Tag Archive: Rock


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.

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

“How did the Foo Fighters get this fucking big?” That was the question asked by Dave Grohl to 80,000 fans who packed the London Stadium. And do you know, I truly believe he’s as mystified as he made out.

Foo Fighters – London Stadium – June 22 2018 © Antony N Britt 2018

Well, I’ll tell you the answer. By having nine albums of the highest calibre in 24 years and transferring that standard onto the live arena, making the Foo Fighters currently the biggest rock band on the planet.

Quite a statement, and when I consider how many bands I’ve followed over the years, with many still going, it’s a massive accolade.

This was the fourth time I have seen the Foo Fighters and easily the best. Perhaps longevity is the reason. By continuing to produce music of such a high standard, the quality increases with each new release.

Launching the set with All My Life, the hits followed one after another: Learning to Fly, The Pretender and My Hero. However, we also had the new in The Sky is a Neighborhood, Dirty Water and Run. Then the classics again: Monkey Wrench, Best of You, Breakout, Times Like These and finally, the marvellous Everlong.

One thing I admire about the Foo Fighters is they’re more than just Dave Grohl. The magic is the fact that they are a band. And it’s nice to see not only Taylor Hawkins having the usual solo, but also Chris Shiflett with a cover of Alice Cooper’s Under My Wheels.

Okay, one niggle. Not fond of instrumental solos, especially drum which go on for ages. Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather have more songs.

So, we had the old, the new, and the downright bizarre. Only the Foo Fighters could do a mash up of John Lennon’s Imagine backing with the vocals of Van Halen’s Jump.

These days, the question isn’t what they played, more, what did they leave out.

As I have said, each gig I’ve been to from this band has been bigger than the last. And add to that, the ever-increasing pool of songs. How the hell will they top 80,000 at London Stadium? We await the answer with the next album and future tour.

I’m sure it will be magnificent.

Foo Fighters – London Stadium – June 22 2018

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt

You know a band has stood the test of time when they have 20th anniversary tours. This happened with The Manic Street Preachers in 2014 and 2016 with The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go, respectively. However, the Manics are not ones to rely on past glory and April saw the release of their 13th studio album, Resistance is Futile.Manic Street Preachers – Birmingham Arena 27 April 2018

There may not be singles chart successes these days, but albums continue to do nicely with Resistance is Futile reaching number 2. However, this still seemed to be a sore point for James Dean Bradfield who spoke tongue-in-cheek to the crowd: “Five number two albums now. Which of you are buying The Greatest Showman?”

Not needing to prove themselves in charts, though, with a career showing no signs of waning, the band continue wowing large audiences while fickle chart followers move onto the latest short-term fad.

And wow a large audience the Manics did.

Manic Street Preachers – Birmingham Arena 27 April 2018 (C) Antony N Britt 2018

Full of energy, and launching straight into new number, International Blue (a song ready-made for the live circuit), the scene was set: You Stole the Sun from My Heart, Your Love Alone, If You Tolerate This … the hits no longer fit on a double CD. However, as previously mentioned, the Manic Street Preachers are not ones to rest on their laurels with the tried and tested. First outings for Distant Colours, Dylan & Caitlin, People Give In and the brilliant Hold Me Like a Heaven were welcomed with arms waving. And not only debut songs. Rare outings for 4 Ever Delayed, Let Roebson Sing and There by the Grace of God were complimented by a first time live of the 1996 B-side, Horses Under Starlight. Then we had the solo acoustic interlude from James with Faster and From Despair to Where.

Also, no Manic Street Preachers gig would be complete without mention of Richie Edwards. If by some chance you’re reading and don’t know the story, google it. Even the term, gone but not forgotten, does not apply. There is a vacant space on stage with one song always dedicated to the genius that is, Mr Richard James Edwards. This time, Motorcycle Emptiness, and even on the huge screen we see the man cavorting on a backing video. Very much part of things to this day.

The Manics don’t do encores, and nobody cares. Once you hear the opening of A Design for Life we know “This is the end.” A fantastic show from one of the best bands of the last three decades.

I like to think I have good taste in music and lucky my favourite bands seem to keep going. Perhaps I do have an ear for a good-un – ones the public don’t want to give up on. I guess it makes a point. For those hoping the Manic Street Preachers would go away, resistance is futile. Long may they continue.

Manic Street Preachers – Birmingham Arena 27 April 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

%d bloggers like this: