I wanted to give an idea of the progression of my pieces. The first review was published in NE Volume Magazine and the second was the version adapted and published in The Crack Magazine. Both reviews were published in March 2020 issues of the respective magazines.
Newcastle is hoping tonight in nostalgic Pop Punk delights. Not Ur Girlfriendz have an average age of between 13 and 15; their energy and confidence is inspiring and they win the affections of a sold out audience still entering the building by performing a cover of the Spice Girl’s ‘Wannabe’. Slam your body down and all that.
Montreal’s Simple Plan probably haven’t toured in the UK since 2005, but are anything but forgotten, their set features classics such as ‘Summer Paradise’ (minus Sean Paul) and reminds most of the female audience what it’s like to be 16 again. Headliners Bowling for Soup perform a delightful Greatest Hits set, featuring classics such as ‘Almost’, ‘Ohio’ and even ‘No Hablo Ingles’ – and they’re still watching wrestling, as their new track ‘Alexa Bliss’ goes down a storm. 26 year veterans, it’s a great performance from a seasoned band; more of the same please!
Here’s the same review, written for The Crack….
is hoping tonight in nostalgic Pop Punk delights. Not Ur Girlfriendz have an
average age of between 13 and 15; their energy and confidence is inspiring and
they win the affections of a sold out audience still entering the building by
performing a cover of the Spice Girl’s ‘Wannabe’. Vocalist Liv Hughes puts
performers three times her age to shame with her enthusiasm and confidence. Slam
your body down and all that.
Montreal’s Simple Plan probably haven’t toured in the UK since 2005, but are
anything but forgotten, their set features classics such as ‘Summer Paradise’
(minus Sean Paul) and reminds most of the female audience what it’s like to be
16 again. No doubt they’ll be visiting English shores again and I suspect a
large proportion of tonight’s attendees would also be present. Headliners
Bowling for Soup perform a delightful Greatest Hits set, featuring classics
such as ‘Almost’, ‘Ohio’ and even ‘No Hablo Ingles’. The band found themselves
trapped in a lift at the venue before the show, but haven’t let it dampen their
spirits, the atmosphere is electric and front man Jarrett’s original worn Texas
guitar is a testament to their vintage.
also a remarkable statement to the band just how many “singles” have become
part and parcel of their audiences own experiences, and the crowd laps up every
single moment, with a number of participatory speeches, including the BFS
Comedy Jam! But despite the intervening years the band have kept true to their
roots and their sound, and they’re still watching wrestling, as their latest
track ‘Alexa Bliss’ goes down a storm. The song has already managed to produce
600,000 views on YouTube in just a few weeks – and those achievements are not
to be ignored.
year veterans, it’s a great performance from a seasoned band; more of the same
Music is the great collaborator. Music brings us together, and chances are, even someone who has no opinion or interest in anything has some interest or opinion in at least one form of music. Think about it, how many people have you met for the first time, through University perhaps or in a new job, where to break the silence and learn more about them you might ask what type of music they enjoy, what sort of bands or artists they listen too and maybe who they’ve seen live?
More than any other pastime, however, music is something that it is so easy to get involved in. Now, whilst learning an instrument does possess challenge and skill, listening to music, purchasing and collecting records and albums, attending gigs and singing in the shower are all – in some ways – relatively inexpensive. And with the advent of high speed broadband and legal streaming services like Spotify and iTunes direct to your mobile device it’s now easier than ever to find virtually all the music you’ll ever want. And on top of that, you can expend far less effort than even 15 years ago in doing so.
I first started discovering music when I was 13. Of course, I was listening to music and specific artists before this, but it wasn’t until I was at that age that it had such impact on me, affecting the way I dressed, my career aspirations and even my political beliefs; between the ages of 13 and 18 I discovered artists and groups that have stayed with me until today as a result of their influence at this important time in my life. My younger brother played bass in a band, and that ended up affecting his music taste in a huge way, as he went on to play some live music in local venues. Personally, I worked in Radio, and so everything from choosing the music for my shows to learning about new artists and promotions had a huge impact on my life as well.
For this article I wanted to take a look inward, and talk about albums that have influenced me. But there’s nothing like a little friendly competition to get the thoughts moving. I mean, how horrible would it be if everyone looked the same and listened to the same album; so in that spirit of diversity and difference – as well my thoughts and ramblings – I would encourage you to comment by giving me YOUR thoughts on the albums and the music which helped shape and define the person you are right now.
