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,

Airbourne @ The Forum

13th December 2013

The final show of 2013 was a real riot, a line-up packed with stars future and present mixing up the sub-genre’s but providing their own slant on high octane rock.

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The Treatment

First to stake out their claim, was the brash and rising young hard rockers The Treatment. Their set was a blast of power, guitar licks and melody flashing nifty moments of soloing prowess in a mix of big chorus’, thumping rhythms and a driving tempo. Their new material was ok, I Bleed Rock & Roll being the pick of the bunch, while the rest was difficult to connect with seeing this was the first airing. Melodies seemed to be there but they lacked the familiarity of the older repertoire which brought many more fist pumps from the sizable early crowd. Their stage act is slick, enthused and engaging which cannot be faulted (except for the stature of their bassist which seemed to irrationally irk fellow DiR man The Docktor). I wait with baited breath to see what the album has in store.

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Orange Goblin

Orange Goblin were next out, they wasted absolutely no time is obliterating any chance of being able to hear anything the next day. Their muscular and lolloping Stoner Rock cut huge swathes of gigantic riffage out of the mire of fuzz and astounding aural plunder. With sweat, dropped tuned guitars and long hair as standard they came, they saw and the conquered with their mega-sound. Having been about for a long time, many tracks were unfamiliar, but their blues based guitar licks never failed to impress. Vocals however (as with many live rock leviathans), were drowned and pulled helplessly into the whirlpool of noise. Hypnotic repetition failed to interest The Docktor, who was still reeling from the strength of his opinion on the first act. A defiantly different approach, but no less entertaining.

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Airbourne

Finally we arrived at the headline act, Airbourne, who have climbed to the upper echelons of Rock Mountain with effortless ease. A task made much easier by their standing on the shoulders of Rock Giants Ac/Dc. Tight and powerful rhythm guitars with a packed arsenal of dangerous riffs fronted by an equally perilous leader who seriously put his body on the line each and every night, tonight was no exception. From cracking open beer cans on his head (both macho and stupid), riding around on shoulders in the crowd and climbing to the balcony (both while continuing to blast out captivating guitar solos) the Joel O’Keeffe circus has an abundance of tricks.

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Joel O’Keeffe

Showmanship of the highest order keeps the crowd fixated throughout despite when songs seem to start merging together with their similar melodies. No questions asked, Airbourne were born to rock, as they ride each huge track from their pulsating opening riffs through rollicking and romping tempo’s to their cataclysmic crescendo’s. Simple and loud, their beer swelling party ethos and daredevil antics are the kind of rallying cry for all men to join and party, beers and fists aloft.

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Standout tunes were mainly the slower grooves which sparked huge sing and bounce-a-longs (yes, the elder crowd were jumpin’ too) such as No Way But The Hard WayBack In The Game and Too Much Too Young Too Fast fitting this particular billing. New album material went down well, mainly because it rather similar to all their previous records. While variety was in short supply, you cannot fault Airbourne for doing what they do best, putting on the best rock and roll show the world has ever seen! Tonight, they did just that!

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Black Spiders @ The Electric Ballroom

I’ll be honest, a get together of the DoesItRock motley crew for ages took precedence this evening, resulting in a later than planned entry to the Electric Ballroom this eve. Forgetting about the ridiculously early kick out times of venues with Friday night club nights, we were instantly greeted to the swell of anticipation at the arrival of the Black Spiders.

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Black Spiders

After being the only high ranking band in my top listen charts that I haven’t seen live, It’s fair to say I was excited. So they came, like hard rock behemoths they swooped and plundered riff after riff and terrorizing the audience with their macho Marshall/Gibson combo rock sound.

It was a shame then that after the release of a new album that they stuck to this material like glue, never venturing 2 or 3 song from its track list before coming running back again I guess after years of touring the same material they wanted to get their new stuff out there. 

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The new songs were flooded with guitars and quite often drowned out the vocals, whilst the chorus’s didn’t quite have the sing-a-long nature or immediacy of album one tunes. The highlights including the super heavy Motorhead style thrasher Teenage Knife Gang their ode to a late night stroll in Croydon Trouble and the power punching opener Knock You Out.

When the past beckoned it was clearly a cut above the rest on the sedate but infectious run through of “KISS Tried To Kill Me, the romper stomping mammoth sing-a-long of St. Peter and the carnage causing wind up and release of What Goods A Rock Without A Roll.

On the whole though it was the slower groovier sluggers which took most of the DiR praise, mostly because of the big chorus lines which gnawed into your head until you were singing like everybody else. I’m glad to have finally seen them, but given the pedestal I’d put them on before they struck a chord, it was going to be tough to match.

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Torche @ The Garage

19th August 2013

Stoner Rock Floridians Torche made the trip across the pond to bring their refreshingly pop-centric brand of heaviness to London. Some UK support band were up first, it was a mixed bag.

The Jerks were a simple duo who eminated a sense of normality, right down to the attire and jam style interplay. They really just seemed to be having a great time, which in itself is a crowd pleaser. They played a ramdon brand of fuzzy rock with spasmodic time signatures and tempos. Never the same for more than a minute they were tricky to keep track of, as they bounded on giddying gallops one moment to laborious plunders the next. A surprise package which was a early treat.

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The Jerks

If The Jerks were a bit random, then the Dundee based sub-headliners Fat Goth had to fight out of their strait jackets to get here tonight. They played a combo of deep chugging noise riffs all with undercurrents of very technical mathy fret runs and off-kilter melodies. They were mesmeric and hard to ignore, no matter which angle they decided to take. However when the vocalist opened his mouth it fell apart. Comical (and creepy) voices such as cowboy, falsetto’s, girly yelps and spoken words meant I felt embarrassed for the guy. Entertaining, yes…but in the way that’s really cringe worthy. Totally random and superbly enthralling, although not sure if its for the right reasons though.

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Fat Goth

With the main event imminent, Torche lined up with a towering statue. With the lights set to darkly and mysterious with flashes of ambient they begun the onslaught of the senses (I say senses, I mean hearing). Unfortunately the sound stampeding from their Orange amps was really awful. Whether it was a poor sound check we’ll never know, but the first 3-4 songs were blur of amp buzz and slurred riffs which have no bite or distinguishing melodies.

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Torche

This was never truly rectified and it was only on their more uplifting singles did the crowd really start to get behind them. Set highlights which did match expectations were the boulder thumping riffs of Kicking and the frenetic energies of Walk It Off restoring my faith in their sound.

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Rarely am I as disappointed as tonight, but when technical issues take a firm hold it’s hard to wrestle back control.

The Thermals @ The Garage

23rd July 2013

After a rip roaring outing at the Monto Water Rats many years ago (Over 7 years ago now, wow), I could not resist the lure of The Thermals once more. This time they come after a couple of poppier LP’s laying back their sound, would their show be equally electrifying? The support tonight came from Slowcoach. After 6 months has elapsed, it turns out I have no recollection of the performance or their sound, which in itself is evidence in its own right.

Slowcoaches

Slowcoach

The Thermals however left another rampaging wake in my memory with their blistering indie punk which belies their relatively polishes LP’s. Each song was a short sharp burst of energy, played with buzzing fuzz guitars and romping bass lines, enough of which have memorable pop chorus’s to keep the crowd happy. Alongside their true rock out moments which sparked crashing bodies to fly this was a balanced set of songs from old aggression, recent fine melodic moments all delivered with bursting enthusiasm.

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The Thermals

Set highlights includes the recent return to fine rock out form “Born To Kill”, slow melodic bounder “Never Listen To Me” and the terrifyingly brilliant assault of “Here’s Your Future”.

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The advancing years have not taken any toll on The Thermals, plus there’s no sign of them slowing down any time soon either.

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Iron Maiden @ Download Festival 2013

Once again I headed once again to the spiritual home of Rock, Donington Park for a stunning lineup to listen and capture some eclectic up-comers, resurgent groups, underrated rockers and true megastars taking influence from the entire spectrum of the rock/metal clenched fist.

I took some photos and watched some bands, here’s the day in brief…

UFO

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Stood still for the camera, which was more to do with their advancing years. Proper classic rock still sounds good to these ears.

