Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Live Bands 2009 - Mediaeval Babes Birmingham Cathedral 21/12

Emily & Bev

Ummmmm Mulled Wine...


Esther & Katherine

Bev Lee Harling

'The cat the got the cream'

I had got to hear about the Mediaeval Babes through Emily Ovenden (Pythia, Celtic Legend). This was my first opportunity to witness in the flesh , or so to speak

The Babes sing in Middle English, Medieval Latin and Spanish, which made for an incredibly diverse evening.

This was the second time that they had played inside Birmingham's historic cathedral, which made for a perfect setting. As it was just before Christmas the atmosphere was just right for a rich variety of medieval songs and poetry. The lyrics are taken from medieval texts and setting them to original scores using medieval and classical instruments.

The Babes delivered a two hour set split by a twenty minute interval. During which time I managed to knock back a couple of large glasses of Mulled Wine and a Red wine when the Mulled had run dry. Oh and yes I did put a donation into the collecting plate !
For some reason I have to say I enjoyed the ' second half' a little more .......

Classics such as Undrentide, Kinderly and Sunrise all went down well. Along with a few tracks from the latest album 'Illumination'
Other tracks included The Blacksmiths and Desert Rose which got the audience clapping along.

All of the Babes contribute something a little different and gel together beautifully.

My only slight complaint (apart from Mulled Wine running out) was that more Christmas themed songs were not performed. Particularly something like Gaudette which would have fitted perfectly .

The Babes are as follows:

  • Esther Dee
  • Emily Ovenden
  • Sarah Kayte Foster
  • Bev Lee Harling
  • Melpomeni
  • Katherine Blake (Founder)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Live Bands 2009 - Delain/Sonata Arctica JB's Dudley 6/12

Tony Kakko - Sonata Arctica

Marko - Sonata Arctica




Charlotte - Awesome

Ewout Pieters

Ewout & Charlotte

Charlotte Wessells

Another new venue for me and two bands that i'd never seen live before. It promised to be an interesting experience.
I had only recently become aware of Delain. It seemed to be a case that whenever I spoke to rock fans at gigs about favourite bands they would all say 'have you heard Delain, really good band'. So I checked our some tracks from the first album Lucidity and the recently released April Rain.
I have to day the first impression was fantastic , I loved all the tracks and Charlotte Wessells has a fantastic voice. On several of the tracks she is backed by Marco from Nightwish which gives a wonderful contrast of grace and power.
Judging by this performance Delain will not be a support act for too much longer. Unfortunately they were restricted to a 35 minute slot. The only disappointment being the non inclusion of April Rain for whatever reason. I have since spoken to new guitarist Ewout Pieters who admitted that he to was surprised that it was not on the set list. However he did say that it would next time definitely.

It was obvious from looking at the audience that many had come just to see Delain. They put on a wonderful show in the limited time available, 'Invidia', 'The Gathering' and Stay Forever' being my personal highlights. I can't wait to see Delain again, unfortunately that won't be until 2011 as i'm on holiday in March when they tour again. Then they will be in the process of writing the new album.

I had no idea what to expect from Sonata Arctica? Yes they were Finnish and a lot of Nightwish fans followed them so that was hopeful. I new virtually none of the songs which from my experience is never good at a gig.
I need not have worried Sonata Arctica were awesome. Front man Tony Kakko has a marvellously distinctive voice that I really liked. Tracks such as 'Flag in the Ground', 'Full Moon' and 'don't say a Word' really felt like i'd known them for years. Another highlight had to be the amazing duet between Tony and Charlotte and the beautiful 'Last Drop Falls'- Just amazing.

Since the gig Sonata Arctica must be the most played band on my Ipod as i've caught up with their back catalogue. A great band with a loyal following and can't wait to see them again.

