Download Down Under!

Download Festival Australia – 09/03/19

Long queues for food and toilets, garbage strewn all around and a horrifying smell coming from the portaloos – yep, it’s a music festival. It’s also threatening a downpour, which brings to mind faded memories of reading reviews of the mud pit Alternative Nation festival in, I think, 94? I do have to say this to my fellow attendees first off though: PICK YOUR GARBAGE UP PEOPLE. More bins would have been handy sure, but that’s little excuse. The place was strewn with food scraps, containers and cans, and I’ll put money on the cleaners not getting paid enough no matter what they’re getting. Mind you, in a perfect world cleaners would be paid as much as CEO’s are now, but I’ll step down from my soapbox now.

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The author mid Anthrax, photo requested by his wife.
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It’s been a while between drinks rock and roll festival wise – with the collapse of both Soundwave and the Big Day Out in recent years, so Download has been a sight for sore eyes, and eardrums. After something of a trek to get there (Thanks Gladys, choice weekend for trackwork down my train line), both cloak and security compliment my kilt (The first of more than a few) and I make my way inside. I have a bit of a wander round, and arrive at I PREVAIL’S singer doing a shoey at the urging of the crowd. In his words, “tastes like athelete’s foot.” The rain’s sprinkling, and the clouds aren’t that dark, but there’s potential for a mud fest. Goody. My afternoon begins properly with AIRBOURNE, who for a band that claims to be playing their first gig in a year and a half, don’t show it one fucking bit. They bring all their ferocious dedication to rock and roll and then some, hurling themselves around the stage, with singer Joel O’Keefe at one point clambering onto a security guard’s shoulders and going out into the crowd, still playing. If anyone deserves to be AC/DC 2.0, it’s them. BEHEMOTH start the next stage over, and while they aren’t my cup of tea, I have to observe that corpse paint doesn’t go so well in bright sunshine.

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Airbourne kicking it out.

I go off in search of food, which means times queing, as is the festival way. Thanks to me being picky and possibly not being in the right queue, I abandon my search and return to the main stages in time for ANTHRAX. Having one of the Big 4 on at 4:30 in the afternoon raises my hackles a little, but that’s burned away by their set – few bands can match them. Yeah, you could say it’s a greatest hits set, but how many other bands can casually walk onstage playing Cowboys from Hell, and have the likes of Caught in a Mosh, Got the Time and I Am the Law as the first three songs? Be All End All went on a bit (Lads, you’ve only got 45 minutes), but a crowd participation double bill of Antisocial and Indians finished things up nicely, and all of a sudden it was over. My quest for food returns anew, and stops me getting to RISE AGAINST, who sounded pretty good. Sorry lads, but kilted metal head needs food badly. I highly doubt the ‘cheese’ on my schnitzel is genuine, but I’m hungry enough not to care. While eating I discover that THY ART IS MURDER aren’t to my taste, but watching them get a circle pit going around the sound tent was fun. It’s finally getting dark and the bats are out. Excellent. This leaves me ready for HALESTORM, who don’t disappoint. Alas, I have to make a small detour to get my jacket back (trying to beat the end of day queues) and put my phone onto charge, as I’m running low and will need more power for later. Upon returning, Lizzy and co haven’t stopped rocking out, and I kick myself for not hearing them sooner. Also, their drummer has a fantastic knack for mid song drum stick twirling.

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Scott Ian. What a guy…

At this point I return to the main stage as ALICE IN CHAINS are finishing up, and go down a treat based on the audiences reaction. All of a sudden, there’s an air raid siren and BLACK SABBATH’s War Pigs thunders out. But Ozzy had to cancel I hear you say, what the hell? JUDAS PRIEST hit stage, roaring through Firepower and things go more than a little apeshit. They only up the ante, with Delivering the Goods, Sinner and Lightning Strike following and at that point my smile is so wide it starts and ends in different time zones. Yeah, to my ears Rob Halford’s voice was a little buried (Unlike his relentlessly cheery Instagram) and he may well have been using a teleprompter, but overall it didn’t matter a bit. The between song breaks for (I’m guessing) instrument changes and for Rob to change jackets start to drag, but the power of the songs cuts out any issues. Plus, at one point he comes on wearing an ankle length denim battle vest covered in patches, a garment that almost no-one else could carry off with such style.

