Python Lee Jackson – “In a Broken Dream” / “Boogie Woogie Joe”
Boom! What a great collection. My favourite Who song, Thin Lizzy’s best (?), BTO and Free. That Knack song is, of course, a classic – as is the Cheap Trick track. All were from a record fair (remember those?) if I recall correctly.
That Faith No More song is their very worst, by an otherwise spectacular band. I’m no Phil Collins fan really, but that track is pretty good, admit it. Throw in Flying Lizards and The Beach Boys and you’ve got a helluva playlist. And if you don’t love “Camouflage” there must be something wrong with you.
The Chris Cornell was a Record Store Day special which I picked up from VOD records in Mold. Great shop who also organised the record fair I mentioned above. Check them out here.
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!
Come in, number 9! Yes, it’s another night of spinning 45s and boozing – a ritual I like to call Singles Night. Because I play 7″ singles, obviously. There’s an ever growing stack of 45 rpm singles and I need to deal with them. This is the latest session.
Starting off with Elvis, as is now tradition, what other wonders will we hear?
Elvis Presley – “Always On My Mind” / “Separate Ways”
Albert King – “The Very Thought of You” / “I Get Evil”
Queen – “Los Palabras De Amor (The Words of Love” / “Cool Cat”
ABBA – “The Winner Takes It All” / “Elaine”
Gerry Rafferty – “Baker Street” / “Big Change in the Weather”
Bryan Ferry – “The Price of Love” / “Shame, Shame, Shame” / “Heart On My Sleeve” / “Its Only Love”
The Steve Miller Band – “Abracadabra” / “Never Say No”
The Rolling Stones – “The Last Time” / “Play with Fire”
Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” / “Girl Get Ahold of Yourself”
Donovan & Jeff Beck Group – “Barabajagal” / “Trudi”
The Kyriakos – “More Greek Themes: Syneeta Platia” / “Mia Fora Monaha Ftani” / “Moraxia” / “Iliachtida”
Boney M – “Rasputin” / “Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night”
Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass – “The Lonely Bull” / “Acapulco 1922”
Yardbirds – “For Your Love” / “Got to Hurry”
Billie Jo Spears – “Blanket on the Ground” / “Come on Home”
Tony Bennett – “(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco” / “Candy Kisses”
Geordie – “She’s a Teaser” / “We’re Alright Now”
Neil – “Hole in My Shoe” / “Hurdy Gurdy Mushroom Man”
Talk Talk – “Life’s What You Make It” / “Life’s What You Make It (Live)”
The Art of Noise featuring Duane Eddy – “Peter Gunn” / “Something Always Happens”
The B-52’s – “Roam” / “Whammy Kiss (Live)” / “Dance This Mess Around (Live)”
Bobby Vinton – “Blue Velvet” / “Blue on Blue”
Wow, another eclectic bunch of tracks there! Points of particular interest include Geordie, who feature (of course) the legendary Brian Johnson in his pre-AC/DC days. And yes, that is Neil, alias Nigel Planer, from the Young Ones.
Several genres covered there and a fine evening’s listen. More soon!
Another review I wrote recently for Ever Metal, reproduced here for any stragglers:
Torqued – Resurgence EP
Release date: July 2018
Running Time: 34 mins
Review by: Alun Jones
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!
Here’s my latest album review from EVER METAL, reproduced here with permission. Enjoy!
Krull – The Black Coast
Iron Shield Records
Release date: 27/04/2018
Running Time: 42.32
Review by: Alun Jones
KRULL! Did you ever see the movie? It’s GREAT! On the ancient world of Krull, Prince Colwyn brings together a band of scoundrels to help him rescue Princess Lyssa from the clutches of the evil Beast, who threatens to conquer the planet. It’s a sci-fi fantasy adventure with a Cyclops, cool weapons, vile baddies, Tucker Jenkins and Lysette Anthony. I mean seriously, you need to see this film. How metal does it sound? Even the bad guys are called “Slayers”!
The band Krull occupy a musical space which is openly very inspired by fantasy, battles and all things sword and sorcery. And right from the off, it’s a whole lot of fun. The atmospheric intro “In the Woods” grabs the listener and plunges them into the ethereal world that Krull have concocted, and it’s pretty much full on from there.
Pace-wise, “The Black Coast” is like riding shotgun in a barbarian’s chariot, charging an army of Orcs. Stand out tracks for me included “By Steel” and “The King and the Sword”, but the whole album is energetic traditional metal. If you’re a fan of Priest, Maiden and the mighty Manowar you’ll find something to enjoy here. Only midway track “Valhalla” slows things down a little, otherwise it’s a fast and brutal campaign.
So why only 6 out of 10? Well there are lots of plus points with this album. The vocals are suitably bonkers, ranging from powerful cries, deep growls to a high pitched, witchy cacophony. The musicianship is great, and the rhythm section successfully keep the march relentless. The songs are fast and filled with fantastic tales of battles and bravery.
But the guitar tone was just off for me. I like something with more crunch; more skull smashing intensity. After the cool intro, first track “The Witch”, whilst a great song, suffers from a languid guitar sound that slices the records hamstrings before the fight is really on.
Don’t misunderstand me, the playing is great – it’s the production that’s slightly lacking. The guitars should be much more axe in the face, blood and brains everywhere.
There’s still a lot to recommend Krull’s “The Black Coast” though. Especially if you dig your metal as a soundtrack to a rampaging berserker, attacking a horde of evil ghouls.
Oh, and get down to your local Blockbuster and rent the Krull video. You won’t regret it. It makes Lord of the Rings look like a bad Dungeons and Dragons game in a crack den.
Click here for the EVER METAL website, where you’ll find tons more reviews of albums and gigs by awesome bands!
My daughter Eloise had her 8th birthday last weekend. At the moment, she’s a big fan of the BBC children’s TV series, Horrible Histories, and requested a party based on that theme.
If you’re not familiar with Horrible Histories, let me tell you it’s well worth checking it. Both funny and informative, the show makes history appeal to kids (and adults) by illuminating some unusual – and sometimes gross – facts from various periods throughout the past.
We’ve all become big fans in our house, actually. So the party was going to be fun – everyone could dress up as historical characters and entertainment geared to the theme.
Only one thing remained – some music suitable for days gone by. Not having much music in my collection that was actually from previous ages, I had to dig out some tunes that could fit the bill. Here’s what I came up with…
Hanna-Barbera – “(Meet) The Flintstones [Main Title]”
The Bangles – “Walk Like an Egyptian”
Mikis Theodorakis – “Zorbas”
Iron Maiden – “Alexander the Great”
ABBA – “Waterloo”
Chuck Berry – “Roll Over Beethoven”
Boney M. – “Rasputin”
Clutch – “Abraham Lincoln”
Trio Guadalajara – “La Bamba”
De Danaan – “The Cameronian Reel/The Doon Reel”
Iron Maiden – “Ghengis Khan”
Mariachi Mexico de Pepe Villa – “El Jarbe Tapatio (Mexican Hat Dance)”
Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers – “Egyptian Reggae”
Madness – “Night Boat to Cairo”
Sweet – “Alexander Graham Bell”
Rodrigo Y Gabriela – “Vikingman”
Iron Maiden – “Invaders”
The Kinks – “Victoria”
Boney M. – “Ma Baker”
Sweet – “Wig Wam Bam”
Mikis Theodorakis – “Varka Sto Gialo”
Bananarama – “Venus”
Tom Jones – “Delilah”
The Beatles – “Roll Over Beethoven”
Christina Aguilera – “Candyman”
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – “The Raiders March”
Eric Rogers – “Carry On Cleo”
Eric Rogers – “Carry On Up the Khyber”
Ok, so some of those tracks are less scraping the barrell and more like digging the dust on an archaeological dig, but it did the job. Basically, without Iron Maiden I’d have been screwed…
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?