The Electric Mud – Burn the Ships Album Review

Another album review that appeared not too long ago on EVER METAL – now catching up on my site:

The Electric Mud – Burn the Ships

Self Released (Dewar PR)

Release date: 23/08/2019

Running time: 38 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Let’s get the important stuff covered off first.  For any of you who thought this band were something to do with that lot from the seventies who sang “Tiger Feet”, you’re wrong.  The Electric Mud have very little in common with their glam rock similar-name sakes.  Of course, a professional such as myself would never make a mistake like that.

The Electric Mud hail from Fort Myers, Florida – and specialise in a making a steaming hot gumbo of stoner rock and dense, swampy blues.

“Burn the Ships” is the Electric Mud’s second album.  Through the course of seven songs, the listener travels from the sweltering everglades through time and space – as vintage sounds melt with modern.

Opening track “Call the Judge” oozes an irresistible Southern rock’n’roll groove, starting proceedings with a triumphant swagger.  Grab a beer and a whiskey chaser, you know it’s going to be a lively night in the Roadhouse.

The Electric Mud show their stoner credentials on tracks like “Priestess”, which melds inventive riffs with pace and dynamics.  “Good Monster” weaves funky, head bobbing grooves and “Reptile” lunges out of the depths, attacking like a gator whose mother’s been made into a pair of shoes.

There’s some stunning musicianship on display here; the guitars of Constantine Grim and Pete Kolter are crunchy yet nimble when required.  Tommy Scott’s bass rumbles and glides perfectly.  Pierson Whicker’s drums can smash and bang yet can be refined when necessary.  Kolter’s voice, smoky yet soulful, is an addictive asset in itself.

Songs range from rocking brawlers to heartfelt blues with awesome proficiency.  “Black Wool” and “Terrestrial Birds” showcase these slower moments really well, allowing the music to breathe and worm its way under your skin.

The variety of sound – together with the confident delivery and clever song writing – is what makes “Burn the Ships” engaging and successful.  In the best tradition of stoner rock, The Electric Mud can combine old and new, fast and smooth, dirty and graceful.  Their Southern charm, marinated in the blues, give this band their unique identity.

Although it feels maybe one song too short, “Burn the Ships” is full of character and demands repeat listens.

By the way, I used to see quite a bit of Mud – and lots of other glam rock bands – in the early seventies.  Mud used to take a paddling pool everywhere with them, to do some backstage mud wrestling.  Hence the name, you see?  Though it never worked.  Not once did they persuade lovely dance troupe Pan’s People to get involved.  Or Suzi Quatro.  It usually just ended with the band in the mud bath, drunk on Babycham and fighting with Slade.

The Electric Mud website is here.

The Electric Mud Facebook page is here; Twitter is here and Instagram is here.

Find The Electric Mud on Bandcamp here.

Torqued – Resurgence EP Review

Another review I wrote recently for Ever Metal, reproduced here for any stragglers:

Torqued – Resurgence EP

Self released

Release date: July 2018

Running Time: 34 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7/10

AAARRRGGH!!  Run for your lives!  The machines have risen, they’ll destroy us all!  Humanity can never survive the relentless, cruel onslaught of metal machinery in revolt!

Wait, no – it’s OK.  It’s just the start of the first track, “Forgotten Soul”, on Torqued’s brutal “Resurgence” EP.  Phew, thank goodness for that…

Bursting out of the gates, this “groove laden heavy metal” trio call the southern UK their home.  This is their debut EP, one I was keen to review having caught them live at last year’s Pentre Fest.

Both the opening song and the follow up, “Follow Me”, rage with a Machine Head like power.  It’s full on, crunching metal – like Robocop driving a Mustang full-pelt into a tin can factory.  Lead vocals are barked by Marc, who also handles the bass duties in satisfyingly chunky fashion.

Third track, “Overload, I Die Inside” changes gears with a spellbinding instrumental opening section.  I really loved the slow build up, starting with Kurt’s tribal pounding as Rimmy’s melodic guitar begins to chime.  It builds to an Eastern sounding riff, before settling into a huge groove that would make classic Pantera jealous.

“Hollow Core” then shifts the pace up a bit, with another fierce yet catchy riff.  Great spooky breakdown in the middle, too!

