Tag Archive: Music


Somebody once said to me that there were better Queen tribute bands out there than Queen & Adam Lambert. Now, I rarely do tribute acts, apart from when you can no longer see the real thing like Queen. So, how did Supreme Queen measure up to the dazzling legacy and did it beat the modern-day incarnation of the band?

Well, visually, it took time because obviously, they were not Queen, but the sound! With a voice so like Freddy Mercury, lead singer, Scott Maley immediately had me believing I was listening to the real thing. And that, I guess, is what you need with tributes. For tributes are what they are and to be successful you do need to believe. After a few songs, I forgot the physical differences and I experienced legends of rock.

Starting off with One Vision and Tie Your Mother Down, Supreme Queen treated a packed audience to hit after hit: Seven Seas of Rhye, Keep Yourself Alive, It’s a Kind of Magic and Under Pressure were among 25 instantly recognisable classics. I was also overjoyed to hear the fast (and, superior) version of We Will Rock You.

The set in the main modelled itself on the stadium tour songs of the mid-1980s. I guess when you have such an enormous catalogue, things must give way. Therefore, sparse on the early albums and nothing from the final three. A shame, but it’s probably what the fans want. And to be there, the audience most definitely were fans of Queen. Such energy and enthusiasm from Supreme Queen transferred onto those watching. And not just the oldies who formed the majority. It was also good to see younger members; teenagers with parents next to me and three children all under eleven in front with their family. It was clear all were brought up on the band, gloriously indoctrinated and now having the time of their lives. Brilliant. You see, we form many of our tastes based on those of others. I, myself, was into Queen aged 10, all because my elder sister had Queen albums in 1973 while my classmates went on to like The Bay City Rollers, .

The show divided into two sets, allowing audience and band time to recuperate and then we had more of the same: I Want to Break Free, Another One Bites the Dust, Radio Ga Ga and, of course, Bohemian Rhapsody. Mimicking Queen shows of old, Supreme Queen ended with We Will Rock You (single version) and We Are the Champions.

What we also had were two long drum and guitar solos. Now, I’m not a fan of Brian May and Roger Taylor’s musical masturbations, but they were mainstays of the original shows throughout Queen’s career, so I can see why they’re included.

Supporting Scott Maley’s Mercury was Luke Timmins (Brian May), Alan Wallbanks (John Deacon) and Allan Brown (Roger Taylor). In addition, we had Ben Marshall as the keyboard player Queen didn’t have but contributing the pieces Freddy Mercury would play. All were excellent. Let’s face it, to pull off being convincing Queens, you’ve got to be damn good at what you do, and Supreme Queen were that and more.

A thoroughly wonderful night. I will be back. Long live Queen.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I shall start with something unconnected to The Coral by stating that the O2 Institute in Birmingham was the most difficult venue to get into (on numerous counts) in over 40 years of attending music gigs and theatres. And with a management policy ignorant of autism.

So, I was in a bad mood before we started, and I was looking for The Coral to lift me. Thankfully, they did, although I was not particularly a fan of the show format, being a 20th anniversary celebration of their self-titled debut album.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the 2002 offering; it has great tracks. But I also like songs from the subsequent nine, therefore, when the opening 11 numbers come from one album, the remainder only average one per subsequent release in a shorter set than most gigs with just 19 numbers in total.

From the first album set and following Spanish Main, standout numbers were Shadows Fall, I Remember, Dreaming of You and the epic Goodbye. I say epic because played live, the extended instrumental break during Goodbye is out of this world. Bisecting the album and second set was the hidden track Time Travel while the band took a short break. And then we had the best of the rest.

Starting off with Bill McCai and Pass it On, The Coral also treated the crowd to a couple from the 2021 release, Coral Island. Now this is where I felt the most disappointment because Coral Island was one of the best releases of last year. To only get two tracks from it, and a double album at that, left me feeling short-changed. The two on the night were Faceless Angel and Lover Undiscovered, but I would dearly have loved to hear Vacancy, among others. Still, of the remaining offerings we did get In the Morning, Holy Revelation and my own personal favourite Coral track, Jaqueline.

The Coral produce original music with a touch of nostalgia, sometimes harking back to the psychedelia of the 60s and fluctuating between melodic and raw energy. The sort of music you can lose yourself in, and long may it continue. In addition to the full-time current line-up of the band (James Skelley, Paul Duffey, Nick Power, Ian Skelley and Paul Molloy), Zak Mc Donnell and Danny Murphey join live proceedings to achieve a massive sound which in a smaller venue like the O2 Institute, makes for something special. I just wish we would have had more from them, even just a further 10 minutes.

