Devin Townsend Project / Fear Factory – Glasgow O2 ABC

Fear Factory
Fear Factory (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Photo sets on flickr: Fear Factory and Devin Townsend Project]

Happy birthday to me! And after a huge KFC and a phone call after some interviews to say I’d been offered the new job I was after, we headed into Glasgow to see the pioneers of industrial metalFear Factory.

Annoyingly, they weren’t headlining and even if they had – being the ABC – they’d only have had an hour anyway. Despite getting there shortly after 7pm we’d missed the openers (Tesseract), but were in decent time to grab a pint before Burton and Pals came on stage.

You could  tell the sound was better than last week’s Little Angels gig simply from the sound check. The bass was far clearer, there was no distortion and the vocals were sharp. However, this actually worked against Fear Factory as Burton’s voice just isn’t what it used to be.

During the heavier numbers, he was fine. But get onto the supposed harmonies on tracks such as “Resurrection” and he was flatter than a flat thing that had been flattened. At times the vocals just seems to go quiet as well and I’m not sure if that was Burton himself or just he sound.

This aside, the set was crushing with a great selection of tracks. The core of the crowd did warm to them, but it was obvious that the majority of the ABC were just treating them as a distraction until the headliner came on. A shame. Not too many years ago (OK, maybe 10), I’d seen Fear Factory pack out the Barrowlands which has, I would guess, a similar capacity to the ABC. Now they’re playing places like the Garage with a fraction of the audience.

When a band plays a set as good as theirs, with such a distinctive sound it’s a pity to see them not getting that recognition. Mind you, I’m going to say that as I’m a fan. Certainly they looked like they enjoyed it, and there was little time for audience interaction as they jammed the sixty minute set with a sensible number of classics as well as a couple of well received tracks from new album The Industrialist.

With fan favourites such as Linchpin, Edgecrusher, and Replica in there it was always going to get messy and indeed the smallish pit did its best for the duration of the set. Huge credit to the security staff for handling things well (as always) including a very disciplined method for making sure crowdsurfers didn’t get hurt!

Devin Townsend Project
Devin Townsend Project (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

All too short a time to play for after such a long wait for a tour, but even with Burton’s poor vocals (sorry, Burton) this was a show I was glad I made it to.

The Devin Townsend Experience took to the stage around 9pm and… well, they underwhelmed Gillian and myself. Despite some nice, crunching, heavy intros not one of the songs grabbed us. The stage show seemed to be a set of in-jokes for a bunch of tripped-out fanboys and Townsend himself spent the time between singing lyrics mugging to the crowd like a nutjob or muttering life-affirming epithets.

While the guitars were good, the drumming adequate and the keyboards OK (as far as keyboards go), they all sounded like they were trying to follow a different rhythm and the whole sounded very stilted indeed. Seriously not our kind of thing. I’m all for variety in music and often I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a support or other band I’ve known nothing much about until I saw them live. Not this time.

So we retired to the aptly-named “Polar Bar” (it’s like a bloody ice box in there), finished our drinks, had a chat and wandered off home.

Oh, a quick shout out to Sean who I got talking to on the Lawnmower Deth facebook page. Nice to meet you, fella! Here’s to next time!

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DragonForce + Alestorm, Glasgow O2 ABC

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 ****.

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 (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 (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 (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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The Darkness (with Gun), Glasgow O2 ABC

The Darkness
The Darkness (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Full set of Gun pictures / Full set of The Darkness pictures]

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gun live before and I didn’t know they were opening for The Darkness until we arrived and some of the songs sounded familiar. A shame we missed the first half of their set, but sometimes work has to take precedence and the ABC has an early curfew, so…

At least we managed to hear “Word Up“, their most famous single (although admittedly a cover!) rocked out by a cracking bunch of lads playing to a hometown crowd. They deservedly got a good response and left the stage to leave us stood there waiting for The Darkness.

For Ages.

OK, so I was expecting them on around half past eight. Fifteen minutes after that, the lights went down and “The Boys Are Back In Town” blared out. And kept blaring out. For about two-thirds of its length. Before finally being replaced by an introductory bagpipe-based intro.

Which went on. And on. And on…

Guys – ditch the sodding intro music and play another two songs next time! I suppose we shouldn’t complain so far seeing as Glasgow was the only city to get a headlining performance, the rest of the country having to make do with a support slot in exchange for a £50 Lady Gaga ticket.

Once the Brothers Hawkins, Ed and Frankie finally hit the stage, though, rock and roll hell broke loose for ninety lovely minutes. While the new album is definitely not as good as the first two, the songs from it weren’t bad and didn’t leave the crowd twiddling their thumbs waiting for another older song. Thankfully, all of the classics were present and correct.

There was one guy in front of us who really liked the band, spending the last half of their set going mental. Much to our amusement and the annoyance of those around him he kept knocking into!

While The Darkness will never reach their stadium-filling heights again, they’re great value for a live act. Entertaining, silly, loud, and fun. And, dare I say it, if ever there were a natural successor to Freddy Mercury then it’s Justin Hawkins. Spandex, goofy teeth, high-kicking, energetic, funny and a great vocal range. He should have been on that Queen tour, not some American kid from a dodgy TV show.

As I think I said in my review of their show last year, great to see them back and keeping good, old-fashioned rock and roll alive one show at a time.

