UFO Concert Review – Last Orders 50th Anniversary Tour [22 March 2019] Cambridge Junction

Blimey, it might be their 50th anniversary but it’s also my 40th since I last saw them in Leicester in 1979. Who would have thought that we’d both still be going!

Over the years the band have had their highs/lows, endured the trials/tribulations of the business and now we are at the journeys end.  Mogg turns 71 this April (2019) so you can kind of understand why after 50 years wearing the R’n’R badge of honour with pride it’s time to call it a day.  So, all that remains is to make sure that they finish off their long illustrious career with a memorable bang!  

I knew it was going to be a great night when the pub bell chimed last orders the band slowly emerged one by one to the dulcet tones of ‘Faith Healer’ from the mighty SAHB.  Alas the opener ‘Let It Roll’ was somewhat marred by the dodgy feedback and bad mixing from the desk, however this was swiftly rectified and for the rest of the 90min show Phil vocals were as blindingly good as ever was.  He might be 71 but he can still belt them out!

Phil, dressed all in black with waist coat, braces and a cool studded belt was on top banter form in-between songs.  A real wag, taking the piss out of the band, himself and the audience and having a thoroughly good time.  For example: He commented that while he had hair he couldn’t see the battle scars on his now bald head from Pete Way, a couple of staircases and his 2nd wife.  Or when introducing ‘Cherry’ a song especially for the drummer Andy Parker about his Las Vegas trip with a pole dancer, broken heart and a dose of the clap!

The Cambridge Junction looked pretty much full, with a crowd of rockers of a certain age 😊 (plus assorted kids, including Phil’s 4 year old granddaughter perched on her mums shoulders) who were ecstatic to see their teen hero’s rocking out for the very last time.  Rapturous applause for the first few numbers then the volume went up to 11 with a rollicking ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Only You Can Rock Me’ singalong.  The party was now in full swing.  So, time for Phil and the boys to slow it down with ‘Baby Blue’ which showcased his powerful vocals to great effect.

I suppose now’s the time to mention the band.  UFO are: Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond (keyboards/guitar), Andy Parker (drums), Vinnie Moore (lead guitar) and Rob De Luca (bass).  Phil, Andy and Paul are the old guard harping back to the beginnings of the band with Vinnie and Rob both joining this century.  I’m gonna start with Rob as he was in front of me.  Dressed in the height of early 70’s hippie fashion with a tie dye velvet jacket, striped bell bottom trousers and long tussling hair – he reminded me of a refugee from the Chris Robinson band!  Excellent bass playing throughout, constantly with a smile on his face and plenty of lead guitar type poses and much moving about on stage.  Now Vinnie can most certainly play guitar, whether it’s on his head or in the usual place this man can solo and riff with the best of them.  The songs tonight showcased his talent to its fullest especially on the 4-5 min solo on ‘Rock Bottom’.  Paul, the consummate looking old rock ‘n’ roller – great haircut by the way – switched between keyboards and guitar with ease adding the layered melodic sound which gives their hard rock sound a softer edge. And let’s not forget Andy hidden behind the drum kit thrashing away with the back beat and holding everyone together.  UFO are a band, with all parts contributing with equal measure and they have ensured the legacy – it’s a pity it’s the end of the road – but all good things come to an end!

UFO set list I think (click on links to watch the videos in glorious ultra 4k)

  • Let It Roll – (Force It, 1975)
  • Messiah of Love – (A Conspiracy of Stars, 2015)
  • We Belong to the Night – (Mechanix, 1982)
  • Ain’t No Baby – (Obsession, 1978)
  • Lights Out – (Lights Out, 1977)
  • Baby Blue – (You Are Here, 2004)
  • Only You Can Rock Me – (Obsession, 1978)
  • Burn Your House Down – (Seven Deadly, 2012)
  • Cherry – (Obsession, 1978)
  • Love to Love – (Strangers in the Night, 1979)
  • Makin’ Moves – (The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent, 1981)
  • Too Hot to Handle – (Lights Out, 1977)
  • Rock Bottom – (Phenomenon, 1974)

Encore:

  • Doctor Doctor – (Phenomenon, 1974)
  • Shoot Shoot – (Force It, 1975)

Given it’s the final tour, they played a good mixed set of old classics and new songs such as ‘Burn Your House Down’ and ‘Messiah of Love’ from 2012 and 2015 respectively, proving that they still made great albums up to the end.  The band certainly rolled back through the years.

After the extended ‘Rock Bottom’ the band leaves the stage to rapturous applause and adulation. Much hollering, clapping and chants of “UFO, UFO” bring the band back on stage with the mighty and ubiquitous ‘Doctor, Doctor’ – I was hoping that Iron Maiden might come on after the song – 😊 😊.  And the final song was ‘Shoot Shoot’ which left a warm glow in the hearts of the delighted crowd – they absolutely went out in style, both band and crowd loving every minute.

Over the year’s UFO achieved notoriety and success in equal measure and they are definitely one of the UK’s great rock institutions.  After all, if their music is good enough for Iron Maiden to open up with then job done!  Thank you for the music and the good times Phil and enjoy your retirement!  And good luck to the rest of the band whatever you go on to do.

The support act was American Tara Lynch (who that?, ed).  She plays a mean guitar, wonder she’s related to Vinnie 😊.  She did a 45 min, mainly guitar-based set which highlighted her technical skills, with a few songs having vocals on them.  Obviously, a talented lass as she writes her own stuff and is a real guitar virtuoso diva.  She looked like a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Rosanne Barr – be afraid! 

Check them out via this link: Tara Lynch – Unbreakable.

Marko – 23 March 2019

Post script – Alas Paul Raymond died at the age of 73 just eight days after UFO played their final UK show at London’s Forum. RIP Paul..

Concert Review: Flunk – 100 Club [8 Feb 2019]

So practically a year after I first saw them Flunk are back at the 100 Club once again.  Stood in the same spot but this time I was armed with a much better camera with 4k video!  Unfortunately, you need a degree in astrophysics to work the damn thing so I just stuck to auto settings, the videos are pretty impressive though – check out the links in the setlist below to my YouTube channel.

For those that have never heard of Flunk, there are from Oslo and play a mix of electronic and indie guitar (the Birmingham band Felt come very much to mind) with some catchy tunes and slow laid back guitar work.

With no new material to showcase it was basically a ‘best of’ selection of tracks from their many albums – and that’s not a bad thing at all!  Same as last year they were: Erik Ruud – drums; Anja Øyen Vister – vocals, guitar; Jo Bakke – guitar; Ole Kristian Wetten – bass and Ulf Nygaard – Apple laptop.

The band were pretty much dressed all in black so that left Anja to add a touch of multi-colour via her bracelets and hair pieces plus an interesting line in minimalist orange eye shadow and glitter!  Mainly singing, occasional guitar she mainly sung eyes closed or with her arm shielding her eyes due to the spots and low ceiling.  The vocals were a little vague, you’d be hard pressed to catch the lyrics if you didn’t already know the songs, but that didn’t detract from the overall effect – ethereal!  Jo once again excelled on guitar – slow, mellow carefully crafted solos with the odd unhurried riff.  I loved his Vox (apparently it only cost just shy of the £1k mark).  The rhythm section held it all together nicely and they all genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves.  The audience was very receptive and appreciative, in fact I recognised quite a few from the previous year – so a loyal following!

