JOHN, Arndales and Dad Hair @ the Birdcage, Southsea

Review by Keith Sandys

It was a hot and sweaty Saturday night in Southsea. One where promoters Calamity Cratediggers could easily have renamed themselves “Clammy Cratediggers” due to the humidity.

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If anyone wasn’t aware there was a gig on above the Festing Pub this evening, they were by the time Dad Hair had started.  While I struggled to walk in the blazing sunshine, I could already hear they had come on halfway down the street.

So while that meant I missed half their set, I did at least still see some of Dad Hair once I finally arrived. Only rather than in a birdcage, the room was already starting to resemble an overheated fishbowl.

While I’m not struck on the name, Dad Hair were, however, a decent live band. Think along the lines of early Nirvana and Mudhoney or Sonic Youth. Basically, if you also like fuzzy guitars and 90’s grunge, then Dad Hair are worth checking out.

Obsessed with the state of the high street and their home county of Bedfordshire, Arndalesrelease new album “Shops”. It also draws influence from sharing a Google document with their friends about anecdotes at work. Plus they’ve also become firm favourites with no other than Black Flag’s very own Henry Rollins.

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Even if in concept only, I was already liking the sound of this band. Their track “Prestige Pricing” samples an old-fashioned till, but it’s far from a masterpiece such as “Money” by Pink Floyd. As for performing “Shops” live, Arndales were a little sloppy, but to be honest I didn’t mind that at all. The keys were a bit haphazard, but somehow giving an unnerving edge to the band, albeit a little low in the mix.

Then there was “Dark Store”, where singer Alan Arndale gave an insight into the content of the song. As anticipated, it was again to be based around retail. This time the warehouses that front as the stock room for online shopping. Speaking of which, in hindsight, I wish I treated myself to a copy of the album, subliminal message maybe?

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While again I thought the name JOHN was a bit lame (they could have been called, Bill or George…) it’s simplicity grew on me once I knew they were a 2 piece, both named John. There’s been a huge influx in 2 piece bands in recent years, with the likes of Slaves and Royal Blood taking the limelight.

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The thing is though when you’re as good as JOHN you don’t need anyone else’s help. With John on drums and vocals, along with John on guitar, the two lads from London made enough noise between them.

I’ve always been fascinated by drummers who can play and sing at the same time. Growing up they always seemed to be kept literally on the back seat. Often only singing lead for ballads, such as Peter Criss from Kiss on “Beth”, or the Eagles Don Henley. Although someone once said, “It was a sad day in rock and roll when Phil Collins stepped away from his drum kit”.

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Luckily, however, John stays firmly seated throughout. How he manages to keep it up though is another matter. The rhythms aren’t exactly straightforward, while vocally he’s needed to compliment the heavy riffs brought to us by John number two.

The compelling thing about JOHN is they were pretty relentless, while almost all of it is just about the drums and vocals. Although it wouldn’t work without an almost telepathic connection with John’s namesake on guitar. Even with the new songs the pair were tight and well-rehearsed, certainly proving they deserve the support slot for their upcoming tour with Idles.

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The Pink Slips - Download Festival 2018

Pink slips kicked off Saturday's Main stage at Download this year with a fantastically expressive and engaging set from the LA based quintet. Frontwoman Grave (Grace McKagan) is a force in her own right delivering an engaging performance with full on sass.

The title track from their recently released the EP 'Trigger' went down well with its brooding rhythmic march tinged with a 60's surf garage sound.

'Gimme' was deliciously bassy, a really good use of a driving bassline and a slow pace interspersed with crashing drums for an atmospheric hard hitting effect.

'Animal and 'Attack of the Valley Girls' were also highlights of the set, with wonderfully badass basslines The Pink Slips fuse the energy of punk, with a synthy shimmer of pop into a sound all their own.

The whole band put on a good show with an intensely passionate drummer and a bassist that had so much energy throughout which really enthused the audience. Grave was so expressive writhing on stage and giving the performance her all, switching between gracefully demure and alluringly sassy fierceness.

It was a supremely entertaining set which was all the more easy to enjoy when you can tell how much a band enjoys doing what they do and the effort they put in.

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Guns N' Roses - Download 2018 - Review

Review by Danny Francis-Butler

Friday saw current hard rock goliaths Avenged Sevenfold provide the pyro, the teenage anthems and more pyro; while Saturday saw 30+ years rock and roll veterans Guns N’ Roses dominate the mainstage with their sleazy riffs, soaring vocals and spectacular stage presence.  When first announced that Guns N’ Roses were to play a three hour plus set, reactions were similar across the board.. “Really? Three hours? That’s way too long!” The Guns N’ Roses back catalogue though, featuring two definitive line ups, spans back to their first recording 1986’s EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide, their 1987 magnum opus Appetite for Destruction containing massive hits Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City and Sweet Child of Mine, and their musically profound Use Your Illusion 1 & 2 double release which highlights the bands ability to write songs packed with raw energy and vicious lyrics, as well as the more delicate, epic piano ballads such as November Rain and Estranged. However, the band still felt the need to fill the setlist with covers from Hollywood Rose (the precursor group that would eventually become Guns N’ Roses), The Who and Eric Clapton. Without a doubt, Guns N’ Roses bought together one of the largest crowds to be seen at Donington Park as men, women and children were buzzing in anticipation to see one of the most critically acclaimed rock bands of all time.

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The intro video rolled and bassist Duff McKagan coolly entered the stage on his own, plucking out the intro to It’s So Easy. The rest of the band joined when their queues hit, and it really was a marvel to see Duff, recently returning guitar hero Slash and Axl share a stage together….let alone, on time. As soon as the song stopped, drummer Frank Ferrer hammered the band into a blazing rendition of Mr. Brownstone.  It seemed as if the band were still trying to get warmed up and were trying to gauge the crowd. The next song was an odd choice. The bands decision to play songs from Chinese Democracy took a few in the audience by surprise and it somewhat perplexed the crowd.. “What is this song? I’ve never heard this song in my life!” ..but I get it, some people bought the album, some people didn’t. However, it goes to show the lengths of professionalism from Slash and Duff to learn the songs from an album they never wrote for nor played on to fill out there 180-minute set. Once that song was over and done with, Axl roused the crowd, screaming “Do you know where you are? You’re in Donington Baby! You’re gonna diiiiiie!” as Slash teased the delayed intro to Welcome to the Jungle. You’d be forgiven if you were to accuse them of dragging out their intros, in fact, most of the filler happened at this point of the set. An Izzy Stradlin deep cut from Use Your Illusion 1 (Double Talkin’ Jive), another song from Chinese Democracy (Better), and the near 10-minute epic A-side release Estranged. You could almost see half of the audience drifting off to sleep but the true Guns N’ Roses fans were loving every minute of it, it is a killer song after all. They then segued into Live and Let Die and the crowd sprung alive once more, singing in unison.

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What came next was truly baffling. Guns N’ Roses covering a Velvet Revolver song? You bet your ass they did. And musically it was perfect. Vocally, not so. Axl did not possess the combination of power and silkiness that Scott Weiland had in his voice.  The guitar solo on the other hand was superb, Slash nailed it note for note. Maybe it was a compromise between Slash and Axl: “You play my Chinese Democracy songs, I’ll play your Velvet Revolver songs”. When you look back at the history and bad blood between Scott Weiland and Axl Rose in the press, Scott Weiland calling Axl Rose a “fat, Botox faced, wig wearin’ FUCK”, you’d be hard pressed to find a reason why Axl would want to cover a Velvet Revolver song. Perhaps a belated tribute to Weiland. Or perhaps it’s Axl’s response in a way of saying “I’m alive and you’re not.” Combined with the next song on the set, it may just be apparent that it was yet more unnecessary filler. A dragged-out intro to the Appetite for Destruction closer Rocket Queen swiftly follows. There seemed to be a pattern emerging, for every massively popular anthem played, they played a lot of filler afterwards.

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The next sequence of songs featured the highly energetic You Could Be Mine. The drum and bass thundered on the intro and then the band hit the crowd with that sleazy, greasy, finger lickin’ good riff of the ages and the crowd came to life once more. A cover of Attitude by the Misfits followed, Axl exits stage left to take break and Duff sings. Perplexing the crowd once more, Axl re-emerged and the band played another song from Chinese Democracy and a Hollywood Rose cover. From here on out they performed another eclectic mix of anthems and fillers including Civil War which was very good. Almost record quality.

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Axl introduced the band, including “your fellow Englishman, Slash”. For those who don’t know, Saul Hudson AKA, Slash, was born in Stoke-On-Trent to an English father and an African American mother. Slash then showed off his sweet-sounding blues rock guitar skills for a good ten to fifteen minutes and brought the band into an instrumental version of Johnny B Goode and eventually got into Sweet Child of Mine, the big one everyone had been waiting for. It was next level stuff, we witnessed a band that had sworn down it would never play together again playing their biggest hit, and they didn’t disappoint. Following that was the 10-minute album closer to Use Your Illusion 1, Coma. Slash was now brimming with energy, hopping from one side of the stage to the other. It’s a great riff, lets face it. Following that was Wichita Lineman, which one can only assume was a tribute to the late great Glenn Campbell and an all instrumental version of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, which sounded amazing. To bring this sequence to its climax, Axl sat behind the piano and played the band into the piano coda of Derek and Dominoes Layla which lasted a good five more minutes until he carries the band into a rousing rendition of November Rain. 100,000 metal heads swaying in time to the music, lumps in throats, tears on cheeks, singing as loud as they possibly can.

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They followed onto a tribute to Chris Cornell by playing a cover of Black Hole Sun, which didn’t stop the tears from the crowd. It was beautiful. Slash broke out the double neck and played what felt like an endless version of Knocking on Heavens Door. Immediately afterwards the energy picked up and they kicked into Nightrain to cap their set, a song about a cheap American fortified wine. The band was a tight unit, a wrecking ball of hard rock playing music that perfectly highlights the alcohol fuelled debauchery that exists within the trenches that is the legendary campsites of Donington Park. The band exits the stage and after a while a jangly acoustic guitar pumps through the PA as Axl whistles the melody to Patience, followed by an electric cover of the Who’s 1970 single The Seeker and then straight into Paradise City. The music and the atmosphere have Slash gyrating from one side of the stage to the other and again, Axl struggles to reach the notes. The band left the stage with literally a bang, as a gobsmacking firework display lit the sky beyond. 

