15th March 2017
It’s clear after many years of being in and around the London rock’n’roll circuit that times have changed. Gone are the days of a cheeky pre-gig grab and run from McD’s, a few cheap ones at the local bar before heading to the venue sharpish to start swilling on more cheap lager. Nowadays we now like a nice comfy pub with good beer and a quality kitchen to satisfy our rumbling tummy’s.
Nevertheless, we did managed to get in for the only support band of the night, Miraculous Mule. What was miraculous that I remember them at all, which being honest is hazy at best. They were a rootsy 3 piece blues band that struggled with captivating the crowd and stuck to same tempo. Honestly…a forgettable Ass.
In stark comparison, on bounded the talismanic presence of Danko Jones, band in tow to a rapturous rousing applause. He wasted no time in kicking into his trademark punchy punk infused hard rock. Stopping regularly his stage banter is second to none, away from the crafted and scripted lead-ins he lives, breathes and sweats rock and roll so its no wonder he speaks with such passion to his fans.
Rather than revert to stereotype and dwell on the recent album Wild Cat, this evening’s set list was truly career spanning. From early raw punk of Sugar Chocolate and Cadillac, to their (in inverted quotes) “Pop” song First Date, the sweltering dirty groove of Legs and the menacing thunder roar of There’s Gonna Be A Fight Tonight. When the new material did surface it was warmly received, with plenty of crowd singing despite the relatively short time between its release and today. They were soaked in pop, macho rock posturing, general merriment and uplifting melodies.
What is 100% guaranteed at a Danko show is that we’d finish the night with the epic Live only track that is ‘Bring On The Mountain’, tonight was no exception. This unreleased song (and probably never will be put to a studio record) captures the essence of the man and the band, one that’s so steeped in rock tradition, grit and determination that can only be put into perspective from the summit of rock and roll. As he finished his heartfelt monologue he calls all the names of those with him at the top (a british feel to the list tonight including Lemmy & Strummer). Inevitably the cheers go up, and finally as we build to the finale, the taught guitars are finally unleashed in an avalanche of furious power chords…Fade to Close!
Job Done! Next City! The Next Crowd Awaits! Danko Jones Has Left The Building!
“This heart gets stronger, this skin gets thicker, this mouth gets louder”
January 19th 2017
Fast forward into 2017 and I (after many missed opportunities) thought that “The End” of Black Sabbath was a worthy tour to catch before they crumbled into the heavy rock and metal history books of which they authored many years ago.
Now a huge venue and a huge band needs a suitably big support act and rising hard rock and blues busters Rival Sons took this coveted slot. Having first seen them back in 2012 supporting Black Stone Cherry, apart from the elapse of 5 years, not a lot has changed. Sure they have polished up their professionalism and got better kit, but my opinion is still the same. Underwhelming. They have a lot of precious materials to work with showcasing a knack for retro styles blues riffs, swagger by the jagger-full and a vocalist whose range nearly blew the roof off this dome. Yet it all seems lazily patched together with the same mid tempo ploddy beats, riff, chorus, beats, riff chorus repeat… It’s just not inspiring seeing such a talent going through to motions and certainly the overkill on the retro effects do nothing to mask their tepid blues by numbers formula.
The tolls of the bells rang loud over the PA at tonight’s chosen church of heavy metal in anticipation at the eerily empty stage. The crunch of Tony Iommi’s darkly menacing Gibson SG finally signaled the entry of the forefathers of metal and all round darkness. Speaking of which, the “Prince of Darkness” Ozzy Osbourne himself swiftly…no gently…no shuffled slowly, onto stage centre to utter the immortal words “What is this that stands before me?”. 20,000 Heavy Metal fans was the correct answer and they immediately showed their captors for the night they can sing as loud as any crowd they’ve witnessed over their last 40+ years of touring.
Ozzy Osbourne & Tony Iommi
After such longevity, its clear they had their live stage craft honed to absolute perfection as they slothly pummeled their way through an outstanding set of career spanning metal monsters. They may not move as fast, but they still gracefully levitated between songs and evaded intense fire cannons proving their theatrics were not of this world. The show was a set piece masterclass in suspense, perfect timing, humongous riffs and often surprisingly up-tempo dynamic shifts, often many times within a single song (Exhibit A: War Pigs).