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JUDAS FREAKING PRIEST. METAL GODS.

No Surrender is dedicated to Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton (who’s battling Parkinsons) and Rob waves a lightsaber around during Rising to Ruins (No, I’ve no idea why either). He also drives a Harley onstage for Hell Bent for Leather, a feat that has me jumping with glee. Things end with a ripping Painkiller, but a faint suspicion that it ain’t all over. How could it possibly be, as we haven’t heard, wait… What’s that? Yes, it’s The Hellion, followed by a storming Electric Eye, and, of course, Breaking the Law. I nearly weep with joy at this point. We may never see their like again, so appreciate them while you can.

Next stage over, things get more, well, evil. As the curtain drops, SLAYER open their final Sydney show with a ripping Repentless. They also have a pyro set up that if you put me at Dave Bostaph’s drum kit it would have made me load my trousers and flee – I’m a good distance back and can still feel my eyebrows being scorched. Alas, after a shredding War Ensemble I have to depart, as GHOST are soon to start. Cardinal Copia and the nameless Ghouls are (to my ears) hampered by a bass heavy sound mix, but the quality of the songs and the Cardinal’s cheeky stage banter (At one point commenting that the next song will ‘wobble our asses and tickle our taint” wins out over any sound issues – Ritual is received raptorously and the explosion of the end of Pinnacle to the Pit makes me jump. Before we know it, there’s a shower of sparks from above the stage, the band take their bows and it’s all over.

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Ghost doing their thing. Equal parts spooky and sexy.

As the motley horde shamble their way to the train station (with only the occasional scream of “SLAAAYYYER!”) to break the conversation, I consider myself fortunate to live in such an age. I saw 5 other kilts, had a guy ask if he could get a pic of me and his wife and am still deciding what was my favorite t-shirt was (I’m torn between Frenzal Rhomb’s Pell Awaits or the bright pink Death Metal number). I bloody love live music. It was a good day, a bloody good day. Sure, there was the odd pocket of testosterone fueled shit behaviour, but it was damned encouraging to see so many women there as well. Metal’s for all and long may it remain so. *throws horns*

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He was very confused when I asked for a photo.

RUM! BEER! QUESTS AND MEAD!

Alestorm / Rumahoy / Christopher Bowes and his Plate of Beans
The Metro, Sydney – 08/02/19

Heavy metal is at it’s best when is embraces the ridiculous. From the theatrics of Kiss and Alice Cooper, Sabaton using a tank as a drum riser and Iron Maiden’s Eddie, metal attracts what would in other circumstances be considered utterly absurd. And Alestorm fit that bill perfectly – songs about drinking, pirates, wenches and more drinking, who can resist that? Yes, I’m aware that being teetotal myself and delighting in tales of alcoholic and chemical excess means I have issues, but I figure by this time I have subscriptions.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Metro, but the smell of spilt beer and sticky carpet bring back memories. Seeing the Datsuns turn the 6 minute Freeze Sucker into a 15 minute epic was one of the greatest nights of my life, and possibly the closest I’ve come to death from sheer exhaustion. Also, seeing the Town Hall McDonalds on a Friday night filled with a mix of very pretty early 20’s people pre clubbing, and a motley hoard of people dressed as pirates was, quite frankly, fucking hilarious and should happen more often.

Thanks to the rain delaying my train and a need for food I miss most of CHRISTOPHER BOWES AND HIS PLATE OF BEANS (AKA Alestorm singer Bowes new side project), arriving for the final two songs, which, well, weren’t quite to my taste. In all fairness, it was their first show, but songs about beans just don’t seem to be my thing. The length of the merch queue puts me off, and I choose to wait for RUMAHOY, who continue tonights pirate themed shenanigans, though oddly they choose to hit stage all wearing balaclavas, which means many a mid song adjustment. It’s not bad, and I’ll give them another shot, but a few songs in I decide to brave the merch line, and come away with a snazzy t-shirt.


