Monthly Archive: March 2012

Black Veil Brides + D.R.U.G.S + Reckless Love @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall, 24 March 2012

Review for Birmingham Live! Pictures: Katja Orgin.

Clad in black, leather and chains, black spiked hair, oh and don’t forget the face-paint – tonight in a warm Wolverhampton, all the way from Hollywood, California, comes the crazy world that is the world of the Black Veil Brides.  It’s the highly anticipated re-scheduled date, after lead singer Biersack had an argument with a drum riser, sustaining concussion and a broken nose at a Luxembourg gig last year. 

The Black Veil Brides consist of Andy Biersack on vocal duties, Ashley Purdy on bass, Jack Pitts lead guitar, Jinxx on guitar and Christian “C.C.” Coma on drums. 2011 saw a series of accolades on the back of their second studio album ‘Set the World on Fire’ including MTV Favourite Breakthrough Band and Revolver magazine 20 best albums of 2011. This is part of a seven day run that sees them throughout the UK, tonight here in Wolves it’s a sold out gig – tickets just £15.

First up support comes from Finnish glam metal band Reckless Love. I didn’t get there in time to catch them – but if you want to find out more – check them out on their website.

Up at 8.30 – D.R.U.G.S (acronym for Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows) – an American post hard core rock band formed in 2010. Debut album ‘Sex Life’ was released on the 22nd February 2011 – lighter in parts but still full on rock featuring addictive choruses. Live they are far heavier – and tonight are very loud and very screamy, with a commercial twist. And they get the crowd screaming too. Clearly the “new” rock breed, full of youthful angst – vocalist Craig Owens is energetic, leaping around the stage getting the crowd fully engaged in clapping and singing along. He climbs on the security railing, a walking balancing act – singing above the crowd, “That’s one of my favourite shirts – ripping it off my fucking body” – he’s shirtless now – much the girls’ delight. “One last time – make some fucking noise – we are D.R.U.G.S.”. Half hour set of energetic, heavy, addictive full on rock – with great stage craft from the boys – these guys won’t be playing the support fiddle for much longer. And just to add to that – when I escaped, Owens was out the front, by the merchandising stand, having his picture taken with fans.

Wolves Civic is, and always has been, a great venue. It’s high ceiling gives space to a mid-sized venue, and it’s a pleasure to come here to a sold out gig and not feel crammed in like a sardine. And there’s always a good vibe here – cosy, yet not claustrophobic. Tonight’s audience is very young and full of face-paint (girls and boys – some more successful than others) and they start chanting – “Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides” – it’s 9.15pm – they really should check out the twitter feed for when the band is due on – 9.30pm. And bizarrely, as we wait, the speakers play out Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice”….

So after lots of chanting, screaming as the roadies do a full on, serious, rock gig sound check (the drums are gonna be loud tonight)  – then to a massive eardrum exploding scream from the crowd, and on time, on come Black Veiled Brides, to hundreds of hands in the air, half of them capturing the moment on cameras and phones.

Black Veil Brides are a big stage band – Biersack encourages the screaming fans and they lead off with  ‘New Religion’ followed by ‘Youth and Whiskey’ –  the whole band are hugely energetic, full on rock n roll. “Wolverhampton – we are the Black Veil Brides – been a while since we’ve been here – you fucking okay?”  After a couple of tracks we’re presented with ‘Rebel Yell.’ Yes that track originally done by one Billy Idol. A faithful and direct cover version – with twice as much drumming – the drummer “C.C.” clearly thinks he’s Tommy Lee (as shown even more by the blindfolded drum solo later in the set)  – and he is indeed highly proficient.  And to fit the rock n’ roll image – there’s all the sexual innuendos you would expect – the band “dressed” in black, well – from the lower torso down – just about.

“This is from our first record – last tour before we start making another record…” and an ‘exclusive’ hint that the new album with go “back to basics” and we’re into ‘Children Surrender’.

