It had been a good 18 months since I last attended a gig, and leaving the house to join a throng of fans enjoying live music seemed like a very strange proposition. I’d actually forgotten all about the concert, as tickets had been booked long before lockdown. Heading up to the Tiv was both exciting and, if I’m honest, a little unnerving.
On entering the venue, it was just like old times: a great vibe as the crowd drank and awaited the bands. As life was getting back to normal, the Goths had crept from the shadows near and far, ready to witness Fields of the Nephilim.
The support band, The Faces of Sarah, were already attempting to breathe life into the evening. Unfortunately, and unusually for the Tiv, they could hardly be heard. I wasn’t too far away, but could barely make out the sound of the instruments. The guitarist looked to be going for it, throwing shapes like a crazed gibbon, but to no avail. The dual lead vocals were extremely impressive, however the poor sound made them come across like an AOR outfit.
Had my old copy of the Usborne Book of Goths been on my person, I could’ve ticked off several obvious dark rock tropes from the moment Fields of the Nephilim took the stage. There was so much dry ice the band could barely be seen, just a group of grey silhouettes in dusty cowboy hats. They begin in true over the top, cinematic style with “The Harmonica Man”. Atmosphere is poured on with no restraint.
And that’s exactly what I paid my money for: I wanted the full experience without any subtlety, and by God, that’s what the audience got.
FOTN erupted into “Preacher Man” and we all loved it. There’s no onstage frontman/audience banter (till the very end) and that, again, is just how I expected it. The songs bounce along like little Goth demons knowing Halloween isn’t far away.
“Moonchild” was an obvious highlight, with its slow, moody intro leading into the searing guitar and rumbling bass. The whole set is all treat, no tricks – I got the feeling that this is exactly how FOTN would’ve performed 30 years ago. The whole set is absolutely note perfect and full of every excess that the audience could devour.
I’d also forgotten how much I enjoy live music. This evening was a fantastic reminder of what we’ve been missing – can’t wait for more.
In February last year, I interviewed Chester based punk/grunge band Ryuko at Pentre Fest. Due to numerous unavoidable issues – not least this blasted pandemic – the piece was unfinished till recently. Not long ago, this post finally appeared on Ever Metal, and I thought I’d republish it here too. Enjoy!
“Grandpa, what’s a gig?”
“Well son, a gig was what we used to call a band playing live music, in front of an audience.”
“What, people watching musicians play their instruments? Crazy!”
“I know it seems like a strange idea to you youngsters, but it used to be a fantastic experience. Actually being able to gather with friends and strangers to enjoy hearing music. It was another world.”
That’s what the situation seems like right now: no gigs, no gatherings for entertainment – the old days sometimes feel like a lifetime ago. At least it seemed a whole different world back in February 2020, before the pandemic, when I caught up with Chester based band Ryuko at Pentre Fest.
The three piece – comprising The Bobfather (guitars/vocals), Captain Andy (bass) and MattMan (drums) were something of an anomaly at the metal-centric Pentre Fest. Not that Ryuko don’t rock out, but their brand of punky, alternative rock was a little different from the other bands on show. I found their style of honest, yet far from pretentious rock’n’roll refreshing and it added a vital tone to the proceedings.
Post gig, I caught up with the band to pose some questions and contemplate the meaning of life.
First off, the cliched yet crucial discussion on influences:
Bob: It’s weird, ‘cos we’ve got influences from all over. If you listen to one of our sets, it has stages: it starts off punky, then it goes alternative rock. Then it goes a little metal/grungy, then back to punk at the end.
Matt: Drop D then back to punk! I’m a huge fan of Motorhead and Metallica, the list goes on, so me being the drummer, I was always doing these thrash beats. To go from that to stepping into this, this was more fun to me. I really enjoy myself when I’m behind the kit with these guys.