The plate of beans really wasn’t pulling it’s weight.

The between set Queen mix-tape prompts a surprise singalong, and it’s the first show I’ve been to where I’ve heard the theme to Blazing Saddles. Finally, ALESTORM hit stage*, and things really start jumping. Ripping into Keelhauled, they waste zero time in getting things going, and put on a set so fun I’m shocked the NSW government didn’t shut it down half way through. The packed out crowd need no signal to start singing along, and a section of the pit even commences rowing during Nancy the Tavern Wench. Choruses are lustily bellowed along to, and Bowes comments that this is the biggest crowd they’ve played to in Australia, which brings cheers from the crowd, matched only by the boo’s when one of the support is introduced as being from Brisbane. The Queenslander in question then proceeds to down a bottle of Jagermeister at speed, and seemed little worse for wear. I’m not quite sure what the giant inflatable duck was doing on stage (I know not to pick them up in dungeons, but what about at concerts?), but a slightly smaller version was hurled into the crowd, and swiftly destroyed upon command.


Why a duck?

Things come to an end far too soon, with a riotous run through Shipwrecked, followed by the encore, that ending as Bowes introduced the song that would tell us how he felt about us, which meant the crowd roaring the gleefully offensive Fucked by an Anchor back at him.

It was thoroughly stupid, and equal amounts of fun. I can’t wait till they return.

* Side note: Bowes was kilted, which meant I was no longer the only kilted person in the place.

ROOOOOOOOTS BLOODY ROOOOOOTS

Max and Iggor Cavalera / Skindred, Sydney Big Top Sep 22 2017.

Sepultura’s album Roots holds a special place in my heart, as what helped expand the visions of what metal could be, sending me down a different path. True, it didn’t eclipse my burgeoning love for all things Iron Maiden, but that passion was both A: in it’s infancy and B: still something of a guilty pleasure for me, a feeling that took me a good few years to openly embrace. Given the nature and ferocity of their split, or rather frontman Max Cavalera’s split from the rest of the band, I’d long figured I’d have had no chance of seeing the songs performed live. True, Max had reunited with Sepultara drummer (and brother) Iggor in 2006 and formed Cavalera Conspiracy, among Max’s numerous other projects, but when it was annouced the two brothers would be touring the Roots album in full, well, I was there. The fact ragga metallers Skindred would be supporting them was less the icing on the cake for me, and more the cake itself. Sure, it did seem a little akward to be keener on the support than the headline, but I figure support bands deserve love all, right?

I trundle my way down to the venue, check in my bag and already curse both the venue’s no steel cap shoe policy and my being raised Lawful Good. *sighs* I make my way to the front early, wanting to be right up there for Skindred, and after an epic wait, the strains of the Imperial March ring out and the band hit stage. Singer Benji Webbe, sunglass clad and impossibly cool, climbs up on the monitors, Under Attack kicks off and my head begins to thrash. They put on an impeccably cheerful set, freely admitting that they’re here to get people warmed up for Max and co, but in no way slacking off because of it. Kill the Power has the audience roaring, Machine (From the then forthcoming new album) howls like a banshee and we end Warning with the now traditional Newport Helicopter. The cheeky gits even leave the stage to a burst of Nobody Does it Better

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Benji Webbe – LORD OF ALL HE SURVEYS.

After putting my shirt back on, I vacate the mosh pit in search of food and drink. And safety – I have what could be charitably called a piss poor tolerance for pain, and I can see the size of the people behind me. Making my way to safety (AKA the upstairs seating), I settle in for the main event. Anticipation builds, the mosh pit grows even more frenzied and the they hit stage. what can I say about Max, other than he looks just like someone who’d give you a quest in a post apolyptic RPG. He grabs the mic, bellows “ARE YOU READY? ROOTS, BLOODY ROOOOOTS” and we’re off. Goddamn, I’d almost forgotten how hard that song hits, and I can barely draw breath. Attitude has the crowd roaring, and Cut Throat is extraordinary, to say nothing of the look of awe on my face at hearing Ratamahatta played live. Things slow down a little mid set , but picks up with a storming Endangered Species and album closer Dictatorshit. I’m lathered in sweat and ragged and 16 year old me can’t believe what he’s just seen. The encore of a medley of early Sepultura goes down a treat, as does covers of Venom’s Black Metal and Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, ending with a reprise of Roots, Bloody Roots.


