DragonForce + Alestorm, Glasgow O2 ABC

Alestorm
Chris from Alestorm and your roving reporter (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Full sets of pics for Alestorm and DragonForce by clicking these links]

Yes, I know there were two other bands on the bill but we missed them despite getting there only 30 minutes after doors opening. Well, actually, 30 minutes after the door time advertised on the ticket and on the website earlier that afternoon. Turns out they opened at 6:00, but nobody at the venue reckoned fans would actually be interested in that kind of information which is, frankly, a bit shit.

As it happened we walked up the stairs just as Alestorm were coming on, which is a good thing. We’d have been fuming if we’d missed them, and the ABC wouldn’t want three angry cutlass-wielding pirate metal fans after them.

Alestorm were everything that could have been hoped for or expected. Great, stupid, drinking, pirating AAARRRRR fun. Cracking musicians, catchy songs, wonderful sense of humour… Probably the best support act that DragonForce could have hoped for. Given that this was as near a hometown gig as the Perthshire Pirates were going to get, it was no surprise that they received (and deserved) a rapturous welcome from an energetic crowd.

“Wenches and Mead” had people singing. “Keelhauled” kicked off one of the biggest circle pits I’ve seen at the ABC. “Shipwrecked” had people running for the bar after the warning that they should “get drunk or die!”, and then crawl away from the bar disappointed when they realised that despite the advertising propaganda of “Buckfast Powersmash” the Glaswegian drunk’s favourite fortified wine wasn’t on sale.

Alestorm
Alestorm (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Simply a superb band who prove that keyboards in metal bands are, in fact, ridiculously cool. I can’t wait for another headlining tour. Surely they deserve a venue bigger than The Garage to themselves by now?

After a fairly short break (during which I managed to get a picture with Alestorm’s Elliot Vernon, at least I think it was him and my apologies if I have the name wrong), the lights went down, blue spotlights seared holes in the ceiling and DragonForce took to the stage.

Before the show began, I was a little concerned about new vocalist Marc Hudson. Now, this was in no way down to his ability but purely as he sounds that bit different to ZP Theart on the new album. I guess times change and band members come and go, but a voice is far more distinctive than a person playing guitar or a drummer (to me, anyway) and this new set of vocal chords jarred a little when I listened to The Power Within.

I apologise to him wholeheartedly here for any doubts I may have had. He was fantastic as were the rest of the band. Marc can hit a ridiculous range of notes and also sounds like Bruce Dickinson when he speaks.

Dragonforce
Dragonforce (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Unlike Maiden, though, DragonForce rely purely on their music rather than staggering stage mechanics to exhilerate the crowd and they seemed to succeed pretty well tonight. The set was varied, including tracks from first album Valley of the Damned (such as “Heart of a Dragon”) right through to the current release. I still find it strange hearing a song called “Die By The Sword” that’s not a Slayer cover, mind.

 

Herman Li and Sam Totman simply shone as two of the best guitarists currently doing the rounds. I’m as amazed by them now as I was by the likes of Marty Friedman when I first saw him play live. I couldn’t believe someone could play music that precisely on a recorded album, let along onstage in front of a crowd. Blistering and awesome.

Add to them the lightning fingers of bassist Frédéric Leclercq and keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov and it’s plain to see why they have been billed as the “fastest band on earth” for the last few years. Frankly, I’m amazed that drummer (and local boy) Dave Mackintosh can keep up. Must be the Buckfast.

The stage show was simple with blinding lighting (including some annoying strobes that make it impossible for my camera to focus, grr) and traditional “foot on the amp” rock poses aplenty. Guitars being played with the fingers over and under the fretboard, banged off thighs, help up in the air… all just ridiculous and over the top as a DragonForce gig should be.

Dragonforce
Dragonforce (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

My personal highlight was definitely “Through The Fire & The Flames”, but there wasn’t really a duff track in the set.

Only a shame that I’m a grown-up with responsibilities (and a driving license) or I’d have gone to the after-party at the Cathouse. However, I am old (I gather the average age in there is about 16 these days) with three kids and a wife-soon-to-be who wouldn’t be impressed with daddy coming home at 2am and the car being left on Sauchiehall Street.