Bob: When I write the songs, I listen to quite a broad variety of music, so I think that becomes apparent in my songs. I don’t like to write the same song twice. As far as when I started out, I would say when I was a teenager, I first started listening to Nirvana, Carter USM. I also drew influences from a lot of electro – The Prodigy and stuff like that – so sometimes I’d try and work out how to play dance songs on a guitar. And then that would give me the influence to write more interesting songs. I like to try and fuse a bunch of different genres together, make it more interesting.
Andy: I listen to a lot of Neil Young, I think he’s a very diverse artist. He’s done folk, he’s also done electric stuff.
How do you promote yourselves?
Matt: I’m more into social media than these guys are. We’re promoting ourselves on Facebook, we’re gonna make a new YouTube account. That’s kind of going up and down at the moment…
Bob: We don’t know how to work it!
Where does the name Ryuko come from?
Bob: I’m really into anime and all things Japanese, Japanese music… At the time I was watching an anime called Kill la Kill. The main character is called Ryuko Matoi and I just thought it was a really cool name. Some really fun facts: Ryuko is one of the least popular names in Japan. It basically means “rebirth”, start over. So I thought, we’re starting again, it’s a really cool name.
Andy: Well it’s not a cool name in Japan, is it?
Bob: It’s cool to me! I think it’s cool!
Andy: I do wish we’d chosen a name that’s easier to spell and pronounce.
Bob: People can never say it.
Your cover of the Madness classic “Baggy Trousers” tonight was a surprising choice, but great!
Matt: We decided to spruce that up to make it ours. The original is completely different to how I play it, I add extra little bits just to make it more funky.
Do you feel you’ve got the right band dynamic between the three of you?
Bob: We’re pretty good as we are. More people add more complications cos you’ve got to think – are they free; do they drive, are they going to be available…
Matt: I’ve got a son, he’s 9, we discuss upcoming gigs before we agree to it. If I’ve got my son and he comes along with us, if he’s allowed in the venue we play – he’s got his little ear defenders, he just sits in the corner and watches us or plays his game.
Bob: I’ve got three jobs…
Sounds like a positive environment to work in.
It’s got to be positive, if it’s not it just doesn’t work. If no-one’s happy, nothing gets done.
So, what’s next? What are your plans?
Bob: World domination! One step at a time…
Andy: We’ve been working on re-doing our EP, we’ve been recording on and off. Recording, playing as many gigs as we can.
And there you have it: an enjoyable chat with the gentlemen of Ryuko. Make sure you check them out live, as and when we can return to the experience of live music. If grungy, punky alt rock with some metallic crunch is your thing, then Ryuko will be just the antidote you need in these dreary times.
With apologies to Ryuko, who have waited months for this interview to see the light of day.
Check out Ryuko on Bandcamp and Facebook. Plus you can follow this link to listen to the interview on YouTube – yes, you can admire my fantastic interviewing skills for real!
I’m sure everyone who was there will agree that this year’s Pentre Fest was the best yet. The bands were fantastic; the were more people; the vibe was magnificent.
Held at McLean’s in Pentre, Deeside, North Wales, this festival features underground, unsigned rock and metal from near and far.
I attended the full two days this year, and saw most of the acts performing. I only wrote up a few though, so if you want to read the full review, visit the Ever Metal website here.
There were many highlights. Witchtripper had been on my “must see” list for a while – they didn’t disappoint. Old favourites Impavidus and Lullaby for a Unicorn were superb as always. Cry for Mercy, Stormrider and Womenowar were some of the newly viewed bands that I was very impressed by.
The whole weekend was unmissable and I was genuinely sad when it was all over. A brilliant, positive experience – well done to Fozzy, Beany, Frank and all the McLean’s staff.
You have to be there next year!