See, I have proof!

Alas, none of my photos of the headliners turned out OK, and I don’t remember who the rest of the band were, though their moves came straight from the ‘Big Book of Metal Stage Moves’, complete with wide stance and head bob. But I can’t bring myself to mock much, given the faces I’ve pulled while playing Guitar Hero over the years.

As we shamble out into the night, battered, only slightly bleeding (Small cur on the finger, nothing to worry about) and very happy, I once again think just how much I love live music. There’s nothing like it.

MAIDENS! *clapclapclap*

A long overdue review of the Iron Maidens/Gypsy gig, Sydney Manning Bar 31/05/18.

It’s a cold and breezy night in Sydney, not a night to be kilted, as I am. *ahem* After an interesting amount of bus and foot travel, I arrive as Gypsy are ripping through Kiss’s I Stole Your Love, and continue in that vein, playing a set chock full of NWOBHM inspired rock, culminating in a blast through Judas Priest’s Steeler to close. They certainly put their all into things, and while the mid set bubble gun and balloons don’t set the audience alight as perhaps hoped, they deserve an audience that’s keen to see them, and not just the headliners. With a loud cry of “We’re Gypsy and we’ll see you at the merch desk!” they depart, and the wait for the headliners begins.

20180531_212228Sooty and Maiden go way back.

Thus begins the change over, during which I notice the Maiden’s drum kit features Sooty (As is customary) and an already rather inebriated man next to me tries to claim that since it’s his birthday I should buy him a drink. No mate, not happening. Nor do I care for the busty lady in photoshopped ‘I love thrash metal’ shirt wallpaper on your phone you keep trying to show me, nor indeed the large amount of wolf whistling from the crowd during the Maiden’s set. Really people? Moving on…

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SCREAM FOR HER SYDNEY!

After what seems like an eternity (Actually about 40 mins), the strains of UFO’s Doctor Doctor (As covered by Blaze Bayley era Maiden) rings out and the Maidens take the stage. Churchill’s speech begins, and we’re off with a bang as Aces High takes off! Yeah, I went there. We get a set chock full of classic era (The youngest song is from 1992) hits with a couple more obscure numbers thrown in (I don’t think anyone expected The Duelists) and whilst I was hoping for Wrathchild, seeing Alexander the Great done live was quite the treat – Steve Harris rhyming ‘334BC’ with ‘Aegean Sea’ still makes me smile. I almost turned in my fan card at discovering what I’d thought was Children of the Damned turned out to be Murders in the Rue Morgue, but in my defense both songs intros do sound a little bit alike. A giant cyborg Eddie takes the stage during Wasted Years and we end with a huge sing-along to Fear of the Dark, with, what else but Iron Maiden as the encore.

Do you call them a covers band? Well, yeah, they aren’t playing original material. But what shines through is their genuine love for the music and an incredible amount of skill at it – Maiden themselves haven’t played Alexander live. It was a hell of a night, and I hope they return soon.

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Photo from the Iron Maidens Twitter. I’m somewhere down the bottom left.

SET LIST:
Churchill’s Speech / Aces High
2 Minutes to Midnight
22 Acacia Avenue
The Trooper
The Duelists
Number of the Beast
Alexander the Great
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wasted Years
Children of the Damned
Fear of the Dark
ENCORE:
Iron Maiden

Two more ticks on the list

I love live music. True, there’s a joy to a recording, but for me nothing can beat being there. Being amidst the sweat, split beer (and occasionally blood) is an experience like no other. There’s a joy to it I can’t quite explain- it’s one of those “If you aren’t there you won’t get it” sort of things. Or maybe it’s that I take music as serioously as a heart attack. Anyhow, I got to tick off two entries on the musical bucket list I have last night.