The final two tracks are live versions of tracks 3 and 4.  Usually I’m sceptical about live tracks as just filler, but here they do serve to demonstrate that Torqued can dish this stuff up in a live setting.

The “Resurgence” EP is a great introduction to a band with a hell of a lot going for them.  I’d like to hear a full album rather than just an EP, but have no fear – the next EP is on its way very soon.  In the meantime, enjoy this initial sampler from Torqued.  Before your toaster or lawnmower try to kill you.

Visit Ever Metal for all your Rock and Metal action!

Visit Torqued at https://torqued.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Torquedband/

1968 – Ballads of the Godless album review

My review of the new 1968 album, “Ballads of the Godless”, has just appeared on EVER METAL.  Here’s the review again, just because:

 

1968 – Ballads of the Godless 

Release date: 06/07/2018

Running Time: 38:24

8/10

Sometimes, without warning, it all comes flooding back and I’m thrust into the nightmare of that jungle.  Thirty days on patrol with no chopper cover.  The heat, unbearable; sweat running in rivers down my spine.  Cradling my M16 like a good luck charm, praying under my breath that there ain’t no VC gonna unload a torrent of lead at me and my buddies.  Trudging on, hour after hour, waiting to get back to the LZ for evac.  Chukka-chukka-chukka, the Hueys overhead and the rush of wind from the blades.

Maybe these guys from 1968 were in Nam too.  Maybe this debut album, “Ballads of the Godless” is actually a lost relic from those days that’s just been unearthed.  Maybe 1968 invented heavy, psychedelic rock after hearing Hendrix and Cream and some of those old blues guys.  Certainly seems crazy enough to be true.

Opening with “Devilswine”, 1968 lay out their ground plan confidently.  It’s a mighty power groove that makes your head nod, setting the tone for the whole album.  “Screaming Sun” follows and adds a more psychedelic shine, Jimi Coppack’s vocals soaring while the riffs hammer.  “Temple of the Acid Wolf” adds further intricate detail, with shades of vintage Soundgarden.  1968 set about laying waste to all in it’s sights like Ozzy manning the Air Cav machine gun on a strafing run.

It’s not all Ride of the Valkyries mayhem however.  Last track on Side 1 (vinyl lovers!), “S.J.D.” is an instrumental that provides a more reflective tone.  Acoustic guitar and piano feature, in a stylistically fine salute to the classics of the genre.

This bleeds nicely into Side 2, track 1 – “Chemtrail Blues”, where guitarist Sam Orr gets chance to unleash Hendrixian guitar flourishes over a bluesy beat.  It’s like that time me and my buddy chewed acid in a fox hole while under fire.  The rocket traces in the sky lit up like God’s neon veins.

“McQueen” opens with some infectious bass, before melting out of a mellow vibe and into a crushing chorus.  The bottom end is nice and heavy throughout, The Bear delivering pummelling yet warm playing.

Rhythms are also tight and show a groove more contagious than jungle malaria.  Dan Amati on drums shines on “The Hunted” in particular.  Final track “Mother of God” brings on a deceptively laid back, acid dripping feel as we finally get some R’n’R in Saigon.

“Ballads of the Godless” reveals more and more depth, thought and intricacy with each listen.  On this first album, the band make good on a lifetime studying from the past masters.  My only question is how will 1968 continue to evolve and add to their sound?  I can’t wait to find out.

For now, it’s back to reality.  No more choppers overhead, cries in the jungle and that oppressive, relentless heat.  Until I spin “Ballads of the Godless” again…

 

You can read more about all things metal at the Ever Metal site.

Hollywood Vampires – Gig Review

Hollywood Vampires + The Darkness + The Damned

Sunday 17th June 2017

Manchester Arena

It was a rare, but welcome night out for Mrs Platinum Al and myself in good old Manchester.  Tickets were booked and we were off to see the big rock show.  It promised to be an exciting evening, but I was unsure whether our expectations would be met.

First off the bat, our old chums The Damned!  This was a real bonus for me, though the handbrake is also a fan after all these years of putting up with me playing their records.  However I was a tad nervous, wondering how these esteemed gentlemen would go down with what appeared to be a more traditional rock crowd.  And in such a huge venue.

