Pick Your Rock and Metal

Saturday, December 30, 2006

2007 diary dates!

Below are some of the forthcoming gigs in the hard rock/heavy metal spectrum for 2007 - just a few! Lots of concerts for a variety of tastes!

  • Soil – Brand New Sin – lennon – 17th January - Spring & Airbrake
  • Supersuckers – 26th January – Spring & Airbrake
  • Rattlesnake Remedy – 27th January – The Empire
  • The Automatic – 29th January – The Ulster Hall
  • UK G'N'R - 3rd February - The Empire
  • The Bon Jovi Experience – 10th February – The Empire
  • Deft Leppard – 17th February – The Empire
  • Sorrowfall, Residual Effect, Bad Boat, Catch 23, Hoax, Blind Friday, Drekk, Arcane Suppression, Vile Intent, Tribulation & Last Orders & Honey for Christ – 18th February – Spring & Airbrake (in aid of Fibromyalgia)
  • Saxon – March 2nd Spring & Airbrake
  • Mastodon – March 2nd Mandella Hall
  • SLF – March 9th – Ulster Hall
  • Dirty DC – 10th March – The Empire
  • The Australian Pink Floyd – 23rd March – The Odyssey Arena
  • My Chemical Romance – 1st April – RDS Simmonscourt
  • Trivium – 8/9 April – The Ambassador (Dub)
  • 36 Crazyfists – 28th April – Spring & Airbrake
  • Bryan Adams – 5th May – Odyssey Arena
  • Roger Waters – 14th May – The Point
  • Meatloaf - 31st May – Odyssey Arena
  • Rottfest – TBC if it goes ahead again
  • AC/DC – Slane – Date TBC
  • Heaven & Hell (Dio-era Sabbath) Possible Dublin date
    Download – a repeat of last year’s Dublin transfer of Donington possible

Friday, December 29, 2006

Don't like religious education?

Fed up with you (or for older readers your kids) doing RE at school? Guess what you/they don't need to. One letter (from parents) to the school and no more RE! It's in the Education Order 2003 (and if school says no refer them to the Children's Commissioner. Not sure if same arrangement is in England/Wales/Scotland etc, but if your heart is metal, whajadoin studying RE!

Beat the January blues with Soil!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Among the many gigs coming up in 2007 are two that you really must check out to help get things off to a great start - Soil on 17th January at the Spring & Airbrake and Rattlesnake Remedy at the Empire on 27th January.

Look out for more gig news here soon!

New Year metal crisis

Damn, damn, fuck, bugger, shit, balls! 2007 hasn't even arrived and already there are metal crises! They are:

  • Too many good gigs and too little money/time off work
  • Neck braces are in short supply for the forthcoming metal mayhem
  • Mastodon and Saxon are playing in Belfast on the same night....
This last one is particularly bothersome (now there's a word that doesn't come into many metal sites/magazines!).

Both gigs are events worth looking forward to, but for very different reasons. Saxon are part of metal's heritage; living fossils they may be, but still holding a vital part in the pantheon of metal gods. They may not have scaled the heights of their NWOBHM contemporaries, but their influence spread far and wide; hell even Metallica covered them and name checked them. Belfastmetalheads last saw them back in the early 80s - on the day that a maths 'o' level was being sat (for younger readers 'o' levels were GCSEs before there were GCSEs, only they were harder and meant you had to study for them not complete coursework that mummy and daddy help with and teacher adds comments to help you with)

Saxon played at Belfast's Maysfield Leisure Centre that night and was a damn fine gig, even if at times it strayed into Greatest Hits territory. Given that the hits consisted of tracks like Wheels of Steel, Denim and Leather and 747: Strangers in the Night all was forgiven.

Mastodon, on the other hand are new, exciting and holding the prog metal flag aloft, proud and confident in their abilities and oozing with contemporary licks, astounding talent and impish imagery. Not for nothing did Metal Hamster, sorry Hammer, declare Blood Mountain the best platter of steely metal content of 2007.

The only way I can think to resolve this metallic quandry is...Mastodon t come on stage at the Mandella Hall at about 8(ish), conclude at 10(ish), then we grab band members and all head in an overloaded taxi to see Saxon coming on stage about 10:30(ish) for a two hour set...then off to the Rotterdam :)

Now who has the phone numbers of the two sets of tour managers!

Ooops - dissed Trivium unfairly

Seems that I may have dissed Trivium unfairly (see two previous posts). While I was peeved/annoyed/pissed off that Trivium weren't playing Belfast and were playing two dates in Dublin on the headlining Crusade tour (with Annihilator as support!) it wasn't the Floridian's fault!

