Pick Your Rock and Metal

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New riff on old clichés - foo reflections

SO the Fo Fighters came to town - we drank beer, we got soaked and we sang-a-long to Everlong...so fucking what?

Well, there's a lot more than that...

First off - too loud? How many eejits can be crammed into one radio phone-in whining and whingeing about a rock concert being too loud? Officialy the Foo Fighters reached 104db at one point before reining it in....boy the residents who moaned would have really hated it if Manowar were playing with their full rig.

But first and foremost the Tennents Vital show with the Foo Fighters was a great, beer soaked, rain-drenched experience [More of that later].

And Trucker Diablo were opening the show - how fucking good could it get? Unfortunately otherwise faultless organisation of the day was marred by having Trucker kick off at 3:40, just 10 minutes after the gates opened; leaving the thousands (and I mean thousands) standing around, shuffling. Apparently an issue about checking IDs led to the confusion...still what we did see (three songs) were excellent as usual from the Diablo crew, with Drink Beer, Destroy, Big Truck and new song When the Rain Comes; which of course had been coming down in torrents with accompanying thunder

The pre-Foo line-up was not to my taste, nor anyone else's in my company, still the over-priced beer was flowing and the craic was good.

Speaking of beer (which we occassionally do) the whole concept of Tennents Vital is an interesting one. It is huge a brand opportunity for Tennents, not to mention the many pints sold at £4 a pop: captive audience and all that the queues for a pint were extraordinary. Partnered with MCD this type of gig involves all sorts of arrangements that require a law degree, a business masters degree and a wealth of experience.

With 32,000 there the ticket revenue would have been more than £1.2m, but put that beside the cost of bringing the Foo Fighters (and those other bands...) you probably have the guts of £750,000 down the pan including stage set-up and sound system. Then staff costs, legal costs (you need lawyers for contracts and to get your entertainment licence through the council's committee system), the costs of the hire of the playing fields and restoration of the pitches afterwards, added into a marketing budget and it is plain that the margin when selling those tickets is tight.

Which means that MCD and Tennents are taking a risk booking Vital. Should a calculation and estimate go wrong, then there are serious losses on the cards, which can be mitigated to a certain extent, but still it is a risk that has already seen one promoter badly stung (albeit through booking a very strange line-up) and the cancellation of Sonisphere in England. Large and small, we should all take the time to all gig promoters for taking the risk everytime they book a band.

So, just over a week on, one must doff a cap to MCD and Tennents - hefty ticket prices and dear beer aside - nevertheless they offered us the chance to see an international grammy award winning rock legend in the person of Mr Grohl.

In a lengthy set Mr Grohl covered all that would be expected, with a smattering of tracks from the new album through to the greatest hit selection. For those who watched the Foos Reading slot on BBC3 you'll know that much of the stage routine and banter is pre-planned and scheduled - that's not being predictable, that's why practice makes perfect delivery. Hard rock can be a cliché at times but the Foo Fighters brought a new riff to the old formula.

It is then a challenge for the front man to hold the crowd, something which Mr Grohl manages to do rather well.

But, here comes the confusion: the choice of the Pink Floyd cover, which they played a snatch of (if you don't know what it was then you need more rock education! It's from The Wall and is a key moment in Pink's life).

The track is at the point when the rock 'n' roll dream lies in tatters and Pink's persona takes a turn towards messianic megalomania. "Pink isn't well/he stayed back at the hotel/they sent us along as a surrogate band/tofind out where you fans really stand"

What message is that sending out. Is it simply that Dave likes the riff. Is he ripping a line to the fading memory of Nirvana, or is it an ironic take on where superstardom has taken the Foo journey to.

If Dave would care to comment, we'd be most grateful.

In the meantime - thanks to Tennents, MCD, Trucker Diablo and all the Foo Fighters. Next time make sure it's even louder - we rockers like to share!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Big Truck keeps on rollin'

FOO Fighters? Yeah, they rock and Dave Grohl has the whitest teeth in the history of rock, and they're playing in Belfast at Tennents Vital: and they should be honoured - indeed I am assured they are - to be sharing the stage with Trucker Diablo!

