Archive for the Live Category

Quinphonic Festival 4 – Birmingham, UK

Posted in Festival, Live, Metal with tags , , , , , on 22nd April 2017 by mickbirchy

Quinphonic Festival
Bands: Temperance, Serpentyne, Metaprim, Dead of Night, Fourth Circle
Venue: The Roadhouse, Birmingham, UK
Date: 16-APR-2017

 

Another year, another pilgrimage to Birmingham for Quinphonic Festival. I wasn’t able to attend the third edition of the festival in the October of last year. Yet, I was more than ready for the fourth one. This one had a stacked line-up with too. Including Italian hard-hitters, Temperance. The UK debut of, Fourth Circle. Along with three of the best live bands that the UK have to offer in Dead of Night, Serpentyne and Metaprism. A spectacular day of music lay ahead and I was pumped for the day to come. Quinphoinc Festival is all about quality over quantity. Five band all given a headline sets worth of time to show off what they can do. This allows the bands to breathe on stage and the crowd can experience what they’re actually like.

Before I talk about the actual day itself. Let me take you back to the night before, at the Barge and Barrel is Tipton for the Pre-Festival showcase night. A night that I won’t soon be forgetting. It was a great night of music featuring three fantastic UK up-and-comers. Darkest Obsidian, A Clockwork Opera and The Loved and Lost. All three bands were on top form and delivered a great performance. That really showed off their styles well. As a night it really came together with a great crowd. I really enjoyed all three acts, from the pageantry of A Clockwork Opera. To the soaring choruses of Darkest Obsidian with the finesse and energy of The Loved and Lost. It was a great night had by all and I hope to see more from all these bands sooner rather than later.
Now on to the festival itself. I got to the venue early to soak in the atmosphere. It was going to be a great day. All the bands have their own respective niche so there should have been something for every type of fan. As for myself I was looking forward to hearing something new. The only band I was really aware before going to the venue was, Temperance. So no matter the result of the day. I was going to hear something different and new for certain. Now, onto the review!

Fourth Circle

What a firecracker of an opener. This was exactly what was needed to start the day. The French band, Fourth Circle were debuting in the UK and let me say, what a way to make and entrance. The band were energetic and and fun. Their presence was in your face and and bold. Their live production great with every element of the band working outstandingly well. I have to say I was taken completely off guard by their performance. With pomp and pageantry, their music sounded huge with bombast. The music was filled with excellent hooks sinking into your head and this made their songs easy to remember. The band’s on stage chemistry really made these songs larger than life. They seemed to be having a lot of fun up there and this made it easier to enjoy their set. I only had a couple of problems with their set. Firstly, their set felt a little repetitive and it got a little tedious at times. Although those hooks constantly drew me back in. The only other thing that let their set down a bit was that the crowd started to thin out throughout the set, which ruined the atmosphere a little bit. Overall I had a fantastic time watching them. I would say their UK debut was successful and I for would welcome them back anytime!

Dead of Night

Next up was British newcomers Dead of Night. This was a really good set. Even if the songs were a little bland in composition, they more than made up for it in their theatrical stage presentation. Their sound was nice and I enjoyed some of the songs. Their stage presence was exciting and their chemistry was excellent. Really giving a complete package of a show. The vocals were clear and frontwoman, Briony Featon was an exciting presence on the stage. With light up black angel wings she truly gave the band that little bit of an edge. Their music had a decent atmosphere to it and the songs felt well put together. Their music had this really slick vibe to it. More of an old school rock ’n’ roll format to the songs rather than your typical symphonic metal or power metal sound. The centrepiece of the set for me was a gorgeous ballad that invited imagination and let the band really breathe. In all honesty they really won the crowd over. I did feel that their songs were just bland on a compositional level and that let them down a bit for me. However, I will concede that they were incredibly likeable and they presented themselves really well. I thought they were pretty good and I hope they evolve and grow in the future.

Metaprism

Now for the best band of the day and no, I do not make that statement lightly. Metaprism burst on to the stage with life and excitement. They were probably the “heaviest” band of the day and I feel they were the band with the best set. Their songs were high energy and filled with awesome riffs and well executed solos. Their presence had a sense of command to them. When they were performing, the audience were definitely paying attention. Their set was really an intense atmosphere upon the venue and the contrasting duel vocals of the band really gave them that little bit of an edge. It’s like they took the European standards of this style of music and added the British elements to it to make this sound. They came across a really likable people, they were very genuine and humble on the stage as they tried to get the crowd involved more and more into the set. Their set built up and got slowly better and I was completely enthralled with their set and I immediately rushed to the merch table right after their set was over. Which I guess was a good sign. Yes, this was definitely my favourite band of the day. Everything about them was excellent, from their songs to their personalities. They were an exciting and dynamic band, and I can say for certain that I became a fan.

