Archive for the ‘Live Shows’ Category

OK, so here’s an enigma. Given that my entire musical history started with and revolves around former GN’R guitarist Slash – why don’t I have a copy of Slash’s Snakepit’s second album?????

I ask, ‘cause it lead to a few moments at the recent Slash gig in Manchester where I was like “what the hell is this”. I’ve heard the album, but don’t know it and only really know one song off it! Why??? Why have I never bought it? God knows!

So yes, I went to see Slash yet again! I actually planned to go at least twice – possibly three times – buy money and other people ruined my chances! I was on the ball at 9am on ticket preorder day trying my damnedest to get tickets for Manchester and his hometown gig in Stoke. Try as I might for two days, I failed to get Stoke. I did get Manchester though, so I wasn’t too disappointed. But I really wanted to go to Stoke!!!!!!!!!

I was planning on going to the High Voltage festival in London for the day Slash played. 2 reasons really, Slash and Judas Priest. I’ve never seen the Priest before so thought It might be cool to see ’em, given they’re planning on calling it a day soon. As it was, I didn’t go. Skint. I was still gonna see Slash in Manchester though!

As you can tell, I was fairly excited.

So after Sonisphere I had a few weeks off, then a fairly busy week of things happening, culminating in Slash (yaaay) then the Batman Live Arena tour which was a great laugh!

We got to sunny Manchester and parked up outside the Apollo, strolled to the back of the mammoth queue that was getting ever longer and waited it out. After 20 mins of hovering (10 of those minutes past doors time – seriously, why can these places never open the doors on time!!!!!!!!) the queue started moving and we headed in. A quick nose at the merch stall to earmark possible buys and it was upstairs to the bar for some expensive cans of Carlsberg.

Supporting were a band I’d never heard of. Japanese Voyeurs. We stayed at the bar and made the executive decision to not watch them. Ross passed comment that we’d probably end up liking these in the future and they’d likely be headlining Download next year, given the habit of ignoring bands we don’t know and then liking them down the line! Incidentally about 2 days later, I caught an ok poppy rock tune with a cute girl singer and thought “not bad, who are these”. Yeah, it was Japanese Voyeurs. Bugger.

Back to the gig. We downed remaining drinks and headed back down to the main standing zone.

On the way past, I decided to get a Slash ‘Nightrain’ t-shirt that I’d been eyeing up online. It was £25 and I don’t usually spend that much on band tees, but it was cool and it was Slash after all! I asked the girl what the sizes were like. Ya know, the American large is bigger than the UK, and she said they were pretty big, so I asked if I could try a large. “Sorry. XL only.”. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”. I walked away. Disappointed.

…but not for long.

Slash at Manchester Apollo

Slash & Co at Manchester Apollo

Slash was on in a sec, and I was standing there, all excited like a kid on Christmas morning. He came out with Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge and his backing group and blazed straight into… a song I didn’t know!!!!! Picture the scene – Me, very excited to singalong to all my fave songs and “YAAAAAY, SLAAASH….WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?” It was Snakepit tune ‘Been There Lately’.

Fail.

Still, the show was ace. I didn’t cry! I kept my emotions in check. Last time I got a slight emotional when he played ‘The Godfather’ theme. It was something I’d seen him play on videos of GN’R live stuff when I was first getting into the music and Guns, and I never thought I’d hear it played, so it was understandable. That and he went straight into ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’.

Slash

Slash

This time though, I just did the usual, I sang along to every lyric I knew (which was most of them) and when it was solo time, I stood in awe with my mouth open in complete stunned silence and watched. Amazing.

They played Guns N’ Roses classics Nightrain, Civil War, Rocket Queen, and Sweet Child O’ Mine, Velvet Revolver’s Fall To Pieces, Snakepit tracks Mean Bone and Speed Parade, Slash’s solo efforts Ghost, Doctor Alibi (with Todd Kearns on vocals), Nothing to Say, Watch This, Starlight, Back From Cali, By The Sword and Promise, Alter Bridge’s Rise Today and the usual guitar solo/Godfather theme medley. I loved every minute of it.

Unusually, at one point, the top-hatted genius whipped out a Gibson Explorer! A guitar shape I think looks weird on everyone who isn’t James Hetfield or The Edge. He still made it look cool. Prefer the Les Pauls though.

Slash

Slash showing off!

They started the long intro to VR’s ‘Slither’, where they introduce the band and I took this queue to make a break for the front… and a piss. I got down the side of the venue and stood and bounced on the spot (and tried to take loads of photos) as they played Slither, just looking for a gap to get down the front. Then it came. One of my all time fave tunes. The familiar drum into of Mr. Brownstone. It was about then I lost all care for the people around me and followed the charge down to the front. Inches from the barrier, and there I stayed throughout Brownstone, the beautiful sing-along of Patience and on through Paradise City.

What an epic show. I could watch that kinda thing every day of the week. It was just brilliant.

Ok, I am still sad I’ll never see Guns N’ Roses with Slash playing these songs, but this is the best it’ll ever be! Sorry Axl, the sham GN’R that you’re spearheading just doesn’t cut it!

Same time next year? Fuckin’ right!!!!

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Saturday – Biffy Clyro & The Sausage-Fest!

Sounds like some weird gay antics were had, but it’s not like that. Biffy merely headlined and we ate lots of sausages!

Sausagefest

Ben, Jodz & a shitload of sausages

Jodz had brought with him about 50 sausages for a morning barbecue, which were the breakfast pick me up that was most definitely needed after a night on the ale. Complimented by my morning brew and apple, the greasy sausages on leftover baps with warm cheese slices were spot on! As the next batch of sausages were cooking, we headed into the arena to catch the first band of the day that were on the radar… Sylosis! Well, they were just as good as expected and we even managed to get a full set out of them this time! Hurrah! Tight, shredding guitar work and a good sound. Front man Josh Middleton seems to have come out of his shell a lot more and works the crowd well, something they were lacking for a while after departure of previous frontman Jamie Graham. All in all, a damn fine show!