Of course, we are a little biased, but seriously, between the Foo Fighters and Trucker Diablo it's really the only excuse to be in or near the Boucher Road in Belfast on Tuesday coming. [We have patrols out on that day and any hard rock fans found in a DIY shop or car showroom will receive a severe reprimand!]

Tennents Vital in previous yeasrs has had little to catch the eye of hard rock and metal fans - The Darkness at Botanic was the closest one we can recall in our alcohol addled state - but the combination of the Foo Fighters (and yes Mr Grohl is metal - we say so because of the Probot album!) and Trucker Diablo is simply irresistable.

There will be no other opportunity to see Trucke open the proceedings before wandering around sneering at the scenesters and the bad fringes while supping a pint or two or three or four before joining in to all those rocktastic and poptastic songs like Monkey Wrench and Learning to Fly.

For Trucker it is another step along the Big Truck's inexorable march to global domination - on Saturday they play Stendhal Festival in Limavady after an English tour in July, numerous club dates and after Vital another tour (when I have full details I'll update).

As for the Foos? Only date in Ireland, this year, or next year and in all likelihood none the following year until their gig at the Diamond rock Bar is confirmed... Enough said.

See y'all on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sepultura competition

Congratulations to Alex who has won a pair of tickets to see this lot of Brazilian metal maestros

And hear new Triggerman material off this tasty wee platter:

Remember that tickets are still available for tomorrow night's (Sunday 12th August)  Limelight gig from these two metal titans - where the River Foyle meets the Amazon!

So thanks for everyone who entered lucky winner and unlucky entrants will have been sent their emails by now.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Quick! Sepultura Ticket competition!

RIGHT you lot! Very quick Sepultura ticket competition. The kind folks at CDC/Shine have offered up a pair of tickets to see the awesome pairing of Brazil's finest and Derry/Londonerry's most rauscous, Triggerman when they rip a new roof on the Limelight this coming Sunday (August 12th)

On Sunday Sepultura are in the closing stages of the world tour to back 2011 release Kairos, while Triggerman offer their latest preacher metal offering, Hail to the River Gods [Review here] to further unwitting souls.

Sepultura have been described as many things, and there has certainly been much speculation about whether 'classic' Sepultura or the Derrick Green era is the 'better' version.

All any fan of metal should really care about is the fact that they rock like bastards and are more metal than yer ma!

Kairos is an album thhat cements the Green-era, defining the band's vision, and kicks you in the nuts painfully, even when you think you know it is coming.

This is also the first tour with 20-year-old Eloy Casagrande behind the drums - and from tour reports he kicks like a mule on steroids, providing the back beat to the barely kept in check chaos unfolding in front of his drum riser.

Okay - you want us to cut to the chase...how can you win a pair of tickets?

Simply tell us what is the title of Sepultura's latest album (clue: read the feckin' paragraphs above!). Email your answer here by midday on Saturday.

And if you haven't got an email by 5pm on Saturday, pack up yer mosh boots and head along to the Limelight on Sunday.

Doors open at 8pm and there are some tickets left on the door - and if you're not there we're sending Derrick and Bap to find ya!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Saintly sinners on the Million dollar march

NORTHERN Ireland hard rock and heavy metal is riding high on the crest of the proverbial wave at the present, with bands slotted in for top support slots at Tenents Vital and at last count three finalists in the Total Biker FM talent contests, soon to be joined by at least another act.

And on Thursday one of the leading acts takes to the stage at Belfast's Empire on Thursday, 9th August, (for the Belfast launch of their album, A Sinner's Saint. [Review here.] [SEE BOTTOM FOR GIG LINE-UP UPDATE!]

A Million$Reload have been working their way steadily and surely to become real contenders, chock full of attitude and with just the right blend of Northern Ireland snarl and melod.

