MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST | 09.11.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST | 09.11.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Michael Schenker Fest – 9th November 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

Michael Schenker Fest - 9th November 2018 - Newcastle O2 Academy
Michael Schenker Fest – 9th November 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

Michael Schenker brought his mammoth festival to Newcastle on Friday and wowed the crowd with a 2 hour 30 minute set of both classics from his past projects and new material.

I’ve always loved Michaels’ guitar work and it was a privilege to witness him up close doing what he does best!


He strode out to a huge reception and opened up with the Scorpions track Holiday from the Lovedrive album. On paper an odd choice as it’s almost a ballad BUT it actually set the mood perfectly with the crowd singing along with him from the go!

Then introducing the band members they went into the UFO anthem Doctor Doctor with vocalists Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, Doogie White and Gary Barden (all of whom have been in past incarnations of the Michael Schenker Group) taking a verse or line each. You’d think it was the last song of the night the fun that the band were having, on only second song in!!

The rest of the night was then split into mini sets with each singer taking the spotlight to air some their past with the group and put their own slant on some of the songs Michael is renowned for. Ted McKenna and Chris Glenn from the classic MSG line up were as always the perfect rhythm section and Steve Mann provided second guitar and keyboards!

The “sets“ were pretty evenly spread through the night and a couple of big numbers saw all four taking centre stage again BUT the focal point was Michael Schenker himself! He was on absolute top form recounting tales of how and when he had written songs when in his teens and his playing was just out of this world the tones and technique with those riffs and solos were just sublime!

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CHAINSKA BRASSIKA | 01.11.2018 | Newcastle Cluny | PHOTOS

CHAINSKA BRASSIKA | 01.11.2018 | Newcastle Cluny | PHOTOS

Chainska Brassika – 1st November 2018 – Newcastle Cluny

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

UK Ska champs Chainska Brassika kicked off their UK Tour here in Newcastle at The Cluny to a very enthusiastic bouncy crowd! Mixing it up with straightforward Ska and some bass heavy Dub it was a great way to spend the first night of November!

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GLENN HUGHES | 10.10.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

GLENN HUGHES | 10.10.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Glenn Hughes – 10th October 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

Glenn Hughes is my Robert Plant … there .. I’ve said it!!! Whilst millions will argue the toss about Plant being the voice of rock music, from the moment I heard the album Burn, Hughes has been the one voice I will always love in the rock field! His range and power has always been top drawer through the Purple days and beyond with Sabbath, Hughes/Thrall Phenomena and many solo outings but the last few times I’ve seen him he has somehow got even stronger! This latest venture is a night of Deep Purple classics and seems to be based around a mix of the set performed at the California Jam (Mk3) and Long Beach 76 (Mk4).

Kicking off with a blistering version of Stormbringer, Hughes is all smiles and comfortably hits every note with ease! The familiar Hammond intro to the groove of Might Just Take Your Life has the crowd stomping along in delight with Glenn prowling the stage taking it all in.

Glenn has a long history with Newcastle having some close friends here which he frequently acknowledges through the night. He is a man thankful for his fans staying with him through thick and thin and he has seen the extreme ends of both !!! After another Mk3 gem ( Sail Away ) the set moves to the Mk4 Come Taste The Band era and as always an emotional dedication to the late great Tommy Bolin before Soren Andersen gets funktastic with the Gettin’ Tighter riff!

As the set is based around sets of old there are the obligatory solo spots during You Fool No One and snippets of old favourites Lazy and High Ball Shooter thrown in to tease everyone.