The highlights for me was witnessing the grandfather of metal Iommi chugging our deeply tuned riffs which sounded as earth shattering today as i’m sure they did way back when. He has lost nothing, deftly skulking around the fretboard for those huge chords before dexterously dancing through epic solos with ease. The setlist was drawn primarily from their early heyday and those first 4 albums which defined the landscape for all who followed in their wake. The riff-fests of Children Of The Grave, Iron Man, Fairies Wear Boots and Into The Void were all stunning and gloomily anthemic.
As could be expected, Paranoid played us out to allow everyone to say farewell to the Black Sabbath (Osbourne, Iommi & Butler) in fitting style… on stage doing what they have always done, rocking, shocking and rolling!
19th August 2016
Tonight marks the end of the line for one of the most universally loved DiR.net bands. We’ve been to see them 5 times before, from small gigs in underground venues, festival appearances, now defunct legendary theatres. The most memorable of which wherein they played their first 4 albums in 2 nights in a row in Shoreditch. Motion City Soundtrack on their “So Long, Farewell…” tour were about to strike their final chords, but before they did do they had a few support acts…
The Excerts kicked us off with a mixed bag of alt rock tunes which was largely uninspiring and totally unmemorable.
Dinosaur Pile-Up upped the ante somewhat as they played a riotus set full of rock anthems with a grungy slant and a pop heart. Tracks from latest album 11:11 were harder, heavier and packed full of effects to ramp up their muscle. Energetic riffing and singalong melodies are their strong point, both of which were all here in abundance. A set of high energy fist pumping pop rock that really got the crowd revved up.
Motion City Soundtrack entered to mixed emotions from the crowd. Both equally glad to be here, but sad their leaving. Still none of that seemed to matter as MCS got straight down to business and ran us ragged through a huge all killer, no filler greatest hit set. They selected their best work showcasing their unrivaled craft for infectious pop-punk that’s as intelligent as it is infectious, energising as it is sobering. Their blend of poetic witticisms and tremendous songwriting was cranked up full volume and the partizan crowd truly gave it one last hurrah. Most of the sold out venue, young and old knew every word to every song, such is a tribute to their brilliance and longevity over nearly 20 years.
Motion City Soundtrack
It was clear this was a business night, not much in the way of band banter, MCS were here to play like it was their last night on stage. However as the set closer and pop anthem “The Future Freaks Me Out” rang to a close, the goodbyes from Pierre and the gang were full of heartfelt honesty and sadness that the time of MCS had run its course. Of course you never can rule out a re-union these days and you can rest assured that DiR.net will be there waiting for them when/if they do reignite the flame.
I’m not one for videoing, so enjoy someone else’s footage from the front…
Saturday 30th May 2015
It’s always exciting to get the festival experience to the sheltered urban playground as opposed to elements exposed mud filled gatherings. With superior sound, proper beer, great venues and that wildly eclectic vibe, Camden is the perfect host for a day of upcoming and established Rock. We started out in true festival fashion in the Brewdog Pub catching a couple of acoustic song smiths Andy Smith and Danny Wright down in the basement. This only served to amplify the need for amplification and just down the road @ which can only be described as featureless cellar we caught EofE. These pop/rock have a real metallic edge live and engaging youthful angst was nicely served up over rampant riffs.
Heading to different class of venue we upgraded from the basement to the balcony at the Jazz Cafe to catch a trio of promising young bands. Before that however we managed to arrive for the last track of the Broken Witt Rebels, whose sound is akin to early days Kings of Leon strutting with a bluesy swagger. Gravel voiced and wailing guitars aplenty this was a rather cool, albeit brief cameo appearance.
Broken Witt Rebels
The no frills 2 minute fun punk rock of Brawlers were up next. Their brand of carefree power chord pummeling and socially slanted lyrics were both immediate and damn infectious. They seems to be having a blast and their bouncing around spurred on those in the crowd who (just after lunch )were already in advanced states of intoxication.
Next Up were the Graveltones, a heavy blues rock duo that deal in dirty licks and loudness. Most memorable was their thunderclap drumming, splitting eardrums with each hammer blow on the skins. When they ramped up the energy they were free flowing with riffs and grooves galore. When they slowed the pace they did labour somewhat into repetition. Plenty of promise nonetheless.
Now to the one I have been waiting for, underground rock/grunge/pop/punk hero Matt Bigland and his band Dinosaur Pile-Up. With 3 albums of high octance pop, unhinged rock and nirvana-esque vibes I was eagerly anticipating seeing these guys again. I was sadly disappointed though. They clearly suffered from dodgy sound throughout their first 2-3 tracks and Matt was getting more and more agitated with every off colour note. Eventually half way through we left, it was difficult to watch a great band self destruct and we were getting hungry too!
Fed and watered from a variety of camden market vendors the DiR crew strode with purpose to Mr Flowers pick of the day, alt rock legends …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. Their brand of energizes prog pulsed rock was in full flow this evening. Huge dynamic shifts, oppressive volumes, walls and layers of guitars all present and correct. Not to everyone’s taste though as the words boring and dull were also uttered.
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead.
Recovering from temporary hearing loss, we ventured through the streets and ended up picking a random band out in a smaller bar, this just so happened to be Ducking Punches. We were greeting by a small acoustic gaggle of guitar, drums and the occasional violin fronted by a chap that was telling tales of life in small town Suffolk. It was immediately engaging and relatable through the story telling and singalong chorus’s. The standout moment of the day came from a melancholic muse over a lost friend, beautiful and heart-string tugging.
Most of the gang had now split and only the hardy few were left to check-out the clubthumping dance/dubstep-metal of Modestep. Their huge 8 string guitars were suitably downtuned ready to chug out rapturous melodies that blew off the roof. More Djent than expected they relied more on dub and electro which fitted the time and the club vibe, but didn’t strike any true differentiation from a DJ with a loud guitar.
All in all, one thing that can be agreed was Camden well and truly rocked!
17th November 2014
As ever the Roundhouse venue, beautiful in its surroundings delivered its usual sonic assassination of great rock music. I’m of the firm belief there is about a 2m square within the venue for which the sound is truly epic (stage centre 10m back if you’re interested). The rest just hear warped muffled reverberations from the circular brickiness of the…lets not gloss it up…”train shed”. This doubled with the abundance of pillars makes appropriate positioning essential, thankfully we made it to the sonic sweet spot only to be greeted with angry and agitated hard hardcore punkers Hatebreed who have disregarded sonic approachability.
It was fast, it was brutal, it was noisy, it was shouty, it was not everyone’s cup of tea. Endless razor-like power-chord chugging and indecypherable angst made for a tedious repetitive set that barely registered any dynamic shifts or semblance of a melody. Was an odd choice of support, one which backfired.
A warm welcome was received by Volbeat, the reining Danish kings of Scandinavian heavy rock. Their fine blend of diamond tipped rock, mammoth metal licks, exquisite vocal harmonies and epic pop choruses quickly soared into full flight. It was a wholly professional outing typified by the smoothness of the Hetfield meets Elvis vocals, the warmth of the guitar tones, the thunderous road of their amplifiers and the full voices of the onlooking crowd. It did seem like playing huge arena and stadiums are what they are used to and this smaller gathering felt a tad uneasy. Nevertheless all the hits were present and correct, good variety of old and new tunes, some sung in native danish (#puzzled) plus a few cool covers to boot. Huge and outstanding!
27th March 2014
Heaven’s Basement finally have found a rich vein of success and their headline show at The Electric Ballroom way back in March underlines their new found popularity. Their support came from a mix of sleaze glam hard rockers The Dirty Youth, who impressed with their melodic guitar work and big vocal hooks in the short time they were around.
Glamour of the Kill, post-hardcore noiseniks did plenty to upset the hard rock theme and brought the metal edged nastiness. Razor sharp riffing and abundance of electro backings they surely entertained, but sadly lost marks for fairly average vocal efforts. At their best when straddling the line between metal and melody.
Heaven’s Basement were as impressive as ever. I liked their staging whereby their relatively short singer/lead guitarist were up on pedestals for all to see, adding that extra bit of pro-polish and entertainment value.
Playing a mix of titanium edged guitars with a increasingly heavy outlook they truly rocked out. Combining their fast and heavy elements with their knack for Pop melodies and huge hard rock riff brings out their best.
Vocalist Aaron has grown in confidence and is now a true front man with a great stage presence.