Metallica – St Anger (2003)
Metallica were a huge influence on me. I actually got into the band indirectly from Queen, another one of the huge influences that will feature on this list. I ended up purchasing a video cassette of the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert from April 1992 where, following Freddie Mercury’s death, the surviving members of Queen staged a large benefit concert at Wembley Stadium. Several bands who performed during the first portion of the day – Metallica, Def Leppard and Guns N’ Roses most notably – would go to become some of my favourite artists of all time. And in truth, it’s unlikely I’d learned of them at the same time as I did if not for Queen and their appearance at that performance.
So when I started to get into Metallica properly, St Anger was the first album released with me being a fan – and for that reason it holds a huge place in my heart – as I can even remember taking the bus to town on that June day in order to buy a copy of the album. Many might expect me to say I hated the album, but considering my first live experience with the band would be just a few days later (as part of the ‘Madly in Anger World Tour 03’) and I’d already listened to practically everything Napster were giving away the Winter previously (!) there really was no denying that I just loved this album because it was new material from Metallica.
Thinking about it now, I can even remember my friend (the same one who I bought the album with) ringing me up one night – at a time when we’d first got mobile phones – to tell me that he’d seen the ‘St Anger’ video on Kerrang TV. Now, Kerrang TV was a subscription service, and you needed to phone in and request specific tracks that you wanted to listen too. Since Metallica’s new single was LITERALLY just being released, Kerrang had aired the video at the stroke of midnight before it was part of the rotation, and then every 20 minutes thereafter. The video itself was filmed at San Quentin Federal Penitentiary in California; and believe it or believe it not, myself and my family took an incredible vacation to California not long thereafter. Giving me another reason to love the nostalgia and the memory of the album a lot of people really seem to hate.
Green Day – American Idiot (2004)
By the time I saw Green Day on the American Idiot Tour (in January 2005) I’d already seen a few bands live. But this particular performance always holds a special place in my heart regarding live shows. For a start, and to this date, I’ve not seen Green Day live since – and the venue in which the gig was held (Dublin’s Point Depo) no longer exists. It was also the place where I’d seen my first ever concert, in 2003, and this album was exactly what I needed at the time.
It was actually my brother who’d been a Green Day fan for long before this, and he ended up detesting American Idiot save for one track, feeling the band had completely devalued their earlier sounds. I would soon come to find out that certain bands I love (such as Machine Head) would have a habit of taking the previous special appeal they had to fans in a time and place and repackaging and re marketing it for a new generation 10 years later. So, thanks to my brother and a friend of mine, I was slowly introduced to Green Day and encouraged to come to their performance.
Personally, I’d just recently started University, and my life itself was going through some pretty major changes. Looking back, I’d actually reflect and say American Idiot was released during one of the most turbulent and challenging periods of my entire life to date. It is perhaps the only album released during that period that I still look back on with fondness, and will occasionally belt out ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ with nostalgic glee to anyone deaf enough to listen. It’s definitely funny for me how this album really forced me beyond my skin and – in a sense – was me looking to accept a new group and a new form of music into my life; probably taking the Punk thing too much to heart as well, although stereotypically a few Summer’s late.
New Kids on the Block – You Got It (The Right Stuff) (1988)
From the bands second album ‘Hangin’ Tough’ (released 1989) the earlier single – known commonly as ‘The Right Stuff’ – was released by NKOTB in 88. In that year I would have been 3, and its also the year my younger brother was born, so it’s extremely unlikely that I’d of heard the album or the single – and remembered it – at that time. However, I can tell you that I once asked my mother to obtain a copy of the album from her friend, if I gave her a blank cassette. It seemed like even a weird request to my mother at the time, but I got the album back – and it was definitely because of the love for this song.
I won’t lie, this was a long time ago, but I did want to make special mention because it did play some small part in my musical tastes and does hold a fondness to this day. It’s cheesy, it’s 80’s and it’s Pop – but actually it’s still a great tune. I’m just sorry I don’t have more information about my experiences with it.
Nobuo Uematsu – Music of Final Fantasy VII (1997)
I don’t listen to a lot of Classical Music. I appreciate it, and it’s use in film scores, but I can’t think that I am actively engaged in listening to such music. That being said, I absolutely couldn’t do this list and not include the music of a particular video game – which, by definition of it’s creation – is a classical piece. Final Fantasy VII was originally released for PlayStation in 1997 and I won’t go into a speech about the game on this article because there’s already at least two articles on that website to cover such things. Suffice to say, one of the huge reasons the game had such an impact on me was because of the music, and I can definitely remember this being the first time I cared so much about a game’s soundtrack.
