Its Top 10 time…
10) The Vintage Caravan – Gateways
Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Quick Fire Summary:Swagger is not something easily earned and this Icelandic (?) Classic Rock trio have more than mere mortals. Their huge groovy guitars plunder the blues, whether at a deep stoner plod, or with a rampaging riff. They take their queues from the 70’s hard rockers but are not bound by rules. Their styles are so dynamic with so many twists and tempo changes they are impossible to take your ears off them. Vocals a la Manic Street Preachers added to Deep Purply riffs and prog tendencies, this is homage of the highest order. The rock gods approve.
Top Track: Reset – A What a Thumping Riff! Like a precision uppercut a polished knockout blow that would lift most men off their feet. The vocal/guitar interplay is well balanced whereas the tempo shifts are totally off kilter. Not forgetting the frenzied solo which rises to a glorious crescendo. If you love hard rocking albums of stellar quality, look no further.
9) Beartooth – Disease
Genre: Hardcore Punk | Label: Red Bull Records
Quick Fire Summary: Probably the heaviest album on this year’s countdown comes from this Ohio Hardcore Punk come emotive hard rock band. Aggressive and in your face with brash thrashing and confrontational attitude. The counter-punch is that they have a unique knack for pop heavy hooks and soaring euphoric vocals. A hard and fast batch of edgy rock anthems for an angry generation.
Top Track: You Never Know – Showcasing the two poles of their conflicted sound. The pure, clean harmonious highs of the pop punk chorus are sandwiched by crushing metallic riffs and driven along with reckless punk abandon. Best of both worlds collide here.
Watch: You Never Know
8) Turbowolf – The Free Life
Genre: Rock/Prog/Punk | Label: So Recordings
Quick Fire Summary: Another Bristolian rock band, only this bunch of noiseniks add a electronic shot of psychedelia to their hard rock sound. Synths, Effects Pedals and gloriously fuzzy heavy blues make sure they sound huge despite being a trio. They are equally danceable as they are moshable, producing both outlandish and kaleidoscopic garage punk bangers. Thoroughly modern and magnificent.
Top Track: The Free Life – The title track kicks off right away with a dramatic fuzz fuelled riff which slow burns in a cloud of fuzzy amplification. This almost stoner-esque daydream is cruelly shattered by a killer wind-up crescendo and following military grade riffage that bombards all in its wake. Plenty of further madness ensues with squealing guitars, flaring high, and deep lulls all bound by a damn hooky chorus. A real power “trip!”.
Watch: The Free Life
7) Clutch – Book Of Bad Decisions
Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Weathermaker Music
Quick Fire Summary: Clutch are one of those bands who do little wrong. Their recent resurgence starting with Earth Rocker have been nothing short of spectacular. Their latest can be added to this list. This has some all out attack blues punk aces alongside more refrained mid tempo groover’s and soulful sawyer’s. The vocal interplay and unexpected lyrical content is what makes them work though, the gruffly drawled delivery backed with riff after fuzzy riff breathes vitality and life into every verse.
Top Track: Gimme The Keys – A spectacular opener which sets of on a course for destruction. Long drawn out power chord chops and spoken verse is all a decoy, for when the chorus kicks in, it’s throttle down punk energy and engulfing fuzzy riffs. Hard rock that takes absolutely no prisoners.
Watch: Gimme The Keys
6) Monster Truck – True Rockers
Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Mascot Records
Quick Fire Summary: The title of Monster Truck’s 3rd full length album provides a succinct enough evaluation of their sound, ambition and lifestyle. To give them credit its a very accurate assessment, as it really is a True Rocker. It’s a no holds barred, blues fisticuff that also likes a throwback to rock’s glory days with plenty of organs and harmonica to boot. Its a straight up, no-nonsence, beer swilling, hard strutting roller that’s not the be trifled with.
Top Track: Young City Hearts – One of the more restrained efforts on the album, this tune flicks between piping organs, strutting basslines, a ripping melody and a the roaring chorus. Its effortlessly cool and flowing throughout. Yet it’s a expansion on their sound, they can rock hard still, but just doing it subtly.
5) Hardcore Superstar – You Can’t Kill My Rock And Roll
Genre: Hard Rock/Glam | Label: GAIN
Quick Fire Summary: 11th Outing from HCSS see them finding their old jovial selves whilst pushing themselves forward. Looking back it encapsulates some of the most fun and glamtastic tracks in the discography, yet it showcased a more modern metallic side which is darker and heavier. The mix is addictive. As a sleazy hard rock band they yes have big, dumb, OTT songs and some pretty epic singalongs, but knowing (with half a tongue in cheek) that means they play to all their bombastic strengths.
