Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Smiths Indeed - The Stables

An evening of pure nostalgia and skilful reminiscence that took me back 25 years !

The second half saw lots of old fans favourites starting off with 'William,It was Really Nothing', 'Heaven Knows i'm Miserable Now' and 'Panic'. This brought the crowd to their feet who were dancing in the aisles.
In true Morrissey style there was plenty of flower waving and shredding. Morrissey's passion for flowers probably stemmed from Oscar Wilde's love of flowers. The Smiths always had Chrysanthemums and Gladiolas so Morrissey could pass them out at gigs and wave them about.
Other great songs such as, 'Girlfriend in a Coma', 'How Soon is Now', Reel around the Fountain and my personal favourite 'Hand in Glove' were among those to follow. By this time the crowd was really in full swing with everyone up on their feet.
A wonderful encoure featured 'Bigmouth Strikes again', Shoplifters of the World Unite before finishing with the amazing and epic 'There is a Light that never goes out' which was brilliant.

The Smiths Indeed is a tribute band dedicated to The Smiths. The band is from Liverpool in the North West of England and was formed in 2005.

I'm not a fan of tribute bands as I have said before unless they are highly recommended. However given the fact that I never got to see The Smiths in their heyday and the chances of Morrissey and Marr ever getting back together being slim to non existent; this was a chance not to be missed.

After an afternoons Christmas shopping at Milton Keynes it was a welcome relief to sit down at The Stables with a medicinal pint of Guinness. The great thing about the venue is you get a proper glass and can take into the auditorium. On the negative side they have a strict 'no photography' policy which is annoying. Although as you will see using great cunning and stealth risking fear of ejection I managed to sneak a few pics.

The first half of the set celebrated 25 years of the classic album from 1985 Meat is Murder and it was covered in its entirity.

1. The Headmaster Ritual
2. Rusholme Ruffians
3. I Want the One I Can't Have
4. What She Said
5. The Joke isn't Funny Anymore
6. Nowhere Fast
7. Well I Wonder
8. Barbarism Begins at Home
9. Meat Is Murder

It was the second album released and the only Smiths album to reach number one in the album charts. Strangely the only single released was 'I Want the One I Can't Have' which reached the dizzy heights of 49 in the UK charts..

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tarot - Charleroi with Ethernity & The Man Eating Tree

'Wakka and friends with Marco after the gig.

It was fantastic that within minutes of the gig ending all the band came out into the bar area to sign autographs and pose for pictures. I have to say they really were all top guys and it's things like this that set most metal bands apart.

With Tommi

With Zac

With Marco

The sign off from a fantastic performance


'Brothers Hietala'

Tarot are a heavy metal band from Finland in the finest sense!
Originally formed by the Hietala brothers (Zac & Marco) in the early 80's. Back then the band’s name was called “Purgatory”. As Purgatory reached the point when they got the record deal, the label wanted them to change their name. Since then the band has been known as Tarot. The line-up settled in to the form of Marco Hietala (bass/vocals), Zachary Hietala (guitars), Mako H (guitars) and Pecu Cinnari (drums).
After the second album there was a hiatus in the band. During this “vacation” the line-up changed a little bit and a keyboardist was added to the band as Janne Tolsa joined Tarot and replaced the second guitarist Mako H.
Tarot gained new success in recent years when singer and bassist Marco Hietala joined Nightwish in 2002.

They delivered a full out metal extravaganza and sent the small but enthusiastic crowd wild!!As you would expect several tracks from their new album released in March 2010, entitled "Gravity of Light" were given an airing. Including 'I walk Forever' and 'Satan is Dead.'Mixed with classics such as 'Crows Fly Black' and 'Veteran of the Psychic Wars'
Marco was in his element as frontman and storyteller whilst Zac was monumental with his guitar playing. Pure power and agression backed up by the loudest drums i've heard in some time. Tommi also supplied vocal power in what was truly a memorable performance.
It seemed strange in these days of the UK smoking ban to see all the band smoking on stage! Maybe why the tour does not include UK dates ??

