Tag: music

Foo Fighters at Glastonbury

Did anyone see TV coverage (or live, if you were lucky enough to be there!) of Foo Fighters headlining Glastonbury on Saturday night? After having to bow out at the 11th hour in 2015 when Dave Grohl broke his leg, they made an outstanding appearance on the Pyramid Stage; 2+ hours of some of the best televised live music I have ever seen.

Foo Fighters logo

I’m a big fan of Dave Grohl. I think he comes across as a super nice guy, super fun and mischievous but also very dedicated. I have always said that he’d be on my invite list if I was hosting a celebrity dinner party (you never know, it might happen). But aside from my gooey eyed love for him as a person, he’s obviously incredibly talented and can deliver a tune. I’ve only ever seen Foos once, at the Millenium Dome many years ago, I was right up in the gods, about 3 rows from the very top rear of the venue, but even from there the sound was so good, it was like listening to a CD. The band are incredibly tight, with great energy, and a back catalogue of hits that could have anyone rocking out. Saturday night’s performance was no exception.

Which is why I was incredibly surprised when my work colleague told me that there was a review in the Guardian calling the show mediocre and awarding it only 3 stars out of 5. I was baffled. Had the reviewer watched the same show as me?

You can read the review here.

Pretty much everyone I know who watched it, on TV or in the flesh, said it was incredible. There are only a few people I know, who for some reason have an innate hatred of DG (like, how and why?) who didn’t enthuse about it.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that the reviewer in the Guardian thinks she is too cool to say how bloody brilliant it was, and wants to stand apart from the general admiring populous and score some imaginary hipster points by being negative.

Journalism used to be an admirable career and journalists used to be purveyors of truth. Now it seems that they only write for sensationalism, to attack people’s beliefs and standing in society (Jeremy Corbyn, anyone) or to gain some kind of notoriety. I appreciate that reviews are always subject to personal opinion, and therefore not everyone will agree, but on this one I think Ms Hutchinson is wildly off the mark.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen it, I’d encourage you to watch again on BBC iPlayer and make your own mind up (it’s an amazing set, you can thank me later)

What did you think, if you saw it? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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GIG REVIEW: The Counterfeit Stones

I have mixed feelings about tribute bands. On the one hand I think it’s pretty good that you can go and see a band who look and sound like a real band that you like, but in a cheaper and more accessible way (generally smaller venues and playing more regularly than the originals). On the other hand I’m like “but it’s not the real band and they’re just pretending”. Although that’s what actors do and obviously I’m ok with that.

A dichotomy, no?

What I don’t have mixed feelings about, is how great the Counterfeit Stones were when I saw them on Saturday night!

I’d never heard of them before, but the husband told me they’re classed as one of the best Rolling Stones bands out there and, according to their website, Mick Jagger classes them as “The Most famous Stones band in England” (apart from the originals, obvs!)

“The Counterfeit Stones have successfully toured the globe for nearly twenty years, and during that time have played shows with audience capacities of up to 60,000. Their many fans include Bill Clinton, Prince Edward, Lemmy, Mick Jagger, the Gallagher brothers, Jerry Hall and many many more.”

None too shabby!

Playing all the hits, the ticket was real value for money with two sets of around 45 minutes each. Front man Nick Dagger has the voice, the look and the mannerisms of Mick – he struts, he swaggers and he sounds ridiculously like Jagger himself. Close your eyes and you could be at a Stones gig. Each band member is very tight and plays immensely, which was obviously helped by the really great sound at the venue.

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There’s a comedic element to their performance, with a bit of audience banter and not taking themselves too seriously, certainly enhanced by the terrible wigs worn by “Keith” and “Ronnie” but for a singalong, rousing fun night out, you can’t go wrong! If you like the Rolling Stones and you see these guys advertised at a venue near you, my advice would be to go and have a great time.

I wore my new red velvet paisley flares from Forever 21. Aren’t they great? They got a lot of love!

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Read about the time I went to the Rolling Stones exhibition at the Saatchi gallery here.

What are your thoughts on tribute bands? Yay or nay?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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GIG REVIEW: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown O2 Academy Birmingham

The husband and some friends have been waxing lyrical about this band for a while now, so when we saw they were playing at the O2 Academy in Birmingham we jumped at the chance to go and see them live. They were supporting The Cadillac Three, who held less appeal, but at just £15 a ticket it was still good value.