Top Track: You Can’t Kill My Rock And Roll – “The Only Way Out Is All In” the quote which opens the video to this heart pounding, chest beating defiant roar of a song pretty much sums up its approach. There are no half measures here on this bonafide rock anthem that rocks 80’s style in a sleazy retelling of Kiss’ “God Gave Rock And Roll To You”. The chorus line however describes it better than I could, “Don’t Be A Whiny Bore, You Can’t Kill My Rock And Roll!”.
Watch: You Can’t Kill My Rock And Roll
4) Audrey Horne – Blackout
Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Napalm Records
Quick Fire Summary: Scandinavia and modern interpretations of classic/retro rock have been intertwined for years (Volbeat, Dead Lord, Night Flight Orchestra etc…). The best of which balance both fantastic musicianship, virtuoso guitars and a single minded melodic focus at the core of their sound. As you’d expect all are present and correct on the latest from these Norse Hard Rock vikings. They bring their technical chops across from Black Metal beginnings to meld Iron Maiden dueling metal licks with Thin Lizzy pop hooks, that whilst supremely catchy, does not hold back on turning up their big classic rock amp dials.
Top Track: Rose Alley – Like turning on the radio and finding out you are actually back in 76′ and the Lizzy have just released their seminal Jailbreak. This unabashed homage to Lynott and co. (Rosalie or Rose Alley?) is stunning with a riff that is absolutely mesmerizing and a loud soft dynamic that underlines the simple by stellar chorus lines. The fact it would easily slot into the Jailbreak track list is the highest praise I could offer.
3) Death By Unga Bunga – So Far, So Good, So Cool
Genre: (Garage) Rock | Label: Jansen Records
Quick Fire Summary: More Swedish goodness takes a podium finish, from the band with probably the silliest/coolest name in history. Whilst identifying as a Garage Rock, they are more rock and roll and closer to power pop acts such as Cheap Trick. Pop hooks are at the core of everything good they do and this sweet ear candy melodic nature pours out wave after wave as super Sticky McStick earworms. Its a damn fun album that doesn’t take itself too seriously as its too busy larking about. Despite this they weave some cracking guitar lines and big riffs all pumped through some nice vintage distortion which doesn’t sound to forced and is nicely compressed for that DIY rough round the edge sound.
Top Track: Soldier – It’s big, its damn catchy and it has probably the funniest, most camp and finest retro gaming Street Fighter II / Streets of Rage inspired music video you will ever likely to witness…
2) Slash – Living The Dream
Genre: Rock | Label: Roadrunner
Quick Fire Summary: What happens when you put the finest vocalist of modern rock and the finest hat wearing guitar player? Living The Dream, that’s what! Its a combination made with true balance and chemistry that has unlimited potential. This album is a rockers delight which revels in the finest and most inventive bluesy inspired hard rocking melodies around. Top that off with stratospheric vocals and infectious lyrics and you have a Pop Rock album whose quality outshines almost all others in 2019.
Top Track: Call Of The Wild – Start as they mean to go on, this opening gambit lays all their aces down on the table. Slash providing the bluesy lick, stunning tone, crunching amps whilst Myles Kennedy’s voice heads skywards. Beating drums, an adrenaline fuelled urgent rhythmic cadence and all round party starter! Play it loud, hard and fast!
Watch: Call Of The Wild
1) Tremonti – A Dying Machine
Genre: Metal/Hard Rock | Label: Napalm Records
Quick Fire Summary: Topping this years list is the other Alter Bridge guitar slinger, Mark Tremonti. He applies his full arsenal of carnage on this heavy (very heavy) solo outlet, plus his voice now sounds incredible. Its not all loudness and metal though. It tilts towards an expansive post-grunge tones which adds depth and mood to these intricate masterworks both on earnest ballads and face melting metallers. It’s a concept album, so top marks for creativity too. Its both brutally heavy and melodically beautiful, splashing the musical canvas with light and shade, aggression and hearty emotion in equal measure. Yet its the uncanny knack for the finest sing-a-long’s and soaring chorus’ which sets A Dying Machine apart from all others in 2018…the Rock Gods salute you!
Top Track: Take You With Me – From the opening bar, the accelerator is slammed to the floor as it carves up the land, obliterating everything in its path. Its unrelenting power chords and tough metal chugga chugga’s barely rest, only doing so to allow the towering determined vocals to fly. Inspiring passionate lyrics will soon have you standing in line next to the main protagonist ready to lay it all on the line. If ever there was a song to kick start an actual battle, this would be it.