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HAWKWIND | 20.10.2018 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

HAWKWIND | 20.10.2018 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Hawkwind – 20th October 2018 – Gateshead Sage

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

About 3/4 way through the show as orchestra and band brought the epic Zarzorinia to a spectacular close having built it up to a mighty crescendo I blurted out “F**k me! That was outstanding!“ and to be fair those 5 words could easily be my “review” and I’d stand by it! But I best tell you a bit more…

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve only ever dabbled in Hawkwind and only know the odd track here and there despite them having always been a part of my musical history. So when I was asked if I would like to cover this I was a little apprehensive but I am always up for broadening my horizons. This is the second gig in almost as many weeks that I’ve been to with a “rock“ band being accompanied by an orchestra in the Sage. It’s a perfect venue for it though where every instrument can be heard balanced with each other providing a massive rich sound The orchestra set the scene with the opening of Assault and Battery conducted by Mike Batt (yep THE Mike Batt Of Wombles fame) as each member of the band take their positions before joining in and taking this 1975 classic to new heights!

Throughout the two hour set the visuals, as expected at a Hawkwind show, are as important and upfront as the music. Lasers, back projections, a myriad of coloured lights all come together with each track adding but never detracting from the music. Guesting on the mic is legend Arthur Brown in his trademark face paint and various costumes and especially on Sonic Attack his spoken word assault on the senses coupled with the bombastic mix of band and orchestra is quite nerve shattering! The return to a straightforward rocking Damnation Alley following it is like a breather.

The band played a few without the orchestra through the set, but for me, it was the combination of the two that really worked and going back to my first paragraph Zarozinia will possibly be one of the best band/orchestral performances I’m likely to witness! Whilst they are known as a “space rock” outfit it’s easy to forget that there are also some lovely intricate vocal numbers in their catalogue as well like We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago and Have You Seen Them both aired tonight.

Set closer Arrival in Utopia is the last to feature the orchestra and the band return to get the crowd to their feet for an encore featuring Spirit of the Age and yep, of course, Silver Machine!

Dave Brock may well be the only original member in the band but the chemistry he has with Richard Chadwick (drummer now for last 30 years) and Magnus Martin (guitar/ keys/vocal) and Niall Hone (bass/keys) (much respect to him too playing the set whilst ill) you’d think they’d been together from the start !

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COHEED AND CAMBRIA | 12.10.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

COHEED AND CAMBRIA | 12.10.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Coheed and Cambria – 12th October 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

I expect it must be difficult for a band with a decent back catalogue to decide on a setlist but when each album is a concept and part of an ever-evolving story it has to make it even harder! Coheed and Cambria, however, have obviously thought this through really carefully for this latest tour. The set flows so well and even the hardcore fans who follow the graphic novel series and all things C&C linked, were saying how the running order was absolutely spot on and linked together brilliantly.

Prologue from the latest album emerged from the PA and the band came out to an ecstatic audience and they kicked the night off with The Dark Sentencer also from latest release The Unheavenly Creatures. The absolute perfect set opener with a fist-pumping chant beat followed by familiar Coheed and Cambria twin guitar trickery and Claudio Sanchez mesmerising vocal!

Josh Eppards drum led Here We Are Juggernaut follows and it’s only song two but the crowd are going crazy hanging on every note and word. The band have created the set from six of their albums and taking only one from Second Stage Turbine. They play Devil In Jersey City which, for me personally brought so many memories of playing this in clubs to a packed floor when I DJ’d so much, so I found myself just singing my head off from the photo pit at bassist Zach Cooper with a huge grin on my face! There’s obviously a chunk of the new album spread through the night (4 tracks) including the title track but they give equal attention to In Keeping Secrets and Good Apollo Vol 1.

Throughout the gig the production was just stellar! It was like an arena light show in an Academy venue which could have easily been too much but it was stunning adding so much colour and drama to each song. Other personal favourites were In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth 3 just hearing the packed out hall screaming “Man your battle stations “ sent shivers !! And A Favour House Atlantic brought more smiles and memories of DJ days!

Claudio and Travis Stevers guitar work together is second to none in this field and the pace only lets up a little when Wake Up sees arms raised swaying
Set closer Old Flames sets the scene for the epic encore of Welcome Home which sees Claudio strapping on the double neck before that huge chugging riff kicks in and taking the set to its conclusion.


