Where have the first 3 months of the year gone, wow they really have flown in. On a personal level, I’ve made it to a decent number of gigs, managed to shoot roughly 50% of those and a lot more in the pipeline, on the downside, have missed a couple of shows due to ill health, which is never any fun, and have been extremely over tired of late, which definitely doesn’t lead to a good place.
Since returning from this years excellent HRH AOR VII festival which took place in Prestatyn it’s just been crazy, not much time to get anything done. Have got the photos pretty much finished, and just have to plough through some of the review and finish up a review of The Ocean Collective show in Dublin last week, and as soon as that’s done there are more albums, but so so many gigs getting announced at the moment it’s unreal. It doesn’t matter who you are, as you age it becomes more and more difficult to get to as much as you want to, and even then it’s difficult to organise work/home/gigs, that balance is becoming impossible, so this year I’m getting to absolutely as much as I can and next year may be very quiet.
So with new shows just added to my own list for Machine Head, and a number of bands later in the year I’ve found I’m also adding stuff in the near future I didn’t think I could get to, so looking now like Jizzy Pearl and Mike Tramp in Ahoghill next month, and also with a work trip to London next month I’ve managed to schedule an Avantaisa gig, so happy days. Tonight it’s my first chance to get to see Cellar Darling, should be an interesting set. with support from another new band to me, Appearance of Nothing.
Next wee it’s a triple header, Dead Label in Dublin on Friday night (with some great supports), Jizzy Pearly in Ballymena on Sat and hopefully The Black Dahlia Murder on Sunday back in Dublin…….then it’s just a week to HRH Blues in Sheffield and the previously mentioned Avantasia in London…..all of fun and lots of hard work ahead……..
Ana Popovic with Ben Poole supporting kicks into May with another London trip, along with Cormac Neeson’s solo show in Dublin and Whiskey Myers. June is mental, July starting to fill up now, August sees Bloodstock, the Bash and HRH Sleaze III straddles August into September. Rocktober is building up and as always November/December will busy.
Yes I’m flying, 2 added this week, the latest one once again for Rockposer.com of the superb new Elles Bailey album Road I Call Home which you should most definitely have a listen to.
Link now added to the Reviews Page – click here or the album cover below
Elles begins here UK/Irl Tour this coming weekend and is in Whelan’s in Dublin next Thursday night 7th Mar 2019, well worth going to see if you can make any of the dates.
Busy times ahead, going to try and shoot some local bands this weekend, Elles on Thursday, off to see Tyketto in Nottingham next Sat night and then HRH AOR VII, wow that has come around quickly, preview of that event will be up today or tomorrow I hope. Will once again be doing what I said I wouldn’t do again and shooting + reviewing HRH AOR/Blues/Sleaze this year…….and Amplified in July if I can.
March busy, April sees HRH Blues and then we kick in towards a hectic summer, a couple of early nights are needed to keep the head clear and the mind functioning 😉 It’s very easy to start working on too much and let the mind get overloaded, then you just can’t get anywhere or anything done – have already had far too many nights at home just sitting there and not able to do anything created or not, will definitely get more done this year, and have to keep an eye on the sleep too, reality is I think I’m getting 4-5 hours a night at the moment, and while that’s ok for a while, long term it will end with me hitting the floor/ground somewhere, and that would not be fun. Everything in moderation 😉
It’s been a busy 7 days in Dublin City for Death Metal shows in my home town, with the big and totally crushing show in Vicar St last Sunday where Wolves In The Throne Room, At The Gates and the mighty Behemoth really set down a marker in front of a Sold Out venue, here we are again only 5 days later in an absolutely rammed Voodoo Lounge with another 4 band bill.
