Cheap Trick, O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London 27-6-17

Got down London early afternoon. Visited the usual places which obviously included The Montague Pyke πŸ˜‰ The weather was pretty rubbish with intermittent Β rain.
Around 5.30 i met Rob & we went for a drink in The College Arms (which is close to where he’s working at the mo). Had a catch up & then he was on his way home. As Rob didn’t want the comp ticket for the gig, i let Neil have it. Got to The Forum about 30mins before doors, sorted out the tix quickly. We had the option of going downstairs of upstairs disabled area. Chose upstairs as better view up there ( maybe not the best choice tonight ? πŸ˜‰ ). Managed front row centre, so perfect position.
Got chatting with a bloke from Northampton. Couldn’t believe he’d never visited the Forum before (or “Town & Country Club” as it used to be called). We exchanged stories about how hard it can be getting to gigs if you cannot drive. He was a decent geezer.
The opening act tonight were called “Stone Broken”. Don’t think i’d seen them before. Seem to be a youngish band &I liked that the vocalist did SING. There’s so many young generic acts around now that do the shouty vocals & i find that boring. They were entertaing enough,but, obviously i was here for Cheap Trick.
The last time i went to a Cheap Trick headline show was back in 2010. But that same day, Skunk Anansie were doing a production rehearsal at LH2 studios. Obviously, Skunk took priority ! By the time Skunk had finished, i thought it would still be cool to catch what i could of Cheap Trick at Shepherds Bush Empire. As expected, the place was rammed & i couldn’t see a thing ! So finally getting this chance to see a headline show in 2017 was a nice prospect.

Tonight was my first time trying out my new camera. I really should have looked at the instructions better as i wasn’t well enough prepared. Some buttons on the Panasonic are in different places to my previous Sony camera & like a total idiot, i kept swithing the thing off when i wanted to make video clips! So what i managed often had a few seconds missing at the start !

Whilst it was nice to finally see a Cheap Trick headline show, i was a little disapointed with the setlist. For myself, there were too many of the mordern songs & not enough of the older classics. Also thought they didn’t need to play so many covers ! But that being said, it was a decent night as the show clocked in around the 2 hour mark.

The highlights for me were towards the end, when the classics were played πŸ˜‰ ( Oh yeah, going back to the chap i was talking with earlier, he even left early as wasn’t so impressed with the new stuff!)

Afterwards, i said my goodbyes to my mate & went out into the rain. I was bloody knackered after this long day. By chance, at the tube staion, i bumped into my old mate Dave Ling. We had a quick natter & i updated him about my general health (or lack of it lol). By the time i got back to Stratford i was totally shattered. Think i managed about a couple hours sleep & then work up with a massive headache which lasted for over an hour. Tbh i was unsure if it was a result of being knackered/dehydrated of if it was to do with the brain tumors. It actually scarred me. Didn’t get chance to say goodbye to Rob as he was out to work early (i heard the door closing). Once Kristina was up, we had a chat about the gig etc & i said i was unsure if i’m fit enough for the next proposed gig. Left Hotel Rob around 10am for my train home. Oh what fun was ahead of me !
Back tracking a bit, i’d booked my return train some time back. Then i recieved an appointment from Oncologist on same day i was returning. So i had to get another ticket so could be back in time to keep appointment. Guess what? She only cancelled the appointment, so i wasted money on the earlier, more expensive rail ticket!
So, back to the (no) fun & games… My train was due to leave KingsX at 12.08. All seemed fine, got on it set to go & they cancelled the train. The next one was at 12.35, so got on that one. Sat on new train ready to go, i checked the train app on phone to see what time my connection would be in Grantham. Would you believe, it showed this one i’m now on was showing cancelled ! Sure enough, a few minutes later the announcement was made train is cancelled ! Eventally got on the 13.08 train & was on our way. Only 7mins in Grantham to change trains. Managed it ok but then there was another announcement saying theres a problem with the line about 3 miles from Boston ! Honestly, what more could go wrong with this trip from hell ?!? As luck would have it, they got the track mostly sorted so we could carry on slowly. Think it arrived about 5-10mins later than should have been.
When i finally got home i was so damn knackered with what i had to contend with this trip i seriously thought about ditching ALL the gigs i’ve got booked up already !

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Camden Rocks Festival, Virginmarys, Royal Republic, Hands Off Gretel, 3-6-17

Β 

As always, we got to Camden early. Once we’d got the tix exchanged for wristbands, we hung in Worlds End pub for a while. Whilst there, various friends turned up. Quite a shock to see Benoit as he pretty much never visits the UK ! I’m guessing it had something to do with meeting Kitti πŸ˜‰ The ever present Jim also joined us as did lovely Eva. The rest of the “VMs family” were in the other part of the bar, but we gradually said our hellos. Couldn’t help goofing around a little πŸ˜‰

There were a few bands i was looking forward to,but, generally i think the lineup for the day wasn’t that great. Obviously VMs headlining, Ally solo, Royal Republic, Hands Off Gretel were my priorities…anything else would be a bonus. Whilst sat in Worlds End, watching everyone go by, someone noticed a lass outside wearing bright purple/pink glitzy trousers. Soon realised it was Lauren from H.O.G. Great idea for the band to hang around there giving out flyers & posing for photos & drumming up more people for their set (Not that the extra bodies were really needed. I mean, they’re kicking up a storm & have already got a great following….but i suppose it was a good idea with a personal touch to turn peeps onto H.O.G. ). As the window was open, i had a quick chat with Helen (Laurens mum) as hadn’t see her for awhile.