Watch: Take You With Me
That’s all for 2018. Well done to you if you got this far! Rock (& Roll) on 2019.
Maybe its having more time to enjoy, to delve, to engage and to envelop, but for me 2018 has been a really stellar year for great new albums which have primarily yet to break the mainstream. Whilst I can only see a handful ever breaking that barrier any time soon, it’s the struggle up rock mountain that’s getting tougher with each passing year. Yet with bands like these and those dedicated folk who live, breathe and sweat rock and roll, the dream will never die. It will never pass, it will merely evolve just waiting for the next misfit bunch to pick up the broken strings and wayward hope and carry on the good fight. So to my call to arms…get on down to the clubs, be in the crowds, down a few cold ones with your friends and you’ll see its a living breathing dragon of fury primed for flight every night. And to all those who think that rock and roll is actually dead, read on…if you dare!
DoesItRock.net Albums of 2018
20) Fragile Things – Echo Chambers (Blue Edition)
Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Fragile Things
Quick Fire Summary: Always ones to champion “new” British rock talent, we start with a band fronted by the original Heaven’s Basement frontman Richie Hevanz (only with a lot less eyeliner). Its hard hitting rock with a modern twist and soaring vocals, immense chorus’ and striking lyrics that make this a contender for upcoming rising stars of the year. (Technically this was released in 2017 as an EP, the blue edition dropped in 2018 with a few more tracks.)
Top Track: Disappear – An extraordinary (not cheesy) power ballad about love lost and associated metal struggles. Its open hearted and empathic delivery stirs emotion, cutting through the truly huge wall of guitars and a flying vocal lines. How all ballads should be.
19) Massive Wagons – Full Nelson
Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Earache Records
Quick Fire Summary: Another rising British hard rock outfit have proven themselves on this stellar album of good old fashioned energetic rock and roll. It’s well polished production and huge chorus’ provides the pop hooks with the strutting guitars power the engine. Melds latter day Against Me! clean vocals with Weezer-esque quirkiness into a well rounded package which showcases plenty of variety and catchy earworms.
Top Track: Back To The Stack– A fitting tribute to the late Rick Parfitt, this three chord power chugger is flying high above the Status Quo with its “Maximum Attack, You know, You know, You know You know!”
Watch: Back To The Stack
18) The Dirty Nil – Master Volume
Genre: Rock | Label: Dine Alone
Quick Fire Summary: Rawkus, uncompromising, relentless pursuit of the rock and roll dream is well and truly alive in the hands of The Dirty Nil. Buzzsaw guitars, rasping vocals and plundering riffs race at punk pace with barely any self control. Yes, Its messy and mudded, but in between there are fantastic tracks and charging melodies during their brief life. Burning bright and rising fast these chaps.
Top Track: I Don’t Want That Phone Call – Probably the first rock tune with a overtly Anti-Drug message. A refreshing approach and has sadness and truth close to its evocative and passionate howled delivery from vocalist Luke Bentham.
Watch: I Don’t Want That Phone Call
17) Black Stone Cherry – Family Tree
Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Roadrunner Records
Quick Fire Summary: BSC brought back the the blues in 2018 and with it rejuvenated what was a fairly lacklustre streak dating back to 2012. Whats more they added newfound playfulness with a new funky groove which produces many of the albums best moments. It’s not afraid to be a little cheesy and certainly their riffs are back to their southern ass kickin’ best.
Top Track: Bad Habit – The obvious standout single features a doozy of a dual guitar lead lick that’s bluesy and soulful. The playful effect soaked bridge solo is a wonderful passage which ups the thump and drops the tempo ready for the final ho-ha back into the main rhythm.
Watch: Bad Habit
16) Joe Bonamassa – Redemption
Genre: Blues | Label: J&R Adventures
Quick Fire Summary: Welcome return number 2 of this years countdown comes from the modern king of the Blues, the living legend that is Joe Bonamassa. This his 13th album is a fine lively jaunt which displays his more playful side with upbeat rhythm and blues numbers alongside more traditional rootsy tracks and even the odd jazz inflection to boot. His warm vocals are as smooth as ever and his guitar playing is an astounding thing of beauty.
Top Track: King Bee Shakedown – A real swinger of a bluesy shuffle takes flight with full brass accompaniment providing the high notes on this fun dance hall number. Strong kicking tempo, nifty riffs and a might slide solo add variety and vitality.
