Archive for the ‘Rock Live’ Category

I went to go see the  Scottish Indie rock band The Fratellis last night at Manchester Academy 2, on Monday 16th November 2015. It’s the second time I’ve caught the band live, a band I’ve been a fan of for almost a decade now. Some people sometimes seem to think of them as a one hit wonder since ‘Chelsea Dagger’ is so disproportionately more famous than any of their other singles (man, ‘Misteress Mable’ isn’t in adverts for beer or cars every year, is it?) but these hard working, consistent and very talented guys are far from one hit wonders, and each and every one of their albums has had a good chance of being my album of the year for that year.

I went to see them with my girlfriend, they’re one of the bands that we both enjoy, and had a lot better time than the last time I saw them because I didn’t have some weird 11 year old girl making fun of me for not looking happy enough this time, this time I looked very happy. We did have hooligans bouncing around drunkenly, almost squishing my girlfriend (it was one of the more violent shows I’ve been to with a non-Metal band) and causing me to buckle down and get the elbows out entering human shield mode (hey, good job I’m tall and into lifting) every time they played something off of their debut album Costello Music that caused the crowd to get overly active. It was quite a workout stopping and reversing the human tide over and over again, but very satisfying in a certain caveman-mind me-tarzan way.

The support band was The Crookes who were a similar sort of band, and very passionate and talented and seemed very good. There were two or three songs that got me thinking maybe I’ll check out their albums. I’d recommend them if you like this sort of music.

When The Fratellis hit the stage it was joyous, very fun indeed. They did a pretty representative set with a good mixture from all albums, not overlooking anything and giving particular focus to their debut which is reaching nostalgia age and their new album which they’re clearly proud of and into and it really shows. It was nice to see songs like ‘A Heady Tale’ and ‘Until She Saves My Soul’ from the middle two albums (my favourite two, personally) balanced against the obvious choices like ‘Henrietta’ and current single ‘Imposters (Little By Little).’

What I love about this band, and why I can listen to them when most indie bands don’t do much for me, is because they are such true musicians and so clearly love what they do and are grateful for any success. Its cool how much they’re doing it for themselves to… improvised guitar solos recalling Hendrix and Gilmour that have nothing to do with the albums just because it felt fun to play right now, changing up massive much loved songs like ‘Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night’ and more recent material like ‘We Need Medicine’ into a country music vein just because it would be fun… and when they play ‘Doginabag’ they played it with a swerve big stoner rock vibe you’d expect from Down or C.O.C, because clearly they’re just so into it. Surprise stand-out moment for me was a track from the new album, called ‘Me And The Devil’ which they just stormed out with this massive power you wouldn’t expect, huuuuuuge drums that sincerely recalled Bonham, with the lighting and the dynamics in volume and the energy in the room it was genuinely one of the best moments I’ve ever witnessed from a live band, and it wasn’t even one of my favourite songs from the new album before this. It was so stupidly good live… I can’t even explain how massive it was. The drummer, Mince Fratellis, hits so hard, so confidently and with such enthusiasm (well, what do you expect from a guy with massive Slayer and Metallica tattoos on each arm) that he really transcends the sort of radio indie thing… the guys a real artist. It’s a shame that the albums don’t convey the sheer umph (if they did though, the ‘normal people’ wouldn’t buy them though) because I’d love to drop some links to demonstrate what I mean… but you know that feeling when you see someone playing at the very edge of their limits and then just throwing in extra fills or cymbals and actually going past their own limits and it just creates a drive and power that is magical and better than precision… the power of hardcore punk without the sloppiness. Oh, its hard to describe… but I was transfixed. The effortlessly cool Jon and Barry are two of the most captivating guys in this genre, and I still barely looked at them all night… a touch of the Garry Powel or Matt Helders effect going on there… all eyes on the dynamo behind the kit! I don’t care what NME magazine might say.

