Wednesday, 21 July 2010

[Spunge] with support from Orange - Birmingham O2 Academy 2 - 16/07/10

Well I am looking forward to tonight, tonight I get to see [Spunge] again, the last time I saw them was back in 2006 and they where on top form. Its just something about their catchy ska punk rhythms and honest silly lyrics that make this band stand out from the rest.

I arrive at the venue at what I thought was a decent time of seven forgetting that it was a Friday and that means early gig starts due to club nights. So after finding out they’ve changed to the bigger venue due to them selling out and a bit of faffing to get my photo pass I get up stairs just as the local support leave the stage, unfortunately I missed all their set and didn’t even get their name.

After a drink and a bit of a wait American band Orange come out on stage to a warm reception. Orange have been going for about 8 years or so with many American and Canadian tours under their belt. With this in mind it surprises me how they don’t really perform amazingly. They’re a pop punk style band which in places reminded me of early Greenday with they’re vocal harmonies and fast beats. Singer Joe Dexter has a good voice that sounds like a cross between Davey Havock and Johnny Rotten, which suit’s the music well. The performance has a few gimmicks and maybe if supporting a different band may have gone down well but even with their singer change half way through, the lights on the mic stand, the megaphone and their cover of Help by The Beatles they just don’t seem to impress the audience. They performed well but just not good enough to win over this crowd of people who are here for some ska punk action. They rap their set up to a nice round of applause and the odd shout of “Get off the stage” .

In the break I take the time to remember all the times I’ve seen [Spunge] in the past, I first saw them first 10 years ago in a leisure centre somewhere near Manchester, I had to travel almost 2 hours to get their and it was worth it they put on a great show and I was blown away with their live show. I’ve seen them about 5 or 6 more times since and every time I’ve been happy with the show. Since the last time I saw them they’ve lost a member due to personal reasons and have released another album and supported bands like the Drop Kick Murphy’s So I am anxious to see how they perform tonight.

The band come on stage to a warm reception from this big crowd of both old and young, ranging from 12 to 60 , which shows their huge appeal over the ages. They kick into “Roots” which goes down a storm and everyone is jumping and getting into the show. They play through a set which covers all 5 of their studio albums, with classics such as “Friend Called Fred” “Ego” and “Home Video”. The crowd are loving their ska punk style and are singing along to every word. Singer Alex Copeland has some good banter with the crowd joking “people say I remember seeing you years ago when I was a kid and now I’m 36” with the bassist Jarvis adding “people say to me are you not dead yet? I can’t believe your still alive!”. Alex and Jarvis continue the chit chat between songs with Jarvis seeming to get more mixed up with his remarks as the set carries on with Alex remarking “you may have noticed Jarv has had a drink tonight!”. The banter is a key part of the of the [Spunge] show as it relaxes the audience and gives them a short break before they get their skanking shoes back on for the next song. The set comes to an end with Kicking Pigeons and the band says good night and exit’s the stage to huge cheers and we think the night is over. But the crowd keep chanting “More, More, More!” and eventually [Spunge] re-appear and inform the crowd how they have time for one more but they haven’t played it in a while so they may be a bit rusty and with that they blast into a cover of “Oliver’s Army” which sounds as good as it did on cd so they had nothing to worry about. The song ends and the crowd disband all impressed with the show.

I thought they played a great set but there seemed to be something missing, I don’t know weather its my nostalgic feelings or weather it’s the fact their a man down but it wasn’t as good as their early gigs I remembered. But even though I wasn’t fully satisfied, I was still impressed that they are still going strong and their songs sound just as fresh as they did ten years ago. But at the end of the day the rest of the crowd loved them and walked away happy with what they’d come to see.

For more photos from the gig go to

Monday, 12 July 2010

Get Up Kids and Straight Lines - Birmingham O2 Academy 2 - 25-06-10

Tonight one of the godfathers of emo are playing in Birmingham and yet more people are queuing up outside for the Scissor Sisters. I can’t get my head around it, this band has influenced many great pop-punk and emo bands that emerged over the last ten years, Blink 182 and Fall Out Boy being just two of them, and yet it seems like they’ve been forgotten . I enquire t the ticket office as to how many tickets have been sold and I get the response of “80”. This is disheartening and as I enter a almost empty room I think I’m in for a quiet night here. But as the clock ticks on and it gets closer to Straight Lines taking the stage, out of no-where the room starts to fill up, its no-where near busting but at least we have an atmosphere now, with the cool kids at the bar and the young ones up front.