Weekday gigs are often a bit of a struggle as I have a 30 mile drive home, a portion of which is currently plagued with roadworks and slow traffic, and getting back into the city centre for a support band isn’t easy. At one point it looked like we might miss them, but fortuitously their stage time was later than we expected and we got to see the entirety of their set.

Wow. What a great great band. From Nashville, they play Bluesy Southern rock with meaty bass guitar and chunky drums. The eponymous front man, Tyler, is full of energy, charm and swagger, plays guitar like a demon and looks like he’s just stepped out of the late 60s. At just 25 years old he’s already had a lot of exposure and acclaim from a young age, and the band have opened for rock legends like Aerosmith, AC/DC and ZZ Top. His steel guitar playing was outstanding and vocally he’s raspy, gritty and growly – like a rock and roll singer should be.

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Musically there’s a lot of 60s and 70s influences too, and a touch of country alongside good old rock n roll. Special mention to Caleb Crosby who’s drum solo at the front of the stage towards the end was as exhilarating for the audience as it must have been exhausting for him.

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Humble, gracious and polite (thanking the crowd for spending their money and supporting live music, praising the venue and the audience) it was all together an outstanding gig experience. A really cool band, with charisma for days, who I’ll most definitely be checking out again.

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As a footnote, headliners The Cadillac Three didn’t ding our dong. We hung around for a couple of songs but they’re so Southern that the song lyrics were unintelligible and they came across as a bit of a bad parody. Sorry guys! On the plus side this meant that I was at home in pyjamas by 10pm! Rock n fuckin’ roll!

If anyone has any suggestions of bands I should be checking out, let me know!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this live video so you can judge for yourself.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Happy Birthday Freddie Mercury

Today would have been Freddie Mercury’s 70th birthday.

Freddie Mercury

Wow. It’s hard to imagine the flamboyant exuberant performer as a man of 70. I hope he’d still be wearing sparkles and fur and playing up to the crowds. I hope he’d still be touring with Queen. I hope I would have got to see him, at least once.

I was only a teenager when he died, and was very very moved and upset. I’d grown up listening to 80s Queen in my Dad’s car – it was part of the soundtrack to my childhood. Seeing him so poorly, so frail, so unrecognisable in the last video for “These Are The Days Of Our Lives” was so sad. HIV and AIDS was still a fairly unknown and uncommon disease at the time, and unfortunately was a death sentence. But he was a performer right to the very end.

When Queen announced a tour with Adam Lambert as the front man, I knew I had to go. A lot of die hard fans were up in arms, and didn’t agree with another singer. And of course I, and any Queen fan, would have preferred to see the band in full, with Freddie at the helm. But with that not being an option, I still wanted to soak up the songs I’d grown up with in a concert setting.

It was an outstanding gig. Adam Lambert is a more than worthy front man – theatrical, camp, full of energy and with an amazing voice. I read an interview with Brian May where he said that Adam could reach some notes that even Freddie couldn’t reach live, and that he’d hate him a little bit for it! But it’s important to note that that Adam wasn’t trying to replace Freddie, and neither were the band. They toured as Queen with Adam Lambert.

There were homages to Freddie during the show and a fantastic segment where Freddie was shown singing and Brian played the guitar alongside him.

Freddie Mercury is irreplaceable. The band knew that, Adam Lambert knew that and the audience knew that. But the chance for a legion of newer – and older – fans to enjoy the music and the performance was a great one.

So Farrokh Bulsara, I hope you’re enjoying your party in the sky, and rocking out hard.

Have you ever seen Queen live? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Gig review – Biters in Wolverhampton

Sometimes a band comes along that you’re genuinely excited about – that you’re grabbed by right from the off. For me, this year, that band is the Biters.

Biters

I’ve only been aware of them for a couple of months (although they’ve been around for a while), but their current album – Electric Blood – is everything a rock ‘n’ roll album should be, and more.

So I was very excited to hear they were touring.