Tonight I’m not shooting, just at the gig as a fan and it’s another set of Polish legends that are headlining and a band I have somehow managed to miss out on seeing a total of 5 times in the past, yes that is a crazy amount, but this year seems to be the year of me finally getting to see some bands that I have missed the most over the years from an assorted amount of reasons….. so on top of every thing else it’s just great to finally see them live. This is a really strong bill though with openers Bloodshot Dawn, Danish blasters Baest and the always pounding Dyscarnate rounding the night out. With the Stage Times for this show having been brought down even earlier, Doors at 6pm and first band at 6:15, it did make me wonder once again how viable gigs with more bands on the bill are in the age of curfews and venues holding Nightclubs after live shows, but this week I guess things have shown me it’s possible, Wolves In The Throne Room played to an almost full house last weekend and tonight although starting off to around 15 people for Bloodshot Dawn the room rapidly filled up as the set progressed, the tightness of Doors opening and getting people through the Box Office certainly slowing the room filling up a bit.
England’s Bloodshot Dawn have been to Dublin before and are an experienced band that always look comfortable, hopefully we’ll see them back again soon, highlight for me was the excellent “Reanimation” from the album of the same name. Always difficult with such a short set but they ably warm up the crowd for the bands still to come.
Denmark’s Baest are making their first visit to Dublin and appear to be recording the show for a future release. Having only really checked these guys out before the show, and having been impressed by what I had heard, I really wasn’t prepared by just how good these guys are live, their sound was great and they were really up for it, with a frontman that tries to get the audience involved in the show at every opportunity, a very tight and powerful unit and they just sound great. The set here is far too short and judging by the reactions of the crowd as through the set I was far from the only one impressed by this band tonight, a much longer set is needed on their return visit. “Crosswhore” among others separate this band from most in the genre, “Ego Te Absolvo” is another punishing track but not without melody.
Main support tonight are a band I’ve seen many times Dyscarnate, and they’ve always been a cracking band, but something about tonight, I don’t know what but this is the best I’ve ever seen them, there’s little fuss with them, not a huge amount of banter between songs, but a relentless pummeling from a 3 piece that always sounding like they are bigger than the sum of their parts. The solid light colour and smoke machine output really do make it quite difficult to see the band for a lot of the set, but that doesn’t take away much from just how good they are. Having dual vocalists has always worked really well with this band and it continues to do so, Al Llewellyn (Bass/Vocals) is the perfect foil to Tom Whitty (Guitar/Vocals) voice, This is as strong as they’ve been as a band, as always Matt’s drumming is just pounding while remaining varied, each band tonight has managed to lift the crowd to a higher level and the packed venue is definitely loving this set, and for good reason. Looking forward to catching these guys again soon. Tonight for me “The Promethean” is probably the stand out or the set, cracking song, but everything is a highlight.
And so to the headliners, Decapitated, well nothing really needs to be said they absolutely leveled the place, easily one of the top performances I’ve seen in the Voodoo, and probably as busy as I’ve seen the venue since the last lot of work was done on it, packed up front and busy right down to the very back, you could tell that the band were really feeding off the crowd, but it was their brilliant playing and delivery that made all the difference tonight, they sounded brilliant,
Everything in the set fitted perfectly, it just flowed one song into the next as if it was all coming from the one album, not that it all sounded the same, absolutely not, it just all worked together in one set. The tracks off the latest album Anticult are just immense live, and this is a band that are just right at the top of their craft, musically the riffs are just so powerful, drums thunderous, bass so so solid with in that unit and vocals are stunning, this is how you do a Death Metal show, as with Dyscarnate there’s not much fuss, they got on with things, but never come across as a band in isolation, the crowd works in tandem and the atmosphere envelops you, drawing you in. Ending the set with “Sphere’s Of Madness” and the always popular “Winds Of Creation” is just nice. I’m always loathe to say a band could play a bigger venue, that’s not my business, the promoters know what they are doing, but it would be great to see them come back and play somewhere different and fill it too, as tonight has shown there’s certainly an appetite to see this band here. Been a hell of a week and this was a class way to finish it off.
Roll on next week when we have some very different gigs to look forward including another legend in former Queensryche man Geoff Tate again singing those amazing songs from the Operation Mindcrime album, but still ending with some legendary Death Metal in the form of Pestilence (yes another I’ve missed a few times – be it them being refused entry to the country or just bad luck) and sandwiched in between some awesome young Finnish Thrash in Lost Society – bring it on 😉
Trying to get some bits and pieces done, fitting in around life, so I was happy to Review and Photograph the mighty Behemoth in Dublin last Sunday. The show was brilliant and having one of my Bucketlist bands, At The Gates, on the bill too was a massive added bonus.
