Indians

After a few days “overseas” the passport is stowed away for a while and it’s now back to the reality of the daily grind. I can’t begin to tell you how ecstatic I was when my alarms go off at 3:30am this morning. Also, by this time next week I’ll no doubt be sick and tired of seeing Birmingham up close and personal. Three evenings out of four will see me traversing the cities streets at the end of the forth coming week. 

There’s a local gig tonight when Raging Speedhorn play Stoke. I’m not too sure if I’ll be in attendance yet as I’m not exactly a fan of the Corby noisemongers and I’ll see them next weekend if so desired. 

A ticket has been secured for me and my train tickets have been booked so Thursday will see me watching my second Big 4 band within a week when I catch up with Anthrax for the first time since last summer. 

It’s the first date of their European tour and undoubtedly a bit colder than where they’ve spent the previous week – stuck on a boat in the Caribbean. It will also be their first headlining tour (in the U.K. at least) for more than a decade. As I’ve seen them so many times in the last three years I was going to give it a swerve, but they announced they were playing Among the Living in full so I had to go. 

Hopefully the bulk of the set, besides the 1987 throw back stuff, will be tracks from their latest opus For All Kings and hopefully I’ll be on way home having heard a few more songs I’ve never heard live before. But as it’s an Anthrax show and I’m gearing myself to see Got the Time and Antisocial for the umpteenth time. 

I thought I’d posted this track before, but scrolling through I haven’t, but I’ve found out I’ve posted In My World twice. D’oh! 

So cry for the Indians and prepare for a war dance. 

In My World

  
 

Headlining the whole Dutch shebang are thrash metal veterans Anthrax. A band I have a real soft spot for and I have done since I first heard them in probably 1987. 

I had a quick tally up of my ‘Thrax shows over the last two years. Since they did a one off headline show in Dublin and culminating at their special guests slot on this years Bloodstock festival I reckon ive clocked up a reasonably impressive 5,656 miles following the band. Ten shows in five countries by the time I hit my own bed on August 15th after the closest of the ten shows. 

Part of me really can’t get up and motivated to go and see them again at times, but the bulk of the bands I enjoy that are still touring are now reaching their 60’s – if not already beyond – so at some point there will be a whole slew of performers who will retire at a very similar time, and I don’t want to be complacent and wait to see them”next time” as that next time will inevitably not occur one day. And unlike some of my brethren I’m prepared to listen to the young pretenders who are basically paying homage to all the veterans I’ve grown up with and are prepared to carry the torch for their specific genres. 

Rather than post a track of a song that they will perform on Saturday here’s something from their back catalogue that wouldn’t go amiss in the live arena. Here’s In My World taken from Persistence Of Time.   
  

  

Live Arena 2016.20

Well the weekend just gone was another bust for the proposed gigs I was considering going to. I have actual tickets for things for this upcoming week so after what seems like an eternity I should get to see some on stage action this week. 

Wednesday – Buckely, The Tivoli

I have no ticket for this, so I may or may not be in North Wales on Wednesday evening. LA Guns are doing a handful of UK shows over the week, but nothing closer to me than this that I can attend. Watch this space. 
  

Friday – London, The Black Heart

My rota week off starts Saturday, so pretty much straight from work I’m on a train down to London for an evening of mainly thrash metal. I think it’s the first time over here for the three international bands on the bill, but I’m not 100% if Solstice ever made it over first time around. My train gets me home at 1:30am, so glad I booked Saturday as a holiday. 
  

Saturday – Bromsgrove, Stoke Prior Sports Club

I managed to snag one of the last tickets for this three day event. I’m not overly fussed by the majority of the line up, bands I’ve seen loads or no interest in at all. My main draw is for German Teutonic thrashers Godslave playing just after 7pm. This is now their second UK show after they added a late show in London on the Friday. 
  

Saturday – Hanley, The Underground

As I should be away from there early enough I’m hoping to catch the EP launch by local band Fallen. Fingers crossed for no delays on the 67 mile drive back home. 
  

