Idlewar bring the glory ahead of UK tour with Stone Broken

For a band that’s just two years young, Californian rock three piece IDLEWAR have created a viral buzz with the release of their ‘Dig In’ EP, and most recently, the critically acclaimed debut album ‘Impulse’.

“We are passionate about music, pure and simple. ‘Impulse’ is our take on what we love, and a firm nod to what makes Idlewar tick” – James Blake (Vocals / Bass Guitar)

Produced by drummer Pete Pagonis, and mastered by Brian Lucey (Ghost ‘Meliora’, Black Keys ‘El Camino’, Arctic Monkeys ‘AM’, plus albums by David, ’Twin Peaks’ ‘Dune’, Lynch), the core tracking for ‘Impulse’ was recorded in just two days. Idlewar has thrown down a debut album with an abundance of raw power, and shows the growth of the Orange County rock band. Offering a widened scope to listeners, Idlewar has planted a musical landscape, which is deeply rooted in hard rock, groove orientated, emotional sonics. ‘Impulse’ is a truly passionate listen.

”The writing process has become easier between the three of us. Initially, because it was all so new, there was a ‘feeling out’ period, but once we became more comfortable, the creative process for this new album opened things up so much” – Pete Pagonis (Drums)

idlewar-photo

It’s the creative passion, and conviction, Idlewar showcase on songs like ‘Eleventeen’ ‘Criminal’ ‘On Our Knees’ ‘Glory’ and ‘All That I’ve Got’, that’s made rock fans all around the world embrace this band, notably in the UK. Such is the shared vision between band and fans, Idlewar acted quickly when numerous calls for a UK Tour were shouted loud and proud by their growing fanbase. Working closely with their team, Idlewar secured a UK tour, as special guests to Frontiers Music artists, STONE BROKEN, and a valuable slot at Planet Rock’s SOLD OUT festival, ROCKSTOCK.

Such was the potency and combined rise in popularity of all involved, the London show quickly sold out, with tickets selling fast for other shows on the tour. Truly humbling and a testimony to the loyalty of music fans.

”This is not just about being able to play music that we’ve written for appreciative fans. It’s also about meeting these amazing people that we have connected with. We see a passion in fans that matches the passion we put into this music.” – Rick Graham (Guitar)

IDLEWAR UK TOUR NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2016

Supporting Stone Broken

  • 24th Nov NORWICH Brickmakers Arms
  • 25th Nov SHEFFIELD The Corporation
  • 26th Nov LONDON The Black Heart (SOLD OUT)
  • 28th Nov BRIGHTON The Hope And Ruin
  • 29th Nov NEWCASTLE The Cluny
  • 30th Nov EDINBURGH Bannermans
  • 1st DecMANCHESTER Rebellion
  • 3rd DecPLANET ROCKSTOCK (SOLD OUT) Idlewar only

Twitter @idlewartheband

WEB: www.idlewar.com

Idlewar’s debut album ‘Impulse’ is out now via PHD.

impulse-front

Epica with Starkill and Moonspell live at Irving Plaza on January 21st, 2015

© Dhruv Kumar

All live Photos by Dhruv Kumar

http://www.dhruvkumar.com/

Words by Kristina Bodetti

 

On Thursday night the Dutch symphonic metal band Epica came to NYC to start their latest tour in support of their sixth studio album, The Quantum Enigma. They brought with them the Chicago based melodic death metal band, Starkill, and the Portuguese gothic metal band, Moonspell. This was the first stop on this new tour but Epica has been touring (mostly internationally) practically non-stop since 2014. The three bands played to a packed house of excited fans.

Starkill opened up the night with the slow, melodic intro to Be Dead or Die as they walked on stage, picked up their instruments and began to play a strong start to the show. They played a mix of songs from their first two studio albums as well as new tracks from their upcoming third. They recently decided to make their third album alone, without a label, through crowd-funding so they could maintain control over their music. The freedom this move has allowed them could be heard in their playing and in the contrast between the old songs and the new. The surprise highlight of the night was their new track, Cloudless, which they followed with the title track from their first album, Fires of Life. Placing the two tracks back to back showcased how their sound has evolved since they began while maintaining their signature sound.

Starkill-7 Starkill-2

STARKILL Setlist:

Be Dead or Die

Burn Your World

Cloudless

Fires of Life

Virus of the Mind

Before Hope Fades

 

Next up, Moonspell took the stage while a pre-recorded voice-over played. Almost as soon as they started playing the first bit of moshing began in the back of the crowd. They played songs spanning the bands 24 year career. The stage was crowded by the large drum set and keyboard stand but they made the best of the space they had, moving and headbanging as much as they could. Fans of the band were there in force chanting and singing along with their favorite lyrics while for others the group seemed to fall short of expectations.