Finally, after a few unscheduled changes, bloody flu, and a rather bad start to the year which has seen friends lose those near and dear it is time I got out and went to a gig. First on my calendar was a trip to London the weekend before last to catch a 5 band lineup at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, one of the few venues I’ve not attended there This time around there are some bands I was lucky enough to shoot last year at different Festivals, but this time around it’s just a fun trip. Just took a long a little point & click camera for some momentos.
It was an absolutely cracking night and I have to say Skid Row have improved so much with ZP in just 10 months since HRHAOR last March, they look lean and hungry and sound a lot better too, which is great. But the lineup overall tonight was very strong, sadly due to a stupid mistake on my part I was delayed getting in and only managed to catch the end of the Killit set, but there was certainly enough there to make me want to see these guys again, so until next time. Next up were the always excellent VEGA, and once again the guys played a really good set, one hard working band and as always a very energetic Nick Workman led the band through a set that got people moving.
Having not seen HEAT for quite a while I was really looking forward to catching them again, and in reality them being on the bill was a major reason for the trip, and as always they just don’t disappoint, the energy of frontman Erik Grönwall is just so infectious you just can’t help wanting to move along with him. Cracking set, with tracks from the most recent release Into The Great Unknown, and the newer tracks sounded great, especially kicking off with “Bastard Of Society” which set a marker for rest of the set.
The set is made up of not only new songs but great tracks like “Breaking The Silence”, “Living On The Run” and what is now a definite in the set “Mannequin Show”, this band are still on the rise, and live they are just always spectacular. The amount of people on the floor now during this set has dramatically increased as we move towards the last two bands of the night.
The penultimate band on the show tonight are none other than Sweden’s very own Backyard Babies, these guys were really excellent headlining HRH Sleaze back in September last year, tonight they working through the difficulty of Nicke being down with flu, but the show must go on and these guys are still determined to give the crowd all they can, and nobody can ever ask for more. They are not all about tricks and gimmicks, sound very different from everyone else playing tonight and I really enjoyed this set. I guess they had to change up the Set a bit and tracks like “A Song For The Outcast” are great to hear. It is certainly not easy for any singer to be on top form when under the weather, but he worked his way through the set very ably and managed to turn in a very good performance with a slightly different set containing perhaps some of the less upbeat BB songs, but no less entertaining and a really good lead into the Headliners, hopefully we will see these guys back again really soon, could certainly never be thrown in the same pigeon hole as so many other rock bands, their music contains so many different elements, mixing electric and acoustic brilliantly, with songs that tell stories, love them or hate them we need more bands like the Backyard Babies.
And then it was time for the Headliners, a band I’d only seen 10 months previously at HRH AOR 6, and this performance all around was so much better, the guys are looking lean and mean and were just so up for it. The guys are on top form and just powered their way through, with big guns right from the start, opening up with a monster version of “Slave To The Grind” and just running like a freight train through a set littered with their classic hits, slowing things down here and there with “18 And Life” the beautiful “I Remember You” with a massive crowd sing along.
As mentioned I’d seen the band headlining at HRH AOR last March, and to me although it was a good set, here and there it dipped a bit and ZP’s vocals were certainly not as powerful in the 2nd half of that set, no such issues here start to finish this was full on and the crowd could see how much effort has been going into this. Tonight we get a haunting version of “In A Darkend Room” that somehow managed to fit perfectly with the rest of the set, and this show is a massive success, great response from a full house, a band absolutely loving themselves, brilliant to see, with a new album in the works there is plenty to come from these guys, and they can only finish the tonight on one song, “Youth Gone Wild” and they absolutely smash it, a great trip away in a cold and rainy January, this warms the heart and lifts me to push forward for the rest of the year, got for the mind, if not always the body.