Watch: King Bee Shakedown
15) Kit Trigg – Life
Genre: Blues Rock | Label: Kit Trigg & Nic Sleight
Quick Fire Summary: As a sucker for scrappy stoner fuzz, riffs, blues and new homegrown talent, the debut LP from this Surrey duo ticks all these boxes. Its unrefined, it pays homage to the good old blues lick, the desert and likes nothing more to rock out as much noise as two men with 6 strings and 2 sticks can muster. Evanescent songs burn bright with barely two tunes clocking in at over 3 mins. Short sweet and sumptuous.
Top Track: I Gotta Red Strat – Ths blues rockin’ banger has a little bit of everything. A glossy clean power chord riff, thumping desert rock, punky attitude, head banging, addictive simplicity and a cool baby blues solo to offset the carnage. Oh and yes… He has a red Strat!
Watch: I Gotta Red Strat
14) IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Rebellion
Genre: Punk | Label: Partisan Records
Quick Fire Summary: A lot has been written and said about these Bristol punks who will stop at nothing until they have angrily railroaded their gruff political voice and dirty garage rock into every living room up and down the currently divided Isle of Great Britain. They have captured a feeling of unease and uncompromising anger via their shadowy blasts of raging emotion, modern punk at its rawkus best.
Top Track: Danny Nedalko – An anthem of unity from an unlikely source which is pro-immigration and anti-discrimination. All delivered through a rampaging full tilt garage punk rocker with a damn football chant style chorus which has us all howling Danny’s name at full volume.
Watch: Danny Nedalko (Live)
13) Tusky – Rated Gnar
Genre: Punk | Label: V2 Records Benelux
Quick Fire Summary: I what’s probably a first for DiR.net, we have a Dutch Punk rock outfit in our EOY countdown. This is a record made from equal parts pop punk (under the california sun), technical post hardcore eccentricity, hardcore speed-slamming, hard rock riffing all ties together with a youthful and invigorated Foo Fighter vibe. Its dynamic, its varied and it keeps you on you toes dancing along for its less is more 30 mins of unexpected twists and turns.
Top Track: Going Out – I dare you not to want to jump out of your seat and throw stuff (metaphorically of course) when the opening rampage of power chords hit. Barely does the pumping energy let up throughout this sunny punk rocker that grips and doesn’t let go for a wild ride.
Watch: Going Out
12) Bullets And Octane – Waking Up Dead
Genre: Punk/Rock | Label: Bad MoFo Records/Cargo Records UK
One Line Summary: Returning sleazy rockers B&O have rekindled their spirits and are back partying hard and playing loud, living and breathing the lifestyle they dream of. A raft of supermassive rock tunes on display, infused with punk urgency and electrifying melodies.
Top Track: When We Were Young – A thumping rock track which makes you believe that every night is a Friday night, every song must be sung and every chord must be amplified. Their fighting spirit and passion for performing is front and centre of this uplifting tune.
Watch: When We Were Young
11) Coheed & Cambria – Unheavenly Creatures
Genre: Prog Rock | Label:Roadrunner
Quick Fire Summary:The 9th album emphatically rejuvenates C&C’s natural bombastic eccentricity and progressive tendencies. Pomp and over the top styling’s aplenty, it gloriously revels in throwbacks to their earlier day selves, with borrowed melodies and lyrics strewn across this sprawling space rock voyage. Grandeur really suits the huge classic rock ramparts they build with expert precision and heavy firepower.
Top Track: The Gutter – Epic tune which wistfully switches from tinkling keys, to razor sharp riffs and vocal delivery sweeping from aggressive urgency to fragility. This is all prelude to their gloriously dramatic, glamtastic guitar and exhilarating power balladry.
Watch: The Gutter
Roll on the top 10!
14th December 2018
Before I dive in, a lesson from history…11 years ago a young southern rock band called Black Stone Cherry were furiously handing out flyers for their early afternoon set on a side stage at Hard Rock Calling 2007. It was packed, it was incredible and It was from that day that tonight’s headliners lodged themselves into my youthful rock heart…
Jumping back to the present tonight showcases a truly spectacular lineup of North American guitar talent.