Moonspell-4 Moonspell-3

MOONSPELL Setlist:

Breathe (Until We Are No More)

Extinct

Night Eternal

Opium

Awake

Domina

Malignia

Vampiria

Alma Mater

Full Moon Madness

 

As the lights went down and the screen started to rise for Epica’s set the whole place was filled with cheers. The stage was empty and quiet however, prompting the crowd to chant the band’s name. Finally the music started, the crowd began clapping in time with the music and one by one the members of the band came out on stage and took their place with their instrument. Last on stage was the band’s lead vocalist, Simone Simons, prompting some of the loudest cheers of the night. They opened strong with Originem and kept the momentum up through a 15 song set. The band made full use of the stage space, moving around and occasionally doing some synchronized headbanging. Simone Simons’ voice was spot on throughout the night as she belted out songs spanning her range and moved around the stage. During their fourth song, Sensorium, keyboardist Coen Janssen showed off the swivel top to his keyboard stand and later during Martyr of the Free Word he brought out his portable, curved keyboard as he went down to the front of the stage to showcase his playing. Half way through their set they played the fantastic Cry for the Moon with most of the audience singing along and followed it up by leaving drummer Arien Van Weesenbeek alone on stage for a great solo. Overall, Epica’s set was excellent and was the perfect opening to this new tour.

EPICA Setlist:

Originem

The Second Stone

The Essence of Silence

Sensorium

Unleashed

Martyr of the Free Word

Cry for the Moon

DRUM SOLO

Storm the Sorrow

The Last Crusade

The Obsessive Devotion

Victims of Contingency

Design Your Universe

ENCORE:

Sancta Terra

Unchain Utopia

 Consign to Oblivion

Epica Tour

Nightwish, Arch Enemy and Amorphis live at The SSE Arena Wembley on December 19th, 2015

 

Words by: Robert Sutton

Images by: Robert Sutton Photography (Facebook)

 

Nightwish performed their last night of their European ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful’ tour, and only UK date, to a sold out show at The SSE Arena Wembley on the 19th December. They are the first ever Finnish band to headline at this iconic arena and the event featured the bands full stage show production.

Support for the night was from Amorphis and Arch Enemy.

Amorphis are a six piece Finish death metal band (who also plays heavy metal, progressive and folk metal songs). They have just released their twelfth studio album ‘Under the Red Cloud’ and embraced this opportunity to spread the word about themselves and their new album to this full to capacity Wembley audience. By the time that their short opening set was completed I am sure that they did have a few more fans in the audience.

Amorphis

http://www.amorphis.net

Arch Enemy, The Swedish melodic death metal band replaced their singer in 2014 , with Canadian Alissa White-Gluz and this was the first time that I had seen the band with their new singer and to see whether she was up to the challenge of filling her predecessors shoes..I have to say she was more than up to the job and gave an absolutely blinding performance, with her death metal growls and head banging blue hair, she owned the stage and the audience really appreciated not only her but also the rest of the bands performance. From this performance Nightwish would need to pull something special out of the bag for their performance.

Arch Enemy

http://www.archenemy.net

 

Nightwish is the most successful Finish band worldwide and were promoting their new album ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful, their first album to feature Floor Jansen on vocals who joined the band full time in 2013 as a replacement for Anette Olzon.

They opened the evening’s performance with ‘Shudder before the Beautiful’ from their new album and opened it with a super four section back screen and a full set of pyrotechnics, not only at the front of the stage but also at the back and from the lighting rig gantry. It was clear from the start that, yes, this was going to be something special and boy we were not to be disappointed throughout the whole evening’s performance.

The band then went on to play ‘Yours Is an Empty Hope’ also from the new album and also with lots of pyro, before then going back to their eighth single release from 2002, ‘Ever Dream’.

About two-thirds of the way through their performance they played one of the fans favorite tracks ‘Nemo’ from their 2004 album ‘Once’ and then another crowd pleaser ‘I want my tears back’ from the ‘Imaginaerum’ album.

They played a strong seventeen song setlist and the vocals from Floor throughout the range and all evening long were absolutely superb, with her giving a performance that just about any other singer in the world should be envious of.

Special guest narration was performed by Professor Richard Dawkins and he finished the night off with the narration at the end of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’.

To sum up the evening’s performance from Nightwish, I think I would have to say fantastic vocals, with a great stage production comprising of pyrotechnics, pyrotechnics and more pyrotechnics…and with credit to both the support bands as well, who did a super job and gave us all a great night of entertainment to remember.

Nightwish

www.nightwish.com

 Setlist:

1: Shudder before the Beautiful

2: Yours Is an Empty Hope

3: Ever Dream

4: Storytime

5: My Walden

6: While your lips are still red

7: Élan

8: Weak Fantasy

9: 7 Days to the Wolves

10: Alpenglow

11: The Poet and the Pendulum

12: Nemo

13: I want my tears back

14: Stargazers

15: Ghost Love Score

16: Last Ride of the Day

17: The Greatest Show on Earth

Nightwish’s new album ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful’ is available to buy now.

