Thursday, 9 November 2017

Interview: Greg Spencer

Image by Bob Jordan.

After months of preparation, Huddersfield based filmmaker - Greg Spencer is set to release his debut film Jenna. I spoke to him about his influences, experiences and obstacles he had during the time of production. 

How did you get into filmmaking? 

I got into it when I did a BTEC media course during my GCSE years at high school. I fell in love with the idea of creating something from nothing. To have an idea in your head and transforming that into something on screen is a really amazing concept. Doing that BTEC for two years allowed me to make a number of short films and collaborate with people. However, more importantly it allowed me to get my hands on camera equipment and editing software.

Having access to these things was a blessing, as it allowed me to be able to create whatever I wanted. In hindsight, I actually wish I made more because I felt like I was one of the only people on that course that didn't ever want to stop making anything.

Who and what are your influences?

My main influence is David Lynch. I remember being about sixteen years old and going to the library in Halifax. They had a massive DVD selection and it was there I discovered something called Twin Peaks. I must have watched the entire two seasons in a week. I thought it was absolutely magical and groundbreaking for something that came out in the early nineties. To me, it was something much more than television and in terms of a career aspirations, this opened up a whole new outlook. At university, I wrote my dissertation on Lynch because of my love for his other works such as Blue Velvet, Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive.

Other directors who influence me are Michael Haneke - who directed films such as Funny Games and Hidden. These films were tense and visceral. I wanted to make films like this myself, ones that make the audience feel uncomfortable. 

Another director who influences me is Pedro Almodovar. His film Todo Sobre Mi Madre had a massive effect on me growing up. I also think Christopher Nolan is yet to make a bad film.

For those who don't know, can you explain the synopsis of your upcoming film Jenna?

I won't say too much as it's a short and I want it's audience to go into it with hardly any expectations as to what it is. Basically, it is about a woman who hears what she believes is domestic violence in the flat below and decides to intervene. 

I got the idea from being in someone's flat. The walls were so thin you could hear every word of the couple arguing. I thought the idea of becoming embroiled in something unexpected was interesting, exciting and chilling. 

Image by Bob Jordan.

Was the experience directing your first film what you expected?

It really was. It was so much fun but also pretty stressful and something that really requires all your attention. Luckily it was only a two day shoot, so this made it easier. Plus, I had a great group of people to work with - especially the cast, my assistant director Jon Addison and DOP Bob Jordan. I felt like the days flowed really well and it was a great creative working environment to be in. 

What obstacles did you have?

A lot of people who worked with me on this project were part of a filmmakers collective called Leeds Indie Filmmakers. Getting to know some of these people in such a short space of time might have been an obstacle but if anything, it made it easier. The main obstacle was getting across the visions I had in my mind. It's one thing having an idea in your head and writing the screen play, but it's another thing entirely getting your idea across to a number of people in a coherent way. 

Image by Bob Jordan.

Do you have any plans for future projects, if so what?

I am currently writing a new screenplay called The Search. It's really different to Jenna in every aspect, so once I've finished writing I'll be looking to make it. 

When can we expect a release date?

The last bits are being edited and it will be released very soon.

Where will it be available to watch?

It will be available on Youtube and Vimeo.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Live Review: Blink - 182

Liverpool Echo Arena
15th July 2017

Up first and playing to a half vacant arena is New Jersey band, The Front Bottoms. A thirty-minute set is enough to portray their direction as frontman, Brian Sella recites his way through emotionally wrought themes about heartbreak, love and being misunderstood. If this band was a person it would probably be an emo kid. 

When supports were announced it was hard to tell if Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls would be a good choice. However, as songs that ooze punk flood the venue, the uncertainty turns to delight. Tonight is about having a good time, looking out for each other, (Google ‘safe gigs for women’) and positivity – this band provides all of that and more.

Turner really is everything you want in a frontman – energetic, charismatic and obviously has a profound love for what he does. What kind of man brings someone who has never heard of him or played harmonica up on stage for a solo? Who dives into a human pit and still delivers every lyric so clearly? Frank Turner does. Renowned for being on tour non-stop, this band know what they’re doing. If there’s one thing for certain it’s that Turner really is the epitome of the word ‘cool’. 

The moment everyone has been waiting for arrives, as the theme to Stranger Things blares out the PA system. The flag adorned with the bands logo drops unveiling the trio. It's been a good three years since pop punk veterans, Blink - 182 graced the UK with their presence. After mixed reviews from 2014's Leeds & Reading sets and a change to the lineup, there's some high expectations. Opener, Feeling This is unexpected, yet well received.

With a discography that dates back twenty- two years; it’s clear there wouldn't be a huge amount of interaction. however, Mark Hoppus, the bands main de facto frontman makes sure he introduces the band and makes way for none other than Matt Skiba.

