The Best Gigs I’ve Ever Been To:

5) Queen + Paul Rodgers – Hyde Park, London (15th July 2005)

It’s not like Queen to do things by half. This concert was no exception. Having been postponed due to the London bombings a week earlier, this show became a poignant tribute to the victims of those terrible attacks. The show took place under a glorious, blue sky and a warm blanket of Summer heat; the perfect conditions for a show of epic proportions. ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ opened the two hour setlist, which featured all of Queen’s greatest hits and a few gems from Paul Rodgers’ extensive back catologue. It’s true that Paul is no Freddie, but he’s not trying to be. Rodgers’ gravily blues vocals takes the familiar Queen sound to a whole other level.

4) Paul McCartney – Millenium Stadium, Cardiff (26th June 2010)

Seeing a Beatle in the flesh is certainly surreal. Looking up at a man who belonged to that group of four lads is quite momentous. McCartney is at such a level within the music industry that he gets a standing ovation just for walking on to the stage. Quite rightly to. The man has given the world some of the most iconic and time resistant songs of all time. Where would the music industry be without Macca? Part of Paul’s ‘Up and Coming Tour’, this show is a magical mystery tour through McCartney’s work with Wings, his solo material and, of course, the music he gave to The Beatles. The show opens with the Wings classic ‘Jet’ and doesn’t stop for three whole hours! They’re all in there; from ‘Let It Be’ to ‘Live and Let Die’ and from ‘Hey Jude’ to ‘Band on the Run’. Paul McCartney delivers!

3) Duff McKagan’s Loaded – 02 Academy, Bristol (14th September 2008)

It doesn’t get much more intimate than this. With a crowd which is about only 150 people strong, this show could be classed as the definition of ‘up-close-and-personal’. Standing so close to the stage that you can hear the plectrums striking the strings is a totally amazing feeling. At some gigs, you have to watch the band perform through a giant screen at the side of the stage; at this show, you make eye contact with the band. The band, Loaded, are a relatively unknown unit. However, frontman Duff McKagan is what draws the crowds in, his history in Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver speaks for itself. And these histories are explored and put on display during the course of the show. A gig which leaves a ringing in your ear five days after the last song is a gig to be remembered!

2) Velvet Revolver – 02 Academy – Birmingham (23rd March 2008)

Hot and sweaty is how rock n’ roll of this calibre should be served. It should be noted that the academy in Birmingham is not a particularly large venue. And when 3000 rock fans are squeezed into every single crevice of the place; space is a luxury that you don’t have. It’s not one for people with sensitive toes, perhaps steel capped boots should’ve been handed out? When the lights dimmed, the mayhem began. A gigantic surge towards the stage saw only the fittest stay upright; the weaker members of the audience fell straight to the floor. Velvet Revolver is a band that know how to do rock n’ roll better than any of their peers. From the opening chord to the last crash cymbal, the volume was constantly set at eleven. This was not a gig for the faint hearted!

1) Guns N’ Roses – LG Arena – Birmingham (17th October 2010)

It’s ironic that Guns N’ Roses have a song called ‘Patience’…because that’s exactly what you need for one of their shows. The gig was advertised to start at 8.45pm, however Axl didn’t grace the crowd with his presence until way past 10pm. The more negative members of the 17,000 strong crowd took this as an opportunity to boo and chant. But when ‘holier-than-thou’ Axl Rose does take to the stage; it’s a moment you know you’ll remember. There’s something about him, perhaps it’s the whole ‘will he/won’t he’ aspect of him, but whatever that something is; it’s something powerful. Axl takes the crowd through Guns N’ Roses’ back-catologue with total angst and aggression. His trademark scream and snake-hip dances are still as powerful as ever. With pyrotechnics that could rival Sydney’s Harbour Bridge on New Year’s Eve, the show goes off with something of a bang!

From The Mind of Liam Gallagher:

He’s one of the wittiest people on the planet. The ultimate lad. Everyone’s favourite Mancunian and everyone’s favourite new-wave philosopher. Here’s some of Liam’s best lines…(please excuse Liam’s bad language)

• “I suppose I do get sad, but not for too long. I just look in the mirror and go, ‘What a good-looking fuck you are.’”

