A slight change of plan…

I sit here in a bit of a haze.

Right now I should be sat drinking a beer on Copacabana beach. Instead I am sat in my living room with no idea what to do with myself. Long story short I booked a holiday to see my favourite band, Pearl Jam, performing a concert in Rio De Janeiro tomorrow. Sadly bad weather and even worse luck brought my bucket list holiday grinding to an abrupt halt in Frankfurt.

I’m not the first person to have their holiday plans collapse and I am not writing this to complain about it. However, over the past couple of days I have had a lot of downtime to be stuck with only my own thoughts to occupy me. During that time it has became clear to me that I am somebody who thrives on keeping himself permanently distracted and as such my mind is a badly disorganised place in need of a serious tidy up. I’m also not saying that my thoughts are in any way unique or interesting to be worthy of publishing online and sharing with the world. My hope is that by writing things down in a manner that I am happy to present publicly it will help me to collate and clarify my own thought processes. In making this blog readable to all I am forcing myself to ensure I maintain a certain level of readability and hopefully can avoid descending into confusing rants as I am prone to do when I write anonymously and by hosting on a paid subscription site it will hopefully encourage me to continue to post updates (I tried something like this many years ago with different objectives but hosting on a free site I quickly lost interest in the project as other things drew my attention). It would also be great if this occasionally triggers some lively discussions, I am open to criticism and opposing opinions but lets try and keep things respectful, yeah?

I am under no illusions, I don’t foresee this becoming a widely read blog, chances are if you have found this page you are one of my small-ish circle of friends who have me on Facebook. I have no aspirations to become a writer and I am not trying to change lives here. But, I do take some comfort in the idea of potentially leaving something permanent online that if I should be struck by a bus in 6 months will leave something of me for people to read beyond the frankly inane crap I share on Facebook. If anything I write on here should cause somebody to discover a band they fall in love with or even just raise the occasional smile from anybody that happens across something I write then all the better.

If you have already read this far then thank you. If you should decide to come back in the future then let me give you an idea of some of the kind of content I hope to populate this page with:

  • Live Music – I mentioned earlier that I like to keep myself distracted and going to gigs is my primary way of doing that. Some of the best people I know I have met whilst following my favourite bands. I will attempt to post something (however brief) about every live gig I attend but please don’t expect proper reviews, I am a fan not a critic.
  • Fandom – When I find a TV show, film, book that I like I attempt to absorb everything about it. I can quote entire Simpsons episodes word-for-word, I can pick out the tiniest cannon plot holes in every Star Trek series and film and reel of obscure references from all kinds of media. I don’t say this to boast, I know its not impressive but it doesn’t mean its not fun! I sometimes worry that my persona is just a series of pop-culture references cobbled together.
  • Academia – I am currently in the process of writing a masters dissertation about the UKs live music venues and will be posting content relevant to that in order to experiment with ideas and hopefully develop a few new ones from any discussion that arises. One of my hopes for this blog is that it will make writing feel like less of a chore when I have to do it for academic purposes and that it will help me to further develop my writing style
  • The world – It is a ridiculous place and more and more I find myself feeling like I am living in The Place That Sends You Mad from “The Twelve Tasks of Asterix”. I am not planning on writing detailed analysis of world politics or current events (although I cannot promise they won’t occasionally be mentioned) but will occasionally talk about the things that confuse me about the world in an attempt to make some sense of them.

    Finally a few disclaimers:

