The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing – Gig Review

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.

Find out more about IDestroy here.

The Live Rooms website is here.

Thanks to Lynda Rowlands for the brilliant live photos!

The Best of 2016

Well we’re now a couple of weeks deep into 2017 – how’s it going for you?  Well, I hope.

2017 at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub promises to bring you more of the great features you love, plus (hopefully) more in the year ahead.  But before I get all carried away and storm straight into new adventures, let’s take a moment to reflect.

Last year was a hell of a crazy ride.  But what Virtual Hot Tub blogs got you steaming hot?  Let’s take a look at the top ten most popular posts in 2016, in reverse order…

10. Skateboard Museum: Variflex Joker

The tenth most popular post in 2016 was this golden oldie from 2013, featuring one of my old 1980’s skateboards.  Skate nostalgia is obviously popular stuff, with internet searches keeping this article in view.

9. Wales Comic Con Strikes Back – Part 2

Up next was the second part of my report from Wales Comic Con in Wrexham from May, with loads of cool cosplay photos.

8. Tragedy – Gig Review

In March 2016 I went to see Heavy Metal Bee Gees tribute act Tragedy, at the Live Rooms in Chester.  It was pretty popular read (even the band liked it).

7. Sci-Fi Weekender 2015 – The Director’s Cut

Back in February 2016, I posted some photos I had left over from the previous Sci-Fi Weekender in March 2015.  Again, loads of interesting cosplay pics – plus a bit of comedy.  This was a warm up for the 2016 event.

6. Santa Cruz Snowskate

The next most read post was this blog about my snowskate, made by Santa Cruz skateboards, originally posted in winter 2014.  Internet searches kept this this one popular again this year.

5. Food Quest: To Koutouki, Chester

This write up of the excellent Greek taverna in Chester, posted in May 2016, has been very popular.  The most read food post all year by far, I hope it helps bring them some business, because they deserve it!

4. Wales Comic Con Strikes Back – Part 1

The first part of my report from Wrexham Comic Con was far more popular than the first, which came in at number 10 (above).  I don’t know why this part was better received, as it features the same style of cosplay pics.  Perhaps it was the pic of yours truly as Tony Stark that did it…?

3. Santa Cruz Street Creep

Another skateboard blog, this July piece featured text and photos of another 1980’s classic, in this case my Santa Cruz Street Creep reissue.  Rad.

2. Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – Part 1

The second most read article on my blog in 2016 was the first part of my report from Sci-Fi Weekender.  The cosplay pics made it successful.

So what was the most popular blog post, with the most views, at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub in 2016?

It can only be…

Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – Part 2

Yes, the final episode of our adventure at this years Sci-Fi Weekender convention was the most popular blog of the year.  Loads of photos of fantastic cosplayers having fun won the day, and not even my terrible photographic skills could ruin it!  No idea why Part 2 beat Part 1 though.

Thanks again to all the great folks who attended Sci-Fi Weekender, hope you enjoyed the photos!

Thanks to YOU too, for choosing Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  Your feedback and is always appreciated.  Here’s to another year of fun – all the best!

Scorpion Child – Gig Review

Scorpion Child + Jared James Nichols + The Bad Flowers

Tuesday 1st November 2016

The Live Rooms, Chester

Almost a year to the day since I last saw the mighty Scorpion Child rocking out, and in the same venue too.  This time the crowd numbers are down, but hell – it was a bleak Tuesday evening.  No excuse though – people should have been at the Live Rooms for this gig.

I just managed to catch the end of the first set, by UK band The Bad Flowers.  This three piece were all power and chunky riffs – think Motorhead menace with some ZZ Top rock in there.  Very appetising and well worth keeping an eye on.

Next up was Jared James Nichols, with his two bandmates, bringing us our second three piece of the night.  This American band play a fine blend of bluesy hard rock, delivered with a confident, killer attack.  Mountain were a fair comparison – they rocked out a crunching “Mississippi Queen” just to prove it.  Quality entertainment with a boogie groove!

The last time I saw Scorpion Child, they were here on tour with Crobot (another superb band).  Now with their second album – the extremely brilliant Acid Roulette – firmly under their belt, I was keen to witness these new rock’n’roll superstars-to-be again.