It takes guts being the person to fills the boots of predecessor Tom Delonge, who notoriously departed the band in 2015. Replacement guitarist and joint frontman Skiba is no doubt going to get mixed reviews - but tonight, receives a relatively warm reception and holds his own. A few songs in confirms the replacement was a more than worthy choice.Granted, Delonge's distinctive vocals throughout classics such as I Miss You  are absent and in some ways will remain a distant memory. However, hearing classic tracks in a new way is refreshing and in order to help cultivate a new fanbase perhaps, necessary.

Despite being just over a year old, this is the first time the band has done a UK tour promoting their seventh studio album California. The latest songs, to an extent, contain more mature themes - which are in many ways a tribute to their hometown California, cue Skiba's time to shine. Overall, song choices are varied and cater to an audience of all ages.  Absent, are any tracks from 2011's Neighbourhoods, perhaps an appropriate choice. However, just when you thought Blink peaked too soon playing ridiculous tracks such as Dysentary Gary and Family Reunion,  they close with none other than All the Small Things and Dammit.  Combine this with bursts of pyrotechnics, slick lighting with vibrant background videos accompanying every song, you have yourself a stellar rock show. 

It’s challenging to say what the best part of the show is. The fact music can still be about just three guys on stage without a bunch of session musicians shows that in some cases less really is more. Extremely notable is drummer, Travis Barker. He is the glue that holds the songs together, the guy who steals the show playing intricate rhythms so effortlessly as if every gig is his last. It seems Travis Junior – only 12 years old is keen to follow in his dad’s footsteps as he launches into solo during the bands finale.

Now in their 40’s, it’s safe to hazard a guess that Blink-182 are past their prime. In some ways perhaps that could true, a classic Blink -182 gig would have been the dream. It still doesn't feel quite like 'The Blink -182 show.' Despite that, they are too experienced and profound as a band to really mess anything up.  They are definitely progressing in the right direction and if there’s anyone who can still pull off khaki shorts, toilet humour and catchy riffs– its them.

Friday, 30 December 2016

My Albums of 2016

Well it's finally drawing to a close and regarding politics and celebrity deaths, 2016 hasn't been the best of years. However, it has been an amazing year for music, particularly for the revival of British pop punk we've seen over the last few years. So, in no particular order here are the albums that stood out most to me alongside a list of other albums I've enjoyed listening to.

Moose Blood - Blush 

Without a doubt this is one of my favourite and highly anticipated albums of the year. From chilling track, Spring - to guitar driven Pastel, Blush is a record full of sentimental songs that make you feel all the emotions possible. lyrically, nothing is sugar coated as vocalist Eddy Brewerton comes out with some raw, hard hitting lines such as "The way you died, did it hurt at all?" If there's one thing Moose Blood do best alongside bands such as Real Friends and The Wonder Years, it's keeping 'emo' relevant.

There has been a slight change in the bands sound since their 2014 release I'll Keep You In Mind, but you won't be disappointed. This band are onto something big.

Basement - Promise Everything

I only heard a few songs prior to this album but liked what I heard. Promise Everything quickly became an album I listened to on a regular basis.

If you ever want proof of the phrase 'less is more' then look no further, as Promise Everything doesn't sound overproduced. There's subtle tempo changes throughout, the guitar and drums are complimentary  - there's nothing fancy going on but it works. Upon first listen you may assume they're just another grunge driven band but upon second listen you see how much more has been put into it. Laced with melodies and giving you that melancholy feeling, it's definitely an album to relax to.

Boston Manor - Be Nothing

Despite only having released EP's, Boston Manor has received quite a big following across the UK. So it's not surprising they were in hot pursuit to release debut album Be Nothing.

What I like most about this record is that every track seems to bleed emotion. Upon first listen it's clear Boston Manor must have bent over backwards working on Be Nothing. It is well crafted, atmospheric and full of hooks that will get caught in your head. From opening track Burn You Up, to more melodic tracks such as Fossa, the drums and guitar help fuel the fire that brings this album to life.

One thing I've noticed is how impeccable the songwriting is throughout. Vocalist, Henry Cox isn't afraid to take a dark, nihilistic approach to life experiences. In my opinion Be Nothing comes across as a coming of age album that uses personal experiences such heartbreak, regret and moving on to it's strengths.

Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

From intricate rhythms to vocalist, Sam Carter's signature 'bleh', Architects just have that prominent metalcore sound, and it works so well. Looking at song titles such as Nihilist to pulling apart lyrical content, this record gives off an overall apocalyptic vibe and there's no holding back. So much passion has been put into this album and tracks include lyrics about religious connotation, self destruction and politics.

