James and Ross have already had their says on this matter, but it’s time for me to have a quick dig through the memory banks (i.e. the reviews on here) and pick out the highlights of this year. And, frankly, it’s been a hell of a year.
Before I go through the list I just have to pass on a massive THANKS to all of the bands, promoters, tour managers, venue staff and anyone else involved in these shows – in particular the ones I’ve been able to get into for free. This isn’t a chance for me to crow about getting guest-listed, it’s to let them all know how much I appreciate the work they put in and to acknowledge the fact that I’d not be able to afford to see this many great performances without their generosity and faith in myself and the rest of the team to help promote their music.
So to all of them, and from all of us here at Moshville Times, I say “thank you – and here’s to a great 2015”. Now… on with all the cool shit from 2014!
The year kicked off with Lamb of God, Decapitated and Huntress at the Academy. A brilliant start to the year and great performances from all. Lamb of God simply killed it and will be sorely missed during their hiatus. Huntress are back on these shores early next year supporting Amon Amarth and are well worth getting to the venue early for.
Killswitch Engage are another band renowned for putting on a beast of a live show and they didn’t disappoint in February. Ably supported by Trivium whose only let-down was touring on an album that couldn’t hope to reach the heights of In Waves, openers Battlecross did themselves proud while Miss May I started to show more potential than on previous shows.
A special show in February for Black Stone Cherry, playing “intimate” performances with an audience-chosen set and a chance to converse with the band… well, shout questions very loudly in the vain hope they could make out what you were saying! We caught them the Barrowlands and it was one of the best shows I’ve seen for them – and wasn’t the only tour from them in the UK this year.
March came round with just the single gig (Sean covered the Conan performance for me as I couldn’t stay for the show), as Steel Panther came around once more. The aptly-named The Cringe opened for them and pretty much made most of the audience live up to their name. Steel Panther, thankfully, took the audience by the balls and once again demonstrated why they sell out shows like this. They’re fun. Rude, crude and playing music twenty years out of date but who really cares? This is what metal is all about – screw the rules, just have a party!
The year began to pick up big time with five gigs in April, plus the one Sean covered for me (Kingpin at Shadow Central, a venue I’ve still not been to). Five Finger Death Punch kept the run of incredible Academy dates going with a blistering performance, alongside new-to-these-shores Pop Evil and metalcore act Upon A Burning Body. Three great bands on that bill, each one capable of headlining a decent show. Halestorm upped their venue size again, this time filling the O2 ABC with Dayshell and Smoking Hearts in support. In honesty, the support acts were OK without being too special but Halestorm – as ever – put on a great performance. Looking forward to seeing them again in March.
Delain had their first gig of the year opening for genre-mates Within Temptation and it’s no surprise that both bands wowed the Academy. With two of the best front women in the symphonic metal world, this was always going to be a good night and I don’t think anyone left disappointed. Patent Pending brought People on Vacation and Lacey to the much smaller Glasgow Garage later in the month, a gig I went to with my eldest daughter. This was her first time at the Garage and second seeing Patent Pending, who opened for Bowling For Soup (fronted by PoV’s Jaret Reddick – it’s all very incestuous) last year. The show was simply superb and – like Steel Panther a few weeks previous – was geared around fun as much as music.
Final gig of the month was Suburban Legends at Broadcast. A huge band in a tiny venue, but they simply didn’t care. Like Patent Pending a few days before, this is a band who value audience interaction and put on an incredible performance. See them while they’re still playing the small places!
May had me attending approximately one gig on average, spread over two nights… Lit, Blame and Electric River hit the Cathouse early in the month. Sadly, I missed Blame as I was interviewing Electric River (who released one of my albums of the year), and had to leave before the end of Lit’s set to get back home to the kids. What I saw was damn good, though.
Similarly later in the month, we had a great three-header at Audio featuring Bonded By Blood, Flayed Disciple and Seprevation. Sean did the overall review, but I only had time to catch the openers and get a few photos before having bedtime duties to perform!
Half way into the year, June arrived and… no shows. None. Not one. Wow.
July only featured the one, but what a show! The Jackhammers opened for Andrew W.K. who was doing a rather unusual one-man-and-one-other-man-who-dances-a-bit show which featured the largest invited stage invasion I’ve seen since Chuck Berry at Bradford St George’s Hall 15 years ago. Seriously. The night was highlighted by actually getting to interview Mr W.K. post-gig. A hell of a man.
Into August and two very different performances. First up was Machine Head in Edinburgh’s tiny Liquid Rooms venue. I’m gutted that – again – I missed support act Hostile due to traffic. They opened for Lordi in Edinburgh a year ago and I only caught their last couple of songs then. Funnily enough, the openers for Suburban Legends in April had the same name, though were a different band, and I missed them, too. Band called Hostile – pick a new name. That one’s obviously jinxed. Machine Head, though, were perfection. Every bit as good in a small venue as on a festival stage, brilliant cross-section of album tracks and superb sound (for me in the pit, though the wife was off to one side and didn’t enjoy it as much).
The second show wasn’t a gig, but a theatre trip to see Rock of Ages. Highly recommended if you like your old 1980’s hair metal and a giggle. Hugely enjoyable show.
September saw another visit to a small venue to see a band who usually play in bigger places. This time DragonForce totalling King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Openers Neonfly were very good value for money, though I missed the start of their set due to queuing. DragonForce showed that their egos aren’t as big as their usual venues by hanging around post-gig to sign autographs and have photos taken with fans. Nice guys.