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What was witnessed on that Saturday night was something not a lot of people have ever or will ever witness again. While they did fill their unnecessarily long festival set, which saw earlier bands have to cut their sets short or start earlier, with unnecessary covers and dragged out intros, the music and the energy that Guns N’ Roses bought to Download Festival was spectacular. Not all the songs were a hit, but they weren’t exactly a miss either. Guns N’ Roses reset the bar for the festival in terms of performance, musicianship and the ability to grip the crowd as they did. This wasn’t just a rock show, but an out and out experience. Some people ask once the Rolling Stones have gone, who will replace them as the worlds everlasting rock band? After this show, you couldn’t argue that it would not be Guns N’ Roses, so if you ever get the chance to see them, I’d highly recommend going. Guns N’ Roses are simply outstanding.

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Download 2018 - Friday

Download opened its gates to early campers with so much going on in the Village was easy to see how this festival is an all encompassing event like no other.

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With cult films in the Cinema tent as well as comedy and pre-party bands it is well worth heading along early and making a holiday of the festival. With planes flying over the site there is a real feeling of getting away from it all.

The dust blew over the sun-scorched earth as you entered the aptly named Village where there is always a great sense of community. Walking through the market stalls and the fun fair rides you may well come across people enthusiastically appreciating a roaring song's beat down and just generally being themselves enjoying the atmosphere. 

Further into the belly of the beast, the campsites have various groups from all corners of the UK and beyond, getting involved and intermingling as they challenge each other to beer bongs for the shining prize of a wrestling belt.

What hits you most though is the enthusiasm for music, with many a friendly yet passionate conversation on the bands performing over the weekend.

With over 100,000 music fans descending on the 'spiritual home of rock' the weekend kicked off in full force Friday with a plethora of acts across the 4 stages.

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Boston Manor

 Boston Manor by Sarah Koury

Boston Manor by Sarah Koury

First band to open the Main Stage for the weekend were Boston Manor who bounded onstage with a heartfelt scream. Their emotive punk anthems drifting out across the already burgeoning crowd. With that classic hardcore hugging the mic stance, singer Henry Cox was bouncing around full of energy. The pounding track 'Lead Feet' was pure pop-punk with its catchy hooks and a breathless pause of anticipation between songs led into latest single ‘Halo’ from the upcoming new album which is due out this September.

Over on the Dogtooth Stage at the same time Cellar Darling singer Anna Murphy's sugary vocals contrasted beautifully with the heavy backdrop of their sound. Black Moon was a standout track, with a classic Faith No More-esque clear bass and captivating chorus. Avalanche was another great standout track with the line ‘this is who we are' echoing their confidence for uniquely combining grand heavy riffs and the folk tones of the hurdy gurdy while driving drums break though fusing heavy rock with folk in a wonderfully poetic storytelling style.

Walking through the site, there were a fair few people in fancy dress, more than expected … an inflatable dinosaur, umpa lumpas, multiple jokers and most notably a group of bananas who seemed to be at every great set we saw.

 Employed To Serve by Caitlin Mogridge 

Employed To Serve by Caitlin Mogridge 

With their new album 'Bay Dream' out next week Californians Culture Abuse were over on the Zippo stage starting out on their European tour, unfortunately we only caught a small part of their set, but it was well worth hurrying along to the Avalanche stage for Employed To Serve. Flocks of keen people were making a beeline for the tent and you can see why they drew a good crowd. We caught the soundcheck where you got to hear the full force of Justine Jones' awesome screams isolated. Amusingly the in between set backing music was lighthearted and cheesy, meaning 'Another Day In Paradise' accompanied Justine's raw and fiercely formidable mic checks. A point made clear by the instruction 'just me in the monitor, no-one else wants my vocals please'. From last year's album 'Warmth of a Dying Sun', standout track of the set was the brutal 'I Spend My Days Wishing Them Away'. They let the crowd know that they are playing the album in full on tour next month and the tent was heaving with revelers with the banana dudes keeping the pit going. So powerfully strong vocally, with awesome deep screams we loved the Justine's voice pushed through with just a tinge of melody. Pounding drums and beat down awesomeness enthused the audience in this set full of energy, where the whole band was on form and Justine was top of her game, a sea of constant hair screaming to the sky.

Walking back across the site we caught a little of Avatar on the Main stage who clearly have a good sense of humour to their set, they introduced 'Smells Like A Freak Show' saying “if they say you look like a freak show, damn right, if they say you sound like a freak show, damn right … you haven't seen the best bit” as he paused and took a great whiff of his armpit, “we smell like a freak show”.

 Stray From The Path by Caitlin Mogridge

Stray From The Path by Caitlin Mogridge

Back at the Avalanche stage, NYC alternative hardcore band Stray From The Path who recently had Employed To Serve joining them on tour stated they were on a mission to bring pissed off music to the world. As a self-confessed outspoken band, they gave a rousing introduction to their track 'Good Night Alt-Right' “everything we're talking about everything we're doing is real and it's from the heart. All these songs are about real important issues that are going on in our world and in this generation. I look around this tent and all I see is beautiful people coming together in support of music that they love”. The band then asked the crowd to raise their fists in the air “one thing that is not welcome at a Stray show is racism … this is for anyone who's been a victim of segregation or racism” as they launched into a blistering barrage of driving punk and a snippet of Dead Kennedys 'Nazi Punks F**k Off'. The inter-song banter continued as they stated they were “not proud to stand on this stage and tell you Donald Trump is the president”. Closing tracks 'The House Always Wins' and 'First World Problem Child' defiantly blended piercing vocals with squealing guitars and pounding rhythm section. “The people want a riot" they sure did, with their immense crowd interaction and driving sound in this packed out tent.

 Marmozets at Reading 2017

Marmozets at Reading 2017

Next up on the Main stage, Marmozets opened up with 'Play' and 'Meant To Be'. The marching drums and stadium-worthy Muse-like guitars gave a really fired up start to the set. Becca has a great urgent tone to her vocals which can switch in a second from a harrowing scream into fierce melody. By 'Particle' the drummer was so enthusiastic headbanging along to each precision beat. It was great to see them in a main stage slot, they showed it was well deserved and did it justice. It was an entertaining set with unwavering stage presence from the whole band. Becca told the crowd how last year they were “camping with you lot” showing they are still down-to-earth as they continue to rise in popularity. Again on 'Move, Shake, Hide' there was expert switching from awesome expressive screams to sassy singing. The storming 'Vibetech' had a great breakdown with the band tight band on all counts - bass and drums powering and building up, quiet parts throughout the set gave a fresh contrast where Becca's voice really shines through. They have a great dynamic, literally family as are made up of two sets of siblings. The set went down really well with loads of movement in the audience more than you might expect in a mid-afternoon slot.

 Andrew WK earlier this year

Andrew WK earlier this year

Next we headed back to the Zippo stage to see the nuclear level energy entity that is Andrew WK. Looking out over the crowd he remarked that it was "so beautiful" before bringing out the guitar shaped like a slice of pizza for a solo the whole crowd clapped along. It's at this point and during his frequent flurries on the keys that you're reminded that not only is he the undisputed king of party, but also a talented multi-instrumentalist. He then dedicated 'She Is Beautiful' to all the women, and following that enthused that the song 'Tear It Up' was unsurprisingly a song about tearing it up all night long. Bringing his positive party vibes to an already friendly and partying festival he stated "it feels good to be alive" and really meant it - he clearly loves what he does with a full on unwavering passion and the audience in turn is infected by the party vibes, no more so than after the epically long countdown finally erupts into 'Party Hard'.

 Andrew WK

Andrew WK

Back over on the main stage Volbeat played 'Lola Montez' about a "shady lady named Lola, are there any shady ladies out there? Sure there are I can smell you". Anchored by a heady mix of rockabilly, early rock & roll and metal Volbeat put on a great show.

 Volbeat

Volbeat

Canadian hard-core metal band Cancer Bats were next up on the Avalanche stage playing material from their new self-released album 'The Spark That Moves' which was out a month ago. The Beastie Boys cover 'Sabotage' got a good reception from the crowd with a roar in unison eminating out from the tent as the final beats of the intro punched in, unfortunately we weren't feeling it, as a cover of an awesome song although a good rendition it leaves out some of the essence of the best qualities of the classic track ... a cover is best when it ingeniously or substantially changes the original. The rest of the set was really good executed with furious energy and finished with sustained chants for more after. 

 Cancer Bats

Cancer Bats

The Bronx were next up on the Avalanche stage. Dedicating a track "for all the cavemen and women" they were one unit of boundless energy with constant guitar solos and crowd surfing aplenty. Playing 'Side effects' and 'Two Birds' they then dedicated a song to Anthony Bourdain "for everyone that loves music and art".

 The Bronx

The Bronx

Napalm Death headlined the Dogtooth Stage with songs like 'Scum' the title track from their '87 debut it was a roaring heavy set. One guy came out of the tent with a bloody nose seeming fine with it, like a badge of honour from a truly energnetic set. They played "two very different songs" that were all of 1 second long, short but oh so sweet. 

Avenged Sevenfold said how "the UK was the first country to embrace us this goes put to you". With a massive production and a two hour set delving into their extensive back catalogue they paid service to their oldest fans, going all the way back to 2005 classic ‘Unholy confessions’. With ‘City Of Evil’, ‘Hail To The King’ and also songs from latest surprise album ‘The Stage’ the Californian group proved that they are here to stay as festival headliners.

 Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold

You Me At Six delivered the second stage headline performance – as they announced their new album at the festival while punk Legends Bad Religion smashed through punk masterclass and tech metal front-runners Tesseract headlined the dogtooth stage.

UK metal torch-bearers Bullet For My Valentine roared through rock-club anthems ‘Tears Don’t Fall’, ‘Scream Aim Fire’ and new hits ‘Letting You Go’ more as they march toward album number six ‘Gravity’.

