Monday, 30 June 2014

Machine Head, 3rd December 2004, Carling Academy, Birmingham

This was the “Through the Ashes of Empires” tour., which in many ways was a comeback event for them. It was the first time I had been to the Carling Academy and was impressed with the venue (aside from the sticky floor) as it had quite a nice modern vibe and was a decent size (not too big or too small. 

They played most expected stuff, including "The Burning Red," which was excellent. I also recall a Pantera cover (possibly "Walk"?) and perhaps even a bit of "Battery." I’ll mark this higher than the previous time I saw them because it just seemed a broader show and they had dispensed with the ridiculous skater look.

8 out of 10

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Lost Prophets, 15th November 2004 – Civic Hall, Wolverhampton

I seem to recall attending this half-heartedly as a copy of their album made its way into my collection. They played every song from Start Something album, including “Last Summer” and also the very cool “Shinobi vs Dragon Ninja.” I can’t even remember who was supporting – probably nobody. 

I'm now wondering if i should down-weight the score in line with what has happened to their singer, but then that would be unfair on his innocent band mates. It was an okay gig I guess.

6.5 out of 10 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Slipknot & Slayer (supported by Mastodon & Hatebreed), 5th October 2004 – National Indoor Arena, Birmingham

Played the Birmingham NIA, October 2004. Criminally missed Mastodon due to a copious intake of alcohol in a Broad Street bar (have seen them twice since), before witnessing “South of Heaven,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” “Hell Awaits” and “Angel of Death.” Slayer were tight, machinegun-esque and a spectacle to behold - I recall sprinting along the canal side to enter the arena literally hearing Slayer echo around the city. 

Slipknot played all the “hits” (is that the right word?), including the “Heretic Song,” “Duality” and “People=Shit” (along with a great body of material from their recent and most excellent third album). When Corey told everyone to crouch down and jump up in unison, everyone obeyed and then the whole of Birmingham shook.

“If you’re 555 then I’m 666. What's it like to be a heretic?!” I was dying for the loo on the way back home, but it was worth it.

9 out of 10 (If we’d seen Mastodon and the start of Slayer then it would have been a 10)

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Download Festival, 5th – 6th June 2004 – Castle Donnington Park

Saturday: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Opeth, Monster Magnet, Cradle of Filth, The Distillers, Iggy Pop, Sum 41, Linkin Park
Sunday: Breed 77, Turbonegro, Ill Nino, Soulfly, Damageplan, Machine Head, Slipknot, Korn, Metallica

And so 8 years on from the ‘96 festival we found ourselves back at the racetrack, this time on the Friday in order to camp over, as the festival had moved to a 2-day event. It had actually been brought back the previous year, with Audioslave playing, and Metallica making a surprise appearance on a second stage, and the latter had been chosen the headline the final night. 

The Saturday line up was one of the most disjointed in the festival’s history. We watched Monster Magnet (incredible – “Im never going to work another day in my life!”) and Iggy Pop (fantastic) as well as Cradle of Filth (interesting) and bits of Sum 41 (totally forgettable). Missed the Distillers (not fussed) and caught only a snippet of Opeth (curious – had little knowledge of them, only to discover their magnificence fully the following year). Worst of all, however, was Linkin Park. Bland, dull, nu-pop metal. Terrible.

On Sunday, having packed early and avoided the leaking sewerage of the campsite, we caught snippets of Turbonegro, Il Nino and Breed 77 – all three were fairly forgettable and I only recall a fat man in a top hat (Turbonegro) and a dreadlocked foreign guitarist (Il Nino?). Soulfly were quite good, as were Machine Head (set list: “Imperium,” “Ten Ton Hammer,” “The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears,” “Take My Scars,” “Descending the Shades of Night,” “Davidian,” and “Block”) and Slipknot. However, Slayer were moved to the second stage due to a late arrival and swapped with Damageplan, who were fantastic. Probably the highlight of the entire festival was their cover of “Walk,” together with a blazoning improvised solo from Dimebag on a silver Dean guitar that threw off sunlight onto the crowd. His final UK performance? 

Korn played “Right Now,” “Falling Away From Me,” “Got the Life,” “Here To Stay,” “Freak on a Leash,” “Blind,” “Shoots & Ladders,” “Dead Bodies Everywhere” and “Fagot.” Jonathon Davies wore a strange black kilt, whilst Head was not far off leaving the band, so it was probably the last chance to catch them with their original line up.