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Tragedy (Bee Gees Tribute) – Glasgow O2 ABC2

Tragedy (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[full set of gig pics available on Flickr]

Just to clarify, this isn’t the punk band with the same name that come up if you search on Tragedy are a comedy tribute to the Bee Gees (and other music of the era) who infuse the disco-busting moves with the power of pure metal!

Now, let’s be honest. The 70s sucked. Disco was a huge decade-long joke that some people don’t seem to have managed to get over. However, there was some genuine talent there and some good beats. The songs weren’t bad… it’s just their setting that was wrong. Throw away the bit where people took it seriously, strap on some guitars, ramp up the distortion and you’ve got Tragedy.

Looking at their web page this week, shortly after the death of Bee Gee Robin Gibb, and you’ll see that they’re genuine fans of the original artists. Not just “we like the music and it would be fun to do it differently”, but knowledgeable and appreciative of the talent involved in a huge performing and songwriting career. Their live performance does everything to affirm this opinion, at no point taking the piss out of the music’s original artists. Instead, it’s done with a huge wagging tongue placed firmly in a glitter-coated cheek.

Ann came through from Edinburgh for the gig, and we missed both opening acts due to the early doors and the need for food. The ABC and Garage are bad for this (their one downside, they’re otherwise both excellent venues) as they host student nights during the week so curfew is usually 10pm. Just for the record, we had a very nice Indian at the Rawalpindi just over the road. Well worth popping in if you like a good curry, and they even make it the way you want it.

Tragedy (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

We made it to the venue a couple of minutes before the band came on, and settled in at the front of the 70-80 strong crowd. The last time they played the UK was four years ago opening for the Wildhearts. I guess their crowd size has grown slightly, though they deserve more. Mind, all bands start somewhere – look at Hayseed Dixie as a prime example.

Blasting through a ninety-minute set, the band cunningly changed their name on several occasions in a bid to cover artists other than the Bee Gees. We had Donna Bummer and Black Abba-th, amongst others. Spandex was stretched, glitter flung over the crowd, guitars licked and drums pounded. Let’s face it, everyone knew every song. Even in the form played on the night, they’re instantly recognisable classics.

Audience participation was pretty much mandatory, and Ann (amongst others) ended up on stage towards the end along with some poor sod who was handed a guitar… while the band sneaked off stage to the bar.

Simply put, they’re fun. Just what a gig should be. Not just seeing a band in person, or hearing your songs played a bit louder than you can manage at home. Entertaining, over the top, silly, outrageous and fun.

There are still a few dates left on the tour. Go and see them. I doubt they’ll be expensive (Glasgow was only £9 on the door), and you get your moneys-worth. Their first album, We Rock Sweet Balls And Can Do No Wrong, is only a fiver at the merch stall as well. Definitely worth picking up!

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Cannibal Corpse / Triptykon – Glasgow O2 ABC

Triptycon (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[More pics of both bands in the following Flickr sets: Triptycon and Cannibal Corpse]

This was a 4-band show with Job For A Cowboy and Enslaved making up the “Destroyers of the Faith”. However, with a 6:30 door opening and (unbeknownst to us) a bloody club night on, it meant a really early start for the first couple of bands and – I reckon – a shortened set list for each. As a result, we arrived just after 8pm to see Triptykon already on stage. I can only assume they somehow managed to cram the other two bands in as their t-shirts were on sale.

Triptycon certainly know their stuff – not surprising with Celtic Frost founder Thomas Gabriel Fischer fronting them – and their material has quite a variety to it. Very heavy for sure, with some particularly slow segments but also some thrashier moments. I couldn’t name a single song by them – they only have one album and an EP out – but what I heard impressed me (and Debbie, and Jon).

Good value and worth keeping an eye out for in future.

The crowd, though, were here to see the biggest-selling death metal band of all time. Quite a crowd, too. Not exactly crammed into the venue, but it was certainly busy enough that it took a while to get served at the bar! The set change wasn’t too long and shortly before 9pm the lights went down and Buffalo’s Cannibal Corpse took to the stage.

The sound wasn’t bad, though Jon reckoned it was missing a bit of bass, but this didn’t bother the crowd. The moment the first chords were struck, the mosh pit opened, and I swear I saw someone crowd-surfing by the time the third snare drum had been hammered.

Cannibal Corpse
Cannibal Corpse (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Now, the music was good. Unfortunately the amount of it wasn’t. First off, the band stopped between almost every song for the first five or six numbers, for no seemingly obvious reason. They simply stopped and wandered around for 1-2 minutes before playing the next one. “Corpsegrinder” did, at one point, mention some kind of technical issue but with no further details. Frustrating.

What we got, though, was superb. If I had to pick personal highlights they’d be “I Cum Blood”, “I Will Kill You” and of course “Hammer Smashed Face” which always sounds better live than the tinny quality of the original recording.

In addition to the delays, the band finished just after 10pm. This is an incredibly short set, barely an hour in length. I can only guess that it was due to the aforementioned club night. Staff were sweeping empty plastic tumblers off the floor within minutes of the gig ending.

What I’d like to know is how long they played for at other dates on the tour. Did anyone else barely get an hour of an otherwise fine death metal performance? Or were Glasgow fans ripped off?

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