Serpentyne

British folk-rockers Serpentyne took to the stage with finesse and and grace. This had to be one the most interesting sets of the day. On a pure technical level they were incredible but I really couldn’t get into it. Maybe it just wasn’t my sort of music but there was just certain aspects to their performance that turned me off. However, I did like parts and ideas used in the set. The musicianship was excellent and every instrument was played to an expert level. I also really enjoyed the dancer that was in the crowd it added to the enticement of the band. The music had these really good rock n roll elements mixed with the fantastical folk music to make something truly inventive. All of the songs were character piece with stories of vikings, medieval society and fantasy characters which were rich and engrossing. This really peaked my interest. However after the energetic, high pace set from Metaprism, this set felt a little deflating. Also I felt the vocals were a bit overdone. The singing could have been toned down a little. The set ended on a over of the Game of Thrones theme tune which was really well done for what it was. I like this band but I didn’t love it. They are all incredible musicians and the performance was well done, it just may have not been my type of music.

Temperance

Now for the main event of the evening and the only band that I came to this show with any familiarity. Temperance, are one of those band that just use everything at their disposal to entertain a crowd. Their songs are catchy and their energy are infectious. Other than some tech issues with the microphone they set went down without a hitch. The band blasted through their set with great songs. Coming hot off their third album “The Earth Embraces Us All” the set was a great mixture of all three albums. The crowd was really into it as was I. I mean I put down my notepad and just watched the show. The live production was really good, although the drums were a little loud at times. Also the backing tracks they were using didn’t come through the best at times. Frontwoman, Chiara Tricarico was an engaging presence on stage as was guitarist, Marco Pastorino. You really couldn’t keep your eyes off of them. Also with the sheer technical ability of them they made an impressive show as the final band of the day. They really were the cherry on top of an excellent day.

Words by Mick Birchall
Photos by David Sarah
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Interview with Janne Wirman (Children of Bodom)

Posted in Gig, Interview, Live, Metal with tags , , , , , on 19th March 2017 by mickbirchy

Before their set in Manchester, our writer, Mick Birchall sits with Janne Wirman from Children of Bodom to talk about 20 years of the band and how they kept up in the music industry. Also, touring and the music scene in general.

This year marks 20 years of Children of Bodom. How does it feel to be able to say that you have actually been going that long?

Yes, it’s crazy it really is.  We weren’t really expecting that when we started. Back then we were just kids and we played heavy metal metal. Yeah it’s great it really is. Just the though that we’ve made it this far.

You guys have played all around the world.  Would you say there a difference in audience, depending on where you go?

You be surprised on how little the differences are really. Metal heads are metal heads no matter where you go.  If there are differences then they’d be small things. Such as in Japan, the crowd will probably go completely silent between the songs, it feels a little awkward. However, it is a show of respect. So it’s things like that but when the music is on, it’s on!

Going for 20 years now and with 9 albums.  How do you feel you keep your music sounding new without wearing out the same sound, but also without compromising the core of the band?

That’s becoming a challenge after releasing so many albums and we definitely don’t want to be stuck to a formula or get stuck the mindset of “this worked well, let’s just do that again”. As a band you have to keep creating something new and you have to take a risk with something eventually. I mean there’s only so many bands that can release the same album over and over.

Over the years what is the one song you wish you had written as a band?

I would say Redneck by Lamb of God.

What would be the best band that you have opened for and what’s the best band that’s opened for you?

I’d say the best we’ve opened for is Slayer. We did a couple tour with them and it was just great.  Their level of production and how well the opening bands were treated it was just amazing.

On the other hand we’ve had the pleasure of having so many killer band open the show for us. We had this band recently play with us.  Havok they were really great, we’ve heard them play and every audience they’ve played for people have just loved them.  Also we have Oni with us on this tour. They’re really cool, with a xylophone player. If you’re into the weird stuff then Oni is for you.

What’s your impression of the more gimmicky bands out there.  The ones who will dress up and get into character for a show?

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it. Just don’t paste it over your image, if your band sound sounds fine without gimmicks then don’t paste it over the top of it.  Only do it if it’s natural to the kind of music that you’re trying to create. Also, if you’re going to do it, make it your own thing.  Don’t take another band idea and slap it over your band, try to be original with a concept.