Yes, a very good night, its brilliant when you can come home from seeing hit after hit after hit and still go, “hold on, they didn’t’ even play ‘Creepin Up The Back Stairs’ or ‘Mistress Mable’ or whatever other famous single” and leave completely and utterly satisfied. Deep cuts, new stuff, re-arranged classics,  tons of hits, and after ‘Chelsea Dagger’ had finished they didn’t even leave, but stayed to drop a surprise extra Dion cover… because I guess they’re musicians who like music and it just felt fun to them to do so…

What a band. I wish their audience was less of the hooligans and normals, but then I get squashed at Machine Head and Lamb Of God shows too, so I can’t blame it all on them being indie. Anyway, if you don’t know this band check em out (my favourite songs are ‘This Old Ghost Town’ and ‘My Friend John’ so I’d recommend those as your first entry point) and if you do like them, catch them live because they absolutely smash it!

Chances are, that if you listen to Rock or Metal music, you’ll have come across the idea of the seminal, incendiary live album. An album that just absolutely scorches, and where the versions of the songs are heavier, bigger and more bombastic than their studio counterparts.

After about a year, or two years at the most, nobody needs to be told to check out Live And Dangerous, Live At Leeds, Live Killers, Live After Death, Alive, Alive II, Unleashed In The East, No Sleep Till Hammersmith, Made In Japan, Playing The Fool or 101 Proof Live.

The following is a list of albums that are every bit as good as those, but for whatever reason aren’t just quite as famous. If you like Rock or Metal music at all, of course you should pick up those aforementioned records, but you also should get yourself a copy of these:

Live

1. Jethro Tull – Bursting Out: This album sees Jethro Tull touring Heavy Horses, with a really powerful performance, witty stage banter, and a phenomenal set list. They manage to mix in a few acoustic numbers without killing the energy and have a drum solo that isn’t boring (an absolute miracle as far as live albums go). The songs are so much bigger and heavier than their album counterparts; hear how ‘Sweet Dream’ absolutely comes to life. The version of ‘Thick As A Brick’ on here is indescribably brilliant. This record mixes up tracks from many different Tull eras and makes them sound cohesive and related.Material from Stand Up sits proudly beside material from Songs From The Woods and sounds absolutely natural in so doing, all owing to the fact that the band are absolutely on fire, and deliver the material so well. As far as live albums go, this is hands down one of the best ever to be released. In Fact; Not only is this a brilliant live album, or a brilliant Tull album, its one of the best albums ever released. If you haven’t got it I’d strongly urge you to find out what you’re missing.

Live

2. King Crimson – USA: This is an absolute rager of an album, the performances are out of this world. The setlist pulls together some of the absolute best tracks from the Wetton period, and adds ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ in there too for good measure. If you haven’t explored the band any further than In The Court Of The Crimson King yet, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of this. Prepare to have your hair blown back.

Live

3. Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More From The Road: Quite how this album isn’t the most famous Skynyrd release really is beyond me. This album is absolutely fantatic. So much energy. There’s not one song on here that’s better in the studio. This takes every Skynyrd track worth thinking about from the first four albums and makes them faster, heavier and better. There’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ ‘Tuesdays Gone’ and ‘Free Bird’ for the casual fans, and just about every gem going for the rest of you. The version of ‘Travelin Man’ on here is quite possibly the best thing that Skynyrd ever recorded. Instead of buying a greatest hits, buy this.

Live

4. Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Live: This is a recent addition to the list. I only got into Saxon last April after being a bit skeptical of them. I’ve been listening to the first six studio albums a lot since then, but it took me a while to realize that this live album which I got as part of the same boxset I got all those records in existed, and was worth listening to. Not only is it worth listening to though, its absolutely brilliant. I don’t know why people don’t talk about this more often. It contains absolutely all the best songs from Saxon’s best three albums, performed with power and precision. Long story short, you listen to this and you’ll walk away thinking Saxon are brilliant. If you only buy one Saxon album, it should be this one. The only thing I would say about this album at all is that it doesn’t have the song “Denim And Leather” on it, although I fixed that for myself in iTunes by moving the live bonus track of it from The Crusader over to the end of this. If you ever wonder why Saxon were considered equals to Maiden and Motorhead at one stage, listen to this and you’ll see why. All of their best stuff with none of the filler, great solos, great riffs, an appreciative audience and a killer performance. You can’t beat it.

