Alter Bridge / Black Stone Cherry / Theory of a Deadman – Glasgow SECC

Theory of a Deadman
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

What a line-up. Three cracking bands on one ticket, only a shame that it meant an early door-time and that we missed the first half of Theory of a Deadman. What little we caught – about five or six songs – was good stuff. I enjoyed it enough to want to get tickets for their upcoming headlining show in February anyway.

After a very brief set change, Black Stone Cherry arrived to huge applause and played their way through an excellent set. Their blues-influenced rock works well on CD and is just as catchy and enjoyable live, especially coming from a band with so much charisma. I’ve never even seen pictures of the band, and they really weren’t what any of us were expecting. The guitarist and bassist look like they walked right out of recording the next Status Quo album, the drummer could pass for The Muppets‘ Animal and lead singer Chris Roberston looks like a chunky sociology teacher.

Appearances are nothing to go by and Robertson has an incredible, and fairly unique, voice. You hear him sing and you know it’s BSC you’re listening to. For a band in a support slot they owned the stage as well as any headliner, playing tracks from all three of their albums. I would say there was a toal of about one-and-a-half songs which involved the crowd taking over vocal duties. Again, not something any old support act could get away with.

Black Stone Cherry
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

For a second time that night, I found myself looking forward to seeing an act live again – this time on their March tour.

A credit to the engineers and crew saw Alter Bridge themselves take to the stage after another remarkably short delay to begin their hour-and-45-minute set. They ploughed through the opening four songs without so much as a pause for breath, covering both old and new material. The band is very much Myles Kennedy‘s baby, but the rest of the band put in every bit as much as the lead.

It was, however, Myles’ birthday and he got the rousing chorus you’d expect from the crowd.

The set covered all aspects of the band’s three albums, from the heavier rock to the solo, acoustic ballads. Note perfect for the duration, there’s no doubting their abilities as performers but I would have to give them one piece of advice – drop the wanky alternating guitar solo crap. It went on for far too long and we could have had at least one, possibly two more songs in the time it ran on for.

Alter Bridge
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Whinge over, another exhilarating performance from a top notch quartet which rounded off a superb evening of music. The three bands fit together well musically, in my ears. If you like one of the groups then the others are definitely at least worth having a listen to.

As I said earlier, the two supports have sold themselves a few more gig tickets by virtue of their performances. I can’t wait!

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Getting BT fibre-optic broadband

BT Home Hub 3
Don't use one of these...

Hint for anyone planning on moving to BT‘s fibre optic broadband – forget the packaged HomeHub3 and go for a router capable of 300Mbps throughput on the wifi. We’ve gone for a NetGear though there are plenty of alternatives.

Reason being that most areas have 40Mbps (max) broadband speed with a quoted rise to 80Mbps within a few months, peaking at 300Mbps. Some areas already have 300Mbps.

The HomeHub3 is only capable of transmitting a wifi signal of 130Mbps. Therefore, even though it could theoretically be yanking 300Mbps up the “pipe” from the internet, it can only get it to your computer at less than half that speed. In other words, the kit BT are shipping is already out of date.

The WNR2200 we went for is small, white (therefore colour-coordinated to please my other half) and sits perfectly on top of the supplied BT fibre modem. It’s also only about £50 if you pre-purchase via PCWorld’s (*spit*) website and collect it in store – saving you £60! Though there was another option, even cheaper – £25, from a manufacturer I’ve not heard of before.

If you have an existing ADSL modem router… pass it on to someone else. It’s useless with fibre. You need a cable modem, i.e. one with a “WAN” input socket on the back, not an ADSL one. OK, technically you don’t need the “modem” part of it as BT supply that, but that’s what to look for on the boxes.

Confusingly, lots of retailers started labelling all of their ADSL kit as appropriate for “BT Connections”. Obviously, this is no longer the case as it depends on whether you’re using ADSL or fibre now.

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Rum Diary / In Time

By إبن البيطار (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsTwo films for the first time in a while. It should have been three, but despite battling traffic (and a slightly dodgy sat-nav) to get to the cinema in time I arrived to find out that the performance of Tintin I had aimed for wasn’t on. Not for the first time has Cineworld’s web site lied to me. Boo. So, McDonald’s for dinner and then back across the car park for the first of two films.

