Tag Archives: Theory of a Deadman

Year in Review – Gigs (and which were the best?)

Well, December is almost over and it’s time to dig through the reviews and see what I reckoned was the live musical high-point of the year. And it’s bloody hard, believe me. If you just want to skip down to the bit where I try to make my mind up, scroll down until you see the headline. Otherwise, let me take you on a quick run-down…

First gig was Reel Big Fish at the Garage (and they’re touring again in early 2013). Having never seen them before, I was very pleasantly surprised with an excellent atmosphere and a ton of fun!

Biohazard made a welcome return in February, playing a crushing set at King Tut’s, but the highlight of their gig was touring support Heights. Definitely ones to watch out for.

Alestorm drowned the Garage in rum a week later and also supported Dragonforce in September (for those who got to the ABC in time to see their ridiculously early slot).

Less than a week after that and a tremendous two-header hit the Academy with soon-to-be-fecking-huge Halestorm opening for the brilliant Shinedown. Both bands reappeared later in the year, with Shinedown headlining the HMV Picturehouse on Hallowe’en and Halestorm upgrading from the Cathouse to the Garage (which then sold out) due to phenomenal demand.

The first let-down of the year was Theory of a Deadman. Not the band themselves, but the truly awful sound at the Queen Margaret Union building. One I’ll be avoiding in future, though I’ll certainly give the Canadian rockers another chance if they play elsewhere in future.

February drew to a leap-year close with Rammstein at the Newcastle Arena. Not so much a gig as a spectacle, and something that any band would be hard-pushed to beat. They’re headlining Download this year and if you’ve not seen them then they’re worth the ticket price alone.

Another ridiculous (and unannounced) change to the door times meant that I missed the two openers for Cannibal Corpse at the ABC, but did get to see most of Triptycon’s set. Corpse, however, played a drastically shortened set in part due to now knowing they had to be off-stage at 10pm for the student night to take place.

March ended at a blistering pace with three cracking gigs in the space of a week. Black Stone Cherry rocked the Academy, Bowling For Soup (and People on Vacation) had us entertained and laughing along at the Oran Mor with their acoustic tour and Steel Panther taught us all The Shocker at the Academy (a few months after stealing the show from Def Leppard and Motley Crue at the SECC). Hard-working as they are, they were back in Scotland soon after with a show in Edinburgh.

Into April and two very contrasting styles of music in a fairly fallow month for me. First up, an unadulterated party atmosphere lifted the Garage when Andrew W.K. came the play. Barely a week later and Paradise Lost angled more for the doom end of the scale in a wonderfully downbeat performance at King Tut’s.

My only gig in May was to see the delightfully ridiculous Tragedy with their tie-dyed, glitter-encrusted Bee Gees cover extravaganza at the ABC2. Only a few days after the sad passing of Robin Gibb, I doubt he could have been more proud of the send-off this group of fans gave him.

Halfway into the year as June finished and two gigs that month. Sacred Reich with their first Scottish date in eighteen years as they tore up the Wah Wah Hut; and a slight departure for me as I sampled Combichrist at The Arches with their dance-infused metal.

And then… a breather. July and August passed gig-free despite us staying in the country. Virtually every major band was heading to play the festivals which we couldn’t attend due to work and family commitments. On the other hand, we saved some cash.

We made up for it in September with no fewer than five concerts. The Darkness were touring the UK with Lady Gaga (I know, WTF?) but as the tour wasn’t hitting Scotland they opted to play a one-off headlining show with long-standing local favourites Gun at the ABC.

Three gigs in three nights saw me at the Cathouse (Dying Fetus, Job For A Cowboy, Revocation and Cerebral Bore), Edinburgh PlayHouse (W.A.S.P.’s 30th anniversary tour) and the Garage for the aforementioned sell-out Halestorm show.

Another previously mentioned gig ended the month as Dragonforce and Alestorm formed a perfect partnership at the ABC.

October could have been the busiest month of the year gig-wise. We still did very well, but missed no fewer than five gigs. The first one we had to skip was Soulfly as it clashed with Nickelback at the Newcastle Arena and we got tickets to see Chad and co. before those for Max’s project were announced. The Canadian guys were good – very good – but Soulfly would have been much cheaper and closer to home!

Nickelback became the last gig I went to with my fiancée as we skipped Bowling For Soup, Trivium, Muse and Terrorvision to jet off to Jamaica with the family and get married! I did try tweeting most of the bands, but they didn’t reply as to the possibility of shifting their gig dates. Pah.

Our first gig as a married couple was a second performance this year by Shinedown in Edinburgh (mentioned back at the top). A big crowd despite playing on the same night and less than 2 minutes walk away from Alice Cooper’s seemingly annual Scottish show.

The second-last month of the year equalled the second as November joined February in hosting six gigs. Sabaton / Eluvetie at the Garage opened the month for me with an interesting combination and more people on one small stage than I’ve seen since Lawnmower Deth allowed stage-diving at the Newcastle Riverside. We then had the choice between Motorhead’s annual gig at the Academy or going to see Steel Panther again, this time in Edinburgh. There was no decision to be made as soon as we saw Lemmy’s support band – the mighty Anthrax. Glasgow it was.

Two nights later I headed to the Cathouse for the Metal Hammer Razor Tour II  featuring Steak Number 8 (missed them, sorry), Heart of a Coward, Heights (again) and Devil Sold His Soul. I love cheap gigs like this featuring relative unknowns and this was a prime example. All of the bands on here should do well though, again, Heights stole the show for me like they did in February opening for Biohazard.

Turbonegro brought their brand of death-core-punk to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut towards the end of the month and impressed, while legendary Thrash-meisters Testament made a triumphant return to these shores after far too long. They destroyed the Garage with a mixture of old material and stuff from their superb latest album. Barely pausing to draw breath, I was at the SECC the following night to see the Twins of Evil tour. Marilyn Manson put on a decent enough theatrical performance while Rob Zombie deservedly played the “headlining” position of this equal-footed billing.

The year drew to a close with a hugely anticipated comeback tour from the Little Angels who rocked the ABC as if they’d never been away these last twenty years. Just under a week later and Fear Factory gave me a birthday present consisting of an hour-long set at the same venue in support to the Devin Townsend Project.

SO – GIG OF THE YEAR?

Bloody hell. That’s a tough question. At a rough count, there are 39 bands in contention (including some of the support acts) for the top performance. Hell, there are some I’ve not even mentioned such as Deathstars who opened for Rammstein. Not in contention, but deserving of a mention. As are Lionheart (Biohazard), The Treatment (Steel Panther), Insomnium (Paradise Lost), Skin (Little Angels)…

So let’s just hand out some awards based on certain performances. That’s fair. After all, what small band – no matter how talented – could expect to play a 200-capacity venue and compete with the:

Most Spectacular Gig

Easy winner – Rammstein at the Newcastle Arena. At £50 plus fees plus travel expenses, not a cheap ticket but worth every penny as you could see where your cash was going. Superb songs wrapped in probably the best showmanship in metal these days (Iron Maiden at a festival are about the only band that come close) and I doubt a single person that night left the venue feeling ripped off. My only disappointment is that it’s still the only gig I’ve ever been to that I don’t have my ticket as a souvenir. Stupid floor policy of taking your ticket off you!

Best Atmosphere At A Gig

Quite a tricky one as there are different atmospheres. The expectation at the Testament gig after their long absence. Similar with the Little Angels. Reel Big Fish, of course. The boos rained upon Turbonegro as they chose to play an England football song before they came on stage in Glasgow. Tragedy, who could have been playing to thousands, not just the couple of dozen who showed up (shame one you – see them next time). But, no. As with Rammstein above, there’s only one streets-ahead winner of this award: Andrew W.K. at the Glasgow Garage, who put on as big a party as he promises in his Twitter feed day after day – using nothing but the power of short, silly, punchy rock anthems. A man who can talk the talk, walk the walk and rock the rock.

Best Comeback Gig

A surprising number of entrants this year (and many more who I didn’t go to see, sadly). Some just haven’t toured the UK, some have actually been split up for years and reformed recently. In the running, we have:

  • Biohazard
  • Little Angels
  • Testament
  • Sacred Reich

Bloody hard to decide with this one. Really hard. My heart says Little Angels because of the fact I saw their last ever gig before they split. My heavier side (and the bruises) say Testament. My “support the underdog” mentality says Sacred Reich. My surprise at having a guitarist standing my shoulder during the first song says Biohazard.

The heart wins. Little Angels at the ABC take the prize, partly as I’ve seen Testament and Sacred Reich at Graspop in more recent years.

Best Support Act

Let’s not forget those poor sods who often get ignored (or worse) trying to warm you up for the headliners. This year, there were some great bands – many of them listed at the top of this section. The winner will come as no surprise, but special mentions to Halestorm – headliners in their own right, frankly, but still touring as a support band in 2013 – and Anthrax, who for some reason haven’t done a UK headlining tour in far too long.

Heights for two gigs – Biohazard and the Metal Hammer Razor Tour II. They’re back in Glasgow again in February, if I recall correctly. And main support again. Keep up the hard word guys, and here’s hoping we get ninety minutes from you in the years to come.

Best Sound At  A Gig

Now this one is a toughie. Some of the venues can be hit and miss with sound (ABC), some are usually crap but somehow pull a blinder once in a while (Academy), some are just awful (Queen Margaret Union, Cathouse) and some have the advantage of being huge (SECC). Winner this year? Bowling For Soup (Acoustic) at the Oran Mor for being just right. Maybe it’s easier as the volume doesn’t need to be cranked, but we could hear every note being strummed.

I’ll leave the awards there for this year. Next year will be a little quieter gig-wise  as I’m changing to a part time job with the equivalent drop in pay. Unless someone wants to sponsor me buy buying tickets or guest-listing me…?

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Theory of a Deadman / The Crave – Glasgow Queen Margaret Union

The Crave
The Crave (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[For more pictures, see the sets on Flickr for The Crave and Theory of a Deadman]

We had no idea of the support for this gig and therefore the stage times, so I gave them a call earlier in the evening. I got a wonderfully unhelpful (though he did try!) chap who guessed that with a door time of 7, the main band would be on at 8. Yeah, erm, ok.

I’m glad we aimed for 8:00 anyway as the Queen Margaret Union is your typical student union place and therefore, for reasons I’m sure nobody can adequately explain, insists that you provide them with your name, address and email so they can admit you as a “guest”. This resulted in a queue about 150 people long as each person used the one frigging pen they had on the door to fill in their details. Seriously, QMU, it’s a gig. People have paid for tickets. I think they’ve earned the right to be a guest without having to stand in the cold for 10 extra minutes.

Anyway, the venue itself was moderately small but with lovely staff – the upside of most student venues. On the downside I was reliably informed by one of the security staff that “crowdsurfing is illegal – we’re supposed to drag anyone out who tries it” and also that moshpits are not allowed. Although, in fairness, he did say there would be no bloody way he’d try and stop a crowd of people kicking crap out of each other if they were happy with it. So just in case any death metal, thrash or hardcore bands are considering playing the QMU – don’t.

We missed the first support band (we didn’t even know there were two), but I managed to get a drink from the crowded bar just as The Crave came on stage. They’re not bad, a bit middle of the road and took a while to get going. As their set progressed, the songs got a little more catchy and energetic. After a slow start, I quite liked them by the time they finished.

Theory of a Deadman took a little while to hit the stage, wandering on at around 9:40. They kicked things off with “Gentleman” and managed to go straight into the “which side of the crowd can sing the loudest” competition midway through their second song.

The most apparent thing was that the sound was actually worse than I’d come to expect at the Academy. Really murky and difficult to make out the instruments and the vocals at times. I guess it comes down to the size of the venue with sound waves bouncing all over the place, but it took a long time to get used to it. Even the speech between songs was muffled at times.

Theory of a Deadman
Theory of a Deadman (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

This is a shame as the band put on a decent performance, though nothing as energetic as last week’s Shinedown gig – which, in fairness, is likely to rate as one of my gigs of the year even by December. The last time I saw Theory was opening for Alter Bridge a few months ago and we only saw the end of their set. The sound at the SECC was far better that night, so at least I know what they can sound like. The sound on the video I took was warbly as well – the only venue this has happened at.

While I’m whinging, the lighting was poor as well. Only the centre of the stage received any reasonable amount of light during the evening, hence the small number of photos I’ve uploaded.

Still, it wasn’t a bad gig. Like the support, ToaD warmed up as they went through, saving the more popular songs for later in the set. They do offer a good mix of material though, as singer Tyler Connolly admitted, they’re well known for their prodigious output of “break-up” songs. Of which they played a few. No harm when they’re good material.

Not a classic gig, mainly due to the poor acoustics, and I’d like to catch them again somewhere better. In future I think I’ll be wary of the QMU. My apologies to anyone who works there. As I said, the staff were lovely – it’s simply the size and the shape of it that makes it pretty poor for a loud concert.

 

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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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