French crowd. Celebrating their iconic album Hysteria, the video features clips of the making of the album but confused the audiences and appeared disjointed. Onto the album itself and it’s a wonderful hour or so of brilliant tracks. No doubt the band are showing their age and the wear and tear on Joe Elliott's voice is evident, but their passion and love for their music still remains which is what makes them so enjoyable to watch.
Another moment of confusion hits their set as ACDC's You Shook Me All Night Long blares out of the speakers as the band leave the stage, usually a sign that the show is over, however, midway through the second verse, Elliott reappears onstage questioning whether the crowd seriously thought they’d leave with no encore on their first visit to France in 17 years. Everyone hurries back down for a sing along to Rock Of Ages and Photograph top off a fantastic first day; a day that blends the old with the new and shows that some of the old bands have still got it, and the newer guys are giving rock a bright future.
The Rolling Stones - Hyde Park, 06.07.13
Walking Papers - The Garage, 04.05.13
When Guns N’ Roses legend Duff McKagan was brought in on bass duties for Seattle group Walking Papers, a ripple effect was triggered as to who this new group were. Upon their second jaunt to the UK, they have gained critical acclaim from fans and reviewers alike for a stunning debut album, and with more performances under their belt, we head out to see the difference live.
Once again Welsh quartet Buffalo Summer have joined them for the ride and there is a noticeable difference in their performance. A little bit bolder and braver than the last time, their tasty blues riffs and pounding beats have added extra snarling attitude from before, delighting the London crowd. Andrew Hunt bounces about the stage, the only thing missing is that hint of that rock n roll gravel in his vocals.
On to tonight’s main event and there is a great air of anticipation in the room as Walking Papers take to the stage. From the opening chords the audience are held under their spell as they are whisked through a set of powerful blues licks, hypnotizing rhythms and of course some fierce bass lines. Jeff Angell looks like a completely different person onstage, swinging his hips and engaging the crowd with his every move. His new found confidence gives him great stage presence to compliment his charming vocals. The Seattle foursome have perfectly clicked together and produce a gritty, tight sound from a combination of blues and grunge. The dirty grooves and crashing cymbals of Independence Day are a great example and topped with Jeff’s floating vocal, it is irresistible, easily encouraging the crowd to dance along. In contrast, the psychedelic, soft tones of The Butcher are mesmerizing and features some dramatic pauses in which Angell doesn’t even move. A beautiful rendition of Already Dead with it’s delicate, chiming keyboard melody cements the evening as a special one with a very special band. Walking Papers really have it all covered with each track standing on it’s own as a clever, charismatic piece of work.
Whilst the lure of Duff McKagan may have drawn people in, as soon as the intricate melodies enter your ears, both live and on CD, Walking Papers become a different entity entirely; one of musical prowess and brilliance.
The merry month of May!
Spring is finally upon us, so how about some awesome rock to go with it?
After their first successful uk stint last November, Walking Papers are returning for a one off show in London this weekend ahead of their appearance at this years Download Festival. Their bluesy licks are not to be missed! Grab a ticket here.
Whitesnake, Journey & Thunder
Three 80s giants are joining together to deliver a night of big riffs, belting choruses and even bigger hair. With plenty of epic ballads to sing your heart out too, join the party and find your nearest date for tickets here.
Bringing their brand of hard rock back to UK soil, a night with Enuff Z’Nuff is always a fun one. Don’t miss out and bag a ticket here.
The Temperance Movement
One of the hottest new bands on the rock scene, The Temperance Movements irresistible blues grooves are not ones you want to miss out. Find out what all the fuss is about and get your ticket here!
Crashdiet/Jettblack - Rock City, 26.04.13
Glam rockers donned their animal print, back combed their hair to ridiculous heights and put on their chains to head down for a night of sleaze down at Rock City. Uncertain as to whether the gig would go ahead, understandably their was a sombre atmosphere surrounding Swedish outfit Crashdiet after the death of their manager at the very same venue one week previous. All credit to the quartet for their appearance which was of course dedicated to Michael Sunden.
Londoners Jettblack took to the stage for their headline set first and their enthusiasm for tonight’s set was clear from the opening words of Two Hot Girls. Leading straight into Less Torque More Thrust, the quartet ripped through a high energy, fun 45 minutes. The crowd didn’t need much encouragement to get involved, jumping around and clapping along throughout. Black Gold shows their more delicate side but still packed with a killer guitar solo and bold chorus. The anthemic Raining Rock brings their stint to an end with roars of Jettblack as they vacate the stage.
There is an air of excitement and anticipation as 9 o’ clock hits and Crashdiet walk onstage. Before they begin their set they give a heartfelt message about their tragic loss with the crowd responding to show their support. Their set is short but powerful and whilst it’s a difficult performance for the group, they deliver with great passion and sound tight. California is a particular highlight with Simon Cruz’s vocal soaring over pounding riffs with the frontman taking a second to thank the crowd for their never wavering belief and appreciation for them. Old favourites Riot In Everyone and Generation Wild get the audience pumped up before finishing on the dirty grooves of Cocaine Cowboys. The latter sounds brilliant live with it’s blues hooks and brash chorus.
Tonight was filled with varying emotions, but also plenty of gritty, punchy rock. The combination of the both bands makes for an excellent evening!
Rob Zombie - Venemous Rat Regeneration Vendor
A man of many talents, Rob Zombie has turned his attention back to his heavy metal, groove infused music with his fifth solo studio album.