Live

5. Marilyn Manson – The Last Tour On Earth: I think you’ve gathered the idea of this list by now. Consequently, you’ll probably understand that if its included here, then The Last Tour On Earth is an absolutely cracking live album, that takes the best songs available at the time it was recorded, and makes them even better. John 5 really adds extra style and class to the material. The whole thing just absolutely jumps out of the speakers. No fan should be without this.

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6. Foghat – Live: I think I might go so far as to say that this is all you really need from Foghat. They had some great songs but the albums were often a bit hit and miss, you’d get one or two absolute ragers on an album, then the rest would just be “OK.” There’s none of that here though. This takes six of their ever best tracks and delivers them in a really energetic, exciting way. The musicianship is absolutely stellar. If you like guitar solos then this is definitely an album for you. In fact, if you like Classic Rock at all you really should give this album a try.

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7. Biohazard – No Holds Barred: Everything that I just said about Saxon’s album; that all goes for this too. No Hold Barred is all of the band’s best songs at the time of recording, played hard and with passion, to an audience that gives a crap. Its one of those albums that makes you feel like you’re at the concert. Anytime you forget how good Biohazard are, or any time that you start to think that the rapping is a bit much, a bit cheesy or whatever… this album shows you just what a serious, creative and powerful band Biohazard are. The recording quality isn’t the best (due to the band’s strict no-overdudbs policy) but the passion and umph more than make up for that.

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8. Blackfoot – Highway Song Live: Blackfoot in my opinion are what you would get if you crossed 70s Judas Priest with Lynyrd Skynyrd, and then made it twice as fun. This album captures them at the absolute height of the powers, with a setlist comprised mostly of their best material, absolutely smashing it. Its loud, raucous and its very, very fun.Its hard to hear something like ‘Good Morning’ without breaking out into a giant grin. Every song on here has that effect, Ricky Medlocke really knows how to force you to have a good time. If you like Blackfoot its mandatory listening and if you haven’t tried them yet, you should give this a shot. Its a fine, fine introduction.

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9. Machine Head – Hellalvie: This album may have been released as a contractual obligation; there might be a few cover songs that the band played live removed from the album to save money, two of the songs may be taken from a different show and the setlist may contain more music from the controversial Burning Red and Supercharger albums than a few fans might care for, but do you know what? This album is absolute solid gold. There is such a brilliant energy and power to this performance. Tracks like ‘Nothing Left’ and ‘Supercharger’ are a thousand times better live than their studio counterparts, and the songs from the first two albums crush just as hard. Don’t be too proud to give this album a chance or else you’re missing out big time, because its an absolute gem.

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10. Led Zeppelin – How The West Was Won: Don’t be put off this because it was released so long after it was recorded. Don’t worry about things like “nostalgia” or “cash in.” Just listen to the version of ‘Immigrant Song’ and ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ and be absolutely decimated by some of the best live performances anyone has ever captured on tape. As a gigantic, triple album taken from different concerts you’d think it might be a bit bloated and bitty, put it really works. I have to admit that if I’m listening to it, I’ll give the gigantic Drum Solo and Guitar solo a miss, but when the songs are being played, this is one of the best records on the market, period.

Anathema – Universal Blu Ray

Universal is a concert recording by the British band Anathema, released in 2013 on K Scope records. The concert was shot in support of the band’s Weather Systems album at the Ancient Theatre of Phillipopolis, Bulgaria on the 22nd of September featuring the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert was shot while the band were in support of their Weather Systems album from 2012 and their setlist draws heavily from both it, and the previous two full-length studio albums We’re Here Because We’re Here and A Natural Disaster.

The performance is of a very high quality, delivering equally well on the energetic sections of songs, and the shimmering, beautiful quiet sections. The astounding vocal trio of Vincent Cavanagh, Daniel Cavanagh and Lee Douglas, both blend and then contrast their vocal styles to great effect, the rest of the musicians deliver everything with both precision and passion and the Orchestra provide colour and texture, really filling out the sound.