With the sun shining the atmosphere was electric in what is widely regarded as the UK friendliest festival, celebrating inclusivity, self-expression leaving us looking forward to the next 2 days.

 

Britrock Must be Destroyed – Portsmouth Guildhall, 26th May 2018

Review by Keith Sandys

The final night of the Britrock Must be Destroyed tour arrived at Portsmouth Guildhall last weekend. Featuring some big names from the 90’s in Terrorvision, the Wildhearts and Reef, along with special guests Dodgy. This was always going to be a line-up for those of a certain age.

Dodgy

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The following 3 bands were rotating in terms of headlining slot, whereas Dodgy had been added to the tour as opening act each night. With everyone else allotted equal stage time, for Dodgy it was a bit like being the first band at a festival.

Much more part of the “Britpop” scene rather than the British rock invasion, Dodgy seemed a little out of place on the bill. With the first half of their set ramped up a notch, they soon started to fit in more than expected. It was however the indie hits “Staying out for the Summer” and “Good Enough” that were always going to be the tracks to remember.

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Terrorvision

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Portsmouth Guildhall may not have been as busy for The Britrock Must be Destroyed tour as anticipated, but it was clear there were fans from all camps in attendance. With each band appearing to have brought their own backline, I can imagine things behind the scenes were a bit of logistical nightmare.

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That said, the whole evening ran smoothly with every band on top form. So from the moment Terrorvision singer Tony Wright came bouncing on stage, it was certainly going to be one hell of a night out.

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With the band all dressed in black and white, they still very much looked the part. In fact guitarist Mark Yates appeared to take those rock star poses in front of  the mirror just a little too seriously! Then there was Terrorvision’s drummer, the only real change in personnel since the bands heyday, but they’d have been lost without him.

Terrorvision opened up with a snippet of their cheesy hit “Tequila” before bursting into “Discotheque Wreck”. Shortly after “Alice What’s the Matter” was thrown in and from there on in it was pretty much hit after hit. 

As well as covering every inch of the stage Tony Wright entertained the crowd between songs, including filming part of the set on someone’s phone. The lighters were out during “Some People Say” and tracks such as “Pretend Best Friend” made Terrorvision a hard act to follow.

The Wildhearts

They may not have experienced the same commercial success as the other bands, but it was clear the Wildhearts still have a huge following. With frontman/guitarist Ginger as the group’s leader, the music has always spoken for itself.

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After all, to their loyal following they’ve released a number of classic 90’s rock songs. Many of which came from their 1993 debut “Earth vs the Wildhearts”. As such it was of course this album that provided most of tonight’s set list.

Tunes such as “My Baby is a Headf*ck” and “Suckerpunch” sounding as fresh today as they did back in the sweaty nightclubs of my youth. Visually the Wildhearts didn’t stray too far from their stage positions and Ginger deliberately didn’t spend too much time talking between songs. Musically though, it was everything you’d want from a rock show. 

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There was also time for a sing-a-long with “Geordie in Wonderland”, a tune that could be an old traditional English folk number. However the set ending on “I Wanna go where the People go”, gave the Wildhearts fans everything they wanted, with some good old rock n roll.

Reef

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While both Terrorvision and the Wildhearts may be stuck in the 90’s, Reef have since gone on to blossom late in their career. The most recent album “Revelation” being a much more soulful release than 1997’s “Glow”.

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Reef live is where singer Gary Stringer comes into his own, his voice really is impressive. The change in musical style in recent years very much playing to his strength. While those reliving their youth welcomed hits “Come Back Brighter” and “Place Your Hands”, it’s the tracks off “Revelation” that have Reef aging in style.

The band has also grown for this tour with backing singers adding another dimension. At one point with them being brought forward for a duet on “My Sweet Love”. Other welcome additions come in the form of guitarist Jesse Wood (son of Ronnie). Just like his father, Wood’s enjoys the limelight with some great solos, lapping up the attention front of stage.

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As Gary Stringer showed his appreciation for the other acts on the Britrock Must be Destroyed tour, you could tell he meant it. I’m sure while on the road they relived stories, reminiscing on days gone by. Which ultimately, like many of us 30 and 40-somethings, was all part of the occasion. The gig being very much a nostalgic trip down memory lane and I have to say, it was great to feel young again.

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Andrew W.K. - Live Review / Gallery

By Sam Cutbush,

Tonight's live music at the Wedgewood Rooms comes from Andrew WK, probably best known to the layman from Top Of The Pops circa 2001 and the Jackass the Movie soundtrack.

Yonaka are the support. They bring a big sound, with hints of heavier wolf Alice and a little Skunk Anansie. They look battle-hardened, yet fresh-faced. I wonder what they were doing 17 years ago when Andrew WK was on Top of The Pops?

Speaking of which, as the stage is being set up for the headline act, a wave of youthful excitement washes over the wedge crowd. A crowd which has an average age of around 32-34, who would have also no doubt seen the utterly unforgettable version of Party Hard on TOTP.

Keyboard player starts off with "PARTY PARTY PARTY" building to a piece of music fit for an epic movie trailer, and then, darkness...

The band is now on stage, and a solitary kick drum precedes a wailing guitar to bring on Andrew WK. He’s a raging ball of energy, and whips the crowd up into a frenzy from the word go. The dancing and jumping is becoming more and more widespread as we go, so spare a thought for the poor guy carrying 3 beers into an area that is now essentially a mosh pit... "This round's on me..." - Literally.

Things are kicked up a gear again when Andrew announces: "It's not just a Portsmouth party, it's a PORTSMOUTH PIZZA PARTY!!" before producing a guitar with a body in the shape of a slice of everyone’s favourite Italian food. He then launches into what I can only describe as a "Brian May-esque guitar solo, and you’re reminded he’s an outstanding multi-instrumentalist.

Maybe it's the keyboards and theatrics, but I get a little Meatloaf vibe from Mr WK as the band hurtles through the set like they'll never get to play it again. The energy is fired out into the crowd who in turn give it back to Andrew and his team. Every song powers along like the show-stopping finale to a set, and it's been that way from song 1! Atop an iceberg of rock and metal sits a message of positivity to all who have hurdles to overcome. He is a motivational speaker after all.

Stylistically not a lot has changed, he could have walked onto the stage right out of 2001 for all we know, and that's fine with all of us! This is a rock opera to inspire and uplift from, it has to be said, a very talented composer and arranger in Andrew WK. He’s delivered an amazing show full of fun and memories. For example, the whole of the Wedge passionately chanting "Twiglets! Twiglets!" Is something that will stay with me forever. (Watch the video)

I’ve been blown away tonight, as have the whole of the Wedge, and whoever books acts there needs to get Andrew WK back, so we can Party Hard all over again!

 

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Horseflies - Album Review 'Sea Control'

Reviewer: Sam Cutbush

If you know Horseflies then you’ll know their visceral mix of tempo changes, wild dynamics and all-out rage make them a must see live band. The Portsmouth four-piece have just released their second album, Sea Control, and the live energy has been captured pretty well once again.

Opening track Waxwound starts with a gentle guitar riff which is joined by bass and drums before singer Joe Watson begins to attack the microphone. The build is gradual and restrained. Or at least it is until the song explodes into life with a jolt that’s akin to Queens Of The Stone Age’s Millionaire, and has a similarly juddering effect. Blowing someone’s head off on the first track should not be the best way to start an album, but really it is, and rest of the song powers along furiously, letting you know that you’ve begun a journey that’s fraught with danger and unexpected twists.

Second track Video Nasty I love, and not just because it reminds me of the Young Ones! Comparing the 80’s escapism of Video Nasties to current affairs shows this is a band with something to say, or scream anyway. Check out the accompanying video for this song too, as it serves to pour petrol on the touch paper they’ve already set ablaze in 3 furious minutes.

Next up is Modern Mind, and here is what I see as another nod to the 80’s in the form of Mike James’ guitar playing. Mike has opted for a gorgeous clean tone with a chime to it that reminds me of bands like Joy Division and The Cult. In an era when so many Indie bands have either no imagination or idea on what a distinctive guitar sound is, James has both the tone and the creativity to make everything interesting and atmospheric.

The theme continues into The Slow Choke, and while up to now the understated guitar has complimented Joe Watson’s raging vocals, this is the first time on the record we also hear him hold back and sing, before again tearing the mic a new one as the chorus kicks in. This adds another layer to the dynamics, as when Joe sings in his softer, more vulnerable tones you know he’s about to flick the switch and launch into another tirade.

Title track Sea Control is an instrumental intermission, and has a laid back, yet almost yearning feel to it, with Mike James’ E-bow the constant amongst stop-start percussion and bass. The serenity gives way to a tense urgency in Make It Look Like An Accident, which sees Joe Watson deliver an almost spoken vocal over staccato guitars and tempered by Matt Horn’s unique drumming style. Horn switches it up in the blink of an eye throughout the album, ranging from rock solid groove to crescendos of toms and cymbals that add brute force to the assault on the senses taking place.

Soft Focus is a gentle acoustic break that could seem out of place if you want wall-to-wall noise, but by this point you could do with a breather, and the plucked guitar part gives you just that. From acoustic beauty we reunite with the gorgeous retro guitar tone and Joe’s all-or-nothing vocals in Kill Jester, which weaves in and out of major and minor keys while bass player Dan Bush drives the song home, knitting the parts together as he has done throughout the whole album with a minimum of fuss. Bush again serves as the heartbeat in the sprawling Nailhouse as vocal and guitar fight for the limelight.

It’s impressive the amount of presence this album has without resorting to power chords and distortion, which is testament to Horseflies’ work ethic in finding the right sound, and also the production of Tim Greaves at Southsea Sound. Greaves clearly knows how to get a great band sounding great on record, and he’s harnessed the formidable energy and noise that Portsmouth venues are still recovering from now.