Now I know I’m biased, but we were both impressed by The Damned’s performance.  The band didn’t shy away from the large stage; they actually looked quite comfortable up there.  I was quite a way away, mind – I think our seats were in Stockport.

Opener “Street of Dreams” was a moody yet raucous number that’s become a bit of a live favourite of mine over the years.  Follow that with classic “Neat Neat Neat” and you’re off to a hell blazing start.  Just as the stars align and every single person in the huge arena is going “Oooh, they’re quite good, aren’t they?” we get a minor mishap with Captain Sensible’s guitar packing in and the moment seems lost…

Not to worry, before you can say “is he the bloke  who sang Shaddup You Face?” the band, old troopers that they are, are back in the game.  Dave Vanian steers the ship over stormy waters and is in fine, confident voice all through.

The icing on the cake – for me, at least – is the return of Paul Gray, a sight I’ve not witnessed since Sheffield, 1991!  Paul’s bass rumbles and sounds triumphant, particularly in the “Love Song” intro.  Fantastic.  There’s just a drop in volume during “Ignite”, other than that, Paul is a ninja master.

Pinch’s drums are perfect, you can hear Monty (and see him bouncing about); so other than a couple of technical issues The Damned performed superbly.  The set is far too short of course, but I was relieved that they seemed to go down well.  From where I was sat, the arena seemed mostly full, so they didn’t suffer from support-band-empty-hall syndrome either.

I felt like I was watching my child in the school play; happily no-one forgot  their lines and The Damned get a gold star.

You can certainly say that I got value for money for this gig, what with three bands on.  However I was feeling a little short changed after The Darkness performed.  Admittedly, I am biased in favour of The Damned.  Yet I’ve seen The Darkness before, at Download festival a couple of years ago, and was much more impressed.

Not that the Hawkins boys don’t give it a fair shot; a short tight set is delivered in inimitable style with splurges of Justin’s trademark wit and swagger.  Perhaps it’s just that the set is lacking some bigger numbers in the first half; following “Growing On Me” with “Love is Only a Feeling” as the third song is too much of a comedown so early on.

The crowd don’t seem to mind though, it all goes down very well.  Let’s be honest, most of ’em are happy because they’ve heard of The Darkness and haven’t got a clue who The Damned are.  Or, shock horror, don’t like punk rock.  For me, with no “Black Shuck” in the set, and a mediocre version of “Barbarians”, it’s good but not great from the Darkness.

I still can’t bring myself to dislike ’em, regardless.  At least The Darkness tried to bring loud, exuberant British guitar rock into the 21st century, and aren’t a wanky indie band.

There followed some musical chairs for Mrs Platinum Al and me, as we secured seats much nearer the front.  This pleased the other half immensely, she would now have a much better view of the headliners (or one of them, at any rate).

And so the Hollywood Vampires took the stage, and the Big Rock Show was in it’s final phase.  The air of tense expectation was only mildly subdued by the band’s arrival, as the audience were keen to experience what they could serve up.  Would this be a vanity project for ageing rock stars and their pirate actor buddy?  Or could they deliver something tangibly worth their collective prowess?

Led by the preposterously cool Mr Alice Cooper, the Vamps rattle through a few of their own original numbers at first, as if to prove a point.  Yes, they can play – and they can write, too.  It’s super confident and great fun – every song gets a chance to shine on it’s own merits.

The bulk of the set is a succession of expertly reproduced cover songs, each dedicated with respect to a fallen rock comrade.  Songs range from The Doors, to Motorhead, to AC/DC – with my favourite being a great version of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”.

Joe Perry delivers a spine tingling “Sweet Emotion” complete with the extended intro that builds magnificently.  It’s a master class in rock star awesomeness, though Joe seems very much enjoying himself in a humble manner.

Despite the attention thrust upon him by a vast number of fans in attendance, Johnny Depp manages to not only look the embodiment of cool, but actually performs brilliantly.  He appears very much in his element as part of this massive spectacle, indeed his rendition of Bowie’s “Heroes” is one of the highlights of the night.

It’s one of several moments that manages to evoke the ghosts of heroes past, as  accompanying images are shown on the screen onstage.  It’s not altogether subtle, but rock’n’roll rarely is.  Instead the audience cheer their appreciation and nod sagely as our heroes are exhumed for us to behold.

