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.

Stipe – R.E.M. Tribute Gig Review

Stipe

Saturday 24th January 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

The great thing about tribute bands is the ability to witness music by defunct groups that you wouldn’t otherwise get to hear. Unfortunately REM have ceased to exist, so an evening with Stipe goes some way to filling a void. As the premier REM tribute band, they offer up authentic, exciting versions of songs that, nowadays, you can only hear on your music player of choice.

I’ve seen Stipe a few times before, always at Alexander’s in Chester, which is a much smaller and intimate venue. So it was going to be interesting to see how they fared in a larger venue like the Live Rooms. There was no need to worry: Stipe performed brilliantly, bringing their versions of classic alt rock tunes to an eager audience.

The set was split into two sections, enabling the band to delve into the REM back catalogue and dig out gems from across their career. It says a lot that Stipe are able to entertain both the more casual fan and the die-hard aficionado like my mate; he sang along with every single line, no matter how obscure. Stipe1

Where this band succeeds is in the accuracy of the sound. Though the lead singer certainly looks the part, his voice is a fairly uncanny likeness of Michael Stipe’s. He may have the moves down to an impressive level, but the voice is what really works, especially on “Orange Crush” (with megaphone prop!) and “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” Stipe2

The other musicians also manage to create a brilliant rendition of the songs, fully convincing and delivered with confidence and enthusiasm. When they bring out a mandolin for “Losing My Religion”, it’s like welcoming an old friend who isn’t even on Facebook.

Any minus points?   Well “Shiny Happy People” has never been a favourite of mine, and it gets a rare turn in the spotlight tonight.   To be fair though, it’s a faithful version and I enjoyed it!  It would also be nice to see a live keyboard player added to the line up again, so we’ll get to hear classics like “Nightswimming”.

All in all, it’s another success for the Live Rooms. No disrespect to other venues, but it’s nice to see Stipe doing so well in this larger environment. Stipe did not fail to deliver: they can be relied on to accurately recreate the sound of REM and entertain an audience. Close your eyes, and it could almost be the real thing. And that’s how a tribute band should be, right?

Let’s hope they’re back soon.

Stipe’s Facebook page is here.

Stipe’s website is here.

The Live Rooms website is here.