Sliding into the final quarter of the year, and October brought with it four gigs for my lucky self. Well… three and a half. First up was thrash legends Destruction touring with Shrapnel, Lost Society and Evil Invaders. Due to time limitations, once again I split duties with thrash-cyclopaedia Sean as I could only stay for the first two acts. Sean covered (and interviewed) the headliners. Glasgow Audio has turned into a hell of a venue since it opened – some great shows going on there.
Next up was another brilliant line-up at King Tut’s and another show with my eldest – Patent Pending (again), Suburban Legends (again) and The Hype Theory. Oh, and a special appearance from Mario. If there was a disappointment to link to the show it was that Suburban Legends should have had an extra half hour. As should Patent Pending. And The Hype Theory. Hell, it was a good night with great entertainment for a trifling ticket price.
Another bargain was to be had with the Piratefest at The Arches featuring Alestorm, Lagerstein, Red Rum and Rainbowdragoneyes. You could not get more “yahaar”s, Jolly Rogers or wooden legs into a single venue, I guarantee. A busy day for me as I interviewed all four acts, did photos and wrote the gig review. Honestly, this “job” sounds like fun but it’s bloody hard work at times!
Black Stone Cherry hit the UK again this month for their first arena tour, and they brought the rather excellent Theory of a Deadman and Airbourne in support. Sadly, the audio quality at the Hydro let down the opening acts which was a hell of a shame. BSC put on a brilliant headlining performance, though, and showed why and how they’d worked their way up through the venues in the city, year by year to headline the largest one e have (barring stadia). Well done to them and here’s hoping they stick to the very reasonable ticket prices in future. £25 for these three bands is a bargain.
Three gigs in November as the year began to draw to a close. Folk metal took over the Classic Grand with Iceland’s Skalmold, Russia’s Arkona and Switzerland’s Eluveitie each playing their own brand of musical storytelling. Volbeat and Hatebreed tore apart the Barrowlands with an interesting combination of touring partners. Hatebreed are always a great act for me, and Volbeat were a surprisingly good complement despite being such a different genre.
I rounded the month off with another Cathouse gig, another with my eldest and a second performance from Delain – this time headlining one of three UK dates. Sadly missing bassist Otto due to a rather nasty testicle-related injury suffered on the first date, Delain one again had me wondering why they weren’t headlining larger venues. Both supports were superb (Wolf are back next year, The Raven Age I will keep an eye open for), though my biggest regret is not asking the guy hanging around who looked like Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris if I could have a photo with him. Because, as I found out later, it only bloody was Steve Harris. Talking of photos, this was my eldest’s first gig in the photo pit and she did her dad proud, taking some great shots.
And finally, December. Only two gigs to finish the year but two of the best. Sabaton once again brought superb support, this time in the shape of Tyr and Korpiklaani. I was very happy to hear that the sound was far better at the QMU than it had been the last time I was there (for Theory of a Deadman) and they’d reduced the queuing time massively. James very kindly did the review of this gig as I was simply buried and struggled to even get the two reviews online in a timely fashion.
This year’s birthday gig (there always seems to be one either side of the 14th) was Machine Head’s second appearance of the year, this time after the release of the new album and with Heart of a Coward and Darkest Hour in support. HoaC were robbed with a 4-song set as the doors opened, Darkest Hour played a blinder and Machine Head just ruled with a set running over two hours and covering their entire back catalogue with a very strong showing from Bloodstone & Diamonds.
I do have one more gig to attend, but only with interviewing duties. Sean and James should hopefully be reviewing the Kreator/Arch Enemy/Shining/Marty Friedman show before the turkey has settled in your stomachs.
So another wonderful year watching bands in a genre that people said was dead fifteen years ago. Trust me when I say that metal is alive, well and kicking such people very hard in the bollocks. When you consider that the bands I’ve seen touring this year range in age from a couple of years (such as The Raven Age) to in excess of thirty (Destruction), there’s proof that older bands have longevity while there is plenty of new blood coming through.
The sheer variety is something to behold as well. Patent Pending to Machine Head to Evil Invaders to Andrew W.K. to Eluveitie to Alestorm… rock and metal caters to a huge audience and there’s no shortage of tours for next year already announced. Not just the big, stupidly-priced ones (AC/DC and your exorbitant £75 tickets, I’m looking at you), but smaller, more affordable ones which you should be checking out as well. Wolf, Halestorm and Conan have already published dates as have many others.
Going through the list above, I was conscious that I should be picking my bet gig or gigs of the year but now I’m at the end I just can’t. The things that stand out are actually the disappointments – such as the shitty sound for ToaDM / Airbourne at the Hydro – whereas the individual performances and shows have all been so enjoyable in such a variety of ways that it’s unfair to compare them. Machine Head were just incredible at both shows, Patent Pending blew me away twice and Suburban Legends did the same, a did Delain and Black Stone Cherry. So the bands I saw twice were consistent!
Alestorm headlined what was probably the best party of the year, I finally got to see Skalmold, Arkona opened my eyes as a new (to me) act, Tyr were worth the wait, Sabaton continue to entertain, Hatebreed will never let it die, Five Finger Death Bunch made me wish I’d got into them much earlier than I did… I could go on.
But I won’t.
I hope you’ve all had as great a musical 2014 as I have. Keep supporting the bands you love by going to see them and buying all their shit. Keep turning up for the supports. Keep reading. And keep the metal faith!