So, not the most enjoyable Coral gig I have been to, due to the set content, but still a great night out.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

First and foremost, I’m a Stranglers fan. So much so, in my 2015 novel, Dead Girl Stalking, my protagonist had a poster of them on his bedroom wall, and he defended the band from the derision of his girlfriend whose tastes were probably more R&B. I even acknowledged the band at the front of the book as having provided a running soundtrack while writing it. So if you ever do read Dead Girl Stalking, have a little Don’t Bring Harry or Baroque Bordello at the back of your mind.

My own love affair with The Stranglers began in 1977 with a BASF C-90 taped recording of Rattus Norvegicus. A multitude of albums and 21 gigs attended, that dalliance long ago became a full-blooded relationship. I have many favourite bands but if I’m honest, the one I could not live without are The Stranglers.

The last two years have affected everyone in varying ways, none more so than the Family in Black. The loss of Dave Greenfield in 2020 was that of a family member. A constant companion, friend, and lover, all through the years I have followed the band.

Yeah, I admit, when I first heard the news of Dave’s passing, I thought, “Well, that’s it.” I couldn’t see how the band could continue. Members, some of them huge, have departed over the years but along with the trademark bass of Jean-Jacques Burnel, Dave Greenfield’s keys are the sound of The Stranglers. So I was glad when the tour still took place in memory of Dave and ecstatic when the 18th studio album, Dark Matters, was posthumously released with Dave’s keyboards present. Within the opening minute of Water, I fell in love with Dave and The Stranglers all over again. But how would they be live without the great man on stage?

The answer was – superb. From the opening bars of Waltz in Black, I had that buzz I’d not felt for so long. Then the euphoria as the band took to the stage and launched into Toiler on the Sea. The Stranglers were back.

One massive change as Toby Hounsham had the unenviable task of taking the keyboards and was described by guitarist/vocalist Baz Warne as having massive balls to do so. Toby was brilliant, in fact, reproducing Greenfield’s arpeggios and sounding just as good as any other Stranglers gig I have attended. It was also nice to see Toby well received by the faithful, thankful, like myself, that the magic is not over. As JJ Burnel stated in the past, The Stranglers are a brand, not a band, so there is no reason they should ever end. I guess it’ll happen one day but aged 58 myself, I can be selfish and hope they don’t go just yet.

On the night we were treated to classic after classic: Something Better Change, Always the Sun, Strange Little Girl, Go Buddy Go, Golden Brown, Hanging Around, Sometimes and Skin Deep among many others. But we also had six new songs from the brilliant Dark Matters. Water, Last Men on the Moon and This Song, fans are already familiar with, having done the circuit on the last tours before Covid. But there was also a debut for White Stallion, which I believe will become a permanent fixture in future tours like Relentless has been since 2006.

It’s always good to witness The Stranglers gel. I’ve followed them from near the beginning but can honestly say in recent years they have never been better live. JJ and Baz come across as two who are on the same page. This also applies to the newer recruits. Jim Macauly on drums has been with the band several years now and even contributed to songs on Dark Matters. And along with Toby Hounsham, provided great backing vocals on several numbers, just as Mr. Greenfield did for many years.

The other two new songs were performed as a JJ/Baz duet during the first of two encores. The short acoustic, The Lines was excellent before a poignant and highly emotional version of And if You Should See Dave. Written as a tribute, there was many a watery eye during the line, “This is where your solo would go.” The empty keyboard lit to all round applause and cheers.

As the case is so often, The Stranglers finished with No More Heroes, always guaranteed to bring the house down. Thankfully, I do still have heroes and hopefully, mine will be here for some time yet.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

The first thing to note is the formerly named, Coleshill Operatic Society, are now Coleshill on Stage. I like that. We all need to evolve, and musical theatre is no different. Still, names change, but I am happy to say the quality remains with Jack and the Beanstalk exceeding enjoyment of 2019’s Cinderella.

Full of life from an exuberant opening of Pharrell Williams’ Happy to the finale of We Go Together, the cast looked to be having as good a time as the audience. And there was the clincher. Those in the seats loved every minute and showed appreciation likewise.

I’m not going to bore with the plot; it’s Jack and the Beanstalk, for heaven’s sake. However, I did wonder how they were going to represent a giant with an amateur theatre budget. A simple unseen, booming voice of Brian Blessed proportions was the answer, vocals supplied by Adam Richardson. Did the job perfect.

In the lead role of Jack, we had a traditional principal boy in Molly Bennett. This is a part Molly carried of to perfection, excelling particularly in Evermore. Then, combining well with the equally outstanding Hannah Trowman (Princess Charlotte), was a lovely rendition of Rule the World.

