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. 



Supporting Judas Priest on their current tour is Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock, basically it’s Michael Schenker with a band going through a few of his better known tracks from his back catalogue.

For those not aware of Michael Schenker the German native of Sarstedt was an early member of rock giants Scorpions (note no The. Just plain old Scorpions!), playing on three albums. Had two stints with UFO and has had various line ups with MSG (Michael Schenker Group, McAuley Schenker Group). With those bands there is quite a back catalogue of songs to pick from over the last four decades.

This incarnation of Schenker’s band features Doogie White on vocals (Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force and Rainbow), Herman Rarebell on drums and bass player Francis Buchholz who both played on Scorpions’ 1979 album Lovedrive with Schenker. Completing the line up is Wayne Findlay on guitar.

This live version of Lovedrive was recorded at the Wacken festival in 2006 and features Michael with his brother Rudolph and the rest of Scorpions.

Live Arena 5

So far I have tickets for two shows – and what a great bunch of classic bands I’m due to see!

Friday – Birmingham Academy.

My quest to see the Big 4 in 2015 is completed on Friday (it might be earlier if I decide to go to Manchester as well on Tuesday!) I saw Megadeth a few weeks ago and Metallica twice earlier in the year (Leeds Festival and the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg). Now it’s Anthrax and Slayer to finish the set! 

Saturday – Manchester Apollo.


It’s usually my wife’s birthday where I disappear for a gig, but on Saturday I’ll be off to see Judas Priest ably supported by Michael Schenker and his Temple of Rock.