1: Getting to see the Celibate Rifles perform Ocean Shore live. Utterly hypnotic.
2: Holding my wife as the Sunnyboys played Alone With You. There were quite a few tears, mostly mine. I’d spent years thinking I’d never get to see them live, as when they originally split I wasn’t yet in school. Last night they were less a band, more a group of people who genuninely love these songs and were ecstatic to play them infront of an audience. And for those who left after the first encore, you missed The Seeker. The house lights aren’t up, you don’t leave.

Left with a t-shirt and the Rifles latest live album – it seemed rude not to, given one of their guitarists was working at the merch desk.  🙂 Hell of a night.

Iron Maiden? Excellent!

Iron Maiden – – Qudos Bank Arena, 06/05/16

An Iron Maiden concert is a special thing, like a gathering of the clans. Young, old, male, female, it matters not – all are here to worship at the altar of Maiden. There’s a wonderful atmosphere in the air, a lot of love in the venue that those unfamiliar with a heavy metal crowd might not expect.

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The train journey there had a fascinating conversation with a very drunk Chilean man (Also on his way to the show), with such revelations that his first STD was from an Aussie girl (Chlamydia to be exact), that he’s on the lookout for a German girl (Or someone from that general part of the world – he doesn’t discriminate) and how when Chile conquers Australia and appoints him overlord he’ll rollback the lockout laws and make polygamy legal. So, all hail our very drunk Chilean would-be overlord?

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I don’t catch much of support band The Raven Age (Having been stuck in the slowest moving drinks queue EVER), but what I do has me wanting more. Let this be a lesson – SUPPORT YOUR OPENING BANDS PEOPLE. Or at least be more cheerful than the miserable sod next to me, who barely cracked a smile through the show. That ranks up there when I saw Metallica and the person on my right sat down and barely moved during The Four Horsemen.* The more I think on that I’m not sure he wasn’t dead…

The change-over begins, with regular chants of “Maiden!”*clapclapclap* echoing through the room. It’s the strains of UFO’s Doctor Doctor that get’s people really moving as that’s the signal the show’s about to start. After an intro video which had a giant Eddie (The bands mascot) hurling their plane (Ed Force One) into the sky, the show begins…

Steve Harris’ right hand is the most metal thing ever. More metal than a T-800, Robocop and a legion of Cybermen put together. Let’s face it, his little finger is more metal than Mjolnir. Dave Murray, always dependable, grinning away as his fingers fly over the fretboard. Adrian Smith, the epitome of understated cool – how he carry’s off that ensemble I’ll never know, but it’s his look and he rocks it mightily. Janick Gers doesn’t seem to have aged since 1991 (He certainly hasn’t updated his stage clothes), hurling himself about the stage at all speed, flinging his guitar around and regularly soloing with one foot up on the speakers at a near 90 degree angle. Nicko McBrain is his regular octopus like self behind the drums, complete with customary Sooty doll sitting above his bass drum. How he works his way around the kit I’ll never understand, to say nothing of the giant gong behind him. And then there’s Bruce. Hearing Bruce Dickinson in full flight is a special thing to behold. While yes, age (And a recent throat cancer scare) mean his voice isn’t quite the almighty air-raid siren it once was, it’s hardly missed a beat. We get jokes about the youth of parts of the audience, the story of how it was an Australian who shot down the Red Baron and an emotional speech thanking us and reminding us that no matter the colour, gender or religion, all are welcome at a Maiden show.

