Tragedy – Gig Review

Tragedy

Wednesday 9th March 2016

The Live Rooms, Chester

It’s my first gig of the year, and another visit to the ever reliable Live Rooms in Chester for some rock’n’roll.  I’ve had a few rockin’ parties at this venue, but this night was destined for greatness.  The exquisite Disco Metal of the one and only Tragedy was scheduled to set the sky on fire with dazzling party anthems.

Finding common ground between the opposing world of heavy metal and disco was never going to be an easy task.  They’re two genres of music that repel like the same sides of a magnet.  But with Tragedy, the water and oil can, and do, mix.  It’s a hard rockin’ combination of guitar and high pitched disco vocals in a totally crazy metal tribute to the Bee Gees (and beyond).

A heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees is only the beginning, you see.  As well as Brothers Gibb classics like “Staying Alive” and “Night Fever”, their set is expanded to take in other disco and pop classics.  The mutated songs feature glimpses of riffs from Van Halen, Pantera and more.  One of my highlights was the ridiculously fun idea of warping the intro from Slayer’s “Raining Blood” into “It’s Raining Men”!

Part of the fun of this Tragedy gig was spotting chunks of recognisable metal riffs, and then being dumbfounded by how the band weave them into a late 70’s disco style.  The mash up is suitably gory too – these gruesome Frankensteins have no qualms when it comes to hacking limbs from one sweet pop track and stitching them maniacally to a heavy metal corpse.

With a light show and numerous skits introducing the songs (not to mention Lance the towel boy bumbling across the stage) it’s all very entertaining.  And professional, without being soulless.

For any metal fan with a sense of humour, Tragedy are well worth seeing.  You’ll have a hard time finding a more bonkers night out anywhere.  Great fun!

The Tragedy website is here.

The Live Rooms website is hereTragedy

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #2

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 29th May 2015

OK, you know the drill – it’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at the Queen’s Head pub in Mold.  It’s the same great deal as last time – everyone gets a fifteen minute slot to play whatever they want, as long as it’s vinyl.  Old or new, obvious or strange – any genre you like, bring along those wax platters and give them a spin.

As previous, it was a welcoming atmosphere in the pub, and it was great to hear the music played.  There’s always some old favourites, as well as a few that make you scratch your head, then go away determined to explore that sound more.

We missed the last Vinyl Night, the gang and me, but this time we came fully stocked and prepared.  So after a few beers, here’s what my set-list looked like:

Nirvana – Do You Love Me

This is a cover by the Seattle Grunge mega lords of a KISS tune, found on the Hard to Believe tribute album.  This record featured several then-underground, independent punk rock groups covering KISS songs.  Also on this disc you’ll hear such bands as the Melvins, All and the Hard-Ons (I love ’em all) – but it’s Kurt Cobain’s crew that are the novelty factor here.  Pre-dating Nevermind, this isn’t the best Nirvana song (not by a long way) but it’s kinda cool to hear them cover some classic glam rock.  I picked this up fairly recently at a Manchester jumble sale; I played it ‘cos it’s rare (apparently) and unexpected (very).

Butthole Surfers – The Wooden Song

No, I didn’t play this song because of the shock/comedy nature of the band’s name.  I played because the album Independent Worm Saloon, which birthed this tune, is a work of under-appreciated genius.  The album roams from full-on punk noise; to psychedelic eruptions; to folky, melodious charm.  The Wooden Song   fits in the last category, with a nice added dose of weird.

Jimi Hendrix Experience – The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice

Taken from the Smash Hits album which I picked up on reissue around 1990.  This song was always a favourite, I chose to play it as it’s a different (and better) mix than the one found on the South Saturn Delta CD.  I love how the song’s funky little riff rolls on, as Jimi’s voice and a wall of guitar noise threaten to throw the whole thing overboard.  Beautiful chaos.

Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan

This is one of my late at night, chill-out jams.  You can find this track on Paranoid.  I chose it to showcase just how great Black Sabbath were, the variety and depth of composition going far beyond what the trendy elite give them credit for.  A mellow jazz trip into outer space, this song elegantly portrays the grandeur of the mighty Sabbath.  ALL HAIL SABBATH.

So that was it from me.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, hope others liked it too.  I was more confident this time with the turntables and felt that the whole experience was a step up from my previous effort.

Next up was Adam, with some gems from his ever expanding vinyl collection.  It was Adam’s first tenure on the decks, he mastered it like a pro:

  • Guns’n’Roses – Bad Obsession
  • Prodigy – Poison
  • Beach Boys – God Only Knows

The final member of our crew was Ben the Swede, who travelled from far off Chester with his lady Janice to play some vinyl.  Ben went for a Ritchie Blackmore theme with his choices, and damn fine they were:

  • Rainbow – Jealous Lover
  • Glen Hughes and Chad Smith – Maybe I’m a Leo
  • Deep Purple – You Can’t Do It Right By The One You Love

Thank you and good night – till the next Bring Your Own Vinyl Night!