Now Ulf is an enigma to me. I know he’s the producer and presses a few keys on the MacBook and adds a bit of backing vocals but is he really needed on stage?  He pops up every now and then and it’s like having an odd family member walking on stage but the band are too polite and embarrassed to ask him to get off 😊.  There must be some buttons he could press on the mixing desk?

Flunk Setlist (click on links to view the videos)

  • Morning Star – [Morning Star, 2004]
  • Personal Stereo– [Personal Stereo, 2009]P1010334
  • TMTTUOT – [Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • If We Kiss – [Personal Stereo, 2009]
  • Chemistry and Math – [Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Common Sense – [This Is What You Get, 2009]
  • Lost Causes – [Lost Causes, 2013]
  • Speedskating – [This Is What You Get, 2009]
  • Your Beautiful Lies – [Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Play – [Morning Star, 2004]
  • Six Seven Times – [Morning Star, 2004]
  • Hello – [Chemistry and Math, 2017]
  • Queen of the Underground – [Lost Causes, 2013]

encore

  • Down – [Personal Stereo, 2009]
  • Blue Monday – [For Sleepyheads Only, 2002]
  • Only You – [Cover Ups – The Home Recordings, 2016]
  • Sit Down – [Personal Stereo, 2009]

A lovely selection of songs that showcased their unique song writing talents born of living in a cold bleak climate.  Personal highlights were ‘If We Kiss’, ‘Play’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Sit Down’.  My only gripe was the cover of ‘Only You’ which they did very well but I really hate that song – so it’s my issue readers 😊.

Thanks to the whole band for putting in a great night’s entertainment.  At the end of the evening my friend and I managed to chat with both Anja and Jo who were charming as ever and were more than willing to talk at length and pose for photos.

Allegedly some new material may transpire next year, in the meanwhile I wish them luck and hope to see them live in London again in the not too distant future.  You might consider a different venue e.g. 229 The Venue – the 100 Club is a touch shabby!

Marko [10 Feb 2019]

Live Review: GUN and Von Hertzen Brothers, Shepherd’s Bush Empire [14/12/2018]

Both bands were support for Uriah Heep.

Von Hertzen Brothers

Just as well we got in early (unlike most gigs where we are in the pub beforehand) else we would have missed the rather fabulous Von Hertzen’s on the final leg of their ‘War is Over Pt 2’ tour encompassing 5 dates supporting Uriah Heep.  They hit the stage at 19:00 and after 6 songs and 38 blistering mins left to a rousing reception and no doubt some new fans including my mate Simon and I.

So I’ve done some investigative work and blimey this Finnish band have been around since 2001 and have some 7 LPs to their name – I feel a Xmas pressie coming on!  A great bunch of songs were played tonight mixing Rock and Prog effortlessly (hence a good fit supporting the mighty Heep) and definitely a couple of stadium anthems here namely ‘Sunday Child’ and ‘Jerusalem’.   Given only 6 songs I’m guessing the VHB picked their ‘best of’ for the night and they certainly didn’t disappoint.  The band consists of 3 brothers doing all the guitar stuff ably supported by keyboards and drums.

The engaging lead singer/guitarist Mikko certainly cuts it as eye candy for the girls (it was the first thing our LA girl friends on Twitter said when they saw the pictures!) and draws your attention throughout – he can play guitar as well 😊.   Kie the lead guitarist cuts an interesting figure in his hat and round glasses whilst playing a mean guitar and Jonne is your archetypal bassist sticking to his bit of the stage and just playing.  Sami holds it all together on drums.

During ‘Sunday Child’ Mikko and Jonne watch from the wings as Kie and the keyboard player Rob embellish the songs middle passage to great effect with layered sounds.  The sound is crisp and clear and all parts of the band work perfectly together.  They look like they are really into the songs and the joy comes through in their performance.  Catchy assed riffs with souring prog dynamics = man and songs in perfect harmony, a very powerful band.

Setlist

  1. The Arsonist – (War is Over, 2017)Von Hertzen Brothers 2018 UK Tour
  2. Jerusalem – (War is Over, 2017)
  3. Coming Home – (Nine Lives, 2013)
  4. Kiss a Wish – (Approach, 2006)
  5. Sunday Child – (New Day Rising, 2015)
  6. New Day Rising – (New Day Rising, 2015)

 

A very enjoyable set, thank you, and I’ll definitely be catching up with you guys next time you’re in London.  I’m sure these guys would be fun to have a few pints with!

 

GUN

Scottish rockers Gun arrive all guns blasting (excuse the pun) at 20:10 and look like they are ready to “take on the world”.  I guess they were running late as they only had time for 7 songs so didn’t play ‘Fight for Your Right to Party’ as their planned last song, pity.  So, the tempo went up a notch to hard rock with riffs and solo’s abound, ‎Giuliano and Tommy trading lead slots.  ‘She Knows’ kicked off a rocking short showcase setlist with the band in full assault mode throughout their 35 min slot.

It would appear that Dante might have had a few too many sherbets backstage as he somewhat blurred his speech in between songs – he’d obviously had a rather good time backstage listening to Lee Kerslake’s tales!  Luckily, he remained quite focused on the singing and remembered all the words whilst leaping and bounding around the stage.

Is it me or is Giuliano looking more like Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick every time I see them?  As always ‘Word Up’ gets the crowd singing along and bopping but for me the highlight was ‘Steal Your Fire’.  The twin guitars of Giuliano and Tommy impressed throughout with Tommy’s having the main solo activity probably as he’s more technical.

Setlist (20:10 – 20:45)

  1. She Knows – (Favourite Pleasures, 2017)Gun 2018 UK tour
  2. Don’t Say it’s Over – (Swagger, 1994)
  3. Better Days – (Taking On the World, 1989)
  4. Take Me Down – (Favourite Pleasures, 2017)
  5. Word Up – (Swagger, 1994)
  6. Favourite Pleasures – (Favourite Pleasures, 2017)
  7. Steal Your Fire – (Gallus, 1992)
  8. Shame on You – (Taking on the World, 1989)

 

Eight songs, crash bang wallop and they were gone to party hard😊.  It certainly blew the cobwebs off the crowd who responded in kind with great applause.

Reviewed by Marko [16 Dec 2018]

Uriah Heep concert review, Shepherds Bush Empire London – 14 Dec 2018

Uriah Heep in concert with support from GUN and the Von Hertzen Brothers.

Finally, almost 50 years after their inception I get to see Uriah Heep in the flesh.  Not only that but the support in the form of Gun and the Von Hertzen Brothers promises to be excellent as well, and all for £33 standing – surely the accountant got this wrong?

