Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Dead Daisies and The Amorettes live review - The Garage, Glasgow 8/4/18

The Dead Daisies open the Burn It Down tour 
It’s no secret that I absolutely love The Dead Daisies and I was lucky enough to position myself right at the front in Glasgow, for the first date of their world tour in support of new album, Burn It Down.  Before the headliners hit the stage, kicking the night off in rockin' style were my good friends, The Amorettes. These girls have gone from strength to strength and have just released their excellent new album, Born To Break set to make them unstoppable (read my review here).
The Amorettes are a band on the rise
The band were on fire as they blasted through 8 songs, opening and closing the set with new tracks which went down a treat with the crowd. The rest of a pacey set featured some of their best-loved material including Let The Neighbours Call The Cops and White Russian Roulette. The band have a ballsy, punchy sound that really rouses a crowd, and the Scottish girls understandably got a great reaction in Glasgow. Highlight of the set was closing track, Everything I Learned (I Learned From Rock And Roll), a belter from the new record that is currently, quite rightly a favourite on national rock radio.
John Corabi led The Dead Daisies through a storming set in Glasgow
Next up was the long-awaited return of The Dead Daisies to Scotland. The guys last visited us Scots back in June, which was their only UK club date of 2017. As you can imagine, the sold-out crowd (and I mean sold-out – the venue was packed!) went nuts as the 5 heavy rock legends marched onto the stage. New boy, drummer Deen Castronovo received a very warm welcome from the crowd as he made his debut appearance and showcased his incredible talent, both on drums and harmony vocals.
Deen Castronovo was a revelation on drums
Beginning with the hugely popular single Rise Up from the new album, the guys sounded better than ever. Blonde guitar god Doug Aldrich and founding member, David Lowy produced huge riffs like no one else can, while phenomenal bassist Marco Mendoza provided his signature groove.
The Garage was bursting to the seams
With frontman John Corabi's vocals sounding superb, the band made a brave move, playing a large number of new tracks to their fans (bearing in mind the album had only been out a matter of days) but they went down a treat! That said, highlights for me were the anthemic and aptly named, Make Some Noise which had everyone singing along, as well as the earworm that is Long Way To Go. This was possibly the best show that I have seen from the band to date, and bodes very well for the tour.
Always a treat to catch up with my good friend Marco Mendoza
After the show there was lots of excitement for the first 100 fans through the door, who were lucky enough to gain a pass to a signing/meet and greet with the band. This is something which gains the Daisies great respect from their audiences and wins them new fans every time they play. They are tremendously friendly guys, and a band that is clearly appreciative of the people who buy their albums and tickets. A class act that never disappoints.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

FM blast back with Atomic Generation - album review

OK. It’s no secret that FM are one of my all-time favourite bands. I have grown up listening to them and to my ears Steve Overland is one of the very best vocalists there is.  FM are one of a small number of bands who formed in the 80's and are still regularly touring and releasing new material. I was lucky enough to talk to the band at length last year about Atomic Generation, their eleventh studio album. What came across was that they are certainly proud of this record, and so they should be.

What I expect with FM albums are great performances, super songs and brilliant production and Atomic Generation has all of these and more. It is perhaps a more varied record than their last album Heroes and Villains (2015), with some songs that sound as though they could have been on Indiscreet, their classic debut, and others that are clearly FM 2018.

The album starts with a bang. Black Magic is built on a huge riff and features a wonderful vocal from Steve Overland. It’s a close relative to Digging Up The Dirt, with its Bon Jovi style chorus and is sure to work well in the live set.

We are taken back to AOR territory with Golden Days, and also Too Much Of A Good Thing. Both are great tracks, with some phrases where Overland goes into his lovely high register, bringing to mind some of the vocals he delivered in the 80's. Terrific. Playing Tricks On Me is a more soul based track, with some tasty guitar licks. This song was originally written for another artist, but wasn’t used and is surely a contender for a Radio 2 record of the week.

Throughout the album the performances are stellar, with Jim's Kirkpatrick's guitars in particular adding punch, real melody and some wonderful solos. It’s also good to hear a little more of keyboard player Jem Davis throughout the record too - Stronger is a good example. It's epic FM, with a moody keyboard intro that leads into a chunky riff and some great backing vocals. And to top it all off, Merv Goldsworthy and Pete Jupp work like clockwork together providing the bass and drums which offer real groove at times (particularly obvious during In It For The Money which I love!)

