ALICE IN CHAINS | 16.06.18 | Leeds O2 Academy

ALICE IN CHAINS | 16.06.18 | Leeds O2 Academy

Alice in Chains – 16th June 2018 – Leeds O2 Academy

Even before the lights finally go out the chants of “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry” are frequent throughout the O2 tonight so when the band arrive there is a suitably massive roar to welcome them! Alice In Chains are here in the UK for just two dates before they head to European festivals. They could have easily played the larger, less intimate venues but in many ways I’m glad they didn’t.

They open with Bleed The Freak which for a lot of bands would be an odd choice being a slow-burning number, but not AIC nor their fans as it sets everyone up for a classic night visiting tracks from every release they have made. That riff from Check My Brain still hits me like it did on first listen and I think it’s as good as any “big” song they have written in the past As I said they play something from every release but the set leans very heavily towards Facelift & Dirt (4 & 5 songs respectively) and that suits the crowd just fine ! Them Bones & Dam That River still sound just huge and the lighting rig /video wall just adds to the intensity of the two. It’s hard to believe how long William Du Vall has actually now been fronting the band (12 years I believe) but he has certainly earned the respect of fans and critics alike especially on some of the more subtle lesser paced tracks like No Excuses and Nutshell.

Jerry Cantrell is absolutely on top form though nailing every solo and riff almost effortlessly and his harmony vocal as always shows just how much of the AIC sound was down to him as well as Layne.

This is no disrespect to the people of Leeds as the crowd were class but at one point (I think it was We Die Young) they went so mad that for a split second I almost made the note “this Glasgow crowd are as up for it as ever” there were probably a good few folk who had travelled for the gig (lots of Toon pals definitely made the trek) but even so it was a sweaty lively lot!

The band were in a great mood and Jerry even led a quick jam of Halens’ Running With The Devil but the double hit of It Aint Like That and Man In The Box just hit all the senses bringing the main set to a close

Returning to the stage William breaks into a verse or two of Summertime Blues and being an old codger I smiled wondering if it was a nod to The Who’s Live at Leeds album where they absolutely kick the shit out of that track πŸ™‚

A four-song encore saw the new song The One You Know being aired and if it’s an indication of the album to come then sign me up as it fits right in with the rest of the set no bother. That familiar bass line of Would? once again had the throng singing their hearts out but they all still had enough left in them to boom out the melody of Rooster to finish the night off in style.

I hope the new album sees a return for a full tour as I know they can easily fill more than just two venues in the UK but as my sweaty knackered old body left the O2 I had a massive smile on my face happy that I managed to get to this one.

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TERRORVISION | 20.05.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

TERRORVISION | 20.05.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

Terrorvision – 20th May 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy – Extended photo gallery

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

To add to Kevs review for Britrock Must Be Destroyed; someone must have forgotten to tell Tony and the boys it was only 6:30pm on a Sunday night the way they took the place apart!!

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REEF | 20.05.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

REEF | 20.05.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

Reef – 20th May 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy – Extended photo gallery

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

To add to Kevs review for Britrock Must Be DestroyedΒ here are some photos from Reef. They played a cracking set if somewhat a different paced one!

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THE WILDHEARTS | 20.05.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

THE WILDHEARTS | 20.05.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

The Wildhearts – 20th May 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy – Extended photo gallery

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

To add to Kevs review for Britrock Must Be Destroyed; Ginger and the boys played an absolute banger filled set for the home gig !! ‘Nuff said here’s a ton of photos πŸ˜‰

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THE WILDHEARTS, REEF, TERRORVISION and DODGY | Britrock Must Be Destroyed | 20.05.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

THE WILDHEARTS, REEF, TERRORVISION and DODGY | Britrock Must Be Destroyed | 20.05.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

The Wildhearts, Reef, Terrorvision and Dodgy – Britrock Must Be Destroyed – 20th May 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

Review by Kevin Burdon, photos by Gordon ArmstrongΒ 

While I don’t recall β€œBritrock” ever actually being an actual thing back in the 90s and 00s, the label serves as a canny promotional tactic to package up four of the most prominent rock acts of the era on a single tour. Let’s face it, if the banner has brought together a lineup consisting of The Wildhearts, Terrorvision and Reef (rotating as headliners across the tour) with support from Dodgy, who’s complaining?! The strategy seems to have paid off nicely, with a very healthy turnout in the Academy on Sunday night.