Then the two hour wait for Metallica during which time my sunburnt head was smashed with an assortment of urine-filled bottles. Little did we know that their tardiness was due to Lars being ill and it was only as a result of Dave Lombardo and Slipknot's Joey stepping in that saw the gig fulfilled with most material coming from the first two albums and the Black album. Not their best performance, but one of their most memorable.

9 out of 10 (a decent headliner on day one would have pushed it up to full marks)

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Wildhearts (supported by Strapping Young Lad), 17th June 2001 – JB’s Dudley

On completing my second year at Plymouth University, the Wildhearts played at Dudley JB’s. They were supported by the excellent, if not bizarre choice of Strapping Young Lad, who played a style of metal somewhere between that of Metallica and Deicide (complete with blast beats), fronted by an apparent lunatic who looked like Bill Bailey. The second support band was useless, characterised only by a singer who wanted to be unpredictable and exciting, but simply came across as a retarded monkey whose only contribution was to swing across the rafters scratching his armpits. I recall pondering if he should be put down. 

The Wildhearts were good, though sadly their original line up lasted only half a dozen songs before bassist Danny exposed himself, then was led off stage, too high on heroin/some other erroneous narcotic to continue playing. Nevertheless, the bassist of the crap support band stood in heroically, and Ginger carried on, playing “Shitville,” “Wonderland,” “I Wanna Go Where the People Go,” and “TV Tan,” among others. A decent effort in tough circumstances.

7 out of 10 (for the quirky entertainment alone)

Friday, 20 June 2014

Rockbitch, November 2000 – Plymouth Cooperage

Rockbitch played the Plymouth Barbican towards the end of 2000. True to their name and reputation, they walked on naked (seven women members), and proceeded to play an array of awful songs in a style somewhere between insipid goth and bland rock. This was immaterial, however, as the majority of the audience were more preoccupied with their obscene sexual stage performances, cumulating with an invitation to a female audience member to walk on stage and have sex with them. Their encore involved a golden condom being tossed into the crowd with which the lucky recipient “winning” the chance to use it on them backstage. I recall Brian constructing a very wide net to no avail...

0.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Lightening Seeds (supported by Rootjoose), Plymouth University Summer Ball, May 2000 – A field somewhere near Plymouth

The Lightening Seeds, Rootjoose played at the Plymouth University May Ball in 2000. It was interesting to see Rootjoose, given my band’s previous offer of a support slot with them, and they were an impressive force live, without being spectacular. The Lightening Seeds, in the other hand, were awful. They have some okay pop songs, but most of them rely on electronic backing in order to differentiate the mundane acoustic strumming from song to song, and without that, they sounded like dull pap live. Did they play Three Lions? I dunno. David Brent’s “Freelove Freeway” would have been better. 


2 out of 10

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Pantera (supported by Satiricon & Powerman 5000) 26th April 2000 – Civic Hall, Wolverhampton

A gap then ensued between school and university before the arrival of Pantera in Easter 2000. An awesome day spent in a local Wolverhampton pub was followed by supports bands Satyricon, and Powerman 5000, who both held their own, whilst being watched by the monstrous presence of Phil Anselmo on the side of the stage complete with ludicrous beard and inked arms. It was also partially memorable for the fact that Dave made a fool of himself when speaking to Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury in a backstage bar (though I can’t truly recall he did that or 2. whether I've embellished this memory through the filter of alcohol). 

Pantera were awesome, although they tended to favour the more recent songs, and neglected the Trendkill album completely, which is the reason for the half a point deduction on the score. “Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit,” “Revolution is My Name,” “Walk,” “A New Level,” “Hostile,” “Domination,” “PC Sledge,” “Becoming,” “Hellbound,” and “Cowboys” were all blasted out to perfection. Vinnie’s drumming was impressive, whilst watching Dimebag on guitar was spellbinding, particularly in light of his tragic death a few years later.

9.5 out of 10

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Gunz N’ Rozes Some Point in 2000 – Plymouth Cooperage

As my band were regular attendees (and occasionally performers) to the Monday evening jam sessions at the Plymouth Cooperage down by the Barbican, we tended to become aware quite quickly of up and coming performances. For the most part, this involved tribute acts and during the first year at Plymouth we saw this GNR tribute band who happened to feature “Gary Crowley” as Axl Rose who had apparently performed on Star in their Eyes. I think that was supposed to be some sort of claim to fame.

Anyway, they were okay. They looked vaguely the part, except that Slash looked a little more like Joe Perry with a wig and the guy playing Izzy was actually a better guitarist. They at least arrived on time and didn’t start a riot or take two hours between songs, which immediately placed them above the real GNR for reliability.