Ryuko presented a couple of surprises on Friday night’s acoustic stage. First off, they were fully plugged in and electric. Second, they play more of an alternative rock sound, which was something of a contrast to the majority of other Pentre Fest bands. Readers may not be aware, though, that I am in fact King of Grunge, with my 90’s credentials well proven. Ryuko’s set included some melody and even jangly pop along with heavier riffs, which was an enjoyable diversion in a Dinosaur Jr/Nirvana style. Well performed, Ryuko just need to test their audience further and throw in additional surprises in either a “Negative Creep” or “About a Girl” vein.
Rhiannon and Rachel
Sadly Pentre Fest suffered a few casualties this year. One such example was on the acoustic stage, where half of duo Rhiannon and Rachel was hospitalised and (obviously) unable to perform. But the show must go on: and Rhiannon performed a short but enjoyable set on the acoustic stage. Admittedly out of her comfort zone, playing guitar as well as singing, she soldiered on and won plaudits for her effort. Only a few minor mistakes were noticed – and easily forgiven. A beautiful singing voice that even managed to add a ghostly, ethereal sheen to a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” – making it sound good for the first time ever.
If the connection between metal and outlaw country isn’t obvious to any readers, I can only pity you. I’ve never witnessed Mike West before, but his amalgamation of southern rock, dusty country and swampy blues was a delight to my old whiskey-soaked soul. Mike delivers his songs with a hard rockin’ swagger, as if he’s just busted out of Tombstone jail and is riding across the plains, lamenting women and fortunes lost. A great voice and an outstanding presence, Mike is one to catch when you can. Has anyone done a “Wild West” gag yet? If not, there’s a headline for us there!
On the main stage, OMV entered dressed like a bunch of West Coast gangsters in masks and bandanas. Introduced as “hardcore street metal”, these guys definitely showed some great musical skills and energy. Somewhere between Bodycount, Suicidal Tendencies and Biohazard is where I’d stack them. Either way, OMV delivered some brutal songs and bounced around with massive crossover riffs. OMV were very entertaining, although hugely confrontational onstage – I wasn’t sure if they actually were going to pistol whip the audience into submission. The music has enough intensity and power to speak for itself.
A really fantastic set was delivered by Mr Luke Appleton on the acoustic stage. In truth, this was a duo performance with Rishi Mehta (of Babylon Fire) playing too, and it was a genuine highlight of Pentre Fest 2020. Dubbed “acoustic metal”, the songs were both suitably laidback, yet delivered with a metal edge. Expertly performed, we had tunes from Luke’s solo “Snake Eyes” project, plus of course some Iced Earth and Absolva numbers. Not to mention a bit of Dio and Tenacious D for good measure! A real class act in every sense of the word, and both very talented and down-to-earth gentlemen.
Son of Boar
They have a cool name, and they looked pretty cool on stage in matching denim battle-vests. And from the very first notes of the bass rumbling on the very first song, I had a feeling that Son of Boar would be something special. I wasn’t wrong. These Bradford bruisers have everything in spades: they’re unfeasibly heavy; they have slow, doomy riffs with a Sabbath-like infectiousness; they have a sludgy, swampy groove that can pack an aggressive punk punch. The best band of Pentre Fest 2020 as far as I was concerned, Son of Boar were superb. I even bought a t-shirt.
What could be better at this time of year than a bit of proper, 1970’s glam rock? Sweet never had a world conquering Crimbo hit like Slade, but they did have a ton of mega singles that are totally inextricable from the days of seventies glam. After missing the band when they played Buckley Tivoli last year, I wanted to make sure I was there this time around.
Support band The Novatines seemed like a decent hard rock proposition, however I arrived late and missed the bulk of their set. Worthwhile checking out another time though.
Andy Scott is the only remaining member from this version of Sweet’s classic line-up. He’s a local lad – well, Wrexham is just a few miles away – so it’s nice to see him and the band on near enough home ground. Andy Scott is also a bona fide rock god: his guitar playing is exceptional; the trademark high pitched backing vocals are ball-squeezingly present and correct; his banter funny and his charisma epic. He’s the real deal.
