Eureka Machines - Trillians, Newcastle - 21.04.2013
I’ve heard a lot about the Eureka Machines lately, what with their recent tour with the Wildhearts and a successful Pledge Music campaign, so the chance to see them headlining Newcastle’s Rockstock all dayer was too good to miss. And judging by the amount of people in the venue it seems I’m not alone.
After walking out onstage to a distorted version of the 20th Century Fox theme, they have everyone dancing and clapping along straight away with Champion The Underdog, which is far too catchy a song to not dance along to. And the set is full of tracks with hooks that will leave them in your head for weeks. With the likes of Pop Star, The Story Of My Life and Affluenza it’s easy to see why I’ve heard so many good things. They’re entertaining to watch as well, with the perfect balance of chaotic and together.
At the end of their set, vocalist and guitarist Chris Catalyst explains why it’s so important to support live music, explaining that even if you don’t go see Eureka Machines again, you should go see someone. Although judging by the response they’ve received tonight, I don’t think it’ll be hard to encourage people to go out and see them again. Definitely a band worth keeping an eye on.
Meat Loaf - Newcastle Arena 5.4.13
Meat Loaf’s support tonight is, actually, Meat Loaf. Opening with Runnin’ For The Red Light (I Gotta Life), he seems to be limping around the stage, and it makes you wonder if perhaps after recently having surgery on his knee, he’s jumped back into live shows too fast. Supposedly playing a “greatest hits” set to open with, the songs he plays are actually less well known, a lot of the crowd seem unenthusiastic and in the intermission you can hear people complaining that they don’t know the songs.
The second set completely saves it though. Playing the Bat Out Of Hell album in it’s entirety, you remember quite how many absolute anthems Meat Loaf has. Footage from a making of Bat Out Of Hell documentary appear on the big screens between songs, explaining the making of the album, and it’s nice to hear the stories that go with it, like watching a live version of Behind The Music. The atmosphere in the arena picks up as soon as the piano riff to Bat Out Of Hell kicks in and the theatrics of the night start, with a giant inflatable bat rising up from behind the drum kit. The second act is everything a Meat Loaf show should be and while he still seems to be having bother with his knee (he stays seated to sing the ballads and leans on his microphone stand like a crutch every now and again), it doesn’t seem like he’s struggling as much as the first act. His voice is still as powerful as it ever was, and his band sound fantastic. And with the likes of You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad and Paradise By the Dashboard Light, no one can complain that they don’t know the songs. Before final song of the act, album closer For Crying Out Loud, he explains the story behind it, and is genuinely emotional and choked up at the response he gets from the crowd.
Despite the second act being billed as Bat Out Of Hell, the band come back out for an unexpected but very much welcome encore of I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), which turns into a reprise of All Revved Up With No Place To Go.
The tour is listed as a farewell, but he’s said that before, so just have to wait and see if he’ll be back…
Skunk Anansie - Newcastle Academy, 17.03.2013
A combination of heavy rain and St Patrick’s day revelry means that as support band Beware Of Darkness take the stage, the Academy is fairly empty, with people seemingly choosing to stay in the pub until the main act. But this means they miss out on a support band who clearly put their heart and soul into their set, so much so that by the end of the second song, the singer/guitarist’s guitar is already smashed and he has to find another. Despite the songs being unfamiliar, they’re definitely entertaining to watch. A good example of why you should always go early to check out the support.
The venue has started to fill up by the time Skunk Anansie open with The Skank Heads, the crowd joining in from the get go. New album Black Traffic gets most of the set list’s attention, I will Break You, I Believed In You and I Hope You Get To Meet Your Hero getting played early on. The classics aren’t ignored though, with Skin suggesting that “some people think we’re a little, tiny bit political?” before breaking into Stoosh's Yes It’s Fucking Political and Paranoid And Sunburnt's, Weak, for which she walks across the crowd on a sea of hands.
The set list is full of songs you can’t not sing along with, even the new songs that people might be more unfamiliar with are accepted like the classics. The encore starts with Tear The Place Up, followed by 100 Ways To Be A Good Girl, which although musically far gentler, doesn’t dampen the crowd’s spirit. Asking if the crowd will look after her if she dives back in, Skin finishes the set singing Little Baby Swastikkka in the middle of the audience, before being crowdsurfed back to the stage for the final bow.
It’s a shame that the academy isn’t a lot fuller than it is for this gig. Skunk Anansie are one of those bands who should be a lot bigger than they are. They have a fearless, intelligent and witty frontwoman, excellent and talented musicians, and songs that are (or have the potential to be) anthems. And you can’t ask for more than that.
Ten Ton Friday - Trillians, Newcastle, 15.02.13
Ten Ton Friday are a band who’s name I have heard around a lot but I’ve always ended up missing, so when I heard they were playing Trillians I jumped at the chance to see what the fuss was about.
First up were a band I hadn’t heard of, Black Magic. Hailing from nearby Hartlepool, they’re musically good, but the singer definitely stands out. He has a powerful voice without it sounding forced, and reminds me of a few different singers but still sounds unique enough that I can’t quite put my finger on who they are. Along with their original songs, they have covers of Alice In Chains’ Man In The Box and The Beatles’ Come Together, the latter every bit as good as the many other versions I’ve heard of it. Definitely a band I hope to see more of.
Main band Ten Ton Friday are obviously influenced by Black Label Society, even down to the bullseye guitar, but they don’t come across as a band just trying to be them. I’ve heard good things about them and they definitely live up to the hype. Singers Mick Dixon and Siy Brady provide excellent harmony vocals as well as guitars with the right balance of being heavy enough for the metal crowd, but technical enough for the guitar hero enthusiasts. Bassist Gav Sutherland and Andrew Scully on drums provide a groove that ties it all together perfectly, from the start of the set through to last song Hive Of Ignorance.
Ten Ton Friday are definitely a band I’ll make more of an effort to go and see, and gigs like this are a perfect example of why supporting your local music scene should be encouraged. If you don’t, you could be missing out on gems like this.
Paloma Faith - Newcastle Academy, 31.1.13
The night starts off with support act Josephine (accompanied by a guitarist she introduces as Steve). Whilst she has a good, powerful voice in a Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane kind of way, the songs are a bit samey on first listen, and the crowd seem to talk over them for the most part. Still, vocally she is talented and maybe if the songs were more familiar they’d be a more enjoyable act.
Headliner Paloma Faith has a simple start. Just her, backing singers and pianist are onstage as she starts with Fall To Grace’s Let Your Love Walk In, before the curtain opens to reveal the band half way through. She’s often described as just a quirky singer, but it’s a shame to have her written off as just that. Her live show has elements of theatre, burlesque and drama in it, and an excellent band who are very much part of the show, rather than just being hidden away as a bunch of hired hand backing musicians; Paloma Faith is very much the lead character in this production though. Vocally she is spot on and with her between song banter she is likable and witty and she and her band seem to genuinely enjoy being onstage. Towards the end of the set, her announcement that it is the end of the show is met with such a chorus of booing that she suggests a last minute addition of the Etta James classic I’d Rather Go Blind. It takes the band off guard (causing a brief confusion over which guitar was right for this unexpected set list change), but it adds a nice unexpected extra and makes it feel less like a by the book set that some artists play. The biggest cheer of the night seemed to be for her cover of Never Tear Us Apart, as heard in the John Lewis adverts recently, but hopefully this doesn’t mean she’ll be written off as “that quirky singer who did that INXS song”, because she has so much more to offer than that.
Jettblack - Trillians, Newcastle - 17.10.2012
First song of the set, debut album track Get Your Hands Dirty, gets everything off to a good start, with the crowd singing and clapping from the word go. It kicked off a night of big riffs and even bigger power vocals, with lead singer Will Stapleton showing why he’s been picked to feature in the arena tour of Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds later this year.
The set is half and half of old and new, featuring classics like Slip It On and Two Hot Girls alongside most recent album tracks like Sunshine and Less Torque, More Thrust. By the time they end the set with Raining Rock, everyone’s having a dance, a sing or a headbang (in some cases all three) along. See them in a little venue while you can because with sets like this they should be on to bigger things very soon.
Halestorm - Newcastle Academy, 26/9/2012
Warming up the crowd tonight is Heaven’s Basement. Despite being no strangers to this venue, it is their first visit playing with new(ish) singer, Aaron Buchanan. Dancing around the stage like a young Robert Plant, and ending the set by diving into the crowd, he’s made for venues like this. Starting with Unbreakable, they have everyone on their side until last track Executioner’s Day. With shows like this and a new album out soon, hopefully they’ll be back soon as headliners.
There’s been a lot of hype around headliners Halestorm, much of it surrounding frontwoman, Lzzy Hale. Recently voted Revolver Magazine’s “Hottest Chick In Hard Rock” a lot of this hype is focused on her appearance, but live, she proves there is so much more to her than how she looks. She can play guitar with the best of them, accompanies herself on keyboard for ballad Break In, and is as close to note perfect vocally as any artist I’ve seen. Starting the set with Love Bytes, they blast through a set that mainly features tracks off latest album “The Strange Case Of…" as well as covers of Guns N Roses classic Out Ta Get Me and Judas Priest's Dissident Aggressor. There’s also a drum solo, in which Arejay Hale throws away his sticks and picks up the biggest drumsticks you will ever see to carry on, before proudly announcing that the crowd is as big as it was for the headliner the last time they were here supporting Shinedown. He seems to have an endless supply of energy, climbing around the kit, literally, for the entire set.