To me, Uematsu’s soundtrack is essential to the game itself, bringing you deeper into the story, introducing you to the nature of the characters and creating tension or building hype without saying a single word. Much like Die Hard will use ‘Ode to Joy’ as Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber finally realises the vision of opening that safe, the music within this game brought you closer to it, and gave you a bigger context for it. Remember, this was at a time when Sony (already a leading music producer worldwide) had revolutionised gaming with the sound chip of the PlayStation – games like Wipeout and Grand Theft Auto, for example, took advantage of stereo quality sound to insert the music of known artists into video games. FFVII used it as a character; and that was a big deal, especially for an RPG (Role Playing Game) which meant you spent a lot of time with Cloud and his compatriots wandering valleys and hills in search of Sephiroth.
I have so many great memories of playing this game originally. I remember in particular going into town after school one Friday to collect the game from my favourite store, with a friend from school, and remarking on the bus back that it would probably take me the entire school holidays to finish it. If I have a particular favourite piece it’s either ‘Shinra Theme’ or ‘Those Chosen By The Planet’ but ‘Tifa’s Theme’ is also a big one for me. And a small special thanks to Uematsu for his work on re imaging the soundtrack for the 2020 remake which, once again, captures the beauty and the majesty of the game as I’d expect with incredible advanced technology.
Kid Rock – Cocky (2001)
I’d heard of Kid Rock after he sampled Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’ to rework the track into ‘American Bad Ass’ in 2000. It was largely due to my love of WWE (then WWF) and the use of that particular track for The Undertaker’s theme tune when the latter made his return in May 2000. Shortly thereafter, Rock covered ZZ Top’s ‘Legs’ for a WWE Compilation and also released ‘Cocky’ on Atlantic Records; which had several songs sampled by WWE, most notably the title track (which I’m almost positive was used as a PPV theme) and ‘Lonely Road of Faith’ which was used in a rather nostalgic video about wrestlers out on the road. ‘Cocky’ itself went on to become even bigger, thanks to ‘Picture’, a duet with Sheryl Crow.
Kid Rock also ended up becoming an inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame, as well as touring several highly successful albums to date. In 2004 I saw him live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and then again in 2008 I saw him open for Bon Jovi in Kildare, Ireland. So he is officially the only artist I’ve seen in my life – so far – on two different continents. And I’ve just realised typing that, it’s not true, as I also saw The Supersuckers in both Dublin and in Tower Records in Los Angeles at an in store performance. Either way, Kid Rock’s album influenced me greatly, and my appreciation of his music stays with me to this day, I’ve even a copy of ‘Live Trucker’ on Vinyl.
Guns N’ Roses – Live Era (1999)
I bought the album in Golden Discs on Grafton Street in Dublin. I didn’t have enough money for the album and the guy behind the counter let me off with a Euro, or a Pound, at the time. I didn’t have enough because I still needed to pay for my bus fare home and when I got home I sat and listened to the album from start to finish. It was my first Guns N’ Roses record and I later got it signed by Gilby Clarke, who toured and recorded with the band between 1991 and 1993. I wish I still had it but I foolishly sold it when I lived in Edinburgh in 2008.
This album, for all intensive purposes, was created to supplement contractual obligation and make the main members of the original Guns N’ Roses at the time (Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan) some quick cash. People have been critical of it’s production, and it’s value, but at the time of release – and certainly at the time I purchased it – this album was the nearest thing to a Greatest Hits and captured the band as I loved them most, live. I wouldn’t see those three men live together until 2017. People might not understand but before Spotify, and if you weren’t intending on downloading illegal music and creating your own compilation, an album like this really was the best way to hear this music.
On top of anything else, the album also contained a full colour booklet, featuring photographs and imagery which showed me pictures from previous tours. Despite this band having effectively fractured years before I could even comprehend their importance to my musical taste, they are one of the most important musical influences to me. Period. I’m still a member of the fan club to this day.
Queen – Innuendo (1991)
I could have put any Queen album on this list – with the possible exception of the ‘Cosmos Rocks’ and ‘Hot Space’ – and it would mean just the same. Innuendo doesn’t even feature my favourite Queen track of all time (that’s either ‘Save Me’ from ‘The Game’ or ‘It’s Late’ from ‘News of the World’) and the band itself, these musicians – and particularly it’s lead vocalist – have had the greatest influence on me. In essence, they are the perfect band in my eyes, and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a fan of them. Fact.
This album I received on cassette, for Christmas, in 1995. No idea whatever happened to my cassettes from when I was younger but I used to have a special yellow box where I kept my favorite cassettes and they were virtually all Queen originals. A lot of my music at that time was blank copies etc.