Finally, Alice declares “School’s Out” yet again, as the whole show reaches it’s climax.  Cooper is an absolute delight, the demented circus master and ring leader of this crazy gang.  He is unbelievably cool and amazing at what he does: a true legend.

In the end, despite any doubts, it’s been a hell of a ride.  Despite whatever misgivings anyone may have had regarding authenticity, the Hollywood Vampires delivered an excellent, well performed show that was pure fun.  It was so much more than just athe world’s biggest covers band.  Abandon your cynicism, this was rock’n’roll for the sheer joy of it.  Which is what it’s all about, right?

Black Sabbath – The End

bs

Black Sabbath + Rival Sons

Saturday 4th February 2017

Genting Arena Birmingham

The mighty Black Sabbath.  They created down tuned, dirty, doom laden heavy metal aeons ago.  Wrote songs that defined an entire genre and inspired millions of people.  Lived the rock’n’roll lifestyle to legendary excess, managing to survive through some miraculous method or other.  Black Sabbath are musical titans.

And this was The End – their last ever gig.  At least as far as we know at this point in time, and taking into consideration the band members current situations.

This was The End – Black Sabbath’s last live performance, ever – in their home city of Birmingham.

Through a result of pure luck I was able to blag myself on a trip to witness the event.  Sabbath are one of those bands that I’ve long been obsessed with, going on nearly thirty years now.  They’ve created fantastic albums that I’ve listened to again and again, so it was great to be able to catch this gig, before it was all over.

The support band were Rival Sons, a younger band that’s regarded very positively by fans and press alike.  I’m only familiar with one album or so worth of songs, but can safely say that they put on a very impressive performance.  Their music is rooted in the classic rock of yore, so it was an apt choice to support.  I didn’t recognise any of the material, but then Rival Sons are a band that definitely require some homework on my part.

A confident and popular support act, Rival Sons coped with the huge arena well.  They merit further investigation – I’m sure that classic song to get me hooked is tucked away on an album somewhere.

And so to the headliners, the incredible but sadly not immortal, Black Sabbath.  Of course they opened with the legendary “Black Sabbath” – what else? – the eerie three note, devil’s tritone that heralded the birth of metal years since.  A perfect start to the evening, Black Sabbath then proceeded to entertain with two hours of solid classics.

From my vantage point, standing in the massive arena hall near the sound desk, I couldn’t see great deal.  In fact, I could see more of Kelly and Sharon Osbourne, in the nearby VIP area,  than I could of Ozzy.  The sound however was superb and the set loaded with classics.  Plus I don’t think Ozzy (or Tony or Geezer) did much running around the stage anyway. bs1

Most of the songs were from the first four albums, which was cool by me.  Highlights were “Into the Void”, “Snowblind”, “Children of the Grave” and an unexpected showing of “Hand of Doom”.  Brilliant bass from Geezer Butler on “N.I.B.” too.

My absolute favourite Sabbath track, “Supernaut”, was unfortunately relegated to being sandwiched in as part of a medley (along with “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, another fave) – and therefore sadly under exposed.  A shame that, I went mental when the opening riff started.  No “Sweet Leaf” either.

“Supernaut” should have been in the set, certainly it was preferable to “Dirty Women” which was hauled out of the cellar and into the light one more time.  Although not their best material, this song did give Tony Iommi a chance to shine, the final guitar solo was absolutely explosive.

There were sadly no extra special moments, such as famous guests getting up to join in – maybe that would’ve diluted the spotlight on Sabbath.  It was nice to let them have their final moment of glory.  I think we were all hoping Bill Ward would make an appearance behind the drum kit for one last time though.

And finally, it was all over – with one last rendition of the genius song that is “Paranoid”.

Their final  gig was set to be emotional, set in their hometown for one last time.  In fact it was a hugely uplifting experience, rather than sombre – hundreds of the faithful showing their respect for all the music we love.  Not just Sabbath, but every metal band that’s followed in their sepulchral wake.

Black Sabbath – their legacy lives on.  They are the ultimate metal band and they leave us with a back catalogue beyond compare.  It’s never really The End.

The full setlist is here.