However, if there's one thing I love the most about this band aside from their music it is their ability to stay strong and still continue to tour after the guitarist, Tom Searle lost his battle to cancer this summer. What the future holds for this band is uncertain.


Letlive - If I'm The Devil

I still struggle to put this band under one particular genre but if I had to I would make it up and say post hardcore/experimental. Being a band that crosses genres can be risky business. However,  Letlive are a band that always seem manage to pull it off.

On this record, the band do well to maintain that punky overlay within each track. Overall, there's catchy hooks and hell of a lot of distortion with an abundance of other styles. The sound has changed slightly since 2013's - The Blackest Beautiful, but if anything it feels more cinematic and atmospheric.

In my opinion, vocalist Jason Aalon Butler is one of the greatest frontmen around in rock at the moment. For a start, his vocal range is exceptional - one minute he will be pretty rowdy and almost preacher like, next he will be almost whispering. Be it his monologue in I've Learned To Love Myself or lyrical content in Good Mourning America, Butler isn't afraid to spill his guts open regarding his views on political incorrectness, oppression and personal reflections.

Blink-182 - California 

This is the first album in five years and their first without Tom Delonge. A majority of fans might argue that there is no Blink-182 without Delonge. However, in my opinion, their choice of replacement Alkaline Trio's frontman, Matt Skiba was exceptional.

The overall sound is pretty divergent to 2011's Neighbourhoods, but it works in their favour. Skiba's vocals gel well with the style and Barker once again provides the backbone on the drums. When it comes to riffs, catchy choruses and 'na na nas', there's still that shimmer of old school Blink listeners will appreciate. This record overall is a bittersweet tribute to their hometown including a song partially about Delonge (San Diego), which Hoppus apparently never wanted to write. Just when you think they got serious they throw in the classic dick humour interludes that fans will love. California is 16 tracks of proof that Blink-182 are just as relevant as ever.

Sum 41 - 13 Voices

After five years, the Canadian pop punk band is back. 13 Voices is a ten track record that completely lives up to the hype. Over the last decade the band have matured their sound. Sure, when it comes to the 'fun factor' and throwing in elements of hip hop, 13 Voices doesn't feel as old school. However, despite changes since the golden days of Fat Lip, there's still the extensive guitar solos, catchy riffs and classic sum 41 traits that will spark the nostalgia.

From song titles to lyrical content,  Singer - Deryck Whibley's personal issues and battle with alcoholism are apparent throughout. It takes some guts to be so open about reflecting on the past, confronting demons. and coming out on the better side of things. There's a presence of hope throughout the tracks and I think that's something which makes this record special.

ROAM - Backbone 

ROAM are another amazing British pop punk band who, in my opinion are underrated. They have worked hard since their EPs No Common Ground and Head Down and manage to stand out above water alongside other brit bands like Neck Deep.

The opener to ROAMS debut album Backbone, The Desmond Show is pretty unconventional and grabs your attention straight away. From there on it builds the anticipation of what's to come. There's something about this record that releases such positive vibes. The songs really get under your skin in the best way possible. Each track has everything you would expect to hear in a pop punk record. Backbone showcases punchy riffs, energetic drums, dual vocals and relentlessly catchy lyrics. It's cliche for the new era pop punk bands to have at least one acoustic track on each album in this case it comes in the form of Tracks. The contrast to other tracks on the album works well and the lyrics resonate.

What I like about this band is that they don't take themselves too seriously. Their fans obviously don't either, as they stitched the band up a few days ago, voting them as the worst UK band according to RockSound. Pop punk is supposed to be about having fun and ROAM provide that plus more.

Real Friends - The Home Inside My Head

Anyone who has listened to Real Friends before knows what to expect (basement shows, songs about hometowns and friends). However, the bands sophomore album THIMH seems more mature than previous releases. Predictably, there's running themes of regret, heartbreak and nostalgia but gone are the days of singing about "sleepy eyes and bony knees." Instead they're replaced with Dan Lambton's blunt, unapologetic lyrics about reflecting on life experiences, and "Fucking up and getting over it." 

There's no denying the essence of mental health within this album. What I love about it is alongside records such as Paramore's self-titled album, is it's ability to tell you that it's ok to not be ok. Although wistful and occasionally cheesy, the content is relatable. I'm not ashamed to say I've had my share of anxiety and depression. So lyrics such as "Last year I was a train wreck, now I'm just a mess" and lines about feeling disconnected stick out. As negative as I make this record out to be, it's really not. If anything, it has the ability to pick you up when you're down, make you realise you're not alone and gives you a glimmer of hope.