Sunday – Munich, Olympic Stadium

With a week to go this is still up in the air for me. A few friends are going over for the day to celebrate a birthday, but when I was originally asked I declined. Now one has dropped out, so there’s a ticket and a seat on a plane going to waste. How can I say no to Iron Maiden, Slayer and Anthrax all on the same day? Failing that I’ll be back in Bromsgrove. 
   

  

Top 10 Gigs of 2015

Now that was hard work trying to narrow down a top ten of shows I attended this year from over 70 shows.  In front of me now I have a list scrawled out of 17 memorable shows for one reason or another and enough scribble on the page to fill a small diary.

 

Some of the shows that I had to cut included debut UK shows form Belgium’s Bloodrocuted and Vektor from the United States. AC/DC rocking the foundations of Wembley Arena.  The mega line up of Carcass, Obituary, Napalm Death and Voivod on the Deathcrusher tour.  Intimate shows by Anthrax in Brighton and Iron Reagan in Manchester. And the merging of my teenage years and some of the newest bands on the Slam Dunk Festival (PVRIS, Beartooth, H2O and Millencolin).  Finally, a honourable mention to Discharge, the inovators of D-Beat, playing a home town show to a packed venue with their new vocalist JJ.

So here it goes…

10 – Bloodstock Festival (Catton Hall 7-9th August)

I was going to steer clear of lumping a festival as one, but there were some superb performances this year.  Finally seeing Dark Angel was a huge plus. Nuclear Assault’s last UK appearance.  Sepultura, Overkill and Re-Animator showing everyone the old bands still have it, and overlooking the technical difficulties, Within Temptation’s headline slot had everything you wanted.

  
9 – Overkill and Sanctuary (Hedon, Zwolle 17th March)

A flying trip to Holland to catch the Killfest tour.  The second time I’d seen Sanctuary, but the first time with a roof.  They were flawless and Overkill were as solid as ever.  An added bonus of the Hedon venue being so good.


8 – Hirax (Manchester, Sound Control 16th March)

I could have picked their debut show at Hammerfest a few days earlier, but after the initial disappointment of seeing what part of the venue they were playing, it was so pleasing viewing a band playing in such a small space with so much enthusiasm.


7 – Xentrix and Acid Reign (Dublin, Voodoo Lounge 16th October)

I could have picked anyone of the three shows I attended on this tour, but by the time they sailed into Dublin they had all hit their stride, especially the returning Acid Reign after a quarter of a century away from the stage, who were as much fun that night as they were in 1990.


6 – Obituary (Camden, Electric Ballroom 1st February)

The reason I didn’t include Deathcrusher on the list is thanks to this headline set from Florida’s finest. I had reservations about it being upgraded to the much bigger Ballroom from the comparatively tiny Underworld. By the start of their set any misgivings were put aside as the place was pretty much full.  They were on top form that night, plus there was the added bonus of seeing German thrashers Dust Bolt on the same night.


5 – Flotsam & Jetsam (Nuneaton, Queens Hall 19th May)

Another disappointing turn out in Nuneaton, but that didn’t deter the legendary Arizona thrashers.  Tonight was a complete master class of thrash metal. Such a tight performance and compared to when I saw them last year the live vocals were much better.


4- Metallica (Gothenburg, Ullevi Stadium 22nd August)

Metallica are my favourite band and can really do no wrong in my book (well maybe LuLu!), but they couldn’t make my top three this year.  This tour didn’t have to may surprises in the set list, but I got to see Frayed Ends of Sanity performed live and I had tickets for the Golden Circle so we managed to get pretty close and ended up with a few off stage souvenirs.


3- Slayer and Anthrax (Brixton, Academy 30th November)

Again, I could have picked either date of the tour that I saw, but with the added size of the stage in Brixton you got more bang for your buck. Two bands who are most definitely getting better with age. Slayer were just Slayer, no banter, no jokes, no roller coasters, no prolonged solos – just pure, unadulterated, evil, thrash metal (and dancing inverted crosses!)  What more could you want?