•  “You know them shoes that just come out at you like a fucking snooker cue?! It’s like, ‘Leave it out, man! You got a license for them bastards or what?’”

• “Americans want grungy people stabbing themselves in the head onstage. They get a bright bunch like us, with deodorant on, they don’t get it.”

• “I am a tender, beautiful and loving guy that happens to slap a photographer now and then because they get in my way.”

• “I’d like to hang Robbie Williams onstage. What’s he done to me this time? Nothing. He’s just somebody I’d like to hang.”

• “I don’t hate Coldplay, I don’t wish they had accidents. I think their fans are boring and ugly and don’t look like they’re having a good time.”

• “The world is crying out for a great rock’n’roll band. It has been for ages, man. That’s why the time is right for Beady Eye.”

• “La Roux?…No way, mate. She’s got man hands.”

• “Chris Martin looks like a geography teacher. What’s all that with writing messages about Free Trade? If he wants to write things down I’ll give him a pen and a pad of paper. Bunch of students.”

Musical Myths: Don’t Believe The Truth

We’ve all heard stories and anecdotes about our favourite artists, but how many of them are actually true?  Did Paul McCartney really die? Is Lady Gaga a ‘bit of both’? Who knows! Now lets seperate the fact from the fiction….

True:

1) Ozzy Osbourne Bit The Head Off a Bat: Ozzy did bite a live bat once when he was on stage. He thought the bat was a prop and actually made of rubber. Ozzy had to have treatment for rabies due to the bat biting back!

2) Led Zeppelin Inserted a Shark Into a Female Groupie?: In 1969, the band’s manager entertained the band by tying a female groupie to a bed and then inserting a red snapper (not exactly a shark) into the girl’s vagina.

3) Sid Vicious’ Ashes Were Spilt at Heathrow Airport: Apparently, this is true. On returning from America, Sid’s mother spilt her son’s urn in the baggage reclaim section at Heathrow Airport. People still believe that Sid is travelling around Heathrow’s air-conditioning system to this very day.

False:

1) Gene Simmons Has a Cow’s Tongue In His Mouth: This is totally false. Although the Kiss frontman has an abnormally large tongue, it is seven inches long, it is in fact all his own. It should be noted that a cow’s tongue looks nothing like that of a human tongue.

2) Paul is Dead: Despite all of the cryptic clues and messages that Beatles fans seem to find, Paul McCartney is alive and well. Paul McCartney was not replaced by a look-a-like or a sound-a-like. The rumour started in 1969 when McCartney decided to step out of the public eye and decided to stop giving interviews after doing 10 years of press for The Beatles.

3) Charles Manson Auditioned for The Monkees: Charles Manson, the psychopath, was locked away behind bars when auditions for America’s answer to The Beatles took place. Also, at age thirty, Charlie was nine years to old to audition for the new band.

Album Review: The Taking – Duff McKagan’s Loaded

“We are the Kings of Tragedy” is what Duff McKagan spits out in the opening song, Lords of Abaddon. And he couldn’t be more right. With albums under their belt titled Dark Days and Sick, Loaded are a band with a constant dark shadow hanging over them. The band’s latest offering, The Taking, is certainly no exception.

Despite the melancholic feel, the album is a total gem. It’s text-book rock n’ roll and it’s done to perfection. The Taking opens with an explosion of fierce guitars and sneering vocals. But the thing that hits you the most is…the drums. Isaac Carpenter is the man responsible for these ferocious beats. They’re excessively loud, excessively in-your-face and will have your ears screaming for mercy.

We Win is the track that stands out as an anthem. It’s that stereotypical ‘fists-in-the-air’ and ‘sing-your-heart-out’ style tune; reminiscent of Queen’s classic We Will Rock You. And that is exactly why ESPN chose the track as the song to use on their coverage of the Major League Baseball.

The doom and gloom lifts as the album reaches its middle; Indian Summer acts as your lemon sorbet. A palate cleanser. A quick break from the masses of hard-edged rock that has preceded it. The warm lyrics and infectious chorus paves the way for a great piece of rock n’ roll; one of the stand out tracks on the album.