It’s easy to see from a performance like this why and how the fans of Coheed and Cambria can get so drawn into the whole shebang, they’re a band that are difficult to just dip your toe in to. It takes time, but once you’re into them, you are INTO THEM!!!

They’re definitely next level now and I reckon unless they themselves want to keep it intimate this could be the last time they’re in this size venue unless they play a couple of nights!

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PARIS MONSTER | 28.09.2018 | Newcastle Think Tank | REVIEW and PHOTOS

PARIS MONSTER | 28.09.2018 | Newcastle Think Tank | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Paris Monster – 28th September 2018 – Newcastle Think Tank

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

I missed Paris Monsters show over at Surf Cafe earlier this year (or late last year time seems to fly so quickly) and now I’m kicking myself even harder having witnessed just how good they are!! Simply mesmerising from the get-go this duo have you in the palm of their hands. Soul/funk/disco/grunge it’s all here in a big melting pot pretty much defying being put into any genre! Moving swiftly past the fact they’re a two-piece whose drummer plays keyboards and sings at the same time it’s actually the songs that will remain with you and the talent that just oozes out of the pair of them as they play.
Josh Dion is king of the multi-task keeping the drum beat with feet and left hand, keyboard melodies and more drums with the right hand and a voice that could rival pretty much anyone I have ever seen. Geoff Kraly, however, isn’t just any old bass player either half of the melodies you hear and assume are keyboards are actually his bass. The funk of A Vision Complete has me wishing for a time when these old legs of mine could bust some moves. I was reminded at times and as excited of the first times I heard Pigeonhed. The soulful sound of Moles had the goosebumps at attention and even just typing this now has set them off again.
At one point Josh came stage front and sang unaccompanied and floored the whole room I turned to a friend and we both had that same jaw dropped “ Holy shit “ look on our face! It was gospel-like and if anything was ever going to turn me to religion it could a voice like this.
The album is out shortly so go get it and brace yourself for the next time they tour I really want everyone to go see this band and make them as huge as they deserve but Part of me also wants to keep them that little secret between those that know but I’m not that selfish though!

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STEVE HACKETT (Genesis Revisited) | 07.10.2018 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

STEVE HACKETT (Genesis Revisited) | 07.10.2018 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited with The Heart Of England Orchestra – 7th October 2018 – Gateshead Sage

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

The lights go down at 7:30pm and I’m trying to remember how many times that I have seen Steve Hackett since that Spectral Mornings tour all those years ago. The count is swiftly put to one side as the familiar melody and drum salvo intro of Dance On A Volcano kicks off this first of the evenings two sets. The six-piece already look comfortable and why wouldn’t they be having the back up of a 41 piece orchestra belting out behind them!

This tour is unique in that sense as it’s the first Genesis Revisited tour where Steve has taken out a full orchestra on tour Steve to take these timeless classics to a new level! Oh, my word it works more than you can try and explain in words!

Solo career tracks Out Of Body and The Steppes follow the Genesis opener and the latter of the two is just incredible. The orchestra adds so much cinematic quality and depth to this desert-themed tune it just soars!! Back to the archives and a track that if anyone else had in their catalogue it would be an encore or at least a set closer it’s such a fantastic piece Firth of Fifth. This is an absolute showstopper of a performance Nad Sylvan is probably the best I’ve seen him his confidence is just spot on hitting every note but as ever it’s THAT solo from Steve that leaves jaws on the floor!

Nad Sylvan

Bolstered by the strings and brass of the orchestra this time it just feels so new and exciting and has everyone wondering how they can follow that for the rest of the night! Dancing With The Moonlit Knight that’s how!!! From the Selling England album (which Steve is performing in full on next years tour) Nad yet again shines delivering some of (in my opinion) Gabriel’s finest lyrics ever with ease and dramatic flair! That’s not to say the band have it easy this track, in particular, has a lot going on and builds from a folk song like intro into a mad mix of time signatures handled with ease by the rhythm section of Gary O’Toole & Jonas Reingold on drums and bass respectively! Gary is featured on the more gentle Blood On The Rooftops before set one closes with a HUGE sounding Shadow Of The Hierophant receiving a standing ovation before a deserved interval!!