Their influence and their music has been with me my entire life. And I can’t think of anything more to say because that sums up exactly how I feel. I’ve grown out of other bands, grown into bands, developed tastes, picked apart material here and there. There is nothing I can’t love (yes, even the albums mentioned at the start can be loved) about this bands output. They are flawless.
I’ve really enjoyed sharing this list with you, I’d love to hear from you guys too about what music ranks in your inspirations…..
The last of Queen’s studio albums to be released within Freddie Mercury’s lifetime, Innuendo is somewhat of a hidden gem in the bands catalog, remaining – as it does – vastly unappreciated to this date. Of course, even casual fans will no doubt be aware of the albums title track and selections like ‘The Show Must Go On’, not least because these songs featured as high profile singles – with memorable accompanying videos – around the time of release.
in the period between the end of sessions for the bands 1989 ‘The
Miracle’ and early 1991, ‘Innuendo’ was also used as a platform to
relaunch the band in the United States. A multi million dollar deal
with Hollywood Records in that year – and a subsequent media
promotional tour on the back of the bands “20th
Anniversary” generated a re-release of their (to date) entire back
catalogue in the US including bonus remix tracks. Innuendo, did not,
unfortunately receive such tracks.
remix tracks themselves aren’t much to talk about, but have never
been released elsewhere, and provide an interesting insight into the
interpretation of Queen’s music. It’s hard to think many members of
the band, especially Freddie, would have had much of a feedback in
the development of those remixes. One of the more interesting things
about the US promotion of Innuendo is general is whether Queen
disclosed Freddie’s condition too their label, and therefore whether
the label could have taken legal action for undisclosed information
affecting future business. As it would turn out, Freddie’s death
brought Hollywood Records more profit than it might have otherwise;
an unexpected benefit for both parties perhaps.
itself is an album of great experimentation. Realising it was highly
likely the band would ever perform these tracks live, then it was a
chance not to be limited by that atmosphere; one could also argue
that while Freddie himself might have felt compelled to leave a
legacy for his work, it was also unlikely he would live long enough
to see the cultural impact of the albums strengths or weaknesses and
so it was – as he once put it himself – a chance to do anything
and everything and not give a damn, my dear.
albums title track is a great place to start as its an almost 7
minute mix of classical rock, progressive and even a little Spanish
thrown in. There is a chance for Freddie to excel, vocally, and for
the entire song to be a fitting rock opera of its own; much like
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ all those years beforehand. So single track could
otherwise be the albums title track or the albums opener, and it’s
first single. It’s therefore fortunate that this song was indeed –
or is indeed – all three. Another track like ‘Headlong’ (used by
Brian May on his later solo live tours in 1993) is also featured as
part of the ‘We Will Rock You’ musical and, like ‘I Want It All’
before it, is a full stadium rocker which suffered only in that it
wasn’t released some years earlier for inclusion on tour.
has always been a favourite track of mine. A song written by Freddie
about his cat, lyrically its a playful and nonsensical song which –
although funny – is plagued with sadness when one imagines that
Freddie was so isolated at home due to his illness he needed to find
inspiration crawling the four walls. Or the couch. In the same vein
is ‘I’m Going Slightly Mad’, another single for the album with an
amazing video, rumoured to be written by Freddie about the effects of
his pain medication. If the songs are a window to the artist then
‘Innuendo’ is arguably Mercury’s swansong and tells us more about the
singer than any interview he wouldn’t have likely given.
tracks such as the Roger Taylor vocal ‘Ride the Wild Wind’ is
somewhat forgettable, and doesn’t really ring true in the same vein
as ‘I Can’t Live with You’ or even the instrumental ‘Bijou’. Some
works on the album such as ‘The Hitman’ and ‘All God’s People’ are
not of the standard you might expect, but do provide some filler. The
song which many remember most fondly is ‘These Are The Days of Our
Lives’ which talks about looking back, memories and nostalgic
feeling. It’s video was the last project to be worked on by Freddie
Mercury on camera and his illness apparent – it provides a
startling new meaning in this light.
back I think ‘Innuendo’ has aged incredibly well and still sounds
very fresh and modern compared to the bands catalogue. The bands
music itself does feel fresh, of course, but the over abundance of
‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Somebody to Love’ mean you’re less likely to
hear cuts from later studio releases; and thus they feel younger
(because, strictly speaking, they are) and more progressive (in the
case of Innuendo, particularly) than the Punk/DIY attitude of ‘Spread
Your Wings’ or the disassociation of ‘The Works’.
In their final few years together, music brought Queen together again, as it had brought them together in the first instance. And for this I’m very pleased to hear Innuendo blast out.
