Volbeat @ Brixton Academy

26th September 2019

A night of heavyweight Hard Rock was ahead as vast swathes of revellers swelled the Brixton Academy bars early this evening. Why? Because it was almost time for Danko Jones.

Being first up didn’t seem to matter to Danko Jones, who was his usual chatty self who lives, breathes and eats rock and roll. The size of the crowd wasn’t a surprise, as after 20+ years, the band have built a loyal (if still mainly underground) following. To their credit, dwarfed by the huge stage they attacked each riff, shot every rapid fire lyric and fired every solo like they were headliners.

Showcasing classics from the back catalogue and newbies from ‘A Rock Supreme’, they mostly up to the big arena test. However you did fell their ambition and short punchy songs about rock, girls and partying somewhat restrictive. Soaring in the basement doesn’t always equal raising the roof. Despite this it was a very positive high energy from this amazing hard rock trio that set us off strong.

Lack of scale is not something you could attribute to the next band up. Baroness came storming out the blocks with their dreamy yet heavy, proggy offerings. What shone was their melodic phrasing which interlaced between their mammoth soundscapes. Never straying into pop but also unifying bind for their Stoner Metal keeping them on a common trajectory.

Yet despite the ambition and optimism the set largely fell flat as the crowd struggled to engage with these long epics with barely a recognisable vocal hook. Vocals overall were low and inaudible which put up barriers too high for the casual onlooker. Neither did their riffs shine, too often being expansive and arty as opposed to catchy and direct. Clearly dividing, but definitively different!

As the lights centred for the headline slot, Volbeat quickly and purposefully strutted into the spotlight. Opening with a new track from their latest album ‘Rewind, Replay, Rebound’ this clearly set the direction of their set. Tonight, a lot of the album got a spin and the hard and heavy pop first approach had plenty of voices raised and fists high. There was no doubting though this was a true rock show with endless thundering riffs, metallic shredding and head thumping melodies.

To their credit, there was a surprising amount of variety packed in. From the out and out old school thrash metal of ‘Slayton’, to the radio pop of ‘When We Were Kids’, through to rollicking boogie blues of ‘Let It Burn’, rockabilly metal “Sad Man’s Tongue ” and anthemic hard rocker ”Let It Burn”.

Band leader Michael Poulsen was as indecryptible as ever despite perfectly forming his words, all channeling through his smooth Elvis(y) vocals chords. None of this mattered though as whatever he was singing, it sounded great!

He was even joined by some special guests, Clutch’s Neil Fallon (via sample) and none other than Danko Jones himself to spit lyrics on Black Rose. It was a winning combination and one of the highlights of an evening full of top class hard rock class.

Crobot @ Underworld

26th July 2019

One of the best hard rock bands to emerge in recent years were in town. In fact they were worldwide as tonight’s headliners were being broadcast live over the interweb.

It was an odd start to the support act. I was sure I’d never heard of Wolf Jaw before, yet I was sure I recognised their opening song. A quick bit of mid song googling led me to the realisation that I was infact watching the band formerly known as “The Bad Flowers”. These ‘Planet Rock’ pushed rock trio were very tight and played a decent set of mid tempo riff rock that clipped along nicely. Lots of nifty melodies but a lack of real headline singles left this feeling a little flat.

With the cameras rolling and the stream online, out stepped Crobot‘s glamtastic frontman Brandon Yeagley with amazing sparkly bejewelled waistcoat and launched us straight into what was to be an exhilarating and exciting evening of hard rock. His highlight statement outfit was only matched in flamboyance by his dancing was a curiously engaging and visually magnetic. He didn’t stop all night, his long sleek locks were endlessly swirled round at hypersonic speeds, his legs were wobbling to the groove and his vocals supercharged.

The heart and soul of the band is their guitar tone. It’s rugged brutality, smooth mid-range and warm crunch really rampages out of their multitude of Orange amps. Their guitar rig was simple and barely a change was made throughout, showing their commitment to perfecting their riffing craft. Those riffs were bulldozer driven and vibrant in the dynamism, as was their signature rising warping effect which is as simple as it is bloody brilliant!

One thing did bug me though. Whilst I appreciate that bands like/need to play their new material in order to sell records. At least play these songs once the album is released and don’t play them a month before its release…as was the case tonight! Bar a few singles already out, much of their set was unidentifiable even if it still sounded fantastic.

The set itself was skewered between their astounding debut and their new record, somewhat absent mindedly skipping 2013’s Welcome to Fat City. Set highlights included the crushing power of ‘Cloud Spiller’ with its headsplitting skyscraping riff, a rockin’ ramble through fantasy pop land on singalong ‘Nowhere to Hide’ and the elephantine plodding menace of ‘Plague Of The Mammoths’.

There was little in the way of stage banter, with interaction from the stage fairly brief. With a clear time limit and a global outreach you did feel thy is was an all out attack set which whilst flying at 200% effort, inherently suffered with a lack of intimacy that you can usually guarantee in The Underworld. More like a concert dvd, which I guess is expected given it was recorded!

On reflection it was an outstanding showcase performance from an outstanding and exciting hard rock band.

Finally…for once you can experience yourself rather than take my word for it…stream available here Live Stream Recorded

Justin Courtney Pierre @ The Underworld

28th May 2019

Arrived unusually early tonight for a warm up band. Having found a DJ(?) we settled into a quiet and understated Underworld to enjoy the relative calm in this otherwise crazy rock venue. Somewhat surprisingly this juxtaposition was a theme of the night full of informality, intimacy and intrigue.

With little to no fanfare, the tunes melted away, cuing a shuffle of the few feet who braved a Tuesday night gig in Camden. These brave folks were rewarded with one of the most open, honest and spirited shows we’ve been to for years.

Justin Courtney Pierre or more commonly known as the Lead Singer/Guitarist of Motion City Soundtrack, stood uneasy on stage. His nerves were clearly on edge and his body on flight (not fight) mode. Joined onstage by a long time buddy made it all just about manageable as he opened with some new tracks from his solo record. For a man on a solo tour, having been used to selling out theatres it was all very peculiar.

Sure he’s always had his band to back him up, but the shift in persona was marked. What in MCS clothes comes across as self deprecating humour, was exaggerated to vulnerability.

He needn’t have been so concerned as his output of short sharp pop ditties was totally on point. Everyone here were MCS fans, so he was already winning in our eyes. With just his road worn Telecaster on rough overdrive mode and a drum machine on repeat, he brought life and vitality to the room. Flexing from darkened pop of his new solo record on Undone, to raging indie rock of Ready Player One to the MCS styled I don’t know why she ran away, each track sounded bright and full of fragile beauty.

Between songs he’d invite us into his chaotic mind warehouse and chatted openly like this was his living room. He was refreshingly honest and mindful, yet erratic and somewhat bleak. This personality shone through as he played select MCS numbers, those he penned himself. Not surprising then they match his persona…the pop strummer Stand Too Close, heartbreaking Happy Anniversary, uplifting(ish) Broken Heart and lyrically cunning L.G.F.U.A.D.

In retrospect, it was sure to be a highlight of the year. One which brought light and brightness shining through some dark assembled clouds. A true pleasure to be there to support and a joy to be a part of.

Hayseed Dixie @ The Garage

15th March 2019

It was party and singalong night in Islington this evening as the bluegrass cover legends returned for their almost annual outing to the London stage.

Before though we had to endure ‘Just Tom & Pete’ whose original tracks were tongue in cheek and little more than a few bedroom penned ditties. Comedy relies on timing and delivery, unfortunately this set had little of either. To make matters worse the song craft was basic and bland, only saved by the bias towards covers, including the spice girls.

Hayseed Dixies arrival was greeted with rapturous adoration as their rock acolytes readied their vocal chords for a workout. It proved such that their set was a fantastic highlights reel of banjo based classic rockgrass hits. Clearly stage confident, their comedy banter was on point all night with beer fuelled quips and set pieces which showed their experience of soundtracking a great party night.

I’ll be honest band go so far to say the Banjo is clearly an underrated instrument. Associated with roots and country acts, when played at almost 100sps (strums per second) it gave each song a unique groove, which inherently made your body bob and sway.

Fast and furious was also the ‘lead’ guitarist Hippy Joe Hymas’ motto as he exhilarated the crowd with his showboating virtuoso antic on his…….MANDOLIN! It was truly fantastic to watch as this little crazy demon of whirling hair and sweat attacked this tiny instrument with flare and fury.

The set list was rammed with covers all withtheir unique spin, either slowed, sped or spiced it was different enough to be a Hayseed Dixie song, but familiar enough for everyone to sing along. Even the cheesy ballads raised a smile and many beer ‘glasses’. Even the odd original song sounded pretty good, ‘I’m keeping your poop’ being the best of the bunch.

Overall these guys know their audience, carry their instruments with pride and by gosh they can throw one hell of a rockin’ party,

Albums of 2018: 10 – 1

Its Top 10 time…

10) The Vintage Caravan – Gateways

Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Quick Fire Summary:Swagger is not something easily earned and this Icelandic (?) Classic Rock trio have more than mere mortals. Their huge groovy guitars plunder the blues, whether at a deep stoner plod, or with a rampaging riff. They take their queues from the 70’s hard rockers but are not bound by rules. Their styles are so dynamic with so many twists and tempo changes they are impossible to take your ears off them. Vocals a la Manic Street Preachers added to Deep Purply riffs and prog tendencies, this is homage of the highest order. The rock gods approve.

Top Track: Reset – A What a Thumping Riff! Like a precision uppercut a polished knockout blow that would lift most men off their feet. The vocal/guitar interplay is well balanced whereas the tempo shifts are totally off kilter. Not forgetting the frenzied solo which rises to a glorious crescendo. If you love hard rocking albums of stellar quality, look no further.

Watch: Reset

 

9) Beartooth – Disease

Genre: Hardcore Punk | Label: Red Bull Records

Quick Fire Summary: Probably the heaviest album on this year’s countdown comes from this Ohio Hardcore Punk come emotive hard rock band. Aggressive and in your face with brash thrashing and confrontational attitude. The counter-punch is that they have a unique knack for pop heavy hooks and soaring euphoric vocals. A hard and fast batch of edgy rock anthems for an angry generation.

Top Track: You Never Know – Showcasing the two poles of their conflicted sound. The pure, clean harmonious highs of the pop punk chorus are sandwiched by crushing metallic riffs and driven along with reckless punk abandon. Best of both worlds collide here.

Watch: You Never Know

8) Turbowolf – The Free Life

Genre: Rock/Prog/Punk | Label: So Recordings

Quick Fire Summary: Another Bristolian rock band, only this bunch of noiseniks add a electronic shot of psychedelia to their hard rock sound. Synths, Effects Pedals and gloriously fuzzy heavy blues make sure they sound huge despite being a trio. They are equally danceable as they are moshable, producing both outlandish and kaleidoscopic garage punk bangers. Thoroughly modern and magnificent.

Top Track: The Free Life – The title track kicks off right away with a dramatic fuzz fuelled riff which slow burns in a cloud of fuzzy amplification. This almost stoner-esque daydream is cruelly shattered by a killer wind-up crescendo and following military grade riffage that bombards all in its wake. Plenty of further madness ensues with squealing guitars, flaring high, and deep lulls all bound by a damn hooky chorus. A real power “trip!”.

Watch: The Free Life

 

7) Clutch – Book Of Bad Decisions

Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Weathermaker Music

Quick Fire Summary: Clutch are one of those bands who do little wrong. Their recent resurgence starting with Earth Rocker have been nothing short of spectacular. Their latest can be added to this list. This has some all out attack blues punk aces alongside more refrained mid tempo groover’s and soulful sawyer’s.  The vocal interplay and unexpected lyrical content is what makes them work though, the gruffly drawled delivery backed with riff after fuzzy riff breathes vitality and life into every verse.

Top Track: Gimme The Keys – A spectacular opener which sets of on a course for destruction. Long drawn out power chord chops and spoken verse is all a decoy, for when the chorus kicks in, it’s throttle down punk energy and engulfing fuzzy riffs. Hard rock that takes absolutely no prisoners.

Watch: Gimme The Keys

 

6) Monster Truck – True Rockers

Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Mascot Records

Quick Fire Summary: The title of Monster Truck’s 3rd full length album provides a succinct enough evaluation of their sound, ambition and lifestyle. To give them credit its a very accurate assessment, as it really is a True Rocker. It’s a no holds barred, blues fisticuff that also likes a throwback to rock’s glory days with plenty of organs and harmonica to boot. Its a straight up, no-nonsence, beer swilling, hard strutting roller that’s not the be trifled with.

Top Track: Young City Hearts – One of the more restrained efforts on the album, this tune flicks between piping organs, strutting basslines, a ripping melody and a the roaring chorus. Its effortlessly cool and flowing throughout. Yet it’s a expansion on their sound, they can rock hard still, but just doing it subtly.

Watch: Thundertruck

5) Hardcore Superstar – You Can’t Kill My Rock And Roll

Genre: Hard Rock/Glam | Label: GAIN

Quick Fire Summary: 11th Outing from HCSS see them finding their old jovial selves whilst pushing themselves forward. Looking back it encapsulates some of the most fun and glamtastic tracks in the discography, yet it showcased a more modern metallic side which is darker and heavier. The mix is addictive. As a sleazy hard rock band they yes have big, dumb, OTT songs and some pretty epic singalongs, but knowing (with half a tongue in cheek) that means they play to all their bombastic strengths.

Top Track: You Can’t Kill My Rock And Roll – “The Only Way Out Is All In” the quote which opens the video to this heart pounding, chest beating defiant roar of a song pretty much sums up its approach. There are no half measures here on this bonafide rock anthem that rocks 80’s style in a sleazy retelling of Kiss’ “God Gave Rock And Roll To You”. The chorus line however describes it better than I could, “Don’t Be A Whiny Bore, You Can’t Kill My Rock And Roll!”.

Watch: You Can’t Kill My Rock And Roll

4) Audrey Horne – Blackout

Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Napalm Records

Quick Fire Summary: Scandinavia and modern interpretations of classic/retro rock have been intertwined for years (Volbeat, Dead Lord, Night Flight Orchestra etc…). The best of which balance both fantastic musicianship, virtuoso guitars and a single minded melodic focus at the core of their sound. As you’d expect all are present and correct on the latest from these Norse Hard Rock vikings. They bring their technical chops across from Black Metal beginnings to meld Iron Maiden dueling metal licks with Thin Lizzy pop hooks, that whilst supremely catchy, does not hold back on turning up their big classic rock amp dials.

Top Track: Rose Alley – Like turning on the radio and finding out you are actually back in 76′ and the Lizzy have just released their seminal Jailbreak. This unabashed homage to Lynott and co. (Rosalie or Rose Alley?) is stunning with a riff that is absolutely mesmerizing and a loud soft dynamic that underlines the simple by stellar chorus lines. The fact it would easily slot into the Jailbreak track list is the highest praise I could offer.

Watch: Audrevolution

3) Death By Unga Bunga – So Far, So Good, So Cool

Genre: (Garage) Rock | Label: Jansen Records

Quick Fire Summary: More Swedish goodness takes a podium finish, from the band with probably the silliest/coolest name in history. Whilst identifying as a Garage Rock, they are more rock and roll and closer to power pop acts such as Cheap Trick. Pop hooks are at the core of everything good they do and this sweet ear candy melodic nature pours out wave after wave as super Sticky McStick earworms. Its a damn fun album that doesn’t take itself too seriously as its too busy larking about. Despite this they weave some cracking guitar lines and big riffs all pumped through some nice vintage distortion which doesn’t sound to forced and is nicely compressed for that DIY rough round the edge sound.

Top Track: Soldier – It’s big, its damn catchy and it has probably the funniest, most camp and finest retro gaming Street Fighter II / Streets of Rage inspired music video you will ever likely to witness…

Watch: Soldier



2) Slash – Living The Dream

Genre: Rock | Label: Roadrunner

Quick Fire Summary: What happens when you put the finest vocalist of modern rock and the finest hat wearing guitar player? Living The Dream, that’s what! Its a combination made with true balance and chemistry that has unlimited potential. This album is a rockers delight which revels in the finest and most inventive bluesy inspired hard rocking melodies around. Top that off with stratospheric vocals and infectious lyrics and you have a Pop Rock album whose quality outshines almost all others in 2019.

Top Track: Call Of The Wild – Start as they mean to go on, this opening gambit lays all their aces down on the table. Slash providing the bluesy lick, stunning tone, crunching amps whilst Myles Kennedy’s voice heads skywards. Beating drums, an adrenaline fuelled urgent rhythmic cadence and all round party starter! Play it loud, hard and fast! 

Watch: Call Of The Wild

 

1) Tremonti – A Dying Machine

Genre: Metal/Hard Rock | Label: Napalm Records

Quick Fire Summary: Topping this years list is the other Alter Bridge guitar slinger, Mark Tremonti. He applies his full arsenal of carnage on this heavy (very heavy) solo outlet, plus his voice now sounds incredible. Its not all loudness and metal though. It tilts towards an expansive post-grunge tones which adds depth and mood to these intricate masterworks both on earnest ballads and face melting metallers. It’s a concept album, so top marks for creativity too. Its both brutally heavy and melodically beautiful, splashing the musical canvas with light and shade, aggression and hearty emotion in equal measure. Yet its the uncanny knack for the finest sing-a-long’s and soaring chorus’ which sets A Dying Machine apart from all others in 2018…the Rock Gods salute you!

Top Track: Take You With Me – From the opening bar, the accelerator is slammed to the floor as it carves up the land, obliterating everything in its path. Its unrelenting power chords and tough metal chugga chugga’s barely rest, only doing so to allow the towering determined vocals to fly. Inspiring passionate lyrics will soon have you standing in line next to the main protagonist ready to lay it all on the line. If ever there was a song to kick start an actual battle, this would be it.

Watch: Take You With Me

That’s all for 2018. Well done to you if you got this far! Rock (& Roll) on 2019.

Albums of 2018: 20-11

Maybe its having more time to enjoy, to delve, to engage and to envelop, but for me 2018 has been a really stellar year for great new albums which have primarily yet to break the mainstream. Whilst I can only see a handful ever breaking that barrier any time soon, it’s the struggle up rock mountain that’s getting tougher with each passing year. Yet with bands like these and those dedicated folk who live, breathe and sweat rock and roll, the dream will never die. It will never pass, it will merely evolve just waiting for the next misfit bunch to pick up the broken strings and wayward hope and carry on the good fight. So to my call to arms…get on down to the clubs, be in the crowds, down a few cold ones with your friends and you’ll see its a living breathing dragon of fury primed for flight every night. And to all those who think that rock and roll is actually dead, read on…if you dare!

DoesItRock.net Albums of 2018

20) Fragile Things – Echo Chambers (Blue Edition)

Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Fragile Things

Quick Fire Summary: Always ones to champion “new” British rock talent, we start with a band fronted by the original Heaven’s Basement frontman Richie Hevanz (only with a lot less eyeliner). Its hard hitting rock with a modern twist and soaring vocals, immense chorus’ and striking lyrics that make this a contender for upcoming rising stars of the year. (Technically this was released in 2017 as an EP, the blue edition dropped in 2018 with a few more tracks.)

Top Track: Disappear – An extraordinary (not cheesy) power ballad about love lost and associated metal struggles. Its open hearted and empathic delivery stirs emotion, cutting through the truly huge wall of guitars and a flying vocal lines. How all ballads should be.

Watch: Disappear

 

19) Massive Wagons – Full Nelson

Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Earache Records

Quick Fire Summary: Another rising British hard rock outfit have proven themselves on this stellar album of good old fashioned energetic rock and roll. It’s well polished production and huge chorus’ provides the pop hooks with the strutting guitars power the engine. Melds latter day Against Me! clean vocals with Weezer-esque quirkiness into a well rounded package which showcases plenty of variety and catchy earworms.

Top Track: Back To The Stack– A fitting tribute to the late Rick Parfitt, this three chord power chugger is flying high above the Status Quo with its “Maximum Attack, You know, You know, You know You know!”

Watch: Back To The Stack

 

18) The Dirty Nil – Master Volume

Genre: Rock | Label: Dine Alone

Quick Fire Summary: Rawkus, uncompromising, relentless pursuit of the rock and roll dream is well and truly alive in the hands of The Dirty Nil. Buzzsaw guitars, rasping vocals and plundering riffs race at punk pace with barely any self control. Yes, Its messy and mudded, but in between there are fantastic tracks and charging melodies during their brief life. Burning bright and rising fast these chaps.

Top Track: I Don’t Want That Phone Call – Probably the first rock tune with a overtly Anti-Drug message. A refreshing approach and has sadness and truth close to its evocative and passionate howled delivery from vocalist Luke Bentham.

Watch: I Don’t Want That Phone Call

17) Black Stone Cherry – Family Tree

Genre: Hard Rock | Label: Roadrunner Records

Quick Fire Summary: BSC brought back the the blues in 2018 and with it rejuvenated what was a fairly lacklustre streak dating back to 2012. Whats more they added newfound playfulness with a new funky groove which produces many of the albums best moments. It’s not afraid to be a little cheesy and certainly their riffs are back to their southern ass kickin’ best.

Top Track: Bad Habit – The obvious standout single features a doozy of a dual guitar lead lick that’s bluesy and soulful. The playful effect soaked bridge solo is a wonderful passage which ups the thump and drops the tempo ready for the final ho-ha back into the main rhythm.

Watch: Bad Habit

16) Joe Bonamassa – Redemption

Genre: Blues | Label: J&R Adventures

Quick Fire Summary: Welcome return number 2 of this years countdown comes from the modern king of the Blues, the living legend that is Joe Bonamassa. This his 13th album is a fine lively jaunt which displays his more playful side with upbeat rhythm and blues numbers alongside more traditional rootsy tracks and even the odd jazz inflection to boot. His warm vocals are as smooth as ever and his guitar playing is an astounding thing of beauty.

Top Track: King Bee Shakedown – A real swinger of a bluesy shuffle takes flight with full brass accompaniment providing the high notes on this fun dance hall number. Strong kicking tempo, nifty riffs and a might slide solo add variety and vitality.

WatchKing Bee Shakedown

15) Kit Trigg – Life

Genre: Blues Rock | Label: Kit Trigg & Nic Sleight

Quick Fire Summary: As a sucker for scrappy stoner fuzz, riffs,  blues and new homegrown talent, the debut LP from this Surrey duo ticks all these boxes. Its unrefined, it pays homage to the good old blues lick, the desert and likes nothing more to rock out as much noise as two men with 6 strings and 2 sticks can muster. Evanescent songs burn bright with barely two tunes clocking in at over 3 mins. Short sweet and sumptuous.

Top Track: I Gotta Red Strat – Ths blues rockin’ banger has a little bit of everything. A glossy clean power chord riff, thumping desert rock, punky attitude, head banging, addictive simplicity and a cool baby blues solo to offset the carnage. Oh and yes… He has a red Strat!

Watch: I Gotta Red Strat

 

14) IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Rebellion

Genre: Punk | Label: Partisan Records

Quick Fire Summary: A lot has been written and said about these Bristol punks who will stop at nothing until they have angrily railroaded their gruff political voice and dirty garage rock into every living room up and down the currently divided Isle of Great Britain. They have captured a feeling of unease and uncompromising anger via their shadowy blasts of raging emotion, modern punk at its rawkus best.

Top Track: Danny Nedalko – An anthem of unity from an unlikely source which is pro-immigration and anti-discrimination. All delivered through a rampaging full tilt garage punk rocker with a damn football chant style chorus which has us all howling Danny’s name at full volume.

WatchDanny Nedalko (Live)

 

 

13) Tusky – Rated Gnar

Genre: Punk | Label: V2 Records Benelux

Quick Fire Summary: I what’s probably a first for DiR.net, we have a Dutch Punk rock outfit in our EOY countdown. This is a record made from equal parts pop punk (under the california sun), technical post hardcore eccentricity, hardcore speed-slamming, hard rock riffing all ties together with a youthful and invigorated Foo Fighter vibe. Its dynamic, its varied and it keeps you on you toes dancing along for its less is more 30 mins of unexpected twists and turns.

Top Track: Going Out – I dare you not to want to jump out of your seat and throw stuff (metaphorically of course) when the opening rampage of power chords hit. Barely does the pumping energy let up throughout this sunny punk rocker that grips and doesn’t let go for a wild ride.

Watch: Going Out

12) Bullets And Octane – Waking Up Dead

Genre: Punk/Rock | Label:  Bad MoFo Records/Cargo Records UK

One Line Summary: Returning sleazy rockers B&O have rekindled their spirits and are back partying hard and playing loud, living and breathing the lifestyle they dream of.  A raft of supermassive rock tunes on display, infused with punk urgency and electrifying melodies.

Top Track: When We Were Young – A thumping rock track which makes you believe that every night is a Friday night, every song must be sung and every chord must be amplified. Their fighting spirit and passion for performing is front and centre of this uplifting tune.

WatchWhen We Were Young

11) Coheed & Cambria – Unheavenly Creatures

Genre: Prog Rock | Label:Roadrunner

Quick Fire Summary:The 9th album emphatically rejuvenates C&C’s natural bombastic eccentricity and progressive tendencies. Pomp and over the top styling’s aplenty, it gloriously revels in throwbacks to their earlier day selves, with borrowed melodies and lyrics strewn across this sprawling space rock voyage. Grandeur really suits the huge classic rock ramparts they build with expert precision and heavy firepower.

Top Track: The Gutter – Epic tune which wistfully switches from tinkling keys, to razor sharp riffs and vocal delivery sweeping from aggressive urgency to fragility. This is all prelude to their gloriously dramatic, glamtastic guitar and exhilarating power balladry.

WatchThe Gutter

Roll on the top 10!

Black Stone Cherry, The Cadillac Three & Monster Truck @ Wembley Arena

14th December 2018

Before I dive in, a lesson from history…11 years ago a young southern rock band called Black Stone Cherry were furiously handing out flyers for their early afternoon set on a side stage at Hard Rock Calling 2007. It was packed, it was incredible and It was from that day that tonight’s headliners lodged themselves into my youthful rock heart…

Jumping back to the present tonight showcases a truly spectacular lineup of North American guitar talent.

Monster Truck

The Canadian’s were up first as Monster Truck rumbled straight down the throats of the early swelling crowd. They’re no nonsense, all man rock yeah. Playing loud, massive power chords, driving tempos, big choruses and thumping riffs. Their bluesy swagger emanated from lead vocalist/bassist Jon Harvey whose gravel paved howl was designed strike muscle bound notes. Playing a variety of tracks across their discog they cut out all the fat and went straight for their hits. A groove heavy Sweet Mountain River, Don’t Tell Me How To Live soared like an eagle and fresher True Rocker did exactly that. A cracking start and certainly won some new fans in the process.

Straight out of deepest Tennessee come out next act, the Nashville countrified rockers The Cadillac Three. This trio tick many of southern stereotypes, a slow caricature drawl, trucker hats, slide guitars and a gift for musicianship. No Bass and Two guitars, three if you count the double mounted slide fretboards. A unique approach and certainly front man Jaren Johnston did his bit to make up for any rhythm slack.

The Cadillac Three

Coming with a formidable live reputation, I can verify they do indeed whoop ass. But not in the way I had expected. Rather than the big hoedown rock and spritely tempos it was captivating with its approach to slowing almost every song to accentuate the notes at a snails pace. Plus it was far more country than expected too. It showed craft and soul beyond their LP’s and ability to thrive on stage with little or no boundaries. The crowd pleasers we all here on the emotive White Lightning, the adept song craft of American Slang and their Night rounded off with launch pad party anthem The South.

Jaren Johnston

The night was yet young as the stage unraveled to its full potential. No more pokey curtains and basic smoke & light combos. From here on in we had the best pyro and staging Wembley could throw at us, Smoke cannons and all.

Black Stone Cherry

In an instant the Kentucky kings of Hard Rock, Black Stone Cherry had the crowd in the palm of their hands. This being their first headline Arena tour they were enjoying the space and theatre of the evening. Rhythm guitarist Ben Wells especially, running round like an over enthusiastic man child. He barely stayed still all night, which for me set the tone. A exhilarating embrace of their current status and homage to their past.

 

Ben Wells

Their leader, the enigmatic southern man Chris Robertson, was far less athletic, more killer guitar slinger. Taking the leads he showed us his exemplary six string skills with blazing solos and the fattest riffs. It was however their ballads and mid tempo crooners which got the best reception tonight. Engaging in sing-a-long songs and good time crowd pleasers are all Arena staples, perfected on In My Blood and Like I Roll. Even their more touching emotive moments shined under the huge light rigs, Things My Father Said, Peace Is Free and new tune My Last Breath.

Chris Robertson

Their new material got a good airplay tonight, but with a 20 song set it had plenty of space. Despite this, they brought a groove not usually associated. Just Like James Brown and Ain’t Nobody brought the funk, even if Robertson overstepped slightly by opening up a dance floor in crowd central ‘for the ladies’. Despite this blip, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening which played much more to bluesy roots, which the overstaying 12 min rendition of Hoochie Coochie Man will attest to.

Hooooochie Cooooohie Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!

After 11 years they have hit new highs and as ever their open hearted honest thanks, gets kudos from the adoring masses who have been with them every step of the way. What’s next? Who knows. But it will be fun finding out!