The Rum Diary

“We’re out of rum.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Alcoholic writer arrives in Puerto Rico, gets involved in local (dodgy) politics. Weirdness and mild amusement ensues.

See it if you like: Slightly weird, off-kilter dramas and/or Johnny Depp.

If you know of Hunter S. Thomson then you’ll know what to expect. Slightly off-centre characters, a touch of illegal drugs and a vat of alcohol form the basis of this entertaining story. Set in 1950’s Puerto Rico, Depp plays Kemp – a reporter brought in from the US to work for the slowly dying local rag.

Disillusioned and drunk, Kemp wants to write about what’s wrong with Puerto Rico. His editor, on the other hand, wants fluffy pieces about bowling alleys and sandy beaches. Unwittingly, Kemp ends up embroiled in one of the very corrupt escapades he despises.

Buddied up with a completely brain-fried Swede (Moburg played by Giovanni Ribisi) and a burnt-out photographer (Sala – Michael Rispoli), he soaks up the island, gets arrested, meets the girl of his dreams, annoys an underworld boss and rails against the bringing-down of the newspaper he was brought in to work for.

There are a handful of genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, and sadly the funniest of these is in the trailer. Other than that, it’s just continually amusing. Largely this is due to the performances from the cast as a whole. The dialogue is poetic and insightful in places, while quick-witted in others. A genuinely nice mix.

It is also, however, a little slow going and the last act does feel a bit “cludged together” just to get the story done.

I did enjoy it, but I don’t think it’s the rolloer-coaster ride of hilarity the trailer made it out to be.

In Time

“Don’t waste my time”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Time is now currency. Run out and you die. Have loads and you’re effectively immortal.

See it if you like: Sci fi thrillers with a twist, and not having to use your brain too much

I love the premise for this film. When you reach 25 years of age, a little clock kicks in on your arm giving you a year to live. Every second on that clock is currency which can be used to buy things. On the downside when it hits zero, your heart stops. In the meantime, your body doesn’t age.

But how is this currency controlled? What happens when people realise they’re running low, or if they manage to amass a fortune? In Time gives its answers to these questions along with a story of what happens if one man, Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), tries to level the playing field a little.

This isn’t a brain-bender along the lines of Total Recall or Inception. It’s a far simpler and the premise isn’t explored beyond the fact that the world simply is like that. No history, no major twists. The overall theme would likely appeal to all those 99% protesters – isn’t it a little unfair that so many people struggle and suffer while a small percentage have the vast majority of the wealth?

Salas, living in the ghetto just getting by day to day as his job tops up his time, finds himself the beneficiary of a windfall. A hundred years. He decides to use it to get into the more exclusive districts and find out who’s controlling all this time. After all, someone’s making a profit from people “timing out”.

He ends up paired up with excessively-skinny waif Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried – seriously, could get legs be any thinner and still carry her weight?) while being chased by Time Keeper Leon (Cillian Murphy) as he fights to expose the high-end corruption that’s costing ordinary people their lives.

It’s a nice enough popcorn movie with some decent action sequences and, as I said, a great premise. It’ll never be a classic but I don’t think it’s trying to be.

Certainly not  waste of time.

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The Darkness / Foxy Shazam – Glasgow Academy

Foxy Shazam
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

[photos of this gig are in this Flickr collection for Foxy Shazam and this one for The Darkness]

It’s not often I’ll go on about a support act, but Foxy Shazam deserve a mention. There was another opener, but I have no idea who they were – even the Academy’s website didn’t bother to list them. Foxy Shazam, though… wow. The first time I heard their name was when I checked the aforementioned website to find out who was supporting about an hour before the doors opened. After a quick peak on YouTube, I decided “yes, I should get there early enough for this bunch”.

They were most definitely, for me, worth turning up for although opinions were divided. I was stood behind a woman who looked like she was wearing a huge blonde wig. I happened to glance at her ridiculously decoratively nailed fingers as she texted someone. “Just not getting this. Singer’s a bit of a knob.” This from someone  who’d paid money to see Justin Hawkins & co, and who was wearing a Steel Panther t-shirt. Two of the biggest “knobs” in frontsmen, and she reckons someone else is a bit of a nutjob?