Ghost with Support from Dead Soul – Leeds Beckett University – December 12th, 2015

 

© David Bell

Live Gig Report and Photos by David Bell Photography

https://www.facebook.com/officialdavidbellphotography

 

After one of the wettest evenings of queuing outside the Leeds Beckett University Students Union, the soaked crowd made their way through the venue entrance for a packed out show from two of Swedens finest acts. An hour after the doors opened, the stage lights finally turned red as the humming of electronics began to build through the PA speakers. Three members of Dead Soul took to the stage as the sound got louder on this unholy night.

The band were very tight, as multi-instrumentalist Niels Nielsen rocked out alongside guitarist and keyboard player Jocke Ekstrand in repetitive riffs of despair. Vocalist Anders Landelius kept the packed crowds attention with his blues vocals that matched the trance-like backing. The style of the music was very diverse, and combined the tastes of individually genre-minded musicians into one unique experience. The reception from the crowd was very welcoming as this was the opening night for the Swedish acts first UK tour. Overall it was a hypnotizing performance of dark electronic rock mixed with blues and strange sound effects that fans of Ghost, Depeche Mode and even Johnny Cash could appreciate.

Highlight tracks included a mixture of old and new with the opener They Will Pay, the latest single The Fool from the new album The Sheltering Sky, Do Your Job and Burn Forever. Definitely a band not to miss and one for fans to get into the upcoming shows early to see.

Swiftly after, the house lights blackened as the smell of incense drifted through the air, the stage lights glowed a haunting green as Jocelyn Pooks Masked Ball, got fans ready for the headliner they came to see. The Nameless drummer Ghoul took to the stage as the spotlight isolated the lead guitar player in the opening track Spirit from Ghost’s latest album Meliora. Papa Emeritus III appeared like a spirit, in the centre of the stage among the smoke and greeted the Leeds crowd. The band’s latest single From The Pinnacle To The Pit, followed immediately after which got fans headbanging along into the Saturday night Mass.

As the third song Ritual came to a close, there was however an incident which took place with Papa, when starting into Con Clavi Con Dio. The whole band left the stage for 10 minutes as the house lights remained green and an organ backing track kept the crowd waiting. At first it seemed like it was planned and the band was going to come back out but as the minutes progressed it left the crowd growing impatient and clueless as to what had happened. As the band re-appeared and started the track again, Papa explained that he had fainted backstage and was ill from seeing all of the beautiful women in the audience and the fact that he could only have one at once. The reaction was welcomed as the night continued until Body and Blood, where two Sisters of Sin were brought up onstage. These fans had been chosen in advance to deliver communion to the audience whilst in full Nun regalia.

Highlight tracks included Cirice, He Is, Absolution, Mummy Dust, and Rocky Ericksons, If You Have Ghosts cover. Papa Emeritus III, made a full recovery throughout the show as there were no further disruptions and the band performed a very powerful set. The band joked throughout the night about Leeds being a University city and Papa gave the crowd missing pieces of song names for fans to guess as they were supposed to be smart people. The interactions with the crowd continued as each song was introduced.

The show ended with Monstrance Clock, the last song from the second album Infesstisumam. The crowd chanted along and grew livelier throughout from teenagers with their parents to 50+ men in shirts and ties singing, “Come together, together as one, come together, for Lucifers son”.
The band took a final bow and thanked the Leeds University crowd.

http://ghost-official.com

Psychostick Live at Ziggy’s, Winston-Salem, NC, Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reviewed and Pictures by: David Locklear

Psychostick know how to have a good time.

I knew it was going to be a fun show when they began tearing through their third song, “Quack Kills”, from their 2014 release “Revenge of the Vengeance”, and a random audience member, outfitted with a duck costume, jumped on stage and began dancing with/attacking the band. You cannot be sad if this happens at any live performance, unless you’re a damned ogre.

The comedy-metal four piece, fronted by vocalist “Rawrb” Kersey, guitarist Josh “The J” Key, bassist Matty J Moose, and drummer Alex Dontre, wrestled their songs into submission during their roughly one hour set. Outfitted with moose antler helmets, colorful spiky baseball caps and Japanese warrior bandannas, their level of wackiness in both performance and sonic artistry was very reminiscent of 80’s lunatic merchants, M.O.D. Psychostick paid wacky tribute to many things in their time on stage, warbling about everyone’s favorite chin, Bruce Campbell, on the obviously titled “Bruce Campbell”; to an insane cover version of Kenny Loggins’ shitastic Top Gun anthem “Danger Zone” (replete with aviator shades and homoerotic volley ball high fives); to singing about why men make most of their decisions, on the bouncy “Because Boobs”; and then finally rounding out their set with a command to their faithful followers on “Obey the Beard”.

