BLACK LABEL SOCIETY – Zakk Wylde talks about Grimmest Hits – AUDIO INTERVIEW

Black Label Society – Zakk Wylde talks us through their new album ‘Grimmest Hits’ track by track

This is a great piece of anti-burrito propaganda! This is brilliant, Zakk doesn’t like to take things too seriously. Or is it all true? You decide 🙂

The album is out January 2018!


THE HUNNA – January 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy – REVIEW and PHOTOS

The Hunna – 8th January 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

Since May 2016 I’ve watched this band climb up the Newcastle venue ranks, from Think Tank, O2 Academy 2, the Boiler Shop (as part of Hit The North festival) and to the Riverside. The crowd growing bigger and bigger with each gig, culminating in tonights’ main hall Academy O2 sellout show.

The band had posted earlier in the day that they had the last 27 tickets and a lot of the time this kind of publicity is just that, publicity to create interest but not with this show. Both main room and balcony were absolutely rammed and had been from the first of the three band bill. The Hunna come out and the crowd treat them like returning heroes throughout the show.

The Hunna - 8th January 2018 - Newcastle O2 Academy

The Hunna – 8th January 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

They look and sound great backed up with a great stage production. As well as the already known tunes the new songs from the upcoming album are blistering and the fans react as if they are old favourites. And it’s this fan base that is heart and soul of the band, the first time I saw them the kids knew the words to every song even though they hadn’t released them yet. This crowd were ten times bigger but just as fervent. It’s going to be interesting to watch the next eighteen months, having seen their rise in the previous!

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

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MASTODON | RED FANG | RUSSIAN CIRCLES – December 2017 – Northumbria Uni – REVIEW

Mastodon | Red Fang | Russian Circles – 6th December 2017 – Northumbria Uni

Review by Neil Ainger

I hate to lean on an old cliche but I am reminded of the saying that ‘good things come in threes’. Not a saying worth putting any stock in, of course. For starters, there also exists the saying ‘bad luck comes in threes’ and for that matter, if we believe there to be any real meaning in sayings such as these, good things also ‘come to those who wait’ and ‘come in small packages’. On this particular evening, however, good things almost certainly came in threes when Mastodon rolled into town with two heavyweights in tow.

The significance of the occasion was not lost on the majority of those coming out to see one of heavy metals current big hitters and a very healthy number of people ensured they were on time to catch Russian Circles kick the night off early on.

I feel as though bands that play post-rock and post-rock metal are often handed support slots because they set the tone for the rest of the evening. A kind of slow-burning and easily digested introduction to proceedings.

To make such claims about Russian Circles, however, would be nothing short of an insult. Delicate, fragile and effortlessly intricate one moment, as they slowly build a precisely crafted atmosphere, and chaotic the next as they tear it all down to the ground with intense and explosive riffage. The instrumental trio from Chicago are worthy of so much more than their quick half an hour set on this evening.

Red Fang from Portland, Oregon are no strangers to opening for some heavy hitters. Serving as the support for Opeth and In Flames will teach you all you need about working some big tours I’m sure. It’s, therefore, no surprise that the stoner riffers are about as professional as you could ask for, rifling through track after track while never forgetting to engage the audience and have a little fun.

Red Fang are a welcome reminder to those amongst us attracted more closely to the gloom and the doom that metal can be fun, while not sacrificing any credibility. Charging through favourites such as ‘Hank is Dead’, ‘Blood Like Cream’, ‘Wires’ and ‘Crows in Swine’, the crowd were full to capacity and primed and ready for the closer ‘Prehistoric Dog’ which landed predictably well.

By the time Mastodon took the stage there was barely a space to fill, made only too apparent by the arduous task of battling one’s way to the bar or to the toilets. With their two most recent albums making the top 20 in the UK and the top 10 in the US, the shift towards more commercially friendly music in recent years has been notable.

In fact, Mastodon have shown a real skill for writing compact, hooky, dare I say pop songs. The setlist on this evening was understandably dominated by tracks from the latest record, ‘Emperor of Sand’, with ‘Sultans Curse’, ‘Show Yourself’, ‘Precious Stones’, ‘Steambreather,’ ‘Roots Remain,’ ‘Ancient Kingdom’ and ‘Andromeda’ all featuring. Opinion is likely divided, but I feel the new material blends effortlessly into the fabric of a live Mastodon experience. Some of it perhaps lack the punch of a ‘Colony of Birchmen’, which was met with nothing but a positive energy, the tech-metal trademark sound of the likes of ‘Megalodon’, which sent the pit a few paces in front of me in to overdrive, or the complexity of the 13 minute ‘The Last Baron’, the closing track to the bands progressive metal masterpiece ‘Crack the Skye’ and a somewhat odd but welcome choice to open the show.

Mastodon are a band that haven’t forgotten where they came from and while the albums ‘Remission’, ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Blood Mountain’ are certainly not represented in the way they once were, the tracks that do make the cut offer the perfect balance to both remind us of where they have come while celebrating where they are. By the time the band close the set with eternal favourite ‘Blood and Thunder’, the pit has had a decent workout for the evening.

EVERY TIME I DIE – November 2017 – Newcastle Riverside – PHOTO FEATURE

Every Time I Die – November 2017 – Newcastle Riverside

What is now becoming an annual masterclass in gig carnage without injury or damage ETID once again played a barrierless show and appeared to tear the place apart!

There were less crowd on stage moments this year for some reason even though the invites and no restrictions were there! That didn’t stop the show being a mass of stage diving/crowd surfing/circle pitting madness though! Sadly boss Graeme was ill so there was no tag team BSC for this one but enjoy the gallery.

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

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GJB’s annual music roundup 2017 – FEATURE

I usually do a long winded wrap-up of the year but I can’t be bothered. No-one reads them anyway, right? Hehe!

Sod it here we go…

Best gigs

  1. Gojira – L’Olympia, Paris
  2. Sigur Ros – Armadillo, Glasgow
  3. Deftones – Glasgow SECC
  4. Liars – Boiler Shop, Newcastle
  5. Idles – Think Tank, Newcastle
  6. The National – Usher Hall, Edinburgh
  7. Mclusky – The Cluny, Newcastle
  8. Breeders – Glasgow ABC
  9. Grandaddy – Warehouse 34, Newcastle
  10. Jen Stevens – Customs House, South Shields

Best albums

I haven’t really listened to much new music in 2017. But this batch came out on top.

  1. The National – Sleep Well Beast
  2. Idles – Brutalism
  3. Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun
  4. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun
  5. Primus – The Desaturating Seven
  6. Pissed Jeans – Why Love Now
  7. Thurston Moore – Rock N Roll Consciousness
  8. Guided By Voices – August by Cake
  9. British Sea Power – Let the Dancers Inherit the Party
  10. Bad Breeding – Divide

Band I’ve seen the most

DUNES of course


MCLUSKY – December 2017 – Cluny Newcastle – PHOTO FEATURE

Mclusky – December 2017 – Cluny Newcastle

Mclusky (or mclusky*) return for a one-off gig. If ever there was a gig that can not be missed, this is it!!

mclusky poster 2017

I last saw Mclusky around 2004/2005 ish. They played upstairs in the Student Union on Kings Walk. Sadly there were only a handful of people there that night. Still, it was a great gig. I recall feeling some tension in the band, which made the performance awesome but slightly venomous. They split not long after.

So a decade and a half later they return for 19 songs (+ Kkkitchens!) of pure nostalgia. The band are on top form and are having a great time. Bass duties filled by St Pierre Snake Invasion vocalist Damien Sayell. A brilliant night. I hope they do more gigs!

Apologies for the lack of angles on this. It was, of course, sold out and I didn’t want to get in the way of other punters. Plus I was there as a punter myself, taking my camera along just for ‘a couple of memento shots’. I think I got carried away. Here are ALL of the photos I took. Since it’s a special gig 🙂


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EXTREME – December 2017 – Newcastle Academy – PHOTO FEATURE

Extreme – 13th December 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

I’ve put more in this gallery than normal as I just couldn’t whittle them down any further! Extreme are one of those bands who are just fantastic to photograph with something going on at all times. The audience were treated to a set of classic funk rock, throwing in one of their biggest tunes “Get The Funk Out” only the third song in.

Nuno Bettencourt is undoubtedly the star for most people, his playing is still phenomenal and stage presence is just sheer rock star!! yep, they did ‘More Than Words’ as expected along with a couple of deeper cuts like ‘Kid Ego’ and ‘Play With Me’ keeping the set nicely balanced.

This was the first night of the UK tour but the band looked so relaxed and having a good time you’d think they were getting ready to go on holiday the next day!!

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

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Gordon Armstrong picks his best music photos of the year – PHOTO FEATURE

Gordon Armstrong picks his best music photos of 2017 in this special photo feature

It’s been a fantastic year for gigs and lost count of bands I’ve seen. There have been some other amazing gigs like Therapy, Anthrax, Life Of Agony, Mr Big, Courtesans and many more that I could fill this up with. However, I’ve obeyed the rules and stuck with the ten!

Bring on 2018 and hundreds of more opportunities to be told “First 3, no flash”. Massive thanks to everyone who have helped me do all of this throughout 2017, it’s greatly appreciated.

Blink 182 – Metro Radio Arena

had to include this as it was my first arena photo pass and quite a production to bust my cherry on!! This pic pretty much sums up my reaction as the curtain dropped and I knew I had only 6 minutes or so ( 3 short songs ) to get in and try to get something !!!

Living Colour – Newcastle Riverside

One of my all-time favourite bands and they absolutely killed it at the Riverside. I chose this photo as it is pretty much straight out of the camera with no edit and I just love it!

Lightyear – Think Tank Newcastle

Lightyear made a welcome return to the scene after a lengthy hiatus and as this photo shows still have an electric energy.

Cheap Trick – Manchester Academy

Legends! I was absolutely blown away at being given the chance to shoot them for HRH Mag and was my first time in print.

Glenn Hughes – Newcastle Riverside

The voice of rock himself! I love this portrait for the detail that shows through.

Fat Freddys Drop -Boiler Shop Newcastle

A fun band to shoot. I loved how the industrial piping on this one looks like a sound wave coming out of the trombone the way the light hits it!

Manic Street Preachers – Live From Times Square

I was so honoured to be able to photograph all seven nights at the Live From Times Square and could have easily picked my 10 from those shows alone but for me this one of Nicky Wire caught my (and a lot of others) attention.

Afghan Whigs – Church Leeds

Afghan are a bucket list band for me, so to also get to photograph them was just an amazing experience. However to then get Greg singing the first song down your lens ……..Shame I couldn’t get a clearer one but hey I’ll take it !!

Every Time I Die – Newcastle Riverside

What is becoming an annual masterclass in carnage ETID once again tore the place apart! I think they’ll always be in my top ten pics of the year as long as they play as it is a photo op every five seconds when they play.

Turnover – Newcastle Riverside

Their new album has hardly left my turntable since release and it was great to see them able to be that good live too. This photo though I just love the feel of it.

GJB picks his best music shots of 2017 – PHOTO FEATURE

GJB picks his best music photos of 2017 in this special photo feature

This year has been a fairly quiet one for me. I haven’t had as much time to go to shows as I used to, videos and weddings have taken over my spare time and I have to admit I love doing those too. I love my job!

Despite the lack of gigs in my life (only about seventy in 2017!). I’m still struggling to pick only 10 photos.

My highlight of the year is no doubt seeing my heroes; Gojira at long last, after many years of missing them through poor timing and lack of cash! 2017 I got to see them twice, including a pilgrimage to Paris and I managed to get to photo them in Newcastle (despite their PR company telling us BSC isn’t big enough for them. #smugmodeengaged)


I’ve seen my work evolve and change again this year. I found my editing getting a bit too soft and commercial looking. I suppose the change is largely due to working on editing videos, it’s had a direct influence on how I look at photos. Looking at levels and contrast to make more subtle but edgier photos. Also, I’ve spent more time looking at the subject and their actions, rather than going for that clinical/technically perfect shot. I’m never happy. You can always improve. I can’t wait to see how my work evolves in 2018.

Anyway, less chat and more pictures! Here are my picks, in no particular order.

Gojira – Newcastle O2 Academy

Gojira - March 2017 - Newcastle Academy

Gojira – March 2017 – Newcastle Academy

Well they had to be in, didn’t they? I love this shot of Christian Andreu rocking out. Taken with my 15mm fisheye lens on a full frame camera, so it’s super wide. In reality, I was about 1-2 feet from him when I took this.

I have this printed and framed in my studio. The thing I love is the detail. When editing I didn’t notice the decals on the guitar until the print arrived and that blew my mind. The twelfth fret has a G from the Gorjira logo and there’s an awesome rat decal between the bridge and the neck. There were so many good shots from that gig, but this one is a standout for me.

See the full gallery feature here

Anthrax – Northumbria University

Anthrax - February 2017 - Northumbria Students Union

Anthrax – February 2017 – Northumbria Students Union

I could pick any photo from this gig. They know how to put on a show. Lighting was perfect and of course, they love a bit of showboating for the camera. Simply put this is thee most fun gig I’ve ever shot. Scott Ian lives and breathes heavy metal. Such a great icon. It’s another fisheye shot. That tatty, battered little second hand Sigma has never left my kit bag since I bought it. It’s been dropped, scratched, beer spilled on it, the paint has all come off so you can’t tell the settings but it’s the best £150 I’ve ever spent!

See the full gallery feature here

Liars – Boiler Shop

Liars - October 2017 - Boiler Shop Newcastle

Liars – October 2017 – Boiler Shop Newcastle

Remarkable show and brilliant venue. I’ve had Liars on my bucket-list for donkeys years. I couldn’t believe my eyes when this was gig announced. Sadly the crowd was fairly thin. That didn’t deter the band. So many memorable shots. Made more memorable by the impact of the gig. At this point, I was a bit down and fed up with music photography. It gave me the boost I needed. One of my fave gigs of the year.

See the full gallery feature here

British Sea Power – Newcastle Riverside

British Sea Power - April 2017 - Newcastle Riverside

British Sea Power – April 2017 – Newcastle Riverside

I’ve seen BSP a million times but this was the first time photoing them. The band were really nice and their manager allowed us to shoot the whole set rather than the usual 3 songs and out. So I had a field day! I think I came away with something like 500 photos, which is silly but is a good indicator of how much I love this band and how much fun I was having!

I decided enough was enough and that I’d taken way too many photos already. So I headed upstairs to the guest area. For some reason I didn’t put my camera away, I can’t remember why. I think I was going to zoom in to get a setlist photo. Then this fluke of a shot happened. I caught Yan’s eye as he was leaning back and rocking out. Right place right time. Another photographer was standing next to me, so I tapped him on the shoulder and showed him it. “Jammy twat!” was his reply, which made me chuckle. I adore this photo!

See the full gallery feature here

Car Bomb – Newcastle O2 Academy

Car Bomb (band) - March 2017 - Newcastle Academy

Car Bomb (band) – March 2017 – Newcastle Academy

As all music togs will know, drum shots are a chore to get. Drummers are usually far away, hidden in smoke and piss poor lighting. But when bands bring the kit to the front it’s an absolute joy! My fisheye lens meant I could get right up close and still get the other members in the shot. Phenomenal drummer. I could feel the power and the air of the double kicks hitting me. Thank f**k for earplugs =D

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Idles – Think Tank

Idles - March 2017 - Think Tank

Idles – March 2017 – Think Tank

Hooked from day one with this band. They came to our little Newcastle and played a brilliant show at Think Tank. Lovely chaps too and the drummer loves Brown Ale. Fond memories of this gig. They’ve since gone on to conquer the festivals and played with some band called the Foo Fighters at O2 Arena in London. Canny.

See the full gallery feature here

Electric Wizard

Electric Wizard - Riverside Newcastle - August 2017

Electric Wizard – Riverside Newcastle – August 2017

Amazing to photo. Can’t say much more than that! Loud as f**k and brilliant.

See the full gallery feature here

Melt Banana

Melt Banana – June 2017 – Newcastle UK

They came back! This time with the Cluny’s brand new lighting rig. Worth the beating I got in the pit. Mental show and amazing gig!

See the full gallery feature here

I’ll Play The Villain – Newcastle O2 Academy

I'll Play The Villain - Newcastle O2 Academy - June 2017

I’ll Play The Villain – Newcastle O2 Academy – June 2017

Another right place, right time deal. I was chilling stageside enjoying their set and happened to have a 105mm lens with me. Dark stage lights but the highlights just hit the right spot as the singer let rip a mighty roar.

See the full gallery feature here

65daysofstatic – Boiler Shop

65daysofstatic - Boiler Shop Newcastle - December 2017

65daysofstatic – Boiler Shop Newcastle – December 2017

I had to pick this one, it was such a challenge to photo. The whole gig was a battle but I excelled and game away with some of my best work of the year. Pat myself on the back there 🙂

See the full gallery feature here

Best Blank Slate Sessions of 2017 – VIDEO FEATURE

We run down the best Blank Slate Sessions of 2017!

It’s been a busy year at BSC. Lots of changes and lots of videos! I think we’ve released over 20 professional videos this year. I’m sure 2018 will be even busier!

Here’s our pick of the bunch (in no particular order)

Creature – Fire

Laura Elsy

Dunes – Velvet

Souls of Jack Ketch – 466-64

Witch Charmer – Worlds Burning

Book your band a session here

the blank slate sessions - newcastle - heaton - cheap video