Archive for August, 2010

Download Festival, Day Three

The final day was upon us all to quickly as we were late for our opening band. But luckily for us we could hear them from about a mile away so not all was lost. Finally we arrived for some good old fashioned horse riding, Orc slaying, magical, sword bearing, evil hoard battling chain mail clad Power Metal, in the guise of an Californian band called White Wizzard (what else could they be called?). This fun set was packed with stunning guitar lines and ridiculous lyrics, but hey…it didn’t fail to raise a smile!

White Wizzard

StraightLines stood out on the lineup for being one of the only indie(ish) bands to take stage. So we checked them out and their spritely pop-punk influenced indie rock was upbeat and easy to like. No boundaries being pushed but after all that rock it was nice to listen to some possible future radio hits.

StraightLines

From new to old we travelled back in time to catch one of Britain’s veteran rock acts, the original New Wave of Brititsh Heavy Metal legends, Saxon. Silver haired and rickety bones didn’t stop them from playing in it’s entirety their Wheels of Steel album which was coincidental (as Download itself was) celebrating it’s 25th anniversary. To their credit, it still sounded great all these years later with tunes like the romper-stomper Motorcycle Man, classic era sounding 747 & the thunderous Stand Up & Be Counted. It just goes to prove that, long lives, Rock and Roll!

Saxon

We reviewed TAB the Band‘s album Zoo Noises back in February, and fell for its Rolling stones-esque swagger and rough bluesy shufflings. Live they were equally as impressive. Strong clean vocals, dual guitar attack and melodies in abundance maintained a real foot-tapper of a performance which made you wanna dance! They may yet step out of the shadow of their father (Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry), if they maintain their energy levels and keep writing great songs!

TAB the Band

Crime In Stereo was the best of a line-up lull, We left after 2 thrashed songs without hint of the English language being sung or any inventive musicality. Heavy…Yes, Tedious…Also!

Crime In Stereo

It wasn’t until we arrived at Cinderella that we regretted leaving CiS. Cinderella epitomise why 80’s rock/metal acquired such a bad reputation. Style over substance, squeaky voiced, piano tinklers with generic power chords and floating melodic guitars were the worst we’d heard all weekend!

Cinderella

Thankfully keeping the classic side of 80’s rock flag waving high and proud was the most recognisable, indistinguishable and  one of all times greatest guitar hero’s Slash stepped out onstage to the collective roar of the crowds appreciation. Slash was here for all out crowd pleasing this afternoon as he arrived boasting my favourite rock vocalist of today Myles Kennedy (Altar Bridge) as his bands frontman. Despite having a new solo album out he only played a handful of tracks from it, the slash trademark riffing of Ghost, huge ballads Starlight & Back From Cali, proggy By The Sword. Seeing as Motorhead were playing later it was no great surprise to see Lemmy making a guest appearance on the cracking fast paced riff rocker Dr. Alibi.

Lemmy & Slash

It was with great elation and suprise that Slash devoted half his set to covers from his former-bands output. For me this was simply extraordinary! To see Slash playing Gun n’ Roses covers, all taken from Appetite For Destruction, was an absolute dream come true and the man has not lost a thing, plus Myles also has the perfect voice to do justice to these classic tracks. They played a double whammy of Nightrain and Rocket Queen early set to really stoke up the crowd which was already extremely excited. Not much could put into words my feelings when the first bars of the classic Gn’R song were heard! I absolutely loved every second of it! There was even time to throw the Velvet Revolver song Slither, with ex-frontman Scott Wieland now back with the Stone Temple Pilots, (incidentally) playing later…I can’t help but feel its intention.

Myles Kennedy

To round of a fantastic set of virtuoso guitar and just astounding classic rock,we all watched in awe as we were treated to yet another GnR classic, Paradise City. This performance was up there with the best of my life, let alone best of the festival.

Slash

We stuck around the main stage for a little longer, perching ourselves on the hill to see the some even more classic rock, but this time it was more of the pop variety. We were here for a greatest hit set from Billy Idol and that’s exactly what we got! all the hits were aired including Rebel Yell, Hot In The City, Dancing With Myself & White Wedding. The nice past blast was enough to keep the spirits high despite the rain which was now walling with great vengeance.

Suddenly moving between stages wasn’t quite as easy as the mud wallowed and flowed downhill turning the site into a bog in nearly 30 mins flat! The rain did not dampen my enjoyment of the end of Porpupine Tree’s majestically set of beautifully prog-rock, which can swing from astoundingly harmonious and blisteringly rawkus in one glorious sweep.

Porcupine Tree

Sticking with the Dio stage, we were treated to a right old fashioned 80’s party in the shape of Steel Panther. Their unashamedly 80’s rock was perfect for the damp souls and brought smiles and laughs galore from their outrageous stage persona’s and rampant guitar rock! This was all out fun and they even managed to bring out Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian to play on Asian Hooker as well as debuting their new single I Want It That Way (Yes…The Backstreet Boys one…). It seems also that the side screen cameras were a temporary Motley Cru style titty-cam. Seeing as soon as it flicked to a female audience member, her shirt suddenly went over her head…odd!!

Steel Panther

Enjoying a band in the rain and waiting for one in the rain are 2 very different things! The next 25 minutes of waiting dragged hugely, not helped by the fact that I could feel the water running down the inside my jacket and the cold weather taking hold of me! Still all was quickly forgotten as Ac/Dc’s homage paying countrymen Airbourne arrived onstage. These dude’s have always been a bit nuts, this show only re-inforced this view. They ran riot here in the rain, cracking beer cans open on their head and hitting a relentless barrage of power chords. New album material was good, played with the same manic vigour as their older material, plus they haven’t lost their catchy, fist pumping chorus writing talents.


Just to prove how crazy lead singer Joel O’Keefe really is, I point to the following evidence  

Exhibit A) Yes, he has climbed up the stage, in the absolute pouring rain, without any safety equipment, then plays a guitar solo hanging by his legs only 30ft up!

That Really Is A Long Way Down

Exhibit B) Now getting up borderline suicidal, he really had the crowd scared for his welfare, but after more guitar solos from atop of the stage, technians turned his guitar transmitter off, forcing him to come down…vvveeerrrryyy carefully!!!

“It’s A Long Way To The Top…If You Want To Rock And Roll

Everything after this point pales into insignificance at the stunt just witnessed, by these superb but insane Aussies!

As we headed for the final nights headline act we caught the end of the Stone Temple Pilots performance, needless to say Airbourne was a much better spectacle.

And so to the final band of the weekend, legends of rock Aerosmith, with their flamboyant lead singer Steve Tyler firmly back in the fold doing what he does best. For the third night in a row the headline act has been monumental, tonight was no exception. Tyler freshly re-united with the band after drugs problems was back at his best commanding a huge presence on stage. Joe Perry showed how to play the blues as he played some of the defining riffs of a generation.

Quite aptly the skies cleared and we recovered from the chill by being treated to Classic tracks like Sweet Emotion, Living On The Edge, Eat The Rich & Walk This Way which set the bar sky high. My songs of the night however were the genre spawning Rock-Ballad Dream On complete with perfect Tyler screams, set opener Love In An Elevator complete with Woo-Wooh sing-a-longs plus older gems Draw The Line and a rampaging version of Toys In The Attic which rounded out the show.

As the final amp was powered down with Tyler & Perry exchanging congratulations, we were left in the darkness of the damp field ready for the longest walk of the weekend…the one back home!

Heaven’s Basement @ Underworld

12th August 2010

It was only 8 months ago since I stood where I now rested. Deep in the bowels of Camden’s Worlds End pub awaiting the arrival of the same few men armed with their ferocious riffs, hard rock genius and pop rock classics. But before they took to the Underworld stage there was a couple of other bands due to play.

We missed the first band up but managed to catch the second, TheFallen. They played hard and fast with a couple of interesting melodic passages. If I would compare them it would be to a punkier lost prophets. However they let themselves down by turning their guitars too loud and droning out the already muffled lyrics of the lead vocalist. From the second song they were only really playing for the front 2 rows of teenagers (who started the lamest mosh pit I have ever witnessed), who all seemed to enjoy it.

TheFallen

A surprising act were next up, one who do not seem to fit tonight’s headliner’s style or sound thus making them an unusual choice of support. Audry Horne are a Norwegian post grunge hard rock oufit with elements of folk and prog incorporated into their sound. Personally I loved this set! It was different had a tonne of hard hitting bass licks and some fine duelling guitar melodies and solo’s which showcased the strength of their latest self titled album. Lead singer Torkjell Rød/Toschie was a heavily tatoo’d bloke who loves to perform and Is somewhat of a showman. On numerous occasions he played and posed for camera’s in the crowd as well as leaping down to sing from the floor with astonished onlookers not knowing which way to look.

Audry Horne

Musically they were at their best when producing melodic prog-outs with both guitarists slinging their axes while keyboards add an extra layer of depth and beauty to proceedings. Their musicanship and experience was apparent from the off as they produced a fine set here tonight.

Torkjell Rød/Toschie

It has been a very turbulent time for the the band we were here to see. In a recent tumultuous times, they have lost their bassist as well as losing their enigmatic lead singer Richie Hevanz. It’s true to say that Heaven’s Basement have been through a lot. But to their credit they have been busy writing new material as well as recruiting a new vocalist James, who was last to walk on stage in some kind of grand unveiling moment.

James

First impressions of The Replacement was that “Isn’t that Steven Bays of Hot Hot Heat” complete with curly masses of full volume hair. It wasn’t, but his uncanny resemblance was hard to shake. Once the anticipation subsided it was apparent something wasn’t right. They were missing another member, rhythm guitarist Johnny Rocker.

It wasn’t until they had finished their first track, a newbie called Sorry which wasn’t an instant classic, we got an explanation. Apparently he had broken his finger playing Football and was unable to play. So for the second time, HB were a member down in my absence. He was here though. He apologetically appeared on stage to take lead vocals on another new song Paranoia.

Johnny Rocker on Vocals

Understandably their sound tonight was less full, and it was the lack of the duelling guitar lines which were most apparent. Yet they played with rampaging vigour and high octane enthusiasm. Their new singer was ok, on newer tracks his voice sounded underwhelming which was more apparent when singing old gems such as Can’t Let Go, & Reign on My Parade. By no means he was a bad singer, but stepping out of the shadow of Hevanz is a tough act, one he didn’t pull off.

Sid on Guitar

This was still a cracking show full of hard rock genius and pop rocking classics, but it was a case of what might have been with their understrength line-up and less impressive vocalist.

Download Festival, Day Two

A much enhanced lineup greeted us at the start of Download Day 2, as a matter of fact so did a cute radio presenter for Download FM who interviewed us for our respected thoughts (although she was drawn to us mainly because we had beer in hand at 11:30am!). After spreading the words of the DiR.net crew to the listening public we managed to get to our main stage destination for the first band of the day.

Taking Dawn were exactly what was required to start the day. A bunch of mega-enthusiastic rockers who are obsessed with hard rock and glam metal without any of the stupid hairstyles.

Taking Dawn

Their metal infused take on Gn’R era hard rock was bright, upbeat and on the whole massively enjoyable. They played their instruments precisely with more than  few catchy riffs and flashy solos, not forgetting to throw in plenty of vocal hooks and melodies to get the uninitiated singing along. The lead singers enthusiasm was unrivalled as he shouted…

“I’m coming to get the whoever goes the craziest during this next song”

True to his word he launched himself off stage and bounded over the barriers right into the midst of the ever growing crowd. Amazingly he was still playing his guitar as he ramrodded through towards the lucky one. This was a great little set which I really enjoyed and as we wandered off for the next band, we could only see the singers legs as he crowd surfed back towards the stage

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For something completely different we headed to the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage to witness one of the oddities of the weekend. The Urban Voodoo Machine are kinda like a Nashville folky-blues band who wear quirky costumes that decided to hire some circus acts to be in the band. Every member seemed to have a role/character to play which gave them a real extra appeal. Their visuals were great, from the sharp suited gravel toned singer to the green ogre drummer and a gyrating Moroccan cymbal playing dancer who was wearing very little. Sonically they were pretty catchy too with their multi instrumentalists, acoustic backbone and dual drummers (who loved to jump about on their stools)! A highly effective act for a short set which brightened up an already scorching morning!

The Urban Voodoo Machine

After a last minute alteration to the schedule we were left standing in front of Atreyu. Now not being the greatest fan of theirs I was greatly surprised to hear they sounded a great deal more impressive live. Their metal grooves were mostly melodic and were surprisingly accessible. Vocals weren’t the greatest, but none of the piercing screams from the record made an airing this afternoon. Much of their set was packed with great singles like the classic rocker Blow, emo-ish Bleeding Mascara and the rip roaring pop metal of Ex’s & Ohs. Atreyu were a real surprise package of my weekend.

Atreyu

We grabbed some lunch and decided to perch ourselves on the hill to see whether Flyleaf would actually play today given their missed slot. However, you put together Beer + Sun + Food and inevitably it = Sleep. Arising, slightly sun-dazed from a  nice nap we saw something which resembles the Flyleaf singers back as she waltzed off stage. Never mind hey!

Rejuvenated we dived into the shade of the Pepsi Max stage to see whats on. The Genitorturers need no introduction. tight Dominatrix style leather catsuits, over the top make-up, S&M mentality, & punk rock music. Their most attention grabbing quality was their appearance, musically it was pretty average no brainer loudness.

We Are The Fallen

We Are The Fallen were created by Evanescence’s guitar duo so that already tells you alot about their sound. Gothic styled hard rock with female vocals and middle of the road poppy rock offerings. It was enjoyable but not breathtaking as lead singer Carly Smithson (6th in Pop Idol USA season 7) did well to hit some rather high notes. However our next Female Vocalist literally blew her out of the water!

Halestorm

The third female fronted rockers in a row were by far the most impressive. Halestorm played good ol fashioned power chords and rang out plenty of hugely catchy and melodic hard rock with a pop heart. Their strikingly beautiful lead singer had the attention of all the men in the tent even before she opened her mouth or slung a guitar over her shoulder. Her voice was one of the most powerful things I’ve heard! She had the perfect rock voice which flitted back and forth from angelic to demonic in the blink of an eye, rasping high notes and blasting lows were by far their main attraction. Given they had a superb array of damn catchy tunes like I Get Off, I’m Not An Angel & Bet You Wish You Had Me Back, leaves not doubt in my mind they were one of the finds of the festival!

Megadeth

Megadeth were up on main stage and it was great to see one of thrash metals long standing behemoths doing what they do best. They played very tight and threw in a few of their classic tunes to the rapture of the crowd such as Sweating Bullets, Hangar 18, Rust In Peace & Symphony Of Destruction. This was a lesson from the old school that metal is still alive, and judging from the amount of hair flailing around near the multiple mosh pits i can safely say this was very well received.

Y&T

We departed the main stage to head for some cheesy 80’s reviver’s Y&T. They was exactly as advertised, plenty of melodic guitar lines, flashy solo’s, pop rock chorus’ and wrinkling skin. Yet they seemed to be having such a great time it was hard to fault their performance!

Deftones

Sub-headliners Deftones I have come to realise are not my thing. Here in the huge outdoor spaces their alternative-metal was drab which lacked energy with most of the crowd appreciating as opposed to enjoying. I was not on their page tonight which is a shame as I’ve only heard good things, yet i found it a bland set to sit through.

Now we find ourselves in an almighty tussle for position as the people hurdle, push, smash and steal their way to get a better view of tonight’s headliners who are on their UK Victory Lap, after sensationally scooping the Christmas #1 slot after the public led campaign to oust Simon Cowellites from the top spot. Rage Against The Machine kicked straight into Testify as  anarchy reigned in the crowd as the once still mass of people around us, went absolutely mental! Leaping around, as it turns out is best way to get in the Rage groove (plus you get a decent view for half the time).  With each song bringing a heaving bomb of alternative rock with humongous riffs and instantly recognisable melodies it was easy to see why these guys are so popular.

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Rage Against The Machine

In fact the second tune of the set Bombtrack had to be halted. As worried fans and security guards looked on it was apparent not all was well! Suddenly after a considerable silence band front man Zach de la Rocha asked the crowd to take 2 big steps back, as it was getting increasingly dangerous down the front. We all took his instruction and we continued…only a little further away.

Zach de la Rocha

With a classic band on stage it is very hard to fault, Zachs raps were spot on and guitar legend Tom Morello was on top form. Tom’s array of special effects pedals and engineered sounds drawn out from his guitar were mesmerising. I especially liked his playing of the strings behind the nut and also playing with an iron nail showing that it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it! This masterclass in slow riffs and the ability to mutate his instrument to suit his needs was brilliant, there is none more creative or versatile an axe man playing today.

Tom Morello

A few more classic tracks (the Led Zeppy Wake Up, riff-mungus Bulls On Parade, funk laced Guerrilla Radio) a superb clash cover (White Riot) and a couple of political preaches (Israel’s Gaza blockade being the topic of these rants) later we all waited

Sure enough it came and passed. Not without rocking this field of baying fans with an outburst of stomping drums, huge bass, precise guitars and plenty of “F**K you I won’t do what you tell Me’s…” A fitting end to a cracking day!

Does It Rock? July Round-up

We have uncovered some great albums of 2010 this month as well as appreciating the finest from July. So we here at DiR.net have hand picked the best tunes to bring you this handy Spotify playlist!

Listen now >>> DoesItRock.net – July 10 Mix

1) Fang Island – Daisy … Thin Lizzy guitars lines, indecypherable lyrics, abundance of energy and amazing musicianship make this my tune of 2010!
2) The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – Love Turns to Hate … Close behind in #2 is 80’Matchbox’s, superb blues rock romper.
3) Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare … Since spotify has mislaid the bestter moments from A7X’s much improved return LP, here is the lead single!
4) Foals – Miami … Oxford’s indie kids have created a genious set of slower melodic tunes for the thinking man.
5) FACT – Slip Of The Lip … Suprisingly impressive mix of styles from metal to pop-punk from this great Japanese band!

6) Audrey Horne – Down Like Suicide … underappreciated norwegians folk inflected hard melodic rock is captivating and catchy.
7) Drive-By Truckers – Drag The Lake Charlie … Americana’s deep south storytellers are back with more antics.
8) Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse - Pain (Feat. Iggy Pop) … Iggy guests on this rockin’ tune with an indie backbone.
9) Bombay Bicycle Club – Ivy & Gold … Folky acoustics, galloping melodies and fragile vocals are the staple of new album Flaws
10) Rolo Tomassi – Unromance … Experimentalists of crossover-metal unleash this unhinged crazed blast of intensity.
11) Sigil – Letters In Stone … Superb Finnish rockers love their Wah-Wah as much as their thundering hard rock!
12) My Epic – Lower Still … My Epic’s Epic track Lower Still is unsuprisingly…Epic! Pleasing slow building rock!
13) Seth Lakeman – The Watchman … Fiddle figures prominently on this english folk gem
14) The Rocket Summer – You Gotta Believe … MoR radio hit which is undoubtable uber-infectious
15) The Classic Crime – Vagabonds … Pop Punk Anthem of the month returns!!