The mixing job is pretty much perfect and all the instruments are arguably balanced as well as they would be on a studio album, with only the added humanity felt in the vocal and drumming performances giving away that it’s a live affair.

The visuals are great, with a tasteful stage show in the beautiful ancient theatre, a subtle light show and the Orchestra to draw your eye when the band aren’t moving much. The camera work and editing is slow and musician-friendly, letting you get a good look at what people are playing rather than zooming frantically from one shot to another every second.

The track listing for the main show is as follows: ‘Untouchable Parts 1&2,’ ‘Thin Air,’ ‘Dreaming Light,’ ‘Lightning Song,’ ‘The Storm Before The Calm,’ ‘Everything,’ ‘A Simple Mistake,’ ‘The Beginning And The End,’ ‘Universal,’ ‘Closer,’ ‘A Natural Disaster,’ ‘Deep,’ ‘One Last Goodbye,’ ‘Flying,’ ‘Fragile Dreams,’ ‘Panic,’ ‘Emotional Winter/Wings Of God,’ ‘Internal Landscapes’ ‘Fragile Dreams (Reprise)’

The bonus feature included is a set of five tracks taken from the stripped down, A Night At The Union Chapel concert, the track listing for which is as follows: ‘Kingdom’ ‘Thin Air’ ‘Angels Walk Among Us’ ‘A Natural Disaster’ ‘Fragile Dreams.’ This feature is similarly well recorded, mixed and edited and no simple throw-away. There are some tracks repeated from the main feature, but their alternative, more unplugged (not completely, but close) style makes it worth having both versions.

The Blu-Ray comes in a slim case with a booklet full of photos and the credits. The visuals are NTSC. The main menu only features play and track selection options, and there are no alternative audio (or subtitle) options which may upset some viewers, however I personally was incredibly happy with the audio provided as standard. There are other editions available, for example on Burning Shed with more extensive features, such as a CD of the audio, but as a cheap and simple version of the main concert, this edition certainly delivers it.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with this well made and well performed, good looking and good sounding Blu-Ray Anathema concert, and as long as you like the band and don’t have an issue with the lack of audio options, or the setlist, then I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Motörhead - The Wörld Is Ours - Vol 2 Anyplace Crazy As Anywhere Else Blu-Ray

Motörhead – The Wörld Is Ours – Vol 2 Anyplace Crazy As Anywhere Else Blu-Ray

Motörhead’s The Wörld Is Ours – Vol 2 Anyplace Crazy As Anywhere Else Blu-Ray is a high definition visual memoir of the band’s 2011 festival appearances. It is also available in a few different formats and combinations of formats such as on Vinyl or with 2 CDs and a DVD should you not be inclined towards Blu-Rays. The Blu-Ray version comes in a slim Blu-Ray case, not a digipak as listed, and comes with a booklet full of photos, but no linear notes.

The main feature of the video is the band’s 2011 set at Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. The set list is seventeen tracks long, with a mixture of material primarily from the classic late seventies-early eighties period and some newer material from post-millennial albums like Inferno, Motörizer and The Wörld Is Yours, as well as four or five tracks you’d expect from in between.

Visually, the disc is absolutely brilliant looking, with a great picture quality and a fine editing job. The shots stay on screen a fairly long time, all three musicians are given a good ratio of screen time each and there’s enough camera movement and shot variety to keep it interesting. Also; for any fans who were upset when the band’s previous live effort, The Wörld Is Ours – Vol 1, was released only in Black and White, it is notable that part 2 (this Blu-Ray) is in full colour.

The sound mix is quite good for a festival performance, and most of the music is fairly clear and well balanced (as far as Motörhead ever are, that is). It is available in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or Stereo.

In terms of bonus features there are 11 repeated tracks from two more of the band’s 2011 festival appearances.