On paper, Dodgy seemed to be a bit of a lightweight addition to the bill when compared to the rest of the lineup, but they performed well and got the night off to a good start. Β It certainly didn’t hurt that they have a couple of classic hits (Staying Out for the Summer and Good Enough) in the arsenal to kick off the nostalgia vibe and get the party started and they got a really warm response from the steadily growing crowd.

Terrorvision frontman Tony Wright is probably one of the most energetic performers you’re likely to witness. He never stopped bouncing around the stage for the entire set, never seeming out of breath even when delivering the rapid-fire lyrics of Perseverance. The band were on great form and the audience were in fine voice too, assisting Tony heartily with the likes Alice What’s the Matter, Celebrity Hit List and Josephine. They powered through a set of hits (plentiful enough that they were able to leave out the chart-busting pop of Tequila in favour of some of the more hard rocking tracks), before spectacularly bouncy rendition of Oblivion brought a close to their phenomenal set, which on any other night would have justifiably worthy of the headline slot.

There had been a few critical voices in some online communities when Reef had been announced for this gig, and there was a sense that in certain quarters they had been written off before playing a single note. While they might not have been everyone’s proverbial cuppa at the start of the night, a confident performance of their groove-laden alt-rock certainly seemed to win over their doubters and the band got a great response from the crowd. The old songs Place your Hands and Come Back Brighter were very well received, but also the new material such as Revelation was impressive, with a much more straight up classic rock kind of vibe to it. Even some of the slower songs like My Sweet Love went down very well with what was a predominantly hard rock crowd, with frontman Gary Stringer impressing with his versatile vocal abilities throughout the set.

As a hometown show for Ginger & Danny, the Wildhearts were the obvious choice of headliner for the Newcastle date and as such got an additional 15 minutes of stage time. In an interview prior to the gig Ginger had promised to β€œonly play the songs that will make the audience sing and dance”, and true to his word the next 75 minutes were stacked with the riffs and infectious melodies the band are renowned for. Hit followed hit followed hit without reprieve, and even the double whammy of Suckerpunch straight into Caffeine Bomb didn’t tire the crowd, who bounced and sang along loudly to every word throughout the set. The band have recently reformed after a few years’ hiatus, during which they’ve had to overcome several of their own individual personal battles (while still finding time to record some superb solo projects), and they seemed to be reinvigorated with renewed enthusiasm on stage. If this energy can be carried over into the recording of the new album then it promises to be an absolute belter. It was also a pleasure to see original member Danny McCormack return to the fold on bass duties, and he seemed to genuinely love being back on stage with the band. The hits continued, before finally the band closed out the superb set with fan favourite 29x the Pain and the anthemic I Wanna Go Where the People Go to a raucous reaction from the crowd. The Wildhearts have never been a band where you can predict what will happen next in their story, but you can guarantee that when they’re on stage and firing on all cylinders they’re unassailable.

Overall, the strategy of combining all of these bands paid off; it got a lot of punters through the door and made for a hell of a gig for those in attendance. Yet while there was an element of reminiscence and a nod to the 90s heyday about the tour’s marketing, there was nothing to suggest that any of these bands are mere nostalgia acts; They are all still exceptional live performers with plenty of new music still to offer.

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MANIC STREET PREACHERS | 23.04.18 | Newcastle Metro Arena

Manic Street Preachers | 23rd April 2018 | Newcastle Metro Arena | Review and photos

Review by Neil Ainger Photos by Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

Cursed with an atrocious memory, I can’t remember exactly when I first heard the Manic Street Preachers. I can narrow it down either to 1996 or 1998. A friend at school handed me a cassette on which he had recorded the band’s 1998 album This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and I played it over and over again. However,Β I also have some pretty strong memories of the Design for Life and Everything Must Go singles, back when people still watched music channels. I think therefore that the band’s 1996 album Everything Must Go most likely served as my introduction to the Welsh three-piece, as it did for many people. Everything Must Go was a triumph over adversity, a defiant statement not to surrender and, as it happens, the bands first taste of real commercial success. They had finally topped the mountain.

Of course the fact of the matter is that while that seems to be how the story goes, and as much as it is mostly accurate, the band were not until that point unsuccessful. With a UK #13 album as well as a #8 and a #6 under their belt they were already quite a force, making headlines and pushing buttons. Everything Must Go however, along with This Is My Truth, went 3x Platinum and forced The Manics to the forefront of the British music industry.Β  These albums arguably remain the main reason the band continue to apply their trade in arenas and in venues of the size they do.