Rock and roll may never die, but parts of it sadly age. Let’s hope DragonForce (and Alestorm!) resist the weathering tides for years to come.

 

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Halestorm + Heaven’s Basement – Glasgow Garage

Heaven's Basement
Heaven’s Basement (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Links to pictures on Flickr: Heaven’s Basement / Halestorm]

Due to silly things like needing to eat and put a young boy to bed, we made it to the Garage about half way through Heaven’s Basement‘s set. Now, I swear I’ve heard their name before and might have seen them opening for someone else but I don’t remember. They’re not bad – confident, professional and definitely capable of warming up a crowd for the headliners.

Any band which can have the lead singer stagedive at the end then be surfed around without being covered in beer or dropped on the floor has obviously made a good impression.

From a possible up-and-coming success to a band that’s managed to get its foot firmly on the stepladder – the brother-and-sister fronted Halestorm. I first missed this act when they opened the Taste of Chaos tour in 2010, finally saw them earlier this year opening for Shinedown and bought tickets for their headlining Cathouse gig the day they went on sale. Which was a good thing as they were upsized to the Garage and promptly sold out.

Halestorm have had a fairly quick rise, but this is well-deserved. The band are all talented musicians, especially the core of Lzzy and Arejay Hale. All four members are great on stage, too. Josh Smith looks meaty and moody as any bassist should, Joe Hottinger is a good-looking guy who poses and bounces around on guitar, Lzzy Hale is stunning and incredibly talented vocally and musically, while Arejay Hale is one of the funniest and most entertaining drummers you will ever see playing live.

Halestorm
“Lzzy, this is a bottle of Buckfast – hi.” (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

It’s also very, very obvious watching them that they’re loving every moment of being up there. All too often you hear bands telling the crowd how awesome they are and how it’s the best place to play. Halestorm go that little further and mention that it’s simply being on stage and being able to tour that means so much to them. You know, I’d rather be classed in with every fan who’s helped them get there than be complimented because “[insert city here] is just so great and we always want to play here, and you’re the best crowd and blah.” Lzzy does tend to gush a little about this, but it just emphasised the sincerity – they’re incredibly fortunate to have this life and they appreciate it.

With nothing but a light show and their talent to carry the performance, the quartet did splendidly. Halestorm have a range of songs from rock anthems to ballads and all the stops were pulled out, including a passable cover of Judas Priest‘s “Dissident Aggressor” (yes, Slayer covered this on South of Heaven as well). Lzzy’s vocals work well to hit Halford’s infamous high notes!

With a bassist who also plays keyboard, a singer who does guitar and her own keyboard duties and a drummer who’ll happily perform a solo using his hands, feet or  umbrellas to play his instrument of choice you know you’re in for some top end entertainment and Halestorm certainly didn’t disappoint.

The set ran for roughly an hour and a quarter and covered both albums plus the aforementioned cover song. “I Get Off”, “A Familiar Taste Of Poison”, “Love Bites (So Do I)”, “Mz. Hyde”, “Rock Show”, “You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing”… and more. Every song thoroughly lapped up by the audience who punched the air, bounced and waved their arms depending on the tune.

Halestorm
Arejay with “gift” (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

With the ever-present curfew, the band didn’t take more than a minute to walk off before their curtain call and as the deadline hit them they ended with a toast to the audience… including their first taste of Buckfast. Oh dear. Arejay left with a lovely souvenir of his visit to Glasgow, too – a pair of rather frilly knickers thrown at him by (one hopes!) a female audience member.

The only disappointment with the gig was that we couldn’t take Little Miss. There are very few “all ages” gigs in Glasgow as most venues are licensed so they tend to have an “over 14’s only” policy, even when accompanied by a parent. Having said that, a crammed Garage isn’t really somewhere an eleven year old girl would have been happy, I don’t think, and this show was sold out.

Halestorm are a band who would not be out of place on a much larger stage. They have the presence and the charisma to carry it off, and I’m sure they’ll keep on going. Best of luck to them, and we’re really looking forward to seeing them again – hopefully at a more spacious, youngster-friendly venue!

