Cancelled.

Rough week. I am feeling rather ill-equipped to face today. Dropped a sleeping pill last night, and while it didn’t hit me as hard as last time, I’m still in something of a haze.

In the space of roughly a week, the following events have been cancelled or postponed:
Download Festival
The Iron Maidens
Blackpowder and Bloodlines
Iron Maiden
My 40th birthday celebrations
Tuesday sword for the rest of term, possibly longer.

How am I dealing with this? About as well as could be expected.

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I can’t complain about it, given the current situation they made the right call. Public safety’s an important thing, especially when beaches and bars still seem to be full of people and virus cases still seem to be ramping up here. But I’d be lying if I wasn’t cut up about them, as I’d been looking forward to them for quite a while. While bemoaning the state of things to my wife Friday night, she asked me an irritatingly armour piercing question, as she does. I’m not remembering it exactly, but hopefully I’ve got the theme correct: “Is your regular life so miserable that you need these things to look forward to?”

Honestly, I don’t know?

There’s been times when yeah, the thought of an upcoming show or event has helped me to get out of bed. I’m rarely as happy as I am at a concert, so that seems natural to me. Being in a crowd full of people normally isn’t my thing, but there’s something wonderful about a Maiden crowd. I bloody love that band, to a degree my skill with words can’t properly convey, and being amidst a crowd all there to share our in our love of them, well, I feel at home. There’s a lot of love in that crowd, more than at other metals shows I’ve been to. But I’m digressing, as tends to happen when Maiden get mentioned. Back to the point, it’s not the only time I feel that way, but it’s one of the big ones. On a regular basis that’s probably not healthy, but that’s another thing to discuss with my brain doctors.

Getting back to the question, maybe? It certainly feels that way some days. My therapist has said having things to look forward to is good, but it’s possible I’m using that as a distraction to mask other issues. Wouldn’t be the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Maybe I need the distraction more at the moment? My heads above water, but not by much or so it seems. I need stuff to look forward to, or the day to day grind becomes oppressive. My regular games are still on, and they’re great for my health, but they aren’t always enough.

Will ponder this. Be seeing you.

Can’t sleep, so writing.

It’s another night of ‘Oh Gods, I can’t sleep’, or in the words of Lemmy, ‘I should be tired, but all I am is wired’ so here goes.

The brain is a bit wonky. The heat has subsided somewhat, mercifully. Having a tooth pulled on Saturday wasn’t fun, though the dentist staff were bloody lovely, both when I charged in looking like a drowned rat and apologizing profusely for accidentally pulling at my beard. The recovery hasn’t been too bad, thankfully, though the mouth ulcer on the same side of my mouth as the removed tooth was remarkably ill-timed. Also, my wife has let me nap a lot, which is lovely. She’s the best.

Phenomenon submissions have opened, and I hope to have mine done this week, for my Babylon 5 freeform. It’s more than a bit nerve wracking, because I think it’s a solid idea for a game, and I really don’t want to screw it up. I love the B5 universe and while I’m wary of what players could do to it, I really want to see what happens. It’s a problem I have when running games for settings I love, in that I have a vision of that setting and don’t like it when it’s fucked with, so we’ll see what happens there. The game’s set in a time of the show basically untouched by canon, which should help. I’m quietly confident, but it’s pretty different from the last two games I’ve submitted, so I’m not treating it as a lock.

Council
In Valen’s Name…

Alas, and with much sadness, Good Society was cancelled owing to low ticket sales. I’m more than a bit sad about that one, as I was really looking forward to getting my Firth on. Or, as my wife put it, “It’s a romance game based around manners, that’s exactly your jam.” Politeness is one of my things, to say the least. I joke when queried that ‘You’ve not met my mother, you don’t know the level of polite to which I was raised’, and it’s frequently hilarious when friends meet her and discover just how intensely I mean that. She’s a saint.

 

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If only there had been a pool at the venue…

The prep for Blackpowder and Bloodlines continues, and it’s mostly been flailing. The old standbys of ‘Hey, here’s other character ideas’ and ‘Look at all those beautiful costumes, can you possibly match that standard?’ crawled into my head late last night and refused to leave. It’s not that I haven’t found kit that fits the character idea, it’s just been a spate of overthinking whether it matches the costume brief and of it either being horribly expensive or cheap as shit. (Wish, I’m looking in your direction… And while we’re talking, could you please stop recommending me sex toys?)

There was a few minutes early this morning I was tempted to go ‘Oh hang it all, I’ll just play a musketeer and be young and stupid’, or any of the myriad other ideas I’ve had for the game. I at least know what nation I’m from, so that helps narrow things down a bit. It’s much the same problem I have when game writing, especially a month or two out from the convention, when I get enough ideas for the next 3 conventions. I’m pretty sure that’s where the Ewok game came from though, so sometimes good comes from it.

Sure, I’ve a pile of leather scraps I’ve been tempted to try and turn into a half cape (They were originally purchased for an Orcish war skirt) and that’s an option. My wife’s holding a craft day this weekend, so I could certainly look into it. I should be able to drape it over the back quiver I have and not have it affect my shooting, I hope. In other options, the signet ring I was after is now out of stock in my size and while I’ve found either a vest or jerkin that I think will work, my over thinking and budget concerns has me doubting things. Or do I go for a short sleeve gambeson instead? Stupid brain. Also, said brain continues to insist that the my character idea is dumb and mostly pinched from Aragorn. Stupid anxiety. And I still can’t find a shirt or tunic I like that doesn’t have giant billowy sleeves. Harrumph.

For those who came in late, the character idea is thus: A noble scion who’s next in line for the family fortune, but who’s siblings are getting somewhat aggressive about getting the cash. To the point of sending assassins. Therefore, he’s journeyed to the New World, under the pretext of trophy hunting, slightly incognito (Hence the fancy signet ring that’ll easily identify him to any would-be assassins – what’s the use of a secret if it doesn’t leak?) till things cool down. I’ve a reason to be there, something to do, and something that’ll cause complications. I think that’s a good start.

I should probably start putting all the possible kit for the game in one place (I know I still own the pants I was going to wear, having previously worn them at my wedding), but I should check they still fit properly. Quitting sugar has taken a surprising amount of weight from my waistline, and according to my wife I’m still shrinking.

I’m gonna sign off and try and sleep again. Before you think it’s all angst and horror, there’s some genuinely good news to report: I’m seeing Alice Cooper Saturday night, Faith No More are touring soon and there’s a new Testament album incoming, though I still need to get a ticket to Download. But looming above all things, is an event I’m looking forward to almost as much as my anniversary – it’s under 3 months till Iron Maiden! *air guitar solo*

More to come. Be seeing you.

DEATH TO FALSE METAL!

Ross the Boss / Night Legion / Carbon Black
The Metro Sydney, Nov 23rd 2019.

Guitarist Ross ‘The Boss’ Friedman first came to my attention through his work with NYC punk group The Dictators, who’s first album ‘Go Girl Crazy’ is both a classic of the genre and among the first punk albums released. But tonight isn’t a night for that – there’s no time for Two Tub Man or sign of Master Race Rock. Tonight we’re here to celebrate his other well known act, the speaker exploding loincloth wearing kings of metal, the one, the only, Manowar!

This was a night for the diehards. A night where battle vests were donned like knights of old donned mail, where mighty warriors came to celebrate the music they love, hair was let down and much air guitar was played. Sure, sections of the crowd looked closer to Cohen than Conan, but that lends further evidence to my theory that there’s going to be some amazing retirement communities in a few years. Anyhow, I feel I should begin by apologizing to the woman in front of me for the volume I was screaming in your left ear at  various points through the show. Sure, you didn’t seem to notice (It was very loud), or were too polite to say anything, but I was raised to be what some folks consider overly polite.

