Category Archives: Music

Little Angels / Skin – Glasgow O2 ABC

Skin
Skin (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Full sets of pics: Little Angels / Skin]

After 20 years (2 years in the case of Skin who’ve broken up and reformed more times than a 4 year old’s scabby knee), the Little Angels announced earlier this year that they were going to play Download. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to do a British tour. And about bloody time.

In the intervening years, the band have found themselves as individuals involved elsewhere in the music industry (teaching music, performing as a solo act, fronting other bands, managing Boyzone and Ronan Keating – seriously). Today, perhaps only for a brief few weeks, they’re back together as a group. Well, except for Mark Richardson who’s now a full time member of Skunk Anansie.

First up, though, were Skin. Fronted by Welshman Neville MacDonald, it would come as no surprise given the surname to find out that his great grandfather was from Glasgow. Back in the day, I was never a fan mainly due to the “ooh baby baby” style of their early lyrics. In fairness, this was predominantly due to their first “big” single, “Look But Don’t Touch” (come on – look at the number of “baby”s in this baby) which was just a touch too mainstream for me.

Move on to the next couple of albums and some great tracks started to appear, all played this evening – “How Lucky You Are”, “Perfect Day” and so forth. They put on a decent performance in the face of some of the worst sound I’ve ever heard at the ABC, which was a shame. The bass was virtually impossible to hear and the sound was topping out to the point of distortion. Not good.

Despite this, a good number of the crowd went quite mental and the band left having warmed a lot of us up. Still a bit “middle of the road” for my tastes, but decent enough.

However, the vast majority of the crowd were here to see Toby Jepson and the boys making a comeback 19 years to the day the last time they played in Glasgow (at the Barrowlands, that time). I didn’t go to that gig, but I did go to the three which followed – Leeds T&C, Nottingham Rock City and a sold out Royal Albert Hall in London. I hitched round all three. Quite the adventure for me at the time. In fact, I was wearing the shirt I bought in Nottingham for the concert tonight. Glow in the dark rocks!

Little Angels
Little Angels (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

The set list was wonderfully familiar. Opening with “She’s A Little Angel”, the band moved through the likes of “Back Door Man” (with Toby giggling at the “key in your backdoor” lyrics which probably didn’t sound quite so filthy to a younger me), “Boneyard”, “Kicking Up Dust”, “Kick Hard”…

In honesty, it took them a few tracks to really get into their stride. What really turned the tables was their superb live version of “Don’t Prey For Me” which was dedicated to original drummer Michael Lee who died in 2008. The hairs, in all complete honesty, were standing up on my neck and arms with that one. From then on, the show only got better.

“Soapbox”, “Too Much Too Young”, “Young Gods”, a rousing cover of Bryan Adams’ “Kids Wanna Rock” (they opened for him during a summer tour some years ago), “I Ain’t Gonna Cry”… very little time was spent talking to the crowd. Just enough to make sure they knew they were appreciated, and let’s be honest – buying a ticket for a band who’ve not toured in 20 years is always going to be a bit of a gamble.

The Angels more than pulled it off. The sound quality improved as the set went on after a shonky start, and it’s a shame that Jimmy was stuck at the back where he could hardly be seen because of the stage smoke. But they’re minor quibbles which did nothing to detract from a very enjoyable 75 minutes or so.

Not as good as I remember from their hey-day, but both they and I were younger back then! Still good value for money, some cracking tunes and a great atmosphere. I’ve not seen so many oldies jumping around since that time I let a nest of scorpions loose in the nursing home for shits and giggles.

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Rob Zombie / Marilyn Manson (Twins of Evil) – Glasgow SECC

Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Full sets of pics on Flickr for Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson]

Regrettably another gig with a spare ticket due to baysitting issues, and then further sad news as a friend who was taking the spare was hospitalised two days before. At least I managed to pass it off to a scalper for £20, and better I was out of pocket by a small amount than said friend by the full £35. He’s better now, too 🙂

The gig had sold out which wasn’t surprising given the reputations of the artist involved (even if Manson’s isn’t as good as it used to be). A big extravaganza was to be expected and the lack of any other support act as far as I could tell showed that all of the attention was on the co-headliners. Apparently Jonathan Davis (Korn) was opening for them with some kind of electro-metal stuff, but I was there from around seven o’clock and there was no sound coming from the arena to indicate anyone else playing.

I’d seen Marilyn Manson twice before. Once at Leeds festival around the time “Beautiful People” came out, and then a few years back at that fateful Download performance which pretty much ruined his live reputation by being… erm… shit.

I’m glad to say that tonight’s performance was certainly an improvement, though he’s still not as good as he seems to think he is. If he ever had a “regular” singing voice, he’s lost it somewhere along the way and should stick to the louder numbers.

Having said that, I know about three songs by Manson (and one of them’s a cover) so I wasn’t there to listen – I was there to watch. And, fairness to the guy, he puts on quite the performance. With a new costume for every song, one of my gig-going companions likened him to Kylie Minogue. Though, if pushed, I’d say that she has the better arse while he has the better songs.

There seemed to be a new stage set for each song as well, which was pretty impressive, with some good lighting effects, ticker tape, and props to boot. As a spectacle, there’s no denying that he still has it. I’m still not going to go and get all his music, but I would consider seeing him play live again if I knew enough of the stage show had been changed to make it worthwhile.

Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

The half of the ticket I was waiting for, though, was Rob Zombie. After missing out on his last tour (couldn’t get a ticket for the first leg, he cancelled the second), I’ve been bombarded with comments about how good he was. The git. So when I saw the Twins of Evil bill I grabbed my chance as soon as I could.

And, yes, he is good value for money.

Arriving on stage via the chest of a huge metal robot and wearing incredibly long, articulated, grabby arm things. As well as some cracking songs, there’s no doubting Zombie’s showmanship. The fact that he makes horror films in his spare time showed up with the increasingly bonkers pieces of kit that meandered onto stage as the evening progressed.

As Rob thundered through a pretty damn good set, including “More Human Than Human” from the White Zombie days, we were treated to an oversized Satan, a huge Johnny-5-a-like robot, a massive wheeled machine during “Mars Needs Women” and more. Hell, we even got beachball-sized balloons. The scale was quite amazing, and yet I know we missed out on a lot due to the comparatively small size of the venue.

Ending with a cracking rendition of “Dragula”, Zombie wandered offstage to huge applause and an audience wanting more. You know, just how a good showman knows how to leave the crowd.

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Testament – Glasgow Garage

Testament
Testament (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[full set of images on Flickr via this link]

A band that’s been there since the beginning of the thrash metal era, Testament were pretty big twenty or so years ago. But while the liked of the so-called “Big 4” went on to fill arenas, Testament joined the likes of Exodus on the sidelines. Still producing some great albums, but never quite getting the commercial recognition of their more successful peers.

So what does this means for the likes of you and I? It means that we get to see one of the best metal acts still doing the rounds in a nice, small venue.

If you’ve heard the new album, Dark Roots of Earth, then it’s no surprise they opened up with the first track “Rise Up”. After all, it does have built-in crowd involvement with lyrics such as “When I say ‘rise up’, You say ‘war!'” This was used to good effect to get the already excited crowd up and yelling from the very start.

1988’s The New Order then got a double unairing as its title track was belted out next, followed by “The Preacher”. The night followed a similar pattern as a handful of new tracks were mixed with some absolute classics, even going as far back as their debut album The Legacy. Trivia time: Testament were originally called “Legacy” before changing their name. Before it was released, their vocalist was Steve Souza, who went on to join Exodus leaving the position vacant to be filled by current long-standing member Chuck Billy.

Testament
Testament (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Chuck makes a great deal of his Native American heritage (as he has every right to), and recent award-winner “Native Blood” received quite the welcome. It’s quite an achievement for a metal band to win something like “Best Video” at the American Indian Film Festival. The Formation of Damnation, Practice What You Preach and The Gathering also received recognition in a night that saw new material being welcomed as much as old. Deservedly so, in my opinion, as the current album is probably one of their best.

If there was a disappointment, it was a lack of material from Souls of Black. It was the first Testament album I got (won it in a competition, actually – on vinyl) and I’d have loved to have heard some stuff from it live. In fairness, they did play something from it when I saw then at Graspop a few years ago.

It’s great to see a band pretty much managing to maintain its original line-up from first album to current over so many years (with a couple of years of guitarists dropping out then coming back and a seemingly Spinal Tap-ish policy on drummers), and watching them on stage you can see why they’ve all ended up working together again.

No mucking about, little of the silly crowd antics and some great tunes. Their first British gig in a huge number of years, and – the best news of all – soon to be repeated. Billy announced on stage that they will be back (touring) in March. Testament-abulous!

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Turbonegro – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

Turbonegro
Turbonegro (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[full set of images up on flickr]

I last saw Turbonegro at Download some years ago for the first and only time. I knew precisely one song (“All My Friends Are Dead”) and they impressed me. Good fun, simple songs – a nice way to kill 30 minutes or so.

When I saw they were playing Kint Tut’s, I thought “Why not?” and picked up a ticket. Glad I did as it sold out and I’ve seen people begging for tickets for all their UK gigs.

I seem to recall back in the day that punk bands regularly took to the stage to a chorus of “BOO”s and a torrent of bottles. Turbonegro like to call their brand of music “deathpunk” and attempted (very successfully) to maintain this old tradition by playing “Three Lions” before they came on stage. For those unfamiliar with this bouncy little number, it was the official song of the England football team during the 1996 European Cup.

Note: England football team. Note 2: this gig was in Glasgow. Scotland.

Needless to say, the natives were somewhat restless by the time the lads walked on stage to the biggest “BOO” I’ve ever heard since Daphne & Celeste bounced on in front of the crowd at Leeds Festival. Or perhaps when Bring Me The Horizon opened for Machine Head last year.

With a collection of songs which average around the three minute mark, their set list looks like a page from the small print edition of War & Peace so you get value for money out of them. At 1hr 40mins, they were on stage longer than the majority of acts I’ve seen in recent months and they pummelled out the songs (21 of them, in fact) with a small amount of very enjoyable audience interaction.

Turbonegro
Turbonegro (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

I don’t know if they make the stuff up on the spot, or if they just have very weird script meetings, but the diatribe run off (mainly by Tom and Tony) is right out of Monty Python. It adds a nicely weird twist to a show featuring songs such as “Shake Yer Shit Machine”, “I Got a Knife”, “Dude Without A Face” and the aforementioned “All My Friends Are Dead”.

The new album, Sexual Harassment, was dipped into a couple of times but they have quite the back-catalogue to play with and they used it well to fill their generous slot (oo-er, missus).

I can see why the tickets were in so much demand. They put on a great live show, really entertain the audience and give that little bit extra that so many acts are missing. Their wonderful attempt to get a Wall Of Death going in a venue the size of King Tut’s must be commended, as must their trampling all over the issue of sectarianism (damn right) by saying that all the Pope-chasers should be on one side and all the Proddies on the other.

Nice politically incorrect fun with good music to boot. And no stupid bloody curfew so the venue can let a bunch of drunk students in for their crappy party night.

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The Embodiment Of All That Is Metal

Diddy Wishingwell figure in top of Weebles Bar...
This photo will make some kind of sense if you read the blog post (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I mentioned in the recent Shinedown review that some comments at the gig had got my head ticking. I also said that it would result in another blog post.

This is that blog post. The events posted within don’t occur at any point near the California Presidential Primary.

Shinedown’s singer Brent took a pause between songs to “converse” with the crowd. By which I mean he asked some questions and imagined he heard the responses he wanted. Most likely unbeknownst to him, a rather light-headed person at the back of the room (horrific diarrhoea, no food in 24 hours then 1/4 pint of cider will do this to a man) actually engaged in the conversation. It went like this:

Brent: What’s one thing that’s certain in life?

Me: Taxes

Brent: Rock and roll! There is nothing in life that can’t be made simpler with drums, guitars, a bass and some kick-ass vocals. Rock and roll has been there for each and every one of you. How many times has rock and roll been there for you in your life?

Me: Three. Maybe four. No. Three.

And then I actually started thinking. Which is dangerous territory when your blood sugar only exists because of rehydration salts and 150ml of Strongbow.

Rock and roll had been there for me a few times. Seriously. It had. During some severe downtimes, I’ve turned to the likes of Hatebreed whose lyrics basically tell you (OK yell, loudly) that you shouldn’t be weak, that nobody can get you down but yourself and that you should fight back. I’m actually going to come back to that line of thought in yet another post shortly.

That would have been a sensible place to stop. But no. My mind meandered further down the wibbly-wobbly barely-focussed road it could barely see and the words “Weebles Wobble But They Never Fall Down” erupted from my lips. Much to the amusement, annoyance and/or bemusement of my lovely wife and our friend Wendi who had joined us for the gig.

Why? Because Lawnmower Deth have a song by that name. And it’s silly. And because when I’m upset or want to take my mind off stuff, I think of silly things. It cheers me up. It also cheers up my baby daughter as I sing some of their songs to her. Mainly because I’m a bit strange, but also because I know all the words. After all, it’s not difficult to remember the words to “Thermonuclear War Is Good For Your Complexion” when they’re:

Thermonuclear war… is good for your complexion,

Thermonuclear war… is good for your complexion,

Thermonuclear war… is good for your complexion,

Thermonuclear war… is good for your complexion.

I do not have a great memory.

Anyway, this got me thinking further. The lyrics for “Weebles…” are as follows and are lifted from the TV commercial for the little toys from way back when I was a kid. I think you can still get them these days, but they won’t be as good. Oh, no.

Weebles wobble, but they never fall down,

Weebles wobble, but they never fall down,

Weebles are round!

Don’t fall down!

Weebles are round!

Don’t fall down!

Weeblewobbleweeblewobbleweeblewobbleweeblewobbleweeblewobbleweeblewobbledon’tfalldown!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the embodiment of rock and metal. It’s been pushed off the airwaves, banned by religious movements, used as a prosecution tool by useless parents when their kids go tonto, vilified in the press… but it keeps coming back. Simply, you cannot keep a good thing down. Not unless you keep your finger pressed on it permanently. And every kid eventually got fed up doing that and the Weeble just popped right back up again.

We are the people of rock! And we are Weebles!

Don’t worry. I’m off to get some sleep now.

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