Can’t quite remember what we did after the Worlds End pub ! But the first band i saw was Hands Off Gretel in the Underworld (probably saw last minutes of the act before them). The place was rammed, as expected it would be. It was interesting to see the varied age of the audience. H.O.G. obviously appeal to all ages, so that has to be a good thing. Lauren thanked the crowd for choosing their gig instead of any of the others. As ever, they played a great gig. At the end, the crowd really wanted more & kept shouting “one more song,one more song”! Unfortunately, due to time restraints, it wasn’t possible. Managed a couple of videos.

Next we went to the Crowndale to catch a bit of The Kut. Rob spotted a great place in a mini balcony, which was perfect to see it all. I’d not previously heard anything by them before, but i enjoyed what i saw.Β 

We then made our way to Koko to see the amazing Royal Republic. We caught the tail end of “Moses” set. (Didn’t really do anything for me lol)
Soon enough, it was time for the Royals. As ever, they were full of bombast & were bloody great ! They’re such a FUN band to watch !

As ever, they finish with “Full Steam Spacemachine”

We started making our way back to the market. Wandered around looking for food. To start off, i wanted some, but then i got a whiff of something & it totally put me off !Β Rob had some though.
Went to the Kraken stage which was billed as an “amphitheatre” to see Ally acoustic. All the VMs peeps were already there. It was quite nice sitting on the (false) grass steps. The only downside was that the sun was shining, behind Ally, towards us all. Must confess, when Ally spotted a sound problem & the local(?) guy didn’t agree with his opinion, it brought a smile to my face. (I think it was sorted by replacing a cable or something?). As always, Allys performance was pure & from his soul. I’m sure everyone enjoyed his show.Β 

Me? Take sneeky photos? πŸ˜‰Β 

Dunno where the time went today, but soon enough we headed to the Underworld in preparation for the maid band of the day, Virginmarys. But before them, we ended up watching quite a bit of ” Ruts DC”. They were a laugh. (In a good way). Was obvious there were some diehard fans in the crowd. Was surprised i knew a few of their songs (mighta been covers?)
So, to the main reason for coming down to Camden Rocks : The Virginmarys !
The place was soon heaving. We had a nice view from above to the left. They kick off with a ferocious version of “Portrait Of Red”. It’s really cool to see the crowd dancing away down there. Smiles all around πŸ™‚ Without taking a breath, they then play “Taking The Blame/ Halo in Her Silhouette”.

Next it’s one of my faves off the album “Divides”, namely “I Wanna Take You Home”. I always think of someone when they play this song πŸ˜‰ We’re only 5 or 6 songs into the set & i notice it’s already getting quite rough in the pits. As much as i wish i could be down there, it’s times like this i appreciate NOT being down there !
The (relatively) new song “Sweet Loretta” comes over great. The VMs family already know this so they’re singing along with passion.

Then we get the old classics “Free to Do Whatever They Say” & “Running for My Life”. It’s getting noticeably more heated in the pits & i can see there’s 2 or 3 idiots who just seem to be there to push people around. During the super new song “Sitting Ducks” it’s very cool to see Ross stomping around the stage but conversely, i notice the audience is now getting quite violent.
Hell, i even switch off my camera as i’m concerned some of my friends are taking a battering down there.

Next we get “Off To Another Land” & “Into Dust”. I find myself looking more at the audience than the band. I’ve never seen a VMs show where a small minority in the crowd seem to spoil it for the majority. I very much doubt those dickheads even knew a single VMs song. They’d probably rolled in from the bars & just wanted to thrash about. Some people seem to have no respect for others who are there to have a good time. During “For You My Love” it really kicked off in there. I could see at least one of my friends was visibly distressed about what was happening. I ended up filming the guy who was seemingly confronting her…

Got to say, this was the least enjoyable VMs show i’ve witnessed. Not down to the band, but due to some dickheads in the crowd.
“Walk In My Shoes” & “Motherless Land” seemed to go by without the previous altercations in the crowd. The last song, “Just A Ride” flew by. A bunch of us hung around for a while afterwards. Someone took this great photo of us with AllyΒ 

Eventually we all spilled out onto the road & started walking in the direction of Koko. My mate Rob had gone there to see Feeder, so we arranged to meet at the pub opposite. I think Feeder ran over time a little, but whatever, i’d had enough for the night. So once Rob was out, we were on our way back to Stratford. I got a txt from a mate in Boston saying there had been some sort of incident & he was asking if we were ok. (Thanks Andy G. ) On the tube back, we stopped for a few minutes at Mile End. The opposite line was also held. We were beginning to think the tube had been shut down. Eventually, we were on our way, but still wondering exactly what the incident was.

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Rise Against, Milk Teeth, The Garage, London 2-6-17

This was a last minute thing. When i go to Camden Rocks all dayer,i go down to Robs on the Friday so we can have an early start. Rob had an extra ticket for Rise Against & he offered it to me. I’m still unsure if i’ve seen them before or not (maybe at a festival or support act?) but thought it was worth a punt even if just to check out how they’ve refurbished The Garage. Rob also contacted The Garage about early entry & a seat for me. Most appreciated πŸ˜‰
Before i set off from Boston, it was a glorious sunny day. Hell, i even wore my shorts, which is a rarity (sorry if i scarred anyone lol). As i got closer to London, the clouds got darker & could see what was gonna happen πŸ˜‰ By time i got to Stratford, it was absolutely chucking it down. So much so, that i deliberately missed a couple of buses to keep out of it ! Eventually it slowed down a bit so grabbed a bus to Robs place. Kristina was there to greet me. We had a bit of a catch up & then i was on my way to Islington to meet Rob at “The Famous Cock” ! It was so warm that he was having his pint outside πŸ™‚ After a while, we went across road to the Garage. Already a reasonable sized queue for this sold out gig. Rob had a word with security & everything was in place with regards to my seat & early entry. I’ve got to say, the main guy we dealt with was polite & did his job very well. As we had time to kill, we went next door to the “new” sister venue, “The General Store”. It was rather quiet in there,but nice & relaxed. I noticed this on the table next to oursΒ 

Soon it was time to get in the venue. It all ran smoothly. Only slight problem was where the security chap placed my chair. There’s a few steps up to the raised area/bar. There’s a handrail in the middle of the steps. He put chair behind said hand rail. I knew this wouldn’t work very well πŸ™‚ So i moved it to behind the mixing desk. Admittedly, if i was sat down, i wouldn’t see a thing, but i planned to stand up for most of the show & the chair was a backup for when i got tired.
The venue soon filled out. I’d never seen the support act, “Milk Teeth” , before tonight. They were quite entertaining, but it was pretty obvious everyone was here for the headliners. This is the last song of their set.

So to the main act ; Rise Against. As i previously said, i don’t know much about them. But i realise they usually play bigger venues than this one & it sold out very quickly. I guess it was part of promoting their new album ” Wolves “. They certainly did rock tonight. There were a couple of songs i recognised, which surprised me !

The show was pretty much full on from the start & the only time for a breather was when the vocalist Tim McIlrath did 3 acoustic songs. He dedicated “Swing Life Away” to Chris Cornell, who recently passed away. He also dedicated “People Live Here” to the people of Manchester who had recently suffered from the attrocity of a terrorist.
Tonight the crowd were great. Often singing louder than the band. It was impressive.

During the last song, the crowd kept security busy as quite a few crowd surfed to the front.

Finally i’m pleased to say that the refurbishment of The Garage is generally quite good & there’s a good chance i’d attend another show there. (Unlike The Borderline which i consider disabled unfriendly)

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Skunk Anansie, The Vryll Society O2 Ritz, Manchester , 27-5-17

I did consider going to see the show in Bristol, but as i also wanted to see The Mission, it made sense to go Sheffield & then have 2 nights in Manchester (The 2nd night was meant to be The Cranberries,but unfortunately, it got cancelled). In light of the atrocity that Manchester suffered earlier in the week , i knew this one would be emotionally charged for EVERYONE, but didn’t expect it to be quite so amazing as it turned out to be. I have so much respect for da Skunks for not cancelling the show…but then i always knew they wouldn’t because their hearts are in the right place. Terrorism will not break us.
My train from Sheffield to Manchester ran on time & i was met by Jim at the station (Incidentally, he was meant to be seeing Maiden in London on this day, but ditched it after i told him i had a +1 for Skunk. A very wise choice mate πŸ˜‰ ). Went & checked into the hotel,then grabbed some food etc. After that we went to the venue. I was surprised to see Theo so far back in the queue ! Aliya was the first in queue (well done) & then the Italian Skunk Army followed. As i was working my way along the line, saying hello to everyone, the band arrived, so we followed Ace into the venue. I noticed there was some bird shit on my t-shirt ! Good luck ? (Cheers to Sylvia for the wet-wipe to clean it off). Whilst waiting for our passes to be sorted, most of the band walked by to their dressing rooms. I had a real nice chat with Erika. She said i had more colour in my face than last time we met at Brixton. Those small words are so huge to me & it helps to give me strength & positivity.
Passes sorted we checked out the balcony for a good position. Soon enough the band started soundchecking. They play various songs including full versions of “Ugly Boy” & “Weak”. There’s a funny moment when they tried out the smoke machine….it just kept going on & on till the stage was filled with smoke! Someone said ” I think we’ve got enough smoke now!” Closely followed by ” Well that was a real Spinal Tap moment πŸ™‚ “.
After a while, we go downstairs to watch the remainder of soundcheck.Β Β 