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Opener If Eternity Should Fail has lyrics that have been begging me to write a game based around them** since I first heard it, Speed of Light is catchier than a cold and while you could probably shave 3-5 minutes of instrumental from The Red and the Black that would mean denying the audience more chances to go “Woah-oh!” and Steve Harris time to do his trademark one foot on the monitors machine gunning the audience pose. Deny them that? I’d rather die. Seeing the backdrop for The Trooper is alone enough to have me grinning from ear to ear and air guitaring as if my life depended on it. Having that followed by Powerslave? *head explodes* The Book of Souls (The title track from the storming new album) gives us an appearance from a giant Mayan themed Eddie who cavorts around the stage before Dickinson gleefully rips his heart out. The set ends with the traditional blast through Iron Maiden, with a giant inflatable Eddie head looming over the band.  There’s cheering, pyro and picks and sticks being thrown into the crowd, before the agonizingly long wait for the encore.

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Darkness. Red lights. A backdrop that looks like flame. Is that a giant inflatable horned demon I see before me? It is! Which can only mean one thing… Woe to you, O Earth and Sea…”  Yep, it’s The Number of the Beast, the song that hooked me on the band *COUGH* years ago. I squeal with joy more than a little. An emotional Dickinson introduces Blood Brothers, speaking about how regardless of difference, we’re all welcome here and we end with Wasted Years, sounding as glorious as ever. More cheers and a sudden realization that it’s going to take a long time to get back to where we’re staying. Stupid reality.

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As roughly 13,000 people exit the venue to the strains of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’, there’s one thing I know with no doubt in my mind: Iron Maiden never fail to put on a fantastic show and we’re bloody lucky to have them. Hallowed be Thy Name indeed.

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SET LIST:

If Eternity Should Fail

Speed of Light

Children of the Damned

Tears of a Clown

The Red and the Black

The Trooper

Powerslave

Death or Glory

The Book of Souls

Hallowed by Thy Name

Fear of the Dark

Iron Maiden

ENCORE:

Number of the Beast

Blood Brothers

Wasted Years

*Sure, it’s not Creeping Death, but how can you not get up and rock out to it?

** In particular the chorus:
Reef in a sail at the edge of the world, if eternity should fail.

Waiting in line for the ending of time, if eternity should fail
I’m thinking something in the Doctor Who universe, possibly based around the Time War. But it’s not like I’m not already booked up running games til 2019, or so my wife (correctly) claims…

MAXIMUM ROCK AND SOUL

The BellRays / Dallas Frasca / Band from Texas

Sunday August 9, 2015, Newtown Social Club

There’s more than a few ways you could describe the BellRays. The first that comes to mind is Tina Turner fronting the MC5, but kids these days have no idea who I’m talking about. Hmmm. Beyonce fronting… what’s a cool garage rock band the kids enjoy? Do they still exist?

A more appropriate term would be criminally under-recognised. They’ve been wowing audiences with their blend of rock and soul for over 20 years and really deserve more. It’s paradoxical – this is a band that clearly should be playing to larger audiences, but that would rob them of the intimacy of smaller venues. As wonderful as it can be to see stadium gigs, there’s nothing to match being 3 feet away from the band. Some of the greatest musical experiences of my life have been in beer soaked hovels – the Datsun’s epic 15 minute blast through Freeze Sucker at the Metro or Radio Birdman blowing the roof off the Gaelic Club by opening with Do the Pop come to mind. But I digress…

The BellRays are rock and roll, in the most elemental sense. They’re the sort of band that should be huge, that make me want to stand on street corners handing out albums like a deranged preacher. Obviously, they aren’t going to be to everyone’s tastes and I accept that, but I’m not going to call those people tone deaf idiots. No, I will not be insulting them at all, mainly because I’m sure my parents are on that list. (I was raised on Slim Dusty and Johnny Cash, which may be why Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast made such an impact on my life)

It’s a revival meeting feel to the show, with the tiny venue only amplifying things. True, sound issues plague the set (Though some of those could be down to the earplugs I was wearing), along with the occasional blackout of the stage lights, but they push past it. Drummer Stefan Litrownik has a magnificent knack for glam rock stick twirling, while Bob Vennum (Guitar) and Justin Andres (Bass) do their thing with magnificent skill, albeit leaving the front rows having to dodge guitar headstocks being swung out near them.