Apparently they tried to book the Ulster Hall again, but as renovation work will be taking place over that period, they weren't able to. The source for this, Paolo - top guy, bassist and all-round good chappie; hell he even took the time to apologise to Belfast fans on the band's forum!

So, sorry guys for dissing you unfairly - but looking at the schedule...you could slot in a date in June for Rottfest....if it happens this year.

Friday, December 22, 2006

MAIDEN, MAIDEN, MAIDEN….such was the ignorance of some daft twat yelling behind those of us revelling in the quieter segments of the masterful ‘Matter of Life and Death’ when Iron Maiden played it in it’s entirety at Dublin’s Point theatre on Wednesday night.

Once he was (forcibly) disabused of the notion that yelling the band's name in the middle of one of their songs was unacceptable unless (a) it is part of a singalong or (b) you really want a slap to the head; it did serve to reveal interesting insights into Wednesday’s concert. Firstly, Maiden have the balls of lionhearted musical warriors to play an album, that is mere weeks old, from start to finish. And, also, that there were many people who were there waiting for a greatest hits package who have neither the time nor the inclination to read the articles, interviews and web posts, forums and blogs that told of the bold move by the Irons.

And that is always the problem for some people; Maiden have been doing things on their own terms for the 25 years that they have been rocking the metal world...

Nepotism is a dirty word in politics (check it up in the dictionary if you don’t know what it means). And in the music world it is usually frowned upon. But when Steve Harris signs his daughter’s band to open for Maiden, it raises not an eyebrow.

Had her set been crap that might have been a different matter. Fortunately Lauren Harris has killer tunes and great looks ("Easy on the eye" being Baal’s verdict). Where it all fell down on Wednesday was that her stuff isn’t metal. It’s loud, raucous old school hard rock, but not heavy metal. A less forgiving audience would have ignored the tunes and ignored the energy and passion so obvious in her songs. Lauren has a future in the rock spectrum, but she needs to improve her banter, and perhaps think about the name of her band; it would be awful if her talent as dsplayed at The Point was over-shadowed by accusations of trading on daddy’s success.

Trivium also has family close to them; Matt Heafy’s father is co-manager of the band. Some ignorant so called metal fans have accused them of having it easy; but the truth is much different. They’ve worked and toured damn hard to get to the place where they are respected by so many in the business and adored by fans, especially in the UK; where The Crusade sold 10,000 copies on the day of its release.

In Dublin on Wednesday they were playing to a largely converted audience, even if a few were not prepared to give the Floridians a chance.

They ripped through their set, with a healthy outing of tracks from The Crusade and ending with Ascendancy’s highlight songs Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation and Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr. All in all Trivium are much better when they are playing a full set, as the shredding solos and better balanced set pacing gives their Metallica/Megadeth tinged epics more room to breathe. Now cancel one of those Ambassador gigs and make tracks for Belfast you bastards! :)

Where to start with Maiden? Bruce’s banter, ‘Bomber’ Harris’s energy; three virtuoso guitarists, or a drummer in Nicko who makes a single bass kit sound mightier than half of the double kick amateurs plying their wares in metal?

Truth is Maiden are a metallic behemoth packed with talent; accomplished as musicians and entertainers. With 25 years tucked under their collective belts they know what people pay them to do; make a gig an event in every sense of the world.

Clearly Maiden are a band comfortable in what they do, but with hidden depths of musical skill and lyrical dexterity emerging during the course of the Matter of Life and Death tunes.

The gamble in playing all the album paid off. From the traditional sounding Maiden opener of Different Worlds, through to the intricacies of The Legacy, the core set was a series of jaw-dropping highlights; even those weaker tracks from Matter of Life and Death (and they’re only weak in comparison to the rest of the album, they stand head and shoulders above the rest of most of the current contenders in metal) emerge live as fresh and devastating. Out of the Shadows and Lord…in particular have a far greater impact in the competitive atmosphere of a gig.

Benjamin Breeg and These Clours Don’t Run are particularly noteworthy, but when The Legacy emerges unshackled from the confines of the CD player to the stadium it is clear that Maiden have now transcended all musical boundaries that ignorant critics and misguided fans try to shackle them with. Bruce’s command of the stage is absolute. Harris and McBrain handle shifting rhythms as if negotiating unsteady sands, always teetering on the edge of falling, yet somehow managing to keep the changes to tempo and time signatures under control and anchoring the song for Bruce and the triumvirate of guitar excellence.

Smith, Murray and Gers are clearly working now as a unit, much more than ever before, whereas previously there was a times too much effort to make sure everyone got a moment in the spotlight.