Real Friends play to their strengths across this album and although it's not my favourite one they have done, it still remains in my top albums of 2016

Other albums I've enjoyed this year

A Day To Remember - Bad Vibrations
The Amity Affliction - This Could Be Heartbreak
David Bowie - Blackstar
LA Dispute - Tiny Dots
Trash Boat -  Nothing I Write You Can Change What You've Been Through
Bury Tomorrow - Earthbound
Hands Like Houses - Dissonants
Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
Deftones - Gore
Pierce The Veil - Misadventures
Jimmy Eat World - Integrity Blues
Like Pacific - Distant Like You Asked
Balance And Composure - Light We Made
Panic At The Disco - Death of a Bachelor
With Confidence - Better Weather
Childish Gambino - Awaken My Love
Avenged Sevenfold - The Stage
Drake - Views
The Weeknd - Starboy
Issues - Headspace
Beartooth - Agressive
The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It
Blossoms - Self Titled
Viola Beach - Self Titled
Mike Posner - At Night, Alone
Russian Circles - Guidance
This Wild Life - Low Tides

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Single Review: Bring Me The Horizon - Happy Song

With a storm brewing on social networks lately, anyone would think that Bring Me The Horizon were releasing a brand new album, not just a single. In recent weeks, members of the band have teased us with images of umbrellas, cryptic messages and posters have managed to pop up in cities across the globe.

BMTH are not a band that shy away from experimenting with their music and seem to be heading in a new direction. Radio One presenter, Daniel P Carter gave fans a first glimpse of the Sheffield metallers new track, 'Happy Song' on Sunday.

Upon  first listen, 'Happy Song' is a track that sounds fairly average. However, tearing its elements apart piece by piece, it is clear a lot of hard work has gone into the production. The song throughout is full of heavy riffs and dark undertones - a sound which remains prominent across all the bands albums. Vocalist Sykes, yet again steers away from his renowned aggressive vocals and opts for clear cut, similar to many tracks on the bands 2013 album 'Sempiternal'. Adding a creative touch to the song are the cheerleader background vocals that you won't be able to stop singing along to. There is something recognisable about this, something that has been done before. Faith No More's 'Be Aggressive' springs to mind. That isn't to say the song no longer sounds good, it still adds a great touch. The best thing about 'Happy Song', is that after a few listens, you realise it will become as catchy as nits in a primary school.

Overall, 'Happy Song', mainly lyrically is certainly not the bands best track. However, BMTH have a challenge on their hands to top 'Sempiternal', which since release has gone gold in the UK. The bands sound has changed significantly since their debut album 'Count Your Blessings'. However, is it a bad thing when a bands sound changes so much over the years? Surely it's a necessity and even inevitable? Not only does it create a divide, it gets people debating, it gains new fans and stops people becoming bored of the same old crap. People forget that bands sounds change progressively and naturally. After all, BMTH are a band who have been together singe their teens.

'Happy Song' has had mixed reviews across the board but judging by people raving about it on Twitter, it seems to have gone down a treat with the majority. Only patience and time will tell if the next BMTH album will be massive.


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Interview: We Are the Ocean

After being absent for three years, rock band We Are the Ocean have returned with new album ‘ARK’, due for release on May 11th. Forming in 2007, they started out as a post-hardcore band but have changed their sound progressively over the years. Their songs became significantly less heavy as joint vocalist and screamer Dan Brown left the band in 2012 leaving Liam Cromby with the responsibility of sole vocalist.

With four albums under their belts and a backing from the likes of Radio One and devoted fans, the band are back and ready to unleash their new tracks during their upcoming tour.

Following the bands recent support tour with friends Lower Than Atlantis, Figure 8 had the chance to speak to lead singer and guitarist, Liam Cromby about ‘ARK’, tour life and what he had been up to during the bands absence from the live scene.

The band is playing a few intimate shows at record stores before embarking on a UK tour. How many of the new tracks will you be playing for fans that come and buy your new CD? 

Liam Cromby: I think we’re going to be playing quite a lot of the new stuff. We have been practicing loads since we came out of the studio last year. I think we will be doing about five or six new ones. 

Is that just in the record shops or tour as well?

LC: I think it will be across the board. 

What can fans expect from you during your tour and festival season, are you doing anything different during your live shows?

LC:  We have been away for a while and because we have got a new album out, our live shows tend to differ a bit anyway. Not intentionally, it’s just more of a natural thing. Fans can expect something better and bigger. 

What are you most looking forward to about this upcoming UK tour?

LC: I am most looking forward to just going back onto the road again. We have recently come back from tour with Lower Than Atlantis which was really fun. I am really excited for the album to come out on May 11th, that’s only a couple of weeks time. I think because we haven’t played a headline tour for a long time either it will be fun to play a load of new songs with a mixture of old ones as well. 

Is there much difference between supporting your friends on tour and doing your own headline tour? Are there any restrictions or do you still get to do what you want to do? 