The double hit of Wind & Wutherings’ In That Quiet Earth & Afterglow gets the second set well and truly underway featuring Rob Townsend (Sax, flute, percussion) at the centre of it all. As the fade out into Afterglow kicked in it felt like the only thing missing was those old Boeing landing lights that created that iconic image of the band in photos of old.

Two more solo tracks Serpentine Song (written about Steve’s father) and the percussive El Niño are up next the latter showcasing Steve’s guitar work and various techniques to the max. Possibly progs most ambitious track closes the set … yep Suppers Ready, in all of its 29-minute glory every segment performed to perfection. I just sat immersed in the whole thing, the orchestra not only bolstering but adding so much more to its grandeur.

The final segment with Steve’s wailing solo, accompanied by 46 other musicians is something I won’t forget. This for most would have been enough but nope they return for the classic Musical Box with Roger King providing those familiar keyboard riffs around the sinister nursery rhyme tale and ferocious guitar work. A standing ovation on three tiers and rightly so. I have always said Hackett is an unsung hero of the guitar but those who know… know! Early in the set, Hackett said this tour was like all his Christmases in one and we were lucky to be a part of his early yuletide joy!

Massive praise to the Heart Of England Orchestra who absolutely nailed the arrangements Their conductor Bradley Thachuk led them brilliantly he was so into the performance turns out he grew up on rock and prog before going down the classical route so this was like his dream gig.

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L.A. GUNS | JARED JAMES NICHOLS | 02.09.18 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

L.A. GUNS | JARED JAMES NICHOLS | 02.09.18 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

L.A. Guns | Jared James Nichols – 2nd September 2018 – Newcastle Riverside

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

Opening the proceedings tonight is the blues power hero Jared James Nichols who is swiftly becoming a very familiar face in these parts having played with Walter Trout, Glenn Hughes, BOC, and Stone Broken to name just a few over the last two years or so! He is greeted with a friendly welcome as he kicks into gear with Don’t Be Scared from the Black Magic album. It’s kind of an odd pairing tonight as Jared is opening for LA Guns who are more steeped in the history of the more dirty rock ‘n’ roll of the LA strip than the fingerpicking blues groove he excels in HOWEVER it doesn’t take long for the Newcastle crowd to warm to the trio absolutely tearing it up through this short sharp set!!

Jared introduces Tracii Guns to the stage where they kick out the Sabbath Classic N.I.B and it’s obvious to all that they are just having a ball! Honey Forgive Me & Can You Feel It are two other originals aired tonight and like every other time I have seen Jared they end on a riotous version of Mountain Mississippi Queen by which time the crowd are firmly on board and queuing to meet the band and buy merch as soon as they leave the stage!

I’m pretty certain L.A. Guns never got to play Newcastle with any lineup so to see them here tonight on such top form was an absolute treat! The PA cranking Ozzy’s Diary of A Madman as an intro got the mood going especially with added live riffs from Tracii Guns side stage and then out they came straight into The Devil Made Me Do It from The Missing Peace album! Phil Lewis’s vocal was absolutely spot on every song old and new but for me, the star of the show was Tracii Guns! I knew the history of the band (Girl, GnR, etc) and remember playing tracks like One More Reason and Sex Action (both given a great outing here tonight too) at the rock clubs I DJ’d at but I have to admit I’d never realised what a fantastic player Tracii is! Not just the riffs and solos or the visuals like the violin bow solo but the technique and tone was just awesome.

Rip & Tear and The Ballad Of Jayne were another couple of highlights. Along with covers of I Wanna Be Your Man and Red House before bringing Jared James Nichols back out to take part in what they call the Jelly Jam! The whole band just seem at ease with themselves playing old classics and new album cuts side by side much to the delight of the crowd who unlike a lot of bands of this ilk weren’t just there to see the hits Here’s hoping they don’t leave it as long for a second visit.