The Canadian’s were up first as Monster Truck rumbled straight down the throats of the early swelling crowd. They’re no nonsense, all man rock yeah. Playing loud, massive power chords, driving tempos, big choruses and thumping riffs. Their bluesy swagger emanated from lead vocalist/bassist Jon Harvey whose gravel paved howl was designed strike muscle bound notes. Playing a variety of tracks across their discog they cut out all the fat and went straight for their hits. A groove heavy Sweet Mountain River, Don’t Tell Me How To Live soared like an eagle and fresher True Rocker did exactly that. A cracking start and certainly won some new fans in the process.
Straight out of deepest Tennessee come out next act, the Nashville countrified rockers The Cadillac Three. This trio tick many of southern stereotypes, a slow caricature drawl, trucker hats, slide guitars and a gift for musicianship. No Bass and Two guitars, three if you count the double mounted slide fretboards. A unique approach and certainly front man Jaren Johnston did his bit to make up for any rhythm slack.
The Cadillac Three
Coming with a formidable live reputation, I can verify they do indeed whoop ass. But not in the way I had expected. Rather than the big hoedown rock and spritely tempos it was captivating with its approach to slowing almost every song to accentuate the notes at a snails pace. Plus it was far more country than expected too. It showed craft and soul beyond their LP’s and ability to thrive on stage with little or no boundaries. The crowd pleasers we all here on the emotive White Lightning, the adept song craft of American Slang and their Night rounded off with launch pad party anthem The South.
The night was yet young as the stage unraveled to its full potential. No more pokey curtains and basic smoke & light combos. From here on in we had the best pyro and staging Wembley could throw at us, Smoke cannons and all.
Black Stone Cherry
In an instant the Kentucky kings of Hard Rock, Black Stone Cherry had the crowd in the palm of their hands. This being their first headline Arena tour they were enjoying the space and theatre of the evening. Rhythm guitarist Ben Wells especially, running round like an over enthusiastic man child. He barely stayed still all night, which for me set the tone. A exhilarating embrace of their current status and homage to their past.
Their leader, the enigmatic southern man Chris Robertson, was far less athletic, more killer guitar slinger. Taking the leads he showed us his exemplary six string skills with blazing solos and the fattest riffs. It was however their ballads and mid tempo crooners which got the best reception tonight. Engaging in sing-a-long songs and good time crowd pleasers are all Arena staples, perfected on In My Blood and Like I Roll. Even their more touching emotive moments shined under the huge light rigs, Things My Father Said, Peace Is Free and new tune My Last Breath.
Their new material got a good airplay tonight, but with a 20 song set it had plenty of space. Despite this, they brought a groove not usually associated. Just Like James Brown and Ain’t Nobody brought the funk, even if Robertson overstepped slightly by opening up a dance floor in crowd central ‘for the ladies’. Despite this blip, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening which played much more to bluesy roots, which the overstaying 12 min rendition of Hoochie Coochie Man will attest to.
Hooooochie Cooooohie Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!
After 11 years they have hit new highs and as ever their open hearted honest thanks, gets kudos from the adoring masses who have been with them every step of the way. What’s next? Who knows. But it will be fun finding out!
21st November 2018
DIR.net opened the door to the DeLorean and sped back to the early noughties for a stellar line-up of old favourites whose appearance back on the live scene is much anticipated. With a line-up this good we were in early to catch the openers InMe.
This Brentwood based alternative rock/metal outfit have been consistently putting out quality albums for over 2 decades, rarely growing beyond the small venue’s that they frequent almost on a yearly basis. This experience means they are a formidable live act as they mix tracks from early grungy numbers, to more modern epic metal high up the progressive scale. Lead singer and guitarist Dave McPherson with his trademark flat cap was talismanic. His impassioned vocals were exhilarating, guitar work was highly technical and mastering both at the same time was impressive. His emotion poured out on latest single “For Something To Happen“, which he openly admitted that “I’m likely to cry during this next song” which visibly opened some raw wounds. This was a headline act compacted into a 20min sampler, which cut them down when they were only getting going.
Next we have (dare i say it without upsetting fans) a one hit wonder band in Wheatus. Sure they have a few other songs of note, but obviously we didn’t start there tonight. All 7 of them rambled out with bespectacled band leader Brendan B. Brown, for whom they oversized baggy t-shirt look hasn’t needed an update since the 90’s. Still it was somewhat of a surprise to see the sheer swell of numbers. To start with, they have 3 backing singers, for what reason I’m unsure.
Brendan B. Brown
That aside they mid-tempo’d their way through some decent pop ditty’s and their signature cover version of “A Little Respect“. Rather uninspiringly they remained fairly static throughout and just played their tunes. Of course we rounded out with the aforementioned classic alt-rock anthem and rock kid’s fairy tale “Teenage Dirtbag“. It was as fun today as it was back then, and despite exhibiting less of power than you’d have expected, it got the full sing-a-long treatment from the crowd who knew every word from years gone by.