I kind of lost track of Heep in the late 70s and then my interest spiked again around 2008 with the wonderful ‘Wake the Sleeper’ LP.  Since then I’ve gone back and revisited a fair amount of their back catalogue and the latest LP ‘Living the Dream’, signed by the band no less, is proudly hung on my wall – the Pledge Music web site is great for this type of personalised memorabilia – check it out.

Of course, the years have taken their toll and now only the grand wizard remains from the original line up.  The current line up consists of some great musos and a typically in your face R’n’R frontman:

  • Mick Box – guitars (since 1969)
  • Phil Lanzon – keyboards (since 1986)
  • Bernie Shaw – vocals (since 1986)
  • Russell Gilbrook – drums (since 2007)
  • Davey Rimmer – bass (since 2013)

The band come on to a sparse stage at 21:19 with a storming ‘Grazed by Heaven’ and play until 22:50.  Resplendent all in black designer gear, love the custom built trousers guys they look every bit a R’n’R band.  At the time of writing Mick is 71, Phil 68, and Bernie 62 are accompanied by the youngsters Russell 54 and Davey a.k.a ‘Diablo’ 50 😊.

Based on what I witnessed tonight prog hard rock lords Uriah Heep are still a musical force to be reckoned with.  Heep were on top form and the home London crowd lapped up every second of a thoroughly enjoyable gig.  If the band’s having fun the ‘buzz’ seeps into the audience and hey everyone’s happy!

As I mentioned earlier, there were no gimmicks, no fancy backdrops or lighting basically nothing to detract from the sheer brilliance of the performance of a bunch of seasoned pro’s at the top of their game.  The sound was crisp and clear and not overly too loud – a good thing given a sizeable chunk of the audience were past the 50 mark!  Talking of the audience I was surprised to see so many ladies in attendance either on their own or with other girlfriends.  I was kind of expecting lots of grey haired/bald, overweight blokes wearing 30-year-old band t-shirts, drinking real ale etc. – tee hee.

In the end Uriah Heep let the songs do the talking, and what brilliant songs.  Of course, this tour is in support of their new LP so as you’d expect they cherry picked the best numbers and really let fly with the first half of the song predominantly from the Living the Dream’ LP.

The rest of the evening was given over to mainly 70’s classics such as their badge of honour ‘Gypsy’ and the always brilliant ‘Easy Livin’’.  A good balance between the very old and very new, however they missed out a good 60% of their back catalogue covering 36 years.

My personal highlights were Take Away My Soul, Rainbow Demon and the haunting July Morning‘.

Setlist (click on link to watch the video on my YouTube site in ultra 4k)

  1. Grazed by Heaven – (Living the Dream, 2018)Uriah Heep - Living the Dream UK dates 2018
  2. Too Scared to Run – (Abominog, 1982)
  3. Living the Dream – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  4. Take Away My Soul – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  5. Rainbow Demon – (Demons and Wizards, 1972)
  6. Waters Flowin’ – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  7. Rocks in the Road – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  8. Gypsy – (..Very ‘eavy …Very ‘umble, 1970)
  9. Look at Yourself – (Look at Yourself, 1971)
  10. July Morning – (Look at Yourself, 1971)
  11. Lady in Black – (Salisbury, 1971)

Encore:

  1. Sunrise – (The Magician’s Birthday, 1972)
  2. Easy Livin’ – (Demons and Wizards, 1972)

So overall the performance was flawless, it’s difficult to point to any shortcomings in terms of playing ability.  But you’d expect that from a band that have played thousands of gigs and work off each other.

Bernie was energetic from start to finish in that kind of ‘awesome’ American way – yes I know he’s Canadian before anyone pipes up!  Mick and Bernie were constantly smiling, Russel was beating the hell out of the skins like a demented Angry Anderson on speed whilst   Davey and Phil just got on with the job in hand.  Can I just mention Davey’s wonderful bass guitar at this point, the first time I have seen one with frets that light up in the dark – technology isn’t it great?  You could tell that they were all having a right royal London knees up which was wonderful to behold.  Bernie is a wonderful engaging frontman, has a great voice but knows when to go off stage to take a break as the rest of the band do their thing during the solos.

Now Mick Box might be 71 but he definitely displayed that he is both the wizard (the hair helps) and the magician (get the puns readers?).  He totally nailed the guitar solos all night especially during ‘Look at Your Self’ and ‘July Morning’ where he regularly waved his hand around the length of the guitar magically producing exquisite sounds with the other.  We were all in awe of his techo wizardy and I was still in a trance on the tube home.  Tonight, ladies and Gentlemen Uriah Heep were a sheer joy to behold.  Plus as Mick said “back home, cup of tea and a pint, ‘appy days!”.

Lee Kerslake the original drummer was the surprise guest for ‘Lady in Black’.  You could instantly tell the camaraderie between him and Mick, they obviously are great pals.  Alas, Lee has many health issues so it was good to get a glimpse of him happy smiling and messing about on tambourine, singing and helping out banging the skins.

Shepherds Bush Empire
Uriah Heep – Shepherds Bush Empire [14 Dec 2018]
Shepherds Bush Empire
Uriah Heep – Shepherds Bush Empire [14 Dec 2018]
Unsurprisingly they encored with ‘Sunrise‘ and ‘Easy Livin‘‘.  The tannoy finally burst into life playing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and the band duly handed their instruments to the roadies, and came stage front to applaud the audience and then threw guitar picks (yeah.. I got one from Davey as a memento) and drumsticks to an excitable audience.  A few self-congratulatory hugs and a big final bow and they were gone to rapturous applause.

Reviewed by Marko [15 December 2018]

Ian McNabb – Concert review – The Slaughtered Lamb London 24 Nov 2018

Another first for me, a new venue in London for an intimate gig.  The Slaughtered Lamb pub basement in Farringdon – sold out capacity of 120 people (with say 20 odd stools at the front of the stage).  As it’s a tiny venue and we are all crammed in seated at the front you soon get to know everyone around you.  Luckily yours truly arrived just in time to take the remaining seats directly in front of Ian (why do people not like to go near the front?) – any closer and I’d have been playing!  The venue has a low ceiling, small bar (yippee!), even smaller merch stall, is lit in pinky/purple haze with some twinkly lights smattered around the small stage containing a Korg keyboard and 4 acoustic guitars, of which Ian only uses two, mainly the black Gretsch.  An evening of stripped down classic awaits – Ian unplugged finally.

Tonight, is a mix of old classics and new songs from his recent ‘Our Future in Space’ LP.  It takes a couple of songs to get the sound mix just right – the sound man was sat at the bar all night, and it looked like he likes a drink or three – so that might have been the problem – tee hee.

Now I’ve seen him a number of times with his band The Icicle Works, but never this close and personal.  Ian walks on promptly at 20:00 in trainers, jeans, t-shirt, checked shirt and hat i.e. scruffy as always – he won’t be modelling for Armani any time soon 😊.  Being a Scouser Ian has a good sense of humour which comes out in abundance throughout the gig both whilst chatting with the audience and ad-libbing during the songs – well as he says “Bob Dylan does it all the time” or during ‘Heart of Gold’ when the audience are singing along and forgot the words “just as well I’m here init”.  He’s a funny fucker! – just check out the videos links further down.