And then there’s the singer. Lisa Kekaula is a massively afroed FORCE OF NATURE, whether marching into the crowd 3 songs to ask, nay DEMAND whether the audience are ready for the show, laying down on stage when we aren’t loud enough, exhorting us to believe that this is our second Saturday night or telling us they’re about to play a quieter number so the front rows shouldn’t use this as an opportunity to start talking, as she can FUCKING HEAR YOU. That sort of thing may sound corny now, but when you’re 3 feet away from it, you OBEY. Besides, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the audience match the band’s levels of energy?

We got most of the Black Lightning album and a smattering of older songs, the highlights being the title track and Everybody Get Up, and a storming mid set cover of Whole Lotta Love, which if you didn’t get caught up in, well, you might be dead. (Have you checked your pulse recently?) We ended with an encore of Revolution Get Down and a thundering Blues for Godzilla, with some thank you’s and a warning that if the merch stand closes early as it did last show, there’ll be blood. All that followed was the trip home, which featured an interesting conversation with a guy who’d had to leave halfway through (Owing to his mate getting fucked up and needing help). Normally I only meet those people on trains…

The BellRays. They have the songs. They have the talent. Now can the rest of the world please discover them?

PS: Many apologies to the support bands who I missed. In my defense, I was ill enough I probably shouldn’t have gone to the show in the first place. Based on the merch sales, they seemed to go over quite well.

SOUNDWAVE 2014 – AN UNBIASED LOOK BACK

And so it was that I journeyed to Perth for the final Soundwave festival of 2014 and possibly the final Soundwave in Perth ever. Here follows a review of sorts of the day.

First off, heavy metal fans are lovely. Seriously, they may not look it, but I’ve not met a friendlier bunch. Happy to spend time in food queues chatting, several were very complimentary towards my kilt and I wasn’t the only one wearing one! Sadly I didn’t think to get a photo with him, nor of the woman with the Game of Thrones/Ramones mash-up shirt.  One bone to pick though, many attendees seemed to think that taking rubbish to bins was as exhausting as climbing Everest, given the vast amounts of garbage strewn about the venue. Whoever was set up to clean the venue afterwards, you have my sympathies and respect. You deserved to be paid far more than whatever you got.

Secondly, as comfortable as a kilt is, a sporran isn’t exactly made for moshing. It holds a wallet and keys securely, but it’s about crotch height and bounces about a bit, so yeah… Not painful, but definitely noticeable. That and the tassels on mine sounded like a bad horse trotting sound effect. It was like doing a radio play, but instead of a pair of coconut halves all they had was a Scotsman. Moving on…

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The writer post show.

There was also one mother of a line to get in, which stretched for at least a kilometre around the venue. So, while it took almost half an hour to get in, I did get to hear snippets of Amon Amarth and the Porkers’ sets while slowly winding my way around the block. After an amusing moment when security started to ask to check my pockets and discovered I didn’t have any, I headed straight for the Porkers. Sadly (or thankfully) they were minus their infamous mascot the Porkman, best known for drenching himself in VB and going crowd surfing. Still, for first cab off the rank (A bloody horrible position for any band to be in), they did well.

Fun Fact: I touched the Porkman once during a crowd surf many years ago. I washed my hand.

They were just as I remember them, playing songs about beer, psychotic girlfriends, beer, going out and drinking and beer. There may also have been a song about beer… Full points for keeping the crowd going, given though, as singer Pete Porker mock complained, most of them were waiting for the following band. They ended with an announcement that as their festival was over, they’d be sidestage if anyone wanted to sell them drugs. C’mon guys, it wasn’t even noon.

Then it was time for more water before Nancy Vandal, who were as gloriously stupid as I remember. Highlights included the debut of the bonerphone, a combination dildo and musical instrument and singer Fox Trotsky’s observation that “Every time I yell thankyou the audience feels it needs to clap, good work.” The set featured such NV ‘classics’ as There’s no I in Rock, Piss on my Weetbix (Introduced as ‘another of their food songs’), Frenzal Rhomb were better when Ben was in the band, Death Metal Song (aka SATAN IS TOPS!) and When I Squeeze my Nose I sound like Axl Rose, which prompted Trotsky to bring out some ”stadium rock pyrotechnics straight from Paul Stanley’s collection”, which turned out to be 3 sparklers duct taped to his guitar and which proved almost impossible to light. They ended with ‘Move Over Satan’ and brought a much needed sense of humour to the day.