Gers and Murray’s strat dominated sounds are counter-pointed by Smith’s edgier work; but it is Gers who has at last seemed to have discovered his comfortable niche in the band’s complicated live chemistry.

Outlandish gestures, finger-pointing and mock histrionics (pretending to play over other’s solos and feigning innocence as he drops hands off the neck, he is positioned as the ring leader of the six-string trio’s performance.

But make no mistake; live there are two people who help Maiden transcend to ever higher metal achievements. Harris and Dickinson. One an East End boy, the other a public school drop-out with what seems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; both foils for each others idiosyncrasies, both determined, despite past rumoured fall-outs, to deliver an all-out, no holds barred heavy metal show.

Oh, and it being a Maiden show there was of course, Eddie, atop a tank etc, etc, encores packed with signature tracks (Fear of the Dark and Iron Maiden getting better each time they’re played live) and banter with the crowd.

Apologies for this being a long winded review, but really Maiden are that magisterial live; dominating the audience and having the time of their lives, while we join in the party. Ten paragraphs in Merrang or Metal Hamster just don't capture the seering audacity of the Irons in full flight.

It seems that the 12-legged monster is playing just at Donington on Thursday 6th June 2007, before the main festivities get under way (TBC). But as Bruce promised, find them a muddy field to play on this island and they’ll be there. Can’t come too soon.

Belfast people go to Dublin gigs shocker

There’s a feeling that hits a day or two after a really good concert. The adrenaline has died down, the half-ecstatic delirium of singing along full-throated to stunningly rendered tracks has all faded and the after-glow of the lights has disappeared; even that pleasant buzzing in your ears has gone.

After Iron Maiden’s monstrous outing at The Point, Dublin on Wednesday 20th December those feelings came too quickly – while struggling through fog bound roads back to Belfast.

What made the pleasant feelings recede so quickly was mainly due to the acclamation of Lauren Harris and Trivium about how good the Dublin crowd was… It’s understandable that they wouldn’t know how many metalheads had travelled down from Northern Ireland; but it was even more galling to hear Tivium announce dates in Dublin and no Belfast dates. [And no Belfast dates on their web pages yet!]

Anyone with common sense will acknowledge that Belfast’s rock and metal community can’t support a show as extensive as Maiden’s sublimely over-the-top set; hell, we all remember how few came out to see Judas Priest and Scorpions. It just isn’t economically viable for the largest rock and metal acts to play Belfast.

But it remains a must play city for emerging and developing bands. Witness the loyalty of Dragonforce, 36 Crizyfists et al to the city's rock and metal fans.

So, Trivium change one of the dates listed for the Ambassador in Dublin to another Ulster hall show in Belfast. And to all the other acts that leave Belfast off their gig listings; yeah we’ll journey down to Dublin to be ripped off by car parking, hotels and over-priced beer, but for fuck sake remember that there are a helluva lot of people who made the journey from Northern Ireland.

[Editor’s note: We of course do not apply this sanction to Bruce as “Scream for Me, Ireland, north and south!” just won’t work and he really is a mega metal star, so we’ll settle for “Scream for Me Dublin!”

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rockin' New Year

In a fomer life I spent six years as a journalist (still write a bit for a few titles, but not full-time). Come this time of year a review of year past was penned and a look forward to the coming year was demanded by the editor.

Belfast Metalheads hasn't got round to updating this blog for a while, so the review of the year is...well I'll get round to it before 2007.

Until then, a brief look forward to some confirmed and some tentative dates for 2007...

Soil – Brand New Sin – lennon – 17th January - Spring & Airbrake

Kerrang! Tour – Buffy Clyro, - The Bronx – The Audition – I am ghost – Mandela Hall, 11th January

Supersuckers – 26th January – Spring & Airbrake

Deft Leppard – 17th February – The Empire

Sorrowfall, Residual Effect, Bad Boat, Catch 23, Hoax, Blind Friday, Drekk, Arcane Suppression, Vile Intent, Tribulation & Last Orders & Honey for Christ – 18th February – Spring & Airbrake (in aid of Fibromyalgia)

Saxon – March 2nd Spring & Airbrake

SLF – March 9th

My Chemical Romance – 1st April – RDS Simmonscourt

36 Crazyfists – 28th April – Spring & Airbrake

Rottfest – TBC if it goes ahead again

AC/DC – Slane – Date TBC

Heaven & Hell (Dio-era Sabbath) Possible Dublin date

Download – a repeat of last year’s Dublin transfer of Donington possible

Hopefully something to keep everyone happy, and more gigs still to be added!