Scorpion Child deliver music that is well schooled in the classics of the past – Zeppelin, Sabbath, Purple.  And like those bands they’re able to deliver monster rockers like “Liqour” and “She Sings, I Kill” along with some superbly epic moments that build beautifully (“Survives” and “Acid Roulette”).

There’s also a thinly disguised darkness about the bands sound, not exactly doomy but much more in the vein of 80’s bands like the Mission and the Sisters of Mercy.  At their most bombastic, Scorpion Child are reminiscent of The Cult (from whence they claimed their name).  Apologies for endless musical comparisons – but this band really have some classic style that merits a bigger fan base.  Throw in some Danzig and Soundgarden and you’ve got a list of some of my favourite bands.

A great deal of the set is from the new album, showing justified confidence on the bands part.  Songs like “My Woman in Black” and “I Might Be Your Man” are thundering hard rock compositions that are classics in the making.

A great gig, shame about the low attendance (and the lack of merch!) – but brilliantly infectious modern hard rock.  I’m off for fish’n’chips.

The Scorpion Child website is here.

You can find Scorpion Child, Jared James Nichols and the Bad Flowers on Facebook.

The Live Rooms website is here.

 scorpion-child

Tragedy – Gig Review

Tragedy

Wednesday 9th March 2016

The Live Rooms, Chester

It’s my first gig of the year, and another visit to the ever reliable Live Rooms in Chester for some rock’n’roll.  I’ve had a few rockin’ parties at this venue, but this night was destined for greatness.  The exquisite Disco Metal of the one and only Tragedy was scheduled to set the sky on fire with dazzling party anthems.

Finding common ground between the opposing world of heavy metal and disco was never going to be an easy task.  They’re two genres of music that repel like the same sides of a magnet.  But with Tragedy, the water and oil can, and do, mix.  It’s a hard rockin’ combination of guitar and high pitched disco vocals in a totally crazy metal tribute to the Bee Gees (and beyond).

A heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees is only the beginning, you see.  As well as Brothers Gibb classics like “Staying Alive” and “Night Fever”, their set is expanded to take in other disco and pop classics.  The mutated songs feature glimpses of riffs from Van Halen, Pantera and more.  One of my highlights was the ridiculously fun idea of warping the intro from Slayer’s “Raining Blood” into “It’s Raining Men”!

Part of the fun of this Tragedy gig was spotting chunks of recognisable metal riffs, and then being dumbfounded by how the band weave them into a late 70’s disco style.  The mash up is suitably gory too – these gruesome Frankensteins have no qualms when it comes to hacking limbs from one sweet pop track and stitching them maniacally to a heavy metal corpse.

With a light show and numerous skits introducing the songs (not to mention Lance the towel boy bumbling across the stage) it’s all very entertaining.  And professional, without being soulless.

For any metal fan with a sense of humour, Tragedy are well worth seeing.  You’ll have a hard time finding a more bonkers night out anywhere.  Great fun!

The Tragedy website is here.

The Live Rooms website is hereTragedy

Kash Taprooms

k1

A friend introduced me to Kash bar in Chester a while ago, as friends do.  Since then it’s become a favourite haunt.  The beer is exceptional and although I’m not in Chester that often, I often pop in before a gig in The Live Rooms.  I’ve introduced a few others to the wonders of this place too, as a way to “pay it forward”.

On previous visits to Kash, I’d been distracted by the food, which looked excellent.  Eventually I couldn’t resist any longer, so Mrs Platinum Al and I went on a mission to Chester to enjoy the full eating experience at this venue.

Kash is on Brook Street, so not in the main town centre.  It’s not too far out of the way though and well worth the effort.  On entering, the visitor finds an elaborately decorated venue with a chilled vibe and some cool tunes.  Not to mention, of course, the myriad beverages available, many of which are brewed on site.

To kick things off, I went for a pint of Gold Digger, from the home Blueball brewery.  It’s a very tasty golden pale ale, not too strong but full of flavour.  My companion went for the ever reliable Brooklyn Lager, one of our favourites.

