Pentre Fest 2017

Pentre Fest

Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th June 2017

McLean’s Pub, Deeside

Three days of the heaviest of metal, featuring underground, unsigned bands from across the UK, walking distance from my house.  How could I resist?

I’ve been to McLean’s pub in Pentre, Deeside several times over the years – usually for functions such as birthdays.  I had no idea, though, that they were regularly hosting gigs of the rock/metal variety.  Pentre Fest came out of the blue, but I managed to make it down for Saturday evening.

Pentre is a small area within Deeside, North Wales – and McLeans a fairly well known pub/function place.  Take it from me, the fact that Pentre Fest existed was a surprise at first.

As I was late arriving, I missed the first few bands, including the excellent Bad Earth.  I’ve seen them a while ago supporting Karma to Burn and they were excellent.  A bad start for me, I fully intend to see Bad Earth again sometime.

The first band I witnessed were Pelugion – they were a great introduction to the festival.  A metal band with a healthy element of stoner/doom, Pelugion rocked out in a Judas Priest or Megadeth vein.  They also excelled when they got into a slower, Sabbath like groove – bringing to mind Alice in Chains or Soundgarden.  Really impressive.

Outside the actual venue was a marque hosting acoustics acts.  This was proved handy between bands, especially on a sunny day like this when you could sip a beer outside with some live entertainment.

I saw Pelugion again performing a great acoustic set, which culminated in a heartbreakingly good version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”.  Serious hairs standing up on back of the neck time.  Wonderful stuff – the Pelugion singer has pipes indeed.

The names of other acts in the acoustic tent escaped me (sorry everyone), but I did see a fantastic one-man rendition of Tenacious D’s “Tribute”, and a band doing some classic rock covers.  And I do love me some classic rock.

Back inside, next up were Impavidus from Manchester way.  Their set consisted of some incredibly locked in, expertly performed and aggressive metal.  With a sound not too far away from Carcass, the pleasant surprise with this band is the amazing singer, who happens to be female.  There just aren’t enough girls in rock/metal, but Michelle impressed with a vocal ranging from slinky Siouxsie Sioux to a commanding metal growl.  Excellent show from all of the band, across the board – and a decent bunch of folks, too.

Up next on the indoor main stage were thrash titans Incinery.  Their scorching hot set of purest thrash metal glistened with speed and precision.  Obvious comparisons would be Slayer at their fastest, with the riffs of Testament or even Sepultura.  Absolutely no fucking about delivery and really gripping viewing, Incinery bring back the best of old school thrash and drag it with them into the future.

Amusingly, in a very Phoenix Nights kind of way, whilst all this blistering metal was being unleashed on the main stage, there was 60th birthday party in the next room.  Absolutely bloody hilarious!  I wonder what Granny made of it…?

But back to the music, and next on the bill were Haerken (apologies for the spelling, I can’t find the right symbol on my keyboard).  A different tale altogether from what we’ve experienced so far, Haerken introduced some Medieval themed mayhem with a killer presentation.  Dressed like knights or druids etc, their Olde Worlde death fest was brilliantly presented and featured some intricate musicianship.  Sharp as a gleaming sword and just as lethal.

Finally, headlining Saturday night, were the exquisitely named Sodomized Cadaver, from good old South Wales.  With a band name and song titles in the classic controversy baiting death metal style, it was obvious what we would be getting.  The heaviest band of the day, with a brutal rip-your-face-off  musical attack, these boys mercilessly slaughtered the gathered metal hordes.  Vastly entertaining, their savage yet brilliantly played Metel Angau* was murderously superb.

And that was it.  At least for me, as I could only attend Saturday.  Next year, I’m attending all three days and YOU’RE COMING TOO.

Awesome live music from the metal underground, Pentre Fest also delivered a great atmosphere and camaraderie amongst some very cool people.  Let’s have another!

The Facebook page for Pentre Fest is here.  There are links to all the bands over the full weekend – do the research, it’s worth it.

The McLeans Pub Live FB page is here.

* I am reliably informed that this is Welsh for Death Metal.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #6

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 22nd January 2016

The first Bring Your Own Vinyl Night of 2016 brought out fantastic tunes old and new. Regardless of genre, all were welcome to spin their records for the enjoyment of the gathered vinyl enthusiasts.

Held in the Queen’s Head pub in Mold, North Wales, the idea is simple.  Each participant gets a fifteen minute slot to play whatever they like, so long as it’s on vinyl.  No other format permitted.

Again my selection for this evening had a theme, though a sad one.  Inspired by the loss of many musical heroes recently, my songs were selected as a tribute to some of those musicians who had passed away.

My old mucker Adam was first up from our gang.  He’d got to the pub early and had some food, which I’m told was very good.  Here’s his set:

  • Aerosmith – Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu
  • The Backbeat Band – Money
  • David Bowie – Moonage Daydream
  • Neil – Hole in My Shoe
  • Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – White Lines

Five great songs, awesome set.  Some of the other punters had a go, then it was my turn on the wheels of steel.

Stone Temple Pilots – Plush

Taken from the first Stone Temple Pilots record, “Core”, this song is my favourite track on the album.  “Plush” is a big, epic song that always reminded me of Led Zeppelin.  A great track to start the set off, though as it’s over five minutes long it meant that my set would be three songs rather than the usual four.  No problem.  Played in memory of STP singer Scott Weiland who died in December 2015.