Last weekend it was back to the UK for a trip to Birmingham to catch the mighty King King being supported by the wonderful Sari Schorr, check out my review of the night here – King King – Town Hall, Birmingham – 01-02-2019 – and it really was a cracking night all around.
This weekend hopefully will be shooting Behemoth in Dublin, this will be a special show, Sold Out in Vicar Street has seen both the band and the Promoter (DME Promotions) come a long way since their first show here. Still more gigs being added every couple of days, and all the time having to try and keep my Brain functioning better and stave off being overtired (the storm outside will not help that this evening. But grabbing sleep where I can, trying to avoid putting anymore stress on top of what is already there. Hopefully this weekend blows some of the cobwebs away and we get back on track for the many shows ahead.
I’m pretty open about things in life, and I’m not always sure that it is such a good thing, but at the same time it’s better than being so closed off that nobody on the planet knows who you are, and from a Mental perspective it can definitely help when you aren’t completely isolated in your own head, so talking to people about some of the difficulties of trying to look after your mother and when your little boy needs a little more attention than others has helped me not go over the deep edge in the last month, but it’s definitely been touch and go at times. Stress levels through the roof, not sleeping, generally feeling crap, but I’ve decided to still call this week part of last year as it contained a day – next week we start afresh, got to start getting into work for 7am and out at 4 again, it won’t be easy to get back into that rhythm of early mornings again, but it’s getting too difficult to get from work, to mams and home again before my wife goes to work, change the times and reduce some of the stress…….. have to get a family holiday in the mix too, and this time around on the Wild Atlantic Way we are planning to finish off County Donegal and finally get a look at the famous cliffs at Slieve League, they look amazing, so camera will be brought along and we will see if we can catch some birds, wildlife, butterflies insects anything really around the cliffs too, a bit of nature certainly won’t hurt us, maybe even another trip later in the year if we can stretch to it.
So it being early January, Christmas done and dusted and the Gig/Festival list for 2019 damn full already for someone who’s time isn’t really his own, it’s Logistics time, when planning travel to a show or a Festival it’s not all about the Flight prices, a lot of the time it’s about making things work, Flying to a different Airport because it’s cheaper and you have to get a Train/Bus anyway, or flying into one place and out another because you have more flight options on the way back. So far I’m already bringing on the madness certainly for one show in March, where I’m staying in East Midlands Airport after a show in Nottingham and getting the 6:30am return flight to Dublin, but hey one more time on the red eye won’t kill me – will it ?
Flight out to a Fest in March sorted, but the flight back is causing me a lot of stress, flying back on St. Patricks Day to Dublin really shouldn’t be a big deal, especially as it’s a Sunday, but apparently it is and all Airlines have hiked up the prices very significantly, but looks like I’ll just have to bite the bullet and take the hit, but it’s very annoying…….the extra money for a single flight would pay for return flights for another show., but there has to be some reason for it as flights from other UK Airports on the same day are not really expensive, if you can figure out the weird combination of prices that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks you are a better person than me, seeing a hotel that you stayed in last April for more than double the price is mindboggling……….. And initially planning to go to just one day of Bloodstock next year, but bloody hell, with bands I really want to see Friday and Sunday it’s gotta be a weekend, Fri-Sunday anyway, ticket bought more planning to do. Might try and get an Arena Photo Pass this time around. Would love to have the Privilege of shooting a Festival I really love. Also hoping to get to Amplified for the first time this year, with the people that I know involved with the Festival and the good things I’ve heard it sounds right up my street, and I love the lineup too 😉
This coming year will certainly be the last that I will be able to make a decent number of Festivals, more time will be taken up with family, and I think by the time those situations change I will certainly be retired from the perspective of hitting 6-7 Fests a year, even if my own health holds up, age will eventually take it’s toll on top of everything else, but until then full steam ahead. On top of that I’m hoping to get to shoot a lot more smaller local shows this year, get back to Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Heats which start on Jan 19th. If all goes to plan it should be a very interesting, busy and rewarding year so time to light the touchpaper.
