Institutionalized 2014

A few weeks go I though any shows further than the Greater Manchester area were on the back burner, pretty much until the Iron Maiden show in July. Last weekend saw me make the trek over the Pennines to Leeds to catch another stunning and rather sweaty Suffocation gig and a week today I could make the same trip for the Outbreak Festival.

Depending on the weather I might be making my first appearance at the Download Festival since 2014. I’d been every year since its inception, but the whole thing started to feel like a drag. I wasn’t intending on going in 2014, but with Quicksand appearing I had to go.

The whole event always seems to be cursed with bad weather. I have never been as wet as I have been at Donington in some years. The deluges of 2010 and 2011 were horrendous. Even my belt was saturated and I couldn’t wait to get home and have a warm shower. I was going to head there a few years ago when Iron Maiden graced the stage, but again it hammered it down and I stayed home in the dry.

The line ups haven’t been great for my tastes either. I know it’s me getting old, and as my slippers state, grumpy. There are also way too many bands over the four stages and way to much traversing between those stages to see bands and ultimately missing large chunks by either getting there too late or having to leave part way though due to clashes. I don’t know why they don’t keep genres together on some of the stages and cut down on some of the mass movement.

On Sunday there are about 40 bands playing and around ten of those I’d pay to see, or have a curiosity to view. Almost half of those bands clash with each other. At one point in the day there are three bands I’d like to see on different stages at the same time!

Back in 2016 I attended Hellfest in France. It’s on a similar scale in relation to punters and artists to Download, but has two more stages and the whole arena area seems smaller. The main stages are side by side and three other stages are all close to each other. Moving around was extremely easy and over the three days I caught around forty acts.

There weren’t too many bands that I am aware of that played less than thirty minute sets, where as some of Downloads opening acts get a measly 25 minute slot. A trio of tomorrows bands that I’m interested in, and these are established bands with long histories, are only getting a paltry half an hour. It’s definitely a festival with its ideology in quantity over quality. Hellfest also starts earlier and ends much later. The days seemed like they would be a massive slog, but time passed quickly for most of the day as you were constantly watching bands rather that hiking backwards and forwards through ankle deep mud to catch snippets of bands.

Even prior to the festival the continental organisers do things better. We had the stage times for weeks beforehand and were constantly looking and comparing and generally getting excited about who we were seeing and bemoaning the odd clashes here and there (Deicide and King Diamond on the last day was my biggest concern.) Download decided to release their times to an app on Monday afternoon, less than 48 hours before those who are camping descended onto the Castle Donington site. This could purely be a money making exercise to force people to part with their cash and purchase the overpriced running time laminates. Hellfest even had the stage times up at the entrance to every stage for all to view.

Having ran down the the festival I’m hoping in 25 hours time I’m there in time to catch either Hatebreed or Dead Cross (Dave Lombardo and Mike Patton might win out on that clash!), Kreator, Body Count then either Shinedown, Myrkur or Messhugah (or parts of) before heading back up the A50 home. There are a few later bands I’d gladly stand and watch, but with a 3:40am alarm call on Monday for work I have to draw the line somewhere.

Body Count is the rap rock, almost a crossover thrash metal band, fronted by actor and rapper Ice T. The band were formed in 1990 and instantly gained notoriety due to their track Cop Killer that was on their debut album.

They’ve played quite a few UK shows over the years, but nothing here since 1997 that didn’t involve a festival. They could’ve had more shows here but several got cancelled due to the backlash of Cop Killer, quite ironic for an actor that had played a NYPD detective in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for 18 years. If I remember correctly, one of those “banned” concerts should have taken place at the Students Union in Keele University, 7 miles up the road for me and one that I probably would have attended.

In 2014 Body Count released their Manslaughter album and it features a modern reworking of Suicidal Tendencies’ Institutionalized. When Mike Muir wrote it back in 1982 I don’t think Xbox was a thing!


The Real Me

Time for a bit of a nostalgia trip today!

I thoroughly enjoyed last nights death metal shindig, even if there wasn’t much of a crowd in attendance. It seemed odd how I saw some familiar faces for one of the local bands and didn’t see them make an appearance for the rest of the evening, and it’s not the first time I’ve witnessed that in Manchester. Very weird, but as usual though it’s their loss.