So mainly guitar songs, some with harmonica and two or three at the piano.  He’s a prolific song writer and as such has a back catalogue of classics to pick from, a lot of which were played during his 2 ¾ hour set (with a 15 minute break).  My mate Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed the show and at £14 a ticket it’s an absolute steal – you should be charging a lot more Ian!!  It’s a travesty that he’s been mostly ignored (by TV/music press) or simply forgotten by the vast majority but at least he has a diehard fan base to keep him going.  He’s doing the social media stuff e.g. Twitter, FaceBook to keep his name out there and I suppose the only way to make a living these days is to tour, tour, tour and sell merchandise at the gigs.

I took a photo of the setlist but he didn’t do it in the order listed and added audience requests such as the encore ‘North of England’.  So, to the best of my 8-pint lager/Guinness knowledge he defo played these tunes:

Encore:

Click on the hyperlinks in blue to go to my YouTube channel where you can watch Ian in action (plus some very out of tune audience sing-alongs) – well worth the time in my humble opinion.

He’s definitely got a bit of 70’s Neil Young about him, another scruffy Herbert but a total genius.  And so a fitting end to a great night with the classic Young cover ‘Heart of Gold’ somewhat ruined with piss poor singing by the audience!

So I’m very happy, at the end of the gig Ian leant over and gave me his plectrum, apparently he’s never seen anyone giving it large to ‘Clarabella’ before.  Plus a signed LP (wot not on 180g vinyl or with a download code for the mp3) and photo with him – what’s not to like.

So ‘The Icicle Works’ are back in London in May 2019 – I’m just about to order my tickets!  Thank you, Ian, for a wonderful night and sorry about the singing 😊.

Marko [25 Nov 2018]

ps – He’s a genius!!

The Human League – Red Tour 2018 Southend Cliffs Pavilion [21 /11/2018]

The Human League live concert review – Southend Cliffs Pavilion [24 Nov 2018]

The Human League – Red Tour 2018 – Southend Cliffs Pavilion, 1st night of the UK leg of their Red tour.

Tonight’s gig was supported by Midge Ure’s band ‘Electronica.   A nice surprise actually.  Midge did a 45-minute supported by his Electronica band, dressed all in black.  Uncannily Midge and his drummer look like they were separated at birth, whilst the keyboard and guitarist look at least half his age.  The entertaining slot contained a mix of his solo stuff and Ultravox greatest hits, of which I knew most songs but had forgotten them in the mists of time.  And I learnt that he wrote ‘Fade to Grey’ for Visage.  These are the songs I remember:

  • I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)P1010058
  • Fade to Grey
  • Vienna
  • All Stood Still
  • Dancing with Tears in My Eyes
  • Love’s Great Adventure

Some nice guitar licks, pounding electro beats and an upbeat Midge.  All in all a good start to the evening – unlike the bloody traffic getting into Southend – queuing from M25!


Phil has been at it since the group’s inception in 1977 in Sheffield.  Nowadays it’s effectively a trio of Philip plus Joanne Catherall and Susan Sulley.  Phil, the only original member of ‘The Human League’, these days is bald with an interesting line in goatie.   As usual he knows how to wear designer cloths and look good, his tall slim svelte frame accentuating the numerous fancy costume changes throughout the night.

Tonight, Phil has the girls either side of him and the band mainly located within a square modular design (borrowing from the ‘Pet Shop Boys’ and recent ‘New Order’ style stage design).  It’s all covered in sheeting and enables the lighting and special effects to bathe warm neon lights or bounce around to the rhythm of the sounds.  It all very hi-tech – gleaming white stands for the Roland keyboards (detachable guitar style keytar ones at that) and electronic drum kit.  All supported by the nowadays ubiquitous computers running the show and background sounds.

My only complaint is that during a couple of songs the spots really hit the standing audience full on so frequently that it was impossible to see the stage without being temporarily blinded.

The Human League Red Tour 2018 banner2

Phil walks on to a crescendo applause wearing a transparent sleeveless PVC coat (see further down for a description of the band clothes) with dark shades and launches into “The Sound of the Crowd” – which we knew was coming as the band had already being playing a long intro into it.  The girls are made up to the hilt in the make up stakes (layered on).  Susan starts off looking like a cross between Princess Leia from Star Wars and a pantomime drag queen. Her hair is in a large bun which she later informs us is due to some backstage hair alchemy going wrong. Black eyes, rep lippy and long diamante earrings.

Surprisingly his voice is as it always was, he still hits the right notes which is more than can be said for Susan and Joanne.  Phil does the majority of vocal duties tonight, which the exception of Susan singing “One Man in My Heart”.  Alas, she can’t hold a tune to save her life, but she more than makes up for it with her enthusiasm, dancing and stage presence.

He might be getting on a bit but blimey he’s like a jack-in-the-box moving around the stage barely staying still at any point bar the odd slow song.  This is totally the opposite of Joanne who looked uninterested throughout, grumpy even.  Occasionally she’d lift an arm, move a leg, swivel the hips, walk about and sing backing vocals.  She even made her no doubt expensive outfits look drab in total comparison to the exuberant in your face loving it Susan to her right.  I’m not really sure what she adds to the band apart that she comes with the fixtures and fittings.

The majority of songs tonight are from their 80’s purple patch period and especially the LP ‘Dare’.  They are nicely interspersed with a smattering of post 90’s tunes such as “Night People” and “Tell Me When”.   In truth they do have a solid catalogue of gold to call upon.

The Costume changes

Phil

  • Sleeveless PVC see through raincoat with half a tartan kilt on his right hip and trousers finishing half way down his calf.
  • All in black, PVC jacket again!
  • All in black with a nice shortened bomber jacket with white stretch band, which he took off to reveal an excellent top with white sleeves emblazoned with diamante patches.
  • A dark grey pinstripe suit with embroidered pattern sleeves.
  • And to finish white trousers and a sleeveless shirt (orange front and white back)

OK Phil – where do you get this gear – Gaultier?

Susan

  • White dress/cape combo with flowing sleeves.
  • Black sleeveless dress.
  • Short black dress with cape and silver boots.

Joanne

  • White long skirt with white sleeveless basque style top.
  • Long black skirt with black sleeveless top.
  • Weird black cabaret style velvet top and short glitter skirt combo with flowing sleeves and a crown.

My personal favourite of the night was their rendition of “Behind the Mask” by the Japanese band ‘Yellow Magic Orchestra’.  It was so much better than the original version! I’d completely forgotten this catchy classic and it really got the crowd waving and moving to the beat.  The crowd by the way was mainly couples and groups of ladies I’d say 40-60 age bracket, reliving their 80 heydays with a bit of nostalgia.  ‘Seconds’ also got me thinking about the lyrics, not just a vacuous electro pop band after all.

Setlist (Click links to watch videos on YouTube)

  1. The Sound of the Crowd (Dare, 1981)
  2. Mirror Man (Dare, 1981)The Human League Red Tour 2018 [21 Nov 2018]2
  3. Heart Like a Wheel (Romantic?, 1990)
  4. The Things That Dreams Are Made Of (Dare, 1981)

     

  5. Night People (Credo, 2011)
  6. Seconds (Dare, 1981)
  7. The Lebanon (Hysteria, 1984)
  8. One Man in My Heart (Octopus, 1995) – Susan solo
  9. Louise (Hysteria, 1984)
  10. Human (Crash, 1986)
  11. Open Your Heart (Dare, 1981)
  12. Behind the Mask (Yellow Magic Orchestra cover, 1979)
  13. Love Action (I Believe in Love) (Dare, 1981)
  14. All I Ever Wanted (Secrets, 2001)
  15. Tell Me When (Octopus, 1995)
  16. (Keep Feeling) Fascination (Fascination!, 1983)
  17. Don’t You Want Me (Dare, 1981)20181121_203251

Encore:

  1. Being Boiled (Reproduction, 1979)
  2. Together in Electric Dreams (Phil Oakey/Giorgio Moroder 1984)

Loads of classic songs left the audience little room for any complaints.  They knew all the words and on numerous occasions just burst into life singing the songs for Phil (e.g. Louise) and especially for the ‘Don’t You Want Me’ where both verses and chorus were sung with almighty glee before Phil had even got back on stage after yet another costume change.  The encore took us back to the beginning with their 1st single ‘Being Boiled’ and then to top it off Phil’s 1984 disco style collaboration with Giorgio Moroder ‘Together in Electric Dreams’. Human League Nov 2018

And that ladies and gentlemen was that. House lights on, giant smiles firmly in place, quick sing-along on the way out and a scramble to the bar and cloak rooms.

Don’t you want me baby?  oh-go on then Phil!

Reviewed by Marko [22 Nov 2018]

PS – they know their crowd, the merch stall was selling mugs and tea towels 😊

20181121_192348
The Human League – Red Tour 2018 – Merch stand Southend 21 Nov 18

Mew – Live concert review ¦ Barbican Centre, London [20 October 2018]

Mew – Frengers 15th Anniversary World Tour

Firstly, a bit of background for the readers 😊.

Mew are one of the few bands that I came to like based on the strength of an album cover alone – yes folks it was Frengers – I saw it, loved the cover, bought the CD and really liked the strange noises I heard – been a fan ever since.  I’d really been looking forward to this gig as finally I get to see them in the flesh, plus the added bonus I get to see the band perform this unique LP in its entirety! The stars must have aligned.  To me Mew are both weird and wonderful in equal measures.

So, for me Mew are “playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order 😊” (thanks to Eric Morecambe for that useable quote).  Sometimes it is just a cacophony of odd noises, weirdness and then a nice tune breaks out.  It all kind of fits together nicely with Jonas’ beautiful high voice. I’m at a bit of a loss as to where to categorise them so I’m gonna stick them in the Bjork camp of ‘one of a kind, listen to the sound of their own drum’.  It’s beautifully melodic in parts, atmospheric, hauntingly experimental yet distorted by vocals and instruments.  To me in sections it sounds like they are playing an LP backwards – the song ‘Special’ is a classic example of this.  Even the close harmonies seem to be battling against the flow.  In fairness, without the lyrics, you’d be hard pressed to work out what Jonas is singing about for the most part.

The Barbican is a brilliant place for sound.  I’ve seen so many gigs where the mix has been appalling – not so with the posh surroundings of barbican which is built for the delicate sound of an orchestra.  In the circle seats the buildings strange shape distinctly helped the acoustics, with the band coming through extremely loud and clear!  Can I also add that the seating is big and cosy and posh aimed at the classical music brigade and certainly not the great unwashed R’n’R audience (well not in this case, you’ll have to read on to find out why now!!).

Mew sold out the evening show and decided to do a Matinee show as well, which is the one I had tickets for.  From my seating you could tell that the stalls were pretty much full but the dress circle and upper circle were half empty.  Set 1 covered a smattering of songs from their back catalogue (see set list) and lasted about 37 minutes (a kind of ‘best of’ Mew selection).  There was a 20-minute interlude followed by Set 2 which covered 2003’s Frengers LP in its entirety – another 50 mins.

Danish trio Mew are:Mew Logo

  • Jonas Bjerre Terkelsbol – Lead Vocals, Guitar
  • Johan Wohlert – Bass
  • Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen – Drums
    plus
  • Mads Wegner – Guitar
  • Nick Watts – Keyboards, Guitar

For this gig Mew were ably assisted by the Elysian Quartet/Phaedra Ensemble string quartet for added atmosphere.  And they stated the show with Jonas alone singing ‘City Voices’ almost in the dark.  In fact, throughout the gig most of the set was extensively black and occasionally backlit in purple/blue/magenta/Red hues and very rarely did you actually get to see the band.  I’m sure they spent an awful lot on lighting, but for me it didn’t quite work.  Apart from being way too dark, the floor spots were angled in the wrong positions often blinding the audience in the circles.  As my wife said afterwards “if they were stood next to me I wouldn’t recognise them”.  After the first couple of songs they employed the huge backscreen to decent effect to envisage the songs.  Some interesting graphics and images to go with Jonas’ songs.  I particularly liked the ‘King Christian’ imagery.

There was minimal audience interaction from Jonas, with the occasional “thanks you so much”, and it was left to Johan to do a short synopsis of Frengers (a combination of the words ‘friend’ and ‘stranger’ – well you learn something new every day eh!).   To summarise – it was released when the band had moved to London in 2003 and the 15th anniversary shows here revived great memories for them and they were really appreciative to the audience for their enthusiasm and support.

Now that brings me back to the audience.  A mix of all ages/genders up to say 65 (some parents brought their young kids) but predominantly 20-45 age bracket.  In the main it was couples and I hate to be stereotypical but this was predominantly a wine drinking ‘middle-class’ audience.  There you go I said it!

The band were all dressed in black (to go with the black stage I assume) and Jonas was wearing some baggy pants that clearly had had an argument with his Nike trainers, not saying they were a tad short but!  For Set 1 the band were pretty rooted to the spot, but in Set 2 they actually moved around a little and occasionally formed a ‘Neil Young/Crazy Horse’ type huddle next to the drums and Mads went all rock guitarist when the music allowed.  Apart from that they were all pretty calm – hygge anyone?

Calm they may have looked but bloody hell did they make a huge sonic racket.  Silas beat seven shades out of his drum kit and Johan’s bass just reverberated through your whole body.  During the ‘Frengers’ set even Jonas broke out from his calm trance and gave the guitar a pounding.  Nick delicately played the keyboards and held the tunes together, occasionally strapping the guitar on to cover for Jonas just singing.  For me Set 1 was too short, it had some great songs but trust me Act 2 the whole of ‘Frengers’ sounds even better at full volume.  Hell, it was good!