The rest of the band are a fine bunch of musicians, and together they smash out both the bubblegum pop hits and the rockier tracks. It’s this combination of pop sensibilities and rock skills that have made Sweet inspirational for generations of music fans.
Starting off with one of my absolute favourite tracks, “Action”, it’s clear that this is going to be a night of delivering the goods. The set features all the obvious gems: “Hellraiser”, “The Six Teens”, “Sweet F.A.”, “Wig Wam Bam” and “Little Willy” before closing with another personal fave, “Fox on the Run”.
Everything is performed brilliantly, and the audience clearly love every second. It’s also nice to note that I’m in the younger age range at this particular gig!
Finally, the band return for an encore of “Blockbuster” and “Ballroom Blitz” – two songs that are really no surprise, but could not be left out. No way, Jose – there’s have been a blitz at the Tivoli Ballrooms had they been omitted.
So a rare Wednesday night out at a gig for me, but well worth the effort. Some may find Sweet too lightweight in an era that gave us Alice Cooper and Bowie; I thoroughly enjoyed it. A solid band of fantastic musicians performing well loved (and under rated) songs.
This is one Sweet I’d like a second helping of. I’ve definitely got a Sweet tooth. And so on.
It’s ridiculous how long it’s been since I last wrote a gig review. Time to end that drought with a write-up of a great band in one of my favourite local venues: yes, it’s the mighty Buckcherry at the Tivoli in Buckley, North Wales.
Yes, you read that right – US rock’n’roll giants Buckcherry were playing the Tiv. This legendary venue has welcomed many amazing bands over the years, and happily I’ve seen quite a few of them. Also sadly missed quite a few too, so I was determined not to miss this gig. Tickets were snapped up, super quick style.
The Tivoli was buzzing on arrival, the place was already busy and best of all – the main bar was open! Opening band Rocky Kramer had already started their set, so I grabbed a beer with my compadre, Ben the Swede, and checked them out.
Rocky and his band were very professional, and obviously extremely capable musicians. It was a bit melodic and keyboard heavy for my personal tastes, but they seemed to go down well with the already excited audience.
Up next were UK rockers The Treatment. This was a more gutsy affair altogether: their hard rock was energetic and brash; the sound bringing favourable comparisons to a certain massively successful Australian band that I can’t quite remember the name of… It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock’n’roll, but The Treatment put on a great show that carried them far.
Buckcherry have never been afraid of rock’n’roll. They seemed something of an anomaly in a post grunge world infested with sportsgear-wearing New Metal, but they stuck to their diamond-encrusted guns. And thank God they did. Opening with a thunderous version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole”, their set was overflowing with swaggering anthems.
“Lit Up” was obviously a highlight, but the whole gig was an electrifying performance. Sadly, I missed the classic track “Crazy Bitch” when I went to the bar (I know, please shoot me) but made it back for the encore of “Say Fuck It”, a gloriously foul mouthed monster that finished the night off.
My only complaint was that the gig seemed maybe 15 minutes too short – hence my poor bar visit timing. I thought we had a good half an hour left. No complaints though, Buckcherry put on a fully entertaining testament to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll that was worth every penny.
And finally, well done again to the Tivoli, who managed to stage something of a coup and host yet another world-class band. Thank you!
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.
Yes, that Johnny Depp
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?
The Crippens + Emissaries of Syn + Ballpein + Soulless System + Abominate + Spam Javelin
Saturday 19th May 2018
The Tivoli, Buckley
Six bands spanning a range of punk, hardcore, thrash and death metal – all for £7.50? You count Platinum Al in, guv’nor! Anticipating a night of good ol’ fashioned face melting tunes I was off to the Tivoli in Buckley for what seemed the first time in absolute yonks.
As I bounded into the Tiv and was drawn like a magnet straight to the bar, our first band of the evening – Spam Javelin – had started playing. They play fast, loud and fun hardcore punk, with a dose of well placed humour. I was very impressed by Spam Javelin’s set and need to check them out again. Recommended and a good start to the night!