  • I am a 30yr old white male and I admit to the privilege that I was born with. I consider myself to be liberal minded but sadly can only write from the perspective I have. I do not seek to offend anybody but if anything I say should appear insensitive please know it is simply a lack of understanding on my part and I welcome the chance to be enlightened (but please do it respectfully, its hard to sympathise with somebody else when they are calling you a dick no matter how right them may be)
  • I do not consider myself a skilled writer. I can spell and my grammar is generally ok (with a few bad habits) but I am an average typist, terrible proof reader and not a fan of my own prose. I hope that working on this blog will help me improve my writing skills.
  • I do ramble. As you can probably guess if you are still reading this. Anyone who has ever got into a text conversation with me will know that conciseness is not one of my strong points. Again this is something I hope to improve on as I write this blog.
  • This is a personal blog. Please don’t see it as anything more than a personal diary that I am allowing others to read. I am a fan of looking back through my old online posts and photos in the same way one might look at a family photo album or scrap book. If and when my memory starts to fail me hopefully this blog will allow me to revisit my not-so-glorious glory days
  • I welcome any comments or discussion but keep it civil. If I think you are trolling of just being a dick I might tell you so but chances are I will just delete your comments. I have neither the energy or the inclination to argue online. I welcome different opinions and its fine to tell me you disagree with me and why but let’s actually have a civil discussion about it.
  • If I am writing about people I know in real life I will attempt to keep it as anonymous as possible. I fully expect that anyone who reads my ramblings will have me on Facebook and as such will probably know some of the same people I do. I will try to respect everyones privacy and keep you all as anonymous as possible if I do mention you. First names or nicknames only or if its something a bit sensitive I will give you a pseudonym.
  • I don’t like the name of this blog. I wanted to call it “The Reeding Room” but it turns out that’s the name of a series of christian songs and audio books aimed at young children. I respect peoples faiths but consider myself an agnostic and would rather not have any confusion or crossover of interests there. If anyone can think of a better name I am open to suggestions.
  • I am still learning all the various tools and features of WordPress so probably safe to expect a few layout and style changes whilst I play around over the next few days and weeks.

Thank you for your patience thus far, hopefully you will find my forthcoming entries a bit more entertaining. For now if you didn’t get my Asterix reference earlier here is the scene I was referring to:



Top 10 gigs of the decade 2010s

On the final day of the decade I am looking back through my old top 10 gigs of the year lists to compile a top 10 of the past 10 years. What immediately struck me is that many of the gigs on this list were not necessarily my favourite gigs of their given year. They are however the ones that have most firmly lodged themselves in my memory for all the right reasons and have seen their status as my favourite gigs grow over time. Also if I just chose the number 1 gig from each of the past 10 years then over half the list would be made up of the annual Ginger Wildheart Birthday Bash gigs. I have made no attempt to order these from 1 to 10 because trying to do so would take me until 2029, so in no particular order…

The Wildhearts – Rock City, Nottingham 6/12/19
Sneaking in during the final month of the decade it would be understandable to credit this gig’s inclusion down to it being so fresh in the memory. It would also be wrong to do so. The Wildhearts are one of my absolute favourite bands, having seen them countless times since discovering them when I was 16 this was the absolute best gig I have ever seen them play. At more than one point during this show I had to take a step back, stop dancing and singing along and just take in the scene unfolding around me, a band hitting their absolute peak and in a room full of people all having the time of their lives.

Pearl Jam – First Direct Arena, Leeds, 6/8/14
I went to 4 gigs of this Pearl Jam European tour and 8 times in total this decade, any one of those gigs has a strong case for a place on this list. Leeds above the rest for a couple of reasons, firstly it was the longest. PJ sets are known for being looong, regularly clocking in at over 3 hours. This set was 36 songs long with the band playing on well after security had brought the houselights up and were checking their watches with increasing annoyance. It was also the smallest venue I have ever seen them play. Leeds arena is no club venue but Pearl Jam are a band that quickly sells out huge stadiums on every single tour they play so seeing them perform to what by their standards was a modest 13,000 people in a space designed specifically for music performances was a really special experiences.

Eureka Machines – The Parish, Huddersfield, 14/11/2015
Another band for whom I have seen many gigs over the past 10 years deserving of a place on this list. The keen eyed amongst you may have spotted the date of this gig as falling on the day after the Paris attacks which saw the murder of, amongst others, a large number of music fans at the Bataclan during an Eagles of Death Metal show. I and many other Eureka Machines fans had been in York enjoying the band’s excellent set at the Fulford arms that night and found out the still unfolding story as we were leaving at the end of the night. Arriving at The Parish the following night and nobody was really in the mood to be there. The news was depressing, the weather was shit, and we were all a bit hungover from the night before. Frankly it would have taken nothing less than a miraculous performance from the band that night to have us all grinning from ear to ear by the end. And that is exactly what we got. Completely life affirming, high energy, positivity from a band who already had a reputation for bringing the happy but who managed to raise the bar and then some that night.

Ginger Wildheart’s Birthday Bash – The Garage, London, 17/12/17
An annual gig that I have been attending every year since 2009 and one that held the #1 spot on my gigs of the year list from 2009-2014 and 2017 and made the top 10 list every year other than 2015 and 2019 (both years which the gig didn’t happen). Quite simply it is always a bloody brilliant night out. This one was particularly brilliant for a few reasons, foremost of those that it returned to the Highbury Garage after a few years at other venues including the much bigger Kentish Town Forum. The more intimate setting of The Garage allowed the gig to move back to it’s original sense of being a fun Wildhearts fans party rather than the more traditional style of gig which it had started to take on at the bigger venues it had been held in. This more intimate gig coupled with the absolutely excellent roster of guest musicians (a staple of the Birthday Bash gigs) and immense setlist already made this the Birthday Bash of all Birthday Bashes. However, it must not be overlooked that this was the Birthday Bash that almost didn’t happen. Ginger has spoken openly about his battles with depression, and it is not for me to rehash them here but earlier in 2017 had seen him come the close to losing that battle. To see him up on stage surrounded by friends and fans alike celebrating another year on this planet was a moment of magic for all Wildhearts fans.

Alice Cooper – O2 Apollo, Manchester, 30/10/11
The ultimate shock-rock showman performing at Halloween. Do I really need to say any more?

Star Trek Ultimate Voyage – Royal Festival Hall, London 23/6/17
I know what you are thinking and just… fuck off. This is my list and I bloody love Star Trek. Seriously though watching a full symphony orchestra playing the music of a sci-fi franchise I have loved for much longer than I have loved music was a more emotional experience that any I have had watching my favourite rock bands. I simultaneously had the biggest grin on my face whilst also shedding a tear or two, an absolutely wonderful experience. Don’t look at me like that, it does count as a gig.

The Idol Dead – Santiagos, Leeds, 17/11/18
This was the second night of The Idol Dead’s 2 night “Idol Decade” celebration. Sadly I was unable to attend the first night acoustic set but the full blown electric set the following night more than earned it’s spot on this list. I had recently completed my masters dissertation about the community spirit that surrounds live music and this gig encapsulated everything I had been trying to express (sadly too late for me to reference in my work). A group of friends crammed into a tiny room above a bar in Leeds some of which played a bloody brilliant gig for the rest of us. A definite “I was there” moment for fans of The Idol Dead. When the rest of the world finally wakes up and realises that this band deserves to be massive, this will be the gig all the newcomer fans will hear tales of, told hushed tones.

Black Sabbath – O2 Arena, Prague, 30/6/16
One of two shows I saw on “The End” farewell tour. I am not saying this was actually the best one, just the the only one I am in any way qualified to comment on (I *might* have got blackout drunk at the Manchester show). Quite simply, watching Tony Iommi perform was worth the price of admission alone. The man is coolness personified, looking like the most relaxed man in the world whilst making noises with his guitar that would tax a musician half his age and with a full set of fingers. With him on one side of the stage and Geezer Butler on the other you could put almost anybody on drums and vocals and still have a fantastic gig. As it turned out Ozzy was genuinely on form that night and Tommy Clufetos was (and is) simply a force of nature behind a drum kit.

Volbeat – Friends Arena, Stockholm, 9/9/17
Volbeat’s growth in popularity in the UK has been far from meteoric. This can be seen as a good thing in that we still get to see them playing small-medium sized venues in much close proximity than the enormo-domes they regularly perform to in mainland Europe. The drawback of this is that us British fans don’t get the full stage show experience that our European neighbours do. Finally getting to experience one of my favourite bands in all their overblown splendour in Stockholm was a special experience. A stage show to rival KISS, Iron Maiden and Rammstein (at least until those crazy Germans upped the ante with their huge stadium shows this summer) and some of the catchiest rock/metal songs of the past decade.

Ginger Wildheart – Roadhouse, Manchester, 1/11/14
I went to 3 of the 4 dates on this mini-tour and not only was this the best of the lot (I am reliably informed that the one I missed was the weakest of the tour), it was Ginger’s best ever solo gig – his words not mine. The always brilliant Eureka Machines opened the night – as a support band they are always near impossible to follow (again, Ginger’s words not mine) but the Ginger Wildheart band not only managed to follow them, they somehow blew them off the stage. This tour, and this gig in particular, was also the first time I met many of the wonderful people who I today have become known as my gig family.

My Top 10 Gigs of 2019

This year, as every year, I have compiled a list of the best of my favourite gigs of the past 12 months.