A few minutes after they’d finished, Ace comes back & asks if we’d like any food from catering. We decide on just coffees….or in Jims case, tea mixed with coffee πŸ˜‰
Have a nice chat with Ace. I ask why he needed me to send the audio of “Feel” to him recently. (I’d wondered if they’d add it to the set or something. Turns out it could be used in a film πŸ˜‰ You heard it here first… We talk about all sorts of things such as how much it’s a struggle for “new” bands to make an impact & being able to survive on the little money they make (if any)
Mark asks me an interesting question : “When you follow tours around for multiple dates, do you not get bored of the same thing every night?”. My reply is that no two nights are ever the same. There’s many reasons why i do it. Some bands change set lists around, there are good & not so good audiences, there can be “off nights” due to illness or whatever. The list goes on. I love meeting new people who have a similar passion about music (or just one band) as what i have. Travelling around the UK & Europe i’ve met many people who have become great friends along the way. But overall, a gig is about many different people coming together to have a great night out & forget all there worries for an hour & half or so. Going slightly off track, i mention how i used to record gigs (audio) & back in ’84 Iron Maiden used to change set lists on a few shows. (Though i think it was just to warm them up for Hammersmith gigs,which they were recording for a live album). Of course, back in the day, i traded with other people doing the same. It’s funny when i come across a boot CD & i can work out it’s my recording. Mark then jokingly asks “Have you got any Skunk bootlegs?”…then quickly says ” …oh you’ve already sent them to me haven’t you πŸ˜‰ “. (Which is true πŸ˜‰ )
I mention how it was such a loss when Chris Cornell died recently & that it was so unexpected. I guess you never know what’s going on in someones mind. Mark says a big problem is there are not enough support groups for musicians etc to tackle their addictions, anxiety or depression. He then tells me of his work with “Music Support”. I have so much respect for him doing this. He’s seen the other side, so knows how to truly help. (Later, during the gig, he tells the crowd “Every tour we have a charity & the charity of choice on this tour is Music Support…they’ve already helped some of the survivours from the bombing..so..(cheers) there are some signed drum heads & all the money will go to Music Support..)
I have a brief chat with Leigh ; she asks how i’m doing (health wise….she was very supportive to me when i was first diagnosed…. ) then we go take our positions up on balcony. I see many friends rushing in for those first row positions.
The opening act tonight are “The Vryll Society”. My first time seeing them. Their singer looked like a cross between Liam Gallagher & Tim Burgess…but didn’t sound anything like either of them πŸ˜‰ The first song was quite cool. But overall, they didn’t really do much for me (sorry). Anyway, lets face it, like many other here tonight, i’m here for the mighty Skunk Anansie…

House lights go down & there’s the familiar sirens sound over the pa. The guys casually walk on stage to cheers from the crowd. As ever, the biggest cheers are when skin appears πŸ™‚ The go straight into “And Here I Stand” then “Intellectualise My Blackness” from their debut album all those years ago. They’re both still so powerful & relevant after all this time. The crowd is already jumping along like crazy. Skin seems to have an extra skip to her step & is feeding off this great audience. Already, i can tell this is gonna be one of those really special gigs.

Skin introduces Eri as she comes over to middle of the stage. She says ” This is from the acoustic thing we did & it’s quite poignant tonight.” (I can see her gritting her teeth as she says it. This is “I Will Break You “. I love this song nowadays. The vocal “fight” between Skin & Eri is kinda mesmerizing.
Damn it’s a LOUD crowd tonight. Skin seems impressed saying “There’s so much love in this room”. She also has a question…the immortal one; ” Are you ready to dance ?!!”. If you’ve seen Skunks before, you’ll already know it’s the classic “Twisted (Everyday Hurts)”

They carry on with another “bouncy” song, “My Ugly Boy”. It’s hard to believe this song is already seven years old already ! Next we get an absolute classic from their debut album, namely, “Weak”. After all these years, i’m still astounded by the quality of skins vocals. After “Hedonism” she notices a wee girl on someones shoulders & asks how old she is. She’s only 10 ! Skin then says “Start em young,that’s what i say” & dedicates the next song, “Victim” to her πŸ™‚ If ever there was some good parenting, this girls parents certainly are good. They chose wisely taking her to a Skunk show πŸ™‚
We get a few more of the more “recent” songs which just seem to fly by. All the time, the energy & love in the room is just amazing. When they get to “God Loves Only You”, skin basically says how appropriate this song is in the light of recent events. For myself, this is the song that stood out the most tonight. I don’t mind saying i had a few tears of joy for this one.

The next one, “We Don’t Need Who You Think You Are” probably works in a similar way. Standing against the terrorists & others such as Mr Trump. You could go so far as to say “Yes It’s Fucking Political” πŸ™‚ The main set finishes with “Little Baby Swastikkka”. Skin comes out into the crowd & gets everyone to crouch down. As ever, she has the crowd in the palm of her hand. It’s about mutual respect. I bloody love it when i see her doing this. When she gets the crowd to jump up, she stays in there amongst them. I briefly cast my mind back to a few days previous when a certain American guy split the audience down the middle & walked amongst the crowd. But he didn’t stay there for the going crazy part. Think of that as you will, but i’ll say skin has more balls than him πŸ˜‰

In a slight change to the setlist, the first encore is “The Skank Heads “. The adrenaline rush is amazing. They then slow things down with the beautiful “Tracy’s Flaw”. After that, skin says that Mark has something to say. As i previously wrote, he mentions the Manchester bombing from a few days back & how they’re doing a charity thing called “Music Support” this gets big cheers. Skin then introduces the band members ; “The Horse Boy “, “One of the best bass players….on this stage”, “In the beautiful corner,Eri” , “Big love goes out to our manager Leigh”, ” Last & exceptionally least…is this lovely streak of piss….the riff meister himself..Aaace !”. They all do a little jam & then it’s my fave Skunk song ever : “Charlie Big Potato”