2- Tankard and Crisix (Barcelona, Razzmatazz II 25th January)

Finally the missing piece for me from the German Teutonic Big Four. If Tankard won’t come to me then I’d better go to them!  After Kreator these Frankfurt beer swilling maniacs are my next favourite band of the four.  Much like Anthrax or Acid Reign, they are often classed as the clowns of the bunch.  That night in January they were on top form.  The track (Empty) Tankard was superb sing-a-long, and seeing Gerre singing from on top of the bar right in front of me is something I won’t forget in a hurry. They were so much fun to watch.


1 – Nightwish (Wembley, Arena 19th December)

So my favourite gig of the year happened to be the last gig I attended.  Nightwish owned the cavernous Wembley Arena that evening.  We were promised the full European stage show and that’s what they delivered.  Metal fans have a weird preoccupation with fire in all forms and we had it all tonight! We also had smoke, ticker tape and giant video screens.  The visuals were well and truly backed up with some stunning songs performed to perfection by Floor Jansen who breathed life into tracks from the departed vocalists before her. Fantastic sound too in a place so enormous, and it only cost £25.  A real bargain. A truly superb evening.


Birthday weekend 2015

6 days. 600 miles. 5 bands. 91 songs. 2 sore feet. 1 jukebox. Copious amounts of coffee and alcohol.

Day 1 – Slayer and Anthrax in Birmingham.

  
Venue doors at 5:30, first band on stage 6:20. Friday afternoon. M6 south!! Thanks to the early curfew the only option for tonight’s gig was the train, and how well it worked. We made it to Birmingham by 5pm and headed to the rendezvous pub, only for it to be shut until 6pm. By “good luck” we found an alternative just around the corner, for those of you who’ve seen the Police Academy films this was our Blue Oyster Bar moment! Anyway, I digress….

If a bit on the short side Anthrax’s set was spot on. Opener Caught In A Mosh was superb and straight into Got The Time. The new track Evil Twin sounds superb live. 

  

Slayer – these guys are like a fine whiskey and getting better with age! Twenty tracks – nine albums represented all the bases covered. The quartet, mainly bathed in blood red and slime green hues, were absolutely crushing and the jammed to capacity audience in the Academy tonight lapped it up. No frills, head down thrash metal at its very best. You don’t come to a Slayer show for the on stage banter, stand up comedy or directed audience participation you simply come to thrash. 

Quite poignant that Die By The Sword was dedicated to those who carried out the cowardly attacks in Paris a fortnight ago. The final straw for the venues roof tonight was Angel Of Death. Birmingham now has an amphitheater on Bristol Road!!

Day 2 – Judas Priest and Michael Schenker in Manchester.

  
We timed the drive up to perfection, shame things at the venue appeared to go awry! The queue to get in snaked around the building and way past the semi’s parked out back. A quick trip to the supermarket for beer then join the end of the snake. 

Only managed to catch the end of michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock set but when the last two songs are Rock You Like A Hurricane and Rock Bottom (Scorpions and UFO originals) you can’t complain. Having seen the most recent version of UFO two weeks ago, this Schenker and friends line up kicks sand in their faces. 

  

Delivering the goods tonight are the Black Counties finest sons Judas Priest. After I saw them on their last tour I was a bit dubious about Rob Halfords voice holding up tonight. He struggles in places, Painkiller being completely murdered in places, but you forget he’s 64. Otherwise he was pretty solid tonight. 

Ever likely there were so many trucks outside, Halford had a different jacket for virtually every song, a real heavy metal catwalk queen. I often wonder if drummers throwing their sticks in the air are bored or just so confident? Scott Travis tonight (and Paul Bostaph last night) make it look so effortless. 

You can’t have a show by the self proclaimed metal gods and not have the Harley Davison roar onto stage and tonight was no exception. All the classics are in place with a smattering of more recent tracks and Desert Plains, Screaming For Vengeance and The Rage being relatively rare diamonds. 

Tonight Priest sent their fans screaming back through their hell’s own gate with huge grins across their face. 

Day 3.

And rest. 

  

Day 4 – Slayer and Anthrax in London.

  

After a flying visit to the Who Shop near West Ham United’s ground it was off to my first visit to the iconic Brixton Academy. As with Manchester a few nights earlier the queue to get in snaked around the venue. 

We got inside quick enough to see Norway’s Kvelertak, kind of wished we hadn’t. Very noisy – which is a total oxymoron coming from someone about to watch Slayer – but it seemed like noise just for the sake of it. 

A short turn around and Anthrax delivered a solid set of happy, bouncy thrash metal. Another relatively short set, but their time to shine was in twenty four hours.  

   
 

Slayer yet again crushed. Not much more I can add to what has previously been written. This venue is much bigger than the one played in Birmingham so we had the “full” stage show. Four moving inverted crosses and three different back drops. So glad to see the Hanneman backdrop is still in use for Angel of Death, a nice touch. 

Day 5 – Anthrax in Brighton.

  
  

On arrival we were greeted with a blinding low winter sun. By the end of the night it was rather blustery down by the seaside. Perfect short wearing weather. 
No support act tonight so plenty of time to kill until their post 9pm slot. From last nights near 5,000 fans to just 600 sardines, tonight was going to be something very special and very intimate. But also very sweaty and messy at the same time. 

Our suitable vantage point lasted all of 3 minutes until the mosh pit in the middle of the Concorde 2 wanted to join with the one at the front during A.I.R. and a few more participants joined during the suitably tilted Caught in a Mosh. 

Tonight’s extended set included the aforementioned Madhouse, Medusa, Efilnikufesin (N.F.L) and an impromptu I’m The Man to send 600 thrash nut jobs back home with huge grins on their faces. 

    

Day 6

Great company, some great memories, but all things must come to an end. 
Sitting here on the train home wondering how am I going to top this weekend. It’s going to be hard, but I’ll give it a go. 

We’ve Got A Situation Here

Which other extra curricular band to pick for Anthrax?
For me the obvious one was SOD. The band have played the instrumental March Of The SOD in their set on this tour, and Anthrax members Scott Ian, Charlie Benante and early bass played Dan Lilker formed SOD, but without a bit more explanation regarding SOD that will have to wait.

Lilker and John Connelley, who was vocalist in an early incarnation, are now bringing the career of Nuclear Assault to an end.

Current bass player Frank Bello was in Helmet for a few years, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t record anything with them.

Rob Cagganio left to join Danes Volbeat full time and his replacement Jonathan Donais was in  metalcore band Shadows Fall.

Vocalist Joey Belladonna released a few albums under the monicker of Belladonna. Taking the reigns for 14 years or so in two stints was Armoured Saint frontman John Bush. And being completely tenuous vocalist on the Fistful Of Metal release, Neil Turbin, had a disastrous few weeks as frontman for British thrashers Onslaught on their U.S. Tour last year.

I’ve gone back to Scott Ian. His current side project Motor Sister hit the UK in early 2016 so they can wait. Instead it’s supergroup The Damned Things.

At the time they featured two Anthrax members (Ian alongside Cagganio) Keith Buckley and Josh Newton both of Everytime I Die and two members of punk pop band Fall Out Boy – Andy Hurley and Joe Trohman.

In their short career they released one album in 2010, Ironiclast, and played a bunch of shows. I saw them at their last UK appearance at the Download Festival in 2011. On paper mixing Anthrax and Everytime I Die with Fallout Boy shouldn’t work, but up on stage they were great fun.

Kvelertak

Warming the crowd up on the Slayer tour is Norwegian mob Kvelertak (meaning chokehold) – who for some reason I thought were Icelandic. To be honest, if I had the cash and time some of the Scandinavian dates with At The Gates and Lost Society as the openers are more appealing to me.

I missed them in Birmingham, so hopefully I’ll catch some of them in London tonight. I’ve never seen the band, as far as I’m aware, and besides hearing this track on the radio a few times I’ve never listened to either of their albums.

I don’t really know anything about the band apart from the vocalist performs with a huge owl on his head for a song!

This track is from their latest album Meir – named after a town in Stoke on Trent, sorry, meaning more in Norwegian.