Richard Cheese

Richard Cheese

Next up was the legendary Richard Cheese and his backing group Lounge Against the Machine. We’d all been loving the Cheesemeisters covers of some of our favourite (and not so favourite) metal and hip hop tunes. The man did not disappoint. A master of the stage, he really knew how to get the crowd going and was such a funny guy to watch and such a talented singer to listen to! Sporting some classic leopard print lounge attire, He did a load of the tunes we wanted to hear, Disturbed’s Down With the Sickness, Limp Bizkit’s Nookie, Slipknot’s People = Shit, Snoop Dogg’s Gin & Juice, Nirvana’s Rape Me, Metallica’s Enter Sandman and more. He crammed a load of good fun tunes to sing along to in his set and was such a laugh to see. He said he’d be back over in London in 2012, so we’ll have to go see that!

Next up were Architects. Not really into these guys, but Ben said he’d not really paid any attention to them before so wanted to have a look. We loitered at the back and sat down to give ‘em a listen. Largely unimpressed, we got some food and went to do the same thing for Gallows ‘cause Jim likes them and apparently the singer was due to quit.

After Gallows, it was time for my second viewing of Cavalera Conspiracy this week, and the second time in 2 days I’d hear Refuse/Resist (fully this time though). They were good. Well, the band were. Max just doesn’t look arsed! The sound was a bit pants, which didn’t help as it was a struggle to hear Tha Rizzo playing. They did however do a load of good Sepultura/CC tunes and got the crowd moving! …and yessssss! They played Nailbomb’s Cockroaches. A classic tune. Max had his kids on stage to play it, so it was a very family oriented experience.

Time for a break now and some cheap beer. So we headed back to the tents just in time, as not for the first time this weekend… the heavens opened!.

A few cans later and we wandered back in to catch a bit of Sum 41. It was rammed. We could hardly move to get a good spot for ‘em so we just stopped mid-crowed and enjoyed it from wherever we were. The played ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’ back-to-back at the end, so we were done. They tried to cram in another tune but were clearly over time, so they had the sound cut! Ha-ha! I laugh, but it was pointless. If they were gonna cut the sound and let ‘em finish playing the song anyway, they might as well have left the song on!!!

Regardless, it started raining again, so we legged it back to tents for some more cans. …and we didn’t wanna watch All Time Low!

Rain

Rain = Shit

We sat round the tents in ponchos and bin-bags, determined to not let the rain spoil the weekend. I’d even sparked up the kettle for a pot noodle. At one point, it absolutely hammered it down, but I sat it out, as did Ross, and it didn’t stop the kettle boiling either!! Lo and behold, just as it boiled, the rain stopped, so I could enjoy my lunch without it filling with rainwater!

We came back into the arena for Weezer. The rain had gone and it was relatively ok weather-wise from here onwards (for Saturday anyway). We were walking in as they played Undone (The Sweater Song) which a few of us were singing along to as we strolled in. Weezer are a great live band, though I fear Rivers Cuomo may have lost the plot over the years! They did some classic tunes like Buddy Holly, My Name is Jonas, Beverly Hills, Hash Pipe and my fave (which Rivers didn’t sing, Scott Shriner did) Dope Nose! Oh, and again they played Teenage Dirtbag and a crappy Radiohead cover. WHY????

Posse with Beer

Drinking & watching Weezer

As you can imagine, by now we’d been drinking a fair bit and were on the way do being smashed. So we hit the bar… again! We’d gotten to the point where paying £4 for a beer was no longer an issue, so we strolled to the bar and got a few in while we waited for a decent band to come on. We’d tried watching Gojira, but again the full tent rule stopped us from getting in for a decent view. Ah well, another beer and wait for Biffy.

They were really good. I like Biffy Clyro and they are a deserved festival headliner. Just not a Sonisphere headliner. Ok so Saturday was a mix of things, but on the whole it’s a metal festival. Summat like Leeds/Reading they’d be a top headliner. Regardless, they were on top form. We watched from the back as they went through all the favourite tunes: Who’s Got a Match, Folding Stars, The Captain, Many of Horror et al. We had a good laugh while they were on, chatting and singing along, then they finished and we all started to walk off. Until it clicked in my very drunken brain that they hadn’t played Mountains yet. So I halted the crowd and we waited it out. They played it. I was a happy drunk. Then off to tents for more drunken idiocy!

In the Bar

£12 worth of Tuborg

On his way back, Ben had found a gravel pit that was supposed to be for making barbecues on. He’d stood in it and deeply offended the girl camping next to it, so we walked back up there to see what was going on! We did the only thing we could do at a gravel pit. We stood there singing Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Gravel Pit’. This caused a mosh pit in said gravel pit that offended the locals even more! One of them shouted “I’m sick of people throwing stones at my tent”. Stupidly, I picked up the tiniest piece of grit and threw it. I say threw, it was the weakest ‘throw’ ever. The tiny piece of grit, hardly visible in the dark, never got past my shoe. Talk about over react! The girl in question launched an all out assault, trying to grab me by the throat and screaming at me, as everyone, including myself, laughed at the incident! She calmed down, I apologised and the world was cool. But, jeez! Mental!

Back to the tents for a few more tins, then into tent where I fell asleep.

Sunday – Slipknot & Hometime

I woke up feeling a tad uncomfortable the next morning… and a tad rough! I was face down on the floor of my tent with my face in my rucksack. I distinctly remember going to sleep in my sleeping bag, on my air bed with my face in a pillow! I think the earth must have shifted slightly under my sleeping carcass.

Brew n breakfast later and it was nearly time to head back to the arena for another day of tunes and a day of shitty weather.