LC: We still get to do what we want to do, there’s no one that tells us what we can’t do. However, on support tours we don’t have as much time to play so it just feels a bit more rushed. There are also some people at the gigs who don’t know our band so you want to make a good impression as well while still doing whatever you want to do. I guess the difference is that it is a bit more relaxed on a support tour because you haven’t got the pressures of being the headline act. They’re both as fun as each other though.  

There has been a three year gap and finally your new album ‘ARK’ is due for release on May 11th. Is there a particular theme overall?  Can you give much away as to what fans can expect to hear?

LC: I think the theme of the album is the way it was recorded. It is different to how we have done it before. We recorded it pretty much all live in one take for each track. Basically, the drums, bass and a lot of the guitars were all recorded at the same time in the same room. I guess that flows throughout the album. You can hear it quite prominently. We did that because a lot of music these days sounds really clean and pristine. There’s nothing wrong with that, we have no quarm against it but we just wanted to sound a bit different to what everyone else is doing.

It sounds better when it isn’t over produced anyway doesn’t it. 

LC: I prefer it that way yes. I like there to be a bit of human in there. There has to be some flaws. We like a lot of old music as well like Led Zeppelin and James Taylor, it was all done live back then. Song wise, there’s quite a lot of variety with styles on there. You can hear old We Are the Ocean sounds and this new stuff we are coming out with. It is quite experimental the way we have gone into writing. Over the course of two years writing we came out wanting to just record the best songs for the album. I think because we recorded in a new way, we just started playing in a new way.  I don’t know…it feels like something fresh for us. 

You are a band known for exploring different musical avenues across each album. What were the main goals you wanted to achieve when you set out to record ‘ARK’?

LC: We went in there not knowing what was going to happen. We also wanted to push ourselves, do something that no one else is doing and surprise ourselves. I think that is more or less what has happened. 

You recorded the album in summer 2014, due for initial release in March. What is the reason you postponed the release until May? 

LC: We just signed to a new record deal just before Christmas. We were with Hassle Records and we still but we are with BMG now as well. They asked if we would mind pushing it back a bit just so that they could have a little bit more time to work on it. We figured if we had waited two years we could wait another two months. 

You recently released new single ‘Holy Fire’, which was played first by Huw Stephens on Radio One. Can you tell us anything about the songs background and do you feel it is reprehensive of the album overall?

LC: I think it does sum up nicely what the album is about musically because it has a bit of everything in there. I was watching and reading ‘Into The Wild’ as I like those stories of adventure and stuff so the song kind of came from that really. 

Are there any particular songs that were difficult to write lyrically?

LC: There was nothing more difficult than the others. It was quite fun writing the lyrics for ‘ARK’ and ‘Holy Fire’ and a lot of the songs on the album because we went through a different avenue where usually it would be quite self-confessional. It was all kind of a bit more abstract which is a lot of fun really. It is fun to be that creative with your music. 

How did it go working with Peter Miles again? (Producer of Go Now and Live and Maybe Today, 
Maybe Tomorrow.)

LC: It was really good. He has been with us for the last couple of albums so it made sense to go back with him. He was a big part of the album and recording process of ‘ARK.’ 

Quite a few British bands have broken up recently due to money issues and feeling they have gone as far as they can go as a band. Is that something that worries you in terms of We Are the Ocean’s future? 

LC: Well there are a lot of bands and I think a lot of people have this image of them as always having money. That is really not the case. I mean, we are a band that have never really or in fact made any money out of anything but we do it because we love it. Luckily enough each album has pushed us forward into a new place so we have been able to survive it. It is a bit of a killer though, you see bands that can’t carry on anymore, and it is a bit sad. 

You can see how many other bands have been influenced from other bands that have broken up now…

LC: I think that is the beauty of it. Those bands have left a legacy and they have inspired other bands to carry on. It is like they have passed on the torch. 

How did it go recording a cover of Foo Fighters ‘Pretender’ for Rocksound’s 200th issue? Is it difficult to put your own twist on someone else’s song?

LC: It was quite fun to do that kind of stuff because it was more of an easier process, the song is already written. You just have to do it in your own style. If people enjoy it they do but if they don’t then fair enough. You can’t please everyone. It is just a bit of fun. 

What can we expect from you in the future, are there any plans after touring?

LC: I think we will be doing some more touring at the end of the year and right now that is all I know about the future. I don’t know too much, I just know about the now. We have been away for a while so we don’t need any more breaks. 

I bet it is a shock after having that much time away from touring.

LC: It is really strange actually. It is a weird feeling… a good feeling but it is strange going back into 
it and getting used to playing shows again. It is like learning the trade again. 

Is there anything else you want to talk about?