They briefly go off stage & i’m sure they’re lapping up the adulation from this fantastic crowd tonight. What a night it has been. Of course, that’s not the end though. We get one more final song “You’ll Follow Me Down”.Β 
Tonight has been magical. After seeing loads of Skunk gigs over the years, i’d say this was the best one ever. Band & audience were as one. We all showed that terrorists cannot & will not beat us. As the crowd is leaving, we notice someone flicking the Vs at me ! I send the same message back to him πŸ™‚ It’s my mate Nomis from Leeds πŸ˜‰
We then start making our way downstairs & bump into him half way. Have a quick chat & then Nom & Liz are off back home.
I finally get the chance to have a chat with Anastasia ! Our paths have not crossed since we first met in Portugal quite a few years back. I guess i was the first Skunk Head she met πŸ˜‰ Just a shame we didn’t get a photo together tonight πŸ™ Cass takes everyone up to the bar. Tonight it’s a free bar! Maybe that’s why it was so busy up there haha. No, they look after their fans πŸ™‚ I also get to catch up with Laura. Again, so good seeing you my dear πŸ™‚Β 

As is always the case, the band get swamped by their friends & fans. I hang back as always πŸ˜‰ But saying that, we did get a couple of nice photos & i kinda got one with Anastasia when she did i nice photo-bomb out of Eris shoulder lol

Β 

I was getting tired so had to leave. Sorry for not saying goodbye to everyone. Couldn’t believe it when we got outside; it was chucking it down. At least i’d got a close hotel. Jim walked with me to said hotel ( “….make sure Simon gets to his hotel ok…” ). We have a quick chat and arrange a meet up next morning. He then leaves to go to the guest house he’s staying at…. that has budgerigars ! lol
Following day i suggest he has breakfast here…well, i had prepaid for 4 of them (The 2nd day i didn’t bother staying. With the Cranberries cancelling, there was nothing to keep me in Manchester). It was a decent breakfast. Said our goodbyes at the train station & now looking forward to Camden Rocks next weekend.

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Iron Maiden, Sheffield Arena, 10-5-17

I’ve been going to Sheffield arena since 1991. It took a few visits before we wised up to the parking being expensive & a bitch to get out of the place after the gigs. We started parking at Meadowhall. It’s only 10mins walk & free too park. Imagine our surprise to find out parking is now restricted there ! Supposedly there’s ANPR cameras & if you stay too long, you get a fine! We went in Meadowhell & i asked someone about the parking. She suggested going down road towards Arena & to park at “Valley Centertainment”(where cinema is) as it’s free there. Andy was still a bit paranoid about parking there,but after i’d chatted to a couple of people on their fag breaks, they said it would be fine. So we walked back to Meadowhell, did some shopping, had some food (In the most expensive Wetherspoons we’ve ever been in ! Even more than London prices!!) then walked to arena. They had an official booth outside selling the merchandise. Difference between Nottingham & Sheffield was they actually had an event shirt for today ! Just had to buy one πŸ™‚
Once again, on entry, no searching, just checks that tickets matched to I.D.s I really think this is a great step forward to beat the touts πŸ™‚
We had reasonable seats; about half way back on the side. Β Shinedown play the usual 9 song opening set, starting with “Adrenaline”. Brent comes out with his usual shtick about saying hello to the people next to you etc. Before “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom), he gets the crowd to split down the middle ,so he can walk in amongst them & get em in the mood for some jumping around. What would impress me here is if he was to STAY IN THE CROWD for the jumping. But he goes back on stage & says on the count of three, he wants everyone stood up & jumping. It’s an impressive sight. After that, the mood is brought down a little with the moody “How Did You Love”. “Enemies” is a highlight of the show for me. It just rocks. Then a complete contrast is next when they perform “Second Chance”. Still a beautiful song. Their set finishes with a rousing version of “Sound of Madness”

Maidens set is also the same as ever on this leg of the tour. Tonight, for myself, i didn’t think the first song had got the sound quite dialled in. But it improved during “Speed Of Light”. Next we get the classic old school 1-2 of “Wrathchild” followed by “Children Of The Damned”. Bruce is his usual talkative self. He says ” Ello !” & isn’t impressed with the reaction so then says ” I said Ello !!”. He’s now greeted with the cheers that should have happened first time πŸ˜‰ He mentions how they’re gonna play a lot of the new album tonight “The clue is in the stage set “. He also talks about how they’re having a go at the ticket touts (which, as we all know, are in fact the ticket distributors who automatically push tix to the resellers sites…which the big companies own!) & have implimented a new system of having to match i.d. to who bought the tix. It’s been long overdue that someone took a real stand against those fuckers & i’m real proud that it’s Maiden who started the ball rolling. I have nothing but respect for them for taking this initiative ! I digress…. “Children Of The Damned” is a timeless classic.

We’re then brought back to the modern day songs of “Death Or Glory” & “The Red & The Black”. Can’t beat a bit of a sing a long πŸ™‚Β 
“The Trooper” is great with Bruce hamming it up with Janick, messing about with the flag.