R.I.P. Lemmy

Lemmy

Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister

24.12.1945 – 28.12.2015

A huge part of growing up is buying your first Motorhead album.  For me it was the compilation album “No Remorse”, which I wanted because it had “Ace of Spades” and “Killed By Death” on it.  With that purchase, I took a step into a bigger world.  Motorhead were a gang, not just a band – and with buying that record I was subscribing to a whole new way of life.

The first time I encountered the rabid monster that was Motorhead was when they performed the legendary “Ace of Spades” on the Young Ones episode “Bambi”.  Lemmy was there front and centre, a living icon in mirror shades, mutton chop whiskers, and thunderous bass guitar; bellowing into a mic that was stretched to the ceiling.

Motorhead’s music was a raucous, fast burst of adrenaline and I played that album every Monday morning before school.  It was the best way to get into the zone and face the start of the week.  Total take no prisoners, take on the world music.  Of course, real life wasn’t so harsh, but Motorhead made you feel like you could do anything.

Lemmy himself was always the uncompromising rock’n’roll figurehead.  His gruff demeanour and his reputation for fast living only cemented his status.  And Motorhead were always cool.  When I developed a taste for punk rock, Motorhead were still cool.  Lemmy and Motorhead straddled the otherwise impossible crevasse between punk and metal.  He had roots going back to early rock’n’roll and the classics of the 60’s with the Beatles and Hendrix.  Lemmy was part of rock’s DNA.

Over the years I collected their albums, bought the t-shirt and Lemmy’s autobiography, and saw them live.  I even met the guy once.  One day I’ll write up the story of that night, which I was always going to call “The Greatest Night Out of My Life”.  Suffice to say that I met Lemmy in a strip club in Liverpool after a Motorhead gig, totally by chance.  I hung out with him all night.  He was extremely gracious and funny.  He was tolerant of drunk fans because he knew how much the music meant to us.

As much a gentleman as a warrior, the world has lost a real original with the passing of Lemmy Kilmister.  He was a pioneer, an innovator.  We knew he’d go one day, but it’s still unbelievable.  I’ll miss Motorhead.  Raise a glass to the great man and yell:

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling’s for fools, but that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t wanna live forever!”

Crobot/Scorpion Child/Buffalo Summer – Gig Review

Crobot + Scorpion Child + Buffalo Summer 

Wednesday 11th November 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

Wednesday night, but that doesn’t stop me.  When there is a need to rock, I rock.  I ain’t no weekend greaser.

The crowd in the Live Rooms was a healthy size, and quite rightly too.  Three bands for a tenner – and all of them up and coming hard rock superstars.  It’s a night of 21st century music that has one foot in 70’s classic rock, though striding confidently in to the modern realm.

Up first were Buffalo Summer, four lads from South Wales (yay!) who command the stage like seasoned masters.  Their mix of classic Free and Southern Skynyrd boogie is enhanced with some Sonic Temple era Cult swagger.  Powerful and melodic with a rough edge, their songs are anthemic but still have guts.  “Down to the River” was just one highlight in a terrific set, but take my word for it and check ’em out for yourself.

Next up were Scorpion Child, all the way from Texas.  Their version of classic rock was part Zep deep fried in Purple, and all tasty goodness.  These guys go for epic and do not compromise.  The songs build with purpose and create huge sonic vistas that hint at their geographic origin.  “Liqour”, “Kings Highway” and “Antioch” are all songs that capture Scorpion Child’s ability to meld molten riffs with a truly grand vision.  Fantastic.

Our final band of the night were Crobot, who erupt on the stage with electrified enthusiasm.  Their first album, “Something Supernatural”, is awesome – but the songs have even more groove live; Crobot are hugely powerful, with riffs that are simply titanic.  There are tons of highlights, “Skull of Geronimo”, “The Necromancer” and “Chupacabra” being just a few.  If you dig Clutch or Wolfmother, welcome to your new favourite band.  You need Crobot in your life sooner rather than later!

Reporting from the front lines, I’m happy to say that rock – classic, heavy, groovy rock – is alive and well.  Do not hide, do not run for cover – get out there and catch Crobot, Scorpion Child and Buffalo Summer now!

The Live Rooms website is here.

You can follow Crobot, Scorpion Child and Buffalo Summer on Twitter.  Get on it, you need to be ready.

crobot-scorpion-child-uk-tour

The Holy Rollers – Gig Review

The Holy Rollers

Saturday 3rd October 2015

The White Bear, Mancot, Deeside

Now I may not know much, but I do know two things very well: the first one is ROCK and the second one is ROLL.  And so I was looking forward to finally seeing The Holy Rollers play, bringing their unique brand of rock star to a local venue.