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It was also a night to wear earplugs. I keep meaning to invest in a quality pair. Maybe for Download or Maiden next year. Owing to some fun with trackwork and a post sword nap that was over long, I found myself rushing to get there just as Ross and co was due to hit stage, so there was some relief at their set starting 15 minutes late. My heartfelt apologies to the supports, it ain’t easy, especially when the attendance isn’t great. The Metro seems about half full, and and I’m able to make it to the front with ease. Things fill up a bit more as showtime grows closer, but it’s still only half to 2/3rds full.

While the set starts strong, with Blood of the Kings opening, it’s not till Blood of my Enemies that things really get going. Kill with Power has the crowd roaring along, and Bridge of Death has all the pomp and ceremony/absurdity of the original intact. Battle Hymn fucking DESTROYS and as dodgy as Hail and Kill’s lyrics are (If you don’t know them, then you’ve been warned), it still goes down a treat. And before we know it, it’s all over.

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We got was was promised, the Manowar album Hail to England, played in full (Minus the bass solo Black Arrows, who’s intro I was quite looking forward to) as for the band, they played it beautifully – Ross hasn’t lost any skill with age, the bass player was phenomenal, the vocalist has quite the scream and a fine command of cheesy metal stage patter and their drummer was both fantastic and well, damn… I’m not saying I’d switch sides (He’s not Nathan Fillion circa Firefly), but I certainly noticed him, unlike most drummers.

All in all, it was a grand night. Heavy metal was played. Horns were thrown, heads were banged and much fun seemed to be had by all. Can’t wait for the next one.

Another update

So, update time.

I have a floor ticket for Iron Maiden’s Sydney show next year. *throws horns* I’m so damn excited about this it’s not funny. I’ve waxed lyrical many a time about my love for that band and will no doubt do so again, and to be in the pit on this tour, possibly the most over the top one they’ve done stage wise, promises to be a night I’ll never forget.

The lineup for Download next year was also announced, and there’s enough bands I dig to get me there. I’m still waiting for the second run of announcements before buying a ticket and hoping for sideshows. I’d love to see The Hu in a smaller venue, as they’re metal as fuck, but not the thrashing kind, whereas seeing Testament a few years back in a tiny venue nearly melted my face off with awesome. Don’t get me wrong, they were fantastic at Soundwave, but being that close as they roared through Dark Roots of Earth was fucking amazing. In other shows, Ross the Boss is this Saturday night and Halestorm hit town in a couple of weeks. The Iron Maidens are also back next year, which should prime the pump nicely for the real thing soon after. I’ve had issues with tribute/cover bands in the past, but seeing how much joy they take in playing those songs, I get swept up in it all. Also, they’re really fucking good at it.

In other good news, Niece, Age 11 is DMing a game of her own. She’s been excitedly talking to me about what’s happening in her game, and about talking D&D near her non-nerd friends and their confused reactions. I’m so freaking proud of her. She only has one set of dice, and I had to laugh and say “Oh my sweet summer child, we’ll fix that.” I’ve tried to pass down what GM wisdom I’ve learned from my years at the table, but I don’t need to say much – the kid has her head on straight to a degree that’s scary. Sure, I’ve still given advice and asked questions about her approach, but there’s been moments where I’ve had to stop her and go ‘Save some awesome for the rest of us alright?’ I’m hoping to get her to a con at some point soon, or run for her one of my old games. The next generation is on the way, and I couldn’t be happier.

Sword continues to be a blast. We’re doing quarterstaff and shaska (Cossack cavalry sabre) this term and I’m really enjoying both. And yes, every time I pick up a quarterstaff I get a certain cartoon in my head… Then there’s a problem in not being able to settle down to study one weapon/historical text, when there’s so many I’d love to learn. I haven’t done any sword and shield/buckler, staff has me wanting to do more spear/polearm and how could I say possibly no to learning the cutlass? Well, it’s less a problem and more an issue with too many weapons and not enough time. Where’s a TARDIS when you need it?

