Saturday, October 14, 2017

James Toseland rocks my school!

End of the school term - Maths? Chemistry? No! This Thursday, something very special happened!
I am lucky enough to have developed a friendship with the lovely James Toseland (professional musician and frontman of Toseland, as well as ex double World Superbike Champion!) through his generosity of helping me with my piano playing. I invited James to Scotland and this week he flew up to spend the day with me at my school, Alford Academy!
James and I outside of my school!
James and I conducted assemblies in front of the school where we talked about his racing and musical careers, and James also gave a musical and composition masterclass to some of my fellow music pupils!
It was a pleasure to see such intimate performances from James
 James even performed Just No Way and We'll Stop At Nothing on the baby grand piano donated to the school by our ex-pupil Emeli Sande. The night before, I spent some time with James, where he invited me to play We'll Stop At Nothing whilst he sang - so, that is exactly what we did on the day!
James was kind enough to give me a little lesson whilst we had a quiet few minutes!
I had such an amazing day with James inspiring my fellow pupils with his story and hearing him perform at my school!
I loved spending the day with such a special person!

You can read all about what we got up to in this article which ran in the Press and Journal

On a personal level, I would like to take the time to thank James for his kindness and generosity. From flying all the way up especially to spend the day with me, talking through his life story, giving me a little lesson on the piano and having me up to play his song in front of the whole school. He created a truly magical day and has inspired and helped me so much. For that, I can't thank him enough. I would also like to thank my headteacher and staff who were very supportive of the event I organised.

There will be some exclusive videos of me playing with James etc coming soon on the blog!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mike Peters of The Alarm on music, battling cancer & how lives are being saved at gigs

I was lucky enough to grab a word with the inspirational Mike Peters, just before he went onstage with The Alarm in Aberdeen last week. Mike lit up a very dark backstage area as he spoke about streaming services, his family's battle with cancer, and how his Love Hope Strength Foundation is helping to save lives through music.
                                                 Watch my exclusive chat with Mike Peters

 Catch The Alarm on their UK tour
A big thanks to Mike and the team for his time.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

VEGA shine brightly on UK headline tour - live review and exclusive vid interview - 29/9/17

Recently I was lucky enough to go and see VEGA (one of my all time favourite bands), on their UK headline tour. As always they were phenomenal! When a group of highly talented musicians perform outstanding material with infectious energy, you know you are in for a brilliant night!

VEGA were ably supported by hard rockers Gin Annie, who did a great job in warming up the crowd at the start of the night. Check out their debut EP, New Bad Habit.
Check out my exclusive backstage chat with Nick and new drummer, Hutch as they talk demos gigs and breadsticks!

VEGA marched on to the stage to open their mindblowing 90 minute set with the crowd-pleasing Hands In The Air. The boys went on to perform many favourites including White Flag, Savin Grace, Wherever We Are, Kiss Of Life (and so many more!), as well as including some songs which haven't featured in the set for a while and some they have never played live before. The crowd were treated to the track, Cos Its You (taken from the exclusive demos CD), as well as Ignite and Ballad Of The Broken Hearted, which included some of the best vocal harmonies I think I have ever heard live - a real treat for the ears!
VEGA in action!
The guys performed the show with their signature energy and enthusiasm which generated much excitement among the crowd and created a fabulous atmosphere. The audience watched in awe as lead vocalist Nick Workman effortlessly soared to the high notes which were a perfect match for those recorded in the studio - something many singers struggle to execute so well live. 

New drummer, Hutch slotted in brilliantly and did a fabulous job on this, his debut tour with VEGA, I can't wait to see more of him! Guitar partners, Mykey Kew and Marcus Thurston worked their usual magic creating wonderfully melodic riffs and solos, whilst James Martin added some glorious keyboard sounds alongside his twin brother Tom's rocking bass - a class act.
The show passed in the blink of an eye (the sign of a great band and outstanding material!) as the guys entertained with brilliant track after track - it really is all killer, no filler with VEGA. Both crowd and band seemed to be having a blast the whole night which was great to see.
It was a pleasure to spend some time with the guys backstage before the show!
I was lucky enough to spend some time with the guys pre-show backstage which was a real treat, and experienced possibly the best VEGA show I have seen so far. These guys should be filling stadiums with the quality of songs and musicianship which the band has, so please go out and support them! The band have a slot at the Rockingham festival this month (20th-22rd Oct) and are then holding the first ever VEGA christmas party on 9th Dec in Wolverhampton (tickets are selling fast so don't hang around in grabbing yours!)
You can catch the boys at Rockingham - it's a fab line-up!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

VEGA set to rock the UK this month with headline tour!

I have had a couple of weeks off from my gigging adventures after a busy few months, but in a fortnight I will be travelling down to Newcastle to see my good friends from the fantastic VEGA!
The guys are heading out on their 'This Is Who We Are'  headline tour next Thursday (21st September) and are playing 6 shows right through to 30th Sept with support from Gin Annie!