So to end on. What was the hardest thing you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

We’ve had some obstacles in band. Obviously letting Roope (Latvala) go was a tough decision. We were struggling without him for sometime. When you’ve been in the industry for this long you’ve had up and and downs. At the end of the day, everyone in the band has to believe in the same thing, then between all of you you get through rough times. As long as you have you bandmates there’s very little that they’ll let you do wrong.

 

Interview and words by Mick Birchall

Children of Bodom w/ Supports – Manchester, UK

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal with tags on 19th March 2017 by mickbirchy

Bands: Oni, Forever Still, Children of Bodom

Location: Manchester Academy, Manchester

Date: 11th March 2017

A rainy night in Manchester and I was off to see Finnish metallers, Children Of Bodom. The last time I saw them was a few years ago in the same venue (The Academy 2). This year marks 20 years of the band, and they were going to celebrate in style with the Manchester crowd with a retro inspired setlist and a fearsome attitude. They also brought along Canadian progressive metal band, Oni and Danish hard rock collective, Forever Still.

I sadly missed Oni’s set as I was interviewing, Janne Wirman from Children of Bodom. It’s a shame as they seemed like a really interesting band with a unique set up. With a Xylosyth player up front. Everyone I spoke to about them after their set was truly buzzing. So I hope to see them quite soon.

Forever Still

I’ve liked this band for a while and I had never seen them live. However, I left this set a little  a underwhelmed. The Danish rockers hit the stage and they were OK. There wasn’t much of a flow to the set. Between the songs it didn’t really feel like they were engaging the audience. Their songs were performed decently enough with a sharp, crisp and polished sound. Front-woman, Maja’s vocals were particularly impressive and there were moments when it felt like they hit their stride. Yet it was only when they got into the songs that I liked off of the album that I started to like the set as a whole. I hope it was just tonight and not a Monica of their standard live performances.

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Children Of Bodom

Now for the reason everyone was there. Children of Bodom fans are a rabid bunch and really enjoy their set. For me, it was pretty good. Maybe I just don’t understand their music. After all my favourite album from them is the one that fans of band don’t like (Relentless, Reckless, Forever). So maybe I wasn’t the best person to talk about this show.

Sayin that though I did enjoy the show for what it was. The live sound was really good, you could hear everyone the of the show and every members sound was coming in clear. Alexi’s voice was pretty good, much better than the last time I saw them. The band was tight and felt completely in sync. The on-stage on chemistry was brilliant and you really get that feeling that they just know how the others are thinking on stage.

The key word to their set was presence. You just feel them on stage. They really don’t hold back. Their energy and intensity is a powerful feeling and makes the night feel that much better for the fans. When you feel the guitar and drums in your gut with the synth twinkling and providing that atmosphere. It’s truly a great feeling. Alexi Laiho is an excellent frontman, he really just get his audience and plays to them and it comes back to his presence. He really owns the stage, even though he doesn’t move around a whole lot, you can can just feel him on that stage. Overall it was a good night of music. I had fun and that’s point at the end of the day.

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Words by Mick Birchall

Photos by Charlotte Wellings

www.charlottewellings.com

Evil Scarecrow w/ Supports – Manchester, UK

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Rock on 31st January 2017 by mickbirchy

Evil Scarecrow, Dog Tired, The Empty Page
The Ruby Lounge, Manchester (UK)
27th January 2017

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God, it’s been awhile since I’ve had this much fun.  I’ve woken up with a sore neck and a ringing in my ear.  Yup, it must have been a good one! Evil Scarecrow are one of those bands that just pull in great crowds, regardless of where they are. However, the Manchester audience were on fire.  The Ruby Lounge was packed to the brim with mad hatter metal heads ready for a great show.  

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img_0808The rock n roll trio hit the stage with booming bass and a grungy, garage band style sound.  For the most part they were really enjoyable with an “all guns blazing” attitude they certainly caught my attention. The guitar roared into life as the drum work framed everything out really nicely. The band were really at their best when they were unruly and wild. They had this old style college rock sound that suited me very well and I really enjoyed.  Although the singer did hit some bum notes here and there.  Not enough to make the set weak or anything, but very noticeable with the quieter moments of the set. The simplicity of their songs was their biggest strength.  Nothing overly complicated just all-out rock and roll. I really liked it, Definitely worth checking out.

