Apr 052018
 

Craig Chisholm looks ahead to this summer’s ‘Enjoy’ music festival.

After last year’s successful festival that saw storming sets from Primal Scream, Chase & Status, The Little Kicks and many more, Enjoy Music returns to Hazlehead Park in June with a stellar line of dance and rock acts on the bill.

Now expanded to a two day festival, the fourth Enjoy boasts some of the biggest names in music – from Glastonbury headliners to Britpop legends.

Held over the weekend of Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June, Aberdeen’s biggest outdoor music festival will see bands such as Starsailor, Cast, Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 and Welsh rappers Goldie Lookin’ Chain perform alongside DJ set from Faithless, Basement Jaxx, Sigma and James Zebeila.

Bluetones frontman Mark Morris and Dodgy singer Nigel Clark will also be attendance to provide crowd pleasing acoustic sets chock full of their Britpop classics.

Festival boss Russell Aitchison said:

“We’re delighted to have added these amazing acts, to make this our biggest line up ever. There’s a real range of music on offer over the weekend with something to suit all tastes.”

Marketing Director Mark Lenthall added:

“We’re here to give the North East a large-scale music festival we can all be proud of, and 2018 is shaping up to be just that. Tickets are selling fast and I am sure music lovers will want to be part of the Aberdeen’s biggest event this summer” 

But if you’re planning to attend then be quick – 2nd release tickets have already sold out and the third release of tickets in mid-March are already selling fast!

Tickets can be purchased at:

Apr 022018
 

Review and photos by Craig Chisholm.

Stiff Little Fingers yearly St Patricks gigs at The Barrowlands in Glasgow are stuff of legend.

For 27 years they’ve played the iconic venue on the fabled night of Irish celebrations that has become a pilgrimage for their fans.

For fans in the North East, however, the Irish punk legends trip to the Granite City, around the same time of the year, has also become a regular pilgrimage as a sell out crowd tonight can testify.

This might have been the smallest of the three venues the band are playing in Scotland this tour but that didn’t stop them from giving a memorable show that pleased the energetic and loyal crowd.

Before the influential Irish punk legends hit the stage another bunch of influential punks step up to warm the crowd up.

Ruts DC have a long, and sometimes complicated, history that stretches back to the original punk days of 1977. But their music is more varied and eclectic than straight ahead rock with a strong reggae influence shining through in songs such as the mighty ‘Jah War’.

They run though a strong set of a dozen songs with punk classics ‘Babylon’s Burning’, ‘In a Rut’ and ‘Staring at the Rude Boys’ all going down a storm with the attentive crowd.

Headliners Stiff Little Fingers last couple of shows in Aberdeen have been at a different venue – The Garage – but they are no strangers to the Lemon Tree having played here numerous times to sell out crowds.

It’s a partisan audience that greet them as they walk out to the regular intro tape of ‘Go For It’. The crowd are a sea of SLF t-shirts and hoodies – and anyone not wearing one could have bought from the dozen or so on sale at their merchandise stall.

Singer and guitarist Jake Burns tells the crowd that this is going to be a set that explores more of the deep cuts from SLF’s ‘forgotten’ albums but that doesn’t stop them singing and pogoing along to tracks that cover all eras of the bands four decade career.

However, it’s the bands first three albums that made up the bulk of the set – ‘Tin Soldiers’, ‘Nobody’s Hero’, ‘Roots, Radicals, Rockers & Reggae’, ‘Safe as Houses’ and ‘Barbed Wire Love’ from that era are all given a blast.

As with Ruts DC, reggae is also an influence on the band and there’s a nod to that with cover versions of Bob Marley and the Wailer’s ‘Johnny Was’ and ‘Doesn’t Make it Alright’ by The Specials.

Completing the night with a finale of ‘Alternate Ulster’ the band walk off to triumphant applause from an adoring crowd that will already be planning to see them again next year, whatever the venue.

Mar 202018
 

Piratefest 2018 @ The Garage, Aberdeen. Review and photos by Craig Chisholm.

Lead singer Captain Yarrface (possibly not his real name) is front and centre on stage

In the myriad world of Heavy Metal sub-genres it might come as a surprise to learn that not only is Pirate Metal ‘a thing’ but that it can also sell out a venue in Aberdeen on an otherwise normal Tuesday night in February.

The Piratefest 2018 tour didn’t, unfortunately, sail into town on a Spanish galleon but rolled in on tour buses carrying three of the premier bands on the scene.

Scottish band Alestorm arrived in the company of San Diego’s The Dread Crew of Oddwood and, from the fishing village of Ocracoke, North Carolina, Rumahoy.

Rumahoy open Pireatefest with a short, but energetic and thrashy, set that includes songs such as ‘AHOY!’, ‘Hoffman The Pirate King’, and ‘The Triumph of Piracy’.

They’ve taken the theme to its extreme in not only song titles but in their look.

Dressed head to toe in pirate clothes is striking enough but the black masks that cover their faces make them even more scary and intimidating.

Lead singer Captain Yarrface (possibly not his real name) is front and centre on stage – a giant of a man, as tall as he is wide, as much NFL Line-backer as he is Caribbean Pirate or rock singer.

They are by far the heaviest of the three bands with a sound that owes much more to Slayer or Pantera than it does to the more traditional pirate sea shanties.

The next band on stage are a slightly less intimidating but no less intense proposition.

The Dread Crew of Odd Wood play – no surprise here – pirate themed heavy rock but, this time, on acoustic instruments. A style they refer to as ‘mahogany metal’.

Using accordions, stand-up bass, mandolins and bouzouki their music is a combination of folk music, traditional Celtic jigs and, of course, Heavy Metal.

Again, they are dressed for the part – looking like buccaneers that have just raided a port in the West Indies rather than a modern rock band.

Again, the songs are nautically themed with titles such as ‘Dead Man’s Medley’ and ‘When I Sail’d’.

Drinking is also a common lyrical theme through night with the Dread Crew’s contribution called ‘Raise Your Pints’.

And pints are raised for what is, by far, the most popular band of the evening – Perth’s very own Alestorm.

I’m not sure if the River Tay was ever a hotbed of swashbuckling and pillaging but even if not, Alestorm will make you believe it was.

The band romp through a mesmerising 18 song that never lets up in energy and enthusiasm.

The crowd go wild for them – from opener ‘Keelhauld’ to final encore, the dubiously titled ‘Fucked With an Anchor’ there’s a steady stream of crowd surfers being (keel-?) hauled over the barrier.

Many of them have dressed for the occasion too.

Who ever sells pirate clothing and paraphernalia in the Granite City must have a seen a jump in sales lately, judging by the number of pirate hats on show in the audience.

Alestorm themselves aren’t dressed as pirates – instead there’s a mix and match of styles on show with lead singer Christopher Bowes an arresting sight in Alestorm-branded kilt, baseball cap and a t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘I Got Lost in The Gay Dolphin’.

Strangest of all is his instrument of choice – the much-maligned keytar, a keyboard that’s played like a guitar and more associated with 80s soft rock bands than on the high seas.

Visuals aside, the band, lyrically at least, don’t stray far from pirate theme’s – ‘No Grave but the Sea’, ‘Nancy the Tavern Wench’, ‘Pegleg Potion’, ‘Shipwrecked’ and the magnificently named ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ (a song that ticks both pirate and alcohol themes) are given an airing tonight.

Pirate Metal may not be to everyone’s tastes but it’s a triumph tonight as the sold-out crowd testify – it’s safe to say that inhibitions were lost, drinks were raised, and a good time was had by all that attended.

Mar 022018
 

Morrissey at Aberdeen BGHE Arena, 16 February 2018. Review and pictures by Craig Chisholm.

It may be hard to believe but the Aberdeen Exhibition Centre has actually a place in rock n’ roll folklore for both Morrissey and David Bowie fans.

It was here, over 20 years ago that the ex-Smiths frontman was due to support the late Thin White Duke on tour but, mysteriously, walked out mere minutes before he was due on stage leaving his band, Bowie and his fans in the lurch.

As to the whys and whats of this action we might never know but here, over two decades later, amends are finally made to fans as he eventually makes the AECC stage in triumphant, if not also intriguing, fashion.

There’s no chance of support bands doing a runner on this occasion as there isn’t one. Instead the 3000 strong crowd are treated to a half hour video of Morrisey’s favourite bands and old film footage.

In between the Morrissey favourites such as the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Ramones and 60s girl groups is footage of Russian, faux-lesbian, Eurovision winners Tatu performing The Smiths classic ‘How Soon Is Now?’ on Top of The Tops. This is the sort of intriguing but contrary thing that his fans have come to expect of Morrissey over the years.

At the end of the video, at exactly 9pm, Morrissey and band walk onto the stage. Opening with a cover version of Elvis Presley’s ‘You’ll be Gone’ they then proceed to power through a 22 song set that lasts nearly 2 hours.

The stage is lit by lights in the shape of shields as the backdrop displays footage of recurring Morrisey themes – 60s B&W groups, old film stars, an erotic pulp fiction novel, a bullfighter during, obviously, ‘The Bullfighter Dies’, and footage of police brutality during ‘Who Will Protect Us From The Police?’ .

He delights his long time fans by playing a couple of tracks by his former band The Smiths – ‘I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish’ is played early on, as is ‘How Soon Is Now?’.

But that’s all – five songs into the set and he has already abandoned any attempt at crowd pleasing and living off nostalgia.

Instead, latest album ‘Low In High School’ makes up the bulk of the show with no less than nine of its twelve tracks given an airing. Three of these tracks – ‘Israel’, ‘I Bury The Living’ and ‘The Girl From Tel Aviv’ are being performed for their first time ever to a live audience.

In another contrary Morrissey move he plays a cover version of The Pretenders’ ‘Back In The Chain Gang’.

The crowd are noticeably more subdued during some of the deeper cuts from ‘Low In High School’ but this gives everyone a chance to listen to Morrissey and to appreciate his voice – it has matured into a warm and luxurious sound, somewhat underrated in the pantheon of great rock vocalists.

Also, it’s a chance to listen to his band – tight and musically together throughout the set. Clad in white t-shirts that with ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’ emblazoned on them, it’s the sort of message that Morrissey revels in and pretty much defines his entire ethos.

More than an hour and a half after starting, the main set ends with the band walking off stage in a haze of smoke to rapturous applause.

They return for a triumphant encore of Morrissey solo classics ‘Everyday is like Sunday’ and ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’.

Overall, it’s an intriguing set that should have left the real fans happy. The lack of Smiths classics and early Morrissey singles may not have pleased the more casual fans but, ultimately, it’s never been his style to play to the crowd and take the easy option.

Aug 252017
 

Wolf Alice @ The Garage. Review and photographs by Craig Chisholm.

It’s not often a band that has played Glastonbury’s pyramid stage go on to play such an intimate in Aberdeen such as The Garage, it must be said.

But tonight, it is happening and the sold out, 600-odd crowd are enjoying every second of that band – Wolf
Alice.

This date is part of a small low-key warm up tour to promote forthcoming second album ‘Visions of Life’ and to get them road-ready for a tour in October and November that will see them head to Japan and Europe before returning to the UK to play larger venues such as London’s Alexandra Palace and two nights at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow.

It’s safe to say that tonight’s show will be the last we of see them in a local, small venue for a long, long time.

The London four-piece play type of rock music that would be more familiar to an older generation raised on the grunge of Dinosaur Jr or Hole; or the shoegaze dreaminess of Slowdive or early Lush rather than to the band’s own generation’s heroes.

They’re a band that are putting a bit of angst and noise back into guitar music whilst their contemporaries are currently more likely to be programming a sequencer on the PC to create pop-infused beats.

Kicking off their set with new track ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ the band power through an hour long set that’s received rapturously by their adoring audience.

Bassist Theo Elllis is stripped down to his vest in the intense heat after only a couple of songs as he bounds around the stage and into the pit to interact with fans.

Guitarist Joff Oddie wields his guitar like Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore or Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood – utilising noise as melody and not descending into clichéd ‘rawk’ poses.