In fairness, he was a bit of a knob. But a funny one, and certainly the most hyperactive lead singer I think I’ve ever witnessed on stage. Hell, the whole band were in permanent motion and there are 6 of them. I’m amazed there weren’t any accidents. The keyboard player with the huge beard spent a good portion of the set with one or both feet on the keys, or trying to play the huge instrument like a guitar. The bassist, at one point, had his guitar balanced by the head end upside down in one hand above his head. The singer, towards the end, was sat on the guitarist’s shoulders.

The Darkness
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Mental. What they crammed into a thirty minute set, many other bands barely manage to hit you with in ninety.

Oh, and the songs weren’t half bad either. Definitely one to watch out for.

And shortly after, the headliners. The Darkness blasted on stage to a rendition of “Black Shuck”, the brothers Hawkins acted as if the band hadn’t been on a forced hiatus after the lead singer decided that cocaine was a viable alternative to three square meals a day. Tight, fun, bouncy and loud.

The only other time I’ve seen them live was at Leeds Festival when they were still riding high with the one album under their wing. This didn’t make for a good set as the album is only around 45 minutes long and they played for ninety, which means a huge amount of filler including two unfinished songs. This time, however, was much improved.

The Darkness
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Beginning the gig inside a huge cage, drummer Ed Graham was “released” part way through – the only major piece of stage work. The rest of the gimmicks relied on a couple of indoor fireworks and a ton of lights. And it worked just fine, thanks.

I think the band have had their day and are about where they should be after all the ridiculous hype around them when Permission To Land came out. They pretty much filled the Academy (not quite as much as Motorhead the other night, but still packed out), and the crowd had a whale of a time. The place was visibly jumping when the expected encore of I Believe In A Thing Called Love” began.

Not the huge stadium-filling megastars their record obviously thought they should be a few years ago, but damn good fun all the same.

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Motorhead – Glasgow Academy

Motorhead - Glasgow Academy
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

[More photos in this Flickr set]

“We are Motorhead… and we play rock and fucking roll!”

Thus sayeth Lemmy, a true metal god as the band introduce their last song of the evening. And bloody hell, do they.

Surprisingly I’ve only seen Motorhead once before, in a tent at Download a few years ago, and the Academy is a great venue to see any band (despite the slightly muddy sound that seems to be a side effect of the acoustics). The huge crowd was already ramming the place when we arrived partway through the Anti-Nowhere League‘s set. They were great and certainly had a number of their own followers in place for their support slot. UK Subs had opened, but we missed them unfortunately.

At half nine, the lights went down and the cheers went up as Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey took to the stage kicking off their set with “Bomber”. Little pockets of the crowd just started bouncing around and the front went obviously mental.

I have to say, looking around, it was nice to be at a gig where my age fit fairly well into the median. I’m used to being the old bastard who stands out… However, after a solid week of ploughing through Sons of Anarchy episodes, Gillian’s view of bikers has been dismissed as sad leather-clad fantasy now she’s been faced with a hall full of the real thing.

Motorhead - Glasgow Academy
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

As with quite a few of the gigs I go to, I’m no long-standing full-on fan of the headliners but I still recognised more than a handful of songs as the band played through more than a couple of classics. “Killed By Death“, “Orgasmatron” (still the best cover Sepultura ever did), “The One To Sing The Blues“, and new track “Back In Line” were well received as were the rest of the 90-minute set.

Even the drum and guitar solos went down well. Mikkey Dee gurns and mugs his way through the set in much the same way as Maiden’s crowd favourite Nicko – and joins the other two guys on acoustic guitar for one song (sorry – fans will know the track name). Phil Campbell was the most mobile of the three, ripping up a spotlit solo a little over halfway through the concert.

And then, right towards the end, and with no introduction… “Ace of Spades”. Like “Cowboys From Hell”, this is a song that – as soon as you recognise the opening notes – causes hairs to rise and skin to tingle when you hear it live.

A simple set – lights and a bit of smoke – coupled with some great songs and the crowd in their hands let Motorhead look like they could do this forever. I hope they do.

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