Thursday, July 12, 2018

We Will Rock You; TRNSMT festival Glasgow bows to Queen - review 6/7/18

At its height Scotland’s T In The Park saw 85,000 visitors to the festival. Two years ago the organisers announced the event was taking a break and launched TRNSMT, a new festival in Glasgow city centre. Hard rock never got much of a look in at TITP, but I was delighted to travel down to the central belt to attend the rock day of this year’s festival. The venue was Glasgow Green, capacity 50,000 and whilst the site wasn’t at full capacity it was a great turnout helped by glorious weather. As you might expect TRNSMT is really well organised. It is friendly, there’s plenty of food and drink stalls, and music across four stages, each just a short walk across the park from each other. 

The Amorettes just get better and better 
Kicking off the day for me were my good friends The Amorettes on The King Tut’s Stage. This ballsy trio never disappoint, and showcased a mix of new and old songs during their swift 30 mins set, including Let The Neighbours Call The Cops and Planet Rock radio favourite Everything I Learned (I Learned From Rock N Roll). A stellar performance from the girls as always.

Next up it was a quick jog to the main stage to catch The Temperance Movement, and boy did they go down a treat! On home turf, frontman Phil Campbell had the crowd chuckling right away with his jokes, addressing his unusual choice of clothing! Nevertheless, the roar from the punters for these talented musicians grew and grew after each song which was wonderful to hear. The band’s quirky, funky, groove filled sound really worked in the sunshine and their experience on big stages stood out. In my opinion, TTM’s sound was also the best that came from the huge main stage on the day, which was the icing on the cake for me. The band were tight and Campbell’s vocals sounded phenomenal throughout, with the brilliant A Deeper Cut being a stand out. A high point of the day.
Fri drew a big crowd at TRNSMT
As with many festivals there are inevitably some stage time clashes, and I missed The Darkness (Texas too) but next for me it was Mason Hill back over on The King Tut’s Stage. I have seen these guys several times before, but this had to be the best performance by far. The 5 piece Scottish rockers have grown so much in both confidence and stage presence since I first saw them. The well-loved Now You See Me went down very well and the guys also treated us to some new tracks Wait For Me and Broken Sun which sounded perhaps a little heavier, but brilliant none the less. I am looking forward to catching Mason Hill again later in the year.
Mason Hill are set for big things
I also watched The XCERTS on the same stage who were unknown to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed. The three-piece had a modern Indie-rock sound and catchy tunes which the crowd loved. It was a nice surprise to watch an unfamilar band and come away humming their tunes which is what happened to me!

GUN are tremendous live
GUN were next up on The King Tut’s Stage. A few technical issues aside, the veteran Glaswegian rockers had the crowd hooked and singing along the moment they hit the stage. From Better Days, Don’t Say It’s Over and Word Up, to newer material including Favourite Pleasures and She Knows, the audience loved every minute. You can always be sure to enjoy a GUN set – they have so many hits! Brilliant show and I just wish they could have had a little longer.

Closing the festival, as the sun reluctantly set on the main stage, were the mighty Queen with Adam Lambert. Hearing such iconic songs live and seeing the legends that are Brian May and Roger Taylor on stage alongside Lambert was an amazing experience.
 Watch Queen hit the stage with Seven Seas Of Rye 

The show was incredible with a huge stage set which included giant screens, walkway, and a moving robot head (from the cover of the News of The World album). I particularly liked the fact that Lambert and the rest of the guys really respected and celebrated Freddie Mercury and his legacy throughout the show. Freddie even appeared on the screen and sang a duet with May which seemed to touch many fans. Adam Lambert did a terrific job in trying to fill such big shoes, his voice perfectly suiting the challenging songs. So what did they play? It was classic hit, after hit. A two hour set that included Don’t Stop Me Now, Killer Queen, I Want It All, Fat Bottomed Girls, Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. The band even sent the Glasgow crowd crazy with a version of Loch Lomond.
Brain May had fun with his selfie stick 
One criticism would be that the sound wasn’t loud enough! So much so that when Brian May took to the runway to sing an acoustic song, it was barely audible. I had expected to be hit with a huge wall of majestic sound to immerse you in the music of those legendary songs, but for me it just wasn’t like that which was a shame.
The sun set on a great day at TRNSMT
Overall TRNSMT was brilliant. The King Tut’s stage was well attended all day and had great sound too (perhaps better than elsewhere in the arena at times). The main arena was busy throughout, but the Golden Circle, an area in front of the main stage cordoned off for access for certain punters seemed to dampen the atmosphere a little at times. Some people (including me) were a little unsure about who had access, and when, as there were points in the day when the area was two thirds empty, whilst the rest of the main arena further back was packed. This put most fans a long way from the bands, which seemed a shame. That aside TRNSMT is highly recommended. I just hope that next year we will again be treated to another day of hard rock among the mainstream pop acts at the festival.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Toby Jepson & Rob Town create Lightning In A Bottle - a new company to help bands

Rob Town (left) and Toby Jepson (right) are well placed to help bands climb the ladder
I have met and interviewed Toby Jepson (Wayward Sons/Little Angels) several times and I was delighted to hear this week that he is launching Lightning In A Bottle, a brand new venture, co-founded with musician and PR expert, Rob Town (Stampede Press/Panic Cell). This business partnership has been set up as support platform for musicians to help inform, encourage and empower them.

Lightning In A Bottle will provide help with planning, workshops, mentoring, songwriting opportunities and production plans that can help take a band from the rehearsal room to the mastering suite. They will also focus on social media and marketing for bands of all levels of ability and experience.

Toby said “We believe that everything starts and ends with the music. If you can stand out, make your passion potent enough to captivate and enthrall, then you have a chance.” 

Co-founder Rob Town added "This is about championing positivity for musicians. Lightning In A Bottle has been set up to help support musicians on their journey. This isn’t management, it is about aiding musicians to find a path, to stand out from and discover a uniqueness with their music whilst avoiding common pitfalls”

Sounds a super idea to me. You can find out more and get in touch with Rob and Toby here;

You Tube:

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

VEGA shine in Manchester - live review, 28/6/18

If you are someone who reads my blog regularly then it will come as no surprise to you that VEGA are one of my favourite bands, so I was so excited to head down to Manchester to see the guys in action on the opening night of their Only Human tour last week!
Joining VEGA at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester were Midnite City who delivered an upbeat set of feel good songs from their self-titled debut album released last October. Guitarist Miles Meaken showcased some wonderfully melodic solos, whilst frontman Rob Wylde delivered an energetic performance which had the crowd hooked. Highlights were the hugely catchy Ghosts Of My Old Friends, One Step Away and Can’t Wait For The Nights. A fantastic performance.
Hanging with Midnite City after the show!
Next up were the mighty VEGA, touring in support of their new album Only Human. The six piece melodic rockers treated us to eight songs from the new release including riffy opener Let’s Have Fun Tonight. As well as a good chunk of new material, the guys still included plenty of fan favourites such as White Flag, Stereo Messiah and Every Little Monster, along with some oldies that haven’t been performed for a while like Wonderland and the catchy, melodic Saviour (a personal favourite of mine). A show from VEGA never disappoints with the guys showing off their incredible musical talent. From Nick Workman’s astounding vocals to Hutch’s powerhouse drumming and guitar duo Michael Kew and Marcus Thurston’s impressive rhythm and lead parts, the guys again delivered a tight, fun performance - as they always do.
VEGA absolutely smashed it on the first night of the tour!
It was a night jam packed with hooks and melodies that had the whole crowd rocking and dancing along. If you have the chance to make a show on this tour, don't miss them. Absolute class.
There's still time to catch the guys on tour!

Monday, June 18, 2018

"Indelible Heroes is for those iconic figures, who left this world" - interview with Pekka from Brother Firetribe (video)

I chatted exclusively to Brother Firetribe frontman Pekka Heino, just before the band's first ever show in Scotland at the Cathouse, Glasgow (review coming). Watch as we talk about the inspiration for the band's brilliant lyrics, their surprise at UK fan's reactions to their shows, and find out which Glaswegian rock band is Pekka's all time favourite act! A massive thanks to Pekka and the BFT team for their time.

  Also, watch the interview I did with the whole band last year at the Rockingham Festival in Nottingham. 

Brother Firetribe's latest album, Sunbound is available here on Spinefarm Records

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"Sometimes bands need to be forced into a corner a bit" - Phil Campbell from The Temperance Movement interview (video)

Playing Download with Guns N' Roses, making the Top 10, striving as a solo artist and the changing face of the music business. These were just some of the topics I was lucky enough to discuss recently with the lovely Phil Campbell, frontman for the brilliant Temperance Movement.

I chatted at length with Phil backstage at The Assembly in Aberdeen, last weekend, the day after the band had shared the main stage at Download with Gun N' Roses. Talking just before an amazing set, watch what Phil had to say during one of the most enjoyable interviews I have done. A huge thanks to Phil for his time.

You can catch the Temperance Movement live at the TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow on Fri July 6, supporting Queen. Their latest album A Deeper Cut is available here  

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Jukebox Heroes; Rock Icons Show - Review, Aberdeen

DJ O'Sullivan rocked Aberdeen with his tremendous playing

There is a huge amount of great new music out there, much of which has its roots in the classic hits that have made up the foundations of hard rock for the last 50 years.  There are hundreds of cover and tribute bands up and down the country who play the rock standards every week, but there are very few who deliver a show as good as I saw last week. 

The Rock Icons Show ended a lengthy UK tour at the Arts Centre in Aberdeen, Scotland with a stunning performance. The brainchild of talented musician and producer Ed Hannigan, this is a stage show experience, delivered by a tremendous group of Irish rock musicians who perform the biggest rock hits from right across the decades. Where this show differs from many other cover/tribute acts is in the musicianship, which really is top class. From creating the true sounds with authentic instruments, through to some exceptional vocals, this is a classy, professional show.  

As for the set list, well when you start with Def Leppard’s Animal, you have got my attention! From there it was slab after slab of rock from the Gods of the genre, including Deep Purple, AC/DC, Van Halen and Guns n Roses, through to Toto, Journey and Foreigner. Vocally the whole band is very strong. Rainbow’s ‘I Surrender’ has some eye watering notes which vocalist Mark did a tremendous job on, and the close harmony backing vocals were also excellent throughout the night. Main man Ed showed his versatility too, often singing lead himself, whilst peeling off some great guitar solos.

Another nice aspect of the show was some great banter between the band themselves, and also the audience. A section where photos of each member of the band from the ’80s was put up on the big screen was good fun and got a great reaction from the crowd. The set itself was terrific too – a wall of Marshalls, drum and keyboard risers, big screen backdrop all set to great lighting. Some acts could learn a thing or two about live sound from these guys too, as the show’s production team delivered a high quality experience. 

It was packed at the Aberdeen Arts Centre for the Rock Icons Show

Back In Black, All Right Now, Cold As Ice, Rebel Yell, Jump, Livin' On A Prayer, the hits just kept coming and the audience loved it. From some who were obviously there back in the day, to young kids jumping about to Sweet Child O’Mine, this was a feelgood night out for everyone. Highly recommended – catch them next time if you can.

All photos AH Photography.