10) Fireball Fuelling The Fire Tour – Leeds, O2 Academy 20th September
Five ska bands for £15 including the brilliant Goldfinger and headlined by the always amazing Less Than Jake. Great fun at a great price

9) The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – York, Fulford Arms, 12th April
Comedy + rock music + steampunk = FUN! It’s always great to see a band having as much fun on stage as the crowd are. Bouncing around to songs about life in Victorian England and enjoying banter delivered with perfect comic timing made for a great night in one of my favourite little venues.

8) Tropical Contact – Huddersfield, The Parish, 28th Sept
The band that always brings the party returning for an actual birthday party at probably the best little venue in the country. Booze, bouncing and sing-alongs were the order of the day.

7) Ghost – Leeds, First Direct Arena, 23rd November
Ghost finally playing the massive venues their music deserves. The spectacle of their ever growing stage show managed to retain the wittiness and fun of their days playing smaller venues whilst allowing their music to be appreciated on the scale to which it has always been intended

6) Metallica – Paris, Stade De France, 12th May
I am not a big fan of stadium shows. Paying a small fortune to queue up 6 hours early and still be several miles away from the stage is not my idea of good value. That being said, some bands are simply too big to be playing the club circuit and if I want to see them I simply have to suck it up and pay big money for the big show. If I am honest this was not a gig I had big hopes for and was mainly using it as an excuse to have a weekend away in Paris (I always wanted to visit the catacombs). Given later developments which caused me to fall out with the band I fully expect this will be my last time attending a Metallica tour but what a way to leave things. 80,000 metal heads going absolutely mental to a band that despite their problems absolutely knows how to put on a show. Visually and audibly stunning with a setlist as great as can be expected for a band with such an extensive back catalogue who are touring a new album

5) Eureka Machines – London, The Borderlilne, 20th April
You know those gigs where you look around a room and see yourself surrounded by friends all having the time of their lives? This was one of those. This gig felt as much like a family re-union as anything. Of the countless times I have seen this band I have never see a crowd jump around to “Zero Hero” quite so hard as at the Borderline in April.

4) The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Manchester, Ritz, 27th June
A band that doesn’t get to the UK very often at all. This was the opening date of their first headline tour in over a decade and as such came with a great deal of anticipation which they more than lived up to. The bouncy dancefloor of the Ritz provided the perfect platform to enjoy some classic Ska-punk. The long wait to see this band live was absolutely worth it.

As a side note this gig also provided my biggest gig hangover of the year.

3) The Wildhearts – London, Brixton Electric, 9th May
This was a good year to be a Wildhearts fan. The first new album in 10 years and extensive touring allowed me to add several dates onto the already extensive list of times I have seen my favourite band. This was my second time seeing them in 2019 but the first time I got to see them play the utterly brilliant “Diagnosis”. The anticipation amongst the crowd as the intro to this one song gathered pace was incredible and the release of energy when the main riff kicked in and the fact it was sustained for the duration of the track was one of my favourite ever moments in live music.

2) Electric Six – York, The Crescent, 19th November
This one has come straight out of left field to take a surprisingly high spot in the list. A ticket I bought on a whim because the gig was round the corner from my house and I figured it would be fun to jump around to the couple of big hits they had when I was in high school. What I got was a gig that provided 90mins of pure showmanship and above all, absurd amounts of FUN. And ultimately isn’t fun the main thing we all want from live music?

1) The Wildhearts – Nottingham, Rock City, 6th December
The 30th anniversary celebration of my all time favourite band. I will openly admit that my fanboyism probably plays a key role in placing The Wildhearts at 1 and 3 on this list. However, as somebody who has been watching the Wildhearts for roughly half of their 30 years as a band I honestly believe this was the most musically accomplished performance I have witnessed from them in that time. To borrow a cliché from another band – This one went up to 11.

Honourable Mention: A Beautiful Day Out – Halifax, Piece Hall, 29th June
One of my absolute favourite days ever. It would not be fair to compare a mini-festival against individual gigs but there was no way I could complete this list without mentioning a day in which I got to see The Eureka Machines, Ferocious Dog, Therapy?, Terrorvision and The Levellers whilst in the company of a huge contingent of my gig friends. The single best day of 2019.

Coming Soon: My top 10 gigs of the decade.

Why I am done with Metallica

Last year I impulsively booked a ticket to see Metallica performing in Paris. I justified it to myself by telling myself that it’s pretty rare I actually attend major stadium shows these days (Most of the gigs I go to are in small dark clubs or medium sized concert venues with a max capacity of around 2000) and it had been almost a decade since I last saw Metallica in their own headline show rather than at a festival. The inclusion of the excellent Ghost as a support act just sweetened the deal.

After the show I told anyone who would listen how good the show was, that Metallica were in top form right now. Honestly, my appreciation of them as a band was at probably the highest point it had been since I first saw them live at Download Festival 2006.

This morning I woke up to the headline that the band has been found out for conspiring with Live Nation to pass an allocation of tickets directly to the resale market. Honestly, I am not even slightly surprised.

I have come to begrudgingly accept that many of the bigger artists I like are more of a business than a band these days. Like most music fans I will usually try and defend (or at least overlook) all but the most heinous acts of betrayal from my favourite bands. If I only followed bands that were perfect examples of fairness and virtue, or whom perfectly aligned with my own morale compass, my range of music choices would be very limited. However, it’s pretty hard to excuse shit like this. The band may not have had direct involvement in such business decisions, but they are still the ones getting rich(er) from it. Even if they are totally unaware of practices like this going on in their camp, that just shows how disconnected they have become from the reality that their fans face when trying to get hold of tickets.

In the past I have defended certain aspects of the highly controversial resale market, as I honestly believe that, when used ethically, it provides a valuable service that allows honest fans to not lose out when they find themselves unable to attend a show (I don’t know a single regular concert attendee who hasn’t needed to offload a spare ticket at some point). However, it was bad enough when ticketmaster were found to be selling tickets directly to their own resale service but for a band to be actively participating in such a practice is a whole other level of wrong.

Metallica showed their environmentally responsible side by eliminating single use plastic beer cups from their recent stadium tour and replacing them with souvenir re-useables. It’s a shame that they don’t also consider “…And tickets for all” to be an important part of their business strategy.

I really enjoyed attending Metallica’s recent stadium tour, but afterwards I felt that, honestly, I probably don’t have many of these huge shows left in me, the high cost, the mad scramble to get tickets, the queuing up several hours early and still being miles from the stage.I skipped Metallica’s previous round of Arena shows for precisely those reasons and from the moment I bought the ticket (from a primary source) I had a feeling this could well be the last Metallica ticket I ever buy. I kind of just felt it could be my final farewell to the band. Now I know it was. For me this is a final nail in the Metallica coffin.

Fuck ‘Em All.

Getting it Right First Time – 10 Great Debut Album Opening Tracks

First month of the year, first post of the year, let’s kick things off with some other notable firsts (Yes it’s a totally unoriginal theme for a list but trust me there are some great tracks coming up).

Whilst it is often a great debut single that really kick-starts a bands career and launches them into the public spotlight, for many music fans looking for jumping on point for an established band often a greatest hits album, their latest album or simply their top played tracks on Spotify/Youtube provide that route into the wider back catalogue. However, hopefully as the following list will demonstrate, often the best thing to do is go right back to the start.

Guns N’ Roses – “Welcome to the Jungle” from Appetite for Destruction (1987)
Ranked as their third most popular track, I would argue that Welcome to the Jungle is Guns N’ Roses most iconic track. Instantly recognisable. As the opening track to one of the biggest selling albums of all time, that has shifted twice as many copies as any other GNR album, it may be argued that the band owe their entire careers to this track.

Frank Turner – “The Real Damage” from Sleep is for the Week (2007)
Probably the most personal entry on this list. This was actually the first Frank Turner track I ever heard albeit in a live context. In summer 2010 Frank supported Green Day at Old Trafford Cricket Ground. His opening lyric “I Woke up on a sofa in an unfamiliar house…” echoed my own experiences that very morning. The song went goes on to tell the tale of a young man leading a hedonistic lifestyle beginning to question whether the “best years” of his life are being squandered in his pursuit of meaningless fun. Like much of Frank’s earlier work the lyrics get straight to the point with little room for creative imagery or metaphor. The first time I heard this song I was 23 years old with no real career plans and my only worry in life was how I was paying my next bar bill and as such the lyrics resonated with me more than almost any other song had at that point.