Set List
  • Intro Everything Fades to Gray
  • Flag int the Ground
  • Paid in Full
  • Caleb
  • The Last Amazing Grays
  • As if the World Wasn't ending
  • Full Moon
  • Last Drop Falls - Duet with Charlotte Wessells
  • Juliet
  • Keyboard/Guitar solos
  • Replica
  • 8th Commandment
  • We will Rock You ( Queen Cover)
  • In Black and White
  • Don't say a Word
  • Vodka (Hava Nagila)
  • Outro Everything Fades to Gray

Monday, 25 January 2010

Live Bands 2009 - Dragonforce Wolverhampton 26/11

Joakim Brodén - Sabaton

Herman & Sam

Guitar Genius Herman Li

ZP Theart

The rumour going around was that this was to be the last Dragonforce tour for a while. With the band taking a break in 2010 after constant touring for the last few years.
That being the case there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity! It is strange Dragonforce are one of those bands that i've never got that involved with. Not that I dislike the music, far from it in fact. Just that for whatever reason I had never got round to seeing them live.
Even more so considering I met Drummer Dave Mackintosh some years back at a Drumfest in Northampton where he was performing. He was brilliant to talk to and I have followed his progress mainly through things like Facebook .

Before Dragonforce it was Sabaton from Sweden. It seemed that they already had a few fans in the audience judging by the Tshirts. I have to say i really enjoyed their set. Charisimatic lead singer Jaochim
Broden got the crowd going and the place was rocking early. Many of the songs contain lyrics based on historic wars. Overall I was impressed a really good support band.

Then it was time for Dragonforce - I kind of new what to expect, but multiply it by a hundred and you are nearer !! Formed in 1999. They are known for fast guitar solos, fantasy-based lyrics, and electronic sounds in their music to add to their retro video game influenced sound.
They performed an extremely powerful set based on the twin lead guitarists and a thumping bass. I have to say that for me Herman Li steals the show. I found the constant posturing and facial expressions from the other guitarist Sam Totman a bit tiresome after a while though. Singer ZP Theart has a great voice and enjoyed winding up the crowd. Another gig that I really enjoyed. Set List
  • Heroes Of Our Time
  • Operation Ground and Pound
  • Reasons to Live
  • Fury of the Storm
  • The Warrior Inside
  • Keyboard Solo
  • Revolution Deathsquad
  • Soldiers of the Wasteland
  • The Last Journey Home
  • Valley of the Damned
  • Through the Fire and Flames

Live Bands 2009 - Magnum Leamington Spa 7/11

'The Legend'Bob Catley

Another 'Legend' Tony Clarkin

A superb turnout at The Assembly for a show by the much loved midlands classic rock band Magnum now into their forth decade of making great music

The support band for the evening was the very impressive Cambridge based progressive metal band Awake bringing their full on wall of sound and hi-energy show to a responsive crowd.

After 30 years of performing Magnum have a wealth of material from which to form a set list.
The set included a large selection from the new Album 'Into the Valley of the Moonking' with the atmospheric intro tape leading into the opening track 'Cry to Yourself' followed by the outstanding rocker from the album 'Take me to the Edge'. The band performed six tracks in total from 'Moonking' including the power ballad 'A Face in the Crowd' and of course the epic 'Moon King'.

Stand out tracks from the main set included the anti war classic 'Les Morts Dansant' from the classic 'On a Storytellers Night ' album. Dragons are Real from 2007 and the 'Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow' album. As well as the classic pulsating encore of 'Kingdom of Madness'. Along with a ten minute version of 'Don't wake the Lion.

The whole band were on great form with Bob Catley taking command of centre stage. The amazingly talented guitarist and songwriter Tony Clarkin on one side and basist Al Barrow on the other.
On keyboards was the Magnum veteran Mark Stanway and one of rocks great characters ex-Thunder drummer Harry James.

Great venue, excellent sound and lighting and the Midlands crowd all went home happy .I don't think there will ever be a time when it as anything different.

Set List:
  • Cry to Yourself
  • Take me to the Edge
  • Brand New Morning
  • The Moonking
  • When we were Younger
  • No one knows his Name
  • Dragons are Real
  • A Face in the Crowd
  • We all Run
  • Les Morts Dansant
  • All my Bridges
  • AllEnglands Eyes
  • Vigilante
  • Don't wake the Lion
  • Kingdom of Madness

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Live Bands 2009 - Tarja Islington Academy 19/10

Tarja Encore

A Tarja Tinkle

Tarja Turunen

Having never seen Tarja when she was with Nightwish I was keen to catch her on the last night of what has been a massive tour.
My wife is a big Tarja fan so the London trip was organised.