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The Scottish metallers were up next and boy did I enjoy them.  There’s something to be said for a band that near-deafens you, yet the first thing you do after the set is over is head to the merchandise stand and buy their music. Right from the start the energy and intensity emanating from them was so infectious you couldn’t help but love them. The riffs were consistent, the bass filled out the sound wonderfully, the drums were like gunshots. Just leave it to front-man, Chris Thomson to completely sell the performance, he was immediately captivating and interesting to watch. The band came across as so humble to the Manchester crowd, the glee in their faces when the crowd was screaming on through the performance and asking for more. Dog Tired, looked like they were having a blast which just made the performance so much more enjoyable. I was completely blown away and as I sit here writing this review, their album “It Came From The Sea” is on full blast. Genuinely, one to check out.img_0902

img_0975Evil Scarecrow

img_0971Now, one to the reason everyone came out on a dismal Manchester Friday night. The modern masters of performance metal. In support of the new single “Hurricanado”, the band comes on to The Scorpions classic “Rock You Like A Hurricane (nado)”, pretty sure that’s how it goes…  The Nottingham five piece launch into a mind-meltingly good set with their theatrics integrated to make for, yet another, great set. I think the blend of heavy metal, sci-fi and horror tropes mix really nicely.  Like any popular act they have the familiar staples to chew threw and they did so with expertise and obviously the crowd went into a frenzy for them.  The sold-out crowd created an amazing atmosphere and the participation was wonderful.  The sound was well balanced with every member sounding brilliant.  Truly, nothing compares to an Evil Scarecrow set. The connection they have with their fans is excellent.  Every time you see them you’re guaranteed a great stage show and a great set full of dancing, laughing and fun. One super fun night.

Text by Mick Birchall
Photos by Laura Piggford

Sabaton w/ guests – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 28th January 2017 by Pieni

Sabaton, Accept, Twilight Force
Coliseu, Porto (PT)
20th January 2017
Promoted by Prime Artists

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“The Last Tour” – named after the album “The Last Stand”, not after some early desire of retirement – hit Porto at one of its biggest and renowned venues. A bit bold, as it turned out. True, the last time Sabaton played here, Hard Club sold out its 1000-person capacity, but Coliseu holds six times that number. On the other hand, with the background videowall and all the apparatus, Hard Club’s stage wouldn’t have been big enough.

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dsc_0014-copyThe name Twilight Force hinted of power metal, and the dragon in the backdrop brought a positive certainty, even before the fast, chirpy melodies flooded the halls. A strange mix but they’re from Falun too and Chrileon was even Sabaton’s live backup singer back in the day (and rumor has it that the Spartans in the Sabaton song are played by four of them but I haven’t been able to confirm it) so from a friendship point of view, a fantasy power metal band opening for a militant heavy metal one makes perfect sense.
Chrileon got on stage wielding a sword to the sound of “Battle Of Arcane Might”. I don’t think many people knew them, but their high-spirits were contagious and soon everybody was riding along their “adventurous metal”. Funny blokes too, always teasing each other with a smile on their faces. “Gates Of Glory” was particularly welcomed by the crowd but the whole show left a positive mark.

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www.facebook.com/twilightforce/

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00000196-copyThe “Generation Clash” – song they sadly didn’t play – went wild the moment Christopher Williams stood behind the drums screaming in salute. We have a saying in Portugal that goes something like “old are the rags”, meaning that “old” is a word that shouldn’t be applied to people, and the youthful attitude that Wolf Hoffmann & Co. put on that night could as well be the incarnation of such saying. From recent tracks like “Stampede” and “Stalingrad” to classics such as “Princess Of The Dawn” and the mandatory “Metal Heart” and “Balls To The Wall”, there wasn’t a single moment where “age” meant nothing more than “experience”. The synced headbanging and guitar hero poses, which I usually find so cliche, just felt right this time. I guess it all depends on who’s bringing the cliches to life after all. My heart was full.

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www.facebook.com/accepttheband/

00000426-copyEven though I was happy to see the old schoolers getting off their couches to support Accept, I was sad to see many of them leave and not give a chance to Sabaton. Well, their loss – as usual, the Swedes kicked ass. Even if I appreciated the 2014 gig more, their performance skills are unquestionable.
00000433-copyThey’ve been using their cover of Status Quo “In The Army Now” as intro since the beginning of the tour, so it’s not in memory of the Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt, who died last Christmas Eve. But it was a beautiful coincidence, and nice change – as much as I love Europe’s “The Final Countdown”.
Besides the powerful songs – “Ghost Division”, “Carolus Rex”, “Primo Victoria”, “To Hell And Back”, just to name a few – and their lively presence, their good humor and empathy towards the public are just as popular. When the show was halfway through, a roadie brought a keyboard and Joakim reminded us (well, informed, as some may not know the origins of the band) that he started out as Sabaton’s keyboard player. But when he started playing Van Halen’s “Jump” it became clear he wasn’t going to resume the role that night. Chris Rörland claimed that Tommy Johansson really knew how to play piano and to prove so, the new guitarist played a little of Beethoven’s “Für Elise”. From there, he engaged on their own “The Final Solution”, in a beautiful acoustic version.

