Sunday, 29 April 2012

Nightwish - Rockhal Luxembourg 21/4/12

So to the final leg of my mini Nightwish tour and a very early start was called for. A 6AM flight from Birmingham to Amsterdam. Then a connecting flight from Amsterdam to Luxembourg City where I caught a bus to the railway station and finally a train to Esch and the Avenue du Rock 'n Roll where the Rockhal is located - I liked that ! The great thing was the railway station, the venue and railway station were literally all next to each other - very handy. The Rockhal is a 6,500 arena and was packed.
Myself and Trevor, who organised the trip decided that we would try and get as close as possible this time. We arrived about 2PM and there were already around 50 people in the queue. So it was decided to grab some lunch and a beer and I admit it a sleep for a couple of hours. Refreshed we returned about 4 PM and the queue had start to grow considerably so in true English fashion we joined it. But it was bitter cold and somehow I resisted the temptation to sneak of back to the hotel leaving Trevor holding the place in the queue.
Once the doors opened and we got through the rugy scrum we managed to get about 3 rows off the barrier and it really added to the experience. I could feel thee full effect of the pyros and the heat did get pretty intense but everyone was well behaved and it was wonderful fun.
We were to the right of the stage with Emppu Vuorinen directly in front playing his Imaginaerm themed Washburn guitar.
It was the Birthday of drummer Jukka Nevailanen so of course we all sang 'Happy Birthday' much to his embarassment. He received a few gifts including the cuddly Lion in the photo.
Without doubt this was the best of the 3 gigs that I have attended and the atmosphere was electric. I can't finish this write up without giving enormous admiration and credit to Tuomas Holopainen who is nothing short of a genius. This is symphonic metal on the grandest scale, with huge riffs, huge subjects, huge orchestras, huge choirs...huge everything. The variety of themes and music he constanly conjures up is staggering and borders at times on insanity and eccentricity.
It was nice to catch up with some French friends afterwards and also chat with 'Miss E' from Eklipse !

Nightwish - ISS Dome Dusseldorf 14/4/12

After the thrills and spills of Amsterdam it was time to board the tour bus and head for Germany ! Well actually it was the ICE Train but tour bus sounds much cooler... Unfortunately again I managed to cause some distress to the disabled. Finding all of the train toilets occupied I noticed a green light on the disabled toilets. I now know this button to be the emergency open release!!!! I'm not totally sure who was the most shocked ??? Thankfully it wasn't the chap from Amsterdam. I made a hasty retreat back to the train seat to a chorus of abuse and kept a very low profile therafter..... View of the ISS Dome from hotel room
The ISS dome has a capacity of 12,500 opened in 2006 and is mostly used for Ice Hockey. It must also have the most officious and ridiculous stewards worse than those witnessed at The Gabba Brisbane which takes some doing.
Yes, those stewards. There was no option but to be positioned in the block allocated awaste of time asking, fair enough can understand that. However when we decided to sit dowwn on the steps that banked backwards a good hour before the first band their attitude was crazy. They made everybody stand no sitting allowed despite there being nobody in a 10 meter radius at that time. When I queried and took therisk of being ejected I was told in broken English 'You have paid for a standing ticket so you must stand at all times' hilarious !! It got worse as the night progressed anyone who veered into the gangway aisle was chucked out - oh well only in Germany I suppose?
In fairness we stood with some lovely German people who I will keep in touch with and made the concert even more memorable. They held the same view of the stewards as I did which was re-assuring. I have to say that the concert was better than Amsterdam maybe because we were nearer to the front and standing and able to do some headbanging!
The set list was exactly the same as I expect it to be for all the shows due to the lights, pyros etc which are all programmed with the songs. It was fantastic to hear some classic old songs such as ; Planet Hell, Dead to the World and Come Cover me. It was also great to see Anette commanding the stage and looking so much more confident and powerful singing songs more suited to her style. Previously she has had the unenviable task of singing more operatic songs written for Tarja. As expected a lot of the set list was from the new releas 'Imaginaerum'; Storytime, Scaretale, Slow,Love,Slow, I want my Tears Back, The Crow, the Owl and the Dove, Ghost River, and in the encore Song of Myself and my personal favourite from the album 'Last Ridde of the Day. There was also time for a tribute to a hero of mine the late great Gary Moore with the cover of 'Over the Hills and Far Away' with Troy playing like a crazed demon.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Nightwish - Heineken Music Hall Amsterdam 13/4/12