Biters tour

Less excited when I found out it was on a Wednesday, in Wolverhampton.

a) Wednesday – well, say no more. School night. No drinking or partying or really throwing yourself into the occasion because you have work the next day (not that I need a drink to have a good time, but y’know).

b) Wolverhampton. Despite it’s pretty close vicinity to Birmingham, it’s a bit of a ballache to get to.

There’s also the small matter that it was less than two days til our holiday, nothing was packed and some of it wasn’t even washed yet.

But still.

Husband has this band ticked for good things, and I had a heavy sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) so we said “fuck it” to the practicalities, and off we trundled.

The Slade Rooms is a great venue – a big wide stage so you can see plenty of what’s going on, a good size gig room, ace sound and a big bar too. My favourite of the Wolverhampton venues I think – much more geared up towards a rock gig than, say, the Wulfrun or Civic Hall.

We weren’t bothered about seeing the support band, as is often the case, but arrived in time to catch them. And am I glad we did! Shock Hazard are a 3 piece from Norwich and they were great! The singer played lead guitar like he was in a full house at Wembley – a great frontman throwing himself around the stage, getting into the audience and, at one point, climbing up to the top of two big stacked amps (I actually said out loud “this isn’t going to end well” which probably wasn’t the reaction he wanted!) The band themselves look pretty mis-matched; a curly haired crazy rock god in the making, the bassist who looked like he’d be better suited in This is England 90, and the drummer who was so skinny he barely looked capable of lifting the sticks. But together they were amazing – tight, loud, fun to watch. It was a great opener.

And then came The Biters. They didn’t disappoint. Right from the off they kicked ass. Musically brilliant, vocally brilliant – loved them. 4 guys from Atlanta Georgia, this was their debut UK tour and I really felt for them – they deserved better. Wolvo on a Wednesday night is not going to go crazy, regardless of how fantastic you are (they were) and they deserved a bigger, better crowd. The front man actually said at one point “what do I need to do to get you guys going?” But what they were doing was just fine by me. Guitar riffs with a 70s flavour, singalong chorus’ and the kind of drums and bass that you can’t help but stomp along to. Singer and guitar player Tuk has the coolest style – all punky hair and skinny jeans and he’s a funny guy too; interspersing their songs with tales from the tour and home, and having some fun with members of the audience. But the music was the absolute star of the show, as it should be.

Highlights of the night for me were 1975 and Low Lives in Hi Definition, but really it would be wrong to put them out their as favourites because everything was so freakin’ good!

At times sounding like Thin Lizzy (never a bad thing!) with a distinctive vocal that makes them instantly recognisable, their songs are varied in tempo and style, but all with that inimitable 70s rock ‘n’ roll attitude that to me embodies all that I like about rock music.

If they do get as big as husband predicts, I’ll be honoured to say I saw them in a small venue in Wolvo on a Wednesday night.

But next time, if they could play a weekend date, the crowd might actually engage and show them just how great they really are!

Stupidly, I deleted all my pics (noooooo!) so here’s one courtesy of the husband.

Biters singer

And here is “Low Lives in Hi Definition”

Check ’em out!

 

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Gig review – The Amorettes and Danko Jones at the Key Club in Leeds

We’re quite a fan of road trips to see bands we like and would generally rather travel to a weekend gig than do a mid week gig closer to home.

Which is how we found ourselves in Leeds on Saturday to see Danko Jones.

I was first introduced to the band by the husband (no surprise there!), about 5 or 6 years ago. They’re punky, funky, loud and in your face with great riffs and brash singalong lyrics but we’d never yet seen them live. So when they announced a UK tour, we were all over it.

Common sense would have been to go to the Wolverhampton date, but that was on a school night, and where’s the fun in that?

The Key Club was a great venue – small, intimate, dark, with great sound and a cheap bar! Seriously though, the sound quality and volume was very very good.

Support band The Amorettes are an all girl group that I wasn’t familiar with. They were pretty good – musically tight and full of attitude. For me it was spoilt by the fact that the lead singer delivered all her segues between songs in an OTT fake American accent. Why? You’re from Scotland! I hate fakery, and I hate it when bands feel they have to sound American to fit in. It completely undermines and spoils the rest of the performance for me.

And, in truth (which isn’t their fault) I was only really interested in the main band. Who did not disappoint!

One word.

Wow.

