Featured post

*Review* Slam Dunk Festival Midlands – Birmingham, The NEC 27/05/17

On Saturday 27th May, having flown into Birmingham Airport the previous day, I headed to the NEC for day one of Slam Dunk Festival 2017. Having attended the Midlands date in the NEC the year before (the review for which you can view by clicking here) I was very excited for this year’s event and had been looking forward to it, very impatiently, ever since the dates were first announced. This year we were also attending the North date in Leeds as we felt that one day was simply not enough the year before.

We made sure to get there early to avoid ques, particularly in light of the horrific attack that had occurred in Manchester earlier that same week, which had resulted in a heightened security presence at the festival, every precaution was being taken to ensure the safety of attendees, as we made our way through the NEC towards the festival entrance we had our bags checked by armed police. We got to the festival entrance just after 11.00, the queuing, security check and wristband collection were all surprisingly quick. This year some of the outdoor portion of the festival site was open early and acted as a waiting area, some of the merch tables were already set up too, which was a plus for fans looking to buy merchandise early. Unluckily the weather was not great, it was windy, cloudy and it looked like it was going to rain, a complete shame as it was boiling in Birmingham the day before.

As 1.00 hit the rest of the festival site opened, after a quick look around some of the outdoor site to familiarize ourselves with the locations of the stages we would be seeing bands play on later in the day, we made our way back to the stage closest to the entrance, the “Monster Stage”. The first band on the stage was Canadian Pop punk band Like Pacific and they had drawn a decent crowd. After they had finished playing their first two songs frontman Jordan Black addressed the crowd “thanks for giving a shit and coming out early. I’m in a different country right now, this is sick.” Throughout their set, he gave shoutouts to other bands playing the festival, including Seaway, Trophy Eyes and Boston Manor. Despite how early it was in the day they got a great reaction from the crowd, from the onset of the set a group of people near the front were singing-along, during their 2nd song “Richmond” I spotted the first crowd surfer of the day and more followed throughout the rest of the set, and a circle pit even got going during “Distance.” Before playing “22a”, Jordan spoke to the crowd about his Grandmother and how the song had been rewritten lyrically shortly after she had passed away. Like Pacific are a genuine band, as shown by Jordan interacting with the crowd plenty throughout their set. It was an early but strong performance: 8.5/10.

Next, we made our way to the “Rock Sound Breakout Stage”, which was a small stage that upcoming bands were playing. The first band we were catching there? Upcoming Welsh emotional hardcore band Casey, of course. Casey are a band that already has what you could call a “cult” following, as the large crowd they had drawn so early in the day could attest to, with a large amount of them decked out in Casey merchandise. Their performance was incredibly atmospheric. There were issues with the smoke machine on stage but the band didn’t let that interfere with their performance in any way. Their songs simply flowed into each other live, the heart wrenching “Fade” faded into the melodic “Darling”, which was followed by an intense performance of “Teeth.” “Passion Flower” showcased the bands range of sounds with its vocals mainly consisting of spoken word verses. The emotional “Hell” resulted in a big sing-along from the crowd, and its ending felt like a sudden ending to the set, which felt strangely appropriate. Casey are a band that you should know about. They pull off their intense, emotional, and simply breathtaking sound perfectly live: 9/10.

We headed to the “Jagermeister Mainstage”, hosted in the NEC arena itself, for We Are The Ocean‘s set. The three Slam Dunk sets that weekend were We Are The Ocean’s last sets before their breakup, due to this the arena’s standing area was already pretty full. They kicked off their set with “Trouble Is Temporary, Time Is Tonic” before a big sing-along came in the form of “What It Feels Like”. Truthfully I am not a huge fan of the band’s releases after vocalist Dan Brown left the band in 2012, and during the next two newer numbers frontman Liam Cromby’s voice seemed notably weak. “Good for You”, the only song in their set off their last album “Ark”, sounded a lot stronger, showcasing a good display of Liam’s vocal range, and a decent portion of the crowd was singing-along, clearly not everybody had forgotten about the band after Dan’s departure. The crowd sang the opening line, “I won’t pretend that I did the best I can”, of “Runaway” solo. A lot of the crowd produced their lighters and phone lights during “Confessions”, lighting up the room. “Confessions” was a big song that almost sounded like it was made for arenas, despite being written so early in the band’s career. “The Waiting Room” into “Nothing Good Has Happened Yet” made for an incredibly strong ending to the set. Liam addressed the crowd just before finishing “Nothing Good…” by saying “thank you for coming tonight and sharing this with us,” and then the crowd finished it by appropriately singing the final “just let me go” on their own. A bittersweet set that showcased the lows and the many highs of We Are The Oceans career: 7.5/10.

We headed back to the “Monster Stage” for American Pop punk band Cute Is What We Aim For. They were playing their first UK shows in 9 years and were playing their debut album “The Same Old Blood Rush with a New Touch“, released back in 2006, in full, as part of their 10th anniversary tour for the album, which was sure to be a serious nostalgic highlight of the festival for a lot of attendees. By the time they kicked off their set the area in front of the stage was packed full of people (as the photo above shows) despite it still being early in the day, which showed just how much people still cared about the band. From the moment “Newport Living” started a huge portion of the crowd was singing along, at points almost completely drowning out vocalist Shaant Hacikyan, and the crowd only got louder as they started to play “There’s a Class for This.” Before “Finger Twist & Split”, Travis from We The Kings came out with a drink for Jeff Czum, who had turned 21 the last time the band had played the UK and who had turned 30 this time. Shaant explained how their first UK tour was in 2006 supporting Paramore and then said that “this is super surreal, thank you so fucking much.” He mentioned how he got drunk at the pre-party the night before, before “The Fourth Drink Instinct”, during which the crowd sang the “she thought that she could buy happiness by, by the bottle” part of the song solo. Afterwards, Shaant said “fun fact I was electrocuted throughout that entire song” and continued on with the set. Before their biggest hit “The Curse of Curves”, Shaant stated that it was probably the explanation for why they were even there. During “The Curse…” the crowd was expectantly at their loudest singing-along, some got on the shoulders of their friends, and Shaant shook the hands of the security personnel in front of the stage. Shaant interacted with the crowd throughout the entire set and his enthusiasm was infectious and the nostalgic songs that so many people in the crowd knew the entire words to were played perfectly. It had clearly been far too long since they had last played the UK because the crowd seemed to love and appreciate, every second of their set: 9.5/10.

We headed to the “Impericon Stage” for English punk rock band Counterfeit. Counterfeit features actor Jamie Campbell Bower, who is best known for his roles in films like Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Twilight Saga and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. We arrived late to the set but it turns out so did Counterfeit as times were running late for the stage, Jamie declared that they had to cut four songs from their set. Counterfeit wasted none of the brief time they were given on the stage; a wall of death got going during “Romeo” and a sweat soaked Jamie entered the crowd and stood in the centre of a circle pit during set closer “Enough.” Even though they were short on time, Counterfeit pulled out all the stops and gave the set their absolute all: 9/10.

I quickly made my way to the “Jagermeister Mainstage” to catch the end of American hardcore band Beartooth‘s set. I caught the end of “In Between” and “Hated.” The mainstage area was absolutely packed full of people singing-along and watching Beartooth play songs that sounded like they were made to be played in arenas.

I planned on catching rising American metalcore band I Prevail play the “Impericon Stage” next but truthfully things got a lot bit too chaotic and uncomfortable for me. Slam Dunk clearly made a mistake putting I Prevail on such a small stage. Due to the power of social media, I Prevail have amassed a huge following, not just in America but in the UK too, a lot of it on the back of their hit cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” which at the time already had over 30 million views on YouTube. As it was their first ever UK performance, in fact their first ever performance overseas too, there was an insane demand to see them live, to the point where tonnes of extra security personnel had to be called to the area to block the entrances to avoid it getting even more full of people. The above is a photo of people trying to see I Prevail despite the stage area already being blocked off by security. Future festival headliners?

I made my way early to the “Rock Sound Breakout Stage” for American metalcore band Sylar‘s set, staring in awe at the huge crowd that was attempting to get into the stage next to it to see I Prevail. Truthfully Sylar had a rough spot, the start of their set overlapped with some of I Prevails and as such the crowd was small to start with but grew larger after I Prevails set ended. The small crowd Sylar had at the start of their set was a dedicated one though and most of them were singing and screaming along from the moment “Gambit Rogue Delight” kicked off the bands set. Sylar made an interesting choice to play an older, heavy track next, “Golden Retreat” off their first album “To Whom It May Concern”, which got the crowd headbanging. A more mellow track, the title track off their latest album “Dark Daze”, followed before “Live / Breathe” during which vocalist Jayden Panesso got the crowd to scream the repeated “I don’t know anymore” part solo. Jayden is an incredibly solid frontman, he interacted with the crowd throughout the entirety of the set and dedicated the set to the people who were singing along. Latest single “Soul Addiction” made an appearance and they finished the set off strong with “Assume.” An all too easy: 9/10.

We headed to see American rock band We The Kings set on the “Monster Stage” next, they were celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut self-titled album but weren’t playing it in full. We were pretty late but it turns out that they had only just finished the 2nd song of their set, multiple stages were clearly running late with stage times. Before playing “Secret Valentine”, vocalist Travis Clark stated that it was the “song I wrote after I first had sex.” They played the chorus of “Say You Like Me” to, in Travis’s own words, be able to say that they did. The band finished their set off by playing “Check Yes Juliet”, easily their most well-known song, for a second time, which the crowd seemed to be entirely okay with as they spent the entirety of it singing so loud that they drowned out Travis’s vocals. We Are The Kings are simply a fun band live: 8.5/10.

We caught some of American band The Movielife‘s set on the same stage, another band playing the festival that was invoking nostalgia in some fans, but sadly did not seem to have drawn a large crowd compared to other bands that we had seen playing the stage so far that day. Next we made our way to the “Fireball Stage” to catch some of American ska punk band Less Than Jake‘s set. The band has been around for a very long time, since the 90’s, and their fans had seriously filled out the large room and were actively singing along. They let slip that they thought they were headlining the stage until somebody told them that Bowling for Soup was. “Overrated (Everything Is)” sounded perfect live and I was very glad that I caught it.