Although it’s been a very slow year for me personally on the the review side of things, I’ve already submitted a couple of Top 10’s for 2018. My state of mind as it has been I tend to have some different albums in different Top 10’s, just depends on perhaps there is something that slipped my mind between one and another, and depending on the Outlet too some might be all AOR, all Metal or a mix.
It wasn’t until I started looking again that there was an obvious omission from my Favoutites, the excellent Audrey Horne – Blackout and then this morning another popped into my head, it’s honestly not as easy as you think putting together these end of year lists when you listen to so many albums during a year and there are so many quality ones out there, to be 100% honest I already have 2 for next years list from reviews I’m writing now and I just know these will be 2 of my favs next for 2019. With a lot of bands moving back towards releasing albums on a more frequent basis we see quite a few releasing one a year, of course they aren’t always going to make the best of lists but that doesn’t mean they aren’t all releasing quality albums.
Right I had to do a lot of reworking of the Website over the last couple of weeks, so if you see any odd menus or anything missing that was there a few weeks ago hopefully I’ll have everything back in it’s place . It wasn’t until I tried to make sure the site was up to date with TLS 1.2 that I ran into some issues, couldn’t install plugins, couldn’t do a number of things, so the site had to be moved, the providers moved the content (well most of it) and then I noticed stuff missing, and had to start exporting/importing stuff, and then the menus get messed up again….so a little frustrating, but it took my mind off some other thanks going on in life that have made the last few months a disaster.
Here’s to a happier, healthier, easier and more productive 2019.
The bizarre weather continues on a Friday evening in Dublin having been a tropical 14ºC the previous day we were not down 6ºC with strong winds on the way and a definite chill in the air. But that’s pretty irrelevant as to what’s going to happen inside the venue tonight, we are here to catch a band that I’ve been a big fan of for more than 30 years, bloody hell that sounds crazy, but at the same time brings that warm glow of anticipation as you wait to hopefully hear some of your favourite songs during the set.
The show is opened by a 3 piece punk/rock band from Dublin, and they put in a really enjoyable set, with two lead vocalists it certainly lended a different vibe to the sound, and as it worked really well it also seemed to go down well with the assembled crowd, although at this stage the crowd wasn’t large. These guys just powered through their set, hardly any talking, and it meant I didn’t even catch their names, but they wanted to get through their songs, and that was a nice work ethic, hopefully will catch them again soon and put the name thing to writes, good start to the night.
After a fairly quick stage setup change it is time for the main act of the evening, having not played Dublin for 5 years it’s great to see the guys back, and it’s no surprise to hear so many difference accents in the crowd. The couple on one side were over from Sweden for the weekend, on the other German fans and a fair smattering of accents from across England as you would expect, one thing is for sure NMA fans remain as fervently passionate about the band and the music today as they have always been.
“The Family” is still strong, as you look back from the stage there are still fans standing high in the air on top of each others shoulders, the moshpit is still active, perhaps not as much so as 20 years ago, but still plenty of movement, and it’s really the singing that hits you mostly, some of the songs tonight are, as ever, being absolutely belted out, word for word, great timing and as a band you must love hearing this. Thankfully the venue has filled up quite rapidly as the time approached for NMA to hit the stage and the venue looks almost full as I take a glance around the room. The set tonight is really well balanced, not just covering the bands career but also blending really well together one song rolling into the next, and the tracks from 2016’s Winter album fit beautifully in the list, especially the wonderful title track. A smashing version of “White Coats” running headlong into the brilliance of “Better Than Them” would have been just about enough for me this evening to make it a night to remember, but add in a full on brilliant version of “Green And Gray” which as Justin mentions is very poignant at the moment capped it all off, just before running into a cracking encore including one of my personal favourites “Stupid Questions”. The band would need to be playing 4hr sets in order to satisfy everyone’s favourite songs in a set these days, and sure I’d have loved to hear “Poison Street” or “Smalltown England” but maybe next time, the guys do vary their sets more than enough.