They literally blew me away. Right from the first chord the energy was incredible. Vocally, lead singer Danko is strong, raw and full of passion. Musically, for just three people, they make a hell of a lot of noise! It was like listening to the CD. Stand outs for me were “Legs” and “Do You Wanna Rock” (there aren’t many rock songs with cowbells in!)

Danko Jones Key Club Leeds

Disappointed to not hear “I Think Bad Thoughts” which was the original song that got me into them (and is probably my favourite) but that’s a very weak complaint in what was an incredible set, performance and night.

I already can’t wait to see them again – come back soon!

And, because I missed it, here is “I Think Bad Thoughts”

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Moseley Folk Festival

Once again this weekend our beloved village was home to a 3 day festival; bringing bands, bars and brightness to the park.

You may recall I blogged about the previous one – Jazz, Funk and Soul, back in July.

This time it was the turn of the Folk Festival which, over the years, has become less about just folk. Gaz Coombes of SuperGrass played and Sunday night was headlined by The Monkees!

I honestly can’t comment on the music, as it was just a backdrop to a wonderful couple of days in magical surroundings. We were blessed with gorgeous weather on Sunday and it totally made it; chilling out on picnic blankets with friends drinking lots of pink wine and soaking up the late summer sun.

Here it is in pictures – we didn’t head down until early evening on Saturday.

 

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Moseley folk festival bar

Beer barrels

Festival merch

Remember I said on my Hat-urday post that I barely wear my 70s floppy hat? I put that right!

70s floppy hat

Lots of face painting and people looking pretty (I did ask these people if I could share their photographs!)

Face painting menu

Face painted Dad and Daughter

Face painted man

Sunday was nice enough for me to bust out another hat I haven’t worn yet – the straw cowboy one.

Straw cowboy hat selfie

The entrance to the park is so green and secluded; you’d never know it was just off the main road.

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Entry to Moseley Park

I drank a lot of wine.

Rose wine

Accosted a Morris Dancer for photographs (and swapped hats with him!)

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Morris dancer

Morris dancer and me

Had to have a little lie down on the blanket (I blame the wine)

Mirror shades selfie

Look at the weather – just gorgeous!

Moseley Park trees

Got my face painted.

Me facepaint

What a fabulous time we had!

Moseley Folk Festival

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Deprived of Dave and the Foos Crew

So the Foo Fighters have cancelled the rest of their European tour, including Saturday’s Wembley gig which I have tickets for. I kind of have mixed feelings. Obviously I’m gutted not to be seeing them – it was going to be a great day out, hopefully in the sun, with friends. The support acts of Iggy Pop and Royal Blood were bands I was really looking forward to seeing (having never seen either before). I’ve never been to a gig at Wembley, and the only time I’ve ever seen the Foos I was up in the gods at the O2 arena – literally 2 rows from the very very back, so I was looking forward to getting more up close and personal. BUT Dave Grohl is a performer, a rockstar, and delivering a set from the confines of a wheelchair just isn’t him. He wouldn’t be enjoying it, the crowd wouldn’t enjoy it as much (despite what people are saying) and the band wouldn’t have that same interaction. Plus, Dave’s future health and wellbeing has to be priority. No point struggling on and doing himself more damage.

I think that cancelling all of the UK dates is the right thing to do. He couldn’t pick and choose one or two.

Being as I currently still feel rough post-Download (whether I actually have a touch of illness or the worst hangover ever isn’t clear, although lack of appetite suggests the former, as I’m usually ALWAYS hungry!) it’s not the end of the world for me (remind me of that on Saturday!). The thought of a lie in at the weekend is all that’s keeping me going, and it also means I get to spend Father’s Day on Sunday with my Dad. Financially I could do without the spends, as Download was very expensive. At least I’m not out of pocket. The hotel we had booked has a 24 hour cancellation fee, and a friend of ours was driving, so no train tickets booked. I might have had a very different opinion if it was going to cost me money!

I’m sure the dates will be rearranged, rather than completely cancelled, and I can only hope that the support acts can still support, and it’s still a Saturday and I can still make it. We’ll see what happens. Perhaps I was optimistic thinking I could do two weekends in a row. I’ll be even more excited by the time they do reschedule!

Meanwhile I have a sneaking suspicion that Foos will headline Download next year (and I may have already booked a hotel, because I had so much fun this year!)