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Later on, someone would throw a horned helmet with the Swedish colors that Joakim put on, saying that he probably looked like a “palhaço”. That’s Portuguese for clown, and the whole venue burst out laughing. And in the end, he tied a Portuguese flag on his back, like a cape, super-hero style, wondering if his super power would be being the best football player in the world. Great musicians, great performers and funny – what more could one ask from a metal show?

www.facebook.com/sabaton/

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Destruction live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal with tags , , , on 18th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

Gonoreas, Nervosa, Destruction
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
17th January 2017

My first gig of 2017! I opted for some thrash metal this time. Old school German thrash metal to be precise…I have technically seen Destruction live before, a long time ago at a festival in a small town in Spain during my year abroad as a student. Now, a decade later I got the opportunity to see them live again this time in Tampere.

First up was a Swiss heavy/power metal band called Gonoreas. The crowd was still gathering when these guys started their set but it didn’t take them long to agitate the audience and even get a small mosh-pit going. At one point their singer came off the stage and he started wreaking all sorts of havoc, encouraging people to move. It was a good way to start the night. 4/5



I had no idea what to expect from the Brazilian thrash metal trio Nervosa. They are an all-girl band and they really know how to rock. Their style is essentially old-school thrash metal, similar to the headlining act. Brutal, fast and highly entertaining. So brutal it actually reminded me of death metal at times. I definitely need to check out some of their music. 5/5

Thrash metal is one of the best metal sub-genres to see live. Destruction are veterans of the thrash metal scene and they sure know how to put on a great show. I’m not too familiar with their latest album ‘Under Attack’ and so I was glad that they also played some of their older material such as ‘The Butcher Strikes Back’, ‘Nailed to the Cross’ along with a few classics from the start of their career. It was a great performance, even better than the first time that I saw them live. 5/5

In summary this was a great way to spend what would have otherwise been an uneventful Tuesday night. I really enjoyed Nervosa and Destruction are always entertaining to watch. What a great start to the year! Iza Raittila

20 years of “Diva” – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 14th January 2017 by Pieni

Heavenwood, La Chanson Noire
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
30th December 2016
Promoted by Raising Legends

Heavenwood’s debut album “Diva” was released on the 27th of August in 1996. I won’t say it feels like yesterday but it certainly doesn’t feel like 20 years ago either. “They went by quickly”, to quote singer Ernesto Guerra.

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Carlos Monteiro, a.k.a. Charles Sangnoir, and his one-man project La Chanson Noire was invited to open up the night. I was surprised with the choice, but then again, after seeing thrashcore and prog-rock acts playing with Heavenwood before, the “bleak pop” of La Chanson Noire made perfect sense. A piano backed up by some samples and a single voice, playing satirical “cabaret goth” songs. A weird mix, yes, but that’s what makes it interesting. The crowd preferred to stay back, but they were clearly enjoying themselves to songs such as “Familia Chantilly” (chantilly family) or “O Bordel de Lúcifer” (Lucifer’s brothel) – the latter even played by request, although it would surely be played later on.

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www.facebook.com/chansonnoire

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Any proper anniversary show includes the celebratory album performed in full and “Diva” was no different. Hmm… no, that’s not right. I mean, they did play the whole album, in the same order as the studio version, but the feeling they put on it wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen by them. Well, in Vagos it was really close, but let’s face it – nothing like a debut album released 20 years ago to make things a lot more special. It’s funny how I hadn’t heard some of those songs in ages and still knew the lyrics word by word. Ah, the power of good music.

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At some point, Ernesto thanked everybody for their presence and also the past members who helped making that record – Zé, Mário, João and Bruno – and also thr.e one member who departed way too early but is always on their minds, Rui Santos (R.I.P.). Last but not least, roadie and jack-of-all-trades Paulo Magalhães. It felt really good to hear all those names acknowledged out loud, after all these years.

 photo DSC_0644 copy_zps99yi7jb9.jpgAfter the stellar performance of “Diva” the band left the stage to return moments later with “The Arcadia Order”. 2016 also saw the birth of “The Tarot Of The Bohemians” and its songs were the ones the crowd knew the lyrics best, but the enthusiasm was equal, no matter which track/album. Blame Zeus-Sandra couldn’t make her usual appearance at “The High Priestess”, and in no way would I ever discredit her, but Ernesto singing her parts sounded quite exotic and the song got a new dynamic. It was one of those nights when nothing went wrong.

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www.facebook.com/HeavenwoodOfficial

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino