Archive for January, 2019

Black Stone Cherry, The Cadillac Three & Monster Truck @ Wembley Arena

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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.

Monster Truck

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.

Jaren Johnston

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.

 

Ben Wells

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.

Chris Robertson

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!

A , Wheatus & InMe @ Shepherds Bush Empire

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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.

Dave McPherson

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.

Wheatus

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.

A

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.

Jason Perry

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.

Danko Jones @ The Underworld

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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.

Danko Jones

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.

 

 

 

Jet @ The Forum

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July 2018

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.

Jet

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.

 

 

 

Flight Of The Conchords @ The O2

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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…

Bret

Jermaine

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