The nostalgia didn’t end there as A bounded onto stage. I was always a little miffed that I missed them in their (/my) heyday. So I was glad to get the chance to turn back to clock and enjoy their 2002 classic Punk Pop album Hi-Fi Serious in full.
As with any gig of this ilk, it can easily get predictable (obvious point right?). But somehow it was still surprising how great these sounded live and how the various tempo/mood shifts typified what is a cracking LP from start to finish. From the powerful frenetic start of “Something’s Going On” and “Six O’Clock On A Tube Stop” before mellowing out with a few semi-ballads to calm the moshers.
Lead singer Jason Perry was in a rather unexpected outfit tonight. A full Deliveroo rider’s uniform complete with backpack. An interesting choice but not surprising given their punk stance, spiking a undertone of social non-conformity and capitalist unease. In fact as he extracted a Starbucks mug from his backpack (which stayed on for almost 5 songs by the way), it was done only in irony to tee up the immortal sing-a-long anthem of the same name with its classic line “I Don’t Want Your Job In Starbucks“. Hundreds of people barking that at top volume clearly made their evening.
Jason did a straw poll towards the end of the night which summed up the crowd nicely, most remember the LP being releases, almost all are over 30 and lots had kids. Which duly prompted him to instigate an “Age Appropriate Mosh Pit“. The caveat being you had to walk! As old bones don’t mend as fast. Of course this accounted for little as the madness soon resumed unabated.
Looping back round to end the main set to the thumping riff of “Nothing“, they exited and duly returned for a last min compilation of older tunes that had the faithful bounding like loons, “Old Folks” ahead of its time mockery of the aging technology user and the perky stomper “I Love Lake Tahoe” being the best of the bunch.
To surmise, tonight successfully managed to turn the clock back 20 years of so and those here to witness, revelled in its nostalgia and youthful reminisces.
16th November 2018
What?! Another Danko show?? That’s right folks, our favourite Canadian rock trio were back in London seemingly rounding out the endless Wildcat Tour 18 months on from their last visit to the London. Whats for certain is we can’t get enough of their energetic, punk-infused hard rock as we descended into the Underworld, too late to catch the support on this occasion.
So immediately to our headliners and the man himself, the eponymous Danko Jones. As ever trailed by his trusty bass partner in guitar slinging John “JC” Calabrese. A packed congregation was wedged into this newly shiny basement club, ready to worship Father Jones. Any break in proceedings was met with the same chant “Dank O Jones, Dank O Jones, etc…”. To which Mr Jones himself merely stood and absorbed all the good vibes coming his way.
Being a personality and figurehead of the rock and roll scene and eloquent podcaster, the charisma pours off of the man with an almost unfair bias. Plus he certainly has his stage banter down to an art. Seamless transitions, honest but appreciative demeanor and funny but not crude jokes typified a night where either you were rocking with the band or rolling with the laughs. He openly admitted to forgetting the set list, and having to bend down to read it!
Sonically they were as compact as ever, punishing the PA system with their good time party anthems each with a stellar sing a long chorus. Their melodic guitar solos were simple but effective and their rhythmic phrasing super tight. As it turned out there is a new Danko Jones record due early 2019 and we were treated to a few early samples. Each with (you guessed it), cracking chorus’s, rollicking riffs and a lust for rock. The best of the bunch being “Burn In Hell” which bristles along with punk intensity charged with a wonderful guitar lick and rapid but well delivered vocals. The rest of the packed set list picked fro across their discography, some of the best coming from lesser played songs such as the punk power player “Rock Shit Hot” and the rampaging “She’s Drugs“.
A night of full throttle, energetic rock and roll that has a true pop heart, delivered from a legend of modern hard rock that is a shining beacon for all those young bands out there to aspire to greatness.
Anticipation was running high in DiR.net HQ as the rockers from down under are back in ol’ blighty after a almost 6 years of inactivity.
Up first was a band that I’d not heard of before. Didn’t think much of at the time and even now can’t find a great deal about. Hence I’ll say that Tempesst were immediately forgettable and non-invasive in many ways.
It was Bruce Springsteen we have to thank for this Jet‘s return show (sort of). It was at his request that Jet come out of semi retirement to play the Aussie leg of his world tour. Which in turn has reignited the flame enough to warrant a brief 2 date UK tour to coincide with the 15th Anniversary of their debut, Get Born. Now usually album gigs are familiar, but they kept us guessing but not only playing on shuffle, but mixing in other tracks along the way to throw you off scent.
Its tough not to draw parallels with Jet as the Antipodean Oasis, What with both being offshoots of The Beatles with a slice of danger and gruff added for vague edginess. As expected then, the crowd were in strong spirits and voice all evening as the singalong moments and high octane rock and roll emerged. Low rumbling chorus’s, tapered highs and repetitive simplicity meant it was easy to follow and holler, like a decent football chant.
It’s fair to admit that these songs were like old friends you had lost touch with but are really glad to see them again for a brief moment of reminiscing. They have and always will play the nostalgia/retro card high in their arsenal, so in many ways tonight’s retrospective on a retrospection was all the more engaging.
Choice tracks from the night included the furious run through of the dangerous “Get Me Outta Here”, the bruised piano balladry of “Look What You’ve Done”, a party pit inducing “Rip It Up” and of course the swagger and style of their biggest hit “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”.
As the Aussies might say “it was a real ripper” of a show tonight. Let’s hope that its not another 6 years before they return for their next visit.
June 22nd 2018
After a much anticipated return to our stages after over 8 years away, we had to wait an additional few months after Bret wound up with an injured hand from falling down some stairs. Still the Kiwi Duo did duly arrive and treated us to an evening of giggles, fun and jollity.
As this was in essence a comedy gig so I’m going to keep the text brief as nobody likes a spoiler. The comedy act itself threw my enjoyment somewhat as it felt like I knew a lot of the best jokes/songs already. New material whilst as funny and genius as ever with their deadpan delivery, it would take repeat listens to truly get all the japes.
So yes, It was hilarious and their stage banter has us in stitches, but it felt well rehearsed and meticulously planned. Best tracks of the night were the tribute to the late great David on “Bowie”, a French fancy with “Faux de Fa Fa”, the hip hoppity grooves of “Mutha’ukas/Hurt Feelings” and newby combo “Father and Son” and “Deana & Ian”.
In absence of more words, here’s some pictures instead…
So in January I made a resolution to try catch up on my gig reviews which has been woefully sidelined by life, the universe, and everything else other than this site.
Now I’d like to think I held true to this personal promise by posting 13 reviews dating back over 3 years. Whilst it’s true that I am not formally up to date with the present, but virtue of going to 9 (!) gigs this year, I’d say that from the moment the resolution was made, I’m certainly caught up.
In 2019 I vow to continue in order to finish what was started to make it back to present day, and with 4 posts in various states of draft, I can say January should be a fruitful month.
It has been a particularly good year for new music in my world, so please stick around for the annual best of list which will be also coming soon…
25th April 2018
A life’s ambition was fulfilled tonight as I finally got the opportunity to witness one of live music greatest and enduring travelling shows. The epicentre of guitar virtuosity that is the G3 rocked into Hammersmith for a special evening of the finest six sting exponents in the world. The three guitarists on show tonight each have their own style and history, performing in some of the biggest bands in the world.
Uli Jon Roth
Out first was the eccentric psychedelic melody maker of former Scorpions fame, Uli Jon Roth. His aging hippy vibe shone through his bandana and long flowing white hair, waving his super cool custom guitar with style and flare. His playing style was certainly the most expansive of the night, combining progressive ventures with hook heavy melodies that ran though the heart of his songs. Some could be seen as generic AOR, but they had a technical difficulty which way exceeds the ordinary. He has a real feel for emotion and impressive string bends, letting the guitar flow as an extension of his soul. An assured performance from a wizard who took us on a spaced out journey of melodic phasing.
John Petrucci is much more likely to be found flexing his guitar chops in the giant progressive metal band Dream Theatre. Giant band, Giant man. Super buff with muscles upon muscles and a lusciously incongruous dwarf-ish beard. He was so broad that by contrast it made the guitar he was playing look like a kids toy in comparison. Appearances aside, this was much more of a metal performance with more fuzz, more overdrive and more speed. In fact the shredding was sublime and lightning fast mostly without losing focus on a unifying melodic theme. Less progressive than you’d imagine he played the part of a guitar virtuoso with his tight playing and dizzying picking. It was heavy, loud, brash and wrecked havok but he still retained that accessibly with the guitar loving crowd that made this a success.
With all the variety on show, there is only one monolith that stands unchanged across the G3 franchise, its creator and headline act the one and only Joe Satriani. Strutting on stage with his trademark sunglasses (indoors!), shiny guitar and shiny head, the godfather of guitar virtuosity was ready to upstage all who came before. And that’s exactly what he did. He was able to marry the evocative sweeping atmospheres of Roth and the shredtastic heavy metal of Petrucci often within the same song. His stage presence was probably the greatest differentiator as he actively boogies and bops whilst still retaining perfect precision on the fretboard. You feel he’s having the time of his life on stage which makes everything more engaging.
Having recently released his 16th album What Happens Next, these songs took most attention. But far from a drag, these were really good! From the damn funkiness of “Catbot” to the warm loveliness of “Cherry Blossoms”, right up to the exhilarating “Energy”. These slotted in nicely among a subset of his classic jams “Satch Boogie”, “Summer Song” and the unspoken love song “Always With Me, Circles Always With You.
The G3 Jam
As Joe picked his final string, as most G3 vets would know…that is merely the beginning. Joe then invited his tour mates back on stage for “The G3 Jam”. Oh yeah! All 3 virtuoso’s on stage playing extended cover versions of classic rock songs. Tonight it was the turn of Led Zep’s The Immigrant Song and my personal highlight, Deep Purple’s Highway Star. They each played off each other’s energy and thrived in outdoing each other in a titanic guitar battle. It was simply incredible to witness the inherent connection they each had in combining their individual styles with so much grace and ease. Man they rocked!
So tonight was a truly magnificent showcase of the finest guitar playing. I can also safely say this was not a gig. Rather a concert. A show where the onlookers where here to appreciate the music, the craft and the legends who graced the stage. Far more than the usual collective gig consciousness and associated antics. I do feel a little more grown-up tonight, and all the better for witnessing a trio of wonderful performances.
9th March 2018
The legends of independent off-kilter nonsensical progressive post-hardcore and their dance-punk sidekicks made for a line-up too good to pass up. So once more we’re back in Brixton rubbing shoulders with other cool kids (Joe Thomas of Inbetweeners fame included), pretending we’re one of them.
Prior to their arrivals we had a suitably left field artist plying their oddity to all those who graced the venue early. Le Butcherettes were damn strange and this can be primarily attributed to their crazed front woman with a lesser heard name, Teri Gender Bender. Her vocals were all over the spectrum and her dancing was like she’d been possessed by a hyperactive demon puppeteer. Their songs repetitive, harsh, scuzzy and rough like a bad garage DIY band whose sole purpose is to annoy the neighbours. Melody was missing, presumed dead. More of a spectacle and an art performance of a set of indie punk blasts.
Teri Gender Bender
We last caught up with Death From Above (1979) back in 2011, whilst on their comeback trail. Since then they have released more new music and have secured their position as garage-dance punk legends, whilst embracing both pop and prog influences. They had come down in excitement and reckless abandon from that earlier show. Tonight the Drum and Bass two piece pumped out their massive riffs complimented by firecracker drumming to shape their high intensity, groove heavy sound. But overall it was a workman-like professional performance that failed to truly spark the onlookers into frenzy…they were far too cool for that. Barely conversing with the crowd they went about their business, slanting a latest album heavy, fuzz fuelled rhythmic onslaught. Good but has been better.
Death From Above (1979)
Headliners At The Drive In, are returning hero’s of Post-Hardcore and alternative rock, who have broken up multiple times, reformed the same amount, spawned numerous offshoot projects are here and are seemingly getting along. A rapture of applause greeted the bands arrival who duly moved straight into their somewhat aloof and distant stage persona’s who barely engaged with the adoring masses. Putting up that barrier and extracting themselves into their craft was well executed as they went about showcasing their new tracks from last years comeback album with vigor and unhinged energy.
At The Drive In
The performance value was exceptional as each track was sublimely executed and expanded with their outstanding musicianship boosted by their progressive tendencies. All night they feasted on the energy reserves of the crowds revelry. Weaving in new jams, alongside older gems worked nicely and the set flowed beautifully through their career highlights. The finest of said songs were the irreverent choppiness of “Holtzclaw”, an non-obvious expansive sing-a-long on “Invalid Litter Dept.” and their almost mainstream bothering Guitar Hero track, “One Armed Scissor”.
Omar Rodríguez-López (Guitar) & Cedric Bixler-Zavala (Vocals)
I’d say it was a feather in the cap kind of show. A night for admiration and less for head first diving. It was clear though, when your as cutting edge, getting excited and jumping about, doesn’t fit the image. Question is, would I return to see them again…yes, in an instant!