2018 Crew Review: Mark – Writer

A sad note to start. It’s nearly two years since the death of Chris Cornell and with the release of his entire catalogue of Soundgarden, Audioslave and his solo tracks I found that this back-catalogue has been a helpful aide. It allows us to hear the variety of vocal skills he had, with lyrics that paint pictures and I had the pleasure to listen to 17 tunes from the deluxe record that has been released.

Finds of 2018

June is the month to attend the Camden Rocks festival, an all-day session of pure rock n roll bands in a variety of venues throughout north west London. The first band of the day was the impressive SickJoy, and our very own Rachel Hasnip put some words together to celebrate their EP, Amateurs. Catching these cats at 12 pm was not only a great start, but made it difficult to focus on anyone after.

Another find was during another all-day music festival, this time in Hackney and performing at three different venues. I came across a trio called Gender Roles upstairs at the Paper Dress vintage shop. These guys smashed it with their lead vocalist’s Nirvana growl and heavy garage riffs. A pure pleasure to hear and they will be introduced soon in our Band of The Day feature.

Throughout 2018 we followed the Metal 2 The Masses competition at the Big Red in North London. During my time there two bands grabbed my attention. Firstly, Imperium who have appeared as a Band of the Day. That evening they were last on stage and gave it full on thrash. I needed to take my earplugs out just to feel their music unfiltered.

On the same competition, but on a different evening, appeared another BOTD who I was grateful to hear, see and enjoy. Because of that, I’ve been following their journey to see where Empire Warning will go.

Gigs of 2018

Well, I’m going for the Pearl Jam rescheduled gig as it was three hours of unapologetic rock music. I’ve seen these guys many times over the years but this evening at the sold out O2 arena in London was a pure party atmosphere, sending me through every emotional escapade that any get together could only wish to achieve. Music from back in the day to cover tunes to acknowledging their sadness they couldn’t perform earlier in the year due to Eddie losing his voice. Seeing these five rock stars on stage showing us that they still enjoy performing live, and Mike McCready the guitarist who makes love to that damn instrument… it’s pure musical porn.

You know what, I sat behind him at a gig in Seattle and I never said a word to him. I regret not thanking him for his musical storytelling and the Mad Season album. Eddie and crew gave us “Satan’s Bed”, which I haven’t really heard them perform live before and which sent shivers down my spine. “Elderly woman”, “Alive”, and three encores later with the lights up we hear the final track of the night “All Along the Watchtower”. This brought the night to a wonderful, powerful ending bringing back memories of my teenage years – from my days of having hair to the days of growing my beard, to the days of being follicle-challenged, Pearl Jam are there with me.

Sticking with old-school charms – Powerflo played the Boston Music Rooms. This group of hell-raisers joined forces to basically, well, raise some hell for fans around the world. This evening in London Powerflo, which features Sen Dog, Christian Olde Wolbers, Roy Lozano and Bill Graziadei, appeared on stage. The guys smash those riffs like it’s a retirement show, full-on blistering vocals, hardcore riffs, drumming that would clear tinnitus… It’s a pleasure seeing these legends show us their humility and how they stayed back after the gig to meet everyone.

Albums of 2018

Pieces of Me by Tiffany. This may be a surprise. I loved having the chance to listen to and put some words together for my first ever musical crush, Tiffany. Her voice is still as powerful and catchy as she was back in the day, and I’m still enjoying these soft rock touches.

Valley of Thorns by The Kut. The London based trio have been hitting the stage constantly throughout the UK, introducing us to their debut record which was brought together by fans on PledgeMusic. Then signing a huge deal with Cargo Music and getting huge airplay, all because of the efforts of guitarist, vocalist and founder Princess Maha. Drummer extraordinaire Diana Bartmann and bassist Stella Vie have bled for this alongside her. They deserve everything they get, and all I can say is look for what 2019 brings for these maniacs.

National Insecurity by Thunder on the Left. Put out  at the beginning of the year, the lyrics and strength in songs is a force of nature and seeing them live in 2017 made my glands excited. It does seem as this year has flown by, this trio has now become a duo, a bit opposite to a Spice Girls song. Some incredible stuff is to be heard in 2019 from TOTL.

Tattooist find of the year

I attended the Tattoo Collective at the beginning of the year in East London’s Brick Lane. I spotted a bloke having his shin inked. He was laughing, talking and basically chilling, relaxed and not even drunk. The tattoo artist didn’t have an ink gun, in fact, no electricity at all. She was holding what looked like a chopstick. Researching further by standing at her booth, I noticed she is an artist in residence at Brighton’s Blue Dragon. Sarah Lu is a hand poke artist, just a needle and a chopstick, no electricity. Her artwork intrigued me, so I’ve been following her work ever since and still waiting for a space in her calendar to tattoo me.

What am I looking forward to in 2019?

Something new and a Sarah Lu tattoo.

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