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Highlight: Storming rendition of Doctor, Doctor

Heaven’s Basement

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Finally the band we have been trumpeting here at DiR.net for years have made it onto the first rung of the ladder, destination rock rocket to the top. They truly ran rampant on huge stage and I loved every glorious minute of this power packed energetic set of high attitude modern rock and roll. Huge crowd and fantastic reception…the general public seem to now agree with me! Sure to rise and rise on from here.

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Highlight: The band’s remarkable display of happiness,astounded that so many people actually turned up, each rewarded with a huge version of Executioners day!

 

Hardcore Superstar

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Swedish sleaze glamsters clad in objectionable outfits came and conquered the utterly terrible weather which saw 2 huge downpours deposited on the crowd. Despite this their upbeat party anthems and fist pumping punk rock tunes provoked much singing in the rain and dancing in the aisles.

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Highlight: ‘We Don’t Celebrate Sunday’s‘, sparking a massive sing and dance along in the middle of a torrential soaking. it was a case of “c’mon skies, is that all you got!”

Black Star Riders

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Ricky Warwick and the remains of the Thin Lizzy crew were back again this year under their new moniker with a set of (oddly enought) Lizzy-esque rock tunes which could be easily be plucked straight from the 70’s legends. Throw in some greatest hits such as Jailbreak, Boys Are Back In Town, Rosalie and another rain defying epic Whisky In The Jar…their set was a absolute pleasure from the first rings of Scott Gorham’s guitar to the final note of Wawick’s Lynott lined lungs.

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Highlight: Whisky In The Jar getting a field full of old drowned rats jumping around like youthful loons in bright sunlight.

Katatonia

Katatonia

With dark clouds looming and a mist like patter of rain descending over the 2nd stage, there was no better atmosphere for my next band, the black metal titans, Katatonia. Their dour gloom, huge guitars and soulful clean vocals cut a lonely figure which crashed wave after wave of sorrow into the skies. Yet somehow there is a glimmer of hope running through them which is hard to pin, melodic and beautiful, a unique set.

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Highlight: The Parting’s soaring vocal section, juxtaposed against their deep earth excavating riffs.

Karnivool

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Aussies Karnivool were here to make a statement that Progressive Rock/Metal still reigns, on a performance like this its hard to disagree. A dazzaling assortment of melodies and sounds, given punch with sparse but crushing overdriven guitars and bound together with the beautifully fragile and powerful voice of front man, (one of my favourite vocalists). His emotive and distinct vocals were just as good live as it cut like knife through the gathering booming soundscapes. A pause for thought and refelection, but unmissable nonetheless.

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Highlight: Simple Boy and its xylophone melody giving way to a stonking deep 7 string bass riff machine

Mastodon

Mastodon

Being a hell of a long way back I could only pick out a few cool riffs here and there, time to exercise the zoom lens.

Alice In Chains

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A faithful following swarmed around the main stage for the return of these heavy grungers. New material from their comeback albums were typified with some pretty awesome bass riffs which had the hard rock crowd salivating. Vocals from DuVall/Cantrell were as good as expected, not overplaying but leading charged singalongs on their biggest hits Rooster and Down In A Hole. Despite the lyrical subject material they sounded uplifting and this well rounded set of loud and soft moments really impressed.

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Highlight: The sheer number of blow up chickens which found their way stagewards during Rooster.

Motorhead

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This was not their finest outing, plenty of really old and obscure tracks had the faithful worshiping and the classics were all here too. Nothing out of the ordinary, but still you can’t mess with Motorhead, neither would I recommend it.

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Highlight: The set ending knockout 1-2 combo of Ace of Spades and Overkill

Queens Of The Stone Age

QOTSA

A newly re-invigorated QotSA were here today, which marked one of the best sets of the day. Equal measures of high quality, heavy desert stoner drawn from the latest album and Fuzz driven upbeat dance rock from Songs From The Deaf, they stuck to the formula which has brought them so much success. Their greatest hits were all aired and picking the more melodic and high octane tracks really pumped up the crowd. A fitting warm up for the epic headliners to come.

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Highlight: Little Sister, where the guitar solo and thumping bass line collide, caused carnage.