The album draws to a close in much the same way as it started; with intense brutality. The final four songs;  King of the World, Cocaine, Your Name and Follow Me to Hell come together to create an enormous powerhouse of rock n’ roll energy. A quartet of solid tunes and a fantastic end to a truly unforgettable album.

Duff McKagan has been responsible for some of the world’s most famous rock albums in his previous bands;  Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver. It’s safe to say that this record is able to stand quite solidly next to the Appetite for Destruction’s and Contraband’s of the music world.

Click here to view the video for Dead Skin.

What’s Been Playing on my iPod Today:

1) Alice Cooper – Poison (Trash)

Possibly Alice Cooper’s most popular track, after the cringe-worthy ‘School’s Out’. Co-written with Desmond Child who has helped to pen top hits for numerous 80’s hair-metal groups such as Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. This song is Alice’s most successful in the UK to date; peaking at number two in the Top 40 in 1989. In 2010, Nicole Scherzinger released a track which also carried the title ‘Poison’. Earlier in the year, Cooper and Scherzinger both collaborated on the track ‘Baby Can’t Drive’ for Slash’s debut solo album.

2) The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – The Golden Age (Fruit)

This song is from one of Denmark’s newest exports. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour have been on the circuit for a couple of years now and have supported artists such as Amy Winehouse  and Katy Perry on her UK tour. The group’s popularity grew when their debut single ‘Around the Bend’ was featured in the television advert for the Apple iPod Touch. This funky track captures the perfect pop melody and mixes it with Mette’s very unique and distinct vocals; a perfect summer tune. This song can recently be heard on the latest advert for Heineken beer.

3) Back of the Van – Ladyhawke (Ladyhawke)

Pip Brown, aka Ladyhawke, takes us on a trip back to the 80’s with her fantastic debut album. Synths galore! You’d be forgiven for thinking that young Pip had sampled a backing track from Soft Cell or the Eurythmics on this one. It’s killer beat and broken guitar lick pulls you in and by the time you’ve heard her sing “…you set me on fire” for the 16th time, you’ll be totally hooked. I thoroughly recommend Ladyhawke’s album for anyone who enjoys a little bit of sophisticated electro pop to accompany their car journey on a hot summer’s day.

4) You’ve Got a Friend in Me – Randy Nelson (Toy Story OST)

Now, come on. Everybody loves Disney songs. And if they don’t then they’re lying through their teeth. This is my personal favourite song from any film that Disney has ever made, beating the likes of ‘The Beautiful Briny’ from ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’! Can you really imagine Toy Story without this amazing theme song? It just wouldn’t be the same. And I’m sure that I’m not alone on this one. Perhaps the most feel-good tune that has ever been writted, God bless Randy Nelson.

5) Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here)

As someone who has never quite ‘got it’ when it comes to Pink Floyd, this song is quite simply beautiful. A gorgeous acoustic guitar riff blends charmingly with Roger Waters’ heartfelt lyrics. Some people have said that the lyrics of this song refer to the band’s former guitarist Syd Barrett who was dismissed from the group after his heavy drug use;  in particular, the hallucogenic drug LSD.

How to Start a Rock n’ Roll Band


It doesn’t take a genius to realise that there is an alarming lack of real rock bands in the 21st Century. The charts are now dominated by computer-generated, lifeless, soulless pop music. When was the last time that a song with a striking guitar riff was at Number One? I don’t know, I can’t even remember that far back! Of course, there have been a few breakaways. Kasabian and Kaiser Chiefs came close but even they have fizzled out in recent years. The world is in decline; there’s a serious rock n’ roll deficiency and something needs to be done about it. Just look at the mess the British economy. Although they’re not totally linked, try and tell me that things wouldn’t be different if George Osborne was playing a bit more thrash metal (or any other sub-genre) on his iPod. I have taken it upon myself to tell anyone who reads this blog how to create not just any band, but the greatest rock n’ roll band ever!