Tarja was backed by superb musicians who played some excellent solos to cover for a few costume changes. Tarja was in great form and full of energy and looked great. At the end of the gig she was very emotional and full of gratitude for everyone including the fans who had supported her.
Unfortunately the Islington Academy would not be a venue I would rush back to as the sound was very poor.
Set List
  • My Little Phoenix
  • Enough
  • Minor Heaven
  • Lost Northern Star
  • Sing For Me
  • Cairen's Wall
  • The Seer
  • Tired Of Being Alone
  • Damned & Divine
  • medley- Wisdom Of Wind/Our Great Divide/Boy & The Ghost/Calling Grace
  • If You Believe
  • Oasis
  • I Walk Alone
  • Die Alive
  • Nemo
  • She Is My Sin
  • Poison
  • Deep Silent Complete
Please note this may not be the correct running order?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Live Bands 2009 - Pythia Norwich B2 4/10

PJA & Ross

PJA & Emily

Emily & Andy

Emily in full cry

I'm not entirely sure how I first heard about Pythia? I think it must have been a posting on the NW-UK Forum. Most likely from Tom Livermore who also seems to be ahead of the game when it comes to new bands. Anyway it matters not because after listing and watching the video to 'Sarah' (Bury Her) I was hooked. The debut album 'Beneath the Veiled Embrace' was released on 12th October 2009.
It has to go down as one of the best debut albums I have ever heard.

Pythia are fronted the multi talented
Mediaeval Babe, Emily Alice Ovenden. Backed with twin guitars of Ross White and Tim Neale moving from crunching riffs to power metal speed, topped off with a symphonic backing and Emily Alice's soaring soprano voice. Awesome!! I decided I had to see Pythia as soon as possible. I managed to combine the Norwich trip with a visit to Blakeney Point for some bird and seal watching before heading up coast to the gig. I think that originally there were four bands due to perform, but for whatever reason Apparition didn't show. The other bands Hand and Crimson Tears were ok but not really my thing. Pythia came on stage about 10.PM in full medieval costume. Emily immediately got the small crowd going by encouraging everyone to move closer down to the stage. I have to say it was a stunning performance in a small venue on a Sunday night in front of a small crowd. You have to give Pythia enormous credit because they had the option of pulling out due to poor tickets sales. But they decided to go with it and really rocked the place and gained a lot of new fans. I met all the band afterwards who were absolutely great. This is one band who have a massive future and deserve it.

Live Bands 2009 - Nightwish Hartwall Arena Helsinki 19/9

Amazing what you can buy at Helsinki Airport..

Me and Moomin..The NW-UK mascot.

Trevor outside the Hartwall Arena pre gig

As soon as the last tour date at the Hartwall Arena was announced I knew that I had to go come what may.
Quite a few of the NW-UK Fans showed interest initially but for varying reasons not too many travelled in the end.
I managed to book a cheap flight and a reasonably priced hotel that was close to the Hartwall Arena but outside of Helsinki.
It was a real 'whistle stop' trip with me arriving on the Saturday afternoon and then flying home on the Sunday lunchtime. Sadly no time for any major sightseeing.
It was good to meet up with Trevor from the NW forum at the hotel. After a couple of beers (6 Euros !!!) we walked to the Hartwall Arena. It only took about 20 minutes and there was already many fans gathering despite being a couple of hours before the doors opened.

Apocalyptica were the support band didn't know too much about them and hadn’t seen them live before. I am so glad that I got the chance . They gave 100% on stage and playing songs from Metallica, Sepultura and even from Edward Grieg. Definitely a great performance and I would love to see them again.