Full Set List

Sleep in the Dark
I Walk Forever
Satan is Dead
Crows Fly Black
Calling Down the Rain
Hell Knows
Veteran of the Psychic Wars
Pyre of the Gods
Rider of the Lst Day


Marco in full cry.

Next up were The Man Eating Tree a new atmospheric metal band featuring former Sentenced drummer Vesa Ranta alongside current/former members of Poisonblack Reflexion and Embraze.
The Man Eating Tree released its debut album, "Vine", in Finland on September 22 via Cobra Records and in other territories through Century Media Records.

The Man Eating Tree is:

Tuomas Tuominen (ex-Fall of the leafe) - Vocals
Janne Markus (Poisonblack) - Guitar
Mikko Uusimaa (Reflexion) - Bass
Heidi Määttä (ex-Embraze) - Keyboards
Vesa Ranta (ex-Sentenced) - Drums

It was a good enough performance and Tuomas put his heart and soul into it but it felt as though something was missing as far as I was concerned. Can't quite put my finger on it really?

A surprise was the T.M.E.T rendition of 'A Whiter shade of Pale' the Moody Blues classic which I have to say was very well done.

Tuomas Tuominen- T.M.E.T Frontman

It was surprising to arrive at the venue and not find crowds of fans outside?
Sadly the gig was not that well supported and was less than half full I guess.
Surprisingly there appeared to be two support bands lined up.

First band on where Ethernity a Progressive Power Metal band from Belgium founded in 2000 by Julien Spreutels (keyboards) and Nicolas Spreutels (drums). Some friends quickly joined the two brothers: Steve Widart and Thomas Henry on guitars and their cousin, François Spreutels on bass.

It took 4 years of searching to find the voice that fitted the band through Julie Colin.

In 2006, Ethernity recorded their debut album "The Journey". December 2006. In early 2007, Ethernity decided to part ways with Steve and welcomed Gregory Discenza as new lead guitarist.

In 2008, Ethernity recorded an EP/demo titled "Quest Of Forgiveness" studio. It helped to give the public an idea about the evolution of the band before recording a second album.
In 2009, Ethernity worked on finalizing the writing of the next album, still untitled.

Ethernity’s music can now be described as metal with a combination of dark and aggressive moments, gentleness, progressive and classical elements, catchy choruses, where melody excel above everything else. This mix has often allowed them to touch both the metal fans of all styles.

I was impressed with the Ethernity set and purchased the 'Quest of Forgiveness CD which all the band signed.

Definitely a band worth following for sure.

Julie Colin - Ethernity

Charleroi is notorious for violent crime.In March 2010, Geneviève Denisty, a Charleroi civil judge, in a court ruling, advised that a businessman living in Charleroi - who had been robbed several times at gunpoint - had provoked the robberies, as one must not "provide an ostentatious display of one's wealth in a poor and damaged region like Charleroi". Marc Dutroux, nicknamed "The Monster from Charleroi" actually lived in Marcinelle a municipality within the Charleroi borders.
The 'Coliseum' was conveniently located within the heart of the Red Light district. I did a trial run when we arrived mid afternoon and was propositioned at least four times!!. So it was with some trepidation that Trevor and I set off from our hotel under the cover of darkness...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Delain - Utrecht - with Kingfisher Sky & Stream of Passion

It was a tremendous ending to the April Rain Tour and a fitting farewell to Ewout who I wish all the luck for the future. It was great to meet all the band afterwards at the 'Afterparty'. Can't wait until next March with the new album and UK Tour which I already have tickets for.

Full Set List

Stay Forever
April Rain
Go Away
Day for Ghost (Feat George)
Come Closer
Start Swimming (Feat Ivar)
The Gathering
Sleepwalkers Dream
Control the Storm
Silhouette of a Dancer

Virtue & Vice/Nothing Left/Pristine

Charly and Ewout - Wonder what they were saying ..??

Charly and special guest George Oosthoek , what a character!

Otto 'Mr Cool'

Ewout and special guest Ivar De Graf showing what an accomplished guitar player he is as well as the drums.

Ewout -His last Delain gig and he played like a Demon

Charly - Getting the crowd going, not that they needed it !

The crowd at Tivoli Utrecht - Marina and me are about 3 back centre stage. Great atmosphere and super venue.

Stream of Passion released their debut album "Embrace the Storm" in 2005, and immediately gained the attention of female- fronted metal fans all over the globe with their unique sound. In 2009 they released 'The Flame Within.
Led by the voice and violin of Mexican-born Marcela Bovio, the new band line-up consists of talented and passionate Dutch musicians Johan van Stratum (bass guitar), Martijn Peters (drums), Jeffrey Revet (keyboards), Eric Hazebroek (guitars) and Stephan Schultz (lead guitar).
They certainly delivered a powerful and impressive set!

Kingfisher Sky area Dutch gothic/progressive rock band. Ivar de Graaf (Drums) left Within Temptation in 2001 to pursue his own musical interests and formed KS. There are many wide ranging musical influences including Kate Bush and Porcupine Tree.
The first album Hallway of Dreams was recorded in 2007 and released in October of the same year. Since then the band has completed numerous shows in the Netherlands both as headliner and support for related bands including Epica.
Kingfisher Sky also have classical cellist Maaike Peterse as a permanent band member after starting as a guest musician.
Trevor has been singing the praises of KS for some time to me and I loved their set. So much variety and diversity in the songs. Now I really must invest in the new album 'Skin of the Earth' released September 2010.

Kingfisher Sky

With 'Charly' after the gig during the 'Afterparty'

The chance of seeing Delain at Tivoli, Utrecht last Friday for the last gig of the April Rain tour was to much to resist. Particularly as it was to be guitarist Ewout Pieters last gig so mixed feelings.
It was lovely to take Marina as well as she was desperate to see them.
The train station at Utrecht was surprisingly massive , bigger than Amsterdam and took a while to navigate the way out.
Thankfully I met a guy in the toilets in a Metallica T shirt , and although I don't make a habit of talking to strangers in male toilets I asked him directions. Luckily he was on the way as well but being from Rotterdam he was following directions from a piece of paper.
It was a bout a 20 minute hike to the venue give or take a couple of wrong turns. The queue was already forming and who should be there but my travelling gig buddy Trevor from Colchester. It was a really early start with Kingfisher Sky on first at 18:20 according to the schedule.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Lacuna Coil - Northampton Roadmender

It was great to meet all the band after the gig who were great. Special praise has to go to Criz the drummer who is simply the nicest guy i've met in Rock !!
It was great to chat about Italy, life on the road, music and cigars. He very kindly even gave me some of his favourite Italian brand which i will save for Christmas!
Thanks for your time Criz hope to catch up again sometime and have a great trip to play in India.

Andrea - Dual Lead Vocalist

Cristina Scabbia

The Lacuna (Which means 'empty spiral' in Italian)started off with 'Underdog' followed by 'Im Not Afraid'. The crowd soon got into their stride and responded brilliantly to create a fantastic atmosphere.
The set list contained personal favourites such as 'Heavens a Lie', 'Swamped' and 'closer' as well a brilliant cover of the Depeche Mode hit 'Enjoy the Silence' which worked really well.

Full Set List

I'm not afraid
Fragments of faith
What I see
The Secret
I won't tell you
Heavens a lie
To the edge
Enjoy the silence
Cold heritage
The game
Our truth

Lacuna Coil were formed in 1994 in Milan. They are slightly unusual in having contrasting dual female/male vocal singers to help create a melodic, detached sound. Much of the band's recent material, however, sees a heavier and more down-tuned style, featuring a more distinct bass line and a higher mixing of the guitars.

First band on were London based band Slaves to Gravity. They made a good noise and are heading in the right direction for sure. In fact they will be supporting Alter Bridge on the UK leg of their upcoming tour. Thanks for the Jagermeister lads after the gig !!

I still had to pinch myself that a band I had wanted to see for a long time were playing in my home town Northampton.
I'm afraid to have to say that Northampton is something of a Rock wilderness. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of bands I have seen locally so this was an all to rare treat for me. It made a welcome change from travelling all over the UK and indeed Europe for my musical fix.

