The Best of 2021

That title seems like a bit of misnomer, doesn’t it? “The Best of 2021“. Following the unprecedented nonsense of 2020, last year we were all anticipating returning to normal, or as close as possible. Small victories were made during that time, but here we are again: a pandemic that seems to loom ever worse; the threat of lockdown and restrictions still a possibility; working from home if you can; vaccination after vaccination; and the same bumbling charlatans in charge of it all.

Hopefully it will all get better. It can’t get much worse (at least in terms of the virus, the post apocalyptic hell of Brexit is still to be reckoned with).

During 2021, Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub still aimed to entertain and inform. Sometimes we made it, sometimes we ballsed it up. But much of the blog content shone through regardless.

In the spirit of sharing success – and smiling in the face of adversity – here are the blog posts from 2021 that were most successful, in terms of views.

10. The Halloween Horror Fest Don’t Die

Halloween Horror Fest was another October highlight this year; this review featured The Dead Don’t Die and Hammer’s The Mummy.

9. Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock & Metal Albums of 2020

My other gig is writing reviews for Ever Metal – many of my reviews cropped up on this 2020 album list of favourites.

8. The Plague of Halloween Horror Fest

The last mini horror mvie reviews of 2021 featured The Plague of the Zombies and The Crow.

7. Bucket of Halloween Horror Fest

Another Hammer classic, with this review of The Gorgon.

6. Ryuko Interview

Published back in January 2021, this interview with alt rock band Ryuko at last years Pentre Fest originally appeared on Ever Metal, before it graced the Virtual Hot Tub.

5. Sci-Fi Weekender – Back to the Future

SFW was sadly destroyed like Alderaan due to the pandemic – but I dug up a few unseen pics from previous years to ease the pain.

4. Liverpool Comic Con 2021

As the year progressed and we appeared to be making a tentative return to events, I filed this report from Comic Con in Liverpool.

3. How Do Fossils Form? by Eloise Jones

The third most popular blog of the year was written by my super talented daughter. I might just hand the whole thing over to her…

2. Hawarden Limerick

A silly limerick about a local village, it proved popular for some bizarre reason.

And the number one, most popular blog of the year was…

  1. Millennium Falcon – The Greatest Toy Ever

Photos and memories of my vintage Star Wars Millennium Falcon toy, I think this blog is a justified winner! A fantastic toy and something I’m very proud of.

With a lack of events again in 2021, it’s no surprise that other blog subjects rose to prominence. Maybe the escapism of movie and toy reviews appealed to our audience this troublesome year.

We don’t know what will happen in 2022. Fingers crossed, the future looks brighter. But rest assured, Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub will be here for you. If you need a friend, or just some heavy metal reviews and photos of old toys, we’re never far away.

How Do Fossils Form? by Eloise Jones

A rare guest contribution today, in the form of a piece of school work my daughter, Eloise (aged 10), wrote recently. Home schooling hasn’t been easy, but this piece really brightened my day. Great vocabulary and writing style, Eloise undoubtedly takes after me, haha!

I laughed out loud reading this explanation of how fossils are formed. Hope you enjoy Eloise’s masterpiece, and like meeting her two Tyrannosaurus Rex friends, Mick and Leon.

How Do Fossils Form? by Eloise Jones

So, everyone’s heard of dinosaurs, right? Wait, what did you just say?! You’ve heard of dinosaurs, but you have heard a thing called a fossil AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS?! Well, I might have to tell you because of my obsession with dinosaurs…

Well, it all starts with a dinosaur. Let’s say a herbivore was walking about, same day, no different, running away from dilophosaurus, and let’s go with a parasaurolophus, for a herbivore quite fast. At least 25 MILES PER HOUR! They were having a rest and woke up and said to themself; “YAWN!!! Man, I’m bored of sleeping all the time. OOoOooOo what’s that over there?????” 

He in fact saw the freshest, green, rich bush of leaves in weeks! He hadn’t had any for weeks, and finally a fresh bush would do him good. He ran over, excited. He started eating, and then when he was full, he lied down, full of fresh food. “Man”, he said, “I don’t feel too good”. He laid down, and died. What?! People have to die at some point, and he had been going for weeks without any good food.

THE NEXT DAY.

Two T – rexes were looking for food…

“And then, I pounced on him and did I have a stiff belly in bed that night. But that was the old days, hey, Mick? Eh?”

“Yep, I know about your cousin Rex who wanted to marry a Velocaraptor”.

“Yep, should have known you never listen. Next time I won’t listen to -”

“OH MY! LEON, LOOK!”

“What, you filthy two headed -”

“FOODDDD!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Mick you miracle! I knew you were good for something-”

“Leon, stop telling me about your boring cousin, eh?”

So the two greedy T – rexes saw the food and they ate it up in one go. Then they ran off, not full, looking for more food – (and arguing about Leon’s cousin). But, what happened next? 

Well, that’s a good question. Since the dead body of the parasaurolophus was near a little lake, his bones got washed over with water and later on got turned into mud, his body got turned into stone. Then I think you can guess what happened next. WHAT?! YOU HAVE NO CLUE?! Alright, I’ll tell you.

Millions of years later, archaeologists came into the game, wondering about a question they’ve always asked; Are the bones of a dinosaur still around, buried deep in the ground? Well some very clever archaeologists dug up some bones and named them fossils. Now you get it? Good!

Bye, thank you for reading my funny docs about how fossils have formed over millions of years. Buh – Bye, now! 

Another Damned Gig Review

DamnedCHThe Damned

Thursday 17th September 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

Hello, chums!  How about another review of a musical concert?  How about another review of a Damned musical concert?  Very well, off we go…

It was my birthday on Saturday, so it was very kind of The Damned to play a gig on Thursday night for me.  They are my favourite band, after all.  Not many bands would go to all the trouble of playing for their number one fan in a nearby locale.  I don’t know who invited all the other people who turned up, mind – wasn’t me.  I hardly knew any of them.