LC: I think I am alright, I can’t think of anything so I might just go and have some breakfast and a cup of tea in a minute. 

Thanks for your time

LC: Thank you for the chat, it’s been a pleasure.

We Are the Oceans latest album ‘Ark’ is out now on Hassle/BMG.

The band are playing the following gigs this month.

May 16th Milton Keynes Crauford Arms

May 17th Cambridge The Portland

May 18 Liverpool Arts Club

May 19 Nottingham Red Room

May 20 Plymouth Underground

May 22 London Electric Ballroom

You can read the interview here where you will find other interesting music news http://figure8magazine.co.uk/default/we-are-the-ocean-interview/

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Live Review: Fozzy @ Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 9th March 2015

Cinderblock Party World Tour
Support: Malrun, The Dirty Youth

It is safe to suggest most people are attending tonight’s Fozzy gig to see their wrestling hero, Chris Jericho. There is a merch table selling nothing but wrestling T-shirts and manic fans chanting ‘Y2J’ before the first band even hit the stage. It must be difficult to be taken seriously as a plausible musician when you are more known for your celebrity status over music.  However, Fozzy have been together since 1999 and show no sign of fizzling into none existence.

One of the best things about tonight’s gig is that the Ruby Lounge is a pretty small venue, holding just a capacity of 375 people to be precise. The room begins to fill up and people flock to get near the front of the stage in anticipation for the night ahead. At a glance you can already tell tonight will be mental.

On stage first are Malrun, a hard rock band from Denmark. They do a good job, drawing in more crowds after each song. Overall, the band play a short but impressive set full of dynamic guitar riffs and melodic harmonies. It isn’t always easy being the first band on. However, Malrun give their best effort and make their way over to the merch store afterwards to meet fans.

Up next are welsh rockers, The Dirty Youth, who do everything they can to get the crowd pumped for Fozzy.  The band sure knows how to party as front woman Danii Monroe gets the audience clapping and singing along in no time. They play some catchy as hell tunes and bring forth the attitude to go with it. The band throws in a well-crafted cover of Rage’s, ‘Killing In the Name’ mixing it with ‘Boom Shake the Room.’ They play a tight, high energized set, working extra hard to win over those in attendance. This band are remarkable have plenty of potential in the future. Keep your eyes out on The Dirty Youth.

The moment has arrived as members of Fozzy enter the stage one by one to Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs,’ leaving just frontman Chris Jericho remaining. He strides onto stage to chants of ‘Fozzy’ and ‘Y2J’ before launching straight into opening track and title of new album ‘Do You Wanna Start a War?’ Jericho evidently has great, yet ott fashion taste as he parades around in an LED jacket (aka the Jericoat)

The audience are infatuated with Jericho tonight, he has them eating out of his hands. He has his moves down to a T and loves every second of it. There are moments of call and response, repetitive chants of ‘Fozzy’ and none stop sing along. Years of wrestling and being in the spotlight have taught Jericho just how to work the crowd. He really is one hell of a frontman.

With six albums in the bag, tonight is evidence that Fozzy have no struggle choosing an array of songs perfect for their current tour. With recent hits being performed such as ‘Sandpaper’ and ‘Bad Tattoo’ it just goes to show the band know precisely how to create heavy music that’s so damn catchy. It really is a treat to hear them sing at least one slow song tonight. ‘Died With You’ is proof that Jericho is an exceptional singer and clearly has talents outside the wrestling ring.

Old favourites like ‘Enemy’ and ‘She’s My Addiction’ are the most well received songs tonight. Perhaps it is the shredding guitar solos from the bands lead guitarist, Rich Ward that gets the crowd all hyped up.  However, the best highlight is their cover of Abba’s 'SOS', which has everyone in the venue in a happy like state (Yes, there were mosh pits to Abba).  There are plenty of things to learn tonight, one being no matter how cheesy a song is people will love it.

The one thing that will have people questioning tonight is why aren’t this band performing at much bigger venues? Fozzy are clearly popular enough to do so. Nevertheless, performing in such intimate venues is something special. The band are still as loud and relevant as ever. Best of all, as a whole they know how to make their shows so fun. Anyone who isn’t here is missing out.

We have heard it all tonight to the point where the audience don’t need to chant any louder for the encore. Rather than walking off, Fozzy remain on stage leaving fans demanding more. It is almost unheard of for a band to finish with a cover, but not tonight. The finale is an unusual, but fine choice of the very own rendition of Krokus classic ‘Eat the Rich.’ They stand together for group photos and say their thank you before leaving the stage, informing the crowd that they "just got their arses kicked by Fozzy."