Setlist Set 1 (click the link to view video)

  1. City Voices – (Frengers 15th Anniversary Re-Issue 2018,
    and B-side of ‘Comforting Sounds’ single 2003)
  2. Repeaterbeater – (No More Stories…, 2009)
  3. Special – (And the Glass Handed Kites, 2005)
  4. The Zookeeper’s Boy – (And the Glass Handed Kites, 2005)
  5. Satellites – (+ – , 2015)
  6. Interview the Girls – (+ – , 2015)
  7. King Christian – (Half the World Is Watching Me, 2000)
  8. Louise Louisa – (And the Glass Handed Kites, 2005)

Mew Frengers 15 Anniversary World Tour [20 Oct 2018] Barbican


Set 2
*  (Frengers, 2003)

  1. Am I Wry? No*
  2. 156*
  3. Snow Brigade*
  4. Symmetry*
  5. Behind the Drapes*
  6. Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years*
  7. Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed*
  8. She Came Home for Christmas*
  9. She Spider*
  10. Comforting Sounds*

And so, the gig ended with the soaring mini-epic of the majestic ‘Comforting Sounds’.   Nick and Jonas start alone with the rest of the band gradually drifting back on stage to build up to the songs repetitive crescendo.  A glacially work of art indeed!  The audience as one rise to their feet to applaud this epic song and the show as a whole.  Rapturous applause follow until the house lights are turned on (I think I actually managed a proper glimpse of the band at this point 😊).

A wonderful late afternoon’s entertainment, plus the added benefit of being able to take my wife out for a lovely vegan meal/glass of wine at The Ned (Bank tube) after the show and still get home at a reasonable hour – all very middle class!

Mew are unique, and obviously their record company let them do whatever they damn like which is just great – who wants the same old stuff being regurgitated.  It may not make them rich but it connects with their eclectic fanbase.  Come back soon chaps!

Article by: Marko Jergic [21 October 2018]
Ps – the only other time I saw a matinee show was Genesis in 1977 (Leicester) on the ‘Wind and Wuthering’ tour.

Suede – Live concert review [12 Oct 2018] Eventim Apollo, London

So here I am once again at Hammersmith Odeon (aka Apollo) to see the mighty Suede on their ‘The Blue Hour’ 2018 European tour.

Support was from ‘The Horrors’, a loud dark set throughout.  Lighting was distinctly purple, blue and black, from a 5-piece band all dressed in black in front of a black canvass depicting what I’d suggest was a version of the famous ‘The Scream’ painting.  It was a wall of noise, not unpleasant in itself, but each song kind of seemed the same – apart from a couple of slower ones.  The singer, doing his best Marilyn Manson throughout, could have been singing anything, you simply couldn’t hear him through the cacophony of keyboards/drums/guitars.  At times like these I’d question the skills of the mixing desk.  They did their 30 mins and left, I’d have screamed but no one would have heard through the ringing in their ears.  I did like the glowing pyramid thingy on the keyboard players desk – whatever it was!

And so, to the main act, 21:00 ghostly shadows appear behind a semi-transparent gauze and the band launch into ‘As One’ of the new album.  The entire song is played behind the gauze with the back-lighting projecting onto the band producing a haunting effect to perfectly match the song.  Suede were excellent throughout, but really this was the Brett Anderson show.  Brett certainly knows how to engage and transfix an audience, what a front man.  He swaggered, leapt, ran around the stage, got in with the audience on numerous occasions and used his mic cable as a prop like a lion tamer’s leash or swinging it around his head and body.  Blessed with good looks Brett was dressed in black jeans and a dark blue shirt and he looked every bit the cool ‘Filmstar’.  After the first few songs his shirt was drenched so he undid a few buttons to show off his athletic sweaty torso.  Quite what some people standing near me in winter coats were doing is beyond me (it was roasting inside) – the Apollo does after all have a cloakroom!

The rest of the band pretty much stayed in the shadows, enabling Brett to do what he does best.  They stayed pretty stone faced throughout in contrast to a constantly smiling over exuberant Brett who looked like he really was having a bloody great time with his 5000 devoted audience.  Brett’s souring vocals were ably supported by a polished band comprising Richard Oakes – guitars, Simon Gilbert – drums, Mat Osman – bass and Neil Codling – keyboards, guitars (looking increasingly like Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham).

The songs were a mix of old classics and new tracks from ‘The Blue Hour’.  In fact, 60% of the songs were from their first and currently last LPs with ‘Dog Man Star’ and ‘Coming Up’ also featuring heavily.  All the info is below courtesy of a quick Excel pivot table!

Suedepivot
Weirdly enough for a London band this was the first time Suede have played the Hammersmith Apollo.  Judging by the rapturous applause from a hysterical sell-out crowd it certainly won’t be the last.  Brett mentioned that his wife was in the audience and that occasionally she’d ask him about his death.  “Scatter my ashes across London.  Hyde Park is nice SW2” came his reply.

The band steamed through a 24-song set interspersed nicely with new and old classics, my favourites being: Filmstar, Trash, Animal Nitrate, We Are the Pigs and The 2 of Us. I downloaded the new LP and was frantically listening to it on the tube to the gig so as to be familiar with the songs.  The songs were interesting, atmospheric and catchy (future indie rock classics – mark my words) from the off but I did struggle to hear them properly thanks to the noisy Central Line!  Thankfully Suede made them far more accessible!  Near the end of the set Brett tried something different – he sang with an acoustic guitar and no microphone.  With mobiles aloft the crowd now in silence listened and recorded the occasion – I’m sure YouTube will be inundated with the spectacle.  Whether or not he was heard at the back of he stalls or in the circle is anybody’s guess.

Suede Hammersmith Apollo Set List (click on link to view video)

  1. As One – (The Blue Hour, 2018)Suede - Hammersmith 18 Oct 2018
  2. Wastelands – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
  3. Outsiders – (Night Thoughts, 2016)
  4. We Are the Pigs – (Dog Man Star, 1994)
  5. So Young – (Suede, 1993)
  6. Heroine – (Dog Man Star, 1994)
  7. The Drowners – (Suede, 1993)
  8. He’s Dead – (Suede, 1993)
  9. Tides – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
  10. Roadkill – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
  11. Sabotage – (Blood Sports, 2013)
  12. Dolly – (Suede, 1993)
  13. It Starts and Ends with You – (Blood Sports, 2013)
  14. Filmstar – (Coming Up, 1996)
  15. Metal Mickey – (Suede, 1993)
  16. Trash – (Coming Up, 1996)
  17. Animal Nitrate – (Suede, 1993)
  18. Pantomime Horse – (Suede, 1993) Brett acoustic solo
  19. The 2 of Us – (Dog Man Star, 1994)Suede 2018 tour [12 Oct 2018] Hammersmith Apollo London
  20. The Invisibles – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
  21. Flytipping – (The Blue Hour, 2018)Encore:
  22. Beautiful Ones – (Coming Up, 1996)
  23. Life Is Golden – (The Blue Hour, 2018)

The encore began with a Cheshire cat grinning Brett saying “If you don’t know the words to this, I don’t know why you’re here!” before the band triumphantly launch into ‘Beautiful Ones’ followed by ‘Life is Golden’.

Brett is the consummate professional front man.  The audience with outstretched hands mauled Brett every time he forayed into the enthusiastic throng.  The show ended with Brett going stage right/left with fist clenched beating his heart and smile beaming. We love you too Brett!

He was as energetic as ever tonight enchanting the devoted audience, encouraging them to sing-along, clap, jump etc.  At 51, with that cheeky boyish grin, he has never looked better and is clearly loving every moment in the limelight.   Suede were Britpop outsiders in the nineties and still remain so except for their devoted fan base. Tremendous stuff lads, certainly not dying off with a whimper.

So, on a balmy mid-October night I left the venue to head back across London in 18° heat thinking what a treat it was to have seen Brett and Suede working the crowd into a lather.

Marko [14 October 2018]

Peter Hook & The Light – Camden Electric Ballroom [28 Sept 2018] Gig Review

I want to start off by saying it must have been a bloody good night as I was nursing a hangover all the next day!

I’ve seen New Order in the past and we all know their shows are pretty hit and miss (more of the latter actually).  It’s been so hard to recreate the studio sound live for them, but technology has moved on and with a laptop and some funky software all is now possible.  I’m so glad Hooky is flying the flag for classic New Order given that he and Bernard have been at loggerheads for some long now.  It’s kind of like the ultimate tribute band but with street cred.

The current line up consists primarily of his former Monaco band mates inc. his son Jack on bass.

  • Peter Hook – lead vocals, bass20180928_202355
  • Jack Bates – bass
  • Paul Kehoe – drums
  • David Potts – guitars
  • Martin Rebelski – keyboards/Apple Mac

This show was moved from the original venue Koko due to structural problems – aka the builders didn’t turn up/finish on time.  And so, it was for the very first time that I ended up at Camden’s Electric Ballroom for this sold out gig (apparently it was 39 years ago since Joy Division played there and at the end of the first set Hooky said “see you in another 39 years”).  The venue is actually pretty decent, much better than I expected – even the toilets were good!  Now it’s just as well I follow Hooky on Twitter because this is where he posted the gig start times – in this case 18:45.   So it was a bit tight on getting there, having a swift couple in the Worlds End (a proper R’n’R pub) and a bite to eat to get there just in time for the start.  The early start time obviously caught many punters out as the sold out 1500 crowd was only say 70% full when we got there and over the course of the next hour it ramped up to full capacity.  And what a strange mix of people, all diehard fans obviously.  Certainly cross-generational/gender appeal, but also a collection of what I’d describe as anoraks.

Hooky has enough classic materials from the JD/NO back catalogue as to not need the services of a support band.  Each set is interspersed with a short break, not because they need one but because it’s been recorded live and you can buy the triple CD immediately after the gig for £25.  This gives the merchandising team time to copy the master tapes using a huge bank of amassed CD burners and assemble them into the pre-printed packaging.  It’s like a cottage industry back there!  Great idea Hooky, gigging, signed memorabilia and custom live recordings sold at venues is where the money is made these days.

Hooky takes the stage in a great T-shirt with a “World of Emotion” slogan, get the pun? and launches into a short set of Joy Division ditties.  My pick was ‘Warsaw’ – raw and powerful.  The rest of the evening’s entertainment is brought to you courtesy of New Orders ‘Republic’ and ‘Technique’ played in full with no inter song chit chat.  A man of few words on the rare occasion he speaks the first thing he says is “Fuck you Bernard” 😊.  The Light are predominantly a guitar band but the electronica alt-disco of New Order shines through courtesy of the Apple Mac.  Hooky has taken over vocal duties and as such plays less bass, which is dealt with admirably by his son Jack.  It’s a bit like the old New Order days when Bernard couldn’t play guitar and sing at the same time.  He’s got all the lyrics to the songs printed off and next to him and frequently looks down for cues which doesn’t detract from viewing pleasure at all – let’s face it many songs are rarely if ever played so you ain’t gonna remember it word for word!  He takes over bass duties for many of the irresistible riffs he wrote, and the high frets he uses have certainly trademarked his bass playing into a lead instrument.

The only drawback in playing LPs in their entirety is the simple fact that bar a few ultimate classic releases there are always going to be a couple of filler tracks on any LP.  In my opinion ‘Love Less’, ‘Guilty Partner’, ‘Liar’ and ‘Avalanche’ fall into this bracket.  My personal highlights were ‘Vanishing Point’ and ‘Temptation’ – stunning.

The crowd were pretty entranced for the majority of the gig, taking it all in appreciatively. Peaks of audience energy popped up every time one of the better-known tracks was played.  They however really spontaneously combusted during the encore which started with ‘World in Motion’ and the classic sing-a-long line “We’re playing for England {In-ger-land}”.  The floor bobbed as one and everyone sang their hearts out. There was no stopping the crowd now, ‘Blue Monday, Temptation and Love Will Tear Us Apart’ were all sung with equal gusto and the from the balcony it looked like a writhing mass of heads bobbing in the ocean. So that’s finally it, the venue bouncing and Hooky triumphantly raises his guitar above his head to mass applause.  He takes off his sweaty t-shirt, unveiling a barrel-chested torso (that gym membership came in handy 😊), and tosses it into a rampant crowd.

Joy Division Set (18:45-19:05) – click on links to view videos on YouTube

  1. No Love Lost
  2. Warsaw
  3. Leaders of Men
  4. Digital
  5. Autosuggestion
  6. Transmission

Technique Set (19:17-20:00)

  1. Fine TimePeter Hook & the Light - Koko 29 Sept 2018.jpg
  2. All the Way
  3. Love Less
  4. Round & Round
  5. Guilty Partner
  6. Run
  7. Mr. Disco
  8. Vanishing Point
  9. Dream Attack

Republic Set (20:10-21:00)

  1. Regret
  2. World
  3. Ruined in a Day
  4. Spooky
  5. Everyone Everywhere
  6. Young Offender
  7. Liar
  8. ChemicalPeter Hook & the Light - Technique-Substance Poster 2018 tour
  9. Times Change
  10. Special
  11. Avalanche

Encore 21:05

  1. World in Motion
  2. Blue Monday
  3. Temptation
  4. Love Will Tear Us Apart

Hooky is certainly doing justice to his legacy, and of course finishing off with the classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ – what’s not to like!  Overall an excellent trip back to the 1980s, full of desolation and energy in equal measure. Peter Hook & the Light put on a fantastic show, I’d recommend to take the time to check them out as it’s well worth seeing.

Marko [30 September 2018]

Ps – what with the show finishing by 9:30ish there was plenty of time foe a few more beers – perhaps not the wisest of choices.

PPs- the only slight downside was the lighting rig was pretty mundane.

