Fields of the Nephilim – Gig Review

Fields of the Nephilim + The Faces of Sarah

Friday 10th September 2021

Buckley Tivoli

It had been a good 18 months since I last attended a gig, and leaving the house to join a throng of fans enjoying live music seemed like a very strange proposition. I’d actually forgotten all about the concert, as tickets had been booked long before lockdown. Heading up to the Tiv was both exciting and, if I’m honest, a little unnerving.

On entering the venue, it was just like old times: a great vibe as the crowd drank and awaited the bands. As life was getting back to normal, the Goths had crept from the shadows near and far, ready to witness Fields of the Nephilim.

The support band, The Faces of Sarah, were already attempting to breathe life into the evening. Unfortunately, and unusually for the Tiv, they could hardly be heard. I wasn’t too far away, but could barely make out the sound of the instruments. The guitarist looked to be going for it, throwing shapes like a crazed gibbon, but to no avail. The dual lead vocals were extremely impressive, however the poor sound made them come across like an AOR outfit.

Had my old copy of the Usborne Book of Goths been on my person, I could’ve ticked off several obvious dark rock tropes from the moment Fields of the Nephilim took the stage. There was so much dry ice the band could barely be seen, just a group of grey silhouettes in dusty cowboy hats. They begin in true over the top, cinematic style with “The Harmonica Man”. Atmosphere is poured on with no restraint.

And that’s exactly what I paid my money for: I wanted the full experience without any subtlety, and by God, that’s what the audience got.

FOTN erupted into “Preacher Man” and we all loved it. There’s no onstage frontman/audience banter (till the very end) and that, again, is just how I expected it. The songs bounce along like little Goth demons knowing Halloween isn’t far away.

“Moonchild” was an obvious highlight, with its slow, moody intro leading into the searing guitar and rumbling bass. The whole set is all treat, no tricks – I got the feeling that this is exactly how FOTN would’ve performed 30 years ago. The whole set is absolutely note perfect and full of every excess that the audience could devour.

I’d also forgotten how much I enjoy live music. This evening was a fantastic reminder of what we’ve been missing – can’t wait for more.

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.

The Crippens – Gig Review

The Crippens + Emissaries of Syn + Ballpein + Soulless System + Abominate + Spam Javelin

Saturday 19th May 2018

The Tivoli, Buckley

Six bands spanning a range of punk, hardcore, thrash and death metal – all for £7.50?  You count Platinum Al in, guv’nor!  Anticipating a night of good ol’ fashioned face melting tunes I was off to the Tivoli in Buckley for what seemed the first time in absolute yonks.

As I bounded into the Tiv and was drawn like a magnet straight to the bar, our first band of the evening – Spam Javelin – had started playing.  They play fast, loud and fun hardcore punk, with a dose of well placed humour.  I was very impressed by Spam Javelin’s set and need to check them out again.  Recommended and a good start to the night!

Up next were Abominate, who’s music was essentially a revved up a chainsaw thrown into a pit of acid vipers.  It’s full on death/thrash metal and by ‘eck, it is good.  Intense and with a crafty helping of heavy, crunching sludge to boot – Abominate are a force of nature and very superb indeed.

Local band Soulless System were up next.  Their sound is heavy, grinding and brutal thrash – though their set seems dogged by sound issues tonight.  It perhaps doesn’t help that they don’t use a live drummer.  It’s a shame as the band can obviously play and have some very tasty riffs.  Get these boys a drummer and sort the sound and they’ll light it up.

Then what happened?  Oh yeah, Ballpein played and smashed my face in.  Repeatedly.  Amazing band, full on hardcore punk with a metallic edge: if you want exciting, fast songs and brutal riffage this is the band for you.  Ballpein are also amazingly good on stage, confident and having fun as they grind out their (not very) delicate ballads about serial killers.

Another North Wales crew, Emissaries of Syn, played next – attacking with their blend of crusty grinding noise.  EOS are relentless and played a non stop set of mind warping punk thrash goodness.  Great stuff and again, confidently played on the big Tiv stage.  I’ll keep an eye open for more.

Finally, our revered headliners took to the stage and belted out some classic hardcore punk.  Once they were Doctor and, now they’re just The Crippens, but this reformed bunch of maniacs disguised as musicians are back and slaying all before them.  A great set, I have never before witnessed such a mesmerising gang of misfits in the wild.  Perhaps a tear escaped as I reminisced about long ago 80’s skate rock.  Whatever, I am SO glad I got to see this band live.

And that was it, another great night at the Tivoli.  Well done to the bands who played; thanks to the Tiv for being brave enough to put on something a bit different; and full marks to Knoxy who organised this and helped raise some funds for mental health care in the process.  A legend.

 

You can find all the bands above on Facebook, it’s easy.

The Tivoli website is here. 

Public Image Ltd – Gig Review

PIL

Public Image Ltd + The Hexmen

Saturday 26th September 2015

The Tivoli, Buckley

Well it’s been an amazing couple of weeks for gigs.  And what’s that?  Public Image Ltd playing up the road at the Buckley Tivoli?  Featuring the living legend that is John Lydon?  There’s absolutely no way this extravaganza can be missed!

It was England vs Wales in the Rugby World Cup that night, and the Tiv had decided to show the game on a large projector screen above the stage.  A bizarre idea but it worked out OK – happily Wales won.  Had they lost that could’ve put a right downer on the evening.

Support band The Hexmen are a non-stop R’n’B party.  And by R’nB I mean as in Rhythm and Blues, not as in Kanye West.  They’re a solid band with an unmissable skill in abstract between song banter.  Solid rhythm section, stellar guitar and soaring harmonica.  Pretty damn good.  They appear to play in these parts quite often, so check ’em out.

The Tiv was packed out for Public Image Ltd.  I think most of the punters were in a daze, unbelieving that the band would actually appear.  But lo and behold PiL did appear – the real PiL, not a tribute act featuring some Johnny Rotten wannabe.  The reception was warm, but the crowd really revved up when the third song in the set turned out to be the masterpiece that is “This Is Not a Love Song”.

There was a fair mix of tracks old and new, with “Death Disco” and “Warrior” standing out from the well known singles.  I’ve not got the new album yet (hangs head in shame), but the tracks of that and This is PiL (got that one) were all extremely impressive.  The massive bass groove of Scott Firth and precision drums of Bruce Smith created a throbbing tribal rhythm that brought these songs to life.

Lydon himself seemed to be having a good time, for the most part.  I couldn’t always tell.  He definitely got stuck in and delivered some quite stunning vocals.  His style is almost operatic; combined with his commanding presence at the front of the stage we are given a captivating performance.

I should also mention guitar maestro and all round talented bloke Lu Edmonds – he played a blazing gig.  I have no idea how he made all those sounds.  It was very hard to believe that there were only four people on stage.

The encore provides the songs “Public Image” and “Rise”, two fantastic songs that the audience were thrilled with.  I still remember seeing “Rise” performed on Top of the Pops when I were a lad.  That was my first experience of PiL.  The other kids thought Lydon was weird; I thought he looked cool.  It’s a perfect end to the chapter.

Oh, and I WILL go and buy the new album – promise.

The Public Image Ltd website is here.

The Hexmen website is here.

The Tivoli website is here.

Live Wire – AC/DC Tribute Gig Review

Live Wire

Friday 17th October 2014

The Tivoli, Buckley

Cast your minds back to mid-October.  I took a brief break from my Hallowe’en Horror Fest movie reviews and paid another visit to the Tivoli in Buckley for another night of rock’n’roll.

Performing this night were Live Wire – an AC/DC tribute band.  I’ve witnessed the real thing a few years back (at Milton Keynes Bowl on their Stiff Upper Lip tour, fact fans), but only the once.  Tickets for the real AC/DC are like centaur shit these days, so I was very happy to check out a tribute to the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world instead.

The thing with tribute bands is, they either sound like who they’re meant to be, or they look like their idols.  Not both.  Or in the case of bad tribute bands, they try to sound or look like the originals, and fail on both counts.

I am very happy to report however that Live Wire have got the full wish list sewn up.  Sewn up neatly on a denim jacket with all the patches on.

The act is split into two halves: first we see the Bon Scott years.  The set list includes classics from the era like “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”, “Riff Raff”, “Touch Too Much” and “Whole Lotta Rosie”.  It’s my all time fave “Highway to Hell”, though, that makes me grow horns and a tail and punch the air like a little metal demon.  Magic. livewire1

The Bon Scott-a-like is uncannily impressive in his role as the late, great hell raiser.  The voice is spot on.  The sound overall is impeccable, plus every song is a gem.

Next up we have the Brian Johnson years, which thunders in with “Rock’n’Roll Train” and simply does not stop.  Live Wire’s Brian not only possess the same forged-in-fire vocal chords, he moves the same too.  Wearing the trademark flat cap, Brian stalks the stage in typical hunched up form and belts out the rock.

The rock that is belted out includes “Back in Black”, “You Shook Me All Night Long” plus an absolutely dynamite version of “Thunderstruck”.

So the singers perform admirably.  The band, too, are top notch.   Though Live Wire’s Angus Young looks a lot taller, he’s got all the moves dialled – right down to mooning the audience.  Malcolm also looks perfect – strumming away, head nodding.  I couldn’t see the other guys though, sorry.

It was a truly electric night in the Tiv.  The place was packed tighter than Rosie’s bra and the punters loved it.  The encore saw Bon and Brian unite for “Let There Be Rock”.  Finally, Brian led the band through a raging “For Those About to Rock…”, complete with cannon fire.

Absolutely great fun.  I’d happily see Live Wire again any time.  High voltage rock’n’roll, indeed.

Visit Live Wire’s web page here.

Visit the Tivoli’s web page here.

Wayne Hussey – Gig Review

Wayne Hussey 

Friday 10th October 2014

The Tivoli, Buckley

Seems like I’m at the Tiv every other week these days…  This time, it was to see Wayne Hussey, he of The Mission, performing a solo acoustic set.  Somehow I’ve never managed to see The Mission live, so this was a nice tick in the box. fly_waynehussey

The gig starts late, due to Wayne being stuck in traffic on the M56.  No matter, there’s no support band, just Wayne and his tech guy tonight.  When we get in the venue, the familiar lay out is augmented by a few tables and chairs down the front.  I’ve never seen anything like that in the Tivoli before.  It’s a nice indication of how the gig will be.  We didn’t manage to scrounge any seats though, so we stood near the front.

The set consists of some Mission songs and some covers, with Wayne solo on guitar or keyboard, and some backing track/drums.  We get a magnificent “Black Mountain Mist” and covers including All About Eve’s “Martha’s Harbour”.

Some may expect a gloomy goth vibe, but there’s none of that – Wayne is relaxed and in good spirits, adding some stories and humour between songs.  It’s a great way to experience an artists music – an intimate atmosphere where the songs are allowed to shine.

I would’ve liked some more songs from the Children and Carved in Sand albums, but there’s no complaints.  Wayne Hussey seems to enjoy himself, and it’s a treat for the audience to see an artist up close and personal.

I can’t remember much more as the Stella in the Tiv made me loopy.  Great night.

Toyah – Live Review

Toyah

Saturday 27th August 2014

The Tivoli, Buckley

It was Saturday night, live music on at the Tiv from alternative 80’s legend Toyah – where was everybody?  The place was mostly empty!

Yes, it’s another live music review at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub – and this time we’re back to that old favourite, The Tivoli in Buckley.

I remember seeing Toyah Wilcox on Tiswas one Saturday morning, when I was about eight.  I thought she was cool (and a bit cute).  I’ve also seen Toyah live before at the Tiv, in the early 90’s when she appeared there with Girlschool.  So I got to hear a few of Toyah’s hits in a rocked up style, along with some Girlschool tunes and some covers (I remember a bit of Zeppelin in the set).

And many of my Virtual Hot Tub pals will also be aware of the time last year at Birmingham NEC Memorabilia, where I met the star in question.  She signed my old Official Toyah Annual and I grabbed a sneaky photo.

You can probably imagine that I was quite stoked to hear that Toyah would be performing just up the road in Buckley.

The date for the gig had been changed previously, so maybe this re-scheduling was to blame for the low turn out.  The Tiv was about a quarter full, prompting Toyah herself to declare “It’s like playing a private party!” – she was far from disheartened.  Toyah was in fine voice and full of energy, bouncing around on the stage.  Between songs, there’s a brief introduction which really does make the whole gig a very intimate experience.

Obviously we get the established songs: “It’s a Mystery”, “I Want to be Free”, “Be Proud Be Loud Be Heard” and many more.  Plus there are some welcome covers such as “Rebel Yell” and “These Boots Are Made for Walking”, which fit in really well with the more expected numbers.  The band are also very impressive and the whole performance is professional, but down to earth.

It’s over far too soon.  Despite a small audience, it was a great gig with a relaxed atmosphere.

Death Skateboards – My Current Set Up

Death deck, Independent trucks, Death wheels 

Recently I set up my new skateboard.  This new set up is, again, primarily Death skateboards.

The new deck is a Lee Dainton pro model – yes, he of Dirty Sanchez fame.  I’ve actually had this deck for a while, I just hadn’t got round to setting it up.  Truth be told, I’ve not done much skating for a while, due to factors like becoming a  Dad; the bastard recession killing my employment; and being busy getting fat.

I’ve kept my previous set of good old reliable Indy trucks, but invested in a new set of Death wheels (52mm).  I picked the wheels up from the very nice people at Note skate shop in Manchester on a recent visit. IMG_3168

Death are a great company, I’ve owned (and skated) many of their decks and wheels.  They’re British, and make really good products that you can depend on.

Back when I used to own a skate shop, I spoke on the phone to Death boss man Nick Zorlac a few times.  He’s a sound guy with an obvious enthusiasm and love for skateboarding. IMG_3170

I also had a brief meeting with Dainton a couple of years ago, when he and Matt Pritchard did a Dirty Sanchez show at the Tivoli in Buckley.  The conversation basically consisted of hollering “Independent for life!” at each other.

Anyway, I’ve now skated this deck and I am extremely happy with it.  No techy nerd ramblings in this blog post, this is a quality skateboard and we’ll leave it at that.  Well done Death on another fine product!

Deck only, before trucks were mounted.

Deck only, before trucks were mounted.