The volume and mood calms as we move to Statues, a haunting piano piece on a slightly – and I’d assume intentionally – off-key set of ivories. It’s another bold move by a band not keen on sticking to a formula, and a move that works. Bass and xylophone introduce us to Vampire Shift, a song that sees Horn’s drums and James’ guitar move up through the gears in unison until a combination of serene and erratic guitars take us to Joe’s softest vocal yet: “It’s so lonely/On the vampire shift”. The Sound Of Two Eyes Opening is the final track on the album, and it’s almost a flashback of everything we’ve been through up to this point, going from smooth to intense, to restrained, to breakneck, and finally, telling the listener “It’s alright/It’s OK”. And we’re done.

I’ve been looking forward to hearing Horseflies on record, and seeing how they take their live show and commit it to an album without losing their blistering energy and urgency. Not only do they achieve this, but they also add a little clarity to the chaos. As a result, Sea Control is outstanding, and has been in pretty much constant rotation since Friday, when it was released on Bandcamp. Alongside it is their first album These Halls Are Haunted Now, which was also recorded by Tim Greaves at Southsea Sound, and is also brilliant. Check them both out. Now.

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Andrew W.K. - Interview

Having revealed his new album 'You're Not Alone' is out on the 2nd March 2018, Andrew W. K. took some time to chat to us about the new album and the party mindset this week ...

Your new album apparently explores nuances and contradictions, can you tell us a bit more about that? 

Well there are two sides to every coin and it's still the same coin - it's still the same coin ... the glass is not half full or half empty, it's half full and half empty. Realising that even something like the phrase "You're Not Alone" can seem on the one hand comforting, a show of solidarity and a partnership - on the other hand having some sort of presence near you in certain situations can be quite unnerving, even frightening, it might even be a malevolent presence. So for some reason pairs of polarities or opposites that are equally true on both sides seem to become a reoccurring theme in a lot of this material. It's always been a theme in all my work and I think everyone's work to some extent.

So with the new album, is it autobiographical or more generalised? Drawing on what you know?

Not consciously, maybe subconsciously. I don't think anyone could create anything without having some sense of their own presence, their own involvement attached to it and have some impact on what you're making. You can't make something and not be part of having made it. These are not stories that I am telling from my own experiences, that's not really the style that I work in. Most of the music that I make is aspirational music, it's not talking about how I feel, but talking about how I want to feel. It's not talking about what I've done, it's focusing on what I want to do. It is really like a fantasy in that regard. I've already been through what I've been through and for me it would be rather boring to keep saying or reliving that over and over again. I'd rather focus on what I haven't gone through and try to imagine something better than myself and beyond me and bigger than me. I'm not that interested in myself past a certain basic point. I'm just a means to an end and I'm trying to serve that end through this music. 

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"There's a separate connection when you realise someone else is also looking for that feeling with you and you feel as though you're on a team with those people"

That's a part of who you are as a personality, a great motivational speaker with your positive outlook and attitude - really connecting with people. How do you find you connect with people, do you draw on your own experiences?

I don't know if i connect with people or not, I think people and I connect on the same level, we connect with a feeling that we're both looking for. There's a separate connection when you realise someone else is also looking for that feeling with you and you feel as though you're on a team with those people and together it's a partnership on a quest to try to reach this feeling - this understanding, this feeling about life, so maybe we relate to each other in that way ... looking for the same feeling.

Music is definitely a great bringer of that. So how do you keep the party ethos going when all seems bad? How would you tell others to stay positive?

Well I think one of the nicest things that's been helpful for me is that staying positive doesn't mean that you can't feel negative emotions. That's completely unnatural and it would be unhealthy and also unenjoyable to force yourself to stay in what we would consider traditionally a positive emotion. There are times when it's completely warranted and completely crucial to feel other kinds of feelings ... the full spectrum of emotions, the full spectrum of considerations and thoughts and ideas. The human being is really complex and we don't want to limit that just because we think it's going to make our lives feel better, it's actually going to be quite torturous. So staying positive actually is where we can include even the darker or shadow side of ourselves as part of a kind of larger transcendent positivity.

On this album you say you are admitting vulnerabilities, is this where you would spin things into maybe something you would try to change about yourself positively and see that in a positive light ... grabbing all those dark things?

 It's accepting that it's ok to feel different ways and you can be positive about those feelings. For example, if a child is crying it's not effective or kind or understanding to say "stop crying", the child has reason to cry. You can comfort the child and explain to them that you understand why they are crying and show them that it's even a part of a more beautiful life, that it might hurt it might feel painful - but the party mindset is attempting to include as broad of a life experience as possible and celebrate the whole thing. 

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"I'm looking for a deeper joy, a joy that's so vast that it kind of transcends happiness"

We heard you have quite a strict raw food diet. Is that something you'd say is part of being happy with yourself first in order to be able to spread positive vibes to others?  

I think of happiness as a kind of passing emotion. I don't even want to be happy all the time, it's not very interesting. There's moments of great fulfilment or brief elation that I would call happy, but happy is usually that you feel happy because of something and it's very dependant and transient. I'm looking for a deeper joy, a joy that's so vast that it kind of transcends happiness. A joy that makes you feel good for no reason at all. Nothing good necessarily happens when you feel this joyful feeling. That's the place I'm interested in trying to get to and stay in and I don't really care anymore. I've kind of just accepted that it's not an interesting pursuit for some reason. There's so many other things we could put our energy into trying to do other than putting our energy into trying to be happy. It's not worked out for me very well. 

You're always pushing yourself to achieve and challenge yourself, this is your first full album for about 12 years ... how are you feeling about that? Do you like performing and the musical side of things rather than talks and the other things you're involved with - do you have a preference? 

The reason that so much time went by was that I didn't even realise how much time was going by. I was always recording with myself and other people and playing concerts and that's why time didn't appear to be passing. I don't feel like I'm back doing something, it just feels like the same thing. I guess it could appear to others that I'm doing something different now, but I don't know ... it's probably part of the reason why things have always been a bit chaotic and disorganised - because there isn't a lot of planning. You know, I didn't plan to stop, I didn't plan to make the album, I didn't plan for it to take 12 years. It's all out of my control so I don't really have any kind of insight ... it's quite frustrating actually and I get anxious and even a bit despondent when I think about it because I feel like I'm irresponsible, that I should be able to have more influence over what happens in my own life but I don't and it is what it is. 

So what do you have coming up, are you touring the new album? 

Yes. There should be tonnes of touring this year and hopefully next year as well.  I'm certainly excited to be coming back to the UK. The band has never been better, it's the best live band I've ever had over all these years. We've got a lot of great band members and a lot of great runs of touring but we've hit a new level of focus and ability which makes sense because the longer we do something the better we get. I mean that's what I hope at least and I'm really excited to bring this version of the live show to the UK and the rest of the world.

Is there anything you would like to tell us, any words of wisdom?

Just whatever you do never stop partying, be as strong as possible, so strong that you can even be weak and let the power of partying lead you down the truest path. 

 

 

Rockaway Beach 2018 - Saturday

Easing us into day two at Rockaway Beach were Portsmouth's Melt Dunes. Their set went down really well, again the beach-goers were ready for a music fix despite yesterday's revellery. 

With epic length songs laden with psychedelic swirling guitars and meandering bass-lines interspersed with appropriately fairground-esque moments, Melt Dunes took us on a sprawling psychedelic journey of sound.

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melt dunes

 melt dunes

melt dunes

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melt dunes

Next up Lower Slaughter put on a great show. Singer Sinead's hardcore screams we set off by the standard hardcore sound of the band, with some delicious breakdowns we are pretty sure these guys will have picked up new followers from a great set.

Moderate Rebels were up next and slowed the pace a little with a much more indie vibe. 

 Moderate rebels

Moderate rebels

 moderate rebels

moderate rebels

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moderate rebels

Next up still on the Reds stage Soccer Mommy, Sophie Allison's soothingly beautiful bedroom indie-pop was hauntingly chilled. For one lady on a stage she commanded a great presence and the set was full of authentic storytelling - the perfect fit for a Saturday afternoon set.

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soccer mommy

 soccer mommy

soccer mommy

 soccer mommy

soccer mommy

Back to Reds for London's art-wave collective Snapped Ankles. Playing with performance concepts they were like something out of The Mighty Boosh and the audience were really getting into it. These quirky space cavemen gave us a truly entertaining set, full of tribal rhythms and not at all a 'Misery'.

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snapped ankles

 snapped ankles

snapped ankles

 snapped ankles

snapped ankles

Desperate Journalist were next up and their great well rounded set was met with rapturous applause. Many wee saying it was the best set of the day so far.

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desperate journalist

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desperate journalist

 desperate journalist

desperate journalist

Another chilled out act She Drew The Gun was up next, this was music as poetry, grasping you and drawing you in. The impassioned beautifully toned voice of singer Louisa's vocals are central with the band balancing out with a softly layered musical tapestry. All the songs went down really well, especially the evocative 'Poem' which was fantastic to see live. The room was packed out with a sea full of captivated faces and drew by far the biggest round of applause of the day. 

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she drew the gun

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she drew the gun

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she drew the gun

Pulled Apart By Horses were the last band on Reds Stage for Saturday - they always give a great performance with a frenetic live show and their sustained energy was a thing of marvel once again. They made a point of thanking Rockaway Beach saying it's a great thing they have got going on down here and told us how much they were looking forward to Wild Beasts later on.

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pulled apart by horses

 pulled apart by horses

pulled apart by horses

 pulled apart by horses

pulled apart by horses

Over on the Centre Stage British Sea Power before last live band of the evening Wild Beasts who played their last ever festival performance. As usual that was not all, there was still the DJ set, today from the iconic Steve Lamacq.

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british sea power

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wild beasts

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wild beasts

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wild beasts

Rockaway Beach 2018 - Friday

The day started off from 3.30 with plenty of time to get on site and get settled before a weekend of revellery.

To start with it was in Reds that Crosa Rosa kicked off the live music, opening the festival is sometimes a tricky slot as some may not have arrived on site so early but the venue soon filled up with a surprisingly keen good-sized crowd. 'Like A Lady' went down really well, their sludge-ladened grungey style a hit with the audience. The gravelly vocals turned screamier as the songs developed. It was a nice touch to start off songs with echoey reverb guitars before diving in and marching full pelt into their full thick fuzzy sound. With the energy of a Bleach era Nirvana ladened with catchy hooks this was a big sound with big hair. The set ended on a slower song, almost ballad like with it's sparce slower start it still rose up into a crescendo of doom. Admirable and unwavering effervescent energy throughout the set made them a great band to open up the festival and set the tone with great music and the boundless enthusiasm of a band who clearly love what they do.