We made it back to “Impericon Stage” for most of American alternative rock band Madina Lake‘s set. Madina Lake had reunited for a tour to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album “From Them, Through Us, to You” and their set mainly consisted of material off it. They were easily the band at this year’s nostalgia heavy festival that invoked the most nostalgia in me as I had started listening to them only a few months after they released the album, which feels like a life time ago now. We caught the very end of “House of Cards” and it was followed by the lyrically dark “Pandora.” The next two songs “One Last Kiss” and “Let’s Get Outta Here” had the crowd singing along before the band broke out an unexpected cover of Blur’s “Song 2.” It is pretty questionable to play a cover song when you are meant to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of your debut album and playing songs off it that don’t normally make the cut live, but the cover went down well with the crowd. They finished their set with the expected anthem that is “Here I Stand” to a huge applause from the crowd. Nathan Leone’s vocals seemed notably weak throughout the set but he seemed to be incredibly energetic otherwise and kept throwing himself into the crowd during the set. The band sounded a bit out of practice but otherwise, they delivered a serious throwback of a set: 7.5/10.

We made our way back to the “Monster Stage” for the final time that day to catch stage headliners Neck Deep, a Pop punk band from the UK. At this point, it had gotten pretty dark out and the only lights illuminating the area surrounding the stage were those on stage, so it was a good thing that Neck Deep had brought plenty of those. They started their set with a new song that had only been released a few days before Slam Dunk, “Happy Judgement Day”, which sounded great live. “Gold Steps” followed and the crowd sang the “I’ve been moving mountains…” bit towards the end. Before “Lime St.”, vocalist Ben Barlow, asked the crowd to jump up and down, he then dedicated “Losing Sleep” to anybody who was there with friends. “Serpents” resulted in a very loud sing-along with the crowd. Ben said that the next song played, “Crushing Grief (No Remedy)” off their debut album”Wishful Thinking”, was “for anybody who has followed us since the beginning” and Jordan from Like Pacific came out to do guest vocals during it. Ben said that “we are taking it way back” before playing “Tables Turned” off their second EP “A History of Bad Decisions”. The crowd shouted along to “Kali Ma” before they played another new song off their upcoming album “The Peace and the Panic”, “Where Do We Go When We Go” which was a big one live. Ben took a moment to talk about how he used to go to the festival as a kid and now his band is headlining a stage at it.

They turned off most of the stage lights and stripped things back for “A Part of Me”, almost the entire crowd sang along to it, and afterwards Ben said “Slam Dunk that was beautiful. This is the longest set we’ve ever played.” Then he proceeded to talk about how they released three versions of the next song they were going to play “December”, they played the full band version of it and it generated easily the loudest sing along of the night. Ben pointed out how everybody watching them was missing Enter Shikari’s set to be there, so the band played some of “Sorry You’re Not A Winner” to make up for that. Then he mentioned that they had just announced a headlining UK tour. They finished their set with “Can’t Kick Up The Roots” with the crowd jumping along to most of it.

Neck Deep’s first time playing a full length headlining set surprisingly never felt like their first one, a strong setlist, well-played song and an engaging frontman made for a very enjoyable set: 9.5/10. Now bring on Dublin in October.

We managed to leg it to the “Fireball Stage” for the last two songs of American Pop punk band Bowling for Soups set, and they were exactly the two we wanted to hear; “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” and “1985”, which made for a perfect ending to a jammed back day of music.

Stay tuned for part II of my massive Slam Dunk Festival 2017 review, when I review Slam Dunk Festival North.

*Competition* Brand New – Olympia Theatre, Dublin on November 16th!

Back in November 2016, I reviewed Brand New’s set when they supported Biffy Clyro in The 3Arena, Dublin, you can check that review out by clicking here.
Now I am running a competition for a pair of tickets to their own headlining show in The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, that was just announced!

Just Retweet the tweet below and Follow @IrishRocknMetal on Twitter to enter!


You can also enter by liking and sharing the image below on Facebook!

 

BRAND NEW

OLYMPIA THEATRE – THURSDAY 16 NOVEMBER

Tickets from €35.50 inclusive of booking fee and restoration levy go on sale at 9am this Friday, August 18th via Ticketmaster outlets and www.ticketmaster.ie 

Brand New have announced their Irish return with a show at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin on Thursday November 16th 2017.

For more see:

www.fightoffyourdemons.com / www.mcd.ie  / www.ticketmaster.ie

 

*Review* MCM Ireland Comic Con 2017 – RDS, Dublin 01/07/17

MCM Comic Con returned to Dublin on the 1st and 2nd of July 2017 with a stacked special guest lineup. I attended the event on the 1st and decided to spend most of my day enjoying the special guest panels that took place at the event.

Veronica Taylor, who is most well-known for being the original voice of Ash Ketchum in Pokemon, kicked off the day by taking questions from fans.