The Halcyon Dreams blog is here, where you can find listed (very helpfully) all the songs played on the night.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is herevinyl3

Stipe – Live at Alexander’s

Stipe

Friday 24th April 2015

Alexander’s, Chester 

OK, so I know I’ve already written about this band once this year.  But I went to see them again, and I think a brief write-up is in order.

The last time we saw StipeR.E.M. tribute band extraordinaire – you may remember, was in Chester’s Live Rooms.  A larger venue than I’d seen them in previously.  It was a great gig.  This time around, we were back to Alexander’s, also in Chester, but a smaller, more intimate place.  How did the band fare?

Well Alexander’s is hardly a downgrade.  It’s a very cool, laid back venue with a positive vibe.  Though in this smaller room, the close proximity of the band really makes the experience a welcoming one.

The music sounds clear, sharp, immediate.  Stipe are not merely a carbon copy tribute band; even if I forget about the brilliant musicianship, they manage to accomplish much more than just replicate the music of R.E.M.  There’s a love for the original material that can really be heard in this venue, and makes the songs that bit more true and warm.

Unfortunately there’s no keyboards, so still no “Nightswimming” (sad face Mrs Platinum Al).  But the absolute total highlight for me is a sublime rendition of “Drive”, one of my favourite R.E.M. songs, delivered gracefully.  Blinding version of “Losing My Religion”, too.

Another fine gig from Stipe.  This band are authentic, sincere and able to create a genuine atmosphere.  Thank you.

The Alexander’s website is here.

Stipe’s Facebook page is here.

Stipe’s 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.

Elvis Lives!

What if… Elvis Presley hadn’t died in 1977?

Another great thing about the White Bear in Mancot is that they have live music on Saturday nights.  Whether it’s a full band or a lone artist, there’s usually some entertainment on.  And very good they are too.

One night I witnessed an Elvis tribute night, which was excellent.  Andy Wright was the performer, and he put on a great show.  Two sets of classics from the King, complete with jump suit outfit and giant lit up Elvis back drop.  He had the voice and mannerisms dialled, not being afraid to stay in character with his between song banter.  Brilliant fun.

Another section of the performance intrigued me.  For the encore, Andy sang several songs that Elvis hadn’t actually performed*.  The reason that they hadn’t been covered by the King was that they were, for the most part, songs written after his death.  Thus, we were regaled by songs such as Purple Rain and Folsom Prison Blues.  A fantastic idea – very different and thought provoking. 2013-11-30 22.52.14

It got me thinking.  What if Elvis Presley hadn’t died on August 16th 1977?

What if, in an alternate reality, Elvis had lived on?  Maybe the 1980’s would have been a barren patch creatively.  Perhaps a half hearted come back tour, a residency in Las Vegas.  Perhaps the Elvis show would run to parody and be devoid of both true spectacle and triumph.

Perhaps in the 1990s, Rick Rubin would have decided to record something stripped back, honest and gritty with Elvis?  To put the King back on his throne and return him to his glorious past?  Used contemporary songs to showcase the immense talent that this fallen icon still possessed?  Remind us all why we loved Elvis in the first place, and what a force to be reckoned with he still was?

Something vaguely similar happened in the 90’s with Elvis’ contemporary Johnny Cash.  In another dimension, would the King have recovered his cool in the same way?

This thought led me to create the playlist below.  Twelve songs by newer artists that I think would have been fantastic for Elvis to cover.

Just imagine: Elvis Presley – and his recent Rubin produced comeback album “American Recordings: Long Live the King”.

  1. “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak)
  2. “American Nightmare” (The Misfits)
  3. “Mama Said” (Metallica)
  4. “Crazy in Love” (Beyonce)
  5. “You Shook Me All Night Long” (AC/DC)
  6. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (U2)
  7. “Blood and Tears” (Danzig)
  8. “When the Going Gets Tough” (Billy OCean)
  9. “Mystify” (INXS)
  10. “Stranger on the Town” (The Damned)
  11. “Mysterious Ways” (U2)
  12. “Hip to be Square” (Huey Lewis & The News)

Some of those choices may not be obvious, if you’re not familiar with the bands.  Take my word for it, Elvis singing Misfits and Danzig songs would be awesome.  Glenn Danzig reminds me of Presley anyway, a lot of the time.  And The King’s voice would be perfect for The Damned and Metallica tracks.

Disagree with my song choices?  Have more ideas for songs for Elvis?  Leave a comment and let me know.

You can visit Andy Wright’s Facebook page here.  Get in touch and book him.