5 out of 10

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Therapy? 6th May 1998 – Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton

Following a relatively dry patch concert-wise during the second year of High school, Therapy? played the Wulfrun in 1998. Their support acts were not particularly memorable, however they played a solid show, the highlights of which included the obvious choices of “Screamager,” “Die Laughing,” and an extended version on “Diane,” complete with electric cello backing, and atmospheric lighting.

I've never really owned much Therapy? apart from the obvious Troublegum album and a "Best Of" but they struck me from this gig that they are a band who should have received more mainstream success – either that or perhaps they are just better live than on record.

8 out of 10

Monday, 9 June 2014

Silverchair 26th June 1997 – Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton

In June, Silverchair also played the Civic Hall. It was good show, including “Tomorrow,” “Israel’s Son,” “The Door,” and “Freak”. The only strange thing about it was Daniel John’s odd stage act, which seemed to be awkward and embarrassing, threatening to detract from the quality of the gig. He's a talented guy with a great voice but I got the impression that he would rather be doing other stuff.

Silverchair went a bit downhill after that album and maybe this was the start of all his weirdness. I have no recollection of the support band or if there even was one.

7 out of 10 (for "Tomorrow" if nothing else)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Machine Head (supported by Coal Chamber & Napalm Death) 22nd April 1997 – Civic Hall, Wolverhampton

Machine Head undertook a UK tour at the beginning of 1997 on the back of their slightly disappointing second album, The More Things Change. They were supported by Korn rip-offs Coal Chamber, who were not bad live, and the excellent Napalm Death. Machine Head themselves were very heavy and very intense with a great, atmospheric opening. They played most of their best material, including “Old”, “Davidian,” “Take My Scars,” and “Violate”. 

The only criticism was that their original drummer, the incredible Chris Kontas had been replaced by someone mortal. Dave McClain is a good drummer, but very few individuals could match the drumming of a man who recorded "Blood for Blood". I also recall they were entering their “skater” / nu-metal” phase which was a bit irritating at the time and now looks a little desperate given they've decided to go prog-metal.

7 out of 10

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Offspring (supported by various rubbish acts) 16th April 1997 – Civic Hall, Wolverhampton

The Offspring played at Wolverhampton as part of their spring ’97 Ixnay on the Hombre album, possibly their best to date. They were supported by an array of abysmal bands, who were so poor that I can’t even remember what they were called. Awful. I just remember that one was an all girl band, which portrayed themselves as a rock equivalent of the Spice Girls. Well, what a great concept to base an artistic offer around. 

The Offspring were good, not great, and not memorable. Among the songs that stood out were “Self-Esteem”, “Bad Habit” and “Gone Away”. Seem to remember coming away with a poor-quality long-sleeved t-shirt that I wore intermittently for a year or so.

4.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Korn (supported by Incubus & The Urge) 26th January 1997 – Civic Hall, Wolverhampton

There was a second chance to see Korn around the same time, when they toured with funk rock band The Urge, and up-and-coming soul rock band Incubus. Both these bands were fairly average live as I recall. Korn, however, were again fantastic. They played all their best songs, plus the pick of material from their (not quite so good) second album, Life is Peachy, including “Good God” and “Kill You”. 

The sequined tracksuit had already started to take a life of its own and through the five musicians were on their way to stardom, the gig retained enough intimacy for it to linger in the memory. I also came away with a ridiculously large poster with low-resolution print (well, what do you expect for a couple of quid off a street seller?)

8.5 out of 10

Monday, 2 June 2014

Sepultura (supported by Floodgate), 15th December 1996 – Civic Hall, Wolverhampton

In December 1996 I had the chance to see Sepultura at Wolverhampton on what was to be their penultimate ever gig as the original line up on their final tour (Max left soon after). Having had most of their performance at Donnington blocked out by Korn’s legendary showing, it was a chance to see them play for an extended period of time and perform practically all their major songs. 

I recall that this was one of the most intense crowds I have ever been in, though I remember wishing they would have played more of their earlier stuff from Beneath the Remains and Arise. Sepultura were also joined by extra musicians to give backing to songs such as “Roots” and “Kaiowas”. Floodgate were also very solid in support, and played about 40 minutes worth of bluesy heavy rock.

This was a Sunday night gig and I look back now wondering how I managed to do any work in sixth form. Not sure I did that year in fact – looking back I can’t quite believe how many live performances I went to in 1996. Incidentally, I seem to have lost this ticket somehow...

7.5 out of 10