In another part of the club, Mushroomhead were also playing, and I could occasionally hear them rattling through one of their oh-so-serious performances, replete, I’m sure, with new, intenser, we-are-much-more-scary-now masks. And this made me realize that Psychostick are what the metal scene will always need: a band playing metal with a palpable respect, but never letting the audience forget they should always have a good time. Godspeed, you group of loons.

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Exodus and King Diamond Live at the Playstation Theater, on November 19th, 2015

© Dhruv Kumar

All live Photos by Dhruv Kumar

http://www.dhruvkumar.com/

Words by Kunal Singh

 

As a treat MGM covered night 1 of a 3 day sold out streak at the PlayStation Theater in NYC for the trash battering reunion of Exodus and King Diamond. The King has been touring notoriously this past year and hitting up all the big festivals, the site has already covered them before on the now retired Mayhem Festival and thought they we’re terrific and one of the true highlights of the Tour, but one thing you can always count on, is King Diamond are a hell of a band, one of a kind and on this night you would get a special treat as they played their classic album “Abigail” in their entirety. Enjoy

 

Exodus performed a blazing set pleasing old fans and welcomed in new on Thursday night. They played an almost non stop performance, breaking only to interact with the audience, remind everyone about pit and concert etiquette, and how we are all part of the metal family. It almost felt like a L’Amours reunion, given the pace and energy of the show. They played a number of songs from their classic albums, with Body Harvest, Bonded by Blood, and The Toxic Waltz, all being high points of their already high octane show. The crowd was filled with the Exodus faithful as the chants and singing/screaming of the chorus lines were reverberating throughout the Playstation Theater. Exodus left no one disappointed, and they ended with Strike of the Beast, and left us all wanting more.

Exodus

http://exodusattack.com

Set List:

Exodus
Blood In, Blood Out
Body Harvest
Impaler
Blacklist
Bonded By Blood
The Toxic Waltz
Strike of the Beast

 

King Diamond took the stage less than half an hour later, and proved why they are a legendary band among the metal community. Their stage was a magnificent setup of stairs, prop statues, elevated gargoyles, inverted crosses, and pretty much everything you’d expect in a theatrical metal show. King Diamond fans were treated as the musical expertise of the band was on display as nothing less than brutal and sophisticated. The real treat was the addition of 2 Mercyful Fate songs, Melissa and Come to the Sabbath, and they were both performed in all their glory. The night went long, and was completely worth it as the bands both performed for their die-hard fans and welcomed in new, as all good music should.

King Diamond

http://www.kingdiamondcoven.com

Set List:

Out From the Asylum
Welcome Home
Sleepless Nights
Halloween
Eye of the Witch
Melissa (Mercyful Fate)
Come to the Sabbath (Mercyful Fate)
Them
Funeral
Arrival
A Mansion in Darkness
The Family Ghost
The 7th Day of July 1777
Omens
The Possission
Abigail
Black Horsemen
Insanity

Epica live at O2 Forum Kentish Town, London on November 15th, 2015

 

 Words by Robert Sutton

Photos by Robert Sutton

www.facebook.com/robertsuttonphotography

 

 

Epica, the Dutch symphonic metal six piece band who have Simone Simons as their lead singer have just finished a four date UK tour, with their last date being at the O2 Forum Kentish Town in London. The tour was titled as the ‘Ultimate Enigma’ tour in support of their current sixth studio album, which is tilted ‘The Quantum Enigma’ and was released in early 2014. Support for the UK tour has been Scar Symmetry and Eluveitie.

Scar Symmetry are a Swedish progressive melodic death metal six piece band with six albums to their name and have two leading vocalists. They live up to the typical death metal vocals with Roberth Karlsson giving it plenty of growling in their songs whilst Lars Palmqvist gives them the ‘cleaner’ vocals. With an early start time of 6:45pm and only a half hour set time they gave a great warm up to the evening and did win over a few more fans that were clearly there for the next two bands.

Scar Symmetry_1Scar Symmetry_2

Eluveitie are a Swiss eight piece band that have six full albums and who’s  ‘goal was to fuse Gothenburg styled death metal with ancient folk melodies and themes  to create a powerful mixture that would soon become the new wave of folk metal’.

Well the mix of very crisp and clean vocals with the growls of death metal certainly does make an interesting combination along with some more traditionally folk instruments like, flute , violin and mandolin. Put a strange beast called l.the hurdy-gurdy and bagpipes into the mix and this makes for a quite unique sound that is Eluveitie. They played a whopping seventy five minute set and certainly put on a great show as if they were the headline act themselves and had the full support of audience for the entire set.

Eluveitie

Epica entered the stage at 9:15pm one buy one to the applause of the audience for each member of the band to their opening track ‘Originem’ .Once all on stage with Simone being the last to enter, they then performed ‘The Second Stone’ from their latest album ‘The Quantum Enigma’.

