Meat Loaf - Newcastle Arena 5.4.13
Suede - Alexandra Palace, London - 30.03.2013
After nearly a decade away, Suede have perfected the art of the successful comeback. Their 6th album, Bloodsports went top 10 last month and their announcement of a special concert at Alexandra Palace saw fans from far and wide come to witness their return. The surroundings of the Palace made it quite the spectacle, but the perfect setting to witness a band who have always been full of such grandeur.
From the second the band grace the stage, the tone of the evening was evident, it was going to be a lively one. Kicking off the evening with a trio of new songs, the crowd sing along lustily and the tracks already sound so familiar. Barriers is huge and the riff from Snowblind echoes throughout the venue. Brett Anderson delivers an exuberant performance from the beginning and remains the focal point throughout the night with his shaking hips and microphone twirling.
Moving effortlessly through their classics, Animal Nitrate, Metal Mickey, We Are The Pigs to name a few, they all still sound so strikingly brilliant and epic live. The crowd of course are pleased to hear such favourites, but are still as hyped up to hear the new tracks live, which sit along with the older material perfectly. Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away is simply beautiful and a breathtakingly long pause in the middle of the track, with the band frozen onstage emphasizes the atmosphere here tonight, we are hanging on every note.
Brett announces “It’s been twenty years ago yesterday since our debut album” and the band launch into Sleeping Pills, much to everyone’s surprise, followed by Pantomime Horse, it is safe to say the crowd are stunned. Both songs are so passionately performed, with all the might and drive they deserve, and they sound wonderful. We are treated to the likes of Everything Will Flow, So Young and the anthemic Trash, before finishing with Beautiful Ones and this all feels much more than nostalgia, it feels like this is a new chapter for Suede, a celebration of the old and new.
It has to be said that the band are at their best right now, they have managed to cement themselves an incredible comeback and show themselves to be an unbreakable force both live and in the studio. They are faultless, tonight, their dedication and excitement evident throughout the show. It just leaves us with the question, what’s next? Suede are most definitely back, and tonight is just the beginning….
The Treatment - Rock City, 31.03.13
On a bright Easter Sunday, Home Grown Rock joined forces with JCF to support the Anthony Nolan charity and the rising stars of British rock.
First up were Northerners Massive Wagons, warming up the crowd with their punchy, in your face rock with added groove. Filled with energy, their charm, coupled with belting tracks such as opener Ride On, got the day of to a booming start. Next up were local lads Wraith, a hit with their loyal fans from back in the day. Their passion shone through as they were having just as much as the audience blasting out their hits filled with their powerful dual guitars and crashing cymbals. Following were fellow locals Sinners Highway bouncing about the stage to their monster riffs and pounding drum beats. Met by great applause, they went down a treat with the strong, building crowd.
Afterlife kicked off the big 3 with their heavy riffs and prominent, commanding vocal melodies before giving away to the ferocious Trucker Diablo. After a slight technical hitch, the trio launched into a brutal set packed with vigour and irresistible blues licks. With the audience eating out of the palm of their hands, they throw in an excellent cover of Proud Mary, leaving the stage to rapturous applause and fired up for tonight’s headliners. The kit adorned in the British flag, Land Of Hope And Glory blasting out, The Treatment walk onstage, themselves wearing the UK flag with pride, bursting into Drink, Fuck, Fight. Their explosive set features new tracks along side hits from their debut, both getting a huge reaction from tonight’s enthusiastic fans. I Bleed Rock N Roll is a brilliant, classic rock anthem complete with a hugely memorable, catchy chorus. The band are in fine form, engaging their audience every step of the way, fuelling their passion and enthusiasm. Finishing on Shake The Mountain, the crowd were left begging for more as they left the stage. Luckily for them, they soon returned inviting all tonight’s band members back onstage for a rendition of Slade’s Get Down With It before encouraging a mass stage invasion with half the audience joining them.
As the bodies filter out, the atmosphere is electric with everyone safe in the knowledge that tonight they were part of something special. Rock is certainly not dead!
Clutch - Earth Rocker
‘I will suffer no evil, my guitar will guide me through’. A line from the title track from Clutch’s tenth full length album, Earth Rocker. A prominent motto, an ideal sentiment from a band who show no signs of slowing down. Perhaps showing them at their heaviest, how does it measure up?
The album is predominantly guitar centred, crafted with ferocious tunes and memorable riffs. Groovy, thunderous, spacey, psychedelic, brilliant. The huge grooves coupled with the anthemic vibes and choruses is similar to their previous work, but still renewed and fresh enough for anyone new to the band. Crucial Velocity and the danceable Mr Freedom are both highlights, along with Gone Cold which takes a step away from the heavy for a few minutes to break the album up with its folksy feel. Neil Fallon’s unmistakable raspy vocals keep this album rocking and rolling, as does his choice of lyrics, both of which are essential to Clutch’s sound. A lot of the tracks have a gutsy fist pumping feel to them also, alike Motorhead for example, a very classic outlook.
Earth Rocker incorporates various themes and visions, packed full of personality. It showcases Clutch at the top of their game once again, and every song is a killer.
Heaven’s Basement - Filthy Empire
Five years after their creation and numerous line up changes later, Heaven’s Basement have finally managed to release their debut album titled Filthy Empire. Was it all worth it?
From the thumping opening of Welcome Home you are whisked into a whirlwind of punchy riffs, belting choruses and a charismatic performance by frontman Andy Buchanan. Those of you familiar with the unstable, disorganised sound from a few years ago will have all doubts immediately washed away by the tight, sharp tracks blasting out infront of you. First single Fire, Fire is a proper fist pumping rock track, featuring a ferocious riff and cries of fire you can’t help but shout along with. Each member contributes their own thundering part to each track, with great understanding of every role within the group creating dynamic, exciting music. The explosive Nothing Left To Lose and I Am Electric sandwich a beautiful vocal performance from Andy Buchanan in Lights Out In London; delivered with such passion he holds you under his spell. From the quirky Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch to the stunning Price We Pay, Filthy Empire is a diverse, innovative debut and shows it was worth the groups persevering. Executioner’s Day is a brilliant ending and really showcases Sid Glover’s guitar skills with a blinding solo.
Heaven’s Basement have finally found their voice with this line up, a voice of pure, energetic rock at it’s finest.
Songs I’d Recommend: Fire, Fire, Nothing Left To Lose, Price We Pay.
Bon Jovi - What About Now
One of rocks most prominent pioneers, Bon Jovi are never too far away with a new album and tour dates with 2013 seeing the twelve studio album for the quartet. Can their music still weave it’s magic?
First single Because We Can opens the album; it’s the typical light, radio friendly track we’ve begun to expect from the group, nevertheless; it is a lively opener and gives promise for what is to follow. I’m With You is beautiful track with swelling melodies and a swaying chorus. Jon Bon Jovi’s voice shines through the delicate layers and his vocal performance on the album is as good as ever. Unfortunately, as the album progresses, the promise shown in the beginning begins to fade and leads the way to a rather monotonous, plain album. There’s a choice between a catchy riff building to a bold chorus or a hum drum mellow track that fails to capture the imagination. It’s easy to forget where one track begins and another ends, or if you’ve just infact listened to a track twice. Final track Every Road Leads Home To You, performed by Richie Sambora, is a shining redemption on the album. The addition of piano and strings utilising varying dynamics and a brief, but stunning guitar solo makes for a captivating track that will commands you to stop and listen.
What About Now Bon Jovi? It’s a while since your studio work really captured the listeners attention…
Songs I’d Recommend: I’m With You, Every Road Leads Home To You.
David Bowie - The Next Day
We’ve had Ziggy, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, Major Tom, the Goblin King etc etc, it’s quite obvious that David Bowie is not a man shy of reinvention. The king of non conformity, throughout the 70s he rifled through many looks and genres without hesitation, from glam to funk and all inbetween, including a cocaine habit that nearly killed him but subsequently led to his fantastic Berlin trilogy. We were shown many faces, but he knew exactly how to wear them.
The following decades saw Bowie become less of a trendsetter and more of a trend follower as he reached stadium heights. Where the 70s were unpredictable, the 80s/90s became reactionary. In saying that however, where ageing rockstars could take the route of riding high on 30 year old songs to arenas full of nostalgic fans, Bowie didn’t. He could have, but thank god he didn’t.
In more recent years, albums like Heathen and Reality saw a little renaissance of Bowie’s career, but this was cut short in 2004 due to him collapsing at a show in Germany and having to undergo emergency heart surgery. Nearly a decade of silence followed, with many rumours of retirement or serious illness, the mystique surrounding his hiatus was rife. But, little did we know that for the past couple of years he has been secretly recording a new album, his 26th, with producer Tony Visconti, titled The Next Day.
The first single Where Are We Now came as a surprise, and with its wistful tone many thought this was the beginning of goodbye, and the album to follow could be Bowie’s farewell to music, but not at all. The Next Day is a record that is happy to look back over his staggering career, borrow from it and move forward from it, with much energy and vigour. Even the album sleeve is a hint of this, as the cover of the classic Heroes is defaced in a meme-like fashion.
The thing about The Next Day is, there is no sense of a need for radical reinvention, that perhaps there has been in the past. The songs here are new and exciting, stories full of aggression, character and comedy. The title track sets the tone of the album perfectly, a stomping rhythm and squealing guitar that builds to a crescendo of a chorus with an in your face attitude and Where Are You Now tells a tale of a man uninterested in revealing his true self, perhaps Bowie himself?
As a songwriter, he tells many tales. He sings of medieval evil, offspring of prison wardens and even a hint of Bob Dylan. The good and evil of fame and stardom is tackled as a subject for The Stars (Are Out Tonight), a theme that regularly shows up on a Bowie record, along with Dancing Out In Space with its trippy guitar and thrilling beat. Valentines Day and I’d Rather Be High are further standouts too.
The band are steered towards a real rock vibe, Bowie sounds refreshed and Visconti has done a great job as producer. The Next Day is bold, innovative, dark in places , but most of all it is perfectly creative and unexpected. Undoubtedly an album only David Bowie could make.
Classic Album Review: Def Leppard - Hysteria
August 1987 saw the release of an album that would give Def Leppard worldwide fame, achieving number one in the album chart on both sides of the Atlantic. Drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car accident in 1984, and that, along with other delays resulted in the album taking three years to make, although ultimately it was worth it for a band who still consistently headline festivals and arena tours as a result of this album amongst others.
The album itself was an experimental work, designed to be commercially successful. It features a number or ballads, in the form of ‘Animal’, ‘Love Bites’, ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Love and Affection’; the rest of the tracks either recall the bands hard rock roots or find a middle ground somewhere between the two. ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ falls into the latter category, and is the bands most popular song. It stands out as the masterpiece of the album, although the edited version of ‘Rocket’ that was released as a single comes close. The problem with the album version of the song is also the problem with most of the songs on the album – they just sound too overproduced. ‘Animal’ is a song that stands out during live performances, but on the album the production strips the drums of their power and the guitar of its raw.
That is not to say the album isn’t worth its reputation. The songs on display are all masterfully written, and when performed live by the band take on an almost entirely different persona. It is worth remembering though that the album came out in 1987, and commercial success was what producer Mutt Lange was aiming for. You cannot deny that he achieved it either, twenty-six years later it is still highly regarded, and it stands at number 464 on the Rolling Stone’s ‘500 greatest albums of all time list’.
It’s almost impossible to pick out a bad song on the album, every song is good, the problem is just the production. It is also difficult to pick out three songs to recommend, which goes to show that bad production doesn’t necessarily mean a bad album. Turn your speakers up loud, and transport yourself back to 1987, its one hell of a ride.
Songs To Spotify: ‘Animal’ ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ ‘Hysteria’.
Suede - Bloodsports
Having been a self confessed Suedehead for the majority of my years, it was exciting to learn that after the bands incredibly successful live return a few years ago, they were going to be recording a new album, their first in 11 years. Amd here they are, back with Bloodsports, which infact is pretty brilliant.
A lot of fans have never really gotten over the departure of original guitarist Bernard Butler and were disappointed when he didn’t make a return to the band during their reunion gigs. But, what a lot of people forget is that the bands post Butler records, Coming Up and Head Music are brilliant, and that Richard Oakes stepped into some big shoes and nailed that classic Suede sound. The bands last album A New Morning didn’t quite live up to expectations and that is when the band decided to call it a day, but with Bloodsports, it is a return to their very best, a fantastic effort.
On first listen it is clear that Suede have stayed true to their aesthetic, but they have boosted it to another level, with a sound big enough to fill an arena. Barriers is a powerful opener, and the single It Starts And Ends With You is a great taster of what is ahead. Snowblind is an instant favourite with big guitars and Andersons familiar tones, whilst Hit Me is classic Suede through and through. Oakes riffs lift the bar high, and on tracks like Sabotage his playing really shines. Brett Anderson also steps up, he sounds like a man revived, his vocal delivery is full of magic and vigour, and the whole sound gives off an aura of romanticism.
It seems the time away and recent resurgence has done wonders for Suede and Bloodsports is a fantastic comeback. You would be forgiven for thinking otherwise before, that this could be a big nostalgic trip, but it feels entirely new. It is passionate and dynamic and it pleasantly reminds us just how underestimated and amazing Suede are. Let’s hope it doesn’t end here…
Skunk Anansie - Newcastle Academy, 17.03.2013