The second panel of the day featured Manu Bennett, who has had roles in both Spartacus and The Hobbit, but currently, he is known as Deathstroke in The CW’s Arrow. During the panel he let it slip that he had gotten a phone call the night before, at 3 in the morning, to discuss Deathstroke’s role in season 6 of the hit show. He also discussed a big difference between shooting Spartacus and Arrow, in Spartacus, he performed his own stunts, but in Arrow, he does not as they have a stunt team. Manu is incredibly charismatic which resulted in a truly enjoyable panel.

At just 17 years old Nell Tiger Free, who is best known for her role as Myrcella Baratheon in Game of Thrones, was the youngest guest present at the show. MCM Ireland Comic Con also happened to be only her second guest appearance at an event. She discussed being scouted at only 11 years old, her role in Game of Thrones and how happy she was that she got to meet the original Red Power Ranger (Austin St. John) earlier that day, as he was her favourite ranger. Her sister who was present in the crowd brought up how Nell once spent an entire Christmas dressed up as the Red Power Ranger.

Summer Glau, Firefly’s River Tam, spent a lot of her panel discussing how she got into acting and her early experiences as an actress: she originally wanted to be a dancer, she was a complete “newb” on the set of Firefly, and she had even snuck into a callback interview for a role in Joss Whedon’s Angel, which is how she first met the director, and she also mentioned that she almost got a role as a Power Ranger.

The fifth panel of the day was a big one: the Power Rangers panel, which featured; Walter Jones (Zach the original Black Power Ranger), Austin St. John (Jason the original Red Power Ranger), Karan Ashley (Aisha the second Yellow Power Ranger), David Yost (Billy the original Blue Power Ranger), and David J. Fielding (Zordon). They discussed the phenomenon that was the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV show and how the diversity of the cast played a big part in its success. When asked if they owned anything that was used on the show David said that he ‘stole’ his Blue Ninja Outfit and some of the crystals fragments that were placed around Zordon after he was injured during the movie, and Walter said that he had one of the shirts he wore on set, the skateboard from the first episode of the show, his gold necklace and Ernies neon sign. They also discussed the upcoming film that they all feature in, along with a tonne of actors who previously portrayed Power Rangers, The Order, they even showed the crowd the trailer for it. The Rangers finished off the panel by morphing with the crowd, with David (Zordon) doing the introduction for it.

Voice actor Vic Mignogna spent one-half of his panel discussing Star Trek, focusing on his fan show Star Trek Continues, and the other discussing his roles in animes, including Tamaki Suoh in Ouran High School Host Club and Edward Elric in both of the Fullmetal Alchemist series. Throughout his panel, he moved around the crowd, handing fans the mic to ask their questions, a fan asked him who his favourite character was, and he stated that it just had to be Edward Elric.


The final (and I would just like to mention that the room was packed) guest panel of the day featured three people known for being in the Uncharted series of video games; Nolan North, Emily Rose, and Troy Baker. The early half of the panel was plagued with sound issues but this did not take anything away from the fun that the guests and the crowd were clearly having. Troy discussed the pressure and expectations he had to deal with when he took over the role of the Joker, in the Arkham based series of Batman video games, from Mark Hamill. Nolan discussed the potential in a 5th Uncharted video game, saying that it wouldn’t be happening anytime soon. He also explained how he got into acting because his job as a news show anchorman was not fulfilling enough.

The final event of the day to take place in the panel hall was the Cosplay Masquerade where attendees could show off the costumes they had worn to the event, and if they were lucky they might have even left the event with some prizes for their effort.

Having attended MCM Ireland the last three years I was most impressed this year by the amazing guest lineup they had put together for the event. There was as usual plenty of things to do at the event, from giving people a chance to cosplay as their favourite characters, to a packed trade hall – including a massive Forbidden Planet International stall and my friends in Sub-City Comics Dublin and Galway, to displays that you could take photos in front of – including one of a life-size Lightning McQueen from Disney Pixar’s Cars, and they even had Main Stage Wrestling hosting live wrestling matches over the course of the day.

Simply put it was both a highly enjoyable and professional event, and I expected nothing less than that from the MCM team: 9/10.

*Review* While She Sleeps – The Academy, Dublin 01/05/17

On 1st May 2017, English metalcore band, While She Sleeps, kicked off the month by playing a very long overdue Irish headliner in The Academy in Dublin. They were touring in support of their brand new, independent release, their third album ‘You Are We’.

Fizzy Blood opened the show, while their music may have been a bit out of place for this show, they put on a feverish performance anyways and got a great response from the crowd. They put a lot of effort into trying to win the crowd over and were rewarded with a wall of death during their last song: 6.5/10.

Landscapes, on the other hand, put on an atmospheric and intense performance. While they did not put a lot of effort into trying to win the crowd over, they got a warm response from them. Not a lot of crowd interaction but a decent performance none the less: 6.5/10.

