Category: Gig Reviews

Steve Hillage Band – Shepherd’s Bush O2 Empire – 8 June 19

The musical activity that has revolved around the planet Gong has endured for more than 50 years now, and of course a pivotal figure within that activity is Steve Hillage. Tonight is the last of three shows reintroducing the Steve Hillage Band to the live circuit and the first SHB headline shows for 40 years. And what’s more, it’s the current, and quite excellent, line up of Gong that joins Hillage to comprise ‘the band’. So finding motivation to attend tonight was not exactly difficult for our man JR…

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Meat Puppets/Munky – Belfast, Empire Music Hall – 8 June 2019

One advantage of Belfast is that it is a relatively small city, and easily traversable, if you plan your route in advance – something which proved to be something of a boon on this particular evening, with two gigs running (virtually anyway) back to back within a half a mile or so of each other. So, it was relatively easy for Monk to leave one as soon as the last note died in the speakers and make it to the other in good enough time to grab a beverage before the main attraction started…

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Skypilot/Zlatanera/Brethren – Belfast, Limelight 2 – 8 June 2019

On the face of it, staging your album launch gig on the same day as the majority of Belfast’s metal fans seem to have decamped some 100 miles or so to watch some outfit called Metallica play in a field in the arse end of nowhere may not seem to be the best of timings. However, a number of factors always come into play when planning anything, such as the availability of band members, other tour commitments and the release date of the album… and so Skypilot found themselves with something of a fait accompli. But, as a certain playwright wrote several hundred years ago, all’s well that ends well and, at the end of the evening, there was a decent crowd present to watch the trio officially send their excellent new ‘The Affront’ out into the big bad world… but we’ll come to that anon.

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Heart Of A Coward/Any Given Day/Lock & Key – Norwich – Waterfront Studio – 6 June 2019

Before heading to the third gig HOAC’s current five date run, our youngest team member was aware that it was nearly a sell-out show. This is quite unusual for concerts of this genre (metalcore/heavy metal) being held at this particular venue. Within the last few years, the metal scene appeared to be slowly dying out in Norwich. Some of the smaller venues that catered for upcoming bands have closed, as well as the main venues struggling to book as many acts.  With this in mind, her predictions at first were not very hopeful. Especially, when standing outside the venue, around 20 minutes before the doors were supposed to open, not many people were queuing.

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Jamie Lenman/Catalan/Steven VX/Ferals – Belfast, The Palm House – 1 June 2019

It’s the first day of June, supposedly itself the start of the summer season, and, typically, it’s freezing cold. But things are certain to hot up as the evening goes on, as Jamie Lenman is making one of his rare (for reasons he explains during his set) sojourns across the Irish Sea for his first ever headlining shows on the Emerald Isle. And it was definitely set to be a special occasion, as we had the added bonus of the former Reuben frontman being re-united with an old friend…

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Slam Dunk – Leeds, Temple Newsam Park – 25 May 2019

Long revered as the home for all things pop-punk and alternative, Slam Dunk has made itself a flagship brand in the festival market, putting on the kinds of line-ups that seem to have featured every single up-and-coming hot act that could possibly fit within the brackets of punk, hardcore or metalcore. For all of its differences from its predecessors (most notably in the lack of a Midlands date which sees a lot of familiar faces from the heartlands plonked up North, and in the larger festival site of Temple Newsam Park), Slam Dunk 2019 is still doing its damndest to champion acts old and new that represent the best of alternative culture with the likes of Angel Du$t, Milk Teeth and Anti-Flag all on early in the day as if to prove just how stacked this year’s line-up is.

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Jaye Jayle – Birmingham, Hare and Hounds – 30 April 2019

Rich H reckons that Jaye Jayle deserves better. Playing in Birmingham for the first time amidst a number of dates around the country (including a recorded appearance at Desertfest), it feels like the fates have conspired to provide a poor backdrop for the night’s show. Not only is it a dreary Tuesday in April (thanks, British weather) but the venue has barely a dozen people in by the time Jayle takes to the stage with his band, making an intimate venue feel almost cavernous in its unused space. But then, as if to spit right in the face of fate, the band go and put on the kind of performance that makes you want to grab your mates and drag them by the ears to the next show.

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Hollowstar/Florence Black/The 501s – Ebbw Vale, EVI – 25 May 2019

After the demise of the Muni in Pontypridd an opening arose for a small venue to step into the huge gap left… enter the EVI.  A former library in the Valley steeltown of Ebbw Vale it is becoming a good place to go to see up and coming bands.  The sound is usually spot on, the bar is in the same room as the gig and it’s a fair-sized open venue. Everything our Valleys correspondent could really expect when it came to facilitating a rock ‘n’ roll show, right?

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Roger Hodgson – London, Royal Albert Hall – 23 May 2019

Although Jim Rowland has liked Supertramp’s records for a fair few years now, last year’s Stone Free Festival was the first time he’d managed to see Supertramp legend Roger Hodgson live. In a succinct hour’s set that night, he knocked out classic after classic and proceeded to steal the show. So, having dipped his toe firmly in the water then, tonight gave our man the opportunity to dive in headfirst for the full Roger Hodgson concert experience in the spectacular surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall.

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Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Northern Ireland Final – Belfast, Voodoo – 17 May 2019

In what proved to be the most tightly contested battle in the history of the competition, it was a case of third time lucky for Belfast-based groove crüe Lock Horns as they stormed to an extremely well-deserved victory in this year’s Northern Ireland leg of the annual Metal 2 The Masses competition to win a coveted spot at this year’s Bloodstock Open Air festival. Not that they had an easy ride, both in terms of their own performances and the sheer quality of the opposition which they faced, both throughout the competition and on this spectacular night of heavy metal beatdowns par excellence.

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