However, if it’s tradition you want, there is nothing more pantomime than the dame. Therefore, it was great to see Lloyd Cast offering a more Edna Turnblad female than the rapidly outdating hairy-chested, graveled voice dame. The character of Dotty Dimple worked well, especially during Man, I Feel Like a Woman.

But panto needs a huge helping of comic relief and there was much on offer with the character of Simple Simon, played in great fashion by Kelvin McArdle. It’s a part of musical theatre I love myself, to engage and interact with the audience. And no mean feat to pull it off, either. This was no more evident than during the audience participation of Dotty Dimple Had a Farm. Great for kids and adults. Not that the adults would admit it, though.

In addition to a giant, Jack also contended with two seriously good baddies in Piccalilli (Natalie Bracher) and Rancid (Chris Britt). Both were superb in their acting, making their characters totally believable. And speaking of good character acting, I was equally impressed by Lucia Owen-Small who worked well with her partner Ray Rogers as the incompetent duo, Snatchet and Scarper.

Completing a fine principal cast we had John Kerr (King Crumble), Joyce Eyre (Queen Crumble), Pauline Peach (Fairy Sugardust) and Grace Lambert (Humphrey). Finally, a pantomime cow doing the rounds in the combined form of Claire Willson and Rachel Evans. I wonder which was the butt of the jokes …

Great musical numbers for me were Wake Up Boo, Monster Mash, If I Didn’t Have You and Celebration. My favourite, though, for personal reasons was Walking on Sunshine, a song I chose to end my self-penned show, Sleeping Beauty in 2018. Nostalgic moments indeed.

The director of Jack and the Beanstalk was Tom Willson with excellent musical direction and choreography from Chris Corcoran and Rachel Evans, respectively. All on the production team deserve credit because the whole cast lived their parts. It’s a sign of a job well done when you feel you know these characters, and that was the case for me. It was nice as well to see so many younger members on stage. They are the future of musical theatre and deserve inclusion.

Therefore, another great night out in the hands of Coleshill on Stage. Next production is the iconic Oliver. I shall be there.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

The only tribute act I have ever seen are the wonderful, Kick up the 80s, many years ago. And I have never attended a gig dedicated to a single band. However, when the originals are no longer around or touring, then maybe this is the best you’re going to get.

I love ABBA. Heck, who doesn’t? And I had no hesitation in going along to this one. I mean, they sort of look like ABBA, and they really do sound like them, so you’d be hard pressed to know better.

But this tribute is all about the fans who many came dressed for the occasion and totally lapped it up.

Bjorn Again are a tongue-in-cheek parody of the real thing with the band having stage character names of Agnetha Falstart, Frida Longstockin, Benny Anderwear and Bjorn Volvo-us. I am not going to credit their real names because the whole nature and appeal of the act is that they are ABBA.

Taking the stage to Arrival, the crowd then went wild at the opening bars of Waterloo. And then hit after hit in which we were treated to: Gimme Gimme Gimme, Super Trouper, Honey Honey, Fernando, Ring Ring, Mamma Mia, Thank You for the Music and the inevitable Dancing Queen among so many more. We even had a rendition of Van Halen’s Jump. It was all good fun, as it was supposed to be, but also fabulous entertainment. Okay, some of the staged band interaction was a little cringing at times, but I reckon it was meant to be.

Since you can’t see ABBA anymore, I fully recommend Bjorn Again, and I’ve been listening to an ABBA playlist ever since, such was the positive experience. I can honestly say that for any fan of the originals, this is a great night out.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Alice Cooper is one artist I never tire of seeing, and at the age of 71, you wonder how many more opportunities you’ll get. Sorry, Alice, but death comes to all of us. However, I’m sure he won’t mind as here we have one performer who has made death a trademark by including large parts of it in his act.

Yes, I had no hesitation buying tickets to see the man and the occasion was made even more enjoyable by The Stranglers being the support. One of my favourite bands and the 20th time I had seen them. Great they were, too (as always), but this gig was not about them. It was a night for The Greatest Showman.

With the latest incarnation of touring band, including Chuck Garrick (Bass), Ryan Roxie (Guitar), Nita Strauss (Lead and Rhythm), Tommy Henricksen (Rhythm and Lead) and Glen Sobel (Drums), we were immediately treated to a massive opener of Feed My Frankenstein (Complete with giant monster). Then came No More Mister Nice Guy and if any neutrals in the audience were unsure what they were in for, they now knew. Assisted in theatrics by Mrs. Alice Cooper (Sheryl Goddard) as the nurse, this wasn’t just a rock show, it was musical theatre, hard-core.