The White Bear is a great pub; featuring live acts every Saturday in addition to all the other wonderful things they do (like the food).  It’s also very close to home for me, luckily.  Though I was a bit worried I might end up hosting the after gig party for The Holy Rollers, being so close to the place.  Luckily that never happened – otherwise my TV would surely have been thrown out of the window…

Wrexham’s finest – The Holy Rollers – are a covers band par excellence; expertly rendering classics across various genres from different decades.  I understand they’re also debauched rock’n’rollers with a penchant for chaos and partying.

Whilst anticipation mounted, the band took their places and the intro tape played the start of the A-Team.  You know, “In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit…”  This was the first stroke of genius of the night.  If ever I’m in a band, I want the A-Team intro before I go on.  Awesome.

The Holy Rollers, crack commando rock stars that they are, launched into their first set of the night setting the tone nicely, with well chosen songs that skipped across styles effortlessly.  There’s some Oasis (“Rock’n’Roll Star”); some Stones (“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”) and even a classy “Beat It” to get the party started.  An early highlight for me was the Weezer classic “Buddy Holly”, just ‘cos I love Weezer. HR

The band confidently raided the back catalogue of numerous great bands to deliver a quality set, impressing with their craft.  Vocals and guitar duties are shared (and alternated) between Rob Roxx and G Bomb, adding some variety to the delivery.  Both of them delivered the tunes with a cool tenacity that made it all look easy.

The first set featured a storming final run through “Should I Stay of Should I Go”, “Hard Day’s Night”, “You Really Got Me” and Primal Scream’s “Rocks”.  You can’t fault that for a set list.

After a short break, the second half of the gig was back on.  We get ‘Phonics classic “Local Boy in the Photograph” and a bit of Bon Jovi.  The Holy Rollers version of Bad Company nugget “Feel Like Makin’ Love” was another highlight and a nice change of pace.

A mini punk rock section followed with “Teenage Kicks” (Undertones) and “Ever Fallen In Love…” (Buzzcocks).  The rhythm section did a fine job of keeping everything together as the pace changed through out the gig.  Bass player Maxx stalked the room like a rock’n’roll avenger with mayhem in mind.  Drummer Good Boy Roy pummelled the skins as if they’d insulted his mother.

Although delivering familiar material, The Holy Rollers always have an element of surprise tucked up their sleeves.  Case in point is the genius mash up of “Seven Nation Army” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” – two songs melded together to create a whole new monster.  It shouldn’t work, but it does – incredible.  The White Stripes and Marvin Gaye?  Who knows what other Frankensteins  these mad scientists can create?

The joy of The Holy Rollers gig was the fearless renditions of songs regardless of musical styles; be it “Uptown Funk”, Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” or the Smiths.  They are unafraid to play great songs, whether old or new, and regardless of genre.  It made a refreshing change to hear this four man mobile juke box playing songs that were well known, but given an exciting make over.

When the gig was over, The Holy Rollers dispersed.  Probably off to some rock star mansion to drive a Rolls Royce into the pool.  Or setting off fire works in expensive hotels.  Whatever they got up to; we, the people can rest assured.  Rock’n’roll is in safe hands.

Melvins – Gig Review

Melvins + Big Business

Friday 9th October 2015

Gorilla, Manchester

I had been waiting for this for a long time.  As a long time fan of the Melvins, it seems inexplicable that I’ve never seen them live before.  But then I rarely travel to Manchester for gigs.  2015 has been the year of live music for Platinum Al; as such the planets aligned, the tickets were bought, the wheels were rolling towards the big city and it was on.  Finally, I would witness the wonder of the Melvins.

And not just the Melvins – the support slot went to Big Business, a two piece of bass and drums in a similar mould to the mighty headliners.  Of course, anyone who knows their Black Flag from their Black Sabbath will tell you that Jared and Coady of this band also perform with Buzz and Dale to create the steaming sonic soup with lumpy riff croutons that is the Melvins. Melvins

The Big Business set was extremely impressive in it’s own right.  As I said, the band is just bass and drums, yet the almighty noise they make is astounding for a two piece.  They play a solid set that could’ve been a main course of the evening’s entertainment.  Big grooves, pounding drums and awesome sound scapes create a fine appetiser.