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W.A.S.P. – Edinburgh HMV Picture House

W.A.S.P.
W.A.S.P. (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Full set of photographs on Flickr via this link]

Thirty years is a long time to be doing any job. It all the more difficult when your job revolves around creativity as times change and people go on to find new things. Which is why it was quite exciting to be able to manage to get a ticket to see the second date on W.A.S.P.‘s 30th anniversary tour, at the HMV Picture House in Edinburgh.

Due to being absolutely knackered, I didn’t bother with the support act (sorry), but got there in good time to find a nice spot by the mixing deck before Blackie Lawless and company came on stage slightly after 8pm.

W.A.S.P. has had numerous members over the years, but Blackie has been there since day one – and he looks it. Mind, this guy’s been through the whole rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle much as other bands of the era such as Motley Crue, Poison, etc. and he’s survived. There’s no doubting his song-writing skills (Crimson Idol is a superb rock opera / album and Headless Children still rates as a classic of the genre in my book) and charisma on stage.

The opening segment was for songs from the first four albums, most of which I recognised and the crowd were singing along to a host of classics. Large video screens at the back displayed old live footage or the associated music video (remember when MTV still showed music videos? These were from back in the 1980’s). “The Real Me“, “Wild Child”, “I Want To Be Somebody” and so forth rolled out until the band paused for a quick change. A point of note is that the videos throughout the night were generally very well choreographed with the live music to the point where drum beats matched action in the background (Jonathan smashing his guitar into mirrors during the second sequence), or Blackie singing lyrics as they were spoken in the video (such as the chorus to “The Real Me”). Pretty impressive.

This was probably my favourite part of the show, mainly as it included songs from The Headless Children. Stand-out was the video of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s final speech the day before his assassination which led into the title track. As the lyrics question if mankind has lost the plot, the video sequences went from one promising peace and hope to images of Hitler, Stalin and war. A really simple visual device, but incredibly effective.

W.A.S.P.
W.A.S.P. (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Section two was a cut-down version of the Crimson Idol tour, crammed into around thirty minutes. Along with the disturbing video sequences in the background, we were rushed through Jonathan’s life from abused child to rock star and then decline via some cracking songs and emotive performances. It’s one tour that, in retrospect, I wish I’d gone to see when it was doing the rounds.

Finally was the “all the other stuff” segment including them more recent material. with which I wasn’t so familiar. It didn’t affect my enjoyment as the band were on a roll and the crowd really getting into things.

Sadly, though, things had to come to an end a little earlier than I think the band were expecting due to a 10pm curfew (seriously, why don’t promotoers start boycotting venues that won’t let bands play until 11pm?), which I think cost us a song or two. I was really hoping for “Mean Man” and “Animal”, though I gather that Blackie will no longer play the latter due to his new-found status as a Born Again Christian. Well, thanks Jesus. That’s one W.A.S.P. song and a Megadeth classic (“Anarchy in the UK” – yes I know it’s a cover) I won’t hear live again because of you.

Oh, a minor niggle – Blackie had a bit of a rant to try and get the crowd going about “they said we’d never sell the tickets in Edinburgh that we could in Glasgow, and you proved them wrong!” The guy’s amazing, but two points. “Glasgow” is pronounced with an “-oh” at the end not an “ow” as in “Ow! I’ve stubbed my toe”. And they’re less than an hour apart by road or rail. I reckon a huge number in the crowd would have been from Glasgow anyway…

While the show was energetic and glitzy (Doug Blair’s light-up guitar is something special), it was missing some of the stuff promised on the promotional web site:

  • multiple video screens – CHECK
  • pyrotechnics – NOPE
  • elements from the early W.A.S.P. shows – CHECK
  • Blackie’s moving microphone stand “Elvis” – NOPE
I can understand the pyros being an issue in some venues, especially smaller ones like the Picture House, but it’s a shame not to see Elvis as he was present at the much smaller Bradford Rio back when I saw the band last.
Not to worry, though. The show’s about the music first and foremost and I don’t think there were any complaints there from the near-capacity crowd!
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Does anyone really fall for this phishing crap?

OK, this has to rate as one of the best phishing emails I’ve received. It’s up there with the one on behalf of Ethiopia’s first astronaut who needed my help getting back to Earth:

Our ref: ATM/13470/IDR
Your ref:…Date: 21/09/2012

IMMEDIATE PAYMENT NOTIFICATION

I am The Rt Hon David Cameron MP,Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury
and Minister for the Civil Service British Government. This letter is to
officially inform you that (ATM Card Number 5454 7168 0041 0640) has been
accredited with your favor. Your Personal Identification Number is 1090.The
VISA Card Value is 2,000,000.00(Two Million, Great British Pounds Sterling).

This office will send to you an Visa Card/ATM CARD that you will use to
withdraw your funds in any ATM MACHINE CENTER or Visa card outlet in the
world with a maximum of ?5000 GBP daily.Further more,You will be required to
re-confirm the following information to enable;The Rt Hon William Hague MP
First Secretary of State for British Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs. begin
in processing of your ATM Card.

(1)Full names: (2)Address: (3)Country: (4)Nationality: (5)Phone #: (6)Age:
(7)Occupation: (8) Post Codes

Rt Hon William Hague MP.
First Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Email; fc-affairs@hotellos.nl
Tel: +447035907446

TAKE NOTICE: That you are warned to stop further communications with any
other person(s) or office(s) different from the staff of the State for Foreign
and Commonwealth Affairs to avoid hitches in receiving your payment.
Regards,
Rt Hon David Cameron MP

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Dying Fetus (plus Job For A Cowboy, Revocation and Cerebral Bore) – Glasgow Cathouse

Dying Fetus
Dying Fetus (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[More photos on Flickr: Revocation / Job For A Cowboy / Dying Fetus ]

Four bands on a line-up for £13 plus booking fees isn’t bad by anyone’s reckoning. Especially four bands who are all well known, not just start-ups. On the other hand, when they play a venue with a 10pm curfew, something has to give and that’s the set length.

I arrived not long after 7:30, half an hour after doors opened, and could hear a band on stage. I legged it up, expecting to catch Cerebral Bore… but instead only heard the last song by Revocation. I can only guess that Cerebral Bore played for 10 minutes maximum as the first ticketholders walked in, or the doors opened earlier than the advertised 7pm.

Mind you, in exchange for being late I got sausage, bacon and beans for dinner so almost a fair swap.

Still, two full sets to enjoy – the first of which was Arizona‘s Job For A Cowboy. I don’t really know anything by them (pretty much the same goes for all the bands on the bill, in honesty) but they’re a decent act to see. Certainly the fans in the crowd went quite mental to a few of the songs and they had no problem filling the small stage. This was partly to do with them being crammed towards the front by Dying Fetus‘s kit being behind them, and partly as they all seem to be built like brick shithouses.

A good set, though the murky sound I’ve come to expect from The Cathouse. I was stood to the left of the front bar, so thought I’d be OK for sound. Not so.

Before Dying Fetus came on I wandered closer to the front and was pretty much against the barrier for their entire set. Hitting the stage at 9:00 on the nose, they managed to finish within seconds of the 10:00 curfew. Despite being a pretty heavy death metal band, there were some surprisingly light-hearted moments – most of them purely by luck!

  • Drummer Trey Williams mugs for the crowd almost as much as Maiden‘s Nico McBrain. I always thought smiling was forbidden for death metal bands. Nice to see someone breaking with tradition
  • The guy who snuck onstage, posed, and stepped on the monitor to stagedive… only to have the monitor tip forward and deposit him off the front of the stage, needing help to dig himself back out
  • The (fairly hot) girl who also snuck onstage… and stood behind John Gallagher, wrapping her arms around him before having to be “invited to leave” by one of the stage hands
Dying Fetus
Dying Fetus (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Not what you really expect from a band of this ilk, but it didn’t seem out of place somehow. They rattled through a good variety of tracks old and new, playing maybe three off the current LP Reign Supreme. I actually quite like this one, finding it a little more accessible than the older stuff although it’s the classics that are always going to bring the house down.

To prove that point, the songs with the biggest reaction tonight were almost certainly “Skull Fucked” and closer “Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog” (class stuff, eh?)

Almost as soon as it all started, the evening was over. As I said, good value for the ticket cost and the bands managed to bring in a decent crowd, too. I don’t think I saw a single bored or disappointed face amongst them.

 

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