‘The Essence of Silence’ also from the current album was next and then the band commented about the recent tragedies in Paris and asked the audience for a minute’s silence. The whole audience obliged and I must say it was a strange moment at a concert when the whole place fell silent out of respect.

They played for one hour forty five minutes with a setlist of thirteen songs with a great light setup both for the band members and also the back drop. Simone remarked during the evening on the fact that Epica’s seventh album would probably be released in 2016 but didn’t say what it might be called.

If there was ever a band that live up to their name it has to be Epica they were so Epic…With great audience participation in the mosh pits and also a wall of death that parted about two thirds of the standing section downstairs. What a great show and one I really did not really want to end.

 

Epica

 

Setlist:-

1: Originem ( Intro tape)

2: The Second Stone

3: The Essence of Silence

4: The Fifth Guardian ( tape)

5: Chemical Insomnia

6: Sensorium

7: Unleashed

8: Martyr of the Free Word

9: Cry for the Moon

10: The Obsessive Devotion

11: Victims of Contingency

12: The Phantom Agony

Encore:

13: Sancta Terra

14: Unchain Utopia

15: Consign to Oblivion

www.scarsymmetry.com

www.eluveitie.ch

www.epica.nl

Lamb of God statement on cancellation of European Tour

 

As some might have already read, Lamb of God recently decided to cancel their remaining European tour dates amidst safety concerns culminating from the Paris attacks. Here is front man Randy Blythe’s lengthy statement on the matter, posted originally on his personal blog Randonesia.

 

At the request of management, I have agreed to write a post concerning our recently cancelled tour of Europe. I wouldn’t have bothered to do this on my own, since a rather self-explanatory general statement has already been made explaining our reasons for leaving and that seems more than sufficient to me- the basic gist of the post was that something specific occurred that made some of us in the band feel that it was unwise to continue on with the tour, potentially putting ourselves, our crew, and large numbers of defenseless people in harm’s way. Simple enough. And I won’t elaborate on the details of that occurrence here, since I have no wish to add to the atmosphere of speculation and fear that currently surrounds terrorist activities in Europe- there are way too many ill-informed running mouths across the globe making an already tense, highly complex, and extremely fluid situation on that continent even worse. I feel pretty ridiculous even writing this (who knew deciding to cancel a tour after venues you have played start getting blown up would require any sort of explanation to anyone?), but since I have been asked nicely to do so by the people I employ to manage my band, I will.

And as one of the band members who said “I am done here,” I will speak solely for myself, not my band as a whole. I have no problem with this because, well, because frankly I don’t give a rat’s ass what most people think of me in general- historically, other people’s opinions of what I should or shouldn’t do or say hasn’t made much of an impact on my decision making process, and it’s not about to start now. Besides, I’m already more than used to being the bad guy, so I won’t lose any sleep over the inevitable pissy internet comments. That kind of stuff just isn’t significant enough to keep me up at night, and I don’t pay much attention to it anyway- I’ll leave that to the hand-wringers and gossipmongers who have nothing better to do. So here is what I have to say, and it’s all I’m going to say on this matter, PERIOD- those with just half of a functional brain in their heads will easily understand, the rest… well, who really gives a fuck what you (don’t) think anyway? Certainly not me.

Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography
Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography

Obviously, no working band wants to cancel a tour, especially once it is underway- fans get disappointed, a lot of money gets lost by several different groups of people, a massive amount of time is wasted by all parties involved, it’s generally an all-around bad business move, and (trust me) it’s just a huge pain in the ass. My band is not in the habit of cancelling tours, so unless there is a family emergency, we carry on regardless of almost anything. And lots of “interesting” things have occurred in our 21 years of existence as a band. We have taken the stage five minutes after martial law has been declared (Bangkok, Thailand), we have been stuck in airports for multiple days unable to enter a country because the armed forces and the police force of that country have decided to go to war with each other (Ecuador), we have narrowly missed, driven through, or managed to maneuver around deadly natural catastrophes (earthquakes in China, floods in Poland, hurricanes here in America, and more). Personally, I’ve gone onstage with a broken arm, broken ribs, various broken toes, a broken nose, staples in my forehead due to a stage dive gone wrong- hell, I’ve even been to prison in a foreign country, gotten out after a month, and played massive gigs a little over a week later. In fact, before the first night of this very tour had even gotten underway, I met a group of particularly unpleasant young people on a dark street and consequently played the first few shows with a banging headache.

My band and I aren’t even strangers to touring in an environment of terror- just over a month after September 11, 2001 we played in Times Square, downtown Manhattan, New York City (a lot of bands, especially European bands, cancelled tours of the States around that time, and I didn’t blame them- it was a seriously heavy time to be in America). But such is the life of a touring musician, so something really, really serious has to occur to make us cancel.

And something really, really serious (and utterly heartbreaking) did occur in Paris, prompting several bands to go home early or cancel upcoming tours- I couldn’t blame them. But my band didn’t leave- we paid attention to what was going on, evaluated the situation the best we could, and decided to continue on with the tour. Despite some obvious concerns, it felt like the right thing to do.

Sitting in a hotel room in London, as I followed along in real-time during the tragic massacre in Paris at Bataclan I could see the layout of the club in my mind, and I thought “That is a terrible spot to be trapped in like that (which of course is exactly why the gunmen chose it)- God help those people inside.” It was sickening to me that people were dying just because they wanted to see a rock show, and what made it worse was that I could clearly envision it happening as it went down- I’d played that club several times before. 89 people died in Bataclan that night, including one individual known to several crew members of our tour. The next day the mood was serious before the gig, but all the bands got up and played their hearts out- it felt like the right thing to do, to try and raise people’s spirits. From the stage, I told the audience to try not to be consumed by hatred or to live in fear- after all, we were still onstage, people had come out, and no one wants to sit around and be overwhelmed by anger, anxiety, and sadness over something they have no control over. It was an emotional show for everyone involved.

Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography
Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography

The next day the tour played another smaller UK gig in Birmingham. I was forced to stop the show so an injured member of the crowd could be carried out to an ambulance, but overall it still felt good, like we were doing the right thing.

Then the band and crew flew to Stuttgart, Germany. We had originally planned to ride the ferry from Dover, England to Calais, France and from there make our way to Germany, but after the bombings and shootings in Paris the French government shut the borders, and we figured either the ferry wouldn’t be available or it would just be a complete security nightmare, so we spent money on flights. Imagine my surprise when I talked to our bus driver the day of our gig in Stuttgart, asking him how crowded and hectic the ferry ride was- “Oh, no, it was almost empty,” he said “And when we got to France, we were just waved in- there were no cops there at the border or anywhere in sight.” Umm… ok. That seemed just a little loose to me, given that just three days previously men who had traveled from a nearby different country had blown themselves up in Paris after massacring over 100 human beings, but I’m no security expert, so what do I know, right? Right before I walked onstage in Stuttgart, I saw on the news that they evacuated a soccer stadium north of us in Hannover, Germany due to threat of explosives. I didn’t exactly feel relaxed going onstage that night, but it turned out to be a great gig, despite once again me having to stop the show so another injured crowd member could get wheeled out to an ambulance (two gigs in a row of people getting badly hurt was a real bummer for sure though- it really throws things off when you know an audience member is injured). And so we continued on through mainland Europe to Tilburg, Netherlands- once again, it felt like the right thing to do.

I woke up in a great mood around 1 or 2 pm on the day of the Tilburg show (I like Holland, and always enjoy my time there), went into the venue, ate lunch and began looking online to see if there was a camera store nearby. Sometime later that afternoon, soon before the band was scheduled to soundcheck, our tour manager called us together, closed the dressing room door, and said “I’ve got some news, and it’s not good.” He then informed us of a specific occurrence that made me immediately say “Fuck this, I’m not going on that stage tonight.”

At that moment, it no longer felt like the right thing to do anymore, not at all. It did not feel like the right thing to still stand on stage and tell people “Don’t worry about it- come on in and enjoy yourselves. There’s no need for concern.” It did not feel like the right thing- not for myself, not for the people I employ, and not for our fans. Things had quickly changed- it felt foolish, it felt irresponsible, and it felt potentially very, very dangerous.

Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography
Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography

As I mentioned earlier, I do not wish to add more rumors or speculation to an already tense and constantly shifting situation in Europe, so I won’t go into details. Suffice it to say, this new specific piece of information (not some nebulous news story about the generally pensive atmosphere pervading Europe at the time) gave me enough to pause to think “I am not going to chance endangering the lives of myself, my crew, and the 1,800 or so fans expected to show up this evening by going on with this show. I can’t tell these people they are safe in here. It does not feel right, screw this, I’m out of here.” Furthermore, what I had just been told made me think “Even if it’s nothing tonight, I’m not going to go through this every day. Our job is done here for now- it’s time to go home. It doesn’t feel safe enough to cram ourselves and hundreds of people into venues anymore.”

And I wasn’t the only one who thought or spoke that way, but since I’m writing this, I’ll own it here. That was my judgement call, I stand by it, I was at the time (and I remain to this very second) completely and utterly 100% unapologetic about it to anyone anywhere, and if placed in the same situation right this instant the only thing I would do differently would be somehow get the words “Fuck this, I’m done” out of my mouth quicker (which would probably be difficult, but I would damn sure try). Shortly after our tour manager told the club manager we had decided not to play, the venue put a press release saying the gig was cancelled, and our crew began to pack up everything onstage. The doors never opened to the general public, and I feel very, very good about being part of the decision that caused that. Why?