There are definitely complaints (pedantic ones, admittedly) that could be made about the fact that the bonus concerts are made up of the same songs as in the main feature, when you consider the sheer size of Motörhead’s discography. But then again, they are still good bonus features to have, one, just becuase its there at all, two, just because of the sound and picture quality and three, because the mood of each of the performances is pretty different. It gives you a small insight into what a tour is like in a way, doing the same songs in different places under different conditions and getting different responses both from the crowd and yourselves.

For example, the Sonisphere footage (from their UK homeland) was filmed really soon after the death of their former guitarist Würzle, and it gives the concert an entirely different sort of mood than the other two and Rock In Rio is in front of an absolutely gigantic crowd in a ridiculously large festival in Brazil, that gives it a more celebratory atmosphere (especially on `Going To Brazil’).

The other special feature is footage of some fans walking around Wacken’s festival grounds, but its not really worth your time in all honesty.

Ignoring your views on the importance of bonus features however, the main thing that stops it being absolutely terrific, is that the band’s performance is OK. OK is not bad, by any means, but if something like a concert video is to acquire that must-have status the band usually have to be absolutely on-fire.

Some of the material here comes across as a little slow and un-energetic, probably most noticeably on `Iron Fist’ and `Ace Of Spades.’ Again, its not bad per say, just not as energetic as the raucous, out-of-control, rocket-fuelled performances of their past. Drummer Mickey Dee is pretty enthused throughout however, and delivers a fine drum solo on `In The Name Of Tragedy.’

Overall; If you want a Motörhead Blu-Ray then this is probably your best bet, since it looks and sounds good, has a solid track-listing and is available in full colour. Its a good Motörhead Blu-Ray for sure.

Its not exactly a stone cold must-have, since the performance isn’t as electric as it could be and the additional footage isn’t as diverse in track-listing as it could be either, but its certainly a welcome release for those inclined and worth checking out if you can get it for a fair price.

Foghat – Live Review

Posted: January 8, 2012 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Music Reviews, Rock, Rock Live

Foghat - Live

Foghat - Live

Foghat are an important British Rock band who featured ex-members of Savoy Brown and who mixed the boogie sound with moments of hard rock to form a thirty year career after relocating to the United States. Their 1977 Live album is actually the best selling Foghat album to date and with good reason.

Although the record only contains six tracks it is arguably the best thing they’ve ever done and is a better introduction to the band for new fans than any of their individual studio albums would be. Whereas each of the albums may have some filler and weak moments along side the classic material, Live contains six of the band’s best tracks performed energetically and with superb virtuosic musicianship.

When you think of the classic rock and progressive rock bands, there are a lot of who have a seminal live album that takes a lot of the band’s best material, makes it bigger, brighter, faster, heavier as well as adding additional impressive guitar solos and build ups into the songs themselves. Think of Deep Purple’s Made In Japan, Kiss’ Alive, Jethro Tull’s Bursting Out and you will understand. Foghat’s Live really does the same sort of service for their material, making the already strong songs larger than life.

The choice of tracklisting is pretty great, with the band’s classic anthems ‘Slow Ride’ ‘Fool For The City,’ and the cover tune that broke them ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ to please any new fans wanting the tracks that keep coming up in soundtracks. On top of this, you get strong performances of ‘Road Fever’ and ‘Home In my Hand.’ But the absolute highlight is an absolutely incendiary rendition of the ludicrously catchy combination of Yardbirds/Big Joe Turner cover tracks ‘Honey Hush,’ which is sure to keep fans of the band’s harder side happy.

Interestingly though, despite coming out after the Night Shift album, Live features no tracks from that release, which is sort of a shame as it was actually one of the band’s finest studio outings.

Despite 1976’s Night Shift or indeed 1974’s Rock And Roll Outlaws not being represented on the record, Live has a strong tracklisting and is a superb, consistent and filler-free forty minute introduction to the band that would serve fairly well as a greatest hits package for the band’s early days. If you have any interest in Foghat at all then this should be your first port of call, I highly recommend this album.

Black Country Communion - Live Over Europe

Black Country Communion - Live Over Europe

Black Country Communion released their first live outing, Live Over Europe in late 2011 just a few short months after their second studio album ‘2’ and only about a year after their self-titled debut.