Yet again proving himself to be the nicest man in rock, here was Dave’s message to the fans (accessed by clicking on the “broken heart” on a picture of Operation).

Dave Grohl cancels Foos tour

“Hey everyone….

Your old pal, Dave here. Been a while, eh? It’s been one hell of a year, that’s for sure. Looks like we’ve got some serious catching up to do! Hmmm, let’s see…..where do I begin?

Drumroll, please….

The funniest thing happened to me the other day in Sweden!

Two songs into our set at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, I made a mad dash to the right of the stage during MONKEY WRENCH to shred some tasty licks for the kids up front. It was a beautiful night, beautiful stadium, 52,000 screaming people….dream gig! Well….wait for it….I definitely shredded something (ZING!) Wound up feet first over the Edge (pun intended), dropping about 12 feet, dislocating my ankle and snapping my fibula like an old pair of take out chopsticks. Whoopsie daisy. Not good. Without realizing the extent of my injuries, I stood up to get back onstage and crumbled like a sack of Joe Theismanns (look it up, kiddies). That shit was B-R-O-K-E.

As I lay there on my back, I just thought, “Are you kidding me? We haven’t even gotten to the screamy bit of the song and the gig is fucking OVER?” So, I asked for a microphone and told the audience I’d get fixed up and come right back to finish the show ASAP. Shock? Probably. But, I couldn’t stand the thought of such a perfect night going to waste! I looked at our drummer Taylor and said, “Bust out some Chevy Metal covers while they fix me up!” So, as the band kicked in to “Stay With Me” by The Faces, the medics poured me onto a stretcher, took me off to the side, cut my favorite pants off (so bummed) and popped my ankle back into place. I asked if I could get back onstage to finish the show, but they said I needed a cast (which was 20 minutes away at the hospital) to hold my ankle in place. So I looked my EMT, Johan in the eyes and said “Well, then you’re coming up there with me right now and holding it in place until they can bring the cast here. Ready?” He stared at me wide-eyed for a second and said, “OK, lets’ go…”

I don’t know who was more scared, me or Johan. 5 minutes later, I don’t know who was having more fun, me or Johan. (I actually looked at him in between songs and said “This is pretty fun, isn’t it?” He smiled and nodded yes.)

Like clockwork, the cast arrived, I walked offstage for a song or two as they put it on me, and then came back to finish the gig. Let’s just say that singing our song “Walk” with a straight face was pretty goddamned hard. “These Days” was a good one, too. (Easy for you to say! Your leg has never been broken!) All in all, it was without a doubt the single most bizarre Foo Fighters show in the entire 20 years of being a band. Hands down. What seemed like a tragedy at first turned into a triumph, and we all walked away with a new sense of appreciation for what we’ve got…

Straight to the hospital for x-rays, where we finally saw the extent of the damage. That’s when things got really real. I was told I needed surgery to fix the break. I decided to fly back to London and find a doctor that could see me ASAP. (Thanks for the recommendation, Paul!) An MRI and a few x-rays later, we set a date and prepared for the operation.

Operation went well. Had a great team and nice stay in hospital. Good curry, too! Thank you to everyone involved.

So….here I am, recovering with 6 metal screws in my leg, thinking about a lifetime of holding up TSA lines from here to Kalamazoo….damn.

Here’s the not so witty bit…….My doctors have advised me to lay low for a while. The most important thing now is for me to recover from the surgery, to keep my leg elevated so as to keep swelling down and prevent any infection/complication that could do long term damage. I’m not out of the woods yet, folks…

Which means, and it kills me to say it…..the doctors have told us to cancel shows. I’m really so sorry, guys. You know I hate to do it, but I’m afraid it’s just not physically possible for me at the moment. We’re doing our best right now to work out a plan, so bear with us. You know we’re good for our word. But for now, I need to make sure we have YEARS of gigs ahead of us….

You have always stood by our band, and we will always stand by you. Like I say at every show, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you guys. And I mean that. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I will do everything I can to come back and give you a night to remember for the rest of your lives AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Until then…my sincerest apologies.

Your friend, Dave”

You can’t be mad about that. Well, you can, but a) it would be pointless, and b) he’s hardly done it on purpose!