Iron Maiden

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When you can commission a flypast from a WWII Spitfire to start your set off with a bang, you are clearly in for something very special. Their ‘Maiden England’ tour was a success on its first outing, today its reprise was just as epic. Triple Guitar attack and a greatest hits set spanning their best albums this was a blast from the past which has endured its time and is clearly still as popular today. Pyrotechnics, flames, fireworks, costume changes, a 20 ft Eddie, plenty of British & war imagery was all part of the elaborate staging which was just as absorbing as the music on offer. The crowd were in full voice and knew every word coming from Bruce Dickinson’s falsettos vocal chords. A magnificent performance from a band who has been doing this size show for decades! A Superb Show!
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Highlight: Fear of The Dark, with the entire crowd bellowing the opening riff a Capella.

 

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Fucked Up & Titus Andronicus @ The Electric Ballroom

30th May 2013 @ The Electric Ballroom

A trio of North American acts packed tonight’s bill, all sharing a loose punk connection. It certainly provided a varied night of guitar driven energy.

Canadians Metz occupy the punk spectrum labeled, “I don’t care what you think we sound like…because we like it, and you can lump it!”. With barely any regards to their aural chainsaw guitar attack the profusely sweating front man blasted distorted guitars with no remorse. This was unrelenting and aggressive music making, with the faintly audible screams of probably very decent songs  resonating deep inside, desperately failing to escape. Not for the faint hearted, one for the hard of hearing.

Metz

Metz

The American meat in the lineup’s Canadian sandwich shuffled out, totally unassuming as they tooled up. These guys I had all but written off. As much as I liked their latest LP, I never took to it for a repeat spin beyond a catchy ditty or two. Still, there’s nothing like a good live outing to show me where I’m wrong. Titus Andronicus play melodic rock which doffs it’s cap to Americana through a technical triple guitar attack of multi-melody madness. These weaving guitar lines were not effect heavy but still powerful while occasionally mimicked tin whistle style familiar Americanish marching melodies.

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Titus Andronicus

Epic crescendo’s were the general result of the meandering which were lively and resulted in many man turning to their friends partners stating ‘I’ll be back soon’ as they dashed stage wards for some jumping about lunacy. Yet Fans far back were happy reciting these terribly verbose lyrics and the non-simple chorus lines were seemingly rolling off everyone’s tongues right back at front man Patrick Stickles. Oddly he casts a rather Rich Hall shadow in both appearance and vocal delivery. The latter Dour and grumpy with a hint of irony and alcohol. The casual listener would have no clue what he was warbling, but that mattered none! These danceable toe tapping tunes turned on the smile machines which really captivated me in a shared wave of euphoria emanating from the buzzing overexcited masses of onlookers. A brilliant set which totally took me by surprise!

Now after Titus came the Fucked Up crew, trying to earn their headliner stripes this night. Sad to say they failed.Fucked Up

Fucked Up

Although a large portion of the crowd would disagree as this was clearly one for the ‘hardcore’ hardcore punk fans as the hugged their sweaty frontman hero Damian Abraham, all set long and bounced around like supercharged pin balls. But while I’m all for singers to come down on the level of the fans, after spending the whole set hanging over the guard rail it gets kind of irritating as you a) can’t see them b) vocals are interrupted by mic passes to enthused fans, c) you lose the band ethic! (although it’s not like ‘singing’ in it’s truest sense was really ever on the cards here.)

Attitude was ever present though as the vocalist made multiple jaunts amongt the crowd, spitting vocals like a venomous rattler.

Musically though, something was missing. The much revered melodic elements and complex arranges were lost in the crashing waves of energetic guitar onslaught. The static band was at opposites with their absent front man which is not surprising really. Their attire was vastly at odds too with the slimline clean cut blue collar band and the rough unkempt half naked punk singer. A juxtaposition if ever they stood near each other.

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The crowd provide a host of entertainment. A guy doing a blocker lemming impression, a stoned/drunk wobbler trying is best to stay vertical and a arm sling bearing chick smashing into the mosh pit!

Titus ruled the night, a sublime show of top notch rawkus energy nonetheless