Ending the gig with an encore of I Miss The Misery and Here’s To Us, it’s easy to see why the venue is almost sold out, even after being upgraded from the far smaller Academy 2. They’re a talented band, most definitely, and with any luck people will realise they are a lot more than just a frontwoman with a pretty face.
Nashville Pussy - Trillians, Newcastle - 19.09.2012
First up tonight is local band Ashes Of Iron. They play stoner, grunge metal with an Audioslave kind of vibe to them. Their frontman is entertaining to watch, seemingly unphased by the small stage and managing to switch from a psychedelic style, to heavy blues to a classic rock scream that most established singers would be proud of. Sadly, the crowd for the night hadn’t appeared in time for their set, and while they seemed to make fans of the people there, they deserved a much bigger audience.
Next up is Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies. I’d heard good things about this band and they didn’t disappoint. Playing country rock n roll, Bob Wayne takes to the stage to tell tales of cheating women, pick up trucks and how best to party when he’s gone. I heard someone in the crowd compare them to Tenacious D due to the story telling element of their show, as well as suggesting they were an interesting gimmick, or “the bluegrass answer to Steel Panther”. While I can see their point, there is a definite sense of humour to the band, it’s unfair to write them off as a novelty act. The musicians are definitely talented, and their lyrics are clever and witty.
Last up is Nashville Pussy, playing a much more straight forward brand of rock n roll. Proudly announcing that they feature “One of rock n roll’s top five women, as voted for by America’s That Metal Show”, Ruyter Suys on guitar, they storm straight into a set featuring a good selection of their songs, old and new. From debut album’s I’m The Man through to most recent I’m So High, they play songs about sex, drugs and rock n roll, sounding like if AC/DC had been raised drinking whiskey in the southern United States.
They’re definitely a no frills band. They’re there to play, get everyone dancing, drinking and having a good time, and that’s just what they do. Only stopping because the venue curfew kicks in, they announce that they’ll be at the bar to keep the party going and I’m pretty sure everyone’ll be joining them.
Jaya The Cat - Trillians, Newcastle - 6.8.12
According to the advert for this show, 2 things happen when Jaya the Cat play.
1. Everybody has a dance and a good time, and
2. Everyone gets very, very drunk indeed.
The gig has rolled into Trillians straight from Blackpool’s Rebellion Festival, where headliners, opening act The Human Project and a fair chunk of the crowd were all in attendance. And judging by singer Geoff Lagadec's dedication to himself for Hello Hangover the afore mentioned promises had been in full effect.
They play a nice mix of old and new, from debut album Basement Style track Are You With Me? to latest single Here Come The Drums from the new album The New International Sound Of Hedonism, with a few singalongs like Thank You Reggae and El Camino thrown in along the way to keep everyone happy. Even a couple of jokes added in to keep the good mood going while technical difficulties were fixed early on in the set.
Looking around the crowd, the advert is right. A night of reggae, ska, punk rock has everyone dancing and having a good time, and with the band’s invitation for people to join them at the bar after the gig it can only have been a matter of time before promise number 2 came into effect and everyone got very, very drunk indeed.
Vintage Trouble - Sage, Gateshead, 20.07.12
Playing as part of Gateshead’s Americana Festival, this was Vintage Trouble’s third visit to the Sage, and their second headlining Hall 2. It’s an ideal venue for a band like Vintage Trouble. A decent enough size venue, but still small enough that it feels like a club where everyone can join in the party. Which is exactly what a Vintage Trouble gig is.
Starting mellow with Not Alright By Me, the crowd are singing along from the start. And by second track, Strike Your Light, everyone is dancing as well.
Frontman Ty Taylor is one of those people who not only has a voice most singers would give their right arm for, but has the charisma and stage presence to go with it, spending the entire gig with the crowd in the palm of his hand. You can see the crowd clapping when he says to clap, singing when he says to sing, and at the end of one a capella section you could have heard a pin drop while the crowd waited to see what he’d do next.
There is a lot to like about this band. Talented both instrumentally and vocally, catchy songs that you can’t help but sing and dance to, and even the crowd, who come across as one big family in which everyone is your new best friend for the night, whether you know them or not. But I think my favourite thing is how much the band clearly love what they do. When they say it’s all about love, happiness and music, it doesn’t come across as corny, as so many artists who try these speeches do. It seems heartfelt and genuine, and they even seem to get a little emotional when an entire crowd is singing their songs back to them.
After a set containing most of debut album The Bomb Shelter Sessions as well as a few new tracks including Before The Tear Drops and Run Like The River, they come back for an encore of Pelvis Pusher, that leaves everyone on a high and with a few new friends to dance with next time the band come to town.