Firstly, you need to get your look. Goth is not a good look. Neither is emo, skater, punk, stoner or hippy. Rock n’ rollers have a unique look. It’s the kind of image that loo

ks totally natural, but in reality takes a hell of a lot of effort to get just right. Let’s take Mark Ronson for example. Before he dyed his hair that stupid platinum blonde colour, Mark was one of the snappiest looking chaps in the music industry and his image came through in his music. Getting the right look is vital. Here’s the checklist: Converse All-stars (black or white), get yourself some skinny jeans (but not too skinny, you don’t want to end up with drainpipes), grab a retro t-shirt (but not the sort of tops that clones like Fearne Cotton wear to look ‘alternative’. You don’t want to look like you’ve been dragged through Topman.Stay clear of Guns N’ Roses tshirts and tops with the Rolling Stones tongue logo. Be original, get a vintage CBGB’s tshirt) and finally pick up a pair of decent shades. Almost done. Now, just because this is rock n’ roll territory that doesn’t mean you have to grow your hair stupidly long. You don’t want to end up like one of the monkeys from Kings of Leon. Here’s a tip…hair like a teenage John Lennon is very cool. Hair like Keith from The Prodigy isn’t.

Right, your look is complete. And if you’ve followed those steps, you’ve got the perfect image. Next you need to find your right-hand men. You need your band mates. Try looking for them in the usual hot-spots: gigs, music shops and busking on the Underground. Your perfect bandmate could very well be just around the corner from you. Let’s not forget, Mick and Keith stumbled into one another on a rainy day at a train station and consequently struck up a conversation about Jagger’s record collection! Sometimes it’s just that easy. But don’t worry if you haven’t bumped into a rolling stone just yet. Round up your pals and tell them that they’re lucky enough to have earned a place in your band. Do the next step quickly, assign roles to each of the members. Having trouble doing this? It’s easy. The fat one belongs on the drums. The tall, skinny chap is destined for the bass. The weird one…you know, the one that you’re not quite sure why you chose him…goes on the keyboards. And the wild one, the one with that something special…give him the electric guitar! Oh, and reserve the microphone for yourself.

The next step on the path to becoming bigger than Jesus Christ is perhaps the most difficult and, perhaps, the most dangerous. You need to think of a name for your group. The name of the band is so much more than just a label used to describe five musicians. It’s what people will talk about years after you’re gone. It’s what’ll appear on the tickets to every one of your shows. So think carefully, choosing a name is difficult process. Don’t  go with the first idea that comes out of your head. Just imagine if some of the greats had made their first idea the final name for the band. Instead of Queen, you’d have Smile. Instead of The Beatles, you’d have The Quarrymen. Instead of The Who, you’d have The Detours. Instead of Oasis, you’d have The Rain. You get my point. Think long and hard about it. Make it memorable; something that people won’t forget in a hurry. You don’t want to be stuck with a name like Noah and the Whale, now that’s an awful one. Here’s a few pointers, a name like ‘The Coffin Polishers’ is a massive no no. People don’t want to listen to a band with a name that only depresses them. Your fans want something powerful and original. ‘Electric Blue Vibrations’ is an example of what makes a good name. Choose wisely, your whole career dependson it.

Now you’re a complete unit. You’ve got the look. You’ve got the band. You’ve got the name. You’re nearly ready but at the moment you’re a gun without any bullets. You need the songs to back yourselves up with it. The key here is to write and write and keep on writing. The greatest bands in the world all made albums within a year of their last one. Look at The Beatles, they released about three albums every year and just look at what happened to them! Write about what’s important and meaningful to you. Don’t write songs that are so laced with realism that they lose any kind of imagination and uniqueness, an example of this is every song by the Arctic Monkeys…rubbish name for a band as well! But saying that, you don’t want to do what Radiohead did and write an album’s worth of material about a really old tree in the New Forest. You need that balance. For instance, W. Axl Rose has probably never set foot in the jungle but the way in which he writes about life in L.A you’d think he had. Good luck with those words!