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crosa rosa

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god colony

Next up God Colony were right on schedule starting with a screeching sample before kicking in with a sporadic bass.

The set would possibly have gone down better much later in the evening it's hard to be in that mindset at 4.30 in the afternoon although did go down well.

This was a chance for beachgoers to chat and mingle as 2 guys with laptops aren't the most captivating sight, more of an entertaining background than a performance which is a shame as the music was good. It was odd walking though ... out into the cold grey daylight after being in a dark warm room emblazoned with a colourful lighting set-up.

This is just why this festival is so great, the sheer variety of acts over the three days makes for a trly eclectic experience and each one well worth checking out.

Next up were Band of Holy Joy a slower vibe live than on first listen, plodding along with minimal movement from the band, save the odd hand claps.

 band of holy joy

band of holy joy

 band of holy joy

band of holy joy

Next up, still on the Reds stage were Warmduscher. It is doubtful anyone was ready for what they described as "Just a bunch of stupid motherf**kers doing our own thing". Starting the set telling us we were "gonna get some cold hard music, real stuff ... and it's all for you" they weren't wrong! The thick accented entertaining frontman was full of swagger Tequila bottle in hand, as were all the band. Oozing with personality Warmduscher treated Beachgoers to raw and captivating noise-rock, playing with sounds and effects, making for a really entertaining performance full of humour.

  Warmduscher

Warmduscher

  Warmduscher

Warmduscher

  Warmduscher

Warmduscher

With so much going on already and only just coming up to 8pm it was time to head over to Centre Stage which was now open for the evening to catch Glasgow's Honeyblood whose great songs resonate with deep melodic hooks. The sheer haunting beauty of Stina's vocals really shine through, perfectly supported by Cat's backing. We were left thinking that it always amazes us just how much impact a 2-piece can have with such a full sound. This was an atmospheric set, expertly delivered with dark and sultry undertones, both Cat and Stina have a great live energy and obvious passion for the music making the whole set a pleasure to watch. 

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honeyblood

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honeyblood

Last year The Horrors Faris Badwan appeared with his band Cats Eyes, and they played a great haunting and moving set, yet fun in its drama. This year returning to the festival with The Horrors were the highlight of many of the festival-goers. Faris was aloof yet engaging, charismatic and captivating – a great front-man.

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the horrors

 the horrors

the horrors

There was a bit of a break until 11.15 when The Orb took to Centre Stage, with Youth from Killing Joke who made a surprise appearance.

Rounding off Day 1 of the Festival was a Tim Burgess DJ set in Centre Stage and despite a late start time of 1.15am there were still plenty of keen festival goers ready to carry on into the small hours of what was a great festival opening day.

Frauds Album Review: With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice

Band: Frauds

Album: With Morning Toast & Jam & Juice

Label: Till Deaf Do Us Party

Release Date: 08/12/2017

By Sam Cutbush

Frauds’ debut album showcases their ability to make 2 people sound like about 5, as well as their ability to mix high energy rock with eerie sounds and have a whale of a time doing it.

Opening track Let’s Find Out starts with an interesting riff that, for me, never really goes anywhere. Backed up by just a kickdrum, you’re left waiting a minute and a half for any vocals. The lyrics do grab you when they finally arrive, and they become more desperate and intense as the song goes on, but the music should match it, and it doesn’t. Next time I listen I’ll probably skip straight to Smooth, as here is where the album really starts for me. Sounding like a brawl between Weezer and Pixies, the energy here is palpable. Lurching from sparse verses to a wall of noise in the chorus, Frauds really hit their stride. The Feeding Frenzy has an organ-like synth riff that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Queens of the Stone Age track. This is another minimalist track like Let’s Find Out, but it’s shorter and sweeter, and has far more urgency. Before you know it you’re asked “who’s eating sandwiches in someone else’s garden?”, and we arrive at possibly my favourite track, Sandwiches. The loud-quiet dynamic is back with a bang, and the vocals really let loose. After an angry middle 8, a Come As You Are-esque guitar sound sees the song, out, with the question no longer about sandwiches, but whether or not we can be friends. Well so far I’m warming to you guys!                 Just Come Of Age is next, and the ‘POG’ style sound that Royal Blood have massively overused is the bedrock of the song. The lyrics here remind me of David Bowie, seasoned with a little of Joe Strummer’s rage in places. These guys do the loud stuff really well, and I’m keen on taking in a live show as I expect they are something to behold. Suck Jobs is a brutal tune, starting like a groovy Talking Heads homage and stepping on a few effect pedals to kick it up another gear as we go. Doom has about as appropriate a title as a song can have, as it’s got a very doomy sludgy feel to it. Shocking that… It’s massive, and must have some kind of world record for the top heavy ratio of intro to lyrics, with the vocals coming in for the last few seconds. Sorry to bring them up again, but where Frauds differ from Royal Blood is that they’ve made good use of an effect they revisit repeatedly. They just seem to have so many more ideas, which is very evident in the sprawling Could’ve Should’ve Would’ve. The album ends on Give In, a 4 minute opus that starts out slow and gentle, picking up as the synth comes in. It gets bigger and bigger, with more layers of synth added to an already volatile mix before grinding to a halt so sudden you think your phone or whatever device you’re on has crashed. Which is a certain kind of exciting.

Overall, Frauds have put together a highly entertaining and unpredictable album, and I really dig 8 of the 9 tracks, which to be honest is quite rare these days. My advice: Give this album a listen, give it a few more, then do all the liking and following stuff, then go see them. Then, repeat the process (apart from all the liking and following stuff, you only need to do that once).

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Husky Loops Q&A with Danio

This week we caught up with Danio of Husky Loops for a little Q&A about his influences and the story behind the new single "Fading Out" ahead of the release of 'EP2' this Friday.

Hey guys, so how did you come together, how long have you been going?

We met in Bologna and then again in London. We actually started this project 2 and half years ago. Time flies… it’s October! Can you believe it? 

Are you very collaborative in your song-writing process ... do you share the same influences generally? 

The creative process is NEVER the same, so I can’t really answer that… We do write together of course, “Tempo” was written by all of us. And influences-wise, not at all! We all listen to very different things, which feels like a good thing… 

Is there a story behind the new single? 

"Fading Out" was written when I was moving out of my old flat, I lived there with my ex girlfriend, we broke up so I had to leave. At the time I was reading all these articles about immigration too, I found it interesting to mix the two things together. It’s confusing, but it will make people think or interpret the song in their own way. 

Is there anyone in particular you would say are so influential that if they didn't exist you wouldn't be doing what you are now? 

Yes, Brian Wilson. He made me want to become a producer and a better writer, and his music is very close to my heart. I feel good when I listen to his music, all the time. He saved my life. I started Husky Loops with the guys having him in mind as main reference, his art pushed me to become a better man. 

Sometimes inspiration can be found in the strangest of places ... anything outside of music that really gets your creative juices flowing? 

David Rudnick, Federico Fellini, Monet, Degas, Canada (the production team, not the place). Love. Relationships. Family. Staring at people on the tube. Sex. Skipping songs really fast (that’s music thought right). 

Are your songs sometimes autobiographical or social comment - do you have a general message you would like people to hear? 

There is no message behind my songs or behind our music, it’s totally up for interpretation. Yes I would say my songs are most of the time autobiographical, I can’t write about something that I don’t know really well. It would feel fake. To me writing songs is like taking photographs, I tried to be a “story teller” but it felt harder than doing what I do and I want songs to come out naturally.

What first turned you on to music in a big way?  

A Jerry Lee Lewis record I heard when I was 8. I couldn’t believe it, it felt amazing. Then it was clear that listening to music was the best thing ever. 

Is there a band /artist at the moment really inspiring musically, or that you think will go far this year / would like to see more of? 

ALL OF OUR FRIENDS ( political correctness mode ON ) Count Counsellor, MEI, Pleasure Complex, Estrons, YAK, LVNA, Them Blends, big shout out to Tiny Factory and Goth Boss Britt. We love you, WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH WE LOVE YOU DO YOU UNDERSTAND? DO YOU UNDERSTAND? 

If you had to describe each band member in just three words, what would they be? 

Annoying, annoying, very annoying. 

The guys are off on tour throughout October and November, we highly recommend catching them at one of the below dates!

October:
10th – Doncaster Dome (Placebo)
11th – Blackpool Empress Ballroom (Placebo)
12th – Nottingham Bodega (with Superfood)
13th – Reading Rivermead (Placebo)
14th – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena (Placebo)
16th – Portsmouth Guildhall (Placebo)
17th – Swindon Oasis (Placebo)
20th – Plymouth Pavilions (Placebo)
21st – Wolverhampton Civic hall (Placebo)
23rd – Brixton Academy (Placebo)
24th – Brixton Academy (Placebo)
26th – Manchester Star & Garter (with Tigercub)
27th – Norwich Waterfront (with Tigercub)
November
8th – Glasgow Garage Bar (attic)
9th – Leeds Brudenell Games Room
10th – Middlesborough Westgarth
11th -  Newcastle Think Tank
12th – Liverpool Studio 2
14th – Birmingham Sunflower Lounge
15th – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
16th – Bristol Crofters
17th – Lexington, London
18th – Southampton Joiners
25th - Luton The Edge

Victorious Festival 2017 - Sunday

Following a successful Friday night headlined by Madness and a Saturday closed by the Stereophonics and Rita Ora, Sunday at Victorious Festival 2017 had a lot to live up to. 
The weather continued where Saturday left off, no signs of the typical British festival rain here in sunny Southsea. As for the line-up, with Olly Murs on hand for X-Factor fans and fellow headliners Elbow having the indie-rock crowd covered, everything was set for another great day’s festivities. 

Although there’s no overall theme to Victorious, there is a love of bands from yesteryear. This would continue with the early afternoon guest slot for America’s Dandy Warhols. If there was anyone watching who wasn’t already familiar with the band, memories of early Vodaphone adverts no doubt came flooding back during “Bohemian Like You”.