The food arrived without much of a wait, starting with some tortilla chips and dip to share.  Excellent choice – simple but effective.  The dip itself was a really good, tangy sauce.  We had a couple more beers – I went for a Brooklyn lager too, this time.  It’s getting easier to find bottles of Brooklyn these days, but it’s great to have on draught.

We both opted for burgers for the main event, although the choice was difficult.  So much to sample…  Mrs Platinum Al opted for The Pioneer, which was a burger on a bun with Swiss cheese, caramelised onions, mushrooms, bacon and garlic mayo.  It looked damn fine, but mushrooms are my green kryptonite so I didn’t venture a try. IMG_20151114_193250466

No matter – my own burger was awesome enough for me.  I chose The Bomb, a burger topped with bacon, cheese and Kash’s Blueball ale chilli.  The chilli was rich and full of flavour, I loved every mouthful.  Both burgers were served with chips that were like wedges shaved into fries.  I’m no fan of the big chubby chips, so these fries were perfect.

All in all, the food was fantastic.  Great quality comfort food with loads of flavour, prepared with obvious pride and care.  There’s so much to choose from that Kash demands another visit (next time it’s Mexican for me!).

Plus you’ve got a massive choice of excellent beers on offer – so much that there’s surely something for everyone.  With a warm welcome, attentive staff and relaxed atmosphere, Kash is now the premier bar in Chester.  Think you can beat this?  Good luck.

Kash Taprooms Bar & Grill, 121 Brook Street, Chester

01244 401777

Kash is also on Facebook and Twitter: @Kash_Chester

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

Reef – Gig Review

Reef1

Reef + Tax The Heat

Thursday 24th September 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

One thing I’ll tell you about Reef: they’ve got the tallest fans ever.  I’m only five foot eight on a good day, so I was dwarfed by this crowd.  I have no idea how come Reef can command such an audience of giants.  Perhaps there’s something mystical in the music of these West Country rock wizards that attracts the giants from the hills, mesmerised.

Tonight I managed to see the entire support set, which made a nice change.  Better time management on my part.  And I’m glad I did, as opening act Tax The Heat were great.  Splendidly dressed in sharp suits, they cranked out some classic rock riffs and looked to be having a hell of a good time.  Definitely good enough to see headline their own gig, Tax The Heat compliment old school rocking chops with a modern sheen.

I’d been hoping that Reef would turn up in my neck of the woods for some time.  Previously I had witnessed part of their set at Wakestock some years ago, unfortunately having to leave early.  That wasn’t enough for me – I felt I was due the full Reef pie, with all the trimmings.

There was quite a good time vibe amongst the crowd – you could feel the anticipation in the Live Rooms.  Reef entered the stage in a relaxed and unassuming manner, though they immediately unleashed some magical sounds with opener “Higher Vibration”.  Conner MacLeod was on vocals, doing a top quality job as Gary Stringer.  To his right is new(ish) guitarist Jesse Wood, who fits in perfectly: he’s confident yet laid back; masterful playing and not overly flamboyant.

A great deal of the set was culled, unsurprisingly, from Reef’s hugely popular second album, Glow.  So we get gems such as “Consideration”, “Come Back Brighter”, “Place Your Hands” (of course) and my personal favourite – the absolutely megalithic stomp of “I Would Have Left You”.  Songs that sum up Reef’s ability to meld Zeppelin sized riffery with tuneful, tender moments.

There’s also some songs from Rides and the sole song from debut album Replenish, “Naked”.  Jack Bessant, looking like Rob Zombie’s Dad but much, much cooler – unleashed another monstrous bass line for “New Bird”.  It’s no mere greatest hits set though, as Reef throw in some well placed new material.  The new songs are quality stuff, sounding like old time soul classics played by seventies blues rock behemoths.  Drummer Dominic Greensmith looks to be having a great time as he smashes his kit into a parallel dimension.

My only complaint is that there’s nothing from their fourth album, Getaway.  I love that album, it’s a real forgotten masterpiece.  It would’ve been great to hear “Set the Record Straight” or “All I Want”, a song that’s so good it brings a tear to my eye every time.