Up next were Abominate, who’s music was essentially a revved up a chainsaw thrown into a pit of acid vipers. It’s full on death/thrash metal and by ‘eck, it is good. Intense and with a crafty helping of heavy, crunching sludge to boot – Abominate are a force of nature and very superb indeed.
Local band Soulless System were up next. Their sound is heavy, grinding and brutal thrash – though their set seems dogged by sound issues tonight. It perhaps doesn’t help that they don’t use a live drummer. It’s a shame as the band can obviously play and have some very tasty riffs. Get these boys a drummer and sort the sound and they’ll light it up.
Then what happened? Oh yeah, Ballpein played and smashed my face in. Repeatedly. Amazing band, full on hardcore punk with a metallic edge: if you want exciting, fast songs and brutal riffage this is the band for you. Ballpein are also amazingly good on stage, confident and having fun as they grind out their (not very) delicate ballads about serial killers.
Another North Wales crew, Emissaries of Syn, played next – attacking with their blend of crusty grinding noise. EOS are relentless and played a non stop set of mind warping punk thrash goodness. Great stuff and again, confidently played on the big Tiv stage. I’ll keep an eye open for more.
Finally, our revered headliners took to the stage and belted out some classic hardcore punk. Once they were Doctor and, now they’re just The Crippens, but this reformed bunch of maniacs disguised as musicians are back and slaying all before them. A great set, I have never before witnessed such a mesmerising gang of misfits in the wild. Perhaps a tear escaped as I reminisced about long ago 80’s skate rock. Whatever, I am SO glad I got to see this band live.
And that was it, another great night at the Tivoli. Well done to the bands who played; thanks to the Tiv for being brave enough to put on something a bit different; and full marks to Knoxy who organised this and helped raise some funds for mental health care in the process. A legend.
You can find all the bands above on Facebook, it’s easy.
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing + IDestroy
Tuesday 20th March 2018
Live Rooms, Chester
Please do accept my humble apologies for the delay, good sirs and ladies – one has had a considerable amount of business to attend to before this esteemed review of the above musical personages could be completed. I’ve been drinking gin, mostly.
Way back in March, I was indeed fortunate enough to witness a spectacle unlike any other in this historic town of Chester. The Live Rooms: performance theatre hall, proprietor unknown, was the establishment in question; wherein I did encounter a motley band of anarchists known as The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing.
And what an encounter I did experience, dear reader. Not since that time the circus arrived through town parading an ungodly assortment of freaks and oddities (a Mr Merrick included, no less) have I seen such debauchery.
First of all, the audience and I were entertained by three young ladies, though unlike any other maidens one could classify as such; the wonderful IDestroy. They were excellent purveyors of the art form known as “punk rock”, wielding mighty instruments that wrought tuneage both aggressive yet delightful.
I am sure that these estimable young ladies will not begrudge an old fool such as myself in proclaiming that they could not, or indeed should not, be considered “wall flowers”. IDestroy possessed astonishing songs that proved highly enjoyable; energetic and confidently performed.
A most invigorating start to the evening’s proceedings; one can only ponder: “Why is there not more of this sort of thing readily available”? Good show, indeed.
And so, our humble headline act claimed the theatre stage, and began a relentless musical bombardment that would be heard across the distant lands of the Empire’s colonies. The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing were indeed a sight and sound to behold.
Modern listeners may be forgiven for assuming they have witnessed a grown up edition of successful children’s entertainment Horrible Histories, yet with added ferocious guitars. Though the message within the music is not hidden, the glorious racket TMTWNBBFN portray is fine entertainment, even for those straight into the workhouse with no pretension of education.
The band had mischievousness in abundance; so whilst regaling the gathered revellers with mirth were able to determine their stage presence in a manner unlike any other I have before encountered.