Let’s have some cool pics of Dave and the band to finish off with.

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Foo-Fighters-Logo

I say “GET WELL DAVE!”

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Download festival (in the rain)

My worst fear about going to a festival is rain. And mud. And basically all of the associated icky, cold, not fun, wet parts of bad weather. It’s hard to get excited about anything in the rain.

Last year at Download it was glorious. Which made sitting around, watching bands, having drinks and chilling out on the grass all lovely and nice and how summer should be.

This year I was determined to remain optimistic in the face of adversity – despite all of the weather reports that were saying otherwise, I was sure it wouldn’t rain. At most it might be cool and, even if there were showers, it had been so dry in the lead up that the rain would just drain away.

Wrong. The heavens opened on Friday night like someone had turned a tap on. It bucketed down! And by Saturday the whole of Download was churned up into a big squelchy muddy field.

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I learnt some stuff this weekend. I learnt that wellies are much more comfortable than I ever remembered (I haven’t had any since I was about 8). I also learnt that it’s kind of fun splashing around in puddles when you know you’re protected. I learnt that paying £100 extra for a guest area pass is most definitely worth it if you want to sit down under cover and not queue ages for a stinky muddy toilet (although I seriously hope the drinking water and toilet water came from separate sources!)

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The lesson that jagerbombs and Sambuca shots will lead to a whole body hangover that lasts almost as long as the festival was a harder one to handle.

Jagerbombs

Most of all, I had fun. The kind of fun that makes your sides hurt with laughter. The kind of fun that you only truly have when everyone is on the same wavelength. Daft fun, sing-a-long fun, screaming til you start to lose your voice fun.

Me at Download

I didn’t see as many bands as I expected to, which was partly due to the weather (we had to abandon Judas Priest and missed all of Slipknot on Friday) but also partly because Download is about more than that. It’s about catching up with friends, hanging out, talking crap and soaking up life. Also because it was always mainly about the Sunday line up, for us, and we knew that’s when we would find a spot and barely move.

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Friday started off badly due to poor organisation – collecting our wristbands took 2 hours this year, when last year it had only taken 10 minutes. The set up just wasn’t equipped to deal with the number of people and the process (the festival organisers had introduced a cashless system this year which meant that each wristband had to be uploaded with the pre-paid cash on arrival and there was one person at one computer doing it). We missed a couple of bands as a result just catching the end of Lacuna Coil.

Marilyn Manson on Saturday was as weirdly brilliant as ever (although I’m hearing conflicting stories that he was terrible, so maybe I was really drunk!)

Our Sunday started with Backyard Babies on Stage 2 – kicking off with their new song and delivering a corking set. Billy Idol was brilliant (and looking fab; my childhood crush doesn’t abate!) Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators was as cool as expected (throwing in a couple of GnR classics too – brilliant!) Motley Crue delivered the goods more so than expected considering the car crash from Sweden Rocks the week before and the stage show and pyro made up for Vince’s missing vocals.

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Kiss were a blast of noise and fire and make up and everything you would expect – sounding and looking great.

What I will say for Download is that it’s an incredibly friendly festival. No attitude, no trouble – just like minded people with no alternative agenda enjoying themselves and throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the action. And fair play to the organisers for having a shedload of hay on hand to try and make up for the mud – it certainly helped! In spite of the fact I originally said I wouldn’t be going next year, there’s a very real chance that in 365 days I’ll be rounding up my 2016 highlights – hopefully with less hangover.

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Hey, Ho – Let’s Go! A review of Richie Ramone at The Oobleck, Birmingham

Here’s a funny story about The Ramones (actually it’s mainly about me).

Up until about 10 years ago I’d never heard of The Ramones. Sure, I knew some of their songs (Baby I Love You, Blitzkreig Bop – which I actually thought was called “Hey Ho, Let’s Go” until last night) but I didn’t know who sang them. I certainly didn’t know they were an iconic group with a cult following. So much so, that when Ramones t-shirts started appearing in High Street fashion stores like Primark about 12 years ago, I actually thought they were a new band…

Fast forward to the present day, and years of musical education and appreciation mean I know a lot more now than I did back then. I know, for example, that there are no surviving members of the original group. I know that Richie was the drummer from 1983 and also wrote some of the songs. And I also know, thanks to the power of Youtube, that his solo album is an absolute corker.

