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Thursday, 26 May 2016

KISS Rocks Vegas, 25/05/16 Kilmarnock Odeon

For one night only, in cinemas globally, you wanted the best, and you got the best.

KISS have carved themselves a legendary reputation in the world of rock, and when they pull out all the stops it is easy to see why.
Their bombastic larger than life theatrics coupled with bona fide classics of the genre set them up as gods of a self made reality.

Simply put, no one does it like KISS.

Some would claim that Alice Cooper does it better, but Alice, while equally larger than life, is more theatre in the true sense, a story teller of dark twisted tales, while KISS are the undisputed heavyweight champions of circus rock and roll.
They deal in unsubtle spectacle.
Scratch the surface and there isn't another layer that can be peeled back to reveal yet another.
It's just KISS, KISS, and more KISS.

And if you can't get to a show then the big screen, as opposed to a DVD/blueray release, is the next best thing.
What the band deal in effortlessly lends itself to the cinema.
It's big, it's loud and if it was in 3D Gene could lick they sweat from your brow.
In fact I think he tried, and nearly succeeded, even within the 2D format.

Paul Stanley has been on the receiving end of some criticism of his voice recently, with even hard-core fans mouthing concerns that he just can't hit the notes anymore, but he powers through the set in Vegas, and it's doubtful anyone will be complaining about his performance this time out.

As a more old school fan of the band Detroit Rock City, Love Gun and Tears are Falling impressed, but the segue into The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again' in the middle of Lick it Up brought a smile to my lips, and the Led Zeppelin vocal outro turned that into a grin.

Elsewhere Eric Singer does a sterling job on Black Diamond, and Tommy Thayer carries the lead guitar sound throughout with enough style that rumours of a return of Ace Frehley should probably just be put to bed, as while he will always be the original Spaceman it is doubtful he could really give Tommy a run for his money.

Over all, as a one off event, this will most certainly do the business for KISS fans, and undoubtedly serve to fill their tanks to tide them over until the band revisit these shores, and if you missed it, well KISS never miss a money making trick and a release will probably see the light of day in one form or another, but unless you have a home cinema the size of a traditional one it really isn't going to be the same experience.

And yet I suspect it still won't disappoint.

A different night of rock and roll, but still satisfying.

This review will also be featured on the New Hellfire Clubs site.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Fireball – Fuelling the fire tour. Featuring Less than Jake, The Skints, Mariachi El Bronx (Glasgow Academy)

It is hard to believe that Less than Jake are creeping up on being twenty five years old.

When said out loud he next words on the lips as a response is usually something about where has all the time gone?

It slipped away when we weren’t looking is the answer.

They will be moving out and getting their own place soon as we tearfully wave goodbye and then joke that they will be back with their laundry to be done next week.

Pop punk and ska punk has most definitely come of age.

But while the summer sun, the skateboards, the flipback caps and three quarter length board shorts may be a distant memory for most - and currently the stuff of fashion house irony reboots - the music of the ska-punk bands such as Less than Jake is evergreen.

Slip the needle in the groove, hit play and let the laser pick up the tracks on the CD, or listen to them on your branded mp3 player, and a smile will creep onto your face.

Tired muscles that haven’t had a work out for a while will twitch into action and for a moment you will feel the heat of that sun warming you as the songs start to trigger memories.

Half a song in and the twitching muscles will have reached your legs and the foot tapping, if left unchecked, can lead to a little go at some skanking, but only if no one is looking as the dance like no one is watching meme that proliferates on social media usually results in random strangers laughing at you as the best case scenario, and being sectioned as the worst.

Fear not though.

Instead of making a fool of yourself skanking out of Central Station in Glasgow oblivious to the masses laughing at you there is another option available.
If you can just hold that urge down for a little longer then you can visit the Academy on Oct 9th where you can dance your legs off with the aerobic work out of a lifetime as the guys hit our glorious city as part of the Fireball – Fuelling the fire tour.

Even better news is that it’s not just a smorgasbord of ska punk that is on the bill, but playing alongside them are The Skints, and a personal favourite of mine, the side project of The Bronx, that are the magnificent Mariachi El Bronx.

What more could anyone want?

An austerity busting ticket price would be nice I suppose.

And guess what?

It bloody well is too.

With the tickets set at the price of ten pounds it’s difficult not to lay a bet on this being a sold out event.

Someone, somewhere, has lost the plot when deciding on how much to charge, but best not to focus on that and instead just get the word out and turn the venue into a heaving mass of a celebration of some great strands of punk rock in all its glory.


Busted - Glasgow Hydro - 14/05/16

I've been to the year two thousand and sixteen.
Not much has changed but we look a little older.

And in some ways it’s true, but in others that’s not the case at all.

Busted are back, and while it would be easy to cast a jaundiced eye over the reformation to fit with the stereotype of the older -, but still trying to be hip - curmudgeon music fan looking down my nose at the teenybopper icons, I just can’t find it in my heart to do so.


Well to put it in very simple terms there’s not a lot that anyone could comfortably hang a critique on.

A claim of not liking what they are doing is the airing of a subjective view, but to say they aren’t cutting it musically, or in the delivery of their material, would be a downright lie.

From the Blade Runner styled reboot of the Pink Floyd pig balloon floating past, to the darker dystopian angle on the animal farm pig masks that nudged the playful ‘pigs can fly’ tour title out of the frame, the band have stepped up and coloured their brand with much darker adult tones that eases visually towards Roger Waters territory.

The new music doesn’t reflect that, but it is far more introspective and mature as it veers into the adult orientated niche that the Goo Goo Dolls have such a firm grip on.

That tiny step musically does however make sense, as to go away as Busted, the teen dream scream of yesteryear, and come back reflecting all the ugliness of adult life without a slicker veneer would be career suicide.
So instead the visuals are a little ahead and the music is still transitioning, while the over all impression given is that they know exactly what they are doing.

Listen to new single ‘I’m Coming Home*’ next to ‘Crashed the Wedding’ and there’s nothing to link them, but with a careful eye on the running order of the hits and newbies the band avoid any jarring clashes, and there is arguable not even a hint of a dip in the crowds reaction as they lap up everything thrown at them.

Busted literally have this nailed down.

The crowd is of course still largely made up of young women.
The preteens and teens of over a decade ago, - yes over a decade ago – and they are still enthralled by Matt, James and Charlie, but the hyper response that they keyed into has now been tempered by their own maturity and they are ready to be taken by the hand and guided towards the reality that will be Busted 2.0.

This changing gears career wise from a band that’s core audience is largely young and female into something that has a wider demographic appeal has proven to be far too difficult a stumbling block for so many others, and only time will tell if Busted can do it, but all the pieces are most certainly in place and if they fail to secure a second bite of the apple then there can be no blame laid at their feet as it will be more a case of wrong place and wrong time rather than a reflection on their efforts.

On leaving the cavernous Hydro there was only one thought that reared up in my head, and that was ‘well that just kicked the awful taste of McBusted doing that truly fuckin offensively pop punk by numbers abortion of a track ‘Air Guitar’ out of everyone’s mouth.’

Not a bad thing really.

*On listening to the electronica version from the studio it fails to come close to the guitar driven live rendition.