Pentre Fest 2020

Pentre Fest 2020

McLean’s Pub, Pentre Deeside

21st & 22nd February 2020

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

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.

Mike West

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!

OMV

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.

Luke Appleton

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.

Pentre Fest on Facebook.

N.E.W Metal Productions on Facebook.

Goodfor Audio Entertainment on Facebook

Mcleans Pub Live on Facebook.

Sweet – Gig Review

Sweet + Novatines

Wednesday 11th December 2019

Buckley Tivoli

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.

Buckcherry – Gig Review

Buckcherry + The Treatment + Rocky Kramer

Friday 1st November

Buckley Tivoli

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!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #9

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?

  1. Elvis Presley – “Always On My Mind” / “Separate Ways”
  2. Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Happy House” / “Drop Dead” / “Celebration”
  3. Albert King – “The Very Thought of You” / “I Get Evil”
  4. Queen – “Los Palabras De Amor (The Words of Love” / “Cool Cat”
  5. ABBA – “The Winner Takes It All” / “Elaine”
  6. Gerry Rafferty – “Baker Street” / “Big Change in the Weather”
  7. Bryan Ferry – “The Price of Love” / “Shame, Shame, Shame” / “Heart On My Sleeve” / “Its Only Love”
  8. The Steve Miller Band – “Abracadabra” / “Never Say No”
  9. The Rolling Stones – “The Last Time” / “Play with Fire”
  10. Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” / “Girl Get Ahold of Yourself”
  11. Donovan & Jeff Beck Group – “Barabajagal” / “Trudi”
  12. The Kyriakos – “More Greek Themes: Syneeta Platia” / “Mia Fora Monaha Ftani” / “Moraxia” / “Iliachtida”
  13. Boney M – “Rasputin” / “Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night”
  14. Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass – “The Lonely Bull” / “Acapulco 1922”
  15. Yardbirds – “For Your Love” / “Got to Hurry”
  16. Billie Jo Spears – “Blanket on the Ground” / “Come on Home”
  17. Tony Bennett – “(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco” / “Candy Kisses”
  18. Geordie – “She’s a Teaser” / “We’re Alright Now”
  19. Neil – “Hole in My Shoe” / “Hurdy Gurdy Mushroom Man”
  20. Talk Talk – “Life’s What You Make It” / “Life’s What You Make It (Live)”
  21. The Art of Noise featuring Duane Eddy – “Peter Gunn” / “Something Always Happens”
  22. The B-52’s – “Roam” / “Whammy Kiss (Live)” / “Dance This Mess Around (Live)”
  23. 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!

Torqued – Resurgence EP Review

Another review I wrote recently for Ever Metal, reproduced here for any stragglers:

Torqued – Resurgence EP

Self released

Release date: July 2018

Running Time: 34 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7/10

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!

Visit Torqued at https://torqued.co.uk/

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Krull – The Black Coast Album Review

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

6/10 

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!

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https://krullofficial.bandcamp.com/

www.instagram.com/krull.official/

Horrible Histories Playlist

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…

  1. Hanna-Barbera – “(Meet) The Flintstones [Main Title]”
  2. The Bangles – “Walk Like an Egyptian”
  3. Mikis Theodorakis – “Zorbas”
  4. Iron Maiden – “Alexander the Great”
  5. ABBA – “Waterloo”
  6. Chuck Berry – “Roll Over Beethoven”
  7. Boney M. – “Rasputin”
  8. Clutch – “Abraham Lincoln”
  9. Trio Guadalajara – “La Bamba”
  10. De Danaan – “The Cameronian Reel/The Doon Reel”
  11. Iron Maiden – “Ghengis Khan”
  12. Mariachi Mexico de Pepe Villa – “El Jarbe Tapatio (Mexican Hat Dance)”
  13. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers – “Egyptian Reggae”
  14. Madness – “Night Boat to Cairo” 
  15. Sweet – “Alexander Graham Bell”
  16. Rodrigo Y Gabriela – “Vikingman”
  17. Iron Maiden – “Invaders”
  18. The Kinks – “Victoria”
  19. Boney M. – “Ma Baker”
  20. Sweet – “Wig Wam Bam”
  21. Mikis Theodorakis – “Varka Sto Gialo”
  22. Bananarama – “Venus”
  23. Tom Jones – “Delilah”
  24. The Beatles – “Roll Over Beethoven”
  25. Christina Aguilera – “Candyman”
  26. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – “The Raiders March”
  27. Eric Rogers – “Carry On Cleo”
  28. 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…