I managed to get away early from worlk and decided to call past the Roadmender just to see who was about?
Not only did I bump into an old mate of mine I also met Cristina Scabbia lead vocalist and face of LC. She had just been shopping in the Town centre which didn't measure up too well against her home town of Milan. Unless you happen to like Charity shops and Poundstretchers!!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Within Temptation Fans Day

Our Farewell




Sharon and Martijn

Towards the end of the afternoon came the highlight of the day that we had all been waiting for - the concert.
After a slightly false start the intro music fired up and WT burst on stage with 'See Who I Am' followed by 'The Howling' just brilliant !! Next to come was my personal favourite 'The Cross'. This was a real selection of fans favourites for sure. A real treat was in store when the most voted for song on the fan site 'Jane Doe' was played. Robert joked that he didn't know if his throat could take the growls any more ?
A brilliant set finished with 'Deceiver of Fools' and 'Ice Queen' despite Robert teasing the audience by saying they were bored with IQ and wouldn't be doing it....never!!

Full Set List

See Who I Am
The Howling
Stand My Ground
Our Solemn Hour
Jane Doe
Mother Earth

Deceiver Of Fools
Ice Queen

It was a truly unforgettable day - My thanks go to Within Temptation you Rock! The excellent organisation from Diny and friends at The Silent Force and finally to Trevor for getting us there and back safely !

The Fans day had many other things going on before the concert. All of which was brilliantly hosted by the one and only Ivar De Graaf in his own hilarious and chaotic way.
Ivar was the original drummer for Within Temptation before leaving to form his own band Kingfisher Sky. I will be seeing KS in a few weeks as they are supporting Delain in Utrecht. If he ever decides to give up drumming he certainly should consider a career as a quizmaster or maybe not?
As well as the quiz (Congratulations to Team Sharon) we also had lots of clips of previous of previous fan days from years gone by. Also there was the opportunity to listen to extracts from some of the songs that will be on the new album due for release early next year. I have to say I think it is going to be epic judging fom the snippets I listened to.
Finally we had the raffle where Ivar was joined on stage by Martijn to form a double act to rival 'Laurel & Hardy'. Lots of goodies were given away including some special creative packs hastily put together by Ivar. These included 'My Favourite Scarf' so Stephen was not forgotten either.

'Mr Compere' Ivar De Graaf

With Sharon.

With Martijn

With Robert.

With Ruud Jolie - Hope he likes the Sloe Gin!

Fans gather ahead of the opening welcome as I look down from the VIP balcony.

The 5th annual Within Temptation Fanclub Day (The Silent Force)was held on October 10, 2010. It took place at the Waerdse Tempel in Heerhugowaard (NL).
Myself and Trevor made the long trip from the UK over to Alkmaar using a combination of 6 different trains including the Eurostar.
Thanks to the brain power of Trevor who won a competition we had VIP tickets for the day including a 'meet and greet' with the band.
The doors opened around 10:30 and we were given the VIP passes and felt very priviliged as we were ushered into a seperate room and awaited the arrival of the band.

As they arrived I think we all froze for a few seconds! Until Robert called everyone forward. I have to admit I did feel nervous which was ridiculous because they were absolutely wonderful and a delight to meet.
I had taken a few photos from the Antwerp gig as well as a CD cover which I was hoping to get signed. First up was Robert , who I reminded that we had spoken briefly in Antwerp. He thanked me again for coming and we chatted about the new album. Then it was the turn of Jeroen who was very chatty and not like I had expected really. He did say that he likes to blend in the background and keep something of a low profile.
I had taken a special gift for Ruud as I am a huge fan of his guitar style. However I did ask him a bit of a daft question... Do you dink alcohol? Of course the answer was yes , so I presented him with a Cello shaped bottle of my home made Sloe Gin. I think he was a little surprised as Sharon usually gets the presents. I noticed he was hanging on to it and I hope he enjoys !!
I then spoke to Martijn who was actually bigger than me which I was surprised about as I am over 6ft !! He said that nobody kicks sand in his face anymore..
Then I met Sharon who not surprisingly was highly in demand. She was as lovely as I imagined and very patient signing so many things for the fans. In fact she almost had to be dragged away once the session was over.