Gorilla in Manchester is some sort of restaurant/bar thing, with a stage at the back for live shows.  It’s seems more in scale with stand up comedy gigs, but despite the modest size it’s a great place to see the band – close up, good views and sound.  The beer is a bit expensive, but I got a Melvins (official!) t-shirt for a tenner!  Yeah!!!

So anyway, the Melvins arrive on stage as a four piece – Buzz, Dale, Jared and Coady – and we’re off.  It’s a gig unlike any I’ve experienced ever before.  There’s no breaks; no chat with the audience; no introducing the songs – the band just plough through their catalogue of fantastic songs and drag the audience along with them.  The audience follow willingly, of course – and the band don’t ignore us – it’s a unique unspoken agreement that we’re all along for a hell of a musical journey.

The music is heavy, sludgy, intense – exactly what I expected and wanted.  There are several songs from newer albums (“The Water Glass”, “Evil New War God” – both superb).  Older classics like “Sweet Willy Rollbar” and “It’s Shoved” are given a welcome play too.  The absolute high light for me though is “Civilised Worm” – what a riff!

The power of the riff is what the Melvins are all about.  Buzz’s guitar is astoundingly heavy, yet also shines with artistic flourishes and strange sounds to keep the listener guessing.  The bass is relentless yet groovy, hammering home the riffs.  Add dual drummers and ears were ringing for days.

It was a truly intense live experience and one I’m really glad I saw.  Unlike anything else and worthy of the hype, the Melvins are a unique band and I love them.

Did I mention I got a t-shirt for a tenner??!!

Public Image Ltd – Gig Review

PIL

Public Image Ltd + The Hexmen

Saturday 26th September 2015

The Tivoli, Buckley

Well it’s been an amazing couple of weeks for gigs.  And what’s that?  Public Image Ltd playing up the road at the Buckley Tivoli?  Featuring the living legend that is John Lydon?  There’s absolutely no way this extravaganza can be missed!

It was England vs Wales in the Rugby World Cup that night, and the Tiv had decided to show the game on a large projector screen above the stage.  A bizarre idea but it worked out OK – happily Wales won.  Had they lost that could’ve put a right downer on the evening.

Support band The Hexmen are a non-stop R’n’B party.  And by R’nB I mean as in Rhythm and Blues, not as in Kanye West.  They’re a solid band with an unmissable skill in abstract between song banter.  Solid rhythm section, stellar guitar and soaring harmonica.  Pretty damn good.  They appear to play in these parts quite often, so check ’em out.

The Tiv was packed out for Public Image Ltd.  I think most of the punters were in a daze, unbelieving that the band would actually appear.  But lo and behold PiL did appear – the real PiL, not a tribute act featuring some Johnny Rotten wannabe.  The reception was warm, but the crowd really revved up when the third song in the set turned out to be the masterpiece that is “This Is Not a Love Song”.

There was a fair mix of tracks old and new, with “Death Disco” and “Warrior” standing out from the well known singles.  I’ve not got the new album yet (hangs head in shame), but the tracks of that and This is PiL (got that one) were all extremely impressive.  The massive bass groove of Scott Firth and precision drums of Bruce Smith created a throbbing tribal rhythm that brought these songs to life.

Lydon himself seemed to be having a good time, for the most part.  I couldn’t always tell.  He definitely got stuck in and delivered some quite stunning vocals.  His style is almost operatic; combined with his commanding presence at the front of the stage we are given a captivating performance.

I should also mention guitar maestro and all round talented bloke Lu Edmonds – he played a blazing gig.  I have no idea how he made all those sounds.  It was very hard to believe that there were only four people on stage.

The encore provides the songs “Public Image” and “Rise”, two fantastic songs that the audience were thrilled with.  I still remember seeing “Rise” performed on Top of the Pops when I were a lad.  That was my first experience of PiL.  The other kids thought Lydon was weird; I thought he looked cool.  It’s a perfect end to the chapter.

Oh, and I WILL go and buy the new album – promise.

The Public Image Ltd website is here.

The Hexmen website is here.

The Tivoli website is here.