Elsewhere in the set, “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth” was far too catchy for an anti-heroin song (but in a good way!). While many of the main acts came from this side of the pond, Dandy Warhols totally deserved the tag of special guests.

The world stage of course attracted more international names, the well-travelled Maya Youssef for example, brought Arabic influences to Victorious. Her 78 stringed zither unfortunately being drowned out by a sound-clash with the Peoples Lounge in the tent next door. Fellowship of Groove however followed with a horn section that would have given the foghorn on nearby Southsea Castle a run for its money. 

Portsmouth’s Kassassin Street continue to gain a much wider recognition, this year the 60’s influenced psychedelic indie rock heading to one of the main stages. I only caught the last couple of tracks, but as always the boys proved why there going places.

Turin Breaks may not be a local band, but during their set they mentioned plenty of fond memories of the area. Renting out a flat in Fratton while at Portsmouth University, practicing their tricks at Southsea Skate Park and playing football on the very same piece of land as they were now playing.  You could tell they felt at home on stage too, putting in a great performance, unlike Field Music who followed.

Initially Field Music came across as the perfect festival band, with accessible tunes sure to appeal to the masses. Then everything got a bit too samey and rapidly went downhill. Frontman David Brewis looking disheartened with it all, the set eventually cut short, which in honesty seemed to do everyone a favour.

In contrast the Mighty Z All Stars kept things more lively in the World Music Village, where summer vibes always go down well. That said, I couldn’t stick around so can only assume they continued in the same vein.

It was then a mad dash to catch one of the weekend highlights, with a 2 piece from London about to make some big noise. In conventional terms, Slaves shouldn’t work on such a large scale. The pair look and sound as though they’d be more suited to small and sweaty clubs. 
Slaves drummer Isaac Holman stood behind his kit and takes on lead vocals, every so often going for a wander, as Laurie Vincent almost takes a backseat switching between bass and guitar. Holman comes across as a loveable East End geezer, charming the crowd between songs. Tracks such as “The Hunter” and “Cheer Up London” were thrashed out like a personal attack, while “Fuck the Hi-Hat” answered any questions about the bands minimal use of symbols. 

It was soon to be more reggae back on the world stage, as Macka B took to the stage. Well, it would have been had the dancehall legend not been a bit of a diva. While the rest of his band stood in waiting, trying hard to drag out their soundcheck the singer eventually came on board.

Luckily the late start was the only disappointment (forgetting any cucumber references). Macka B keeping the crowd bouncing along to tunes from his mid-career albums, as well as recent single “Never Played a 45”. There was a lot of love in the crowd and a coming together of like-minded individuals for “Everybody Loves Bob Marley”.

It wasn’t Macka B spreading the L word alone though, as Elbow were about to prove during the weekends finale. There’s something heart-warming about front-man Guy Garvey, he’s a nice normal bloke with an exceptional and naturally beautiful voice. 

They may be a bit middle of the road, but on record Elbow sound great. It’s not just about Radio 1 airplay and a Mercury Award winning album though, as the weekends final headliners soon proved.

“Magnificent (She Says)” from the latest release was placed early in the set and with a live string section on stage, the newer tunes floated soulfully across the field. Guy Garvey would repeatedly bring back that “love” word and it truly was a special performance. 
Closing with the 2008 hit single “One Day Like This”, Elbow couldn’t have provided a more beautiful ending to another successful Victorious Festival. 

Victorious Festival 2017 - Saturday

by Keith Sandys

Headliners for the Saturday of Victorious Festival 2017 were to include Rita Ora, Stereophonics and Olly Murs. There were other big names elsewhere on the bill too with Feeder, Maximo Park and Jake Bugg all appearing on the main stage.

In keeping with previous years, Victorious Festival is also proud to support local talent. Those arriving in the midday sun would be greeted by Blackfoot Circle taking to the stage. Full of energy and confidence, you could easily have mistaken the Portsmouth band as a wider known act.

Another local lad was on next, albeit from down the road in nearby Winchester. This time it was someone who’s definitely no stranger to playing in front of larger crowds.

Frank Turner has performed at the Olympic opening ceremony, sells out venues up and down the country and is a regular on the festival circuit. When it came to Victorious Festival 2017 he was given a special early afternoon slot, with another gig already planned for later the same day.

The solo acoustic set would take some beating. In fact, Frank Turner probably has everything you want from an artist, as he belted out the likes of “Photosynthesis” and “Recovery”. His naturally joyful persona puts the crowd at ease, while lyrically there’s something everyone can relate to. Even more so when it comes to reminiscing about a youth spent on the very field on which we stand. 

Another act who would make local references were the Bog Rolling Stones. The tribute band remembering when they played their infamous Stones in the Park gig, “Not Hyde Park, Leigh Park” being one of many gems courtesy of singer Mick Slacker.

Echobelly were a pretty big deal in the mid 90’s, so it was singles from this era that entertained the large crowd. Sonya Madan’s vocals stood out, while the slide guitar of Glenn Johansson was sounding awesome on set closer “Dark Therapy”.

Having walked the length of the whole site, checking out some of the smaller stages (including the heavier side of things with Climb the Attic) it was time to embrace the family area. The main focus being on my own little tiddler, who enjoyed seeing televisions Mr Bloom.

The Victorious Kids Arena is more than just a token gesture, although CBeebies favourite gardener was entertaining enough. With arts and crafts, fairground rides, the University of Portsmouth Science Tent, parkour demonstrations, live karaoke and a circus tent, the list goes on… any way, back to the music.

Having missed the majority of Feeder, it was Newcastle’s Maximo Park up next on the main stage. Although half the set came from their latest album “Risk to Exist”, frontman Paul Smith knows how to work a crowd. It was of course the classic indie-rock tracks “Girls Who Play Guitar”, “Our Velocity” and “Apply Some Pressure” that were always going to be the real highlights.

Another walk took me to Sasha Ilyukevich & the Highly Skilled Migrants, playing a folk rock set that Gogol Bordello would be proud of on the World Music Stage. Sasha quite rightly telling the like-minded audience to “come closer, don’t fear the immigrants”. 

Pulled Apart by Horses were on the itinerary over at the Butser Fest stage next and soon became one of my favourite performances from the weekend. Covering the heavier end of the spectrum it felt like a gig in a sweaty club rather than outside after dark.

With song titles including “I Punched a Lion in the Throat” carnage ensued. There was a friendly mosh pit throughout the set and singer/guitarist Tom Hudson crowd surfing during “High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive”.

Even if Deaf Havana were the stage headliners on paper, in reality they were going to have to do something special to follow. Although I was looking forward to seeing them, as it turned out they were pretty lame.

I wasn’t going to end my Saturday on a low point, so it was off to watch local band Is Bliss on the Seaside Stage. It was unavoidable not to briefly catch pop star Rita Ora bringing in the masses on the way through, so even though not my thing, it was soon obvious she’s damn good at it.

As for anyone disappointed that the Jesus and Mary Chain had been replaced at the last minute by Pete Doherty, then you probably should have been at Is Bliss. After all, what better way to end day 2 of Victorious Festival 2017 than supporting local music, with the sound of the ocean as your back drop?

Victorious Festival 2017 – Friday Review

Words by Keith Sandys

The first Victorious Festival took place in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in 2012, against a backdrop of Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory and the home of the Royal Navy.  Now in its 6th year the music festival has since moved to a much larger location, along the nearby Southsea seafront.

It’s not just the venue that’s become bigger, for 2017 included off-site camping facilities and a Friday night opening party. The additional evening now making it a 3 day event for the first time.

As I took a stroll around the grounds, Sundara Karma were already playing on the Castle Stage. The sizeable crowd being far removed from seeing them at Southsea’s Pie & Vinyl for an acoustic instore session. Listening to them on the bigger stage, it was clear what all the hype had been about.

Before returning to the main arena there was time to check out some local talent. First up was DJ Gentle Bren in the Champagne Bar, while DJ Tom Mayhem was over in the Beats & Swing tent. I would say I’m biased, but it’s well known whenever Tom’s behind the decks the party’s started.

Beats & Swing may have resembled a messy school disco by the end of the night, but on the Rhino AV Stage things were more in keeping with the nights headliners. Portsmouth/Southampton based Ska Dogs played a blistering 40 minute set with plenty of 2-tone classics to keep the older crowd dancing.

Sounding even more psychedelic than usual with their mid-nighties indies rock, were penultimate band The Charlatans. From early single “North Country Boy” through to Deep Purple inspired “The Only One I know”, Tim Burgess and Co were already on top form before ending on an epic organ fuelled “Sproston Green”.

That left ska legends Madness to wrap up the first night of the festival. Overall they were as I had expected, it’s just with anything post ‘90s, Madness don’t really live up to their heyday. Even Suggs sounded surprised when announcing the recent success of their 11th studio album.

It was of course Madness classics such as “Baggy Trousers”, “Our House” and the Prince Buster cover “One Step Beyond” that had everyone bouncing along. Even though things sounded a bit flat at times, when it came to “It must be Love” you couldn’t have asked for a better tune to close the main set.

The obligatory encore followed, ending with “Nightboat to Cairo” and soon it was time to start skanking towards the exit. Friday may have been an abridged version of the rest of the Victorious Festival, but it was only one more sleep before doing it all again.

Reading Festival 2017

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READING 2017: Friday

Brimming with the a varied selection of musical genres across the site and headline sets from Eminem, Muse and Kasabian, at Reading Festival this year we delved into the best alternative noises the festival had to offer.

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LIFE

With their debut album 'Popular Music' only out a few months ago, Hull's LIFE are fresh and fiery. The title track 'Popular Music' is a fitting anthem for the disaffected festival-goer; Mez's vocals oozing Mark E Smith attitude "totally off my face I listen to popular music". Showcased by their raucous onstage presence, LIFE package political comment and pop hook laden punk into a captivating live set - highly recommended.