Because aside from some grumpy fans’s feelings, no one got hurt that night. To my knowledge, everyone made it home ok. Sure, if we had done the show, maybe nothing would have happened anyway. Maybe it would have been a great gig, as all our gigs at that club have been before. Maybe cancelling the gig was all for nothing.

But maybe not. And if things had gone badly, afterwards while I sat talking to the cops (because in all probability, once guns started going off, I would have made it out the nearby back exit while the fans and maybe some of my crew got stuck inside and gunned downed or blown to bits like those poor people in Paris), I would have said to myself “You got some specific information. You knew there was something potentially sketchy. You didn’t feel right about this. Why didn’t you just cancel the show, you stupid, selfish, idiot?”

When I said I was done, did I know that some fans would be bummed out about our cancelling the tour? Yes. Did I realize that this was going to cost us a lot of money? Yes. Did I know that some people would be incapable of understanding why we were going home and complain about it? Yes. Did I care? Hell no. And I still don’t- in fact, looking at news about the current situation in Europe, I feel better and better about leaving before something else happened, either at our show or anywhere else over there. I don’t feel like constantly wondering what the security climate in the next country we are scheduled to play in is, playing terror alert hopscotch through Europe right now just to play a few fucking heavy metal concerts- I’m glad I’m home. I feel like I made the right decision, and that’s all that matters to me. I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

Once a few years ago in Europe, I made a poor decision to let a show go on, despite the fact that that show was obviously dangerous and out of control. While the particular circumstances were very different than what was happening in Tilburg, the general problem was the same- there was a possibility that band members and/or fans could get hurt. I ignored that possibility, and as it turned out, a fan did get hurt that night- in fact, he died a month later as a result of his injuries. I went to prison in Europe for a bit over it, got out on bail, then returned to Europe to stand trial and face up to any responsibility I may have had in the matter- that story is pretty well known, so I won’t bother explaining it further. What I will say is that I already have one dead person in Europe forever attached to my name- I won’t add anymore if I can prevent it, no matter who it pisses off or disappoints. I’m not going to play around with my life or the lives of others if I feel there is a dangerous situation I could potentially stop from occurring by simply saying “The show is over.” It’s not worth it to me, and if someone can’t understand or won’t accept my reasoning, then I have nothing for them but a firmly raised middle finger.

I will not be castigated or chastised for making a decision I felt was in the best interest of the safety of a) first and foremost, myself, and b) hundreds of other people. Like it or lump it, that’s the way it fucking is.

I hope that the situation in Europe and everywhere else calms down, posthaste (and yes, I know that an attack could occur in America- obviously, I’d feel better about being at home to help deal with it the best I could, or at the very least die on my native soil). I hope no one else dies anywhere on the planet (and this is a global problem) because some misguided maniacs with suicide vests and Kalashnikovs decide to martyr themselves over their twisted interpretation of divine will. But yesterday at least 21 people died in Mali during a hostage situation at the hands of terrorists, and as I write this, Milan, Italy (where we were booked in three days) is on high alert. And the city of Brussels (where we were scheduled to play next week) has been placed on the highest possible alert, with governmental officials telling people to avoid high concentration areas like sporting events, train depots, airports, and… concerts. Downtown is basically shut down, and I’m more than happy we won’t be filling a concert venue there (or any other place at the moment) for something to potentially go terribly, terribly wrong. The way I feel, to do so at this particular time seems not only risky to myself, but irresponsible to our crew and fans- enormously, cosmically, irresponsible. And as of this second, the venue we were supposed to play in Brussels is closed anyway. I guess they don’t feel safe remaining open at this time, what with their government basically telling everyone to expect something really bad to happen at any moment. Not the best environment for a rock show.

Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography
Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography

While we were still on tour, when other bands canceled their tours immediately after the attacks in Paris, one typical and very widespread online reaction I saw (and was completely baffled by) was “ISIS wins! By not playing, they are letting ISIS win!”

“By not playing, they are letting ISIS win”? People, do you have any idea of how colossally stupid this sounds?

Please crawl out of the hive mind echo chamber for a second and try to use your own head for a change- these are ROCK BANDS trying to play a gig without being gunned down onstage, not Navy SEALS assaulting a mountain stronghold in the Hindu Kush. You aren’t going to stop a bullet with a ripping guitar solo- Jimi fucking Hendrix couldn’t do that, even if he resurrected and came back to rock Europe one more time. This isn’t a game of Mortal Kombat or a goddamn G.I Joe cartoon or just some news story- almost 100 people died horrific deaths just over a week ago, screaming with terror as they were gunned down like fish in a barrel simply because they were crammed into a club trying to have a good time at a rock show. These were real human beings, not blips in a Twitter feed. Tragically, more people might die before it’s over. I hope not, but overall the situation in Europe doesn’t look good at this second. I encourage those of you who don’t agree with my assessment of the situation to immediately book a ticket to Belgium, walk around with picket signs in front of Ancienne Belgique (the club we were booked to play in Brussels) and yell at them about how they aren’t properly fighting terrorism by closing their doors. I’m sure your presence there will do the people of Brussels a ton of good. Hell, the Belgian authorities will probably immediately give you a job as a high-ranking officer in their anti-terrorism task force (since you obviously know how to end the current crisis).

