Category: Gig Reviews

Bloodstock Open Air – 11 August 2019

We hit the final day of Bloodstock 2019 assured that we have seen some of the brightest up-and-coming talent in the metal world right now in the form of both Sabaton and Parkway Drive. That in mind, it’s time to celebrate some legends in their own right as we hit the classically powered Sunday to see what delights Bloodstock holds in store…

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Bloodstock Open Air – 10 August 2019

With Sabaton’s rallying warcries still getting the blood pumping come Saturday morning, we’re undertaking some roaring of our own on Saturday morning, courtesy of the standstill traffic on the M6. Arriving far too late to catch Cancer Bats’ set (though we do catch the anthemic final notes of their ‘War Pigs’ cover), we head into Catton Hall for our first band of the day. Swallow The Sun possess an incredible melodic take on doom/death, which while on paper doesn’t seem like the best way to get the day started, in practice is a grand way to kick things off. Measured and restrained, the band’s set is a total change of pace from the previous evening’s lunacy, all majestic doom melodies and crushing heaviness – just the way we like it.

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Bloodstock Open Air – 9 August 2019

It’s a bright and early start to get to Catton Hall on Friday, kicking off Bloodstock 2019 good and proper. We kick our day off in the Sophie Lancaster tent, absorbing the epic heavy metal stylings of Control The Storm. Stylistically sat somewhere between symphonic, power and plain ol’ heavy metal, the band bring along some big tunes to kick the day off, their sound much more ambitious than the tent environs would suggest. To top things off, the band bring along their own pyro to really kick things up a notch, not-so-subtly signalling their main-stage ambitions whilst backing up the blasts of flame with some even brighter blasts of pure metallic goodness.

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Bloodstock Open Air – 8 August 2019

As far as the UK metal community goes, you’ll not find a bigger or more concentrated celebration of heavy metal than at Bloodstock, the festival having gone from strength to strength since its first outdoor events way back in 2005. Over the years legends and newcomers alike have graced its stages, some even going on to headline in their own right as a show that the festival is not concerned with just rotating the same old faces when it can promote new talent to higher positions than ever before. Gojira, Opeth, Mastodon, Ghost, Amon Amarth – all have headlined this decade, each holding a special place of reverence in the hearts of those who caught their sets. Yet, Bloodstock 2019 looks to have its most ‘controversial’ booking yet in the form of Australian metalcore mob Parkway Drive, this year’s Saturday night headliners who take a decidedly different position to the traditional heavy metal cultural norms. Never mind that they’ve one of the best stage shows in the business, nor that the band have produced some titanium-plated anthems in their career thus far; it turns out that sometimes people will only be happy if you toe the line and stay in your box. But then, that was never Bloodstock’s way, was it?

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Flipper/Grey Hairs – Nottingham, The Rescue Rooms – 30 July 2019

Formed at the tail-end of the original punk explosion and a formative influence on the burgeoning hardcore scene (and later noise rock derivative), US underground legends Flipper have come screeching into the station on their 40th birthday as a band. Joining them for the celebration are legends in their own right, guest musicians Mike Watt (of Minutemen and fIREHOSE fame) and David Yow (of Scratch Acid and Jesus Lizard fame) adding an extra layer of brilliance to an already excellent legacy. Arriving in Nottingham as part of a special UK tour (including an appearance at the UK’s premier punk festival, Rebellion), Flipper draft in ÜR-approved local act Grey Hairs as main support.

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The SoapGirls/Belwood – Belfast, Voodoo – 4 August 2019

It’s hard to know where to start with reflecting on this particular gig, which came in the middle of a run of Irish dates by the French-born South African-raised feminist punk duo by the name of The SoapGirls. But we’ll leave aside the (perceived) confrontationalist attitude of the headliners and start with the promotion of the show – or rather, the distinct lack of it! From what I could see, outside of a few posters in the venue itself, and a Facebook event page which was merely posted when the gig was announced, with the scantest of information, and then never updated, zero effort had been putting into attracting a crowd. Perhaps it should have come as no surprise, therefore, that the numbers who did turn up were distinctly on the equally sparse side, with only a handful more than a dozen paying punters making the effort on this otherwise balmy Sunday evening.

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Sworn Amongst/Ketos/Cursed Sun/Victim Royal – Belfast, Limelight 2 – 3 August 2019

It was the gig clash from hell, presenting us with an equally damnable choice… a band who have been true stalwarts of the Belfast metal scene for the past decade, Death Of A Salesman, were paying their farewells at the city centre bar where I had spent the previous evening, while Hull heavyweights Sworn Amongst were making their Belfast debut just ‘round the corner from ÜRHQ, supported by a truly stellar local supporting cast… there was only one way to make the final decision, and that was to toss a coin!

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Hundred Year Old Man/Skypilot/Elder Druid – Belfast, Voodoo – 2 August 2019

Belfast was a riot of colour as the city prepared for its annual Pride celebrations the following day, but I was heading into the blackness of my favourite venue for a dose of solid gloominess at what would prove to be the first of four back-to-back gigs over the course of the weekend and the first visit to UR’s home city by Leeds post metallers Hundred Year Old Man and this Bloodstock-themed gig.

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Metal Mayhem V – St Helens, Tank – 27 July 2019

A new venue to our travelling gigaholic, Tank in St Helens, hosting a rock/metal all dayer for free seemed like a damn good way to start his Saturday off, before heading into his DJ residency. And with the likes of Witch Tripper and Deified appearing on the bill, it was a damn good line up! That in mind, he headed across on local transport to take in some heavy riffs. A small bar with a strong DIY ethic and spirit awaited him, along with a number of the bands already in good spirits.

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Rival Sons/Philip McCarroll – Belfast, Limelight 1 – 27 July 2019

It most assuredly was going to be a hot night in the city. Not because the mercury had been soaring to ever higher levels over the past few days, but because Long Beach (via Nashville)’s favourite rock ‘n’ roll (rival) sons were back in ÜR’s hometown for the second of two exclusive (and almost sold out) headline shows on their Irish stopover. Yep, it was gonna be hot, sticky and sweaty – but, hey… that’s just the way we like it, isn’t it?

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New Valley Wolves/Paper Tigers/Wildhound/A 1000 Days Gone – Belfast, Love & Death – 26 July 2019

Tonight’s venue for our latest adventures in rock ‘n’ roll wonderland is something of a curio. It’s a converted three storey Victorian townhouse on one of the city’s main shopping streets, with a pizza parlour on the ground floor and a set of rather forbidding fire doors giving access to a trendy cocktail bar above. The infrequent live shows staged here are held on the topmost level, the positively miniscule stage squeezed between the frankly oversized bar and the DJ booth/sound desk: with the stage also facing the door, and the large dancefloor off to one side, it’s not exactly conducive to creating an atmosphere – but it is guaranteed to be hot and sweaty.

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