The crowd started chanting While She Sleeps name as their intro started to play. The band’s stage production included swaying light bulbs hanging down from the ceiling. As they took to the stage and kicked off their set with ‘You Are We’ the title track off their new album, the assembled crowd exploded to life for the first time that night, throughout the song people were either jumping along or involved in the massive pit that was taking up most of the crowd, a long overdue headliner indeed. While She Sleeps sounded absolutely massive and continued their set with the crushing sound of ‘Civil Isolation’, with the entire crowd clapping along during its contrasting melodic bridge. Next up was an old favourite ‘Seven Hills’ off the band’s debut album ‘This Is The Six’, triggering the first big sing-a-long of the night, during the song the band’s vocalist, Loz Taylor, climbed into the front of the crowd and screamed the lyrics along with the crowd, an early and big highlight of the night.

Jumbled sound clips played throughout the venue before ‘Brainwashed’, the title track off their second album, kicked in, during which the crowd parted ways for the first massive wall of death of the band’s set. As the intro of ‘Empire of Silence’ started the crowd began clapping and singing ‘woah’ until it kicked in. Another heavy track ‘New World Torture’ followed it, triggering another wall of death. Guitarist and clean vocalist, Mat Welsh, grabbed an acoustic guitar and played the intro of ‘Wide Awake’ with it before being handed back his electric guitar for the rest of the song, the band got a very large circle pit going in the crowd during the song. Loz picked up and put on an Irish flag he was handed and was met with ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ from the crowd, after which he said that if he had known that, that was what he had to do to get that response from the crowd he would’ve done so earlier in the set. Loz dedicated the next song ‘Our Legacy’ to the entire room, during which he performed a mic swing before climbing onto the crowd.

Next was ‘Feel’, the heavy number got most of the crowd head banging along. Before the band played ‘This Is The Six’, Loz demanded a circle pit around the sound desk, which the crowd gladly obliged with. They ended their main set with another big sing-a-long in the form of recent single ‘Silence Speaks’. As they left the stage the crowd once again began chanting ‘While She Sleeps, While She Sleeps’. The band came back and kicked off their encore with ‘Four Walls’, before which Loz demanded that the crowd light up the whole room and for people to get on each other’s shoulders. The final wall of death of the night happened during ‘Four Walls’ before the band finished their set with ‘Hurricane’ as the entire room erupted for one last time, either singing and screaming along or by getting one last mosh in.

This was a long overdue Irish headliner from one of the most genuine and hardworking bands in the UK scene. While you’d question While She Sleeps setlist focusing on their newer material, the fact is, their new album ‘You Are We’ is their strongest release yet, both on record and live. The band have found the perfect balance between the melodic and heavy sides of their songs, and their live energy is as infectious as it has always been, except now it is even more refined and arguably even stronger. An easy: 10/10.

*Review* Busted (with Natives) – Olympia Theatre, Dublin 01/03/17

English pop rock act Busted kicked off March by bringing their ‘Night Driver’ tour to Dublin’s Olympia Theatre on Wednesday, March 1st. It was a much more intimate affair than their previous show in Dublin in the 3Arena last year, you can check out our review of that show by clicking: here.

Support on the night came from Natives, a band who describe their sound as ‘tribal pop’, and if that sounds like a gimmick, it is because it is one. They mix tribal sounds, with a focus on percussion elements, with an otherwise bland pop rock sound. The members of Natives used to play together in a pop-punk band called Not Advised, and while their vocalist Jim Thomas could pull off the angsty vocals required for that genre, his vocals, in my opinion, do not seem to lend themselves well to the pop-focused sound Natives are going for.

Natives opened their set with ‘Chasing Lions’ during which they asked the crowd to get on the ground and then to jump up, which was very ambitious for a support band to try to get the crowd to do during their first song, but it worked reasonably well. Throughout their set vocalist Jim did his best to keep up this crowd interaction and I was impressed by him doing so. Their new single ‘War Paint’ made an appearance and they finished their set with ‘Stop the Rain’ which the crowd enthusiastically clapped along to the beat of. Natives may not be to this reviewer’s tastes but they put a lot of effort into interacting with the crowd and got a very good response from them, which they deserve a bonus mark for: 5.5/10.

While the stage production during Busted was far more limited than it had been during their 3Arena show last year, it was still very impressive, which has given them a reputation for having a strong stage production regardless of the size of the venue they are playing and therefore trying to accommodate. The entire back half of the stage consisted of light pillars that created a constantly changing screen of lights, their backing drummer and backing guitarist were also hidden amongst these pillars.

Busted started off their set by playing a few new songs off their new album ‘Night Driver’: the catchy beat of ‘Kids With Computers’ going down well with the crowd, before ‘Thinking of You’ and its catchy chorus got some of the crowd to sing-a-long. ‘On What You’re On’, the album’s well-received lead single, with its Daft Punk like sound, followed and almost the entire crowd sprang to life with a decent amount of the crowd singing-a-long to its chorus. During these opening numbers, it is of note that vocalist and guitarist, Charlie Simpson did not have or play a guitar, and James Bourne was also playing a keyboard instead of his guitar. Before they played the next song Charlie and James were handed guitars. This time the entire crowd sprang to life as the opening note of ‘Air Hostess’ kicked off the song, the crowd sang the first verse without the need for James to utter a single note, an early highlight of the set. The title track off ‘Night Driver’ followed with Charlie returning to being guitar-less, before taking his guitar back for a surprise of the setlist, ‘Nerdy’ off their second album, 2003’s, ‘A Present for Everyone’, its humorous lines going down well with the crowd. Afterwards, Charlie complimented the crowd on their singing by saying “I know I shouldn’t say this but ye shit all over Belfast, [it is] nice to hear some noise”. More new songs off ‘Night Driver followed. During ‘Without It’ the bands backing guitarist was highlighted by playing a very strong guitar solo. James demanded a dance off before the band played ‘I Will Break Your Heart’, one of the new songs that actually featured Charlie and James playing guitars live during it.