Going to a Nightwish concert is an amazing experience that can’t be compared to any other. Also I must add that the pyrotechnical side was very good – fire works, falling “waterfall”, snowflakes it had everything.
Anette was in fantastic voice and full of energy and owned the stage . She really has grown into the role and was clearly having a fantastic time. She deserves so much credit because she had the massive task of taking over from Tarja Turunen. Completely different in style she gives Nightwish a completely new dimension and is a joy to watch.
The boys played their instruments brilliantly as ever. And it was so good to see them so touched by their fan base. Just heartwarming.

The 11,000 sell out audience were as one by the time the band left to the wonderful outro of 'The Heart ask Pleasure First'. That Tuomas had re-written but sadly has not been granted permission as yet by Michael Nyman to release.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos as the Security staff were extremely over officious and banned any photo taking, well at least where I was!

Set List
  • Intro - Finlandia (w/ U.K. multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley)
  • 7 Days To The Wolves
  • Ever Dream
  • Wishmaster
  • Romanticide
  • Amaranth
  • The Siren (w/ Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto)
  • While Your Lips Are Still Red (w/ Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto)
  • Poet And The Pendulum
  • Nemo
  • Sahara
  • Dark Chest Of Wonders
  • The Islander
  • Walking In The Air (w/ U.K. multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley)
  • Last Of The Wilds (w/ U.K. multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley)
  • Meadows Of Heaven
  • Ghost Love Score
  • I Wish I Had An Angel
Outro – The Heart Asks Pleasure First

Friday, 22 January 2010

Live Bands 2009 - Nightwish Brixton Academy 11/3

PJA & Lovely Anette

The end of a fantastic gig. Tuomas, Anette & Jukka.

Anette in full glory!

Anette Olzon

Tuomas - Pure Genius

Marco - Awesome

Anette Olzon

PJA & Emppu

Jukka - Pulsating!

PJA & Tuomas

PJA & Marco

The NW-UK Fans and band before the Brixton gig.

This has to go down as the greatest gig i've ever had the privilige to attend.
This was my 3rd Nighwish gig -the others being in 2008 at the Astoria London and The Birmingham Academy.
For a start Nightwish are just the best as far as i'm concerned. Never has a band had such an inspirational effect on me. Right from the amazing lyrics from the genuis that is Tuomas Holopainen, to the amazing musicianship and epic stage performances - Truly awesome.
Secondly, I had a pass to meet the band before the gig....

This is the account of my day that I wrote for the Nighwish U-K Fanzine. Apologies I know it is a little long.

Its 09:10 at a draughty Northampton Railway Station and i've just missed the 9:05 to Euston;not the greatest of starts. Still only twenty minutes to wait for the next one , today nothing can spoil my day. I search the platforms (both of them) i'm expecting to see hordes of Nightwish fans just like me making the pilgrimage down to the capital to see their heroes. Alas I am on my own except for a daytrippers and city bankers- bet they've never even heard of Nightwish the poor things. Once in London I headed straight to Piccadilly Circus on the Tube, no apparent reason just felt like the right thing to do? Followed by a wander around Covent Garden and then to Soho. Before anyone gets the wrong idea I was off to Berwick St Market to check out the CD shops! Sadly there are very few still open now a sign of the times no doubt. The same could be said for that wonderful old watering hole 'The Intrepid Fox' in Wardour St which is all boarded up. I can remember going in there in the early nineties and seeing both Lemmy (Motorhead) and Lars Ulrich (Metallica) just sitting at the bar or playing the fruit machine- Happy days. Anyway enough of the nostalgia time to move on. I'm back on the tube and off way out west to Hammersmith. I'm meeting an old mate of mine for lunch. As soon as I get off the Tube I see a sign for Hammersmth Apollo and i'm immediately reminded of the time when it was the Hammersmith Odeon and seeing great gigs such as Iron Maiden Nov 5th somewhere in Time Tour 86, Def Leppard, Magnum and Black Sabbath. As well as a few cheeky ones beforehand in the White Swan. Apologies i'm going off down memory lane again. Why do venues have to change their name?? Lunch was washed down with 2 pints of Abbott Ale, very nice indeed. I still had those words of warning from Clare echoing round in my head 'anyone showing signs of drunkenness will not be allowed in'. Back on the Tube into the city, but not before I stopped off at my favourite 'corner shop' 'Harrods'. Apart from bursting to use their toilets I also like to check out the Hi-Fi and music departments. Finishing off with a wander through the aftershave section for a few free squirts of whatever is on offer from the 'not unattractive sales assistants'. Mid afternoon by now and time for a wander up Charing Cross Road and browse through the many book shops and record stores. Managed to pick up a few cheap CD's from an excellent record shop called Fopp. Just time for a swift pint of London Pride (well it would have been rude not too) before making my way by number 98 bus to Brixton at the second time of asking! Arrived at the Brixton Academy at six and was astonished to see the number of fans already queuing around the block. Decided that I should phone Clare and let her know i'd arrived safely and find out where to meet up. It was then when I had one of those horrible 'cold sweat' moments when I discovered that I hadn't stored Clares number in my mobile. I suddenly had awful visions of not seeing the band, I had no idea what Clare looked like. Suddenly help was at hand in the form of the Street Teamers and in particular a lovely lady from Ireland whose name escapes me. Clinging onto her for dear life we went off in search of Clare and Moomin of course. Soon found Clare and Moomin along with most of the other meet 'n' greeters. We had around 50 minutes to wait before we were to be allowed in to meet the band. The wait was horrendous, at least everyone else admitted to being as nervous as I was. Had my picture taken with Moomin , he's a right little poser for sure. We were all given guest passes and the time had come at last to go inside. By this time my legs had turned to jelly and I decided to hang back a bit and go last. So much for that plan, we then had to turn around and go up a flight of stairs and I suddenly found myself at the front of the queue!!. All I could think of was 'Keep calm down't make a fool of yourself now. The door opened and it was like walking into a dream, to actually meet all the band in those circumstances was totally unbelievable. I hadn't really prepared any questions I was just going to play it by ear and then get a few photos.The following is to the best of my memory how the conversations went and in the correct order. First was Emppu - I welcomed him back to London and said how much I was looking forward to the show. He just said it was great to be back and really exciting that London was the first gig after the break. Really friendly and posed for a picture. Jukka - He had been playing on-line Poker on his laptop so we had a chat about that. I asked him if he played roulette and he say no it's a a game of chance, speaking from bitter experience I had to agree. I then told him about the Northampton Drumfest and gave him an unofficial invite. Not surprisingly he hadn't heard of this prestigous event? Although I did explain that Dave Mackintosh from Dragonforce gave a demonstration last year. So busy chatting I forgot to get my photo taken! Marco - My confidence was growing by now and I asked him how long it had taken to grow that wonderful beard? He said that it had been since the year 2000. I explained that I started mine on New Years Day 2009 and still some way to go. Smashing chap and posed for a picture. Anette - Looked great back as a blonde and I told her so 'us blondes should stick together' and slightly regret it now with hindsight. I just wanted her to know how much love and support there was out there for her and everbody was behind her. I then asked her if she would be performing 'Sleeping Sun' a favourite of mine? She said she wasn't but had another very special song for me tonight. The way she said it made me feel as though it was just for me though. Looked stunning, really lovely and posed for a picture. Tuomas - By now I was very warm and had abandoned my jacket long ago. I would like to apologise in advance for my opening gambit to Tuomas. It went along the lines 'I bet your hot in that hat' I wish the floor had opened up and swallowed me! I think it's those piercing eyes that were mesmerising me to the point of gibberish. I did manage a reasonably quick follow up by asking if there were any surprises in store later? He assured me there were but would not be drawn understandably any further. I just felt as though I was in the presence of someone really special who had an aura about him. Happy to pose for a picture. All to soon it was time to leave them in peace and to get ready. My overriding thoughts? lovely people, no egos just friendly and down to Earth and a pleasure to meet! Thank You Nightwish for a day i'll never ever forget...

Set List
  • Intro & 7 Days to the Wolves
  • Dead to the World
  • The Siren
  • Amaranth
  • Romanticide
  • Dead Boy's Poem
  • The Poet and the Pendulum
  • Nemo
  • Sahara
  • The Islander
  • Escapist
  • Dark Chest of Wonder
  • Ghost Love Score
  • Wish I had an Angel