Brain however has been rather wonky. There was a massive crash following Pheno. I’d expected it, but not quite to that degree. Conventions can take it out of you, there’s the lack of sleep, nerves and as much fun as GMing is, it’s a lot of work. There’s the panic and tension leading up to the con, the adrenaline and chaos of when it’s happening, and then it’s over and what the fuck do I do now? I’ve been trying to write more concerning the brain goblins and the general weird in my head, but that’s not ready for public consumption. Therapy continues to unpick things, in addition to what rattles around in my head on a regular basis. I’d love to be able to publicly talk, but I’m not comfortable sharing around some of this yet. Working out how I’m dealing with it seems paramount before going public. On the bright side, I’m already planning for next year’s Pheno – a freeform this time.

Speaking of planning ahead, I’m hoping to attend Blackpowder and Bloodlines, a weekend LARP in Victoria next year.It’s a while since I’ve been to a weekender, let alone so lethal seeming a system. I’m a big fan of perma death in LARP – I don’t want it to be easy, but I like knowing the threat of death is there. There’s tentative plans to group up with a couple of others, without which I may not attend. I’d rather have someone I know there, outside of IC links. Getting to make so many IC connections and backstory at pax Europa spoiled me, and I’d love to try to recreate that sort of thing.

And that’s it for the moment. Be well, and be seeing you

What could possibly go wrong?

Rock and roll has a long and glorious history of on-stage stupidity and absurd set pieces.

Alice Cooper has been guillotined, electrocuted and otherwise murdered on stage in various methods for over 40 years, while Ronnie James Dio once fought a dragon. (On stage that is. I’m not sure what he did on his days off, but I’m betting dragons were involved. If anyone knows if he played D&D, please get in touch)
Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee has had various flying or upside down drum kits, while Sabaton use a tank as a drum riser.
KISS use enough pyro to supply a small conflict per show, in between Gene Simmons regular bouts of spitting blood, breathing fire and having an ego so large it can be seen from space.
Amon Amarth and Manowar have had long-ships, or parts thereof, as part of their stage sets while GWAR once decapitated a Tony Abbott mannequin, yelling that “he was no Costello.”

Many bands have also done stupid or ill advised things in the name of publicity. One only needs to look at Blackie Lawless’s collection of codpieces (Of the buzz saw and fire breathing variety), or the Norwegian black metal scene’s brief fad for setting churches alight.  The Dwarves once faked the death of a band member (which got them swiftly sacked from their record label) and if half the stories about GG Allin’s onstage activities are true, well, don’t look him up unless you’ve a strong stomach.

But there is one band who can always be relied upon to take that level of madness and stupidity and go one further. From humble beginnings, with a kabuki mask that would spew fake blood over their drummer’s head in a small London pub, to the arena filling juggernaut they are today, they have consistently delivered live, both in terms of songs and spectacle. Their artistic fortunes may have waxed and waned over the years, but they have never had less than 100% commitment to their live show, and I can give no higher compliment than that to a band. I mean, they staged a WW1 era aerial display before a festival gig several years ago, at which their singer was flying a replica of the Red Barons triplane. I’m sure the likes of Beyonce or Taylor Swift put on a hell of a show, but have they ever done that?

I’m sure many bands have planned tours around what themes they can use for their stage sets, or how much pyro can they stack around the stage without immolating half the band. Sure, Rammstein have been known to set themselves on fire a fair bit, and I’d be remiss in not mentioning the time that James Hetfield stood on top of a flash pot during a gig in Montreal. Ooops. Historical note: Guns and Roses delaying their set till the advertised time, then playing for barely half their time-slot caused a riot that night. Turns out there is something that will make Canadians angry enough to riot over…

Fun Fact: The guitar he was playing at the time has the imprint of his hand on it. I’ve seen pictures, it’s impressively creepy.

But there’s only one band to have a meeting about what they’ll do on their next tour and between discussions on the set list, costume changes and the like, someone digs into the suggestion box and goes “I know, why don’t we strap flamethrowers to our singer for a song? What could possibly go wrong with that?”

Please step forward the one, the only, Iron Maiden.

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.