Telling us that they will be back in another 5 years raised a few chuckles and plenty of “you’ll be back quicker than that” responses from the crows the band close the show with a pumping powerful rendition of “Get Me Out”. With the bands 40th Anniversary rapidly approaching lets hope that the guys manage to include an Irish date or two in the coming Tours, a full house, an enthusiastic crowd and a band still on the top of their game is always something to look forward seeing again and Dublin definitely has a love for NMA, long may it continue.
Have thrown in a couple of low quality phone pics and wished I’d brought along a decent camera on the night, all words by me, Stephen Brophy.
Well we all have so many devices these days, PC, Laptop, Tablet, Phone, TV, so when (or if) we look at a Gallery of Photographs, whatever they happen to be of – how do you prefer to look at them. Up until now I generally display my Galleries on a single page, and if you click on a photo on that page then you get to see a larger version of that image and it opens a Slideshow. It gives a little bit of variety and a couple of different options, but over the last year I’ve noticed that more and more people just check on the page view and don’t click through the Slideshow, and that’s fine, whatever way suits you as an individual, but it makes me wonder what way people check things like this out.
So perhaps as we move more and more towards immediacy in the entertainment or arts, that we view and along with it an interesting change to listening to a song from an album rather than the whole thing, or as mentioned viewing a full page of photos, but never looking at a larger version to see the detail in an individual photograph, drawing or painting. At some point I’ll put my ramblings together into more structure and perhaps put a small Survey or Poll together to better gauge public opinion.
It’s hard to believe that this is the most amount of words I’ve been able to put together in almost a month, but one thing is for sure that the everyday stresses of live are a major influence in causing Writers Block. For us at the moment as generally have been for a little over 12 months, Family and Work are the major stress points, with so many things to think about, appointments, phone calls, check ins and ups, bloody forms and more forms, time does disappear so quickly, the madness of bureaucracy and how quickly it can add to already frustrating positions and of course when you stop looking after yourself because you are doing your best to look after everyone else, but the thinner you spread yourself the easier it becomes to lose track of what you need to do, so it’s essential to try and keep yourself in decent shape, not for you but for everyone else, so just doing a little reset on the head every now and then will definitely help your mental state, but it’s a temporary measure. For me it gets thrust upon me when I notice I’m getting overtired, a trigger for my Epilepsy, and in the case of just being overrun with stuff in the last month, forgetting to take my tablets or just remembering, but altering the times drastically (not a good idea with slow release medicine). There’s been some pretty dumb stuff where being very tired I even took a second tablet a couple of hours after the first because I’d convinced myself that I had not taken one at all, that could have triggered an Episode straight away, but luckily it didn’t and I got back on track. So for the next couple of days, I’m going to try not to worry about everyone but me, wish me luck.
With regards the Photography, well I still have Rockingham Festival Galleries to post, although they are long since finished the Reviews haven’t been 100% completed and submitted, which puts more stress on and that’s how you create a vicious circle. So I’m going to power forward with the Gallery posting and hopefully get everything tidied up and submitted. Thankfully Christmas presents are pretty much sorted out, the little guy has far too much and some new stuff uncle and auntie in New Zealand has now been added to the large pile, and he already has enough toys, but the smile on his face will release so much of the pressure it will be worth it.
And as the temperatures outside still haven’t dropped to normal temps I might get out to the Garden a bit more in the coming weeks, the birds are certainly getting stuck into the nuts and fat balls in the feeders, and I haven’t really had a chance to see how the new(ish) camera delivers the hovering/fighting Starlings, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Thrush’s that I’ve already seen around and about. At the start of the year I spent a little more time trying to get shots of our visitors, so hoping to increase the clarity this time around and perhaps get some more interesting stuff of them entering and exiting the feeders/gardens. We shall see.
Currently planning on Gigs and Trips for next year and damn are they coming in thick and fast, which is both great and worrying at the same time, no way I’ll have the time to get to everything, but we will try, more gigs this year than the last two and if we cand fit in a couple extra next year then all the better. It’s also the time of year I will get asked by many to put together my Top 5/10 lists for various categories in music, believe it or not that takes a lot of time and can be a bit of a worry, but will get there, tonnes of really good releases and shows this year and there will be even more next year.