Drummer Joel Amey maintains a steady and powerful beat behind the kit, driving the bands songs along, staying calm in the eye of the storm.

But it is singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell that’s the focal point of the band – her vocals and guitar playing recalling hints of PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star and The Breeders all at their 90s-imperial phase.

She doesn’t say much between songs though – a few hellos here and thank yous there but no in-depth conversations and none of the arena rock crowd pleasing shout outs that a band of their size would be forgiven for doing.

But this is a good thing – it allows the music to the talking.

The lyrics talk of small town alienation and frustration such as in ‘Fluffy’ with its lines of “Searching for cheap thrills and we don’t know how” and “I got nothing in this dead-end town”, a theme that would resonate anyone that grew up in that particular environment, and one that would especially appeal to a teenager in the North East of Scotland on rainy, cold summer days such as this.

And that’s the x factor that makes Wolf Alice’s appeal clear to see.

They provide a noisy, dreamy escape for everyday life, an escape from the mundane.

There’s beauty in their noise; clarity in the chaos; tender melodies in their guitar maelstrom.

And as encore ‘Giant Peach’ ends with its ‘My dark and pretty town’ refrain that’s exactly where their fans head out to, into their dark and pretty town, after witnessing thrills that were anything but cheap.

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Jul 212017
 

Blink 182 plus support at AECC. Review and photographs by Craig Chisholm.

US pop-punk veterans Blink 182 returned to Aberdeen with a slick arena show filled with confetti canons, pyrotechnics and flamethrowers which pleased their fans old and young alike.

First band up on the three-band bill, however, were New Jersey band The Front Bottoms. 

Despite the Viz-like nature of their name, which has you suspecting they are less than serious proposition, the band play an introspective, but goofy, indie rock that is appreciated by the early arrivals in the arena.

Frontman Brian Sella formed the band nearly 10 years ago.

He stands stage front, strumming an acoustic guitar.

He engages with the crowd and endears himself with comments of wishing he could have lived his life in Scotland and a tale of getting hit by a golf earlier ball that day.

Flanked by his bandmates there is also the somewhat unusual spectacle of a couch on stage on which a couple of guys are sitting.

Their contribution to the set seems to involve nothing more than tapping away on their mobile phones and taking swigs from bottles of beer – nice job if you can get it, it must be said!

There are no couches or mobile phones on stage for the next act however as Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls take to the stage.

Bahrain born Turner had a seemingly un-punk upbringing – the son of an investment banker who went to Eton and studied alongside Prince William; his grandfather – a “Sir” no less – was the former chairman of high street store BHS.
But despite this privileged upbringing it’s hard to deny that Turner has paid his dues, moving from small toilet venues to arenas over the years whilst playing a socially conscious and politically charged brand of folk-punk that has gained him a loyal band of followers.

He commands the audience well tonight.

The sight of him getting the crowd to sit down and jump up in unison was quite exciting and he also brings one lucky young fan out of the audience, hands her a harmonica and has her play a mouth organ solo during one track.

He ends his set by crowd surfing in the audience which has security scrambling to get hold of him as the crowd go wild. It would be fair to say he would have won over a few new fans this night.

Finally, at 9pm sharp, Blink 182 take the stage. Starting the set behind a curtain with a picture of their logo imposed over a Union Flag, whilst the haunting electronica of the Stranger Things theme tune plays, it drops to rapturous applause and pyrotechnic explosions as the band blast into opener Feeling This.

The backdrop at this point is the rather unsubtle word FUCK in huge flames at the rear of the stage.

But, let’s be honest, Blink 182 are not in a band that deal in subtly much.

There are fleeting moments of introspection though – the cello-drenched and catchy I Miss You is a touching tale of lost love and the title track of last year’s California album is a nostalgic missive to their home state.

It’s the unsubtly of the show that provides the arena rock experience though and there is plenty of spectacle and show that has the crowd in raptures – a huge screen flashes behind the band, flame throwers spit high into air from behind the drum riser, confetti canons fire and drown the crowd in ticker tape whilst pyrotechnic explosions bellow smoke into the venue and test the fire alarms to their limits.