Make The Best of What You Got is a typical FM mid paced rocker with bags of melody and groove and reminiscent of the Bad English song of the same name, whilst Do You Love Me Enough is a re-worked version of an early demo (also recorded by Overland side project, The Ladder). The album closes with acoustic ballad Love Is The Law showcasing Steve Overland’s incredible voice once again.

FM are arguably more popular now than they have ever been. I wonder if this record may just push them over the top, and into the consciousness of a new generation (atomic or not!). Classy.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

W.E.T cause a tremor with Earthrage - album review

When Frontiers Records boldy claims that your upcoming record is the best album they've ever released, it had better be good. Thankfully Earthrage, the third studio album from melodic rock supergroup W.E.T is right up there. W.E.T. is built around the talents of Robert Säll (the “W” from Work of Art), Erik Mårtensson (the “E” from Eclipse) and Jeff Scott Soto (“T” from Talisman). Martensson is the creative force, having co written, produced and mixed the album. So what does the record sound like? Well, Jeff Scott Soto recently told me:

"We're not about to change the formula, we realise why people love this project and the fans expect it to sound like it does".

That's just fine by me because it is a great record!

Watch The Fire kicks the album off. It's a cracking rocker with shared lead vocals between Martensson and JSS and an uplifting chorus with trademark backing vocals. It's a real earworm too, sticking in your head for days.

Perhaps even better, and a true highlight for me is the outstanding Kings On Thunder Road, which includes a huge chorus with so many layers you almost don't know what to listen to - just marvellous!

As well as rockers, the album also includes Heart Is On The Line, a beautiful ballad which features an emotional vocal performance which really showcases what a voice Jeff Scott Soto has. Class.

Urgent has a tight riffing intro before giving way to a clever key change that brings in a great chorus. Again the vocals are tremendous.  

Will we see W.E.T on the road anytime soon? Sadly, according to Jeff Scott Soto it's unlikely:

"We're all busy, especially me with Sons of Apollo, so at the moment there are no plans [to tour with W.E.T.]"

 In the meantime, enjoy one great melodic rock record.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Skid Row/Night Ranger/Toseland/Bad Touch – London 11/3/18 live review

There are some gigs that I spend so much time looking forward to - and this one was definitely among them. Travelling from Scotland to London especially for the show was so exciting, and I couldn’t wait to see all of the bands.

Bad Touch opened the night performing a swift 30 min set including some of their best material (such as 99% and My Mother Told Me). Sounding reminiscent of The Black Crowes, despite their early stage time a good sized audience enjoyed their set. 

Pic courtesy  RJ Forster
Next up was one of my personal highlights (as I knew it would be) – Toseland! These guys just get better and better, having truly grown as a band since I first saw them live. Exploding onto the stage with opener Puppet On A Chain, James Toseland showed just what a great voice he has developed. The band has become a well-crafted, class act that delivers heavy, melodic songs like Living In A Moment and Hearts And Bones that are winning new fans every time they hit a stage. Their pacey, energetic (though sadly brief) set was a perfect fit for the audience. 

    I was lucky enough to catch a word with James, backstage after his set. See what he had to say.  

Pic courtesy  RJ Forster
Next to up were San Francisco rockers and co-headliners, Night Ranger. I first saw these guys live in the US several years ago and they blew me away, so I was very excited to get to see them again. The  blinding set included Sing Me Away, Don't Tell Me You Love Me and of course Sister Christian, along with a couple of  Damn Yankees tracks. The only downside was that it was over so quickly as the band only had an hour or so onstage, at what was a busy night. The crowd certainly loved it and the band seemed overwhelmed with the reaction. I do hope they’ll return to Europe soon for a headline show or two. Just brilliant.

                             I was delighted to grab a word with the brilliant Night Ranger just before they went onstage

Closing the night was Skid Row. The venue was rammed by the time the US rockers hit the stage and the fans loved every minute. Some people had raised concerns at Sebastian Bach no longer fronting the band, but boy did ex-Dragonforce singer ZP Theart, do a mighty job. These aren’t easy songs to sing, but Theart delivered wonderfully respectful renditions of 18 And Life, Slave To The Grind, and the groove filled Monkey Business. The biggest moment of their set came at the end, as the band belted out a storming Youth Gone Wild. The majority of the audience were perhaps no longer in their younger years but that didn't matter one bit! Skid Row had the entire venue singing along which was brilliant to be part of.