“Powerslave” is another classic. It takes me back to 1984 when i followed the tour around the UK – such great memories πŸ™‚ Β I’m still not keen on “The Great Unknown” & would much prefer to hear “Hallowed Be Thy Name” in it’s place. But as we recently found out, there’s some old chancer trying to sue them over the song as Maiden did “borrow” parts of the original β€˜Life’s Shadow’. Apparently, the matter was settled years ago, but now someone seems to be trying it on with Maiden.
“The Book Of Souls” comes over great

As ever, as the intro to “Fear Of the Dark” starts, we all have a great sing a long. Great stuff ! They finish the main set with “Iron Maiden”.
Come encore time we get “The Number Of The Beast”, “Blood Brothers” & the final song of the night “Wasted Years”.

Overall, i think i prefered the show in Nottingham over the Sheffield one. But hey, it was still great & maybe i’m being a bit picky. Tonights show was the 51st time i’d seen Maiden, so maybe i have the right to be picky lol.
We didn’t hang about afterwards & went straight to the car. Had a feeling it would be a pain getting out of the place & damn it was ! Just getting out of car park was hard enough, but once on dual carriage way, we just didn’t seem to move ! Andy was getting stressed that the car looked like it was over heating & eventually when we got to Meadowhell, we turned off & parked up a while. We took a totally different route out of the city, via Rotherham, parts of which we remembered from when we visited the “Magna Centre” for the HRH AOR show back in 2013 ! Whilst this was a longer journey, i think it was a wise choice. We got home around 02.00AM & damn was i knackered ! As ever, huge thanks to Andy for driving tonight, it was most appreciated. Will we go to Sheffield Arena again ? Hmm, i dunno….but have already figured out a better place to park if we do go πŸ˜‰

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/watch-iron-maiden-perform-in-sheffield-england/

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PVRIS, prides,O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 5-5-17

Last night was a late one, so i was pleased my train too London wasn’t so early. Journey went well & i was soon at Hotel Rob where Kristina greeted me. After a while we set off to Shepherds Bush where we’d meet Rob for pre-gig food/drinks. Jim also joined us. At the venue, there was quite a queue of young uns waiting in line. Fortunately we needed to collect tix from the box office as they held both mine & my “carers” ticket there. We went through side door & waited in a tiny room with about 8 more people. Tonight i was trying the balcony for the first time. I hoped to get a seat on front row,either side. Eventually we all piled into the lift & once up there we were told to go back downstairs ! Reason? PVRIS were doing a M&G in the bar area where we needed to walk through. After a few minutes we once again went up in the rickaty old lift. Started walking through the bar & AGAIN were told to leave ! This time we just waited other side of the door. Eventually we got in & too my disapointment, both sides were totally reserved (assume friends/family & industry peeps). The first row had been took by the M&G peeps already. I thought 2nd row would still be decent view…until some big chap turned up directly in front of me. Live n learn i guess !
The opening band “Pr/des” were pretty bland to me (that’s being nice). Just couldn’t get into them as there wasn’t anything that stood out by them.


PVRIS were their usual selves ; a great little pop rock band. Kicking off with the great singalong song ” You & I “, they set the scene for the evenings entertainment. Β Sometimes, it’s quite amazing how loud a small audience like this can be. Next we get “Fire”. This really shows what a great vocalist Lynn is. “Mirrors” brings the customary arms waving in the crowd. Lynn has a wee chat to the crowd & things get interesting when they play a couple of songs “stripped”. Just Lynn & Alex up there.

After a stripped version of ” Ghosts “, the rest of the band come back & they play “Smoke”. It’s all quality stuff. Then it’s the real shocker; a NEW song ! It’s called ” Half “. I’ll probably upload it later (quality isn’t great πŸ™ ) Oh i thought the old style “street lighting” was different πŸ™‚Β 

The last 2 songs of the night are “Eyelids” & “St Patrick”

Of course, that cannot be all….they encore with “Heaven” & a rousing version ofΒ ” My House ” (They always sem to finish with that one). As on previous tours, it was a short set of about 12 songs. Hopefully, when they return later in the year, they’ll flesh out the set as there will be 2 albums to take songs from πŸ˜‰

Afterwards, we went back to Brewdog when we met a slightly drunk Rob πŸ˜‰ Stayed there a while with a couple of others. Lack of sleep was catching up with me & i couldn’t wait to get back to Hotel Rob. Had a decent nights sleep & was on my way back home around 1pm.

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Iron Maiden, Shinedown, Nottingham Motorpoint Arena, 4-5-17

I’d been really looking forward to this one as after the fiasco of Download to see them indoors once again should be great. Not only that, it was also a special one for me as it’s the 50th time i’ve seen Maiden live πŸ™‚ Andy drove us to Nottingham. We parked up at the park n ride. Got a special “event” tram ticket (only Β£2 return) & went into the city. Had a wander around & visited a couple of pubs. The Pit & Pendulum was pretty busy & full of metal heads πŸ™‚ Did the usual of having grub in The Roebuck & then walked to the arena. Despite all the advance warnings, such as no large bags would be allowed in & there would be searches, they DIDN’T search ! Though they DID make sure tickets matched the name who ordered them & checked id. We had seats on Row A. They were a bit lower than i expected ( Row B would have probably been perfect ). But still got a decent view even if had to stand up a bit.
Shinedown have some quality songs & they sound great in the live environment (assuming everything IS live πŸ˜‰ ) I’ve seen them a few times before but i now find their achilles heel is when Brent comes out with the same lines about greeting the person to you left or right… Thankfully they did that early in the set & as they were a support act tonight, there wasn’t as much talking as usual & they delivered a fine 9 song set.