Having played a lot of new songs during the first half of the set, the second half of the set instead focused on the older ‘hits’. The crowd sang-a-long loudly to the entirety of ‘Who’s David’ before stepping it up a notch during ‘Sleeping With the Light On’ by once again singing the entire first verse without the need for James to. The crowd continued to step things up by singing-a-long even louder to ‘Crashed the Wedding’. ‘3am’ is always going to be a personal highlight of a Busted set for me but this performance was particularly of note because Charlie screamed during the ‘much more’ part, something he was known to do back in the day but had not done while performing it last year in the 3Arena. They closed out their main set with ‘Year 3000’ their most well-known song.

Busted returned to the stage and kicked off their encore with the other big hit off their debut album ‘What I Go To School For’ before making the confusing choice to end their set with two new songs ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Those Days Are Gone’. ‘Coming Home’ is fitting as it was the first new material they had released in over 10 years when they released it last year and ‘Those Days Are Gone’ is arguably fitting due to its melancholic tone and lyrics, reflecting how the band’s youth and old pop-punk sound is in the past, and that they are now focusing on the present and what the future will hold instead of forever looking back on their past successes but I still think they could have ended the set on a stronger note by switching its spot in the set with ‘Year 3000’s.

Sadly Busted did not deliver too well on the longer set they promised, last May, to play once ‘Night Driver’ was out, the set was one song shorter with 17 songs instead of the 18 they played in the 3Arena but the show was, at the least, about 10 or 15 minutes longer than that set was. This was incredibly disappointing, they left out other older singles they could have played like ‘She Said No’ and strong fan favorites like ‘Why’ and ‘Meet You There’, the choice to not play ‘Easy’ off ‘Night Driver’ was also weird as it was the first song they wrote together in years, and bridges their old and new sound perfectly. Regardless, Busted continue to prove, with an impressive stage setup and equally impressive performance, that they deserve to be back and not just forgotten about: 9/10.

*Review* Avenged Sevenfold & Disturbed – 3Arena, Dublin 07/01/17

On Saturday 7th January American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold returned to Dublin for the first time in just over three years to kick off their ‘The Stage World Tour’, the tour is in support of their seventh album ‘The Stage’ which was released out of the blue back in October. Support on the night came from American heavy metal titans Disturbed.

dscf5015

Before Disturbed had even taken to the stage the standing area was packed fans who had made sure to turn up early for them, showing that while Disturbed may have been supporting Avenged Sevenfold that night they are still a band with a very large Irish fanbase of their own. They kicked off their set with the title track of their most recent album 2015’s ‘Immortalized’ before going back 15 years and playing ‘The Game’ off their debut album ‘The Sickness’. The first half of their set was mainly material off their first two albums, however, these songs sounded far from perfect live, it was as if the band was warming up while playing them, most notably, the vocals during ‘Stupify’ sounded a lot weaker than you’d expect from a heavier song. Despite how weak the first half appeared to me, the crowd did exactly as vocalist David Draiman told them to, including screaming the ‘fuck’ parts during ‘Stupify’. The first standout performance of the set, their cover of Simon & Garfunkel ‘s ‘The Sound of Silence’, which has been nominated for a Grammy, signalled the turning point in the set. The lighter stripped back performance of such a timeless classic, with acoustic guitars, bongos and keys with the crowd singing along to almost every word with lighters and phones raised high into the sky, was simply breathtaking. It was followed by a strong performance of ‘Inside the Fire’ off 2008’s ‘Indestructible’, complete with pyro, with pyro sticks burning throughout the set and pyro blasts every time Draiman said the ‘fire’. Another standout was ‘The Light’ during which Draiman requested a moment of audience participation, asking them to raise their phones and lighters every time he uttered ‘the light’, which resulted in the 3Arena being lit up beautifully throughout the song.

They finished their set off with increasingly stronger performances of hit after hit; ‘Stricken’, with a perfect vocal performance from Draiman, ‘Indestructible’, with its headbang inducing pace, and ‘Ten Thousand Fists’, with the crowd raising their fists in time to it. The final song of their set was the expected performance of ‘Down with the Sickness’ with a big pyro blast ending, which was followed by the crowd chanting ‘Disturbed’. The band asked for a quick picture, took it, and then Draiman said ‘I hope to see you again soon’ as the band left the stage. Despite being the support act on the night Disturbed played a full headlining set, their stage production included more pyro than I have ever seen a band use live and it did nothing but add to the show. However, they seemed to spend the first half of their set warming up, but the second half of it more than made up for this with hit after hit and plenty of standout moments: 8.5/10.