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FREAK

Continuing our delve into all the punky primal noises, FREAK - the alter ego of Connar Ridd gave us energetic garage rock with straight to the point lyrics. First song 'What Happened' was almost over when the power cut but they guys handled it admirably brushing it off with the quip "f**k the power" and the set was really well received.

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IDLES

With their cutting sense of humour, the confrontational 'Well Done'  and 'Mother' were highlights - delivered with piercingly fierce and impassioned vocals in an all-round epic adrenaline fuelled and highly entertaining set.

'1049 Gotho' about depression was cracking live, singer Joe urged the audience to make sure they speak to someone and get some help - IDLES are one of a host of bands at the moment using their influence to speak up about important issues which is really great to see.

Raw, relevant and brutal, they're off to support Foo Fighters later this month.

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It was amazing to see so many furious punk bands, with each with a sharp sense of humour to them and something poignant to say and all before the sun has even started to set on the first day.

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DEAP VALLY

Over on the main stage L.A.'s duo Deap Vally were a well polished machine with two snarling and captivating cogs; Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards. From fuzzy guitars to massive riffs Deap Vally craft a mixed sonic experience from mellower blues right through to full-on punk angst. Yet again we were impressed with another 2-piece who can deliver a massive and raucous depth of sound, the snarling rock and blues is reminiscent of The Kills and Lindsey has a level of showmanship to justify that comparison .

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Tigers Jaw

Tigers Jaw were folky indie-rock with a touching purity to it - sometimes vulnerable, building and falling between pop melodies and heartfelt musings. 'I Saw Water' pulled in Brianna's vocals with Ben's for outstanding harmonies between the two expertly using the rise and fall of the music to effect. 

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Cigarettes After Sex

On the Festival Republic stage Cigarettes After Sex's ambient electro dreamy-pop floated over the crowd and really did have a feeling of lazing in bed with a touch of melancholy. It was beautiful to witness and an ethereal contrast to the raucous bands we saw earlier in the day.

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Kasabian

'Fire' was met with flares let off amongst the crowd which was an amazing sight to see. Kasabian are one of the few bands that really translate differently live, the sound was almost more acoustic in feel - the rich textural noise that normally accompanies their music is still there but somehow different in a good way, 'Underdog' was more of an epic experience with extended solos and great crowd interaction. As well as a bit of Daft Punk's 'Around The World' spliced into the set, the Nirvana cover 'All Apologies' was strangely fitting, an acoustically gentle take on the song with sing-a-longs of "in the sun we feel as one" a great choice for what was a scorching day.

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Billy Talent

Canadian punk rockers Billy Talent headlined The Pit with their upbeat and diverse anthems. 'Rusted From The Rain' was a more plodding grungier sounding track that although ballad-esque still packed a punch. 'Falling Leaves' and 'Red Flag' were always going to be a highlight of the set, the closing track 'Viking Death March' was a frenzied performance delivered with such explosive energy and passion it was a fitting end to our first day.

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READING 2017: Saturday

 

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Sløtface

With a fiery performance from vocalist Haley Shea Sløtface made a point of asking the crowd if they are drinking enough water in the scorching heat and as it's so hot "ladies, if you want to take your tops off do it and if anyone give you and unwanted attention you have my permission to punch them in the nuts really hard". Handing out disposable cameras for the audience to take pictures and pass back at the end of the set they stressed not to "keep it like those f**kers in Leeds!". With slicing punk mixed with grunge and more sombre tones, this spirited melodic punk-pop set was great to watch.

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Marmozets

As 'Move, Shake, Hide' roared out singer Becca's stage presence oozed charisma and attitude in boundless amounts. Their brilliant angsty brand of punk-laden hardcore went down really well with alt-math leanings and raucous guitars underpinned by driving drums, not to mention Becca's incredible talent for switching from vicious gravel to melodic sugar in a split second this was a great show topped off by the ending full of furious energy that is 'Why Do You Hate Me?'.

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Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Frank did his usual bit encouraging the ladies to crowd surf saying they should feel comfortable and if they had any men giving them trouble he'd "bite their f**king head off and give it to my dog as a chew toy". It is a great sentiment including all the audience and he was clearly humbly proud to be in the influential position he has earned. Frank dedicated "Lullaby" to his daughter who was watching from side of stage, blowing her kisses and waving throughout the set. With the set ending on the angry and to the point “I hate you” it was an all round highly entertaining and uplifting show.

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The Black Lips

From garage punk to fuzzy rock and roll riffs the set was bluesy, psychy with a retro vibe and the highlight for us 'Can't Hold On'. Despite some technical difficulties early on they gave a great performance and left us pepped ready for the final day of the festival.

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READING 2017: Sunday

Muncie Girls

Muncie Girls were great live, the band have a stage presence and demeanour with a natural feel to it - effortlessly cool, indie punk that is as engaging as it is endearing. 

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Raveneye

Raveneye really got the crowd going with great banter and a frenetic performance. They told us we were "popping their Reading cherry" and that they could "see each and every one of you out there ... we have raven eyes". With catchy, bluesy rock dynamic and oozing with character we would highly recommend checking them out live.

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Culture Abuse

Singer David talked of how important it is to have people who are kind and support you - really positive words and totally endearing and engaging. They told of how this was the last day of their UK / European tour- their drummer had a freak out and got violent, the fantastic Ben was sitting in for this show, a broken ankle and other eventful stories!

Tired Lion

Perth's Tired Lion were next up on the Lock Up stage, a highlight for us was their single ‘Cinderella Dracula’ which swings from delicate and gentle one moment to brutal and violent the next, combining front-woman Sophie Hopes raw and emotional songwriting with the bands driving guitar and bass lines and fierce drums. 

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Ash

Vibrant and enthusiastic as ever, with a great mix of old and newer songs - you can see why they have such staying power. Kicking off with 'Kung Fu' the pure passion with which they perform is awe inspiring, Mark Hamilton has possibly the best bass-stance we have ever seen, all the guys are full of pride and commitment to their craft ... true masters of catchy pop melodies. With a massive catalogue of indisputable hits at their disposal they still have all the captivating passion and raw infectious enthusiasm of those three guys in their late teens all those years ago, banging out energetic indie garage rock with such fervor.

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Gnarwolves

Gnarwolves closed off our punk experience of the festival, fittingly introduced as the most clear embodiment of punk on the The Lock Up stage. It was riotous set from the ever touring live favourites who put on an awesome show as always. Stopping mid-song for a small Oasis rendition (Liam was playing the Main Stage by this time) they were full of banter ... tour stories, of broken down vans and the usual adventures in amongst an energetically crowd pleasing fierce set.

Reading Festival 2017 - Sunday

First band for us for Sunday was Denmark’s Baby In Vain with their own brand of snarling post hardcore, crossed with hazy and laid back anthems.

Next up at the Pit stage were Raveneye, who really got the crowd going with great banter and a frenetic performance. They told us we were "popping their Reading cherry" and that they could "see each and every one of you out there ... we have raven eyes". With catchy, bluesy rock dynamic and oozing with character we would highly recommend checking them out live.

Sløtface were next up on the Lock Up stage they said of the festival; "Just thinking of the fact that we'll be on the same poster as Kasabian, Charli XCX, At The Drive In and Eminem is really exciting. We love the festival life in the UK and this is the biggest UK festival we've ever done, so this has to be amazing.”

With a fiery performance from vocalist Haley Shea was an engaging front-woman, making a point of asking the crowd if they are drinking enough water in the scorching heat and as it's so hot "ladies, if you want to take your tops off do it and if anyone give you and unwanted attention you have my permission to punch them in the nuts really hard". Handing out disposable cameras for the audience to take pictures and pass back at the end of the set they stressed not to "keep it like those f**kers in Leeds!".

Highlight of the set was their recent single 'Nancy Drew'. Speaking on how 'Nancy Drew' originally came about, the band said: "We wrote the big rock chords and electronica inspired bass hook first. Then for the lyrics - Haley wanted to take some of that power and make it about something really cool and slick. Nancy Drew in the song is basically a super hero version of the original teenage sleuth, who fights the patriarchy and indie music's boys' club."

"The song is about this super hero I tried to create that's based on Nancy Drew", Haley muses. “The album is full of things we're worrying about, so I wanted to put some positivity and strength in as well. For this song I wanted to create a kind of super hero saviour, so I drew inspiration from Nancy Drew and tried to imagine a bad-ass super hero who crushes the music industry's boys' club and the patriarchy with one punch."

With slicing punk mixed with grunge and more sombre tones, this spirited melodic punk pop set was great to watch and left us anticipating their debut album 'Try Not To Freak Out' which is out September 15th

Next up were Otherkin over on the Festival Republic stage, their debut album 'OK' is due out 29th September. Having opened for Guns 'N' Roses and been touring extensively this year these Irish garage punks are certainly ones to watch.

 

Staying at the Festival Republic stage, next up were London's King Nun. Hotly tipped to be a breakout act this year you can see why through the sheer enthusiasm they exude onstage. 

Muncie Girls were great live, the band have a stage presence and demeanour with a natural feel to it - effortlessly cool, indie punk that is as engaging as it is endearing. 

Singer Lande Hekt had earlier said how exciting it was to be “back to Reading and Leeds this year. Last time Eminem played, Dido made a surprise appearance and amongst the thousands of shocked fans, there wasn't a dry eye to be seen. We can only hope for the same this year. Also the Lock Up stage is amazing. What a way to end our summer!” 

Culture Abuse put on a great show too. Singer David talked of how important it is to have people who are kind and support you - really positive words and totally endearing and engaging. They told of how this was the last day of their UK / European tour- their drummer had a freak out and got violent, the fantastic Ben was sitting in for this show, a broken ankle and other eventful stories!

Perth's Tired Lion were next up on the Lock Up stage, a highlight for us was their single ‘Cinderella Dracula’ which swings from delicate and gentle one moment to brutal and violent the next, combining front-woman Sophie Hopes raw and emotional songwriting with the bands driving guitar and bass lines and fierce drums. 