Straight Lines come out to a nice warm reception, it seems like they’ve got quiet a few fans here for them and why not they’re an up and coming band with the looks and a sound that will take them far. They kick into a few thumping punky numbers that sucks the crowd in. Guitarist James Pugh and bassist Todd Campbell thrash energetically around the stage thoroughly enjoying every minute they’re up there, it’s a shame singer Tom Jenkins has to stay in one place whilst he sings because it seems like he wants to break free from the mics restrictions and join his band mates in the fun. A few songs in the band slows it down with a nice melodic number ‘All My Friends Have Joined The Army’ that gets the crowd dancing and has a nice catchy chorus of “I’ve got places to go I’ve got people to see, I know what I’ll do I’ll fight for my country”. They pound through the rest of their set list with little talk in between tracks as they’ve got a job to do and they’re going to do it well and that’s to play some good tunes and leave the crowd wanting more! The set builds up to a big end with a beefy riff heavy 2 min instrumental which goes down a storm. Straight Lines have done well tonight and I reckon you should keep an eye out for them as I’m sure they’ll be headlining this venue themselves very soon but in the mean time you can catch them doing some support slots for Attack! Attack! in October.

The crowd wait around anxiously for the Get Up Kids to come on stage, its hard to believe that in 2005 they had broken up and things looked like that would be that. But in late 2008 they got back together and went on to play lots of sold out gigs, but even though the venue has filled up, its still nowhere from sell out and it’s a shame, as this band still have a lot to give and with the release of their new e.p. ’Simple Science’ I’m sure they can win over new fans and ignite the flames of old.

The lights go down the and the Get Up Kids come onto the stage one by one with guitarist Jim Suptic getting into the world cup spirit by wearing an England shirt with his name on the back, which gets some mighty cheers from the crowd. Without wasting any time they kick into they’re classic ‘Holiday’ followed by ‘I’m a Loner Dottie, A Rebel’ which sound as fresh as they did eleven years ago. Instantly the tone of the night is set up and that’s a good ole sing along , with the crowd singing every word and pumping fists into the air to add more depth to the lyrics they’ve grown to cherish over the years. The Get Up Kids, all though by now they should be The Get Up Young Adults are still as catchy and poppy as ever but somehow sounding gritty and powerful at the same time. They know how to take this crowd on a journey, with ambient keyboards and screeching guitars, they build the crowd up then lower them down with a good mix of fast and slow tunes which make the atmosphere electric. They banter well between songs and look so happy to be playing here tonight, they’ve mastered the art of live gigs over there extensive carrier and sound even better than they do recorded. There’s just something about them that’s awe inspiring, which is most definitely shown by the amount of bands they’ve inspired over the years.

They’re set lasts for well over an hour with them playing six songs from the seminal album ‘Something To Write Home About’ a huge mixture of songs from there other three albums whilst also including covers of ‘Beer For Breakfast’ and ‘Close To Me’ as well. Tonight was a treat, The Get up Kids blew everyone away, lets hope they stick around for years to come as they truly know how to satisfy a crowd.

For More Photos From The Gig go to

The Bronx - Coventry Kasbah - 24-06-2010

The Bronx have decided to play a few warm up gigs before they tear Glastonbury apart, and where have they decided to do it? Well in Coventry at the Kasbah, Obviously!

The venue was quiet when I arrived and I thought the people of Coventry might be missing out on what is set to be a great night of mariachi melodies and punk thrashing, but I was wrong and the room filled up and everyone was eagerly awaiting the first band.

Mariachi El Bronx took to the stage in there black and white mariachi outfits with quiet a lot of people not really knowing what was going on, hadn’t they heard? Its Mariachi time!! Playing soft rhythmic songs to an audience of punks shouldn’t go down well but for some reason it does. Mariachi El Bronx are the alter egos of The Bronx and all members plus a few extras play traditional Mexican music with seedy lyrics. They are the only band in the world to be doing this so it’s a real treat to hear something different and unexpected. They play through a good half hour set which includes most of there debut self titled album with singer Matt Caughthran giving some nice banter in between songs. At one point the tells the crowd “when we told people we where playing Coventry they said “why the f**k are you playing there” but were glad we did, you guys are mental!”.

I was always a bit unsure of Mariachi El Bronx, how can a punk rock band suddenly decide “I know we’ll play in a mariachi band as well!”. But after seeing them live I know its like peanut butter and jam sandwiches, you expect it to be the worst thing ever as they just don’t seem to compliment each other, but give it a go and I assure you, you’ll love it!

The slow part of the night is over its time for fast heavy stuff! Ghost Of A Thousand come on stage and rip it up with there fast angry beats that tear everyone a new one. This band knows how to put on a show, singer Tom Lacey can’t keep still and drills out his angst everywhere he can, one moment he’s onstage the next he’s leaning into the crowd and the next he’s actually in the pit with his mic in hand joining in on this ferocious show of pure musical passion. The rest of the band are much the same jumping and thrashing about living through there fast paced riot music. This band are defiantly one to watch, with festival appearances and a support slot with We Are The Ocean on their October tour you don’t have any excuses not to see this band!

The Bronx are the last band of the night and the crowd have been moved up a gear and are set to see one of California’s finest. The Bronx one by one come out onto the stage with Matt Caughtran last and wearing a USA football shirt which gets a few boos from the crowd, but this is only in jest as I’m sure people wouldn’t care if he came out burning a England flag as all they want in some good ole hardcore and that’s what they’re going to get! They scream into their first song with pure unadulterated energy, its like they haven’t already been out on stage that evening as they are now The Bronx and they are taking no prisoners.

They play through a set off old and new with songs like “They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)“ and “White Guilt” which all go down a storm . With the crowd now pumped they are all singing along to every song and moshing like only nodding dogs normally do. The Bronx show no sign of fading even though they’ve been touring constantly for months and have already played that evening. The crowd surfers are picking up and the stage lights are in fear of being ripped of as people go over but still they continue. Matt decides to join the crowd and jumps over the barrier into the pit where he walks all over the venue screaming his heart out.

The gig comes to an end and everyone walks away with a warm satisfying feeling. They have been taken on a journey tonight, one which only the almighty Bronx can take them on and everyone is happy that they went along.

For more photos from the gig, go to;

Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Birmingham Hare And Hounds - 02-06-2010

A nice summer evening in Birmingham, most would be happy to chill out in the warmth with a nice cool beer but not the people here at the Hare & Hounds they want a night of dark moist psycho rock and with the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster playing they are not going to be disappointed!

Arriving at the Hare & Hounds, I made my way through the downstairs bar and wandered upstairs to the venue, a dark room with a nice little set up packed full of people eagerly waiting to see the show. Unfortunately there is a bit of a wait due to the local support being held up en route, but instead of carrying on without them the bands where pushed back and I’m glad they where as ‘Black Fangs’ where immense. Although they had no time to do a proper sound check they sounded very tight and their catchy upbeat songs where a great way to start the night. The crowd warmed to them but they wanted something darker and more exhilarating….

This came in the form of Bad For Lazarus, the lights dimmed and a figure appeared on stage with a deep voice telling us how “this band has come to bring you back from the dead” just like Jesus brought Lazarus back in the bible. Now if you think this band are biblical then you’d be dead wrong, they are everything but. The band take to the stage the lights raise and this motley crew of psycho punks explode into a frenzy of heavy thrashing noise. The band jump around as if the stage was on fire in a frenzy of pure musical emotion. If you thought punk was dead, then you’d be wrong because Bad For Lazarus are bring the spirit and the attitude back!

Eighties Matchbox have a lot of work to do if they are going to top the last performance and unfortunately they don’t start of the best. Guy Mcknight is having a hard time getting into things as his mic isn’t performing and he and the crowd are finding it hard to hear him. Guy stays mainly still throughout with his fingers in his ears so he can hear himself sing, this may not look the best but it does mean everyone gets the full effect of his powerful vocals, although most of the crowd are singing along with him throughout even if they’re set is mainly filled with songs of their new album ‘Blood and Fire’.

Halfway through the set the band seem to come alive and get into things, thrashing around the stage and playing their music with a passion. They blast out two classics from their first album ‘Chicken’ and the deeply hypnotic ‘Psychosis Safari’ which puts everyone into a frenzy. They continue to build on this energy with little communication between songs and just pound out song after song.

Guitarists Dominic Knight and Tristan McLenahan decide jump off stage and play their last song in the crowd who jump and mosh along with them as if they’ve been told “Mosh or Die”. The band get back on stage and bring their set to a close by smashing there instruments to the floor and leaving the feedback to resonate throughout the room as everyone gets their senses back and leaves the hot sweaty room and out into the night.

Eighties Matchbox may have had a number of line up changes throughout their many years as a band but finally with the release of ‘Blood and Fire’ almost six years after their last album it seems like they have found themselves again and hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.