This, dear reader, is what I believe has been classified as “steampunk” – and what a jolly riot it was. A cacophony of history, politics and humour accompanied by pulverising rock music – the perfect soundtrack to a evening on the gin in a Whitechapel boozer.
Afterward I departed for my carriage, grinning like a buffoon and clutching a new “record” to play on my phonograph.
With sincere thanks to all concerned, etc. etc.
Find out more about The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing here.
And lo, the marauding hordes converged once more, reconvening from their travels far and wide. In the Great Hall they would gather, trading tales of daring and adventure, as they caroused with rebellious abandon. Much ale would be drunk, for tomorrow many a skull would be split asunder.
So began the revelry of Pentre Fest, wherein the brave and mighty warriors celebrated their many victories and remembered comrades long fallen.
The first of the tribes to address the throng were The Forgotten Age, young but mighty in their conviction. Hailing from the Western Shores of Bangor, their stories were exciting yet accomplished, embellished with some fine melodies. An exceptional and heartening start to the evening’s merriment.
Next to command the stage were Obey, who were indeed a revelation to behold. Their immense riffs were sheer brutality, heeding no compromise as they delivered tales of destruction. Obey were champions of the event to my ears; voraciously did I consume their merchandise (CD and patch!). May the wind fill their sails and carry them to successful conquests aplenty.
Our next heroes were Torqued, a merciless crew who had engaged in a gruelling voyage from the far kingdom of Devon to regale us with their musical fables. The clash of metal was devastating, the battle cries rousing. A superb performance. Safe voyage home, brothers – for ye shall be missed for now and welcomed warmly again.
The night’s final victors were the relentless, uncompromising Foetal Juice. Looming over all with a malevolent thunder, the band decimated all in their path. With grim intent they vanquished the unworthy, leaving only the gratefully redeemed in their wake.
Thus was the first part of Pentre Fest concluded. Sadly I would embark on a personal quest of my own the next day; therefore being unable to rejoin the ceremony.
Regardless, though our warriors’ hearts were sated, for yet more metal majesty do we crave. Till the next Pentre Fest, my brothers (and sisters) – stay strong and may your adventures be praised in Valhalla.
The road to Telfords Warehouse was littered with walking corpses, stumbling clumsily with clothes falling from their limbs. The zombified masses were yet again evacuating Chester Races, bumbling along in a drunken stupor. I was on my way to Telfords to witness something far more intriguing – local band 1968 playing live, in a safe haven away from the riders of the apocalypse outside.
Telfords Warehouse is always a great place to visit, though it’s not famed for showcasing music like we were looking forward to tonight. I’ve enjoyed music from other genres at the venue, but it was good to be expecting some noisy rock. I met up with old buddy Dan and waited for the sonic attack to begin.
As you’d expect with a name like 1968, this band has Sabbath, Mountain, Blue Cheer and others of that ilk in their DNA. It’s heavy, stoner rock with a reverence for the originals, proudly worn on their sleeves like old sewn on patches. The bass chugs, the drums pound, the guitars wail and the vocals soar – all classic stuff.
It’s not just about the originators in this sonic stew though. I could hear hints of epic Soundgarden, crunchy Kyuss riffs and even some COC style southern groove.
Enough of the band comparisons. 1968 are taking their influences and weaving new landscapes, using their own talents to create something energetic and new. The band present a crushing presence on stage, performing their material with a killer confidence.
There’s even a progressive, experimental edge to some songs, with short instrumental sections lowering the volume and creating a mellower vibe. If anything, I’d like to hear more of this develop in the songs – if only to provide a psychedlic contrast before the guitars thunder in again.
Any race goers who had wandered into Telfords soon left, slain by the merciless onslaught of 1968. A superb band, I can’t wait to see them live again. They have the riffs, the power and the vision to take them far.
It’s 1968. The revolution is now.
Visit the 1968 Bandcamp page and download their awesome “Fortuna Havana” EP here.