I always wondered how Reef got lumbered in with the whole Britpop thing.  To me, their music is classic old school 1970’s British ROCK, with a nice spoonful of laid back soul.  They put on a great, relaxed and yet commanding show – full of the warmth of the last days of summer.  A great atmosphere with songs that climb to Gandalf sized epicness.  And I guess that’s how you tame the giants.

The Reef website is here.

The Live Rooms website is here.

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 Night I Played Bass for Diamond Head

DHLive

Diamond Head + The Heretic Order + Kuru + Cathar

Thursday 25th June 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

Yes, you read that right.  For one night I played bass guitar for British Heavy Metal legends Diamond Head, and this is how it happened.

Diamond Head had three support bands, which is pretty good value for money in my book.  First up were Cathar, who were a Symphonic Metal band with two singers.  Solid musicians but not really my cup of mead; good vocals though.

Next were Kuru, who were more in the Death Metal vein.  Brutal riffs and the rhythm section were impressive.  Ferocious vocals, though I’m not a massive fan of the Death Metal Grunt.

The Heretic Order merged a more trad metal (Maiden, Priest) approach with some more thrashy elements.  Think Venom with some Sepultura and melody thrown in; they do a nice line in comedy Satanic Metal too.  At least I think it’s comedy; if not I mean no offence, honest…

Diamond Head can rock with the best of them.  Their NWOBHM anthems have become hugely popular due to their influence on those who followed.  The famous songs – “Am I Evil”, “The Prince”, “Helpless” – can be regarded as amongst the foundation stones of classic metal.  This is the music that helped shape today’s rock just as much as “Breaking the Law”, “Run to the Hills” or “Ace of Spades”.

In addition you’ve got those big, epic Zeppelin inspired songs like “To Heaven From Hell” and “To the Devil His Due”.  Monolithic tracks that really add another dimension to Diamond Head’s catalogue.

They play all the greats at the Live Rooms, and have a fantastic time doing it.  Brian Tatler is safely in the driving seat, in control and playing brilliantly.  Vocalist Rasmus Anderson has a hell of a voice on him, confidently delivering gem after gem.  The rhythm section of Karl Wilcox (drums) and Eddie Moohan (bass) are locked in and having a whale of a time.  Then you’ve got guitarist Abbz, who looks like the happiest bloke on the planet.

It’s a packed and professional set with plenty of conviction.  At the very end, I was down the front for the encore when Eddie offered his bass to the audience to strum.  So I hit a few strings – and so did half a dozen other people.  But now I’ll claim to have played bass for Diamond Head, and you can’t call me a liar.

Great gig.  My interest and respect for this band was renewed.  It was great to see a band who have accomplished so much – and still have so much to give – on my door step.  Legends.

The Diamond Head web site is here.

The Live Rooms web site is here.

Stipe – Live at Alexander’s

Stipe

Friday 24th April 2015

Alexander’s, Chester 

OK, so I know I’ve already written about this band once this year.  But I went to see them again, and I think a brief write-up is in order.

The last time we saw StipeR.E.M. tribute band extraordinaire – you may remember, was in Chester’s Live Rooms.  A larger venue than I’d seen them in previously.  It was a great gig.  This time around, we were back to Alexander’s, also in Chester, but a smaller, more intimate place.  How did the band fare?

Well Alexander’s is hardly a downgrade.  It’s a very cool, laid back venue with a positive vibe.  Though in this smaller room, the close proximity of the band really makes the experience a welcoming one.

The music sounds clear, sharp, immediate.  Stipe are not merely a carbon copy tribute band; even if I forget about the brilliant musicianship, they manage to accomplish much more than just replicate the music of R.E.M.  There’s a love for the original material that can really be heard in this venue, and makes the songs that bit more true and warm.

Unfortunately there’s no keyboards, so still no “Nightswimming” (sad face Mrs Platinum Al).  But the absolute total highlight for me is a sublime rendition of “Drive”, one of my favourite R.E.M. songs, delivered gracefully.  Blinding version of “Losing My Religion”, too.

Another fine gig from Stipe.  This band are authentic, sincere and able to create a genuine atmosphere.  Thank you.

The Alexander’s website is here.

Stipe’s Facebook page is here.

Stipe’s website is here.