You’ve reached the end of this stage of your band’s life. It’s now time to embark onto the long and winding road and become the greatest rock n’ roll band this planet has ever known. However, there are a few dos and don’ts that I must tell you about. Do not appear on any type of reality TV. Do not get a job as a judge on some television talent show. And never ever release a perfume with your name on it. Always try and rock harder than you did the night before. Always take it to the absolute limit. And always leave them wanting more and more. In the words of Sir Paul McCartney…”and in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make…”

Lights, Camera, Action! Songs from the Movies:

A good film is similar to that of a good recipe. It needs some important ingredients: leading man, leading lady, an experienced director, an impressive budget and an awful lot of publicity. Perhaps, one of the most forgotten ingredients, but perhaps one of the most important is the song which accompanies the movie! Remember Rocky III? Didn’t think so. But I’m sure you all remember it’s theme song…Eye of the Tiger by Survivor! I’m going to lead you through my favourite songs which have been taken to the cinema!

1) Baby, You’re a Rich Man – The Beatles (as featured in The Social Network)

The makers hit the nail on the head when they chose this song to close their picture about Facebook. The actual name of the song reflects the main plot of the story beautifully; Mark Zuckerberg became the world’s youngest billionaire… Baby, You’re a Rich Man! Since being featured in The Social Netwrok this song has regained a sudden surge in popularity; the number of hits the song recieves on YouTube has increased dramatically.  The song also features guest appearances from Mick Jagger and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. Mick sang backing vocals as a thank you to the Beatles for giving the Stones the song, I Wanna Be Your Man, a few years earlier. Brian Jones also played the oboe; which is a delicate piece of trivia for you! The scene in which Baby, You’re a Rich Man features in The Social Network can be seen below:

 

2) You Know My Name – Chris Cornell (as featured in Casino Royale)

This one’s easy. It comes with the territory…every Bond film needs a Bond song. Simple as that. This song breathed life back into the gimicky franchise which James Bond had become over the past 40 years. You couldn’t help but cringe when the producers enlisted Tina Turner (!) to Goldeneye. And when Madonna went all electronic on 2002’s Die Another Day, our hearts sank. You Know My Name lifted our spirits. It’s a fast, rocky number which matches Daniel Craig’s portrayal of England’s greatest super spy just perfectly. On a side note, Chris Cornell marked the first time that a male solo artist sung a  James Bond song since Tom Jones belted out Thunderball back in 1965.

 

 

3) I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Aerosmith (as featured in Armageddon)

Aerosmith’s perfect slow-dance ballad became a surprise hit for the band when it was released in 1998. The song climbed to the top of the charts in the US and stayed there for four consecutive weeks. Over here, in the UK, the song peaked at number four on the UK Top 40, which is the highest chart position that Aerosmith have reached to date. I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing was released in support of the summer blockbuster Armageddon which incidentally features Steven Tyler’s daughter Liv as the leading lady. Aerosmith managed to dominate the film’s soundtrack, squeezing in additional three other songs into the film as well as this! I find it heart-warming how Armageddon brought the Tyler family closer together.

 

 

4) Come On, Come In – Velvet Revolver (as featured in Fantastic Four)

This is one of those examples where the song to the film is so much better than the actual film itself. Fantastic Four was regarded as something of a turkey amongst fans of the comic-book/superhero genre; the film was penalised over the lack of action that took place in the film and for the undevelopment of the main characters. Although it was disliked by the true comic book fans, the film performed quite well and has grossed nearly $300million dollars since it’s release. The song itself does not feature on film’s soundtrack but was extensively used in the film’s marketing campaign. The most probably reason for choosing Velvet Revolver to provide the music was due to the critical success they recieved when recording the music to the 2003 Ang Lee film, Hulk.

 5) Flash – Queen (as featured in Flash Gordon)

Dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, Flash!…Aaaahhhhhh! Come on, everybody knows how it goes! An instant classic and nothing less than what you’d expect from Freddie and the boys. In my opinion, Flash Gordon is one of the worst films ever created. However, this song is so unbelievably cheesy that it actually comes across as quite a good piece of accompanying muisc for the film. Queen used Flash as the opening music to several of their shows throughout the 1980’s. Flash peaked at number 10 in the UK and appears on Queen’s Greatest Hits I, which has been announced as the biggest selling album in the UK. I suppose that gives Flash a little more credability.