It has been a long long wait to see Nightwish again too long. With no UK dates announced (yet) apart from the Download Festival it was time to get the Euros out and venture further afield. First stop was a wet and cloudy Amsterdam and in true Nightwish fashion I lost my umbrella again! Some things never change.....
Things didn't start too well in Amsterdam.... The previous night I was accosted by a 'beggar' in a mobility scooter who took great exception to me referring to him as a con man. What ensued was an embarassing chase through the main tourist area with me rapidly increasing my walking pace followed by a torrent of abuse along the lines 'I'm gonna kick your f**** white @rse! Which with hindsight would have been interesting considering his disability. Quote of the trip has to go to my wife who shouted 'keep running Peter, his battery will run out eventually' classic! He then with amazing dexterity pulled a crutch from over his shoulder and used it like a light sabre. However I had the last laugh taking a cunning detour down some steps. Only to my horror to see him coming around the corner ...... nightmare.
It was great to catch up with Tom, Ant and Trevor for a beer prior to the gig who took great delight in ribbing me about the previous nights incident. Anyway back to Nightwish and the Imaginaerum tour. The Tour started back in January in LA and runs through to mid October covering some 67 concerts. It is an open secret that some British dates will be added for the second half of the tour.
It was a wet and windy Heineken music Hall also known as the Black Box that greeted us. Thankfully although it was an hour before doors opened the queue was not so bad considering a 5,500 sell out.
German band Eklipse were the first on.They played mostly from their debut album 'A Night in Strings' Mostly they have taken established pop songs and turn them into a string quartet setting. The image is edgy, threatening, domineering but for me the music doesn't quite live up to the expectation and was tame. By comparison Apocalyptica take this kind of music to another harder compelling dimension. There is no doubt that the girls are talented and the songs beautifully performed but for me it was background music an easy listening experience. If you really want to hear Coldplay, Timberlake or Snow Patrol in a classical manner then you will be in your element!
Nitte Vallo of Battle Beast
Battle Beast were on next who I was very much looking forward to seeing as I know lead singer Nitte Vallo through Facebook. The website BIO sums up nicely - BATTLE BEAST represents the traditional Heavy Metal sound. Delivering crunching riffs, high screams, blistering solos and powerful choruses - in one word: Power. They very much reminded me of early Judas priest and I enjoyed their set immensely. Judging by the crowd reaction it wasn't just me either.
We decided to sit down for the first of the three gigs so we were some way back but still had a great view of ths stage show. Right from the start the pyros,fireworks and stunning light show were evident, backed by a massive graphics screen. ‘Storytime,’ off of the latest album ‘Imaginaerum' kicked off after the intro and the curtain exploded! They also performed other new songs such as the jazzy tune ‘Slow Love Slow,’ during which Annette donned a sleek 1940’s looking black, feathery fedora, but then sped things up with ‘I Want My Tears Back.’ Nightwish also performed fan favorites such as ‘Nemo,’(acoustic version), along with ‘Wish I Had an Angel,’ ‘The Islander’, 'Amaranth' and many others I shall talk about in later blogs. I must mention the contribution made by Troy Donockley (multi instrumentalist and master of the Uillean Pipes). Troy featured on seven of the tracks including the astonishing 'I want My Tears Back' which emerges into something like a heavy metal Riverdance.

Full Set list
  •  Taikatalvi
  •  Storytime
  • Wish I Had an Angel
  •  Amaranth
  • Scaretale
  • Slow, Love ,Slow
  • I Want My Tears Back (with Troy Donockley)
  • Come Cover Me (with Troy Donockley)
  • The Crow, the Owl and the Dove (with Troy Donockley)
  • The Islander (with Troy Donockley)
  • Nemo (with Troy Donockley)
  • Last of the Wilds (with Troy Donockley)
  • Planet Hell
  • Ghost River
  • Dead to the World
  • Over the Hills and Far Away (Gary Moore cover)
  • Finlandia (Jean Sibelius cover with Troy Donockley)
  • Song of Myself
  • Last Ride of the Day

Friday, 6 April 2012

Joe Bonamassa - Trent FM Arena

Full Set list

Intro 2 Minutes to Midnight (Iron Maiden)
  • Slow Train
  • Last Kiss
  • Midnight Blues (Gary Moore)
  • Dust Bowl
  • Who's been talking (Howlin Wolf)
  • Sloe Gin (Tim Curry)
  • The Ballad of John Henry
  • Lonesome Road blues
  • Song of Yesterday (Black Country Communion)
  • Steal your Heart away (Bobby Parker)
  • Blues Deluxe (Jeff Beck)
  • Young Man Blues
  • Woke up Dreaming
  • Django
  • Mountain Time


  • Driving toward Daylight
  • Just got paid (ZZ Top)

Outro Cheap Sunglasses (ZZ Top)

Joe with his guitars and stacks

This was a fantastic concert for sure and unfortunately will have to wait for about a year to see him again. But we have the new album in May to look forward to.

Apart from being a guitar maestro I was really impressed with the power and range of the vocals. This is definitely something that has improved over the years and maybe something that tends togo unnoticed. Talking about changes over the years it was only a few years ago that he was playing in front of 80 - 100 fans at venues not much bigger than pubs. Something that Joe spoke about to the crowd how he started out playing the Running Horse in Nottingham and steady progression sees him playing sold out arenas now.

This was actually a re-arranged concert from the original date in October 2011 when Joe cancelled due to flu. He joked with the crowd that someone spotted him having lunch and said 'you're the flu boy arent you?'
He was on good form and joked that he was releasing his 13th album in May this year and like the previous 12 didn't expect a hit from it.....

He did play the track 'Driving Toward Daylight' from the new album which in his best English accent he said had been described as 'A Corker'. I have to agree it sounded brilliant and I can't wait to hear the album.

The set continued with a mixture of some classic covers from the likes of Gary Moore, Howlin Wolf', Bobby Parker, The Who, Jeff Beck and ZZ Top. There was also a Black Country Communion track which is Joe's side project.

The highlights for me were the back to back tracks 'Sloe Gin' which is now an ever present and something of an anthem live and the pounding 'Ballad of John Henry' just superb!

Joes touring band is as follows:

Carmine Rojas - Bass
Tal Bergman - Drums
Rick Melick - Keyboards

All of whom have a 'who's who' CV of who they have played and toured with.

Performing 'Midnight Blues' (Gary Moore)

The show started with Iron Maiden's 2 Minutes to Midnight as an intro before bursting into 'Slow Train' from the latest 'Dust Bowl' album. The tile track itself appeared 2 tracks later. It really was like the master at work mixing power with sublety and i think that crowd were almost spellbound. His fingers were moving quicker than it is humanly possible to think!

JB has often stated his influences as being British and Irish blues acts, rather than American artists(with the exception of B.B. King). He found the English blues, played by the Jeff Beck Group, Eric Clapton,Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and the Irish blues players Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore, to be far more interesting to him than the original Delta blues players. In an interview in Guitarist magazine (issue 265), he cited the three albums that had the biggest influence on his playing: John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton (the Beano album), Rory Gallagher's Irish Tour and Goodbye by Cream. B.B king is certainly his biggest traditional influence

And in his October 2008 interview with Express & Star:

“When I heard Kossoff playing "Mr. Big" and when I heard Clapton playing "Crossroads" and when I heard Rory Gallagher playing "Cradle Rock", I was like, 'This is way cooler'.... "British blues are my thing. When I heard Rod Stewart and the Jeff Beck Group singing "Let Me Love You", it changed my life. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Those are my influences".

A child prodigy, Bonamassa was finessing Stevie Ray Vaughan riffs when he was seven and by the time he was ten, had caught B.B. King’s ear. After first hearing him play, King said, “This kid’s potential is unbelievable. He hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface. He’s one of a kind.” By age 12, Bonamassa was opening shows for the blues icon and went on to tour with classic acts including Buddy Guy, Foreigner, Robert Cray, Stephen Stills, Joe Cocker and Gregg Allman.

You may be familiar with the music video game 'Guitar Hero' well here was a real live one! Every so often a superstar emerges in their field, who people talk about long after they have retired. I'm thinking of someone like Donald Bradman in cricket or Pele in football. It might be a bit early to start mentioning JB in those legendary terms just yet but there is no doubt this guy is a guitar genius.