Frontman, Chris Jericho

Set List

1. Do You Wanna Start a War 
2. Tonight 
3. To Kill a Stranger 
4. One Crazed Anarchist 
5. Sin and Bones 
6. She's My Addiction 
7. God Pounds His Nails 
8. Died With You 
9. Spider in My Mouth 
10. S.O.S. 
(ABBA cover)
11. Lights Go Out 
12. Enemy 
13. Bad Tattoo 
14. Encore:
14. Sandpaper 
15. Eat the Rich 
(Krokus cover)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Live Review: Steel Panther @ Manchester Apollo, March 6th 2015.

Support: The Lounge Kittens, Skindred

Lock up your daughters and get your spandex pants at the ready, Steel Panther are back in Manchester to play two sold out dates of their current UK tour. For those who haven’t caught on, Steel Panther are in fact a parody band, whose personas reflect the 1980s metal lifestyle.  Titled the ‘All You Can Eat’ tour, expect lewd jokes your mum would hate, ludicrous wigs and even thongs available from the merch stand. The varied line-up has attracted all ages and backgrounds tonight. The crowd is a blur of leather, leopard print and drag makeup as fans buy their drinks and wait for the first band to start.

Michael Starr: Photo by Louisa Sou 
First up are The Lounge Kittens, an all-female band from Southampton. They are an unusual act to open the night, yet no one seems to be complaining. They draw quite a big crowd.  Kitted in killer dresses, they sing a range of songs in perfect unison and harmony. They cover songs from bands such as Slipknot and Metallica, to Prodigy. You probably won’t hear any versions like it, lounge style at its finest.

Up next are Reggae Metal band Skindred, best known for their exceptional live performances. Vocalist Benji Webbe parades on stage pimped out in a fur coat and shades before launching into first song ‘Kill the Power.’ Webbe knows how to pump up the crowd, the vast majority singing along in no time. Acclaimed tracks ‘Nobody,’ ‘Ratrace’ and ‘Pressure’ are played, sending the venue into chaos.  The strong ten song set is finalised with hit track ‘Warning,’ where fans are expected to take off an item of clothing and spin in the air, aka ‘The Newport Helicopter’.  With no other bands sounding quite like it, Skindred are absolutely the best choice of support for a gig like this.

It’s the moment we have been waiting for. Entering the stage, silhouetted behind a massive white curtain, Steel Panther launch straight into ‘Pussywhipped.’ The curtain falls to reveal velvet podiums on the side stage, an extra stage for the drums with stairs aligning the sides and a huge TV screen – the perfect set for small people. 

Steel Panther’s live shows boast a combination of sex, tongue in cheek humour, drugs, hair spray and massive riffs. Let’s just say that subtlety is not the bands forte, as funnies between Satchel, Lexxi and Michael Starr rebound back and forth. They stay in character throughout, conversing about shagging groupies and getting high. Needless to say it is merely skin deep and they do not take anything too seriously, especially themselves. Vocalist Starr shows off his remarkable vocal range throughout the set. He puts on an almighty performance, strolling about on stage, entertaining the crowd by portraying the perfect rock and roll douchebag. The show is comedy in its entirety from vein bassist, Lexxi Foxx reapplying his lip gloss after every song to the bands very own audience focused ‘cum cam,’ (A camera on a stick with a dildo for a handle.) Extra entertainment is provided by the huge TV, which switches between montages of the crowd, humorous slideshows and music videos deemed too inappropriate for daytime TV. Overall, it gives off an almighty stadium like vibe. The band do their very best to push boundaries and it seems to be working. 
Lexxi Fox: Photo by Louisa Sou
Classics such as ‘Death to All but Metal,’ ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Fat Girl’ are played and a couple of newer tracks are thrown into the mix. Renowned for their explicit lyrics, the band compiles an acoustic mix including a song about Kanye West and accompanied by none other than Elton John’s grand piano…of course. The encore comes in the form of ‘rock ballad,‘ 'Community Property’ before closing with‘Party All Day.’ Overall, the entire set is exaggerated, well-rehearsed and extremely pansexual. If you ever get a chance to see this band then do so, you’ll regret it if you don’t. 
Satchel: Photo By Louisa Sou
Set list
1. Pussywhipped 
2. Party Like Tomorrow Is the End of the World 
3. Fat Girl (Thar She Blows) 
4. Tomorrow Night 
5. The Shocker 
6. Hair Solo 
(Lexxi Foxx)
7. 17 Girls in a Row 
8. Gloryhole 
9. If I Was the King 
10. Guitar Solo 
11. Ten Strikes You're Out 
12. Kanye 
(with Stix Zadinia on grand piano)
13. Weenie Ride 
14. Stripper Girl 
15. Why Can't You Trust Me 
16. Girl From Oklahoma 
17. Gangbang at the Old Folks Home 
18. Asian Hooker 
19. Death to All but Metal 
20. Encore:
20. Community Property 
21. Party All Day (Fuck All Night)

Monday, 16 February 2015

Live Review: Kerrang Tour 2015 @ Manchester Academy, 14th February 2015.