Notable numbers for me were Eighteen, Poison and He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask), the latter complete with machete wielding maniac who slays groupies onstage. Then we had the grand medley of Steven/Dead Babies/We Are the Dead. As I say, theatrics in the extreme but nobody was complaining as two macabre giant babies in work clothes led Mr. Cooper to the guillotine. But enough of the effects, even if you couldn’t see, this was one of the best audio experiences going, and such atmosphere.

Then, into the encore and Under My Wheels before the grand finale of Schools Out with a little bit of Another Brick in the Wall for good measure. This finale lasted nearly ten minutes with huge dead baby balloons flying around the audience, plus ticker tape and streamers. We didn’t care. This was great and such was the performance, it simply flew by.

Alice Cooper certainly knows how to put on a show, and it was great to see many young people in the arena, including an under-10 next to me who jumped and sang with the rest of them.

I still wonder how many more times we can expect to see Alice Cooper, as with so many of that era, but if you never have seen them, I recommend it. At least once.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Insurgent
NOUN
1. a person fighting against a government or invading force; a rebel or revolutionary. “an attack by armed insurgents”
synonyms:
rebel · revolutionary · revolutionist · mutineer · agitator · subversive ·
ADJECTIVE
1. rising in active revolt. “alleged links with insurgent groups”

The venue is The Flapper, formerly known as The Longboat once upon a time and a regular haunt of mine in the 1980s. But there is nothing 80s about Insurgent who are fresh and an exciting addition to the home of heavy metal in Birmingham.

With a new band you’d maybe expect rawness, but what you have with Insurgent is polished professionalism which gives the feel they’ve been at this for years. Maybe they have, but not collectively as Insurgent were founded by guitarist, Joe Rowley less than twelve months ago in the winter of 2018.

Some bands give a general feel of everything melding into one. This one, however, are nothing like that. There is a controlled blend of sound which you can listen to and isolate each instrument’s contribution, if you wish to do so. Jake Brettle (Bass) and Mike Tabone (Drums) compliment Rowley on guitar in excellent fashion. But then when you add the essential instrument of Katie Teitge on vocals, Insurgent turn into something special. And what a voice Teitge has with power and emotion at the same time. This was shown no better than during Colours Bleed.

It’s hard to comment on music you have no prior knowledge of but after an hour, I thought I knew Insurgent a good deal. Launching with My Sentence Awaits and Illusionary, the crowd were immediately into the band. In addition to the openers, we had the more thoughtful Dogma before eventually covering Slipknot’s, Duality. A brave move when you cover a well-known song, but Insurgent pulled it off with ease.

Finally, we were treated to the band’s debut single, Counterpart, which also went down a storm and is as good as anything else up there in the halls of rock.

The music and lyrics are written by Joe Rowley, but each member adds their own special elements to songs which have a wide outlook of general thoughts. Thoughts which appeal to more than just the heavy metal scene. I know it did with me.

Currently working on a follow-up single, Insurgent’s Facebook page describes themselves as creating new and exciting heavy metal music that aims to change the Birmingham music scene. Whether the current scene is good or bad, change is good and the world needs insurgents, and in this band, we have them. So, if you’re in the area, check them out and share the music. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

It’s an amazing injustice that despite the fact I purchased this band’s debut album, Showbiz, when it was first released, added to the fact I have seen most rock bands I like many, many times, I had never seen Muse until Tuesday September 17 2019. No reason, other than their shows were always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore, I am glad this has now been rectified.

Watching Muse isn’t just attending a rock concert, it’s witnessing a theatrical spectacle and although I am usually more in favour of letting the music do the talking, this approach works for Muse. And it’s that mix of special effects combined with kick-ass rock which sticks in the memory most. From laser spectaculars, and an army of choreographed robot dancers, to the appearance at the end of a giant … erm, thing (Some sort of robot, monster, I think). The whole experience was immense.

Straight from the off, Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard showcased their recent album, Simulation Theory, throughout the show. Pressure is my favourite of the newer stuff, and I reckon I’d class it up there with the best in what is now 20 years of recording success.

But we also had the classics in Uprising, Plug in Baby, Supermassive Black Hole and Time is Running Out. I was also pleased to hear my favourite Muse track, Hysteria get an airing, and Starlight, too.

Towards the end, we had a mash up of Stockholm Syndrome, New Born, Assassin, Reapers and The Handler, all combined with that giant colossus on stage. Accompanying this, the release of hundreds of giant silver and black balloons, and yes, they were as massive as the music and effects.