Review: Iron Maiden at London O2 Arena: Gig Review 11 August 2018

UFO’s classic ‘Doctor Doctor’ announces the band will be on imminently.  It’s all dark and Churchill’s June 1940 speech echo’s around the arena supplemented by big screen video of Spitfires in action in the Battle of Britain.  Then the Maiden guitar assault launches with a gobsmacking ‘Aces High’.  Bruce runs on and leaps over his camouflaged foldback speaker, resplendent in flying goggles, leather hat and pants.  Out of the rafters comes a 90% sized Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb replica that manoeuvres round the stage in mock combat.  What a spectacle!  The sold-out O2 went mental.

For the first 5 songs the stage is totally covered in camouflage netting, including Nicko stuck in his drum set alcove.  Are we going to see him?  Bruce only speaks twice, once after the first few songs to give us a stirring rendition of the sacrifices the young men of the RAF made during the Battle of Britain to give us our current freedoms and again at the end of the show to say thanks (see video link further in the piece) and drink some Trooper beer.  He mentions Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Göring thinking they were going to overrun the English easily – “well FUCK him” – queue great applause and much cheering!  “We have our freedom thanks to the brave men who fought in WW2”.

So, the first 5 songs are all to do with war and with each song appears a fascinating new curtain backdrop mostly featuring Eddie in one of his guises.  Bruce introduces ‘The Clansman’, a song about William Wallace (Braveheart) who “stood up to his oppressors” the English in this case.

Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 2018 UK tour

Generally, the sound was somewhat swirly and Bruce’s vocals were not to the fore of the mixing so often it was hard to catch the words – but hey, it was a spectacle and we all know the words off by heart anyway don’t we #Maiden!

Eventually Nicko appeared for ‘Revelations’ (some irony there I think!), well sort of appeared as he was hidden behind his huge multi-coloured kit which itself was indented within the speaker stack so you didn’t really see him at all.  Nor did he get much air time on the giant video screens, just as well he’s not paid on viewing time!!  We finally got to see him at the end of the gig when he threw in a few drum sticks and drum lids to the baying audience.

There are pyrotechnics galore, bursts of flame, firework sparkles, a hand-held flamethrower, vast models of Icarus and The Beast, Eddie the trooper mock fighting Bruce, a giant swinging noose, various costume changes (depicting the songs inc. a Dracula-style cape, Venetian mask and light, a large cross with bright lightbulbs that Bruce carried around the stage), gargoyles and a brightly coloured stained-glass chapel set covering all the speaker stacks and Nicko’s drum kit.  You had to really concentrate to keep up with everything going on.  Plus ever changing backdrop curtains.

Iron Maiden’s setlist at the O2 London 11 August 2018

Winston Churchill’s Speech

  1. Aces High [Powerslave, 1984]Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 11 Aug 2018
  2. Where Eagles Dare [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  3. 2 Minutes to Midnight [Powerslave, 1984]
  4. The Clansman [Virtual XI, 1998]
  5. The Trooper [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  6. Revelations [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  7. For the Greater Good of God [A Matter of Life and Death, 2006]
  8. The Wicker Man [Brave New World, 2000]
  9. Sign of the Cross [The X Factor, 1995]
  10. Flight of Icarus [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  11. Fear of the Dark [Fear of the Dark, 1992]
  12. The Number of the Beast [The Number of the Beast, 1982]
  13. Iron Maiden [Iron Maiden, 1980]Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 2018 UK dates

Encores

  1. The Evil That Men Do [Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988]
  2. Hallowed Be Thy Name [The Number of the Beast, 1982]
  3. Run to the Hills [The Number of the Beast, 1982]

Bruce end of gig speech

The Band

All three guitarists interlock on most songs, each having a quick bit in the spot light.  Janick Gers swings his guitar around his head and hop, skips and runs around the stage like a demented imp.  Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are more stationary and stay mostly stage right and do what they’ve been doing for 38+ years with immiserate skill and professionalism i.e. play great guitar licks and solos.  Steve Harris as usual is dressed in shorts and West Ham themed vest and guitar strap, in truth he plays better than them (couldn’t resist that Steve!!).  Steve and Nicko hold down the tempo on the rhythm section like their lives depended on it.  All told a bunch of musos at the top of their game and genre!  I bet it’s fun being in this band.

It’s all held together by Bruce’s omnipresent stage presence – surely one of the greatest front men of all time.  He’s just turned 60 and his hair is starting to grow longer once more since his cancer treatment.  Sweat-drenched early on he never stops running stage left/right/up/down all night.  Leaping jumping and shouting his trademark “scream for me [fill in your city here] London” he gets the devoted audience involved and singing along to the classics.  You can’t take your eyes off him and his theatrics, so it’s good that he disappears behind the set during the extended solos to give the rest of the band some admiration (plus he’s got to do the costume changes).

The Songs

60% of the songs are from 1980-4 and the rest singular ditties from a smattering of 1998-2006 LPs.  Classics and some rarely played songs.   ‘Where Eagles Dare’ has the backdrop of the famous cable car scene from the classic film of the same name.  Their mascot, Eddie, appears only once as a 12-foot cavalryman, sword fighting with Bruce during ‘The Trooper’.   On ‘Revelations’ and ‘For the Greater Good of God’ the stage transforms into a stained-glass chapel.  ‘Sign of the Cross’ ushers in monk chants and Bruce carrying a large cross around the stage dressed like Dracula.  During ‘The Flight of Icarus’ a huge winged figure straight out of Greek mythology appears at the back of the stage with Bruce having fun armed with his mic and a flamethrower in each hand (aka doing a Rammstein).  And when a red-eyed, horned satanic demon appears you got to know it’s going to be ‘The Number of the Beast’ as the band play inside a mocked-up Hades.

Iron Maiden seem to raise the bar every chance they get, and boy did they spend some money on this lavish extravaganza.  A giant swinging noose appears from the rigging during ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and the climax, ‘Run to the Hills’, goes out all guns blazing, lights galore and ends with Bruce detonating a massive TNT explosive.  And so endeth this brilliantly staged, two-hour rock show – a heavy metal opera of sorts.  It covers war, religion, hell and damnation (they must surely take on the 4 horsemen next!) all done in the best possible taste. This theatrical heavy metal show is a classic, it won’t be outdone – unless that is Maiden do it themselves – are you up for a challenge boys?

So, in my mind Maiden have totally out done any of their previous shows by pushing the boat out to the limit with this fantastic theatrical set.  It’s visually their most extravagant show by a country mile.  So, if Nigel Tufnel can get his amp knob to 11 (oh err missus)  then Maiden certainly ratcheted this gig up to 11 as well!

Marko [12 August 2018]

Ps – a massive thank you to AEG from whom I got free tickets for the gig.  They are a new client of my company and I cheekily asked if they had any spares 24 hours before the gig – you don’t ask you don’t get!! Two great seats waiting for me at reception.

PPs – they were supported by a band called Killswitch Engage.  Not for me, it sounded the same for every song and the only person that gets away with shouting on songs is alas no longer with us – RIP Chester Bennington.