We caught up with  vocalist Phil Conlane as they prepared for their headline slot in this SO:NI backed event as he reflected on what seems the inexorable march of the Northern Ireland rock scene.

"I don't know what the reason is," he said, "but long may it continue. There are so many great bands from Northern Ireland it's only a matter of time before we take over the world!"

And for Million$Reload it's been a year with many highlights, not least the release of A Sinner's Saint, and good reviews in the national media (Metal Hammer accorded them a credible 'seven').

Amongst those highlights for Phil: "Finally getting the album out because it took so long to get a good deal done with the label, and it was a highlight to play Dowload."

With that in mind the band are in high spirits going into Thursday's launch.

"We're looking forward to the Belfast gug," said Phil. "The SO:NI gigs are always good and it's been a while since we've played in Belfast. And we're all looking forward to playing the new songs [from A Sinner's Saint] to the city's audience.

And, after that, Phil says the band's plans can be encompassed in three words: "Touring, Touring, Touring!"

Joining Million$Reload on stage will be the début set from Matt Fitzsimon fronted Rival Saints. Sweet Taste's new line-up complete the warm up before Million$Reload and in the midnight slot are Fermanagh's Filthy Angels: A night of Sins, Saints, Angels and damn fine hard rock. Doors are 8:30pm and pay yer dues of a measly £5 to gain entry!

A Sinner's Saint from Million$Reload is out now on Frontiers, and it's available in all good record stores - here's evidence of a few still available on HMV if you want to stock up in advance!

[And don't forget people to vote for Northern Ireland acts By Any Means and Warcrux in the latest Total Biker FM talent contests with Double Wide, Sinocence and Swanee River already through to the finals!]


Rival Saints will not now be appearing and their slot will be taken by The Screaming Eagles

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Lucky 13 for massively impressive Magnum

LET'S face it, we've always had a soft spot for Magnum: great guys, great music and something uniquely of these island in terms of their sound.

But as they now have the title - like it or not - as elder statesment of British melodic rock, can they still deliver. In 2011 Visitation hinted that they could still pound out to the template of earnest vocals from Bob Catley, backed by the guitar tapestries of Tony Clarkin and the sweep and swoop of Mark Stanaway's keyboard. So well received was it that Visitation charted in the UK album charts at 55 and topped the UK rock chart.

New release On The 13th Day hits the racks in September and fans are in for a treat.

Our assocation with Magnum goes back to their performance in QUB's Speakeasy during the On A Storyteller's Night tour, backed by Dublin's Winter's Reign. Bob Catley - total all round top bloke - took the time to come across and spend time with fans in the QUB History Department's Common Room.

When they returned a year later on the Vigilante tour to Belfast's Ulster Hall they still proved to be all round nice guys as well as dynamic and bombastic perforners.

That was in the late 80s. This is 2012. With the new release can they maintain the momentum of Visitation, and capture that sound that enthralled Belfast audiences and was a constant presence on Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show?

The answer is a loud hell yeah!

From opener All the Dreamers to closer From Within this is a tour de force of how progressive melodic rock should be delivered.

Catley's vocal performance has matured and has also added a dark menace as on the track Dance of the Black Tattoo to complement his usual soaring consistency.

Clarkin's guitar work is measured and rolling and swaying on Shadow Town, with Stanway tight and light,  the duo adding a lush landscape as the song develops towards a lovely chorus with a message.

Title track - On the 13th Day - is Magnum at their best: riffs integral to the song structure, not dominating; solo journeys tight as hell; and, Catley raising his game as the pre-chorus suddenly develops into sincere lyrical rhetoric for the state of this world faced with austerity and misery for millions.

Magnum prove they are not only relevant, but keep the promise that hard rock has a place in the heads and hearts of a sizeable chunk of the population. This album carries itself, not with the swagger of rockers content just to churn out what they made their name from: no, Magnum play here as if they were young début artists who demand your attention and that demand is easily answered.

And as an extra wee lift for long time fans the cover is by long time associate Rodney Matthews.

On The 13th Day is released on Steamhammer/SPV on September 24th