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Stadium rock silliness at it’s finest

After a bit of wandering through the merch stands (Which had not a single Skindred shirt to be found, a point I’ll come to), it was time for Testament, who didn’t disappoint at all. Chuck Billy’s roaring announced their arrival and the band was in fine form. It doesn’t get much better than seeing Into the Pit live, does it? Their set culminated with Billy urging the crowd into a Wall of Death, which is basically splitting the audience down the middle and having them smash into at each other full speed, like two very hairy phalanxes. I have this little thing called ‘low tolerance for pain’, so I was happy to escape it. Even more so, when waiting in the food queue afterwards I was told a guy had fallen out of it and immediately vomited. Charming.

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Alex Skolnick and Chuck Billy trading riffs

The break between the bands was spent in the food queue, then it was time for GWAR, whose set was interrupted by the arrival of PM Tony Abbott demanding it be shut down. I don’t know how many in the crowd got singer Oderus Unrungus’ roar of ‘You’re nothing without Costello’ before Abbott was decapitated, but I did. Sadly I was well up the back and really, without being able to see them there’s not much point of seeing them live, which also meant I missed them mutilate Queen Elizabeth. They hadn’t run out of stage blood though, drenching the first several rows, which made it very obvious those who’d been in the crowd and I’m sure caused a lot of confusion for the first aid crew.

More wandering resulted in catching the last chunk of Filter’s set and I was lucky enough to hear all 3 of their songs that I know (Trip like I Do, Take a Picture and Hey Man, Nice Shot). So, yay me! I also hadn’t planned on catching the last chunk of Pennywise, but what I did get was a few songs and a meandering discussion of some cops the band they been drinking with (And who apparently do cocaine, though that was quickly denied).The older I get the funnier I find ‘society is trying to bring us down’ songs, but I can’t deny the emotion behind Bro Hymn, dedicated to several late friends of the band.

I was feeling kind of rubbish at this point, which could be been the heat, or the thing I’d eaten that sort of resembled a hot dog. Skindred fixed all that, with an explosive and downright awesome set. Hitting the stage to a funked up Imperial March, they proceeded be the band of the day. Singer Benji Webbe, of the ever changing sunglasses, was in fine form encouraging, nay DEMANDING, that the crowd get up and dance. Yes, at times it was more abusive than encouraging (He really didn’t like the left section of the audience), but it got a response, so who am I to argue? We also got a plea to support live music and buy a t-shirt, which I would have done had any been available. Their set ended with the now traditional ‘Newport Helicopter’, which had everyone in the crowd removing a piece of clothing and swinging it about like loons. Oh, and there was a cheeky burst of Carly Simon’s Nobody Does it Better as they left the stage. Gotta love a healthy ego.

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Benji says jump, YOU JUMP.

Rocket from the Crypt were next door and while I hadn’t planned on watching them, I’m a sucker for a band in matching stage gear. They did their thing with class, their singer remarking that “It’s an honour to play so close to the toilets” and that he didn’t know any of the other guys names, as they’d answered his Craiglist ad. Good fun.

The it was time for the mass exodus to see Rob Zombie, who’s stage was decorated with massive posters of vintage horror films, a huge King Kong looming over it. A hint Rob: don’t start bitching that your hotel room was bigger than the stage space after your first song. A couple more songs of his and that was it for me, as I wanted to beat the crowds leaving. Yes, I’m old and have a low tolerance for crowds of drunks.

In round up, I present the following:

Was it a good day? Hell yes.

Should I get a better camera? Most certainly.

Do I still prefer smaller gigs? Very much so.

Would I recommend it?  Yep, it was a great experience. I’m not in a rush to go back, but I still had a lot of fun.