Over their 32 years as a band their style has often changed and evolved. From their inception as a riff-heavy, punchy β€œpunk” band (although guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards may be correct in his estimation that this particular label was a result of merely lazy journalism) the bands output has ventured in to soft metal, hard rock, post-punk, pop and folk and of course there’s the inescapable label of Britpop, as a guitar-driven British band reaching prominence in the mid-1990s. The Manics are, overall, a rock band. Their journey was beautifully portrayed the last time I saw them live, having made my way to the O2 in London in 2011 to attend the β€˜Night of National Treasures’, a one-off show in support of their singles collection in which the band played their collection of 38 singles in a set nearing 3 hours in length. 7 years later and with a new album to promote I had expected to hear plenty of their new material but had hoped for the rest of their set to be anywhere near as daring or as ranging. I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed as on this night, the opening night of their Resistance is Futile tour at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, the band not only showed that they could still assemble an impressive set but also included one or two unexpected little surprises.

Opening the show with the lead single from the latest record International Blue, the set did also predictably include a number of other tracks from the record such as Distant Colours, Liverpool Revisited, Hold Me Like a Heaven, People Give In and Dylan & Caitlin (featuring touring guitarist Wayne Murray on co-lead vocal). The new material glitters with melody just as much live as it does on record.Β  Hold Me Like a Heaven in particular proves to be immediately popular with their fanbase, prompting a very loud sing-a-long and frankly sounds strong enough to become a staple of an MSP set.

Often accompanied by vintage footage of the band, video and song lyrics,Β the band charged through a loaded set comprising of singles and album tracks old and new – as well as a couple of surprise b-sides. Sean Moore’s drumming sounds as thunderous as ever on the anthemic No Surface, All Feeling. If you close your eyes during the ferociously energetic Slash N Burn, melancholic Motorcycle Emptiness or pompously brilliant You Love Us you can almost be transported back to the Clash-inspired and politically-charged days of 1992s debut full-length release Generation Terrorists, although you would miss the beautiful video package of eyeliner, leopard print and spray paint which still prompts a reaction from sections of the crowd when Richey’s image makes an appearance. Some of the bands bigger singles, such as Tsunami, You Stole the Sun From My Heart and If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next are still met with audience participation.Β  Never a band to indulge in the encore, while everyone else takes a breather James Dean Bradfield (vocals/lead guitar) mellows the tone with acoustic renditions of Faster and Kevin Carter. The real treats of the evening, I would argue, came in the form of two songs the band have not played in some time and one they have never played live before. 4 Ever Delayed was recorded for the band’s Greatest Hits but was then never included. It has not been played live in over 10 years. Also dusted off was Let Robeson Sing, written about blacklisted black American singer, actor, athlete and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson. The biggest surprise of the evening by far was the inclusion of the instrumental Horses Under Starlight, released as a b-side of Kevin Carter in 1996 andΒ whichΒ had previously never made the set list before.

Once a band that loudly made waves with youthful ambition, unwavering self-belief and a tendency to challenge the status quo, many years have passed since those days of spray-painted-shirts, feather boas and balaclavas on Top of the Pops. The four-piece became a three piece and they matured. No longer driven by the desire to escape,Β they explored, they expanded, they took risks. They followed their hearts. And now, where the iconic figure of Richey Edwards once stood are three touring musicians bringing yet another dimension to their live experience.Β  While I’m sure there are still small pockets of fans who are uncomfortable with it, it is simply fact, in my humble opinion, that tracks such as No Surface, All Feeling have never sounded so vast and with an additional guitarist, tracks like You Love Us and Slash N Burn finally have that layered, meaty sound they so deserve.

After tiring that This is my Truth cassette and learning Everything Must Go inside out, I still remember my teenage self buying and playing Generation Terrorists for the very first time.Β β€œWhere was this all my life?”, I wondered. How could it have taken me so long to familiarise myself with the history of this band? The Holy Bible, no pun intended, became my bible. I played it on a loop, I read the lyrics, I re-read the lyrics, I sought to understand everything about the album, aboutΒ itsΒ influences, about its subject matter, about the tortured nature ofΒ itsΒ principal creator. I carved embarrassing Richey-inspired scribblings as well as his lyrics into notebooks and school books and I listened to The Manic Street Preachers for comfort. Lots of children and teenagers struggle mentally and emotionally and a record like The Holy Bible was a comfort because not all children and teenagers realise that the way they feel is the way lots of adults feel also. I truly believe that knowledge would help so many.

Today The Manics are a very different band, for better or worse, and it’s easy to criticise. They may not be young, they may no longer feel outcast and they may not necessarily be driven by all of the things they once were. What The Manics are however are professional. They still apply their craft with care and precision, their passion is still evident, and they have shown an ability to roll with the punches, to adapt and to survive. For any new fans,Β they showcase their new material with a beaming pride and for those who have followed them for a longer time, they are loyal and aim to please all, varying their set with a wonderful balance and understanding. This tour will excite a lot of fans, especially if news of their setlist reaches them before they attend.

32 years together as a band is an unattainable goal for so many. Time can ravage a band. The Manic Street Preachers have entered what could perhaps be the twilight years of their sparkling career but the boys from Blackwood have entered this chapter with unshakable grace and dignity. The Resistance is Futile tour is, just like many prior landmarks in their history, a defiant statement not to surrender.

Setlist

International Blue
You Stole the Sun from my Heart
No Surface, All Feeling
Distant Colours
Your Love Alone is Not Enough
4 Ever Delayed
Dylan and Caitlin
Motorcycle Emptiness
Slash β€˜n Burn
Liverpool Revisited
Horses Under Starlight
Ocean Spray
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Faster (acoustic)
Kevin Carter (acoustic)
You Love Us
Walk Me to the Bridge
Hold Me Like a Heaven
Tsunami
Let Robeson Sing
People Give In
Show Me the Wonder
Design for Life

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THERAPY? | 29.03.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

THERAPY? | 29.03.18 | Newcastle O2 Academy

Therapy? – 29th March 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy – Review and photos

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

I’m not going to lie, I am rather biased about this band as we go way back! I have nothing but good memories and experiences with them. I’m amazed that I got any photos at all as I was just grinning like an idiot and singing my heart out in the photo pit for most of the 3 song allocation!!

The band were on top form even before they came on stage I could see Michael McKeegan in the wings having a bit of a dance to the Clutch song playing over the speakers!

This tour they are opening for none other than The Stranglers and they seem genuinely absolutely stoked to have been asked as Andy Cairns thanks them numerous times through the set.

AND what a set they deliver. Thirteen songs in 45 minutes. Digging into the back cataloge as far back as Innocent X and even Potato Junkie. Then right through to newer songs like Tides and Callow. All the big guns were on show Teethgrinder, Stories, Screamager, Nowhere, Die Laughing and their beloved Joy Division cover; Isolation. Which kept the crowds attention much more than your average opening act. My highlight though was Turn with Neil Coopers drumming absolutely smashing it! A dark menacing song on record and even more so live.

Throughout the set Andy speaks of the bands ties to Newcastle, especially to Blast Studios where they have recorded their last few albums so it was really nice to hear them dedicate a tune to the late Eric Cook who sadly passed away a year ago (Therapy? also came over and played a memorial show at The Cluny not long after his passing)

I turned to a friend whilst watching and stated “I still get so f**king excited about this band ” and in a nutshell that’s what all bands should really be aiming for, isn’t it? I can’t wait for the new album that they have just finished recording and hope another round of live shows is on the cards.

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TINY MOVING PARTS | 09.04.18 | Think Tank Newcastle

TINY MOVING PARTS | 09.04.18 | Think Tank Newcastle

Tiny Moving Parts – 9th April 2018 – Think Tank Newcastle – Review and photos

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

Firstly, my apologies to bass guitarist Matthew Chevalier, as there are so few photos of him. However that’s because the gig was so well attended that I couldn’t get near his side of the stage for dancing and singing fans. So I guess no photos is probably the last thing on his mind in those circumstances!!

Tiny Moving Parts - April 2018 - Think Tank Newcastle
Tiny Moving Parts – April 2018 – Think Tank Newcastle

Tiny Moving Parts are a family affair with Matthew and brother William (drums) and cousin Dylan Mattheisen on guitar and lead vocals. They are described online as “emo revival ” but there’s much more to that in my opinion. There are catchy pop-punk sing-alongs, insane guitar runs that some math-rock bands would be proud of and more!

It’s hard to believe they’ve been together 10 years now they still look so young and fresh-faced (Dylan has to be the most smiling happy looking frontman I’ve seen in years) but their latest album Swell (Triple Crown Records ) is their 6th!!!

Like a lot of bands in this scene, their fans absolutely love them and there’s a great rapport between band and crowd from start to finish and the band head straight to the merch table after the last note has faded to hang out with them like long-standing mates!! I’m quite new to these guys having only caught them opening for Fall of Troy a little while back but they impressed me then and even more so tonight! Definitely gonna be hunting down that back catalogue.

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