The Damned sold out The Live Rooms in Chester, which is pretty impressive.  The place was packed out with all manner of discerning music fans, and by golly those punk rock chaps put on a hell of a good show.

From the moment Captain Sensible uttered the immortal phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen, ‘Ow do”, I knew it would be a blinder.  Straight off into “Love Song”, a rollicking locomotive of a song all about trainspotting.  Then it was “Machine Gun Ettiquette” and “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” – top tunes all, and the running order gave something of a clue as how things would develop set wise.

The evening was an almost chronological journey to the centre of the Damned, with tracks following from the Black Album, through Strawberries and onto their later 80’s catalogue.  Until they messed that plan up by going back to the start with the always excellent “New Rose” and “Neat Neat Neat”.  I defied my OCD and enjoyed the travelling back through time regardless.

The band were on excellent form, Dave Vanian in fine voice and Sensible throwing some amazing guitar noises around (“Ignite” is always mental).  Pinch on drums and Stu on bass are in control and drive the machine ever onward.  Monty was, of course, his usual crazy and lovable self; always entertaining and adding an extra dimension with his keyboard skills.

A couple of “firsts” for me tonight – I’ve never heard “Alone Again Or” performed live, or the totally amazing “Nasty”.  This song was one of my earliest experiences of The Damned, when they roared through it on the Young Ones.  Relegated to a B-side and rarely cropping up on compilations, I’d given up on hearing this one in the flesh.  “Nasty” was dedicated to previous bass player Bryn Merrick, who had died recently.

Throw in another appearance of “Stranger on the Town” (see my last Damned review for how big a deal this is) and the song that kick started the whole fandom thing from my point of view, “Eloise”, and it was a quality set list.  Not to mention punk rock classics such as “Disco Man” and “Smash It Up” – what a result!

Any complaints?  Well there was no “Plan 9 Channel 7”, which is absolutely criminal.  Nothing from the two most recent albums either, which is a bit worrying – there’s some great tunes on those records.  The Live Rooms is a brilliant venue, but they seem a bit keen to send people home when they could’ve made a few quid more at the bar, if they’d kept it open half an hour.  Strange.

All in all though, it was a fantastic night.  The Damned threw me a very nice birthday party and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Wonder if they’re free same time next year?

Here’s The Damned’s website: http://www.officialdamned.com/

The Live Rooms web site is here.

You can read the set list for this gig here.

Here’s a link to my previous review of The Damned live: click me

R.I.P. Bryn Merrick

The Damned – Gig Review

The Damned + The Ruts DC

Sunday 1st December 2013

Buckley Tivoli

It’s Sunday night, and far from milk and cookies and watching Songs of Praise, Mrs Platinum and I are off to see The Damned.  At the Tivoli in Buckley, no less.  A venue I’ve been to many times (remind me to tell you about my 21st birthday sometime) and a place I’d hoped this lot would play for years.

Support tonight is from The Ruts DC, and blimey they’re good.  I’d have gone to see them headline their own gig – with The Damned to follow this is unmissable.  A great set that swings from ska-reggae boppers to punk rock seven inch masterpieces.  Highlights include “It Was Cold”, “West One (Shine On Me)” and of course “Staring at the Rude Boys” and “Babylon’s Burning”.  They sound exciting, contemporary and confident.  Final song “In a Rut” put the lid on a support set that could have been a headliner.

I might as well own up and admit that the Damned are probably my favourite band of all time.  To see them in my “local” venue is a real delight.  As I hinted earlier, I’ve had many adventures at the Ballrooms over the years and always wanted to see this band here.

The Damned are the band that I’ve seen more than any other.  Tonight though, they play an astounding set that both entertains and surprises.  How do they do that?  Well, they play many songs I’ve never heard them play live before.  First song “Sanctum Santorum” is an interesting choice – atmospheric rather than bludgeoning.  The song worked really well live and served to create a sense of theatre from the start.

From that point on, The Damned kept me guessing.  “Don’t Cry Wolf”?  Yes, please!  “Sick of Being Sick”?  Don’t mind if I do!  Following “Wait for the Blackout” with the songs that followed it on The Black Album is a stroke of almost genius.  “Lively Arts” and “Silly Kids Games”?  Why sirs, with these gems you are truly spoiling us!

“Ignite” and then “Generals”?  They won’t play the third track off Strawberries though.  But they do!  “Stranger on the Town” is probably my favourite Damned tune, and one I never thought I’d hear live.  Brass section, you see.  Yet there it is, and Platinum Al can’t help but sing along.  Thank you, Damned!

And so it goes.  Later in the set we get the classic singles: “Neat Neat Neat”; “New Rose”; “Love Song”; “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today”.  “Eloise” sounds great.  More first time airings (for me) of “The Eighth Day” and “Ballroom Blitz” put the marzipan on the cake before a glorious “Smash It Up” finale.

Any criticisms?  The sound wavers a few times, unusually for the Tiv – some of the early set doesn’t sound as “full” as it should. A minor comment as this didn’t spoil my enjoyment.  Beyond that, it would have been nice to hear more of the recent material (no “Thrill KIll”??!)  – we don’t hear anything off the So, Who’s Paranoid? album.

Though as I’ve been treated to so many new live gems tonight, a full fourteen minute version of “Dark Asteroid” is probably a bit too much to ask.  Maybe next time.

So thank you The Damned, The Ruts DC and Buckley Tivoli.  It was a great night.  Work in the morning.

http://www.officialdamned.com/

http://www.theruts.co.uk/

http://www.tivolivenue.com/index.htm