Linkin Park – “Papercut” from Hybrid Theory (2000)
After the sad death of Chester Bennington in 2017 it seemed almost every music fan in their early 30s revisited Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory” album but beyond the usual collective mourning that often follows the death of a famous musician it became a nostalgia fest. For those of us in our early teens when Hyrbid Theory launched it sounded like nothing we had previously heard. For so many of us this was not just the album that got us into alternative music, it was the album that got us into music full stop. This track was provided the gateway to a whole world of music.

Foo Fighters – “This is a Call” from Foo Fighter (1995)
Dave Grohl’s* first musical output since Nirvana… so no pressure then! I am not actually a big fan of Foo Fighter’s debut album. Ultimately this was a Grohl solo project with him providing all the recorded instrumental and vocal work single handed with 10 of the 12 tracks being adapted from demos recorded during Grohl’s time in Nirvana. The two that were not were the opening two tracks “This is a Call” and “I’ll stick Around” which to my ears are the two strongest tracks on the album both in terms of recording quality and in establishing what would go on to become Foo Fighters signature musical style.
*SIDE NOTE: Today is Dave Grohl’s 50th birthday!

Pearl Jam – “Once” from Ten (1991)
I feel there is a very strong case for Pearl Jam’s debut album “Ten” being the greatest debut album of all time due in part to the immense strength of its opening 6 tracks, all of which are amongst PJ’s all time strongest tracks. If I am honest “Once” is not my favourite PJ track and in fact probably would probably fall just outside my top 10 PJ tracks (but that is a fanboy list for another day) it is however still a fantastic track that demonstrates the amazing way in which PJ can transition between raw aggression and beautifully mellow and back again.

Velvet Revolver – “Sucker Train Blues” from Contraband (2004)
Slash’s second entry on the list, the dude just seems to have a knack for kicking off debut albums with a bang (“Ghost” the opening track from his first solo album is also fantastic). VR’s entire contraband album is immense and one of the few albums that even after several years I can still listen to in full without skipping tracks or cherry picking certain tracks for compilation playlists. Quite often when members of other big name bands form “supergroups” the resulting output is somewhat disappointing (I am looking at you Roadrunner United), however in this case Velvet Revolved smashed it out of the park by setting the bar high from the start with this energetic slice of dirty rock n roll.

King’s of Leon – “Red Morning Light” from Youth and Young Manhood (2003)
Anyone reading this who knows me personally has probably had to do a double take at seeing me putting a KoL track in one of my top 10 lists. I am not a KoL fan, in my opinion “Sex on Fire” is easily one of the most overplayed and overrated songs of all time. I feel they are a band that throughout their first 4 albums got steadily worse with each release until I just gave up on them. However that decline starts at a very high point with their debut album “Youth and Young Manhood” which starts with the brilliantly fun “Red Morning Light” which provides a wondefully manic piece of musicianship which provides such a stark contrast to the dirge they were releasing just 5 years later. A couple of months ago a colleague of mine asked me to play some Kings of Leon on the office sound system, I went for this album and, with them only being familiar with the newer material, from the opening track they refused to believe it was the same band they had seen on the BBC headlining Reading Festival.

Stone Sour – “Get Inside” from Stone Sour (2002)
I know I am in a minority when I say I prefer Stone Sour to Slipknot. To many hardcore fans Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor’s “other band” Stone Sour seem to be seen Slipknots poppier little brother sounding too mainstream to be considered “truly metal” (which is a ridiculous debate for another time). However Stone Sours origins actually go back further with demo material being recorded two years before the formation of Slipknot. Whilst Stone Sour took longer to get their debut album released I feel it was more than worth the wait. Get Inside allows Taylor to display a far greater range of his vocal talents in a single track that he generally gets the freedom to do with Slipknot. Most importantly this track establishes what Stone Sour all all about – not just a Slipknot side project but a damned good band in their own right who provide a more accessible listening experience (for better or worse) and a greater sense of fun that allows Taylor to put a bit more of his own charisma into the record.

The Rammones – “Blitzkrieg Bop” from Ramones (1976)
Is there a more iconic Rammones song? With 14 studio albums of varying quality to their name there really cannot be any other starting point with the Rammones than Blitzkrieg bop. Any music crowd you find yourself in if you shout “Hey Ho!” the reply will be “Lets Go!”. Not just one of the most iconic Rammones songs but one of the most important punk songs and one of the most recognisable songs of all time.

Motorhead – “Motorhead” from Motorhead (1977)
It takes a lot of balls to open your debut album with a track named after your band on a self titled album with lyrics that state “Motorhead, remember me now Motorhead, alright”. But this is fucking Lemmy we are talking about here. When a band introduces themselves to the stage like this could there have been any doubt they would become a staple of the world of rock music for the next four decades. Never has a flag been so firmly planted in the world of music.

They were Motorhead. They played rock n roll.

Other honourable mentions:
Led Zeppelin – “Good Times Bad Times”
Neck Deep – “Kick it”
The Offspring – “Jennifer Lost the War”
Machine Head – “Davidian”
Faith No More – “We Care A Lot”
Eureka Machines – “Scream Eureka”
The Wildhearts – “Greetings from Shitsville”
R.E.M – “Radio Free Europe”
Manic Street Preachers – “Slash n Burn”
Queen – “Keep Yourself Alive”
Cheap Trick – “Hot Love” – (Although technically their self titled debut album had both a “Side A” and a “Side 1” so it may be argued this is not a true opening track, however subsequent re-releases have established it as track 1)

My top 10 gigs of 2018

Last night I attended my final gig of 2018 and as such it’s time for me to look back at the gigs I have been to this year and come up with a top 10. The quantity and quality of gigs I have attended this year has made it possibly the toughest year to date to select a top 10 but after much thought this is what I have come up with…

10) Boss Caine – York, The Crescent
When I first moved to York I quickly became aware of Boss Caine who often appeared as the local support the touring acts that passed through the city. I quickly became a fan of his work but for a long time only ever managed to see him performing as a solo artist. This gig however was a launch party for his album “Loved By Trouble, Troubled By Love” finally allowed me to see him perform with a full band and it was an absolute revelation.

9) Hollywood Vampires – London, Wembley Arena
A gig I had no plans to attend until a few hours beforehand. I was initially sceptical about the whole premise of Hollywood Vampires as, in my experience, supergroups rarely live up to their billing and this supergroup on the surface seemed incredibly gimmicky. Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp playing cover versions of songs by deceased musicians. My main reasoning behind purchasing this ticket was for the support bands of The Damned and The Darkness and I genuinely feared that the Hollywood Vampires set would feel like a cringey cash-in and I am happy to admit I was very wrong. I did actually write a full review of this gig in an earlier post on this blog so please refer to that for full details but needless to say I had a fantastic time at this gig.

8) Volbeat – Manchester, The Ritz
One of my absolute favourite bands of the last decade. Last year I had the fortune to get to see them playing in mainland Europe where they have a far bigger following and perform with a huge stage production in massive arenas. In the UK they have not quite hit that same level but what their shows here lack in spectacle they make up for by allowing you to get up close and personal with a band which has really found its stride as a live act. Couple that with the super bouncy dancefloor or the Manchester Ritz and you have one of the most fun experiences you can have at a metal show.

7) Machine Head – Manchester, Academy 1
Probably the most important metal band of my teenage years and the band that really triggered my love of live music. Ove the years I drifted away from the band having seeing a few of their shows that didn’t really grab me the way they used to until eventually I started skipping their tours altogether. I wasn’t expecting much more than a nostalgia trip from this gig, seeing them at the same venue I did all those years ago with the same friend looking to re-live our youth. What I got was an absolute masterpiece of a metal show featuring the biggest mosh pits I had seen in years. It was announced not long after this gig that the band would be going their separate ways and if that was to be the last time I see Machine Head it was one hell of a way to bow out.

6) Manic Street Preachers – London, Royal Festival Hall
A gig I had not originally planned to attend as it clashed with the second of Pearl Jam’s two London gigs. However, the postponement of that show along with the incredible good fortune of getting the final three tickets for the Manics performing as part of Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival series of gigs at the Southbank Centre. The band were on fantastic form with newer tracks sitting in the setlist feeling like they were old classics.

5) Eureka Machines – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
This was a tough one to pick. This was the third night of a three show mini-tour of which I attended all three nights. The first two nights had stronger support bands but the third and final night was a the Brudenell Social Club which, as any Eureka’s fan will tell you, holds a symbolic place for us and seeing them perform there is always a special experience.