And this day-glo stramash of sound and vision isn’t just on the odd occasion – it’s in almost every song the band perform.

There is another exception to this sensory overload though as they perform one track in the dark, lit only by hundreds of mobile phones in the crowd.

Highlight of the set for the crowd is first track of the encore their big hit and probably best known song All the Small Things. Released over 17 years ago, it is older than a good proportion of the crowd here tonight, all of whom go wild to the raucous, three-minute classic of the US pop punk genre.

And then, after a couple of more tracks, it’s over – 22 songs in a compact, and slightly short, 75-minute set. All that’s left is for drummer Travis Barker’s teenage son to play out as the crowd head out into the early evening.

As was said, Blink 182 are not a band that deal in subtlety but if high adrenaline, slightly juvenile, slick, over the top arena shows are your thing then this would have made you very happy indeed.

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Jun 082017
 

Aberdeen’s Very Own Music Festival Returned for its Third Year, and Aberdeen Voice’s Craig Chisholm was there to review. Photos by Craig Chisholm.

With no T in The Park planned this year what are Scottish music fans supposed to do for their Summer festival fix?

Well, for residents of the North East, the answer was right on their doorstep as Enjoy Music returned for its third and, arguably, most successful year.

Boasting headliners such and Chase & Status, John Digweed and the legendary Primal Scream the festival moved up a league and proved not only was it here to stay but that it was also ready to expand and become a fixture of the festival circuit.

Unfortunately, however, things do not always go without a hitch.

A minor issue of missing toilets caused the opening of the festival to be delayed a couple of hours.

But times of hardship can bring out the best in people and it’s to the eternal credit of the organisers and their team that they managed to not only get things back on track but also not drop any of the acts from the bill.

Credit must also go to the bands performing on the main stage in the afternoon as they truncated their sets slightly to accommodate all acts and give everyone their time in the limelight.

Kicking things off are Aberdonian rockers The Ruckus who deliver a short set of, as they describe it, “no nonsense guitar driven rock n roll” and as far as descriptions go that’s certainly one that describes things perfectly.

Afternoon slots are also performed by Montrose band Emerald Sunday with their indie and britpop influenced rock and hugely popular local cover band FUBAR who provide some technically impressive renditions of Queen and AC/DC among others.

The hard rock takes a back seat for a while after this and gives way to the more soulful and funk sounds of FaR.

Led by the striking and powerful vocalist Fifi Greasly the band prove the perfect sound to an afternoon in the sun.

The same also applies to the magnificent Ransom FA. Mixing the urban sounds of hip hop, grime and trap the Aberdeen based crew pull of a short but energetic and forward thinking set to an obviously impressed crowd.

But, unfortunately, the sun doesn’t last and, as is customary at music festivals in Scotland, the heavens open.

It rains during sets by The Complete Stone Roses and acclaimed local indie band The Little Kicks.

That doesn’t stop the crowd from enjoying them however – The Complete Stone Roses pull off a pretty good approximation of their Manchester heroes.

The Little Kicks, led by frontman Steve Milne, perform an infectious and memorable set in support of their latest album, Shake Off Your Troubles.

The rain does however provide an unexpected bonus for bands and DJs playing in the tents as a lot of the crowd take shelter.

The Retro and Alternative tent has an eclectic bill that combines acoustic (Mark Buchan, Peterhead’s Marc Culley and others), the melodic Byrds and britpop influenced rock from Keith band The Carousels and hip hop from local rap legends SHY & DRS.
The retro part of the day is provided by a quite compelling performance by Bob Wyper in his guise as Rod Stewart, which goes down a storm in the packed tent as he runs through Rod’s big hits as the actual storm rages outside.

Also performing some covers, albeit in a unique style, are young band Gleadraich.

Hailing from Carnoustie the band perform songs by Blondie and The Undertones and many more with the added attraction of a bagpipe player taking centre stage, mimicking the vocal parts of the songs in most cases. It’s an unusual and entertaining concept that wins them over new fans of all ages.

