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.

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!

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

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.

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.

New Year – New Playlist: Part 2

Remember the alphabetical musical playlist game?  Part One was posted a few weeks back, here’s Part Two.

The idea was to take turns playing a song from my iTunes collection, in alphabetical order by artist.  You can read the first instalment here.

Below is the next session, N to U.  The final few are still to be chosen…

  • Al: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “Straight to You”
  • Ness: Nirvana – “Heart Shaped Box”
  • Al: Ozzy Osbourne – “No More Tears”
  • Ness: The Offspring – “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)”
  • Al: Public Enemy – “Harder Than You Think”
  • Ness: Pearl Jam – “Alive”
  • Al: Queens of the Stone Age – “Make It Wit Chu”
  • Ness: Queen – “Who Wants to Live Forever”
  • Al: Ramones – “I Believe in Miracles”
  • Ness: R.E.M. – “Nightswimming”
  • Al: Senseless Things – “Homophobic Asshole”
  • Ness: System of a Down – “Chop Suey!”
  • Al: Turbonegro – “The Age of Pamparius”
  • Ness: Tenacious D – “Tribute”
  • Al: Urge Overkill – “Jaywalkin'”
  • Ness: U2 – “One”

So I know it’s not New Year any more, but this list needs finishing off.  Final part soon…

Platinum Lounge Rocks!

On Friday 6th September 2013, I was at the Platinum Lounge as part of a leaving do for my great friend and colleague, Ben the Swede.  He was going off to be a hobo on the streets of London, begging for loose change off commuters.  No doubt he would hitch down there, then spend his nights sleeping in a cardboard box with only a stray dog for company.

To celebrate Ben’s move to pastures new, we were all out and about painting the town red as only us filthy tramps know how.  There was a rumour that the Platinum Lounge was having a rock weekend.  The rumours were true.

Rock night at the Platinum Lounge featured the best music I have ever heard in any establishment in Chester.  It left other venues in the dust as the Lounge dared to play the tunes that would rock other clubs to their foundations.

It was a truly legendary night.  Here’s the playlist – or at least, what my compadres and I remember.

  1. Run DMC & Aerosmith – “Walk This Way”
  2. Ugly Kid Joe – “I Hate Everything About You”
  3. Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun”
  4. Fleetwood Mac – “Go Your Own Way”
  5. ZZ Top – “Legs”
  6. Def Leppard – “Pour Some Sugar On Me”
  7. Motley Crue – “Girls Girls Girls”
  8. Metallica – “Enter Sandman”
  9. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”
  10. AC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie”
  11. Aerosmith – “Janie’s Got a Gun”
  12. The Cult – “She Sells Sanctuary”
  13. Rainbow – “Since You Been Gone”
  14. Alice Cooper – “Poison”
  15. Def Leppard – “Animal”
  16. Guns’n’Roses – “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
  17. AC/DC – “Back in Black”
  18. Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Foxy Lady”
  19. Fleetwood Mac – “The Chain”
  20. Bon Jovi – “Livin’ On a Prayer”
  21. Skid Row – “Youth Gone Wild”
  22. Dire Straits – “Money For Nothing”
  23. U2 – “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
  24. Bryan Adams – “Run to You”
  25. Billy Idol – “White Wedding”
  26. Pink Floyd – “Another Brick in the Wall”
  27. Rolling Stones – “Paint It Black”
  28. Santana – “Smooth”
  29. Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again”
  30. George Thorogood & the Destroyers – “Bad to the Bone”

OK, so I know the Ugly Kid Joe song sucks, but how many top tunes are there on that playlist?  I mean Soundgarden – you never hear Soundgarden played anywhere!  Especially not in Chester, where that sort of thing is punishable by whipping with a designer handbag.

Thanks to all at the Platinum Lounge for a great night.