A distorted teenage voice opens the album before leading into the dirty groove and pounding bass of Teenage Nosferatu Pussy take control. First single Dead City Radio And The Gods Of Supertown follows with an irresistible beat and stints of muffled spoken verse about the death of creativity on the mainstream radio stations. The brilliantly catchy rhythms accompanying the lyrics result in a very clever, addictive track. Revalation Revolution instantly has you hooked through sharp drum beats, off beat riffs and a memorable bridge into a bold chorus. Every track contains that unmistakeable Zombie character; slightly mischievous and full of charisma. A small interlude displaying John 5’s guitar skills breaks out from the norm of opening/closing the album and allows you to fully appreciate the musical brilliance after grabbing your attention with the opening tracks. Rock And Roll (In A Black Hole) takes a more industrial turn with a robotic drum beat and droning, gripping vocal line; new territory for Zombie as it is minus the usual dynamic delivery yet every bit as impressive. The ferocious Lucifer Rising will have you tapping along and personifies Zombie’s song writing talents from it’s brash chorus to pumping beats.
With many strings to his bow, Rob Zombie’s care of attention to detail in his music never falters and results in a highly engrossing, enchanting album packed full of punchy, enchanting tracks.
Songs I’d Recommend: Revelation Revolution, White Trash Freaks, Lucifer Rising.
Jettblack - Alter Ego, 20.04.13
Reunited with Will Stapleton after his spell in the touring War Of The Worlds, Jettblack are back out on the road for a couple of headline dates before their joint tour with Scandinavian glam rockers Crashdiet.
Black Water kick the night off with some punishing riffs but don’t really bring anything new to the fold and as the set wears on, their generic sound gets a little dull. Local lads The Goddamn Electric follow bringing a good following with them. Powering through the first three songs of their set with great enthusiasm, a slight disagreement with the sound man brings their set to an early finish, much to the disappointment of the crowd who try all they can to keep the quartet onstage.
On to these evenings main event and Jettblack burst onstage and straight into Two Hot Girls much to the crowds delight.On to a trio from their latest album Raining Rock including the brilliant Prison Of Love featuring a mighty crowd sing along. Black Gold is a highlight of the night and really showcases the dynamic vocal tones of Will Stapleton. Old favourites such as Get Your Hands Dirty really fire the crowd and after successfully pumping up the crowd for Motherfucker they add cheeky hidden bonus of The Rolling Stones Paint It Black. The material from both albums work really well together, creating an electric set that keeps you on your toes. The energy and passion from the band is reflected in the crowd with every person in the room thoroughly is enjoying every single minute. Ending on the bold Raining Rock, complete with audience participation, the cheers for more mean that the band barely even attempt to leave the stage before resuming their positions for a killer rendition of Dangerzone.
An evening with Jettblack is always guaranteed to be a great one filled with energy and charisma. Don’t miss them out on the road with Crashdiet this month!
Rival Sons - Leeds Met, 13.04.13
Rocks latest rising stars Rival Sons have certainly created quite a buzz and are shooting up the rock ladder to bigger venues at a rapid rate. A mere 18 months ago, the quartet made their first visit to Leeds to play to 120 people on one of their first visits to the UK. Fast forward that 18 months and we find ourselves watching them at the Leeds Metropolitan University. Where next, the new arena Leeds is expecting?
Starting the night are Ulysses, whilst they’re fairly enjoyable through some catchy riffs, their music fails to capture your full attention until their final song (the name of which I didn’t catch). The Graveltones follow receiving a great reaction from the audience, however, those familiar with The White Stripes may notice similarities so close to the duo, that originality appears to have gone out the window.
On to the evenings main event and one by one the the Californian boys stroll on stage to mesmerise tonight’s enthusiastic gathering. Kicking off with the irresistible You Want To, the crowd instantly get involved, clapping and dancing along, hooked on every beat the band produce. The set features a great mix of the groups catalogue with earlier tracks receiving a slight revamp to keep older fans on their toes. Torture contains an extended, dreamy break down section before bursting back into the main vocal melody. Slower tracks Jordan and the beautiful Sacred Tongue showcase Jay Buchanan’s mesmerising voice, and whilst he is a little under the weather tonight, his charming tone still has the audience under his spell. After dedicating Face Of Light to his son back home, the group leave to deafening cheers for one of the shortest encore gaps I have ever experience. Drummer Mike Miley had barely set foot off the stage before he reappeared to assume his position behind the drum kit for an energetic solo ending on a comical cymbal tap. Back for the bold Burn Down Los Angeles, the night ends on Soul, complete with Jay’s small speech about the importance of staying true to yourself.
As Jay said ‘It may not sound like the record, but it sounds like tonight,’ and everytime you catch the Rival Sons, the experience is a special one.
Toadstool - The Visitors
With a list of huge greats as their influences, Toadstool utilise a little bit of everything. From the blues hooks on the guitar to the glam edge to Alex Macaskill’s vocal, combined they create enchanting, intriguing tracks.
From the punchy opening riff of The Visitors, Toadstool rope you in with bold choruses, neat guitar work and charming vocal melodies. Something To Prove features a tasty groove, a nod to their Zeppelin influence no doubt, as well as a striking guitar solo which leads into a tense build up into a ferocious finish. The vocal line and guitar of Blood Of The Sand bounce off each other in playful, catchy style whilst the heavier, snappy opening to Last Night On Earth has a distinctive Sabbath feel. Containing a compelling middle section held together by a bewitching riff, Last Man On Earth also displays Nick Ingram’s guitar skills with stunning solo that rises above the vocal commanding your attention.
Toadstool’s clever use of varying techniques merged together form tracks which sound pleasantly familiar, yet completely new at the same time; they’re sure to reel you in.