Lineup: Beartooth, Bury Tomorrow, Young Guns, We Are The In Crowd, Don Broco.

This years Kerrang Tour sees a variety of genres from metalcore and post hardcore to pop punk. Manchester Academy fills with excited teenagers, university students and lifelong fans of the bands that are performing. What better way to spend Valentines day than at a concert?

Up first are Beartooth, who merely describe their genre as 'Loud' on their Facebook page. They only need to play one or two songs to show that term is correct. For a band who are first up, which is always a challenge, they absolutely nail it. Starting at 6:30, they draw a big crowd and mosh pits open up a few songs in.

Next are British Metalcore band, Bury Tomorrow, who open with 'Man On Fire.'

‘There is nothing worse than a band charging fans money for meet and greets,’ states lead vocalist, Daniel Winter-Bate - during his speech about how fortunate they are as a band. He then says he will be at the merch stand to give fans high fives and to have a chat.

Dan's vocals balance perfectly alongside Jason Cameron's clean vocals, producing spine-tingling melodies. If it was possible for an artist to sound as good as they do on CD then the guys in Bury Tomorrow have done that justice.

Bury Tomorrow play a tight, energetic set and help create what would be the biggest circle pit of the night. They play a couple of tracks from recent album 'Runes' before completing their six song set with 'Lionheart.’ 

The worst part of Kerrang Tour is bands not having long enough sets. However, without a doubt, the best choice made for this years tour was choosing to play the two heaviest bands first. They have certainly got the crowd pumped and waiting for more. 

Young Guns were announced only recently as surprise act for Kerrang Tour 2015 and are only here to play a 15 minute set. The set consists of just three songs including two new singles 'Speaking In Tongues' and 'I Want Out,' before finishing with monster track, 'Bones,'  which everyone sings
along to. 

15 minutes was not nearly enough time for Young Guns, having been absent from live UK shows for a good while. However, it is clear some people in the crowd bought tickets last minute just to see this special event take place, and the band certainly do not disappoint. Young Guns are no strangers to Kerrang Tour having played in 2010 alongside All Time Low and The Blackout. To say they were first band on stage 5 years ago, they have truly exploded in the music scene. It is exciting to have them back. June sees the release of new album 'Ones And Zeros' and a UK headline tour... finally.

Young Guns. (Gustav Wood, Vocalist)

The only pop punk band on the line-up, We Are The In Crowd are up next. The audience becomes a floor full of teens, like something you would see at a 1D concert. 

Jay Tardine's vocal range is brilliant tonight and they manage to get the crowd singing along. However, there seems a slight lack of energy in the audience post Young Guns performance. Just as things are starting to get  a bit samey, WATIC switch it up and play a couple of acoustic tracks. 

Throughout the set, the band play quite a few songs from most recent album, ‘Weird Kids’ before stating they won't be touring for a while as they are going into the studios to write and record a new record. WATIC finish with popular track and biggest hit, 'Rumour Mill.'

WATIC are easily the least heavy band on the bill but it still works well. The organisers at Kerrang after all, do their very best to cater to wide audiences on a yearly basis. I mean, who doesn't love a bit of pop punk?

Up last and headlining this years tour are British rock band,  Don Broco - who fire up the crowd with recent single, 'Money Power Fame.'

Broco perform a few new tracks they have written in prep for this summers album release, yet to be titled. 'Fire,' proves to be a hit amongst the audience.

They bring it old school playing classics such as  'Thug Workout', causing chaos in the pits as fans get down on the floor to start doing press-ups. If you have no idea why then Google ' push-up squad.'

The one hour set is quite varied with songs including ‘Dreamboy,’Fancy Dress,'  before  they finish the encore with popular tracks 'Priorities' and 'You Wanna Know.' 

With tonight's turn out it is clear that the past year has been Don Broco's year,  They manage to squeeze 13 songs into an hours set and the crowds feet barely touch the ground. Rob Damiani's vocals are on form, as are crowd interactions. The whole set is as charismatic as expected. Fusing heavy basslines, The right combination of funkiness, energy and bedlam, the obvious choice as headliners was definitely Don Broco. 

My Verdict.

Aside from Young Guns, who I have seen about eight times, it was my first time seeing all the bands on the line-up which is rare for me. Despite We Are The In Crowd not really being my cup of tea, I was very impressed with what I heard and witnessed. Don Broco have quickly become my new favourite live band alongside Less Than Jake and A Day To Remember. It was a very memorial night and a great way to spend my Valentines Day with friends.