Right now, several of my friends remain in Europe on tour. I hope they have good gigs, I hope they stay safe over there, and I hope (most importantly) that they return home safely to their loved ones. It is their decision to stay, and I respect that. When you join a touring band, you aren’t issued some sort of rock-n-roll handbook that reads “Section C: In case the country you are touring in falls under threat of attack by homicidal Jihadists, viable options are: A) play only secret basement shows until the threat passes, B) appeal to the local armed forces for a loan of assault rifles, C) issue body armor to all band, crew, and concert attendees D) roll the dice and hope for the best or E) catch the next thing smoking home.” There is no textbook answer for a situation like this, so I can’t even pretend to say what other people should or shouldn’t do. I can only do what I think is the right thing to do for me and mine, and so I did. I stayed on tour in Europe until something concrete, not a general sense of dread, made me decide to go home. And I don’t regret going home in the slightest- not one tiny shred.

None of this makes me happy- not cancelling a tour, not losing money, not bumming out fans, not people having to worry about being blown up, and especially not people dying. It sucks on a very, very deep level. And I hope nothing else happens. I honestly hope we cancelled a tour for absolutely nothing, so that people can point their fat little fingers at this later and laugh their heads off at my unwarranted concerns. I would rather be ridiculed by the entire online virtual peanut gallery of pinheads than take chances on myself or anyone else getting hurt or killed (and yes, I include even the dummies who are mad and still can’t understand why we cancelled) because I ignored what I felt was the smartest move given our circumstances. I can deal with people disagreeing with me and my actions, no problem. I could not deal with a news story that reads “Hundreds die at lamb of god concert; authorities say potential warning signs were ignored by band.”

Then people would have something of actual consequence to bitch about, not a few cancelled heavy metal concerts- “How could those fucking American morons play a show when they thought something might happen? Why didn’t they cancel? Now there are dead people everywhere- what a bunch of ASSHOLES.” No thanks- better safe than on CNN.

Y’all stay safe, and let’s hope this mess gets sorted out soon.

That is all I have to say.

Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography
Photo Credit: Olga Kuzmenko Photography

Alice Cooper Live at Plymouth Pavilions, UK on October 29th, 2015

 

Live Gig and Photos Credit: Francijn Suermondt

 

On a foggy rainy night 2 days before Halloween, the atmosphere couldn’t have been any more perfect for the Alice Cooper Halloween show at Plymouth. Goulish apparitions started to appear of all age groups from little mini 10 year Alice’s to lifelong fans in their 70’s….and this is what makes an Alice Cooper spectacular so special.

This was my first venture with a photo pass in the press pit, so the anticipation for me was higher than usual and waiting in the pit with the other professional photographers was starting give me my own spooky Halloween heebie jeebies … but when the giant fire blanket adorned with Alice’s face fell and the power packed Alice Cooper band exploded on to the stage I never looked back…. What a buzz!
If ‘Black Widow’ and the ‘House Of Fire’ warmed the crowd up nicely …. ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ started to set them on fire enabling fans to scream along to this superb rock anthem. ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ starts to bring the stomping, rocking groove into the arena and ‘Lost In America’ produces some spine tingling wailing guitar.

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‘Hey Stoopid’ as the great pumping intro and a rousing chorus combined with superb action and crowd connection from guitarist Ryan Roxie who first joined the band in 1996.

Half way through we are all treated to a superb drum solo reminiscent of Tommy Aldrige the latter years, from Glen Sobel (who has also been sitting in for Tommy Lee whilst he has been recovering from a wrist injury on their present tour). This is followed by Nita Strauss a rock guitarist, who is a force to be reckoned with … providing a fellow rock chick with a super substantial amount of goose bumps, hair standing on end and RESPECT! Gradually, whilst Alice is in the throws of a wardrobe change, Chuck Garric, Nita, Glen, Ryan and Tommy Henriksen jam together looking like a naughty, LA rock gang ……. And yes you want to be initiated and join their crib! … hell it looks like fun!

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The second half of the show is a Halloween extravaganza of giant Frankenstein monsters, snakes and a graveyard with accompanying covers (some better than the originals) of The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and The Who.

With a finale of ‘Schools Out’ complete with streamers and Halloween Pumpkin balloons …..Alice welcomed us to his nightmare and to be honest I didn’t want to wake up !!

 

http://www.alicecooper.com

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