13th December 2013
The final show of 2013 was a real riot, a line-up packed with stars future and present mixing up the sub-genre’s but providing their own slant on high octane rock.
First to stake out their claim, was the brash and rising young hard rockers The Treatment. Their set was a blast of power, guitar licks and melody flashing nifty moments of soloing prowess in a mix of big chorus’, thumping rhythms and a driving tempo. Their new material was ok, I Bleed Rock & Roll being the pick of the bunch, while the rest was difficult to connect with seeing this was the first airing. Melodies seemed to be there but they lacked the familiarity of the older repertoire which brought many more fist pumps from the sizable early crowd. Their stage act is slick, enthused and engaging which cannot be faulted (except for the stature of their bassist which seemed to irrationally irk fellow DiR man The Docktor). I wait with baited breath to see what the album has in store.
Orange Goblin were next out, they wasted absolutely no time is obliterating any chance of being able to hear anything the next day. Their muscular and lolloping Stoner Rock cut huge swathes of gigantic riffage out of the mire of fuzz and astounding aural plunder. With sweat, dropped tuned guitars and long hair as standard they came, they saw and the conquered with their mega-sound. Having been about for a long time, many tracks were unfamiliar, but their blues based guitar licks never failed to impress. Vocals however (as with many live rock leviathans), were drowned and pulled helplessly into the whirlpool of noise. Hypnotic repetition failed to interest The Docktor, who was still reeling from the strength of his opinion on the first act. A defiantly different approach, but no less entertaining.
Finally we arrived at the headline act, Airbourne, who have climbed to the upper echelons of Rock Mountain with effortless ease. A task made much easier by their standing on the shoulders of Rock Giants Ac/Dc. Tight and powerful rhythm guitars with a packed arsenal of dangerous riffs fronted by an equally perilous leader who seriously put his body on the line each and every night, tonight was no exception. From cracking open beer cans on his head (both macho and stupid), riding around on shoulders in the crowd and climbing to the balcony (both while continuing to blast out captivating guitar solos) the Joel O’Keeffe circus has an abundance of tricks.
Showmanship of the highest order keeps the crowd fixated throughout despite when songs seem to start merging together with their similar melodies. No questions asked, Airbourne were born to rock, as they ride each huge track from their pulsating opening riffs through rollicking and romping tempo’s to their cataclysmic crescendo’s. Simple and loud, their beer swelling party ethos and daredevil antics are the kind of rallying cry for all men to join and party, beers and fists aloft.
Standout tunes were mainly the slower grooves which sparked huge sing and bounce-a-longs (yes, the elder crowd were jumpin’ too) such as No Way But The Hard Way, Back In The Game and Too Much Too Young Too Fast fitting this particular billing. New album material went down well, mainly because it rather similar to all their previous records. While variety was in short supply, you cannot fault Airbourne for doing what they do best, putting on the best rock and roll show the world has ever seen! Tonight, they did just that!
I’ll be honest, a get together of the DoesItRock motley crew for ages took precedence this evening, resulting in a later than planned entry to the Electric Ballroom this eve. Forgetting about the ridiculously early kick out times of venues with Friday night club nights, we were instantly greeted to the swell of anticipation at the arrival of the Black Spiders.
After being the only high ranking band in my top listen charts that I haven’t seen live, It’s fair to say I was excited. So they came, like hard rock behemoths they swooped and plundered riff after riff and terrorizing the audience with their macho Marshall/Gibson combo rock sound.
It was a shame then that after the release of a new album that they stuck to this material like glue, never venturing 2 or 3 song from its track list before coming running back again I guess after years of touring the same material they wanted to get their new stuff out there.
The new songs were flooded with guitars and quite often drowned out the vocals, whilst the chorus’s didn’t quite have the sing-a-long nature or immediacy of album one tunes. The highlights including the super heavy Motorhead style thrasher Teenage Knife Gang their ode to a late night stroll in Croydon Trouble and the power punching opener Knock You Out.
When the past beckoned it was clearly a cut above the rest on the sedate but infectious run through of “KISS Tried To Kill Me, the romper stomping mammoth sing-a-long of St. Peter and the carnage causing wind up and release of What Goods A Rock Without A Roll.
On the whole though it was the slower groovier sluggers which took most of the DiR praise, mostly because of the big chorus lines which gnawed into your head until you were singing like everybody else. I’m glad to have finally seen them, but given the pedestal I’d put them on before they struck a chord, it was going to be tough to match.
19th August 2013
Stoner Rock Floridians Torche made the trip across the pond to bring their refreshingly pop-centric brand of heaviness to London. Some UK support band were up first, it was a mixed bag.
The Jerks were a simple duo who eminated a sense of normality, right down to the attire and jam style interplay. They really just seemed to be having a great time, which in itself is a crowd pleaser. They played a ramdon brand of fuzzy rock with spasmodic time signatures and tempos. Never the same for more than a minute they were tricky to keep track of, as they bounded on giddying gallops one moment to laborious plunders the next. A surprise package which was a early treat.
If The Jerks were a bit random, then the Dundee based sub-headliners Fat Goth had to fight out of their strait jackets to get here tonight. They played a combo of deep chugging noise riffs all with undercurrents of very technical mathy fret runs and off-kilter melodies. They were mesmeric and hard to ignore, no matter which angle they decided to take. However when the vocalist opened his mouth it fell apart. Comical (and creepy) voices such as cowboy, falsetto’s, girly yelps and spoken words meant I felt embarrassed for the guy. Entertaining, yes…but in the way that’s really cringe worthy. Totally random and superbly enthralling, although not sure if its for the right reasons though.
With the main event imminent, Torche lined up with a towering statue. With the lights set to darkly and mysterious with flashes of ambient they begun the onslaught of the senses (I say senses, I mean hearing). Unfortunately the sound stampeding from their Orange amps was really awful. Whether it was a poor sound check we’ll never know, but the first 3-4 songs were blur of amp buzz and slurred riffs which have no bite or distinguishing melodies.
This was never truly rectified and it was only on their more uplifting singles did the crowd really start to get behind them. Set highlights which did match expectations were the boulder thumping riffs of Kicking and the frenetic energies of Walk It Off restoring my faith in their sound.
Rarely am I as disappointed as tonight, but when technical issues take a firm hold it’s hard to wrestle back control.
25th October 2013
Abandoned for the night I head alone into the electric ballroom with trepidation. Only to be greeted by a bunch of howling guitar slinging Aussies! Business as usual then! Tracer we’re good value go their sub slot tonight and played with the swagger of a headliner with nothing to lose. Thumping guitars riddled with hard blues fuzz gave them more of an outback stoner sound akin to QoTSA than fellow hard rockers acdc and Ac/Dc Jnr (Airbourne).
Plenty of heavy toe tapping drop d riffs and a fare dose of sing-along sections which had even the stoniest faced onlooker humming the in a joyous crowd chant. Plus they were good at working the crowd too, plenty of jokes and japes all with that cheeky Oz charm. A startlingly good set from a band I’ve not given enough credit till today!
Following the desert beer swilling fist pumping rock fest of Tracer, The Answer had much to prove, especially s Ii hadn’t yet spun their new album New Horizon.
I had need not worry despite them kicking off with the new eponymous title track as it was roof raising. Full of sparkling melodies, driving bluesy rhythms and supersonic vocals…all the best The Answer has to offer.
With brilliant delivery of new material and great clear sound they didn’t seem to want to do much else. In fact between this and their debut album, this accounted for what felt like 90% of the set. I’ll never complain about hearing golden oldies again, but it did feel like I was trapped in a time warp. Familiar also was their double header renditions of bluesy and soulful Memphis Water and Preachin’. Both put a very rootsy spin on classic rock and blues but clocking at 15mins between them, I’d rather have heard 3 or 4 other tunes (No New Day Rising…sad face).
Not to wholly disappoint on set listing, On and On and Under The Sky were aired with aplomb, as 2 of the best hard rocks songs in the game. The best song of the night however was a really beautiful mellow and vocal heavy reworking of Nowhere Freeway, a moving and beautiful power semi-ballad. Brilliant solos, extended jams, crowd walks, ‘all sit down’s and thunderous guitars made to fling your noddle to is what they do best. Playing blues and musicianship is high on their agenda which despite the extended noodling, The Answer are still the class prefects of the new school (of the old school) of classic rockers!