Prior to Avenged Sevenfold taking to the stage both Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ and David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ played out through the venue’s speakers, the start of a theme that the band’s setlist would expand upon. As this was ‘The Stage World Tour’ there was a lot of buzz prior to the show in regards to what the stage setup would be like for them. The central piece of this stage set up was a giant floating cube with screens on the two sides of it that were facing the crowd. There was also three more large rectangle screens on either side of the cube making their way from the back of the stage towards the front of it. The stage itself was a pretty big rectangle with a walkway leading out into the crowd and two holes in it where members of the crowd who had paid for VIP were standing, making them a part of ‘the stage’ and show itself. While the set up was impressive, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed by it, due to all the recent interviews with the band that I had read prior to the show, I expected there to be more to it.

dscf5020

The screens flashed white and the band’s deathbat logo appeared on the cube just before the 5 piece made their way to the stage. They kicked off their set with the title track off their latest album, from which the tour takes its name, ‘The Stage’, with vocalist, M. Shadows calling out to the crowd; ‘let me hear you Dublin,’ and hear them he did, as the crowd sang-a-long, showing their dedication to the band, by already knowing all the words to the ambitious 8 and a half minute monster of a track. They followed it up with an early stand-out of the set, ‘Afterlife’ off the band’s self-titled fourth album, with the crowds singing overpowering M. Shadows voice during the chorus, they finished the song to major applause from the crowd. ‘Dublin, how are you doing this evening?’ M. Shadows asked before making a joke about how the band might get given out to if they drink Guinness out of a can. Black and white footage began playing on the screens and the crowd started chanting, as the band started playing the title track off their sixth album ‘Hail to the King’, which was well received by the crowd despite how much the album split fans opinions upon its release back in 2013.  It was followed by the first live performance of ‘Paradigm’ off ‘To The Stage’ with M. Shadows telling the crowd ‘I wanna see a circle pit on this one’. Before playing ‘To End The Rapture’ off the band’s debut album, 2001’s, ‘Sounding the Seventh Trumpet’, M. Shadows said ‘I like this little arena. We are gonna play shit from all the records’. The short song was quickly followed by the heavy sound of ‘Chapter Four’ off their 2nd album ‘Waking The Fallen’.

dscf5021

A strong performance of ‘Buried Alive’ off 2010’s ‘Nightmare’ was another stand-out of the set with its multiple guitar solos and its powerful outro section. Before ‘Angels’, another debut live performance, the cube started moving towards the crowd while rotating, then began flashing an image of a planet. During the song, which is one of the bands more ‘chilled’ songs, a mosh pit got going in the crowd with M. Shadows saying ‘only in Dublin’. After the song, the cube moved back to the back of the stage. As ‘Nightmare’ kicked off the crowd exploded to life singing the loudest they had so far that night and multiple mosh pits started throughout the crowd, the crowd sang multiple parts of the song on their own with no need for any help from M. Shadows. M. Shadows continued to speak to the crowd saying ‘it is always a pleasure to get over here to Ireland. This will hopefully give promoters more confidence in us so we can do more shows in Ireland. Alright, best show of the tour.’ Before ‘Almost Easy’ he gave a shoutout to Disturbed telling the crowd that ‘they are a big band and that they don’t need to be here with us’.

During the section of ‘Sunny Disposition’ that featured the sound of a siren, M. Shadows used a megaphone instead of his microphone, which was pretty punk and complimented the big, heavy, weird, and long, song perfectly. The band made an interesting choice to play ‘Warmness on the Soul’ as an instrumental. A giant inflatable spaceman, with a skull face and a light up head, exploded out of the back of the stage, as the band started playing ‘Planets’ off before the band finished their main set off with ‘Acid Rain’, both songs being off of ‘Hail to the King’ made them weird choices to finish out the set with. M. Shadows shouted ‘Dublin, Ireland thank you so much for tonight and we’ll see you next time,’ as he left the stage.

Once again the deathbat appeared on all of the screens as the band made their way back onto the stage for the encore. ‘Bat Country’, oddly the only song in the set off ‘City of Evil’, kicked off the encore with the crowd shouting ‘he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man’ before exploding, the song resulted in the biggest mosh pits of the night and one of the loudest sing-a-longs. M. Shadows gave the band’s former drummer, The Rev, who died in 2009, a shoutout, dedicating the next song to him, before mentioning that his own Dad was at the show, and stating that there was Irish in his family before asking why he can’t grow a better beard. The epic, 8 minutes long, ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’ was the clear standout performance of the night, with The Rev’s haunting vocals playing out through the venue’s speakers seven years after his death, and the clear loudest sing-a-long of the night, with the crowd shouting, singing, and screaming back every single word of the song. The final song of the night was the expected performance of, the heavy, ‘Unholy Confessions’ off ‘Waking the Fallen’, allowing members of the crowd to get one last good mosh in.

While the main set could have been finished off with a stronger song, like the somehow missing performance of ‘Beast and the Harlot’ off ‘City of Evil’, I have to give it to Avenged Sevenfold for putting together a very ambitious stage setup, coupled with a set that covered the band’s entire career, and for easily the best crowd interaction from a band I have ever seen take place in an arena: 9.5/10.

 

 

*Review* Motionless In White (with New Years Day) The Academy, Dublin 14/01/16 (Throwback Thursday Review #1)

Occasionally due to a combination of my college workload, general work, and busy lifestyle, a review is left to the side and forgotten about, in some cases, like this one, they are already half written, the purpose of Throwback Thursday Reviews is to make sure these reviews see the light of day and to give people who did attend these shows a chance to look back at them and reminisce. 

miw new show
On Thursday 14th January 2016 American gothic metal/metalcore band Motionless in White‘s ‘Beyond the Barricade‘ tour finally hit up Dublin after being previously postponed back in November 2015 after the Paris terror attacks. Support on the night came from the UK’s Silent Screams and another American band New Years Day. It was the first time Motionless in White had played Ireland since the release of their 3rd album ‘Reincarnate’ and just over two years after their previous headlining show in the venue back in September 2013.

Upon arriving at the venue shortly after doors I was surprised by the huge turnout, from just the size of the large que that was making its way into the venue I knew this would be a far more packed out show than their previous one in the venue.

Silent Screams were first up and truthfully I was not impressed. While I might just be getting too old for the genre, I found their brand of metalcore to be as generic and boring as possible. Unclean vocalist Joel Heywood seemed to be unable to keep up with the pace of the vocals on the tracks and as such a lot of the vocal parts went un-screamed live. Their current single (at the time) ‘Everything Ends’ made an appearance but with added clean vocals that do not appear to be on the version of the song released as a single. Silent Screams are probably just not for me but the moshers in the crowd did seem to react correctly: 6/10.

MIW new years day shot

New Years Day were up next and opened their set with the industrial tinged sound of ‘Kill or Be Killed’ off their third album ‘Malevolence’, which was released only a few months before the show in October 2015, followed by the ever-catchy ‘I’m No Good’ off 2013’s ‘Victim to Villain’. Later in the set, they played the title track off ‘Malevolence’ live for the first time, during the bridge the other members of the band stood still like statues while vocalist Ashley Costelloe kept singing the lyrics, they sprung back to life as the song kicked back in. ‘Angel Eyes’ was performed next but instead of Chris Motionless coming out to sing his part, as you would expect, they sampled it, clearly not bothered by this the crowd still sang-a-long to the whole track. They finished their set off with ‘Defame Me’. Overall the band is surprisingly strong live, Ashley’s vocals were a little bit lacking at times but she really knows how to work a crowd, and as a unit, they perfectly capture the spirit of 80s LA Strip Glam Rock, just in an updated form: 8/10. I went on to review part of the band’s set during Slam Dunk Birmingham in May 2016, you can check that out by clicking here.

MIW motionless in white

Motionless in White kicked off their set to the beating sounds of the Korn like ‘Death March’ before keeping the nu-metal influenced theme up with the ode to Slipknot that is ‘Devil’s Night’. The set included a tonne of live rarities, the first we were treated to was ‘Fatal’ off the Deluxe Edition of ‘Infamous’, it’s sound being more like the band’s older sound than their current one, which has made it a fan favorite. ‘Abigail’ the first single released off of ‘Creatures’ their debut album released back in 2010 followed it, before a very rare appearance of ‘Undead Ahead’ off the same album, which was only played a handful of times back in 2011 before being added to the bands set towards the end of 2015. The crowd sang-a-long to every word of ‘A-M-E-R-I-C-A’ off ‘Infamous’ before another rare appearance in the form of the Marilyn Mansionesque ‘Hatef**k’ off the same album. Keeping with the early 00’s nu-metal vibe they covered Linkin Park’s ‘One Step Closer’ next, quite a surprise but fun none the less. Ashley Costelloe came out to perform ‘Contemptress’ with the band. ‘Immaculate Misconception’ moved from its usual spot in the encore to a spot in the main set with the crowd screaming-a-long to its aggressive lyrics. ‘Sinematic’ off ‘Infamous’ was another rare appearance, resulting in the band having played the entire deluxe edition of the album in The Academy’s main room other than one song (‘Burned at Both Ends’). The final rarity included in the set and used to close the main set was ‘Scissorhands (The Last Snow)’ the closing song on ‘Creatures’ and my personal favorite part of the set.

The band ended their set with a quick one-song encore performance of ‘Reincarnate’ the title track off their newest album released back in September 2014, the song is, in my opinion, the accumulation of all the band’s influences and these individual influences were showcased throughout their set, with songs clearly inspired by Korn, Slipknot, Marilyn Mansion, Rob Zombie, Bleeding Through and even a cover of a Linkin Park song.  Motionless in White no longer require as over the top a stage production, as they had the previous time they headlined the venue, to keep a crowd entertained, because Chris Motionless’s vocals clearly have improved in the two years since they had previously played The Academy, and the band is now an even more cohesive unit than before, this combined with a near perfect setlist made up of both hits and live rarities from their back catalogue are why I am giving them: 10/10.