Biersack is certainly an enigmatic frontman – energetic, giving it all – “I have a confession – I’ve fucked up the entire setlist – this one called ‘Love Isn’t Always Fair’” and next up more chat –  “Wolverhampton – this is one of our favourite shows in a long time – if you follow me on twitter – think should have more songs which are hygiene-based – this ones called I want Shampoo”(aka ‘God Bless You’) an “in” joke with his twitterati.

A complaint that there isn’t enough bras and panties on stage “this is a rock n’ roll show you know…” For the lead in to ‘The Legacy’, we’re told they’re here for all the “outcasts” and that the one thing they stand by is “…in this life you can either fall by the wayside or you can leave a fucking legacy…”

Well the one thing that you would not say about Black Veil Brides is that they are original. They are the bastard offspring of KISS and Motley Crue – that is clear – and they have taken every single element and brought it to 2012. From the make-up, the glam rock n roll persona for the ladies and smaltzy expletive ridden “are you having a fuckin good time?” – they have taken the template that made the original bands multi-millionaires. In saying that – they do a hell of a job of it – they are great fun – and if you like your rock on the glam face-painted side, then they’re for you. And they’re hugely professional and very talented. The world of rock goes in cycles – so is it really time for good fashioned old glammed up rock n’ roll to re-appear? Whichever way it goes – it’s great to see a new generation rising up to bring kids into the world of rock n’ roll baby. So look out Black Veil Brides, and for D.R.U.G.S, ‘cos I’ve a feeling they’re about take on the world.

KISS sang “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” way back in ’91. They certainly gave it to the boys of Black Veil Brides. In bucket loads.

**********************

Listening:

Black Veil Brides: Set The World On Fire [2011]

D.R.U.G.S.: Sex Life [2011]

The Stranglers + The Popes + Mike Marlin @02 Academy – 10 March 2012

Review for Birmingham Live! Pictures: Ken Harrison.

If you place a reminder in your diary every year, then put these guys on the list, you can pretty much be guaranteed they’ll be around for you to see live. One of the UK’s most enduring bands, The Stranglers unique style has lead to 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums. A true stubbornness to call it quits, even with the loss of more than one lead singer; they’ve successfully achieved a career spanning four decades.

Formed in ’74 by founding members Jean Jaques (JJ) Burnel, Jet Black and Hugh Cornwell, Dave Greenfield joined them within a year. A series of successful punk hits, then embracing a more commercial yet unique sound during the eighties, The Stranglers became a regular not only in the charts, but on the touring scene, until Hugh Cornwell split to go solo 1990. Not to be outdone, The Stranglers became one of the few bands, especially at that time, to replace their lead singer and carry on, employing Paul Roberts on vocals. Roberts left 12 years ago, but that was no stopping the boys, bringing in guitarist Baz Warne on vocals – a shared duty with JJ Burnel. Now rolling into their fifth decade – clearly nothing stops them, with Brunel nearing 60, and the incredible Jet Black, still drumming away at 73, putting many of the audience to shame.

These perennial tourers – this being The Giants Tour (in line with the new Album released 5th March) – every day in March covers pretty much any city you can name in the UK, followed by a road trip through Europe in April

It being a Saturday, support are early and we have the 10pm curfew. So first up tonight at 6.45pm is Mike Marlin, who as a young lad was inspired by the up and coming punk and British acts. By ’82 he gave up music as a career but along with the day job, at night he continued to write. It was 2011 before he released his first album ‘Nearly Man’ followed in quick succession by his new album, released in February 2012 ‘Man on the Ground.’  With full band, his songs are introspective and deep – think Lenard Cohen, certainly taking the darker side of inspiration. There’s a couple of hundred people here, and the sound is pretty terrible, he finishes his set with a spiraling melody, and polite applause from the crowd.

Next up we have The Popes, who in the nineties were known for Shane McGowan from The Pogues as their lead vocalist. After the loss of The Popes banjo god Tommy McManamon in 2006, it was time to get back together and they’re here celebrating their new album ‘Outlaw Heaven’. The line-up features Paul ‘Mad Dog’ McGuiness, Charlie Hoskins, Will Morris (Drums), Laurie Norwood (Bass) and Fiddler Ben Gummey. ‘Mad Dog': “Happy New Year – you up for it?” and we’re in for half an hour of punk meets Irish folk, upbeat, energetic and fun. Sound now much better, new track ‘Queen of Manhattan’ is a punchy song, with a plucked ditty jingle. ‘Mad Dog’ is chatty and gets the crow behind the band. ‘Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down’ gets the ever increasing crowd singing along, and includes a full on Irish fiddle dervish. They finishes the set off with a song for lost friends, an acknowledgement of creative and musical talent lost, “When I Die, I Will Go To Rock n Roll Heaven…”. ‘Mad Dog’ rips his shirt off, and points to the tatts on his back. Good fun, well worth seeing if you get a chance.

Then turn 8.30, and on come The Stranglers dressed, as usual, all in black, to usual impish ‘Waltzinblack’ and into first track ‘Burning Up Time.’ Warne: ” Well good evening Birmingham – how are we? We have a  new record out – I hope you know that….” so tonight’s set features a lot of their new tracks, smattered with the classics. The new stuff is indeed classic Stranglers, in their more “mellow” less punk phase. It’s good and will indeed take some listening to. The sound, thankfully, is now spot on. The venue is increasingly filling, not everyone knows it’s an early night, so there’s a few stragglers, and they are enjoying the new stuff, but it’s the older stuff that gets them going.

‘Hanging Around’ they bounce along too, ‘Golden Brown’ as always, is beautifully played, a classic in its very own special right, and still sends the hackles up n the back of your neck. Followed up by ‘ Strange Little Girl’ and their cover of ‘Walk On By.’ The first part of the set is the more melodic side of The Stranglers, they’re into the title track off the new album ‘Giants’. The cover of this album features the four band members in a line, Jet Black akin with oxygen mask, but take that as the joke it is meant to be…..

Then JJ starts off with that classic bass line and we’re into a rip-roaring edition of ‘Peaches,’ much to the crowds appreciation. Few more sings, splattered with new track, and another bass line with jangly synth, sing along everyone ‘No More Heroes, ‘ followed by ‘Relentless’ a modern classic with a mesmerising swirling melody. Next up ‘Something Better Change’ – the audience punch their fists in the air in time.

Of and on, the first encore starts of with ‘Time To Die’ and yet another classic – ‘Duchess.’ And they’re off – the crowd bay “Stranglers, Stranglers, Stranglers” and it’s not over. Back on, Warne: “Hope you’ve enjoyed your fuckin’ selves…”, an acknowledgment to the support, and we’re into ‘All The Day and All of The Night’, Warne gets the crowd chanting in the middle of the track, “Hello, look at all the bald heads!” He acknowledges sections of the audience, at the back to the right, to the left – “No booing, don’t get competitive, it’s only a game…” and back into the song. And tonight’s set is finished on ‘Tank.’ And it’s 10pm. And after rapturous applause it’s time for home.

I saw The Stranglers pretty much exactly a year ago. The set then was older stuff, a bit more punk, more aggressive – their new stuff is more mellow, like  a classic malt, still exquisite. As a band they keep it simple, as musicians, they are all individually class acts, JJ probably one of the best bass players on the touring circuit. Still  they remain uncompromising. And still they clearly love what they do. After all these years. Any new kids on the block can learn a lot from these guys, not only in staying power, but on the whole way they deliver a truly stunning musical performance. Undoubtably, they will be back next year – cos there’s simply just no stopping The Stranglers. And long may they continue.

********************************************

Setlist:

Intro – Waltzinblack

  1. Burning Up Time
  2. Sometimes
  3. Raven
  4. Lowlands
  5. Hey! It’s The Rise of the Robots
  6. Hanging Around
  7. Unbroken
  8. Time was on My Side
  9. Golden Brown
  10. Strange Little Girl
  11. Walk On By
  12. Giants
  13. Peaches
  14. Mercury Rising
  15. Lost Control
  16. Shut Up
  17. No More Heroes
  18. Relentless
  19. Something Better Change

Encore 1:

20. Time To Die

21. Duchess

Encore 2:

22. All The Day And All Of The Nigh

23. Tank

********************************************

Listening: Take your pick from way too many albums!