The night in the tent is rounded off by a set by Ransom FA’s official DJ, Nojan and a set by Aberdonian alternative rockers The Cappolos.

Festivals aren’t just for grown-ups though, and Enjoy has catered for the kids as well – a whole section of the field is set aside for them which has slides, football challenges, colouring in walls, Disney princesses and Marvel Superheroes casually walking past. A family tent provides such entertainment as hip hop dancing for the eager kids. 

In the middle of it all is a Wrestling ring manned by Wrestlezone Scotland. There is a constant crowd packed  around the ring (not all of them children either!) as the Wrestlezone boys and girls provide action packed entertainment throughout the day.

There must have been a few parents pestered afterwards to get tickets to Wrestlezone’s Aberdeen Anarchy event at the Beach Ballroom on the 10th June once they’d seen this performance.

Back to the music however, and for those that prefer dance beats to electric guitars, two venues are available on site.

The TLF & Rondevue wigwam is steady all day with the crowd appreciating sets by a talented DJs such as Danny Reid, Tim Haux and Flexi.

It’s the perfect place to chill out in the sun and appreciate the day.

The Digital Love & Majestic Tent is the bigger of the dance stages and it proves immensely popular throughout the day to clubbers.

By the time that dance titan John Digweed takes the stage for a two hour set the tent is rammed with the faithful who witness a peerless set from the legendary DJ.

Closing off the Main Stage are the two biggest bands of the night.

Primal Scream are, as usual, a breath-taking live act. Their 75 minute set contains a few choice cuts from their latest album – 2016’s Chaosmosis – such as 100% or Nothing, Where The Light Gets In and Golden Rope as well such classics as the southern fried boogie of Jailbird, the laid back dubby grooves of Star, and the psychedelic dance classic Slip Inside This House.

The band close off their set with four of their absolute classics – Loaded, Country Girl, Rocks and Movin’ On Up before departing the stage to appreciative and ecstatic audience. The bands next Scottish performance is as special guests to The Stone Roses at a sold out Hampden Park in a few weeks so it’s a genuine thrill and a commendable coup to the Enjoy organisers to have them perform in a much more intimate outdoor setting.

In another coup of a booking, Chase & Status take the stage for a DJ set of high energy dance and rap.

Credit to the crowd at this point too.

After over 9 hours of music they are still packed at the front and “giving it large” for their set which the faithful clearly never want to stop.

But eventually it must end, and as the crowd depart after the last acts they must already be looking forward to next year’s event – and possibly making a mental note to take a rain jacket next time, just in case.

How the promoters top this year’s event remains to be seen. But one thing for sure is Enjoy Music is only going to get bigger and better as it goes on.

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May 242017
 

Review and Photographs by Dod Morrison.

Iron Maiden were formed in 1975 by bassist and songwriter Steve Harris.

They’ve released 38 albums including 16 studio albums, 11 live albums, 4 EPs, and 7 compilations – probably making them the world’s most famous heavy metal band.

The band were returning to Aberdeen after a five year gap as part of their ‘The Book Of Souls’ tour.

Released in 2015, this was the band’s sixteenth studio album as well as their first double studio album and at 92 minutes, their longest to date. It also contained the band’s longest track, ‘Empire of the Clouds’ at a staggering 18 minutes.

The album was actually recorded in 2014 but the launch was delayed to allow Bruce to recover from the removal of a cancerous tumour on his tongue.

The album was a commercial success reaching number 1 in 24 countries. They started the tour in February 2016 and it will go through until July 2017.

When Iron Maiden come to town it’s not just to play a gig, it’s an EVENT!

They are known for  their extravagant stage shows which usually feature a huge Eddie The Head (the band mascot). Eddie is a perennial part of Maiden, appearing on all the covers of their albums, and he appears in the live shows in various guises.

Unfortunately, a pending dispute about ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ song credits means that the fan’s favourite song (and my own favourite) had been removed from the current The Book Of Souls tour set list.

The Book Of Souls tour came to Aberdeen where the faithful filled the AECC and prepared to worship. The stage was made to look like an Inca style lost city. A half rectangle shaped wall surrounded and contained the stage with several braziers along its length and moving backdrops, flanked by pyramids on either side.

After a rousing version of ‘Doctor, Doctor’ by UFO was played to get the crowd going, the set commenced with Bruce Dickinson standing on the wall above and behind the drum kit.

Bruce inhaled the vapours from a cauldron on a pedestal as the first chapter of Book of Souls plays.

He then launched into a magnificent, energetic rendition of ‘If Eternity Should Fail’.

Flames erupted from the braziers along the city walls as Bruce dashed across them from side to side. Beneath him Nicko McBrain was drumming up a storm on his impressive and very shiny drum kit.

In front of him guitarists Janick Gers, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith covered the stage, adopting the usual foot on monitor poses.

Janick used the furthest forward set of speakers as a seat, and also enjoyed giving it the odd kick just to show it who’s boss.

Of course, amid all of this, the iconic figure of Steve Harris strode across the stage brandishing his bass.

As the set progressed the huge backdrops behind the band changed to reflect each new song.

Bruce also changed costumes to suit the songs.

At one point he sported a gorilla mask and brandished bananas at the other band members! For ‘Power Slave’ he wore a leather mask, which must have been incredibly sweaty on the warm May night, but it didn’t slow him down at all.

He charged across the city walls above and behind the rest of the band.

As all of this unfolded before our eyes, our ears were treated to a very well chosen set list which covered the entire career of this magnificent band. They played oldies such as ‘Wrathchild’ and ‘Iron Maiden’.

During a magnificent version of ‘The Trooper’ Dickinson was clad in a red ‘Trooper’ jacket and he charged along the walls brandishing a huge Union flag.

At one point he amusingly draped it over Janick Gers as he played his guitar below. It was hard to discern how much ‘playing’ Janick actually did as he spent a lot of time throwing his guitar around on its strap, dancing with it.

We were treated to ‘Fear Of The Dark’ and then on to current masterpieces from the ‘Book of Souls’ album, including a blistering rendition of ‘Speed Of Light’ during which the crowd sang impressively along with the chorus.

It was a well chosen, well thought out set list.

You didn’t want to look away even for a second in case you missed something spectacular, such as the huge sporadic flames that erupted from the braziers along the city walls, or the massive inflatable Eddie figure that floated up from behind the set.

During ‘Book Of Souls’  a giant Eddie figure appeared on stage and ‘attacked’ the band.

Janick ran through its legs, then when Eddie tried to chop him with his axe he responded by hitting Eddie between the legs with his guitar.

Eddie then moved on to attack Dickinson who fought back and pulled out Eddie’s heart. Bruce squeezed the blood from it before throwing it into the crowd – most entertaining!!

At the end of the song Bruce said “this isn’t something you see every night, the stage on fire” – and it was! There was a flame about 2 feet high burning up on the top of the set! The band carried on regardless whilst the fire was put out.

The main set finished with ‘Iron Maiden’ before an encore of ‘Number Of The Beast’ (which involved the appearance of a huge inflatable Satan figure), ‘Wasted Years’ and ‘Blood Brothers’.

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Apr 202017
 

80s Hollywood hair metal legends reunite for an evening of rock to a small, but appreciative, audience. Craig Chisholm reviews.

Fate can be funny but also cruel at times.
Take the case of a couple of 80s rock bands that have seen members come and go but recently reunited their singers and lead guitarists for the first time in years. One of these bands is called Guns n’ Roses. You’ve probably heard of them and you know their story.

Singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash are touring together for the first time since the early 90s.

It’s a huge, lucrative, money-spinning event that takes in stadiums all over the globe. If you want to see them then their only British dates are at the London Stadium in June where they’ll play in front of 160,000 fans over two nights.

The other band are their former peers – the similarly titled LA Guns.

Their origins are intertwined – Tracii Guns was the original guitarist for Guns n’ Roses back in 1984 before falling out with Axl Rose and departing the band. He then formed a new band and worked with various singers before teaming up with vocalist Phil Lewis and having some minor commercial success in the late 80s and early 90s.

The commercial peak didn’t last long though, mostly due to the rise of Nirvana and grunge, before Lewis and Tracii Guns finally parted company in the late 90s.
Weirdly, both toured as separate incarnations of LA Guns for most of the early noughties before, like Axl and Slash, reuniting again last year. They too are currently on a UK European tour and if you wanted to see them then you could have wandered down to The Assembly where they played in front of less than 160 people.

Fate can definitely be cruel and you have to wonder if Tracii Guns ever wondered what could have been if he hadn’t fell out with Axl 30 years ago. But, if he does, he doesn’t show it in front of the sparse crowd on this occasion.

In fact, the band put on a solid and professional performance that goes down well by the fans in attendance.

The band, wisely, stick to the early albums for most of the set – their self-titled debut providing almost half of the main set alone – from openers ‘No Mercy’ and ‘Electric Gypsy’ though ‘Sex Action’, ‘Bitch is Back’ and more.

Lewis and Guns look to be enjoying themselves and put on an energetic performance that has sections of the crowd head-banging or singing along all night. Lewis in particular interacts and chats with the fans at the front in a colloquial and friendly manner.

During encore track ‘The Ballad of Jayne’ he even hands the mic to fans in the front row to sing along – kudos to the first two of the singers for pretty good performances that leaves the band impressed. However, the third audience member given the chance to shine probably only deserves praise for his enthusiasm, if not his voice, and his heroic level of drunkenness. 

The band finish their set with a boisterous ‘Rip and Tear’ from their second album ‘Cocked And Loaded’ before leaving the stage and on to the next gig of their reunion.

Whether there are more in attendance than in Aberdeen remains to be seen but those diehard fans who do attend will appreciate what they witnessed on stage.

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Apr 202017
 

Young fans pack The Garage out for a triple bill of rock. Review and photos by Craig Chisholm.

The Garage on Windmill Brae was the place to be for rock fans where they were treated to a triple bill of British rock bands as part of their extensive UK tour.

First up, at the very un-rock n’ roll time of 7:15pm are Scottish rockers Fatherson.

The band are no strangers to Aberdeen having played The Lemon Tree, The Garage and, most recently, Café Drummonds at Christmas time.

Their folky rock is similar to fellow Kilmarnock band Biffy Clyro with shades of Frightened Rabbit thrown in for good measure.

Despite the line of people that are still queued up outside the venue there are diehard fans pressed hard against the barrier and already a good crowd have filled the dance floor to see the band.

Their short seven song set is over in a flash and leaves the crowd wanting more. In all honesty, bottom band on the bill does them a disservice – a recent headline performance at Glasgow’s iconic Barrowland’s Ballroom show they are capable of bigger things.

However, there’s no time to mourn Fatherson’s short set time as Cambridge band Lonely The Brave are next up after the briefest of switch overs.

The band are an altogether heavier proposition than the openers whilst still retaining a stadium rock commerciality to it.

The five piece are tight and heavy throughout their set which, again goes down a storm with the packed venue’s crowd.

Vocalist David Jakes is actually the least animated of the band – he stands to the rear clutching his mic stand for dear life whilst spitting the lyrics out to each song.

Between songs, however, the hardcore image is slightly punctured as he fills a mug from a kettle he has sitting in front of the drums. It’s an unusual sight and provides a bit of light relief to the bands otherwise hard sound.

Headliners Mallory Knox take their name from Juliette Lewis’ character in Natural Born Killers – however their sound isn’t as hard, or indeed downright violent, as the character in question. Instead they provide a hook laden, hard rock that appeals to their legions of fans.

By this point, the barrier has a high number of young females pressed against it and they sing along to every word of every song and cling to each bit of between song banter from frontman Mikey Chapman.

Their latest album, ‘Wired’, released only a week or so earlier, provides a fair chunk of the set –  from opener ‘Giving It Up’ to the final encore track ‘Better Off Without You’. Despite the album being out for only being out for 10 days the young crowd are familiar with the tracks and receive each rapturously as if they’d known them their whole lives.

Overall the three bands provide an entertaining, lively and good value for money night that will have left the crowd satisfied on their way home and probably wanting even more.

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