 

I’d seen a few clips from the German shows so knew Nottingham was gonna be a good one as they’d be properly warmed up. The setlist hasn’t really changed much from last years. They replaced 2 songs. Still looks a nice long set. We had seats on the side on the front row, so got a decent view…
As ever, they play “Doctor Doctor” over the PA, so you know it’s not long till the mighty Maiden hit the stage. Once that’s finished, there’s an animated film shown on the video screens,. Maiden have uploaded the intro film, so here it is for all to see :

Bruce appears behind a smouldering cauldron & it’s straight into “If Eternity Should Fail”Β 
They don’t hang about & carry on with “Speed Of Light “. Already they have the audience in the palm of their hands….

Next it’s real old school classic “Wrathchild”. It’s a nice addition to the set; that song is just timeless to me. Bruce then greets the crowd & says how he’s going to speak ” The Queens fucking English ” haha . He also comments how people have got it wrong about where he originally comes from. He is in fact from Worksop, which of course is in Nottinghamshire. The audience lap it up & cheer like crazy πŸ™‚ He then introduces the next song, another super classic “Children Of The Damned”.

After that we get “Climb Like A Monkey” aka “Death Or Glory” πŸ™‚Β Β Then it’s another “new” song , the epic “Red & The Black”. Next it’s two songs from the real glory years ; “The Trooper” & “Powerslave”. During “The Trooper” Bruce wears the old regalia & jokes around with Janick by covering him with his flag.Β Β For “Powerslave” Bruce appears wearing what i call a “Gimp Mask”. Must confess, i prefered the 1984 mask with the feathers….but i guess the gimp mask is easier to look after & the feather mask has died many years ago haha.

Next we get the other change to the set list ; “The Great Unknown”. Afterwards, Bruce has a bit of a rant about the fact there’s “Butt Wiper” beer on sale here. I was expecting him to push the Trooper beer,but he didn’t need too considering the cheers he got when he dissed the American Butt Wiper beer…”…it’s fizzy fucking pop with a little bit of alcohol in it !…” He also explains that after the US tour, where they hope to educate them about real beer, they’ll be packing away this production & will have a think about the future. Of course, the next song is very long “The Book Of Souls “. During this one, the “Mayan Eddie” makes an appearance on stage & Janick jokes around running between his legs. Eventually Bruce rips out Eddies heart & throws it to the audience.
After that, it’s the classic sing along song “Fear Of The Dark ” closely followed by the standard “Iron Maiden”. It’s already been a great show, but of course there’s gonna be the inevitable encores πŸ™‚ The first one starts with the familia intro over the PA ” “Woe to you, oh Earth and sea, for the Devil sends the Beast with wrath.Because he knows the time is short. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the Beast ,For it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty six”. There’s loads of fire up on stage…and it’s not just from the actual flames ! Fantastic stuff all round.Β 
Before “Blood Brothers” Bruce explains how the Maiden audience is one of the most sociable around . He picks out the various countries flags in the crowd. Mentions he hopes everyone goes away happy , despite the fact that most of their songs are about mass murder etc, the irony of which is not lost on him. πŸ™‚
The show finishes with “Wasted years”. Again as is customary nowadays, Bruce jokes around with Adrian moving his microphone around during his vocal parts. It’s all done in jest & you can see they’re having fun up there.
That’s it ! Last song of the night & what a bloody fantastic night it was. I’ll always remember my 50th Maiden show as being one of the best,no matter how long i live. They’ve always been great & will continue to be in my world !Β 

P.S. Β As a special bonus, here’s a 2 camera clip of Powerslave. Many thanks to “Painkiller” πŸ™‚

P.P.S. Blabbermouth website picked up on my clips

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/iron-maiden-nicko-mcbrain-says-getting-back-on-stage-for-first-time-in-over-six-months-was-nerve-wracking/

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The Virginmarys, The Hyena Kill, The Forum, Tunbridge Wells 22-3-17

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After a change to my original gig schedule, as i would be staying at Hotel Rob & he kindly offered me a ticket for Tunbridge Wells gig, i decided i just had to go to this one.
Rob drove via Cranbrook so he could visit his parents. It’s funny that after knowing Rob for so many years, this would be the first time i’m meeting his parents + “Betty”.Β Betty? You ask. Betty is the name for their Basset Hound rescue dog πŸ™‚ Despite Betty being a bit timid due to her previous owners, i think she took to me quickly. (As was proven when i wasn’t giving her any attention & she tapped my leg tried to jump up. Dogs have a good sense of the people to trust πŸ˜‰ ) After a nice cuppa & a brief chat, we were back on our way to Tunbridge Wells.
After my disapointment of the “improvements” made to The Borderline, i’m wondering how tonights venue will be, especially as i’m told it used to be a toilet !
We parked up behind the venue & there was a side door which was open. I couldn’t resist it & had a quick peak in the place. Yes, it is quite small, but i just had a good feeling about this one. Ally & Danny were up on stage still sorting the load in, but i didn’t want to impose myself.Β 

We went for a walk along the Pantiles. It’s a very nice area with lots of little quaint shops & a few bars/eateries. Eventually, we decided to go to The Opera…a Wetherspoons pub about 10mins walk away ! A walk that was uphill lol. This was one of the smartest Wethers i’ve ever been to. Very swish. We arranged to meet Eva there & it wasn’t long before she joined us.Β Β 

We had food & then went back to the town centre. Ended up in The Duke Of York pub. I sent Danny a txt to see if he wanted to join us. Whilst in there, Evas friend , Ira turned up along with her friend Andy (?). (A funny coincidence was that he plays drums in the band “Saint Agnes”. The main guy in the band is Jon Tufnell. He’s someone i’ve known since he had the band “Plastic Toys” years back. ) Others who joined us in the pub were Andy, Jill, Eric & Sonia. Of course, Danny joined as well.
Eventually we go to the venue. Rob had arranged for me to have a chair, so we went to the front of a small queue to sort that out. I had my chair at the front, at the side. Β It was an excellent view….well, to start off with lol. The travelling VMs family took their places at the front, centre & right side.
Tonight, i “got” The Hyena Kill much more than i did in London. I’m sure that the better view & sound played a big part in that. I still need to listen to them more though, before i decide yay or nay.
During their set, the venue got a bit busier. A shortish lass & her BF(?) stood just to the right of me. But i could still see the stage no problem. There was another chap with them & i noticed how he was gradually drifting to the left in front of me. Eventually from my seat all i could see was his back. I thought he was just plain ignorant. I mean, he’d obviously seen i was sat down. Eventually, i stood on the first step to the stage & said ” Well, i suppose i’ll just have to stand here to see the show”. He just grunted. He’d wound me up with his ignorance. I then said to him directly ” You don’t realise just how big you are, do ya? “. His reply was some B.S. like “yeah i’m used to it”. The lass realised what i was saying & she dropped back a bit & so did the big ignorant oaf ! Thank you to that young lady who realised there was a reason for me having that seat & basically helping to move the guy. I could now enjoy my night.

Soon enough the familiar intro of ” Feelin Good ” starts & the guys wander onto the stage. As with the other shows, they start proceedings with “Dead Mans Shoes” then go into “Halo In Her Silhouette”. I look to my right & see the front row full of smiles & chanting the ” Waho-o-oh’s ” towards the end of Halo.

Damn, it’s great to be a part of this,even if i’m not down there jumping around like the old days. The quality & dedication from the band to their craft is still as strong as ever. Plus seeing the crowd enjoying themselves, just makes me enjoy the time even more. “Portrait Of Red ” & “I Wanna Take You Home” just fly by. I’d imagine by now there’s not many in the room who haven’t already heard the new song “Sweet Loretta”. I bloody love it.When we get to “Into Dust”, once again i love seeing the front row enjoying themselves so much.

Once again, before playing “Moths To A Flame”, Ally caught me out. He explained how the VMs have been around for a while now & there are people who have been there since the beginning. “There are people who have followed us all over the UK & Europe….And there’s one guy in the room who’s sat right there, called Simon Clapham. He’s one incredible soul who’s smashing the fuck out of something himself..as well as us onstage…so er, this is to him, it’s called “Moths To A Flame”

I can so relate to the words of this song as i’m trying to hold on & trying to be strong fighting this shitty cancer. Every time i hear these words i cannot help but break down. It invokes the tears. (Around the 3 minute mark into the song, my camera wobbles a bit. The reason for this is that Eva has come over from the other side of the room & gave me the biggest tightest hug. She’s such a sweetheart). When the song finishes, both Jill & Sonia also gave me a hug. I’m proud to be part of the “VMs family” & have such great friends.
Time for another new one. “Sitting Ducks” & then we’re “Off To Another Land” πŸ˜‰ Tonight we get a change of set when Ally says : ” We’re gonna play you a song that we haven’t played all tour. And bearing in mind that Azdas hard as nails..this is his favourite song..This is called “Walk In My Shoes ”

(I’m sure the reference to Azda being hard as nails is with regard to him dealing swiftly withΒ the bloke who got up onstage the previous night in London. He was a big guy, but it didn’t stop wee Azda dealing with him. Respect to ya πŸ™‚ )
After “Through The Sky”, we get the usual closing songs of “Just A Ride & Ends Don’t Mend”.

Ally briefly introduces the new guy Ross (“He’s only been playing bass about a week” lol), thanks everyone for supporting them over the years & he says they’ll keep coming back if we keep coming back. “Please if you think tonight was worth more than ten pounds, help us out with the merch & make sure we can drive around & keep coming back. This is our last song…& we’ll see you guys…in about 10 minutes…This is Bang Bang Bang…”

Sure enough, about 10mins later, the guys come out to say goodbyes etc. Chatting with Danny i mention that later in the year i’m going to see Skunk Anansie at The Ritz, Manchester (Same venue where i i first met the VMs family). Looks like he could also be going to that one πŸ˜‰ Of course, the evening wouldn’t have been complete without the “end of tour” band photos (for some of us lol)

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Eventually we all say our goodbyes & look forward to the next time we all meet. I’ll finish this with the alternate angle of Ally ,Eva & myself. I describe it as ” Eva radiating her love” πŸ˜‰Β Β (Yeah, ok, we know it’s the focusing from the other camera, but i prefer my description πŸ™‚ )

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