This morning I caught the back end of the FA Cup Final highlights on the TV. During the end credits there was a montage of past finals and memorable moments. Very few finals stick in my mind as my team have only ever participated in one during our 155 year history and we lost that one in 2011. The five nil win in the semi final was a much more enjoyable day out.

Another memory is from the 1989 final that I watched on the television. Liverpool versus Everton, a little over a month after the Hillsborough tragedy killed 96 Liverpool fans. The red side of Merseyside won on the day. Nothing there really to get a Stoke fan all excited about, but I’ll always associate one of Ian Rush’s goals with my very first gig as a 15 year old. Nothing too fancy or exquisite about it, just the memory of it hitting the back of the net and knocking a camera to the floor.

Not long after the belated final whistle due to extra time, I was on a bus with two friends and we ate at McDonald (when going there was actually more of an occasion for country bumpkins like us) before we went to the Victoria Hall in Hanley to see W.A.S.P. I’m pretty sure it was the first gig for two thirds of the trio, it definitely was for me.

That was on May 20th 1989, 29 years ago today (or thanks to an app on my phone 10,592 days). Quite a lot has gone on in those intervening years, almost 18 years of those have been as a married man! Left school. Had gainful employment in four jobs, the current one I’ve been at for two decades. A few weddings and a few funerals and a couple of fur babies and nephews and several visits to A&E along the way. Scary stuff when you start to break things down.

I almost went to see the W.A.S.P. tribute band Electric Circus in Nottingham last night. If I’d have paid more attention to the significance of May 19th then I might have made the effort in some kind of bizarre loop connecting together. Maybe for the 30 year anniversary?

Gig wise I’ve seen over 1,170 different artists in more than 230 unique venues and visited much of the British Isles thanks to my addiction to live music. It’s also taken me to shows in fourteen different countries and given me a pretty massive (impressive?) t-shirt collection! I’m not sure how many actual concerts I’ve attended as the SetlistFM database lists a performance as a concert.

If, like last night, four bands played and they’re all in their database it shows it as four concerts, rather than just the one. Sometime when I’m at a real loose end I might work out how many actual concerts I have attended. I know there are many that I was present at that I have no recollection of or those that I do I have no definitive dates.

So in honour of my first show 348 moths ago here’s something by the first headlining band that made my ears ring. Taken from the album that the band were touring at the time, The Headless Children and still a favourite record of mine after all these years, The Real Me is a cover from The Who and was originally released on theirQuadrophenia album that is a little over a month older than I am (released in October 1973). I wonder if I can do another 348 months worth of shows? It’d only take me to 2047 as I approach my 75th birthday. It will be interesting to see what the music scene is like in another 29 years.

Tainted Love

Hello people of the blogosphere. Remember me? Once again it’s been a minute since I was last here. Sometimes you just have to stay in the adult world and forsake other things. Having said that though quite a lot of my spare time, and weekends in particular have been taken up with gigs and all (unfortunately) within the borders of Great Britain.

Prior to my hiatus I had a 480 mile round trip to Glasgow for the Lords of the Land festival which was superb. I passed up a trip to Stuttgart to see Metallica to head to Scotland to catch Demolition Hammer and Dark Angel. What a hard decision that was, but ultimately the correct decision.

A few weeks later saw we covering another 460 miles to catch two Power Trip shows in Birmingham and London. Well worth the effort even if the sets were short. It’s a shame the return trip from London was tainted by a train full of celebratory and drunken Manchester United fans on their way home. And football fans wonder why they’re despised by Joe Public so much.

The following weekend was the deadline for finishing my man cave! A month after it was set (well five weeks) all my vinyl was out of their plastic coffins and more compact discs were on display. It’s been the first time some of the pieces of 12” PVC circles have seen sunlight since they were left the shop! On top of the music side, several hundred t-shirts (mainly black) were sorted, folded and stored in various locations. There are a few things to be done to finish it off, but the difference between this time last year and now is unrecognisable.

That weekend I ended up missing a a few local shows, gutted I missed Havok and Harlott in Birmingham and I was planing (plotting?) a flying trip to the Netherlands to see Flotsam & Jetsam, but I was a responsible adult – nothing to do with dragging my heels over a flight and the cost just spiralling. Honest.

To celebrate the following weekend I had four shows in five days. It could’ve been five in five, but I bailed on Zeke as two successive midweek nights in Manchester were unpalatable. The weekend culminated in another trip in excess of 400 miles to Norwich for Thrashersarus. An intimate shindig headlined by one of the UK’s finest thrash proponents Xentrix.

Oddly enough last week was the filling in an Xentrix sandwich (yes I know the filling is in the middle, but as a metaphor it sounds better!) when on Saturday I had the shorter trip, only a 188 mile round trip, to Keighley in West Yorkshire for Manorfest. Headlines by Evile, with their returning guitar brethren Ol Drake and ably supported by Birmingham old school death metal band Memoriam. A new band on the “scene” with a life time of history behind them.

Before the Iron Maiden machine rolls into my sights in June I think most of my shows between now and then are mainly in Manchester and the surrounding area, maybe a quick trip to Leeds in five weeks for Outbreak, but nowhere near a London venue or much further than 50 miles away. There is a small matter of planning some Slayer farewell shows, but the reality of those don’t kick in until November.

As the bright yellow disc in the sky has made an appearance lately it’s an appropriate time to partake in some pop punk tuneage and cast away the seemingly over long winter gloom.

Coincidentally this pop punk revival on the iPhone has come at a time where my nephew has been showing a liking for the genre. I think most of his interest is peer pressure from his school friends, but I’d like to think I’ve had some subliminal input on his 14 years on this revolving sphere.

He’s at a similar age as I was when I was discovering my musical tastes, but as I’ve said before he’s had it much easier. The wife and I popped over with a card and cash, gone are the days of hunting for Toy Story merch or the latest sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who. He mentioned he’d been looking for a Panic! At the Disco shirt, but locally there was nothing available.

Being the good uncle that I am to the nephew dubbed mini me in my presence, sent a link to the youngling for Panic! shirts from Impericon. A few days later I was informed via Messenger he now had a Panic! clothing. Uncle-ing done right, much to his parents dismay no doubt.

Last week I was flicking through the TV channels in sheer boredom and I came across the top 50 skate punk anthems on Kerrang! TV. A swift message to mini me and it was like we were watching the television in the same room for a few hours. The list was pretty bland, just as I’d expect from that media outlet in 2018. Lots of Green Day, the Offspring, Sum 41, Blink-182 and Bowling For Soup. I can’t recall anything by the likes of NOFX, Pennywise, Strung Out, no female voices or anything from outside of the North American and Canadian borders.

Thanks to Spotify he is now in possession of a 103 song playlist of some of my favourite pop punk anthems from yesteryear, with some classic punk from the Ramones, the Clash and Misfits rubbing shoulders with Bad Religion, Snuff and Samiam. Let’s hope he gives some of it a listen and likes something that he won’t be offered by today’s media.

I thought I’d already featured the likes of the Offspring, Green Day, NOFX and that ilk in this blog already, but apparently not. Now it’s summer be prepared for more happy and bouncy interludes in between the usually stern and serious death metal and thrash outings, and lyrics you can understand.

First up in the mini pop punk revolution is Shades Apart from the Revelation Records stable of the mid 90’s with their version of the Gloria Jones song Tainted Love. The Northern Soul song was released in 1965, but made famous 18 years later by Soft Cell and Marilyn Manson thrust it on a new generation of kids two decades later.

I saw the New Jersey natives Shades Apart several times back in 1997 and I’m pretty sure they played this song. After their Save It and Seeing Things albums released by Revelation in 1995 and 1997 I lost track of the band. According to Wiki they split in 2003 and reformed in 2012 and are still an entity. I’ll delve into their history a bit more at a later date.

Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 24/31

Day 24 – A cover tune. 

Prong – Doomsday

Again another hard choice because there are so many fantastic cover versions within the heavy metal genre. I could have picked a cover tune from virtually every one of the 30 bands I’ve featured. 

I’ve got to miss out Metallica paying homage to Misfits, Queen, Bob Seger, Discharge and the Anti-Nowhere League. Anthrax covering Joe Jackson, Thin Lizzzy, AC/DC or Trust. Slayer and Steppenwolf. Laaz Rockit thrashing up the Dead Kennedy’s. Nightwish turning Gary Moore symphonic. Queensryche covering  Dalbello (which for a long time I didn’t realise was a cover). W.A.S.P. paying tribute to Deep Purple or The Who. The list is endless.  

If I haven’t changed my mind in the next few days I’ve gone for Prong so I can sneak local legends Discharge onto this list. And it’s a mighty fine rendition of the song that graced the B side of Discharge’s State Violence State Control 7″ from 1983. It was originally on the release as Dooms’ Day, but over time changed to Doomsday. 

Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 8/31

Day 8 – Something to get stoned to. 

Sanctuary – White Rabbit

Not something that’s in my mindset really. Tried it once in 1994 and I felt rough for a day and a half. 

I don’t have any mood playlists, so I don’t really know if you need a particular style of music to achieve a certain task. 

This song is loosely about drugs so it’ll do. 

Hangin’ On The Telephone

Well that’s my first day back at work done since my return from deepest darkest Wales. It was a mixed weekend with some ups and downs. The festival itself was a bit hit and miss and the multiple sets of roadworks on the outbound and return journeys in a short stretch on the A55 were extremely irritating. On the plus side though we had decent weather, sun in the UK in mid March and a trip to the beach with the puppy. 

I’ve got a few real life things to plough through, then Friday starts a busy four days of gigs and travelling. Friday evening should see me attending the first date of Acid Reign’s six date UK tour. Early on Saturday sees us travelling up to Glasgow for the Lords of the Land Festival, where Acid Reign play their second date, but only a brief thirty minute set, hence seeing them in Manchester the evening before for the full on thrash assault. 

Sunday involves killing time in Scotland before a late afternoon train back to the Potteries. Back to work on Monday before heading down to Birmingham to catch the Havok tour. 

Originally I was anticipating seeing Havok in Manchester on Sunday, but due to engineering works we’ve had to opt for a later train as it prevents us sitting on a coach for three hours and a journey home in excess of five hours. I should be stepping through the front door on Sunday at pretty much the same time as Havok wind up their set. 

Yes, it’s going to be a busy four days with roughly 650 miles traversed, possibly fifteen bands viewed and half a dozen new pieces of merchandise procured. I honestly wouldn’t want to meet myself at 5am on Tuesday morning! But it should be worth it in the long run. After that there’s nothing set in stone for more than a week and Easter will be upon us. 

Let’s kick off this little run of posts with the band I’ll see twice over the weekend, Acid Reign. I’ve already posted the only real promotional video I can find, so here’s the audio for Hangin’ on the Telephone released as a single in December 1989 which explains the wrapping paper style cover above. Maybe they were hoping to snag that all impressive Christmas number one single? I helped to get it unsuccessfully to the top spot and I still have it tucked away upstairs, waiting for it to become an expensive collectors item. 

Originally it was recorded by short lived Los Angeles bands The Nerves in 1976. But it’s the Blondie version from two years later that most people will know it from. It’s had quite a few homages paid to it in its lifetime by band’s like Def Leppard, L7 and Roxette, but the Acid Reign interpretation of the song is omitted from the Wikipedia write up of the track. 

Ghost Busters


If you can’t beat them you might as well join them!!

As predicted, national and local radio got into the “spirit” of Hallowe’en by playing spectacularly spooky songs at regular intervals. I’m pretty sure the combination of radio stations I listen to in my van have to share the same disc as it only appeared to be 1962’s Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett – a song once banned by the BBC for over a decade during the 60’s for being too morbid, Michael Jackson’s Thriller or Ghostbusters by the one hit wonder Ray Parker Jr. 

Released in 1984 as the theme tune for the first film of the Ghostbusters franchise, it peaked at number two for three weeks in September of that year on the UK singles Top 40 chart, kept off the summit by I Just Called to Say I Love You. 

It’s  been covered by numerous artists over the years, but the glaring omission from the songs Wikipedia entry is from Preston thrashers Xentrix. Even though I’ve possessed a copy of the original song at some point in time – I don’t think I have now though – this cover is the only version I own and play on any kind of regular basis. 


Originally released in 1990 the single gained some notoriety thanks to the  above original art work that had to be withdrawn due to copyright infringement. The song featured prominently in the bands live set in one way or another up until the end of 2014. During their last run with Acid Reign last year the song was omitted, despite numerous chants from the crowds. 

Talking of Xentrix, when they played last year they asked people to stay behind in the venue for a few minutes to hear a track from their newly recorded album. That was October 2015, since then and with zero explanation, the album hasn’t surfaced and the band seem to have disappeared off the face of the planet. Maybe one day we’ll get to hear album number five. The track I heard in Manchester sounded great, as did the songs thrown into their set,  so it’d be a shame that it never saw the light of day, even posthumously via some cried funding scheme if that’s the case.