Sophie said of the song: “This was written at a time when I felt quite lost … I guess you could call it young naivety. I was young and single, ready to experience the world with a kind of ‘youthful embrace’.  I had a one-night stand and what was meant to make me feel content just left me angry and frustrated at myself… I wrote the lyrics down whilst waiting for this guy to leave. It was awful timing but I guess it was my way of saying ‘Fuck you, can you get out of my house’. I felt like I’d garnered this split personality –one side being desperate for affection and vulnerable (Cinderella), the other being dark and well… kinda mean (Dracula).”

Rock ‘n’ roll legend and an unmistakable icon of music history, Liam Gallagher was next up on the Main Stage bringing his highly anticipated solo performance to Reading in a UK Festival Exclusive. As one of the most recognised figures in British music, his show was an attitude filled performance fuelled with Oasis classics and tracks from his debut solo record.

Well what can we say, Ash were vibrant and enthusiastic as ever, with a great mix of old and newer songs - you can see why they have such staying power.

Kicking off with 'Kung Fu' the pure passion with which they perform is awe inspiring, Mark Hamilton has possibly the best bass-stance we have ever seen, all the guys are full of pride and commitment to their craft ... when they played 'Oh Yeah' it's one of our least favourite tracks but the audience really went wild for it singing along arms aloft. 

Ash are masters of the catchy pop melodies and if the guys have any hint reticence of having to consistently play the older songs they absolutely showed none of it. The first time we saw them was 21 years ago - this must have been about the 14th time since then and it really never gets old, we pretty much knew what to expect - in a good way.

Having followed Ash since their inception we are a little biased, favouring the older material generally, quite possibly due to nostalgia, we remember first hearing Jack Names The Planets on John Peel back in the day and thinking What is this?! We love this! and then checking in HMV every week until Trailer finally hit the shops.

With a massive catalogue of indisputable hits at their disposal they still have all the captivating passion and raw infectious enthusiasm of those three guys in their late teens all those years ago, banging out energetic indie garage rock with such fervor.

Tim Wheeler said of their appearance; "We’re very proud to announce an historic 10th appearance for Ash at the Reading festival. We first performed there in 1995 and our shows at the festival stand among our favourite shows that we’ve ever played, it’s always been a highlight of each year we’ve done it. Somewhere along the way we were promised a statue upon reaching our 10th appearance, so we’re looking forward to the grand unveiling in August!"

Stadium rock royalty Muse are the perfect choice to headline the Main Stage as one of the most influential and revered live bands of modern times.

Led by the commanding presence of frontman Matt Bellamy - his voice piercingmy magnificent especially in 'Knights of Cydonia' with such a range and power so fitting to a Reading Main stage headline act.

The band were joined by AC/DC's Brian Johnson for a rendition of 'Back In Black' and with confetti canons full of paper people raining down like snow and an epic fireworks display it really was an amazing send-off to what was an awesome festival.

Gnarwolves closed off our punk experience of the festival, fittingly introduced as the most clear embodiment of punk on the The Lock Up stage.

It was riotous set from the ever touring live favourites who put on an awesome show as always. Stopping mid-song for a small Oasis rendition (Liam was playing the Main Stage by this time) they were full of banter ... tour stories, of broken down vans and the usual adventures in amongst an energetically crowd pleasing fierce set.

Gnarwolves: Thom Weeks had previously said of their appearance; "We're very excited to be playing Reading and Leeds this year. It'll be our 4th time at Reading and we get to play on the stage we first played on 4 years ago! I spent my teenage years at Reading, watching bands like Thursday and Sick Of It All, so getting to play is like living out a teenage fantasy...4 times!" 

Reading Festival 2017 - Saturday

Kicking off our Saturday we headed out to the NME stage for Inheaven, an exciting new band with a genuine talent - their self-titled debut album is due out on 1st September.

We were treated to a genre-defying mix of indie, grungy-rock, and melody with a bite to it. The rebellious 'Baby's Alright' was written before Trump’s election – but it seems particularly potent now; “Bombs will drop and the world will shake / Don't believe a word they say / Pull the trigger now or face your fate / In a messed up place where hate breeds hate.” 

'Regeneration''s fuzzy noise rock with shouted anthemic vocals were nostalgic and cinematic while their newest track ‘Stupid Things’ out this week takes you to a more Americana alt rock place. The band explain: “‘Stupid Things’ is a song for daydreamers. It’s about a love that exists outside of reality, it’s a romanticism you’ve created in your own head - but in the real world you have never even spoken to this person you think you know so well. It’s a school crush that feels like it will last forever. And it’s our very own coming of age soundtrack.”

Next on the NME stage were Marmozets - a set we had been looking forward to as had not yet experienced them live and we in no way were we let down in the slightest.

As the opening track 'Move, Shake, Hide' roared out singer Becca's stage presence oozed charisma and attitude in boundless amounts.

As a band made of two sets of siblings they gel well together and there was absolutely no let-up throughout the set by the whole band, their brilliant angsty brand of punk-laden hardcore, went down really well with the crowd.  

With alt-math leanings and raucous guitars underpinned by driving drums, not to mention Becca's incredible talent for switching from vicious gravel to melodic sugar in a split second this was a great show topped off by the ending full of furious energy that is 'Why Do You Hate Me?'.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes gave their usual high energy show with great crowd interaction. Frank did his usual bit encouraging the ladies to crowd surf saying they should feel comfortable and if they had any men giving them trouble he'd "bite their f**king head off and give it to my dog as a chew toy". It is a great sentiment including all the audience and he was clearly humbly proud to be in the influential position he has earned.

Frank dedicated "Lullaby" to his daughter who was watching from side of stage, blowing her kisses and waving throughout the set. With the set ending on the angry and to the point “I hate you” it was an all round highly entertaining and uplifting show.

Next up we headed over to the Festival Republic stage for Canada's Japandroids, check out the pics here!

Saturday's headliner Eminem is consistently seen as one of the greatest rappers of all time, not only a titan in hip-hop but in modern culture itself. One of the biggest selling artists of the 21st century, his razor-sharp wit and impeccable larger than life anthems continue to defy boundaries, with the likes of ‘Lose Yourself’ and ‘My Name Is’ no matter what your core music tastes this was a sight to be seen.

There was plenty of banter, Eminem paused to tell the audience that he was "not going to name names, but I f**king hate Donald Trump" and instigated a massive chant of 'F**k / Trump'. The set also had plenty to look at, visually staged like a massive boom box and with intense burning city projections through 'Lose Yourself'. He ended the set saying "thanks for making us feel at home ... lets end it like this" with both middle fingers held proudly aloft.

Headlining the Festival Republic stage were The Black Lips. From garage punk to fuzzy rock and roll riffs the set was bluesy, psychy with a retro vibe and the highlight for us 'Can't Hold On'. Despite some technical difficulties early on they gave a great performance and left us pepped ready for the final day of the festival.

Reading Festival 2017 - Friday Evening

After our morning of awesomely loud punk noises we continued on with British pop-punkers WSTR in The Pit. 

The quintet played tracks from their 2017 debut ‘Red, Green Or Inbetween’ a highlights were their latest single ‘Eastbound & Down’ and 'Fairweather' where they inspired plenty of sing-a-longs and encapsulated the essence of pop-punk.

 

Switching up the mood we headed off to the Festival Republic Stage for guitar-pop gang The Big Moon

While slower paced than the bands we had seen earlier, there was plenty of attitude oozing from the stage as they played the slick and hooky 'Cupid' and the anthemic 'Sucker', both from their debut album 'Love in the 4th Dimension'.

The set went down really well and if you want to check them out the indie girl gang are also off on an extensive UK tour this September and October.

We wandered back to The Pit for Counterfeit's as we have heard they give a great live show.

Their debut album 'Together We Are Stronger' was released earlier this year and yet they seem more established, tightly executed with great onstage chemistry and frontman Jamie had great audience interaction.

'Enough', 'Romeo' and 'Washed Out' were highlights of the set and the change in pace for the emotional 'Letters To The Lost' was poignant and captivating.

Next up in The Pit we caught Tigers Jaw's folky indie-rock which has a touching purity to it. Sometimes vulnerable, building and falling between pop melodies and heartfelt musings this was a great set.

'I Saw Water' pulls in Brianna's vocals with Ben's for outstanding harmonies between the two expertly using the rise and fall of the music to effect. 

'The Sun' is an upbeat summery tune perfectly place in the set with the rising anthemic lines "what about your friends, do they make you happy?" while 'Plane Vs. Tank Vs. Submarine' showcases Ben's beautifully raw vocal in a folkier stripped back song that still packs a pop hook.

When we arrived over at the Festival Republic stage for Cigarettes After Sex the ambient electro dreamy pop was already floating over the crowd. Their self-titled debut album came out earlier this year and the dreamy-pop set really had a feeling of lazing in bed with a touch of melancholy - beautiful to witness and an ethereal contrast to the raucous bands we saw earlier in the day.

Queens Of The Stone also played a secret set on the NME Stage which was a highlight for many. The set had the classics 'Little Sister' and 'No-one Knows' as well as a couple of tracks from their new album 'Villains' that was released yesterday.

Main Stage headliners for Friday were Kasabian, with several hugely successful albums one after the other and massive sell-out gigs they have gone from dance-rock outsiders to one of the biggest rock bands in the country. Earlier this year they released their new album "For Crying Out Loud" and along with all the classic tracks the set was great entertainment, cementing their headline credentials.

'Fire' was met with flares let off amongst the crowd which was an amazing sight to see. Kasabian are one of the few bands that really translate differently live, the sound was almost more acoustic in feel - the rich textural noise that normally accompanies their music is still there but somehow different in a good way, for example 'Underdog' was more of an epic experience with extended solos and great crowd interaction.

As well as a bit of Daft Punk's 'Around The World' spliced into the set, the Nirvana cover 'All Apologies' was strangely fitting, an acoustically gentle take on the song with sing-a-longs of "in the sun we feel as one" a great choice for what was a scorching day.

Canadian punk rockers Billy Talent headlined The Pit with their upbeat and diverse anthems. 'Rusted From The Rain' was a more plodding grungier sounding track that although ballad-esque still packed a punch.

'Falling Leaves' and 'Red Flag' were always going to be a highlight of the set, the closing track 'Viking Death March' was a frenzied performance delivered with such explosive energy and passion it was a fitting end to our first day.