4) Pearl Jam – London, O2 Arena
I am specifically referring to the first of PJs two summer gigs in London. Whilst Eddie was struggling with a throat infection it allowed the band to do what they do best, taking a 20,000 strong crowd and making it feel as intimate as any small club gig. PJ crowds are usually good value for a sing-along but Eddies vocal struggles really allowed that to shine through on this night.

3) Ginger Wildheart’s Birthday Bash – London, Highbury Garage
An annual tradition that has held a permanent place in my annual top 10 gigs list for the past 8 years and has taken the top spot on all but two of those years. This year had probably the strongest set list of any year with several of my favourite lesser played tracks getting an outing and of course the now semi-customary appearance of one Mr Frank Turner. Any other year this gig would have taken the top spot and it is only down the immense strength of this years line-up of gigs that it has slipped down the rankings

2) Reel Big Fish/Less Than Jake – Manchester, The Ritz
A twin headline tour featuring two bands who I would happily go and see in their own individual tours (and have done many times) along with two great support bands in Suburban Legends and Zebrahead. Pure Ska-punk fun on that bouncy Ritz dancefloor again.

1) The Idol Dead – Leeds
Sadly due to a clash of gigs I was only able to attend the second night of the Idol Dead’s weekend long “Idol Decade” 10th anniversary celebrations. The first night being an intimate acoustic gig and the second the full-blown electric Idol Dead experience. Santiago’s in Leeds was probably the smallest venue I found myself in all year and it made for the perfect setting for the glorious chaos that ensued. A gig in which the audience and the band blended perfectly. It was at this gig I was celebrating passing my dissertation which focused on the communities that are born from live music and this gig encapsulated everything that my dissertation had been inspired by. On the off chance anybody involved in booking live music ever reads this list, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BOOK THE IDOL DEAD. They are one of the finest live acts around at the moment and deserve to be seen by as many people as possible.

Still alive

Just a quick update to say that despite lack of updates on here recently I am still alive and hope to be back writing again soon.

I completed my masters dissertation in September and have been enjoying some time off but I do have some pieces in the works.

2018 – The summer football DID come home

It hasn’t rained in weeks.

The government is collapsing

…and then it happened…

Football came home.

Yes, that’s right. It. Came. Home.

The original song by Badiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds never meant the World Cup was coming home. (Why would it? It was written for Euro 96). It referred to a nation regaining pride in a national team that had so often disappointed it and a tournament being hosted in the country that invented the modern game of football.

Whilst England may not have won the 2018 world cup we made it further than we ever expected. Only two England managers before Gareth Southgate had ever made an World Cup semi-final. More importantly when faith in the England national team was at an all time low the 2018 World Cup squad made us believe again. I get not everyone likes football and its easy to list a whole load of negatives about our national sport, from overpaid prima-donna players to hooliganism, football does not always have the best reputation. Whilst some fans haven’t helped the image of football by taking their celebrations too far on the whole watching England at this world cup has been a positive experience for a country very much in need uniting behind a source of communal pride right now. Anything that can have strangers singing and hugging in the street and make people proud of their country for reasons other than nationalistic bullshit cannot be all bad right? The trophy may not be coming back to England but our love of football and our national team is very much back. Football has come home.

Not to be “that guy” the stereotypical armchair fan who always knows exactly what his teams manager should do, but this summer we have watched a team of English players play with pride and professionalism for the first time in two decades. Key word – “Team”. I can only hope Southgate keeps this team together as long as possible. Our so called “golden generation” never once looked like a team, they were simply best XI English players that were available for any given tournament. Yes there were some world class players in that team but they always looked like eleven strangers for whom playing for their national team was not even the highlight of their career. This new England squad has shown more camaraderie over the past 6 games than the golden generation did in nearly a decade. Please Mr Southgate keep faith in them, all that matters is their England form and they should be picked on that basis, when the team starts getting filled with the Premier League flavours of the month the squad loses its consistency. Give this team four years more international experience and they could become a real force. Look at the German squad of 2010 for inspiration. They took a young inexperienced squad to the World Cup and made it to the semi finals. Four years later that squad with the same core of players became World Champions.

Unlike previous tournament exits, last nights result was not met with the usual anger towards the players and management but with respect and optimism. I was proud to find myself surrounded by people watching on the big screen at Spark: York applauding the players and singing “there’s only one Gareth Southgate”. The world cup might be over for this year but I am not ready for this good feeling around the national team to end just yet.

2018 – Football came home

2022 – The trophy came home?