The band, which is something of a super group featuring the talented Joe Bonamassa, Glen Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinham. Between them they’ve worked in all sorts of interesting and important bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin (sort of), Jimmy Page’s solo works, Dream Theater and lots of other solo and guest work.

There are some good things going for Live Over Europe. The set-list for example is pretty fabulous, featuring fifteen live original songs by the band (with another studio version in the credits, inexplicably listed on the back) as well as a modified Bonamassa solo track and one Deep Purple cover (‘Burn.’) This is a pretty impressive turn out considering the band only have twenty-three songs at the time it was recorded.

In terms of non-concert extras, the booklet has linear notes and there is a documentary bonus feature along with some photo galleries.

The biggest problem with this release however is the format; it is taken from different shows on different European dates, instead of just picking one to film and release in its entirety. Some of the shows are indoor, some are festivals and as such the sound quality and mixing from each is a little different, which can prevent it from flowing as well as a single show would.

The editing job isn’t exactly the best either, with the first song ‘Black Country’ especially suffering. The track is split up between the different concerts and stitched together, with little sections of documentary dialogue in there too. Luckily though, this is the only song to be spoiled in such a way and the rest of the release displays each song intact and complete from beginning to end at the one show, although sometimes the transition between shows will feature a few seconds of documentary footage.

If you can get by the format and forgive the editing (and the aspect ratio), this is still a good enough release that is fairly enjoyable. I have watched it a fair few times since it came out and do not regret buying it despite its flaws.

While quality isn’t consistent, some of the shows have very good sound and visuals. In each show, the band are always great performers and the songs themselves are very good so it really does still offer a lot of quality for fans, so long as they aren’t put off by the aforementioned format and editing.

Overall; Live Over Europe isn’t everything you could hope for in a Black Country Communion live release, so take that into consideration before picking up a copy, but at the same time it is a Black Country Communion live release, which should be enough for a lot of people. The wonderful playing and superb vocals from Joe and Glen really do make up for a heck of a lot and tracks like ‘The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall’ and ‘The Ballad Of John Henry’ are absolutely phenomenal live.

Clutch – Live At The Googolplex

Posted: August 25, 2011 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - Live, Music Reviews, Rock, Rock Live

Clutch - Live At The Googolplex

Clutch - Live At The Googolplex

Live At The Googolplex was the first full live album released by the sensational, genre defying rock band Clutch. If you have reached the point where you wish to buy a live record then you should already be aware of the band’s live reputation and of their astonishing musicianship, vocals and lyrics. This particular live album was recorded in 2002 and released in 2003, with the songs taken from various different concerts, on separate dates at different locations as opposed to one complete concert from beginning to end.

Compared to two out of the three live albums which would follow; Live At The Googolplex is only a single disc album of fifteen tracks, recorded in the wake of Pure Rock Fury’s release and as a consequence has the least expansive track listing of any Clutch live album on the market.

Luckily, the album still manages to feature tracks that aren’t on any other live effort from the band, such as the rare ‘Sea Of Destruction,’ and the early track ‘El Jeffe,’ which sounds more like the band’s modern material when played live than it did on record, as well as material from the Pure Rock Fury album which isn’t as supported live as most other Clutch releases, from which tracks grace this live album including ‘Brazenhead,’ ‘Immortal,’ and the rap-metal track ‘Careful With That Mic…’ which features a jammed out ending making it fit in more with the rest of the material.

In terms of sound and performance both are satisfactory and the album overall is a loose and fun feeling snapshot of the band at this point in their career. The band have better sounding live albums and live albums with better performances available, so you may wish to choose one of those over this one. This fact however does not truly take away from Live At The Googolplex which is a good record in and of itself when you remove the comparisons.

If you are a serious Clutch fan then you will find Live At The Googolplex worth your time, it is a good live album with a fair few unique tracks among their live albums. If however, you are choosing your first Clutch album or even first Clutch live album, it may be better to try something a bit more expansive and representative of the band as a whole, such as ‘Live In Flint Michigan,’ or the ‘Full Fathom Five,’ DVD version.