Firstly though, it was the last day, and we were planning on darting as soon as Slipknot finished, so it was time to pack everything away. So a few walks back and forth to the car and we’d packed away. I managed to nurse one can of cider on the hour long walk (that’s how rough I was feeling!).

As we were doing this, the fuckwits that were camped next to us decided to kick off about something and got two of our posse kicked out! Nightmare! Apparently, their tent had been wrecked and we were to blame! I don’t think so! We watched you put it up, incorrectly, then break it, then move it, then try and fix it, then leave the top off so the rain came in! So no, you broke it!! Liars!

We headed in to see Arch Enemy, who sounded pretty good. It was the last day and we were hungover somewhat and knackered, so we could only manage a seated position for most of the day! After they’d finished we wandered over to Apollo stage and took a seat for House of Pain. I only know two House of Pain songs, and I was only getting outta my seat for one of them! Our enjoyment of the party tune that is ‘Jump Around’ was marred by an immense fuckup on Sonisphere’s part. The ‘No clashes between Apollo and Saturn stages’ rule was out the window, and as we were jumping around, we heard Parkway Drive kicking in on the main stage. Bloody Hell!!!!!

Parkway Drive

Parkway Drive

We legged it over as Jump Around finished and watched Parkway ripping it up! Frontman Winston McCall had gone all out on the first song and sounded knackered for the rest of the set! They were ace though! A cracking set of songs and good stage presence made them one of the bands of the festival. That and the dinghy race they set up across the crowd was a novel idea! There were a few people with boards that were crowdsurfing too! In another unusual band move, one of their guitarists had broken his leg and so was moving himself about in a wheelchair! Fair do’s to him, he covered a fair bit of the stage while hammering out some technical guitar mastery!

At this point, there was a 2 minute silence held for Paul Gray of Slipknot. Probably the quietest festival moment I’ve ever been party to.

In Flames were up next. I’m not really into ‘em so we sat and listened. They sounded quite good, but I only recognized one track – Take This Life – which was cool. Mastodon were next and we were both tired and bored during their set. So bored, that Ben went for a kip in the next field and we just sat and monged out. Before they finished though, a few of us made a move to check out Airbourne.

Airbourne

Airbourne - This can only end in disaster.

I only know one AC/DC, I mean Airbourne, song, so it was pretty new to me. They were alright though. Definitely something I can get into. Well, I like DC, I must by default like Airbourne! Enjoyed what I’d heard and it’s always fun to see a band going above and beyond just playing at a festival. Their singer/guitarist Joel O’Keeffe decided to achieve a new high in festival playing and climbed the scaffold to the top of the stage and played some riffs from there! I know he did this at Download last year, but this time he was actually standing on the top! Class. On his way down, intentionally or not, he looked like there was a moment where he was gonna fall! If he had, youtube would be getting a new viral phenomenon! He didn’t though. They finished the set and we meandered across to see Motorhead.

Mark found some energy and managed to get out of his tent for the first time since Friday and met us during Motorhead’s set. I’ve never seen them before. Like never ever. Must’ve played at 5-6 festivals I’ve been at over the years, but I’ve never seem them, so this was summat I had to finally check out. They were good. It was like they were playing in a pub with a few of their mates in the crown. No heirs and graces, no rock star attitudes, just three old school rockers playing loud rock music for the hell of it!

After Motorhead we scooched across for whoever was on second stage. Turned out it was Opeth and none of us like Opeth, so we checked the guide. Fortunately, Cancer Bats were on in a mo, so we headed to the Bohemia tent to watch them! We got there pretty quick, so we actually managed to get in the tent! Didn’t watch all their set as we wanted to scooch back over for Limp Bizkit. Cancer Bats were good though. They had a pretty decent sound and a good response. The singer Liam Cormier is a really good character to have fronting a band. Full of energy and really gets you into the spirit of the music! Anyway, they played ‘Sabotage’ and we did one….

Limp Bizkit

Limp Bizkit - Durst, Borland & Lethal

Twas time for the Bizkit! I love Limp Bizkit. They’re just fun to listen to. The came onstage and got right into it. OK, my one gripe is that they seem to play far too much off ‘Chocolate Starfish’. I get that it was probably their biggest record and scored them a number one single, but come on!!!! We got, Hot Dog, My Generation, Rollin, Take a Look Around, Boiler, and from the other four albums (new one included) we got Faith, Break Stuff, Douchebag…. That is all! No Gold Cobra in sight, and I’d been singing it all weekend!!!

They were class though. Last few times I’ve seen them, they’ve not seemed particularly into it. On this day though, they seemed in top form, with Durst looking unusually up for a full day of rocking! Can someone please get them to headline a festival, or even get a decent headlining tour so we can see more songs of other albums!!!! Please? “Whaddya wanna hear?” Said Durst… “PLAY F**KING POLLUTION!”

The rain was still coming down and ruining everything, but we soldiered on to watch Bill Bailey. We were all borderline ‘sod this, let’s go’ but persevered. Now, generally I’m in two minds over Bill Bailey. I’ve seen him on panel shows and he’s ace. I saw some of one of his DVD’s where he was playing tunes and having a laugh and it was good. But I have seen one of his DVD’s and I just didn’t get it and it put me off watching him. His Sonisphere videos did make me laugh though, so maybe watching him would brighten my mood on this dreary day!

Me & my ace poncho

Rain. Still Shit.

It did. He was indeed top class. Walking on stage with a mask of himself on, throwing out a few jokes, some novelty videos and playing some comedy rock tunes and it was all good fun. His Rammstein version of Scarborough Fair was class. He had an amazing reception too, considering it was a comedy performance at a rock/metal festival AND it was pissing down. He said on the day it was the biggest crowd for a comedy performance ever. Have to do some fact checking for that! He ended the set with his horns version of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’, making it the third time in three days I’d heard it! Enjoyable, and something different for a festival!