Motorhead – Killed by Death

At the last Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, I played “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead as drummer Phil Taylor had passed away.  Sadly Lemmy, Motorhead main man and all round rock legend, was to follow on 28th December 2015.  After “Ace of Spades”, the next best Motorhead tune is “Killed By Death”, so I gave this classic a spin.  Taken from the best of compilation “No Remorse”, which I bought when I was 16 as it had both of the aforementioned tracks on it.  Every home should have one!

David Bowie – Heroes

And finally a Bowie song, to remember this great artist.  I chose “Heroes” as it’s my favourite Bowie song, grand and optimistic with a tinge of melancholy.  Truly magnificent.  The track I played was the single edit, taken from the “Best of Bowie” album, which I picked up a couple of years ago in a charity shop.  There were several songs I could have picked from several albums I own, all brilliant tunes. Bowie best of

After three songs I was running out of time for my fifteen minute slot and decided to call it quits.  I had the Eagles “Take It Easy” in reserve, to commemorate the passing of Glen Frey, but I was running out of time.  Plus Bowie’s “Heroes” was a perfect track to end on.

So Ben the Swede took to the stage after me, armed with just three records.  He’s moving house, you see ( a real house, not a cardboard box) – and most of his stuff is in storage at the moment.  Despite limited resources, Ben dropped a set of bangers.

  • Megadeth – Tornado of Souls
  • Elton John – Grey Seal
  • Deep Purple – Never Before

A nice mix there, from Megadeth to Elton John!

There you have it – another night of great tunes and good company at the Queen’s Head.  I even had a few requests for songs from the audience, though couldn’t oblige as that’s not what vinyl night is all about!  Thanks to everyone concerned.

Hope to see you there next time!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The Return of Wales Comic Con 2015

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Wales Comic Con – Sunday 29th November 2015

Glyndwr University, Wrexham

Back in April, my family and I attended the first Wales Comic Con of the year, held at Glyndwr University in Wrexham.  However just one day was not enough – November saw a second event in a similar vein.

So that meant star guests signing, merch for sale and dozens of cosplayers – all gathered together for a fun day.  Whatever you’re fan of, from the realms of film, television or comic books; be it sci-fi, fantasy, or other genre – there was something there for everyone.

At the previous event, we were lucky to have some stunning warm weather.  No such luck this time – the rain lashed down and the wind blew mercilessly.  Even for November, this weather wasn’t great.  No matter though, the atmosphere at the event was still every bit as sunny as previous.  Quite surprisingly, everyone’s spirits were high and there was still an air of excitement.

Comic Con was largely about Star Wars for my family, with my daughter Eloise dressed as Princess Leia in classic A New Hope style outfit.  She had a fantastic time having photos taken, and running after stormtroopers trying to shoot them (with a blaster from my collection!).  Meeting Chewbacca was also a highlight.

The costumes were varied and impressive – though due to the weather, lack of time and a technical fault my photos were limited.  Which was a shame as there were many more photos I’d have liked to take.

So another great event at Wrexham, and an excellent afternoon out.  We’ll definitely be back for more next time.

The Wales Comic Con website is here.

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.

Volbeat – Gig Review

Volbeat + Support

Friday 18th October 2013

Manchester Academy

OK, so I should’ve posted this gig review a while ago – Hallowe’en Horror Fest got in the way.  I apologise.  Better late than never.

My buddies and I went to the magical land of Manchester, to see Volbeat.  The weather was terrible – non stop rain – as befits Mancunia.  It always rains there.  Every time I’ve been, ever.

I missed the first support band, but arrived just as Iced Earth were beginning their set.  I’d heard of the band, but never listened to them – so wasn’t sure what to expect.  I thought they were death metal, I was wrong.  I thought they were European, they’re American.  They were better than I expected, more trad metal (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest) with some 80’s thrash (Testament, Megadeth) along for the ride.  Another comparison I can make is Black Label Society.  Overall, I was impressed with their crunching attack and will look out to purchase some recorded material.

Before Volbeat take the stage at the Academy, they treat us to some Motorhead.  An apt intro tape, as much like Lemmy’s crew, we are dealing with a heavy band who make no secret of their love for good old rock’n’roll.  “Born to Raise Hell” thunders from the PA until Volbeat erupt into live action – and we’re off.

Volbeat are an interesting concept.  Undeniably they are a heavy rock/metal band, yet they embrace the past unlike many others.  Thus we are given a cheeky rendition of “Ring of Fire” and a rocked up “I Only Want to be With You”, to garnish the rockabilly twangs of their original  material.  To be honest, it’s nothing that Glenn Danzig hasn’t already done, but there’s something great about hearing current metal’s DNA being exposed that makes this band thoroughly enjoyable.

In the audience, you can spot the odd dude with a quiff alongside the usual metal uniforms, not to mention a couple of girls in Bettie Page styled attire.  Very cool.  And definite visual evidence that here, rock has come full circle.

My only problem with this gig is that I don’t know the music well enough.  I have three albums by Volbeat, and they’re great – but to really get the benefit of this gig I should have done more homework.  Not that the songs don’t work if you’re not familiar with them – I just wish I’d taken more time to get under their skin.  Then this would’ve been a legendary gig, not just a great one.