I was lucky enough to have chosen a spot in the centre of the arena to stand. Fortunate, I say, as this had me within 20 yards of Bellamy and Co when they performed at the end of a catwalk, which they did on numerous occasions, including Dig Down.

To top off a brilliant night we had the mega Knights of Cydonia and everyone went home happy, including myself as I departed, having collared a huge black balloon as a memento, although it was a bugger to get in the car.

So, a late inclusion for Muse into my live arena, but hopefully, not the last from this wonderful band.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

I must admit, I don’t listen to contemporary pop a great deal these days. In a world full of X-Idols who’ve got talent and a nice voice, I’m happy to stick to my rock roots. And I’m not alone. I often hear comments about older music on the lines of, “Well, it’s better than the rubbish you hear these days.” And in most cases, this is true. However, when you least expect it, somebody comes along to shake the foundations and offer something a bit different.Album Review – Billie Eilish: When We All fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

It’s difficult to describe Billie Eilish’s style. I guess a magical blend of good tunes, music and voice, then that rare full house of meaningful lyrics which hit home not only to the teen generation, but older listeners like myself. It’s a case of, “I don’t know why I think this is fantastic, but I do.” And any artist with an endorsement from Dave Grohl is going to be worth a try.

Billie Eilish comes from an acting/musical family and along with brother, Phineas O’Connell, produced When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The album is a follow-up to numerous singles and EP, Don’t Smile at Me. Okay, perhaps EP is a misrepresentation for that first offering has a duration greater than most Beatles albums. At 17, Billie is the youngest artist to go direct to number 1 in the UK album charts. She comes across as a free spirit, an individual, and how can you not love someone whose middle name is Pirate?

Recorded in the home bedroom, the album has everything. From the kick-ass opening of Bad Guy, we are taken on a journey which states you’re going to have as much fun listening to it as they did in the making. An incredible use of multi-track vocals is nowhere better displayed than Xanny which states Eilish has never had or will have need for drugs. The previously released single, You Should See Me in a Crown, is massive in terms of impact as is the melancholy, When the Party’s Over. And then we have Bury a Friend, surely one of the best songs of the decade. This is not to say album tracks don’t match up. All the Good Girls Go to Hell could be played on repeat all day long as is also the case with My Strange Addiction and Ilomilo.

If you check out YouTube, there is video of the full set of a recent gig in London and you can see the effect on the young audience there. But I enjoyed watching it as well. Here we have a person with something to say, and long may she continue saying it.

Album Review – Billie Eilish: When We All fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

This was my fourth time seeing Frank Turner and first in an arena venue. And as with previous experiences, one thing you can guarantee from Frank is entertainment. So much energy, the guy and the band keep going at a breath-taking pace, much like Frank’s work schedule.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – Birmingham Arena – 22 January 2019 © Antony N Britt 2019

We are informed this is show 2299. Now, even if you divide that by his adult years, it still averages out at well over one hundred shows a year. Then you consider the seven studio albums since 2007 and you appreciate the tag of The Busiest Guy in Rock. However, there is a downside. With a huge catalogue of songs, it does mean many of my favourites are left out of a two-hour set. Dammit, I’ve still never heard Father’s Day live!

Still, with each new studio album comes a host of material and 2018s Be More Kind is no exception in quality: 1933, Blackout and Little Changes are but to mention three of these. Mix with the back catalogue and you have a show that delights the fan and hopefully pleases recent converts.

Always great to hear Photosynthesis, Recovery, The Road, Don’t Try This at Home and I Still Believe. Also, my atheist anthem, Glory Hallelujah. Heck, my evening was complete. Well, complete bar Father’s Day, Frank. It was also pleasing to hear Love, Ire and Song, not played for a few years, apparently.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – Birmingham Arena – 22 January 2019 © Antony N Britt 2019

We had music, crowd surfing, plus a little dance with audience members for the final number, Four Simple Words. I was exhausted merely watching. Good humour and banter along with crowd participation. And an apology for missing Birmingham out last time around. In fact, this was my first reunion with the man in five years as previous local shows have coincided with productions of my own. I hope the next isn’t too far away, probably at this rate, with a new album. And let’s not forget the Sleeping Souls: Ben Lloyd, Tarrant Anderson, Matt Nasir and Nigel Powell, always a magnificent contribution to the show.

The only thing I would note as a minor negative is nothing to do with Frank Turner, it’s just the crowd were not as lively as my previous encounters. This could be to do with a larger arena venue and maybe the energy is less likely to be infectious due to the greater number of people to share it with. I didn’t care. It was a great show by a great showman.


Frank Turner - Be More Kind Signed

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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