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EVIL BLIZZARD | 29.09.18 | Newcastle Think Tank | REVIEW and PHOTOS

EVIL BLIZZARD | 29.09.18 | Newcastle Think Tank | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Evil Blizzard – 29th September 2018 – Newcastle Think Tank

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

I’ll hold my hands up and admit I wasn’t at all familiar with the bands material pre-gig but at times that can be a good thing. Apart from the visual side of things (mannequin head, clown makeup, pig mask and more) the first real impact Evil Blizzard make is that there are four bass players up here along with a singing drummer and a keyboard/sampler! It certainly gets you wondering what the hell is going to happen.

You get your answer pretty soon as the band kick into Hello the opening track from their latest album; The Worst Show In The World a tremendously catchy beat and bassline gets fists pumping and crowd dancing! Fast Forward Rewind is another high light from that album and older numbers like Are You Evil and Slimy Creatures keep everyone happy and bouncing Throughout the set there is a lot of self-deprecating humour between band and crowd (chants of “you’re shit and you know you are“ signs telling the crowd to boo “hello Sunderland“ for example) but the tunes are anything but comedy Pinches of Killing Joke/PIL/Hawkwind can be heard in the swirling echoing delivery and it is just relentless with just those four bass guitars providing the riffs! A six string did make a brief appearance though, as well as a theremin type device disguised as a severed dolls head providing yet another disturbing image as it was held out for all to lay their hands on and create weird noises from!

I have to reiterate just how much their tunes pull you in every track almost trance-like. For their final gesture the last track sees the band inviting as many of the crowd as possible onto the stage as they play away through the tune and slowly one by one they somehow pass their instruments to crowd members unnoticed until they have left the stage only the sequencer making sense as fans play a cacophony of notes until the bands disappearing has been confirmed and the PA shut off!! I think they are definitely a live experience and I would definitely go again now knowing what can happen! I won’t say “expect “ as I reckon with these, anything can and will happen at a live show.

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MARK LANEGAN AND DUKE GARWOOD | 01.10.18 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

MARK LANEGAN AND DUKE GARWOOD | 01.10.18 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood – 1st October 2018 – Gateshead Sage

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

The gig was split into two sets with Lanegan & Garwood performing their albums Black Pudding and their latest release With Animals in their entirety one album per set I always think it’s a brave move doing an album in full but doing two is even bigger a risk. However, they pulled it off beautifully! Mark Lanegan has a voice I have loved for years in his various projects and it was on fine form this opening night of the UK tour. I’ll admit I wasn’t too familiar with the Black Pudding album but I really enjoyed the feel of each track especially Death Rides A White Horse and Cold Molly. It felt like these songs should be heard in the desert around a fire as Garwood’s hypnotic guitar drew you in and Lanegan’s vocal held you there! At times it was very trippy especially when Lanegan added to the other three members guitars and keyboards by taking a violin bow to a guitar set up like a double bass. It felt like the Shamen scene in Natural Born Killers at one point!

The second set of With Animals I was more familiar with as I’ve been listening to the album quite a bit lately. Again multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood was at the core of every song providing rich tones and melodies for Mark to provide his delivery over. Title track With Animals was outstanding, but I could be biased as I’ve had the refrain from that going round in my head since first listen so hearing it loud and live just topped it off!!

Save Me & Feast to Famine are also two of the finest album and gig openers you could want for this style! It’s always an impressive sound at the Sage even more so when the whistling duet between Mark and Duke at the close of Lonesome Infidel is crystal clear. It suddenly dawned on me that everyone was hanging on every note and unlike a lot of gigs of late there was no (or very little) talking from audience members which is a testament to the performers.

An encore of I am The Wolf & Burning Seas (Mark and Duke solo songs) sees the night out and whilst not a concert of visual proportions (two lights red and blue) and not a lot of interaction apart from a couple of thank you’s, I think musically it’s a show that will stay with a lot of people for some time.

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