Formiddable songwriters that they are, VEGA have a lot of unreleased and unused songs which have been made into a bonus demos CD which will ONLY be available at the merch stall at the gigs - what better reason could there be to get your tickets for this tour?!
See what the guys themselves had to say about the upcoming tour and CD in my Amplified interview

Along with the exclusive CD, this tour is set to be the best so far and is rumoured to include songs never played live before, and some which haven't been played for a while.
I love catching up with VEGA!
VEGA are one of my favourite bands and so much fun to see, so please support the guys and get yourself to one of their shows - you wont regret hearing their catchy anthemic tracks!

White Fag - official video

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wayward Sons, Ghosts Of Yet To Come - album review

More than 20 years after Little Angels disbanded, vocalist Toby Jepson is back with a bang. After writing and producing for the likes of Toseland and The Answer, as well as performing with GUN, Fastway and Dio Disciples since Little Angels called it a day, Jepson returns with his new band, Wayward Sons. Well, what a start this is. What took you so long, Toby?!

It may be the debut album from a new band, but Ghosts Of Yet To Come oozes rock and roll attitude and is full of energy. Written in a live band rehearsal setting, the record roars into life with opener, Alive. A huge riff, that sounds like Black Sabbath on steroids, provides the platform for a great Jepson vocal that suggests he is delighted to be back and has plenty to say. Jepson himself has said that he has a lot of unfinished business, which is apparent when listening carefully to his lyrics.

First single Until The End is a wonderful piece of modern melodic hard rock, built on an insanely catchy riff with a glorious chorus. It's not surprising that it has had plenty of radio airplay and is surely a contender for song of the year.

Until The End official video

Be Still strays into Little Angels territory somewhat, along with a verse that sounds reminiscent of a vintage Thin Lizzy album. Highlights for me are the brilliant Crush (this one will kill live), Don't Wanna Go (I can hear some great riffs similar to AC/DC in here!) and Ghost which hold#s a great melody. The quality and urgency of the songs mean that from top to bottom, Ghosts Of Yet To Come is a very consistent record that the band should be proud of. It's a throwback to the days of vinyl too, with 10 great tracks over forty minutes making GOYTC a true album experience.

 Crush Official video

Toby Jepson has made it very clear that this is not by any means a vanity project, but a true band made up of some fabulous musicians, including outstanding guitarist, Sam Wood who has provided sharp catchy riffs throughout the record alongside bassist and drummer Nic Wastell and Phil Martini who create a rocking rhythm section!

Vocally, Jepson is in fine form throughout and has captured and delivered some emotional performances that add power and passion to a strong set of tunes – it’s great to have him back. I interviewed Toby recently and he told me that he feels Ghosts Of Yet To Come is the best record he has made. He may just be right. Wonderful.

Watch as Toby Jepson tells me all about the new record

Ghosts Of Yet To Come is released through Frontiers Music on Sept 15.  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bikes, bands and banter! Thunder In The Glens live review 26/8/17

I decided to take a trip up to the picturesque Aviemore, in the Scottish Highands to experience the Thunder In The Glens Harley Davidson bike rally. It was brilliant to see so many bikers brought together by this event which absolutely filled the town!
James Toseland in action!
The main attraction for me was the amazing Toseland. Despite being a man down (get well soon Ed!) and playing to a room of shy spectators unfamiliar with their original material, the band put on an absolutely stunning show as always! It was wonderful to hear a spread of material from their 2 albums (including a favourite of mine, Kingdoms). Frontman, James' vocals sounded superb throughout the night - these guys never disappoint , and by the end of evening had won over the crowd!
Toseland rocking the venue!
A very special feature at the event was a charity raffle for a customised Harley Davidson bike. This was a one-off Harely, which had been painted in honour of James Toseland's phenomenal biking career! For the draw of the raffle, James himself rode the bike in and performed a mind blowing burnout, filling the room with smoke before the lucky winner was announced by headlining act and motor racing driver, Rick Parfitt Jnr. Rick is of course also son of the late Status Quo legend.

Toseland customised Harley Davidson
James Toseland back on 2 wheels!
Rick Parfitt Jr and his awesome band then took to the stage to perform a headline set of rocking covers which had the whole place going wild. From Kings Of Leons' Use Somebody to Don't Stop Believin and Sweet Child O' Mine, there really was something for everybody! I thoroughly enjoyed the set which RPJ and his impressive live band performed with high energy and infectious enthusiasm! 
RPJ Band had everyone going!
It was lovely to catch up with James again, and a pleasure to meet Rick Parfitt Jnr!
I had a brilliant day and spent time with some great friends, supporting a worthwhile charity (Crohn's and Colitus UK), I just wish I could have spent a bit more time there and got to experience the whole weekend - I hope to make it up there again next year!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Watch the brand new H.E.A.T video for "Redefined'

Here's a Friday H.E.A.T treat for you! The brand new video for "Redefined" from the brilliant, forthcoming Into The Great Unknown album. If you've read my review of the album you'll know I love it, and this track is a great taster. "Redfined" builds throughout, to become a really classy piece of modern melodic rock.

“Into The Great Unknown” is out on EarMusic, 22nd September.