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain! Thank god my poncho was good! I had my rucksack on over my stomach cause I couldn’t get it on properly under the poncho and I looked like I was heavily pregnant and soaking wet! Didn’t even have my wellies, but my trainers remained mostly dry due to the large shadow my pregnant belly caused! …and on to Slipknot!

Slipknot

Slipknot

We were literally ready to go now! The ‘Knot came on and after 5 minutes of weird noises and flashy lights, they started. Straight into (sic). Then Eyeless, then Wait & Bleed. Thought they were gonna do the whole first album (which would have been ace) but they didn’t. We left before they finished, but did hear Left Behind, Before I Forget, Liberate and a few others. Could hear Heretic Anthem and Duality on the walk to the car! They were pretty damned good, but the shitty weather and long drive home got the better of us, so we hit the road!

Another festival over. Next year, maybe?

A couple of days and a couple of hangovers had passed since the weekends festivities, Watching the boxing, watching the Cavalera Brothers, and it was now time to head down south to sunny Stevenage. Home to Knebworth House. Home to Sonisphere 2011.

I’d been pretty much packed from Saturday having sent my bag down with Jim due to a severe lack of car space in the Astra, yet still when Wednesday night rolled around I still felt completely unprepared. Tent – check, sleeping bags – check, torch – in wrong bag, but check, pillow – check, food – check, tickets – check. Gravy. Let’s go.

We swooped down to London (Enfield to be precise) on the Wednesday evening so we could meet up with the fourth member of out travelling crew and to get a lie-in in the morning. Unfortunately, there was naff all on the telly, so we were forced to sit through American Pie. Sleep could not come quick enough! …and it really didn’t! The couch wasn’t comfortable.

Anyways, the following morning our initial 4-man posse was complete. We grabbed some breakfast from Tesco, a few last-minute bits n bobs then rammed the car full of stuff and headed on our merry way. A swift 30 minute journey later and TA-DAAAAAAA. We were at Sonisphere.

Only a short stroll from the car to the gate this year, and given that we were 3 hours early, we were near the front of the queue. We did the only thing we could do with 3 hours to spare. We cracked open the first of many tinnies! Fatal flaw, I took a swig of some rather oddly flavoured Absinthe that I’d got on holiday many years ago. It was minging. Made me feel instantly sick and made me feel sick again with every Absinthe flavoured burp for the next 6 hours. Mark, on the other hand, hammered down a whole miniature of the stuff. This was the beginning of the end for him!

Mark drinking the first of many

Mark - It was all downhill from here

2 hours later and they opened the gates. Yup, opened ‘em early. No wonder we usually get a shit spot! Not today though, we pretty much had our pick of the field. We grabbed a spot near where we were last year (only there was a tree there this year which I didn’t remember) and proceeded to pitch TEN EFFING TENTS!! That’s right, of our 11 man party only 4 of us were able to get there early enough to get a decent spot. So we had to carry everyone’s tent down with us! Between 3 of us, we got 9 done while mark fought to the death with his.

And there we sat and drank, under the mixed bag of clouds and blazing sun! Mark had developed a knack of managing to divert the rainclouds away using positive thoughts! Shame he spent most of Saturday in his tent sleeping while it was thrashing it down outside!

We drank onwards until it was dark, then sparked up the barbie. It was at this glorious moment that Jim decided to arrive, so after burger number 1, myself and Ross had to go find him. He had our bags. Jim claimed he was at the main entrance, so out the gates to the main entrance we jogged… only for him to tell us he was at a different entrance! GRRRR!

Having pretty much done a lap of the entire campsite and arena, we found him and marched back to the tents to find a dead barbeque. Nice. So we carried on drinking ‘til it was time for a kip.

Adam & Beer Bong

Maverick with his beloved Beer Bong

Friday: The Big Four Day.
Woke up bright and early (as per usual at festivals), so geekily, I read a few chapters of my book ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ by Seb Hunter (Metalheads, read this book. It’s class). Then proceeded to head out, make a brew and start on breakfast (bag of crisps and an apple) then hit the cider. The remaining 6 members of our group were due to arrive throughout the morn, so we whiled away the hours laughing at all the usual festival weirdos and the bunch of idiots that had camped next to us… and Mark, who’d gone on some mad sleepwalking adventure.

Everyone had now arrived, sorted out their stuff and been formally introduced. Time to go watch some bands then. We were not really bothered about Diamond Head so used the time to down a few more cans. Most of us using the standard from-the-can method, Adam using the beer-bong method.

We stomped into the arena ready for the first band of the day (that we wanted to watch). It was the first of the Big Four – Anthrax. Now, I’m not the greatest Anthrax follower in the world, but they were pretty good. Watched them at Soni last year too. I’d noticed that the gleaming scalp of Scott Ian was missing from the ‘Thrax line up and I was told he was away (for reasons I forget. Wife had a baby, maybe?), but didn’t know who’d replaced him until about half way through their set, when I heard a familiar accent talking. As I turned and said: “is that Andreas Kisser up there…” They blazed into the intro to Sepultura’s ‘Refuse/Resist’. So yeah, it was. Also, pretty sure it wasn’t gonna be the last time I heard that song this weekend!

Ross, Me & Jim

Me & Jim in "Same Hat Shocker" w/ Ross looking cool

Next up was the band that I’d been banging on about for some time. Megadeth. Right, there’s been this running joke with our group for a while about how MegaDave Mustaine finishes the set. I have a CD of them performing a song, and at the end he says “you’ve been great, we’ve been Megadeth” in his croaky voice and it cracks me up every time I hear it. Last year at Download, even though we’d been building it up all day, we weren’t expecting to hear him actually say it, so myself and Jodz (massive Megadeth fan) casually chatted at the end of the ‘Deth’s set…. And he said it!! And everyone else apart from me and him heard it! Gutted.

MegaDave

MegaDave Mustaine on't big screen

This year though, we stood our ground, and after a blistering set of tunes including Hangar 18, Peace Sells, A Toute Le Monde, Sweating Bullets and more, we were silently waiting… and irritating Jodz about it through the medium of text! There was a moment where it was all over and it wasn’t heard. We remained disappointed. Then big Dave walked to the mic… “YOU’VE BEEN GREAT……… WE’VE BEEN MEGADETH”.

…and my weekend was complete!

Next up was Slayer. Now, in regards to Slayer I had to make a tough decision. I decided not to watch them. Given my plan of festival times, I’d worked out that by missing Slayer I could infact watch The Black Dahlia Murder, Black Breath and Protest the Hero if I ran about quick enough. So we did.

We nipped into the Bohemia tent and caught 20 minutes of Black Dahlia Murder’s set and it was cool, sound aside. Sound in tents is always a bit shit. Then we headed over to the Jagermeister stage in time to watch Black Breath. Now these guys were feckin amazing. The sound was raw and full of that filthy Scandinavian guitar groove that Entombed made famous. Enjoyed every minute of these guys, even with some bass issues, and when you’re at the Jager stage, you’re really close to the action too!

Black Breath

Black Breath - Action Shot

After they’d finished, we headed over to another tent (forgotten the name of this one) to watch Protest the Hero. They’re on the list of bands I’ve ignored in the past only to come to like. We got to the tent and it was rammed. They weren’t letting anyone in. So we hovered for a bit to hear ‘em start, but it sounded crap from outside, so we wandered towards the main stage to wait for Metallica. Fortunately, Slayer were still on and we managed to catch the last few songs of their set. RAINING BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!

Food and a beer later and we were waiting on Metallica. They came out, all guns blazing and nailed a stormer of a set. It was not necessarily a greatest hits performance but a career spanning showcase of skills and songs form their illustrious 30 year history. NO, I’m not a fan of the new stuff so was grateful they only played ‘All Nightmare Long’ but they did, for some unknown reason, throw into the set ‘The Memory Remains’. Not exactly their finest four, but to be fair, it got a massive sing/chant along going. Me included!. They played all the usual faves, Enter Sandman, Master of Puppets, One, Creeping Death and banged out a few tunes I’ve not heard in a long time. Welcome Home (Sanitarium), The Shortest Straw and others. Classic stuff.

Metallica

Metallica

As expected, they did the Big Four jam, which, if you look at it might as well have been the Big Seven jam, as Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler got up to play ‘Am I Evil’ and Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser (Covering for Scott Ian) and Exodus’ Gary Holt (Covering for Jeff Hanneman) were also up there! Was a pretty cool moment to catch, and of the footage I’ve seen previously of this moment, I was surprised to see Kerry King up there too!

And there we draw the bands of day one to a close. …but not the events!

We got back to our circle of 10 tents to find that some…. TWATS had decided to pitch their tent right in the middle of our circle. Cue 11 very unhappy people. We marched over (well, I marched over) and told them to up sticks and shift! The cheek of it! If we’d arrived that late, we’d have had to go find a pitch miles away. As it was, we’d made the effort to get there early to have a decent pitch, so I’ll be damned if I was letting them steal it! After I’d calmed down a touch, we said they could move in the morning, but they shifted there and then anyway. Apparently I scared them! That’s gotta be a first!

Tunes on and beers downed and it was time to hit the sack and leave Mark to claim the throne as Last Man Standing.

….oh, and i met ‘The Edge’ of U2 fame!

Me with The Edge from U2

Me with The Edge from U2

Part 2 coming soon….

“Perhaps you’d better start at the beginning….”

So I will! A few weeks back I went to see Suicide Silence. I bigged it up a bit on here cause it was such an awesome looking lineup, and the ‘Silence are always a top live band. The lineup was Suicide Silence (awesome), After the Burial (more awesome) and All Shall Perish (not as awesome, but far from shit).

So off we stomped to Manchester Academy 3 (the little one on the top floor, or the Hop & Grape to you old school Manchester giggers). When we got there, we were early, so we did the usual. We went to The Oxford for a pint. Now, given what happened last time we were there, this was a pint that was gone for with some trepidation! (check ‘The Mosh Lives’ Blog for details of death threats!). Fortunately this time, that weird old coffin dodger wasn’t there to spoil a perfectly good pint with his insane rantings. So we drank and headed over.

Much to my dismay, according to the stage times outside the venue, All Shall Perish weren’t on! I double checked my ticket ‘cause I was cock sure they were there. A fact confirmed by said ticket, but denied by said times list. Some band called Bleed From Within were on instead. Recognised the name, but didn’t know from where….

Suicide Silence Ticket

Definitely says 'All Shall Perish' on there!!!

So, we headed in, grabbed customary beers and headed up to watch After the Burial. A stormingly good band of sheer technical genius. I will say that everything seemed to fall right for them this night. The sound was spot on! For such technical, harmonizing guitar playing to work, the sound needed to be spot on too. Crisp, clear dual guitar shreddery was on display, and the usual behind the head riffage. Cocky bastards. Absolute class.

Headed back down for another beer then straight back up for that band that I kinda knew, but had no clue about…. AAAAAH! Now I remember Bleed From Within. As soon as we walked through the doors of the Academy 3, I spotted their guitarist with far too much flowing ginger hair and it hit me. Sonisphere 2010, while the general flock of people were off watching Corey Taylor, I wandered into the Strongbow Bar to see what it was all about and these guys started playing! They were really good too. I remember then thinking that the singer was a bit like SS’s Mitch Lucker in appearance and mannerisms, so shouldn’t have been surprised to see them supporting one day. Anyways, on the night, they were again pretty good. Tight sounding and with some stand out tunes. One to keep an eye on, defo!

Then Suicide Silence came on and did their thing. Immensely heavy sounding and raw to the point of pain. They blazed through stuff from The Cleansing and No Time To Bleed and even added a new track to the mix. Can’t remember a name or anything, but one of the lads said he’d heard it and it was nothing like their other stuff. Well, to me it sounded quite Suicide Silence in parts and was quite catchy. If catchy is a word you can use to describe deathcore type bands.

About a week later I was raring to go as it was Sonisphere week, and I’d booked the whole week off. To start the week, we’d had a few jars on the Saturday night round a mates house and some cheeky bets on the Haye/Klitschko Boxing match (I won £20 for my accurate guess of a Klitschko win on points), then Monday rolled around and it was Cavalera Conspiracy, Sylosis and Revoker in my li’l hometown of Wrexham.

Sylosis

Sylosis - Shredding from Reading

We all met up in a pub around the corner and proceeded to get leathered on pints of Fosters and Jager shots. Little wonder that I can hardly remember a thing about this gig! Well, I remember thinking it was awesome at the time!

We stayed in the pub around the corner for Revoker. Just not a fan of ‘em. But Sylosis on the other hand, we like. Unfortunately, they only got to play four songs, finishing with Teras as usual, so despite them being ace we were a little disappointed… …so we drank more.

Tha Rizzo

Tha Rizzo - On a Tapping Frenzy

Max and Iggor took to the stage, along with Mark Rizzo (who shall henceforth be referred to as ‘Tha Rizzo’) on Guitar and Johnny Chow on Bass. So I’m expecting to hear a lot of Cavalera Conspiracy stuff and some classic Seps tunes. Which I got. Inflikted, Sanctuary, Warlord, Killing Inside, Refuse/Resist, Territory, Roots Bloody Roots, and so on. However, I was chuffed to bits when they pulled a Nailbomb track out of the bag! Yes, they played Wasting Away. Not heard that in aaaages!!! Ok, my fave Nailbomb track was Cockroaches and I’d have preferred that, but they kept that as a special little surprise for Sonisphere! Oh Yes!

As much as I enjoyed Cavalera Conspiracy, I felt that Tha Rizzo does all the work. Max just doesn’t look that arsed about playing these days. It’s like his heart’s not in it and he’s given up, while Tha Rizzo carries the whole show on his very nimble and talented fingers. Guitar wise, obviously. Iggor was still hammering shit outta the drums like his life depends on it!

So yeah, if a Sepultura reunion does happen sometime in the not too distant future, I hope Max gets his passion back and looks like he’s enjoying it more!!

Cavalera Conspiracy

Cavalera Conspiracy

After it finished, it was time for Ben to do his usual lap of badgering everyone in the room until he got a drumstick. The target of this nights annoying-to-death, was Ritchie Cavalera. Eventually, he was broken by persistence and got Ben a stick. More bugging managed to get said stick signed by Iggor Cavalera. Jammy git!

Next stop: Knebworth.

So, It’s June and I’ve got plenty of gigs on the horizon for the rest of the year and I know there’ll be a shedload more added too.

I’ve just been to see Suicide Silence, After The Burial and Bleed From Within (All Shall Perish weren’t there as previously billed), which was a really good show. All the bands were pretty damn awesome, and it’s cool to watch After the Burial shredding the nuts off their guitars and Mitch Lucker of Suicide Silence doing his big crazy stomps! More on this soon!

Next up, I’ll be watching Cavalera Conspiracy in my home town!! Having missed Soulfly playing last year ‘cause I was on holiday (if you see me, don’t talk about it. I’m still bitter), I’m really looking forward to this show. It’s the beginning of Sonisphere week, so I’ve booked the whole week off, so I can imagine it’ll be a night of some awesome Cavalera/Sepultura tunes and drinks with friends.

Then is the main event itself: Sonisphere. I missed Download, so Soni is my only festival this year and there’s a fair few bands I’m looking forward to seeing. Some old favourites, and some I’ve never seen. Gotta catch the Big Four, well at least Megadeth and Metallica. Saw the other two last year, so I’ll probably watch Protest the Hero and/or Black Dahlia Murder if they clash. Was really looking forward to the return of One Minute Silence, a band that highly influential to my metal lifestyle for a long time, but sadly they’ve pulled out of the line-up!

We’ve also got great bands to watch like Parkway Drive, Cancer Bats, Black Breath and Sylosis, playing alongside old favourites like Limp Bizkit and Weezer. Not to mention Headliners Biffy Clyro and the returning Slipknot. Should be awesome!

I’d have to say though, that there are two bands I’m eager to see. I’ve never see either before and they should both really get the party atmosphere going! The first is House of Pain. You just know that ‘Jump Around’ is going to be a highlight! Guaranteed to get everyone, well, jumping around!

The second is someone whos music has been a great influence on my love of Lounge music and Cocktail parties. Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine. Classic.

After Sonisphere is done and dusted I get to go and see my guitar hero himself, Slash! A trip to the Manchester Apollo is on to see Slash along side Myles Kennedy performing Slash’s solo tunes and Guns N’ Roses classics. Caught him last year, and it was epic and a tad emotional to say the least!

After that, and in no particular order (mainly cause I can’t remember the dates) I’ve got First Blood to see at the Bolton Alma. A titchy venue that produces some awesome shows and home to much local talent.

Then I’m off to see 36 Crazyfists on their headlining UK tour in support of ‘Collisions and Castaways’. Love 36CF and they’re always good live (even with technical difficulties). Fingers crossed for a decent support band for that one!

After that, is the ‘Hell on Earth’ tour, headlined by my favourite metal thrashing mad band, Unearth! Can’t get enough of Unearth and I’m well looking forward to the new album ‘Darkness in the Light’ too. If the tracks I’ve heard are anything to go by, it should be a classy album. Also on the HOE tour are Full Blown Chaos, Bane and Evergreen Terrace. Not heard anything by Bane, but I like Evergreen Terrace and partial to a spot of Full Blown Chaos. Should be a winner.

Also just got tickets for Alter Bridge. Missed them at Download so I’m pleased they’re touring. Bringing Black Stone Cherry and Theory of a Deadman with them. Just hope Myles can keep up with all this touring and band-swapping!

…and December is brewing up to be a stormer as Machine Head will be returning to the UK! Always love a Machine Head show, and they’re bringing Bring Me The Horizon and DevilDriver with them for an epic line-up.

There’s probably more, but I can’t remember them all. Check back for reviews of some of these and other rantings. Ciao!

Just a random thought I had on the way to work this morning whilst listening to ‘In Dreams’ by After the Burial, but have you ever come across a band at a gig that you’ve never heard anything by that have truly blown you away?

Generally, I like to know something by the bands I’m going to see before I can enjoy watching them.  Sometimes, and in hindsight stupidly, I’ve neglected to watch a support band at a gig because I didn’t know them (and probably because Jim said they were amazing and we don’t always agree) and have sat at the bar and missed bands the calibre of Protest the Hero and Whitechapel.  Silly me!

Anywhoo, I have found myself at a few gigs over the years where I’ve been utterly stunned into laughter by an unexpected gem of a band.  I can think of three occurrences that spring to mind.  One I’ve already mentioned on here before, so I’ll keep that one brief…

First up, was waaaaaaay back in the day. Anyone familiar with Canadian all-girl group ‘Kittie’?  Well, I went to watch them.  Didn’t have a ticket and it was sold out so I took a chance and headed to Manchester to see if I could get one off a tout.  Robbing bastard touts wanted £50 for a ticket which I was not willing to pay for a £12 gig!  So, I thought I’d try one more avenue.

I headed to the back of the venue to see if I could get my stuff signed, and lo and behold, Morgan Lander of Kittie was walking to the bus.  Jackpot.  She kindly signed all my bits n bobs, CD’s, singles et al and said “enjoy the show” to which I replied “Not coming. Couldn’t get a ticket!”.  In a move of pure genius, she got me added to the guest list!  Oh yeah!  Bingo!  I’m in.

Pretty sure Sugarcoma were supporting on that show too, but don’t quote me on that.  However, the band that made this night so damn good were about to grace the stage.  I’d heard of them, but nothing by them. They were an unknown entity on this night out, so coke in hand (I was driving) I settled in to watch the show. …and the band was ‘Shadows Fall’.

Shadows Fall

Shadows Fall

They hit the stage hard with a barrage of fast, technical wizardry and thrash-esque riffage that put me in mind of Slayer and early Metallica in parts.  They were amazing.  Thinking back, they were probably the first band of this new breed of metalcore type band that I witnessed, leading to a love of bands like Unearth, Parkway Drive, Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying and more…

I pretty much stood there laughing to myself (I was on my own) as they blasted through some amazing sounding songs with great music and vocals. Topped off by the 6-foot dreadlock windmilling by frontman Brian Fair, Shadows Fall made the ever growing list of bands I needed to hear more of!  Needless to say I nipped to the merch stall after the show and got a copy of ‘Fear Will Drag You Down’ and chatted with the band (except Fair – his autograph still eludes my CD cover, even though I have met him twice since!)

The second band that did this (and the reason for me writing this) were ‘After the Burial’.  I was off to see Caliban with Jim and Ross and supporting were After the Burial, a band I’d never heard of.  Pretty sure I MySpace checked ‘em and thought they sounded ok, but couldn’t remember the song I heard or what they were like.

So we got to the gig and watched the opening act, then on they came.  The stage was dark and then they kicked in.  Silhouettes of two guitarists with their back to the crowd and their guitars behind their heads opened the show and blazed into perfect technical shreddery of their opening song, which I think was ‘Berzerker’!  They nailed some awesome guitar playing – sweeps, the works – from the back of their heads!!!

A brilliant show of skills and some fantastic tunes came from the stage. The only off-putting thing was the god awful illuminous colours of their guitars!! Really enjoyed their set and can’t wait to see them again very soon supporting Suicide Silence along with All Shall Perish.  A beast of a line-up, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Now, here’s where I’ve done that thing where I don’t pay attention to a band only to find they’re actually fantastic and I really like them.  Also on that Caliban line-up are the third band in this story.  A band who were so heavy and bass-pulse destructive that they left me in fits of laughter at the ‘Never Say Die’ Tour in 2010.  Emmure.

Yes, I didn’t pay attention to Emmure, and if I did, they sounded nothing like they did that day at Never Say Die.  I did a full blog about that gig if you wanna know exactly what I thought, but needless to say, I thought they were pretty damn special.  I laughed through their set.  They were immense and aided a thoroughly good night out and have since added a host of great tunes to my iPod!

Have a think.  Pretty sure we all come across a band we don’t know who just stick in the mind as a “fucking hell, these are ace!” band.

Having recently read Dom Lawson’s retaliatory post about all the people on t’internet being a bunch of whiny cunts about Download festival, I can see where he’s coming from.  Yeah, yeah, every year when they initially give a line up I inevitably say “that looks wank! I’m not going”, but I usually do.

So yeah, I love Download and do go pretty much every year.  Think I’ve only missed one (Kiss/Offspring/LostProphets year) so far. Well, and this years. Should be there right now and deep down, I’m pissed I’m not.  Last year, I did Download and Sonisphere for the full weekends, plus days at Leeds (for Limp Bizkit & Weezer) and Hevy Festival (For a Stag-do – and Sylosis, Black Dahlia Murder and Despised Icon were playing), and that run of festival madness damn near bankrupted me.  So please, this post isn’t to start a fight or anything, it’s just my point of view of the state of festivals today from my side of the fence.

No, I didn’t go to Download this year.  The line-up is fucking atrocious in my opinion, with the exception of a few decent bands and yes, I am going to Sonisphere.  Big 4?  Gotta see that.  I have gripes with all festivals, but Download gets the brunt of the barrage ‘cause it’s the one I’ve been to the most and seen change.

Here we go…

Announcing the line up:  Please, PLEASE stop fucking around and announce a decent amount of bands and all major headliners before selling tickets!  I’d like to know what’s on the bill before I fork out my hard earned readies on a ticket!  What if I bought one after you said “Headlining are System of a Down” only to find the next batch was topped by Kings of Leon and Panic at the Disco. What if all the tickets sold out and it turned into a good line up?? Just tell me the bands at the start and I’ll buy a ticket.  Or not.

Price: It’s always going to be an arguing point.  Festivals like Download have become ridiculously expensive and it ain’t gonna get any cheaper.  It’s gonna get to the point where people the festivals are aimed at won’t be able to afford to go. I can’t see the kids of tomorrow being able to raise the £250 price tag for Download 2015.  Some of them might even have to sell their GHD straighteners to raise funds!

I get why it’s becoming increasingly expensive.  You want bigger crowds, so you add diversity (not the dance outfit) to the selection of bands and facilities you make available.  You want to cover all bases of rock, metal, punk, emo, hardcore, thrash and so on and so forth, so you add more stages and more bands to bring in crowds into that scene.  And that’s all fine, but…

Think about it.  You put on 40 odd bands per day, yeah?  We then have to pay for the privilege of having 40 odd bands and pay a little extra to cover the costs of said fantastic/shite bands to play for our amusement. Well, I can’t watch more than one at a time, can I?  So why should I have to pay the extra for you to add a bunch of Emo bands to the bill to draw in an Emo crowd?  Why should there be a price increase for everyone so you can sell more tickets and add bands that I won’t get to see ‘cause they’ll be on at the same time as other bands.  Ok, I like the fact that there’s choice.  I’ll pay for good choice.  Let’s say I wanna watch Linkin Park, but Rob Zombie’s on at the same time.  I’m paying for some of Linkin Park’s fee and I won’t get to see ‘em!  Heres another: Korn/My Chemical Romance a few years back.  Why should my ticket price increase so MCR can play.  I didn’t want them there, I was happy watching Korn.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ranting here saying we should have ticket fees depending on the amount of bands we intend to watch or a fee per band, etc. That would be shite.  But please, can you take into account that we can’t watch all bands that are on the bill. It’s just not physically possible, so why should we have to pay so much? £200 for 200 bands is a great deal.  Tho, I’m only gonna manage to see about 40 of em, so not so good.

Food: Right, there’s no way I can afford £7 for a feckin Burger n chips everyday.  Having already blown £200 on a ticket, £10 for a car park, money for fuel and camping drinks, I’m bloody skint.  So what do you do to help us poor, hungry metallers?  That’s right, you make us pay £5 for a burger.  Last year we were paying nearly £8 for a chicken wrap!

We’re not allowed to take food into the arena these days, so we’re forced to pay unfair prices for food. Same for beer! I remember when you were allowed to take in plastic containers of beer and drink. You even take unopened bottles of water off us! Daylight fucking robbery!!  Isn’t a music festival about us watching the bands that you put on for us to enjoy, and not about you robbing us blind at for the luxury of eating??

Download especially pisses me off for this point.  You’ve moved the arena further from the camp site, so now I can’t save money by nipping back to my tent for a cheeky pot noodle!  If I did, it’s a half hour stroll to the tent, cook and eat, walk back and oh! I’ve missed 3 bands!  Yes, I’m a lazy fucker, but that’s not a quick walk for anyone is it? At least at Sonisphere they didn’t fleece me of a bag of crisps and a fucking apple like Download did!

Beer:  It’s too expensive and you fucking know it!

Festival Bogs:  I can’t really complain about the festival bogs at Download or Sonisphere.  I went to Leeds for the day last year and I’ve never seen anything like it! Disgusting doesn’t cover the state of these things!  As much as I hate festy bogs, my congratulations go to metal festivals where we can have a relatively clean shitting experience!

Distance from the camp:  Ok, I’ve touched on this but why is the campsite soooooo far from the Download arena these days? Ok, they’re doing stuff to the track so you had to move the arena.  So move the bloody camp to be nearer it!  I like the newer layout of Download, it’s much better than it was when it was by the track, but there’s no point clinging to Donington Park if the festival isn’t there. It’s an epic walk now if you do need to go back n forth to your tent, as some people do.

It’s these reasons that do my head in about festivals and Download specifically, these days, not primarily the selection of bands playing. I’ll still go every year and tolerate the nonsense for the love of the music played, the laughs I have with friends there and the random people who make the camping much more fun!

My decision to not go to Download this year is just a money and line-up thing. If I miraculously came into a spare £200, I’d have gone.  I’d go for the day ‘cause I want to check out System of a Down and Alter Bridge, but £80 for a ticket is a li’l much, don’t ya think?  It’s £200 for weekend plus camping, so where did you magic the price of £80 for the day with no camping from?  Pull that out of your arse, did ya?  You might think £80 for all those bands is a good deal.  If I could watch all the bands, it probably would be, but it’s PHYSICALLY FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!  Ain’t it?

These are only my opinions based on going to festivals for the last 17 years or so and how things have changed… not always for the better.  I’ve got plenty of festival experience and love and hate them. I’ve been to Donington/Download, Sonisphere, Reading, Leeds, Dynamo and more. I’ve had some great times with many people and friends at festivals and some shite times where we’ve been robbed and had our weekends spoiled by fucking dickheads who’ve got no respect for anyone.

So please, I’m not after a ‘war of words’ over this. I’m just passing on my side of the story.