Which is why I found myself at new-ish Birmingham venue The Oobleck at the Custard Factory in Digbeth last night. The Oobleck and Alfie Birds are sister venues – the former being the gig space and the latter being the bar/food area (although they do also have bands playing upstairs sometimes).

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Together they used to be the Medicine Bar, legendary for dance music all nighters and world famous DJs, but that incarnation came to an end around 10 years ago. Sometimes, they used to drain the pool on big event nights. I thought the floating lilies were a nice touch.

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The Oobleck/Alfie Birds has just celebrated it’s first birthday, but this is the first time I’ve been to the gig space.

Starting with a (very) brief mention of the second support band – Venrez. They’re just alright. Bit of an Alice in Chains vibe going on musically, but a poor man’s version. I’ve actually seen them supporting other bands before, about 18 months ago, and the best I can say about them is that they sounded better this time around. But the singer has no charisma or stage presence, and is also a pretty unpleasant dude – on the wrong side of arrogant and cocky when he really has no cause to be.

Having already proven myself to have no musical qualifications to even justify talking about anything Ramone-ish, here goes.

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Wow (profound, I know). Richie loped onto the stage with menace; he’s a hulk of a man in the height department with the shoulder width of two men.

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Splitting his time between vocals and drums he never missed a note or a beat – snarling and growling out the songs with real punk passion. He has a great voice, wasted purely as a drummer, so it was great to see him front of stage, engaging with the crowd, telling everyone to come forward to the barrier and reaching out to them. His drumming, too, was amazing (as you’d expect) – really passionate and loud and noisy and energetic. Because the focus was on him, the kit was further towards the front of the stage than is usual at a gig, which gave a great opportunity to properly watch his performance. His energy never faltered from beginning to end.

Lead guitarist Alex Kane, who I’m told is something of a legend who has worked with a multitude of the greats including Slash and Alice Cooper, was really fun to watch.

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Jumping about like a lunatic, crazy blond and black hair flying, he thrashed his guitar like he was trying to pull the strings off – darting around the stage, playing up to the crowd, posing for great camera shots and basically loving every minute. His lust for the performance really came through and he looked like he was having an amazing time, as well as banging out riffs like it was the last gig of his life.

Clare Misstake – bassist and all round cool mo’fo’ – skinny as a rake, shaved side of head and a glow in the dark quiff at the front of her ponytail, wow was she into it or what? Counting in at the start of each song, her vocals were strong and fearsome and her dexterity with the bass was amazing. Such punk attitude and delivery, she was great to watch.

Finally, Ben Reagan on rhythm guitar and drums (I had to Google him – he was at the other side of the stage and much less visible, both in terms of distance and presence, than the rest of the band) but, needless to say, when Richie was doing vocals only, Ben’s drumming was superb, the passion and pace never faltered.

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It’s fair to say I enjoyed the gig massively – I don’t have the fancy words and eloquent review patter to articulate just how good the music was. A combination of Ramones songs and Richie’s own stuff, it was superb from beginning to end. I didn’t stand still for the whole time and was left wanting more (the only criticism is that the set felt too short and there was no encore, but that’s just me being greedy!)

It may only be May, but it’s already a contender for gig of the year.

Here’s a taster from his current album.

How I wish I was seeing more dates (or going to Camden Rocks this weekend, where Richie, Ginger Wildheart and so many others are playing).

Check out more about Richie on his website http://www.richieramone.com/

Quick word about the Oobleck – the venue space has that urban gritty feel – nothing shiny or fancy about it – which I quite like in a gig venue, and the toilets are unisex (just FYI).

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The sound was very good; no complaints there, but the lighting was AWFUL (a photographer friend of mine who was getting some shots said the same) and what was with all the smoke? Way too much, obscured the view of the stage (you can get a feel for it by the clarity of my photos and I was right at the front!), and made the place smell like a 90s nightclub. Sort it out!

(On the plus side the drinks prices are good – £3.50 for a pint, £3.50 for a vodka and mixer).

Oh, and it has made me realise that I definitely want to go and try some food at Alfie Birds next door – menu looked fab! Review to follow as and when!

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