An interview written for NE Volume in late 2019 which was shortened for publication. Here’s the original, longer, version for your enjoyment.
Fear Factory, Marilyn Manson, Noel Fielding and pretty much anything Trent Reznor has ever committed to tape. These are just a handful of artists who owe their existence to Gary Numan. Numan allegedly took his name from a plumber in the Yellow Pages, and almost forty years to the week began touring as a solo artist, having parted from this band Tubeway Army only a few months prior. Achieving commercial success with ‘Cars’ and ‘Are Friends Electric?’ soon followed, making even his idol David Bowie jealous enough to write a song about him, Numan physically and mentally exhausted; citing a possible farewell from touring in 1981.
Thankfully, Numan warmed to live performance, and I’m
personally extremely grateful that he did. The sound of his performance is
incredible, his band are well timed and well-rehearsed, and his vocals sound
amazing. As he stepped onto the stage he is the picture of health and nowhere
near the reality of his sixty one years. His image, as with his voice, are
timeless and the sounds made sound as relevant today as they ever have.
Interspersed with sound we’re treated to a fantastic multimedia display,
reminiscent of Bowie on his ‘Reality Tour’ where image and graphics shroud the
band in a digital illumination.
New material is mixed with old, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at
a Nine Inch Nails concert, the Metal sound his latest work feeling relevant and
fresh. Some may criticize the choice of venue, feeling the 02 Academy was too
“hip and happening” for an artist of Numan’s caliber, perhaps the Sage a more
appropriate venue. But a combination of his insistence on staying relevant and
keeping ticket prices affordable lend itself to believing the venue choice is a
conscious decision on the artist’s behalf to make his music as accessible as
possible. And it works.
It’s almost ironic that whilst his biggest musical fans
have almost faded into commercial obscurity, Numan himself is starting to be
even more relevant, answering the call that nothing sounds better than the
original. Engaging and interactive, his performance is truly electric, and as
we’re all friends I guess we’ve answered that question!
So last month I did an interview with the band Buckcherry, and the interview piece I did was considered too feature like to publish, so it was changed in accordance with the magazine’s format. This sometimes happen and is not something I can be upset about – but gives me the chance to share with you my original vision for the piece here. Enjoy.
Listen to Buckcherry for about 15 minutes and you’d probably think the world had gone to hell in a hand basket. “All music sales have gone down the sh**ter” says guitarist Stevie D. It’s an interesting start to our discussion, but one I’m more than willing to explore further; “Yep, it’s the ‘age of streaming’ and recorded music has become the loss-leader, a kind of trail of breadcrumbs to the live show.”
Yet, despite the perceived negativity of this statement, there are actually a lot of positives. Why shouldn’t more fans get the chance to see their favorite artists performing in a live environment as well as the fixed impression traditionally immortalized inside the song? And nobody quite does live performances like Buckcherry. Although the band has seen a lot of change over the years, the one constant has been founder and lead vocalist Josh Todd, who has remained firm at the helm guiding the band through uncertain waters. Stevie agrees, saying “the one constant, and probably most important [thing], is Josh’s vision and songwriting in Buckcherry… It’s no secret there’s been a few different players along the way, some integral, some not, but the fact remains Buckcherry is one of the last, successful, uncompromised rock n’ roll bands out there.. And musically, it’s the best it’s ever been.”
Formed in California in 1995 the group has toured worldwide, releasing two albums before dissolving in 2002, being ‘re-imagined’ in 2005 and releasing the biggest crossover hit to date; ‘Crazy Bitch’ from 06’s ‘15’ – a song about as crazy as they come. Todd’s distinctive vocals are unmistakable, as unique as Chris Cornell’s or Axl Rose’s belong to those artists, and he once recorded with Guns N’ Roses Slash and Duff McKagan, in what was rumored to be the forerunner to Velvet Revolver featuring the late Scott Weiland.
Personally preferring the track ‘Lit Up’ myself, there’s something for everyone in this band, with Stevie reminding me of the multifaceted layer of their own performances; “One thing’s for sure, you’ll get the hits. We’re in rehearsals now for the Warpaint record cycle, and since the musicianship in this band is at an all-time high, I’d like to stretch out musically during the segues and solos…” proving, if nothing else, you’ll get a full night’s entertainment. Before we part there’s just a little time to talk about their support for the night, which comes in the form of fellow veterans Hoobstank (remember ‘The Reason’), as Stevie explains “I met them back in ’06 and would run in to them at festivals, and eventually we would end up doing shows together in SoCal. The singer Doug Robb is a downright kickass front man with a solid machine behind him”.
We can definitely agree with that. As if you needed another reason to see this band live. Sorry