Skid Row frontman, ZP Theart did a great job
A fantastic bill and a night that was truly worth the long journey down from Scotland for. Do catch the tour if you can. Superb.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Amorettes, Born To Break - album review

Scottish hard rock trio, The Amorettes have been regularly making waves since they formed in 2009 and are set to make their biggest leap yet, with their third album Born To Break which will drop on April 6. Take it from me - you are going to want to grab a copy! 
Can You Feel The Fire gets the album off to a flying start with a huge opening riff from guitarist and vocalist Gill Montgomery, progressing into a catchy melodic track, which I’m a big fan of. 
Everything I Learned (I Learned From Rock And Roll) is definitely a favourite of mine. A song that it set to blast out of radios across the nation in the months ahead, it is a brilliant co-write between Gill Montgomery and Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders). I loved this track as soon as I heard the stonking intro and verse, which explodes into a chorus that you’ll end up humming for the rest of the year. Great lyrics too, referencing The Beatles, Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones. 

Hello and Goodbye brings a change of tempo and a bluesy feel, which provides some light and shade which again, I really like. 

When you have the genius that is Luke Morley of Thunder twiddling the knobs you can be sure that you are going to get a great production, and that is exactly what Born To Break has, with a crystal clear sound that makes this record a treat to listen to.
Born To Break is a real step up for the girls. Gill Montgomery’s vocals offer more texture and depth, and her guitar sounds huge. The rhythm section is terrific too, driven by sisters Hannah and Heather McKay (drums and bass),  and thunders throughout. 

This is an album packed with ballsy, catchy tracks that brings to mind the groove and power of AC/DC, with a modern spiky attitude and style. A classy progression for The Amorettes.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Fragile Things - Echo Chambers EP review

Releasing their first EP, Broken Sun in 2016, 4-piece UK rockers Fragile Things have gone from strength to strength building a solid fan base through gigging, and have just released their second EP Echo Chambers. I am pleased to report that it’s stunning!
Born out of Heavens Basement and Endless Mile, Fragile Things consists of Richie Hevanz performing astounding vocals, Mark Hanlon providing guitar, whilst bass and drums are driven by Steve Lathwell and Hugo Bowman. I first met vocalist Richie Hevanz when he was fronting Heaven’s Basement and I am so pleased that he is out showcasing his stellar vocal talent and performing again.

The guys merge heavy, rocking riffs with well-crafted lyrics containing messages that listeners can connect to. The EP features a punchy production across 5 excellent tracks, with the highlights being Adrenaline, Disappear and The Big Reveal.

Heard that catchy song Disappear on Planet Rock radio recently? Well, these are your guys! This song was so instant for me, I was hooked as soon as I heard it (as were many other listeners). It still has that Fragile Things sound and the stunning, distinctive vocals of Hevanz throughout, but there is something woven deeper into the track that I must admit I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps it is the obvious heartfelt message within the lyrics. The one thing I would say, is just listen to it and you will understand. A true masterpiece.
Check out the very moving official video for Disappear

Adrenaline, for me comes across like the sequel to Disappear. It is perhaps slightly heavier but again carries a clear message of struggle through the lyrics. The uplifting chorus has you singing along in minutes and I’m fairly sure I had it on loop for what is longer than considered normal! Another exceptional track from these guys.

The Big Reveal takes the band back to their heavier roots. When I say heavy, I mean prepare yourself for a hurricane of guitar riffs and bass lines, with plenty of melody. It’s one of those songs that you just can’t resist headbanging to.
Check out the official video for The Big Reveal

This new release features modern melodic hard rock and ballads of the highest order. If you haven’t checked these guys out before, then what are you waiting for?! Not only has Disappear had substantial national radio airplay, the guys were also tipped as Planet Rock’s ones to watch recently. The band will be hitting the stage at the Winter’s End Festival this month. If you are lucky enough to be attending, then make sure you don’t miss the guys! A band with serious talent and potential, and a new EP of which they should be very proud. They may be Fragile Things but they sure rock hard!

Watch what the guys had to say when I chatted to them at the Amplified festival last Summer. 

Like the guys on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fragilethingsofficial/
Booking: pphillipshague@yahoo.co.uk