About Me

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Born in the late 60's, Chesy hails from a Welsh mining village with a long name and was pretty glad when he got the Hell out of there. He got into Rock/Metal in about 1980, thanks to a TISWAS related incident (Rainbow video for All Night Long) and thankfully has never looked back. Chesy often sang solo in the school choir, but thanks to a puberty related incident his voice is now completely bolloxed, although in his own head Paul thinks he sounds like a blend of Coverdale and Dio (R.I.P). He was brought up on the classics - Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Whitesnake and loved melodic rock and the Hair Bands of the 80's. (Nowadays, he has progressed a little and prefers a more technical and/or progressive metal - Dream Theater, Rush, Symphony X, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation, Spock's Beard. He hates Black and Death Metal (can't stand the grunting) but for some unknown reason loves the magnificent Opeth! He wont stop this blog until his beloved FM finally play the likes of the NEC as a headlining act!!!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Viana - S/T Album Review


Viana – ST

Viana is the brainchild of Stefano Viana, of which the band name originates from. He took up the guitar aged 16 after a typical Randy Rhoads ‘experience’! He is certainly not the first to be influenced by Rhoades, and definitely will not be the last. Basically this album has been a loooong time coming. It’s roots started back in 2009 with Alessandro Del Vecchio writing and performing the lyrics and vocals respectively.  In came some of the more renowned Italian session musicians – Anna Portalupi on bass, Alessandro Mori on drums, Gabriele Gozzi on backing vocals, and Pasquale Indo on keyboards. Apparently a serious personal problem puts his album on hiatus until April 2016 where he handed the reins over to Alessandro for mixing etc. With the ear that Ale has, he decided to bring in an additional guitarist, Francesco Marras to round off the sound and the band.

On early inspection, you can tell that Viana is influenced by 80s rock bands.  Opening track ‘Straight Between Our Hearts’ is standard melodic rock fare, but not in a bad way. ‘Bad Signs’ is the song to pick as a promo/single for the album, as it highlights the vocals of Del Vecchio, and also the interplay with the BVs of Gozzi and the whole composition in general. It typifies the sound and melodic direction that Viana are heading in. ‘Feel Your Love Tonight ‘ is a ballad that ticks the boxes with its lightness of the verse and then the punch of the chorus. ‘Night Of Fire’ has more of an 80s straight for the jugular riff. The verse here is a bit weaker than its predecessors, but again Viana have a knack for a strong chorus that pulls the song up by its britches. ‘Follow The Dawn’ is your melodic rock staple ballad, before ‘A New Love’, ‘Living A Lie’ and ‘Just To Sing’ and ‘Open Road’ pick up the pace and shows the type of songs that Viana are best at, and give the album a strong finish.  ‘Thet Place Is You’ is the one gem of the ballads –Del Vecchio has this nice throaty rasp that displays the emotion needed for a song like this.


Considering the time it has taken to write and produce / mix this album, and what with the talent involved, I was expecting something much bigger. That said, it’s a good album, but its not brilliant. Its let down by the quality of some of the songs. Its consistently average. Average can be good, but there’s currently a lot more bands playing this music much better and effective than Viana. However, the up-tempo rockers are much better than the ballads, and this is where I’d concentrate in future. Hopefully it will not take Stefano another eight years to complete the follow up.

70/100

Viana –
Stefano Viana – Guitars

With special guests….
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Vocals
Francesco Marras – Guitars
Anna Portalupi – Bass
Alessandro Mori – Drums
Gabriele Gozzi – Backing Vox
Pasquale India – Keyboards

Tracklisting
Straight Between Our Hearts
Bad Signs
Feel Your Love Tonight
Night Of Fire
Follow The Dawn
A New Love
Living A Lie
Just To Sing
Open Road
That Place Is You

Friday, 24 March 2017

Night Ranger - 'Don't Let Up' Album Review


Night Ranger – Don’t Let Up

Night Ranger are probably one of the most underrated bands from the 80s. The fact that they never really stopped despite the likes of grunge getting away is pure testament to their undeniable craft and quality. They are one of the finest bands I have ever seen live in my lifetime of gigging these past 35 years. In fact the stats for Night Ranger are mightily impressive – 17 million albums sold, over 300 live shows, over a billion in radio audience and still shit loads of people have no idea as to who they are.

Night Ranger are old hands at this, in fact they can put albums out in their sleep. One thing is for certain, and that is that Night Rangers guarantee is to pump out energetic, positive and catchy melodies for fun. Not only do they have the twin guitars of  Brad Gillis and Keri Kelli, but also the twin vocals of Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy as witnessed none better than in the opener ‘Somehow Someway’.

“Looking all I’m leaving behind, they say that I’m the Jedi of fools’’ is an inspired lyric, and I didn’t think much of  ‘Running Out Of Time’ after the first listen, bit after repeated spins, its got under my skin. ‘Day and Night’ is a powerful track but is let down by its chorus. It’s the opposite with the title track, the verse is boring and comes to life with the chorus. ‘(Won’t Be Your) Fool Again’ is a standard blues fare.  ‘Say What You Want’ is more like the opener and a typical Night Ranger song – high tempo, rock. When they do this its ever so simple, and ever so easy to listen to. ‘We Can Work It Out’ and ‘Nothing Left Of yesterday’ as songs on the lighter side of Night Rangers repertoire.

One thing that rock bands just love doin’ is to sing about their woman…..and have her name just as the title track – Angie, Rosanna, April, Roxanne as prime examples. Night Ranger have done one with ‘Jamie’ Out of the latter part of the album, this one is the most associated with their trademark groove.

Don’t Let Up sits in well with the last few Night Ranger albums, but they aint no 80s album. Not even ‘Man In Motion’. I admire that fact greatly that they still want to put out albums. Im more in admiration that they still wanna rock out and tour. If I were to see them again would I want half a set of songs from 2007 onwards – probably not.  I’d want to hear the stuff from when they were kings and ruled the airways. But that's just me.

75/100

Night Ranger –
Jack Blades – bass, vocals
Kelly Keagy – drums, vocals
Brad Gillis – lead & rhythm guitars
Eric Levy – keyboards
Keri Kelli – lead & rhythm guitars

Tracklisting
Somehow Someway
Running Out Of Time
Truth
Day And Night
Don’t Let Up
(Won’t Be Your) Fool Again
Say What You Want
We Can Work It Out
Comfort Me
Jamie
Nothing Left Of Yesterday



Thursday, 23 March 2017

One Desire - ST Album Review


One Desire – ST

One Desire formed in 2012 when drummer Ossi Sivula started gathering musicians by leading a trail of M&Ms to his flat! It was not true. A couple of few years passed writing songs, making demos with different musicians with a view to writing music that would apparently change the world. I’m sure the lads over in Wyld Stallyns will have an opinion about that!!!In 2014 they recruited Jimmy Westerlund (Good Charlotte). After trying out various singers, Jimmy suggested they give his mate Andre Linman a go, and not long after One Direction, I mean One Desire was born. Soon after bassist Jonas Kuhlberg (Di’Anno, Cain’s Offering) completed the line up

I’m not sure who comes up with the pap for the press release, but World changing it aint. I’m sure the likes of The Beatles,  Elvis and FM might, but, OD, nah! But, its not a bad debut to be honest, in fact its one of the better ones.

You can tell that the songs have been honed over a long period of time, they bellow with melody, and strong vocal arrangement. Linman’s vocals are very clean and likeable and very easy on the ears.

‘Falling Apart’ is one of the finest ballads you’ll hear all year (until Moritz and BRS release albums this year). ‘ Love Injection’ (f’narr) takes me back to 80s song titles. ‘Straight Through The Heart’ is just a cracking little song, infectious to the core. The pink, fluffiness of AOR comes from songs like ‘Turn Back Time’, ‘Hurt’, ‘Apologise’ and ‘Whenever I’m Dreaming’.

All in all, One Desire have a debut to be very proud of. The whole album just flashes by quickly. Its chock full of good songs, and they have a very bright future.

Catch them on tour in April with Eclipse!

Score 8/10

One Desire are –
Jimmy Westerlund – Guitars
André Linman – vocals
Ossi Sivula – drums
Jonas Kuhlberg – bass

Tracklisting –
Hurt
Apologise
Love Injection
Turn Back Time
Straight Through The Heart
Whenever I’m Dreaming
Do You Believe
Buried Alive
This Is Where The Heartbreak Begins

Eclipse - 'Monumentum' Album Review


Eclipse - Monumentum

One thing that is now certain….Erik Mårtensson and Eclipse have a ‘sound’. That sound is ‘BIG’. Its been a fast two years since the bloody fantastic ‘Armageddonize’. In fact, Martensson has cut through European rock music like a knife through butter, his writing and influence is heard across many a band. Like British rockers Vega, Eclipse don’t know the meaning of the word ‘filler’ or ‘compromise’. They have been building momentum, over these past few albums, and judging by the title of this album, they know it also.

Songs like ‘Vertigo’ and ‘Never Look Back channel their inner Whitesnake and Kiss respectively, and they well and truly set out the Eclipse stall. ‘Killing Me’ for example pulls on their talent for melody that could be a chart-breaker in their homeland and possibly beyond…? ‘The Downfall Of Eden’ could easily be a Thin Lizzy song with its Celtic refrain. ‘Jaded’ is a song where Eclipse cut through the crap and offers up the poppier side of their repertoire, with an edge of course!

However, ‘Born To Lead’ take it all up a notch, So much so I expect to hear an 80s Coverdale ready to break out of my speakers. ‘No Way Back’ is one of those songs I just cant wait to hear live. Its huge listening to it on my computer and that’s no mean feat to achieve.. ‘Night Comes Crawling’ has an instantly sing-able chorus, and closer ‘Black Rain’ has one of the heaviest ever Eclipse riffs and is a monster way to close of ‘Monumentum’.

Eclipse haven’t quite Eclipsed Armageddonize but its bloody close. It’s a massive slice of powerful, melodic rock that very few these days can consistently match. How Eclipse are not playing to bigger audiences that they have the past 2 years is beyond me. They should be playing to large audiences and deserve all that’s coming to them. I’m hoping that some of their Festival appearances this year will get more people in on the game.

SCORE 9/10

Eclipse are -

Erik Mårtensson – lead vocals, guitar
Magnus Henriksson – guitars
Philip Crusner – drums
Magnus Ulfstedt – bass

Tracklisting
Vertigo
Never Look Back
Killing Me
The Downfall Of Eden
Hurt
Jaded
Born To Lead
For Better Or for Worse
No Way Back
Night Comes Crawling
Black Rain

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hard Rock Hell AOR V - Festival Review - Hafan Y Mor 10th & 11th March 2017


HRH AOR V

Grab a beer and get ready for a long (ish) read......

So a good couple of thousand descended on the tiny Chwiliog,  aka Hafan Y Mor, for this, the fifth HRH AOR. Once shared as a fest, it's now finally gained its own independence as a stand-alone festival which shows how strong this genre has become. AOR has always been an underground scene, but the people who follow it are very passionate and dedicated about their bands. A lot of the audience are returnees, in fact most can be seen at any melodic rock gig across the country and beyond. My only gripe, there was NOT ENOUGH AOR!!!!

Credit to HRH, as this is a mighty fine festival, it's all contained, the stages are close, except the acoustic, the food is a bit 'meh' (OK if you can live off Fish n chips, and Burger King, or Starbucks) and the drink plentiful. It leads itself to a nice warm, cozy and very friendly festival. 

My day started on the Friday with a couple of stunning acoustic sets courtesy of The Radio Sun, and then the same guys being joined by Paul Laine. It's great news to have The Radio Sun returning for second year in succession. The Aussies certainly made an impact last year and gained a lot of new converts along the way. First of all, the banter is great, we got to hear about the guys travel from South to North Wales and their traffic encounters, and Jason being one of the 'Wiggles"! Don't ask! It's the quality of the songs that make the biggest impression. 'One In A Million' is just wonderful, it highlights just how strong TRS are with harmonies, in fact very few of the bands over the whole weekend can match these guys. 'Wrong Things Right' and a sterling Andy Taylor cover 'I Might Lie' (the one with the riff that’s VERY Eddie ‘Beat It’)! 'Maybe' finished off a short but very memorable set. (8.5/10)

Without any further ado Paul Laine stepped up and you knew he was going to be trouble (but in a good and very funny way!). Paul set up a high seat in front of him so he could read some of his lyrics. Bless him. Obviously a forgetful chap, he has self-declared Paulzheimers! 'Going All The Way' eventually kicked off the set. Paul's vocals would be one of the best over the whole weekend. You can tell that both TRS and Paul had spent time with Blood Red Saints as jokes and insults a-plenty were traded between Paul and Jason....'Does The Rock know you've stolen his 80s haircut?', and 'Jase, you're doing this (makes yapping sound with his hand)' and I want you to do this (shut up hand signal).  You had to be there!! There's a new double act in town folks. That said, I think it's all stemmed from love and respect. But, it's his show, so Paul is in charge. Up came 'I Still Think About You' and it was just sublime in this acoustic setting. Laine’s vocal's are undiminished from the fist time I ever witnessed him from his performance at The Gods over twenty years ago (on the telly). After 'Comin Home' we were even given an encore of 'Dont Walk Away'. TRS firmly set the bar for the weekend, and Paul Laine raised it. These two sets were to be one of the main highlights of the weekend. About 120 people witnessed something special here. (9/10)

We legged it to the main stage for a band I'd only looked at the day before....Walkway. As far as first bands go, Walkway were the best opening act I've seen at 4 AORs. This is a band that clearly tour…..a lot! I missed the first three songs, and entered for ‘Overrated’. That’s one thing that this band definitely are not.  Their set is smooth as silk and very polished. They are not exactly AOR, more classic rock, but when it's as good as this, who cares. Frontman Chris Ready obviously has Robert Plant as an influence, and this is no complaint from me. With a song armoury like ‘Best I Ever Had’, Stutter’, ‘Rise’, and the instantly memorable ‘Streetwise’, I really hope these lads get the major break they deserve. Guitarist James Ready, who was fucking outstanding I have to say, went on walkabout during the final song ‘One Touch Too Much’. Walkway were another memorable highlight of the day and weekend. Catch them live again if you can, you will not be disappointed. If you are, I will refund your money myself!!
(8.5/10)

Last year I loved Kane'd(s) brand of music. More Within Temptation, than melodic rock, but their difference stands out in sisters Steph, Stacey and Chez, and lead guitarist Harry Scott Elliott. At first glance, there’s that many of them, you would think they are a Caucasian tribute of Earth Wind & Fire. However, this time something was amiss, the spark wasn’t quite as bright this time. It wasn't all Kane'd isuue as I had doubts over the quality of the sound. The vocals were too loud and pitchy. It was eventually sorted and the songs do the talking – the highlights being ‘Beautiful But Tragic’, Guilty Of Nothing’, ‘Covered In Roses’ and the utterly infectious ‘La Di Da’. What with a guitarist like Harry Scott Elliot and the vocal assault from the girls, I fully expect greater things from this bunch moving forward. Time for a new album I think and a move up the next step of the ladder….? (7/10)

It was time to show the young whippersnappers a thing or two. Romeo’s Daughter are a class act. I’ve seen them quite a few times over the last (cough), thirty years, and they have NEVER let me or the audience down. The set was to be quite wide ranging, mixing the old and the new seamlessly, proving that the new songs are just as good, if not better than the older songs. Leigh Matty looks gorgeous as ever, and if there were awards for best hair, she would win hands down. In Craig Joiner, Romeos Daughter have one of the most underrated but finest songwriters of his generation. His playing isn’t necessarily flashy, but its honest and from the heart. ‘Heaven In The Back Seat’ - a song that should have made them household names, opened up a short but superb set. The good side of playing a 55 minute set…..all the stops are pulled out. From ‘Velvet Touch’ from the 80s, to the likes of ‘Bittersweet’ and ‘Radio’ from more recent years, Romeo’s Daughter have not lost any of their effectiveness. They finished the set 80s heavy with the upbeat ‘Inside Out’, ‘I Cry Myself To Sleep At Night’ - one of my all time favourite tracks, and finishing with a blast of the song that Heart covered, the obligatory ‘Wild Child’. Great stuff. (8.5/10)

All of a sudden, when you thought the main arena couldn’t get any busier, it suddenly became almost unbearably full. In three previous visits, I’ve never seen the arena as full as this. The reason I hear you ask……’Jizzy Pearl’s ‘Love/Hate’. Fair play to whoever built a massive cross out of Budweiser cans. They opened with ‘Wasted In America’ and the crowd went nuts. If anyone on the bill, looked like they had lived, loved and survived the 80s up until now, it was Jizzy Pearl, looking all the part a rock star. I’m going to wind a few people up here but the vocals got on my wotsits a little bit. It was like someone was kicking a bagful of Yorkshire Terriers around. I caught the first seven songs, and whilst I enjoyed the set. I wasn’t as keen as all the people around me, which is probably because Love /Hate aren’t AOR to me. Although I am sorry that I missed the rock classic ‘Blackout….’ (6.5/10)

I trundled over to the second stage to catch HRH virgins Epic. Fronted by the spectacular vocal range of Tanya Rizkala Agostine (she’s not Welsh!), this is a band (Like Bailey) that should have been performing on the main stage. If you haven’t heard of Epic, where have you been? Opening with the extremely powerful ‘Love Will Find A Way’ Tanya’s vocals were even better than the recorded version. Epic give the bigger and more established bands a run for their money. Great things come in small packages, and that’s what Tanya is. Her vocals could strip paint at 50m, and couple this with the fretwork dexterity of Mario Agostine and some Billy Sheehan-esque bass playing from Carlos Bouchabki for great effect. Throw in drummer Souheil Moukaddem, and Epic give one of the performances of the weekend. Again, its more classic rock per se than AOR, but us AOR fans know a good band when we see one. As the set went on the audience grew. My fave was the 80s rifftastic ‘Like a Phoenix’ followed by a great rendition of AC/DCs ‘Highway To Hell’. For some reason their allotted time wasn’t filled, and they finished with the sexy ‘Nah Nah Nah’ five mins earlier than expected.  I’d like to see Epic re-invited as they deserve another crack at the main stage. This was another highlight of the weekend. (8.5/10)

I scuttled back across to the main stage to view the last three songs of Bang Tango. They were a band I never got into in the 80s and the reason was in these last three songs. The vocals were whiny and just poor. The crowd around me heard a rendition of ‘Highway To Hell’ and went nuts, but Epic did it so much better ten minutes earlier. If I was harsh on Jizzy Pearl, then Joe Lesté fans should stop reading now. This sleaze (not AOR HRH!) was as fun as a root canal without the anaesthetic. And then doing it all again....and again...and again...(4/10)


  I’ve been waiting to see this next band for the best part of 30 years. I’d have killed to have seen them with their original singer, but that was not to be, so I had to settle for two originals…..Steve Lynch and Horny Horn ( I mean Randy Rand) of Autograph! Yes I was like a dog with two dicks, or as happy as pig in shit. They are now completed by Simon Daniels (Vox/guitar) and Marc Wieland (drums). If I were any closer I’d have been either in the photo pit, or as a guitar tech. Autograph exploded into life for me, and I soon forgot about the Plunkett effect. ‘Deep End’, ‘Dance All Night’, ‘Loud and Clear’ came at me faster than a bullet strapped to a greased pig. Lynch’s guitar playing was as I heard on record 30 years ago, and Rand looked like he had stepped straight out of a Marlboro advert. I’ve heard the sound was piss-poor from others, but down the front it wasn’t felt (Most had issues on the main stage – sort it out next time HRH!). ‘Blondes In Black Cars’, ‘Send Her To Me’ and ‘All I’m Gonna Take’ were sandwiched by two fairly new songs, with ‘I Lost My Mind In America’ being the best of the new. After Lynch’s stellar rendition of Lynch's solo it was time to cry like a baby and witness one of the best ever AOR songs laid down on vinyl (or cassette), ‘Turn Up The Radio’, and thanks to GTA its also a song for all ages. It was a perfect ending, and Autograph were the band of the day for me. (9/10)

Again Like Romeos Daughter, FM are as reliable and faithful as a reliable and faithful reliable thing. Its now a full ten years since they reformed and their output has been prolific and also of very high quality. Coming on 10 mins later than planned and finishing near to time, I felt a bit short changed. But what was missed in time was made up in the set list of some FM outstanding classics. Jim Kirkpatrick looked every inch the star with a trimmed look and aviator shades. He’s really added extra punch to FM since his arrival. FM is mainly about one guy, and that is the UK Michael Bolton…..Steve Overland, rightly known as THE VOICE! FM did something I’ve not witnessed in years, opening to a couple of  pyro’s for ‘Diggin Up The Dirt’. Again the first few songs were a bit ropey in the sound dept., not FMs doing. All was sorted for the best song that never appeared on an album, ‘Let Love Be The Leader’. A couple of hardly played songs made this evenings set, the song that should have set their path to stardom, ‘Someday’, and the superb ‘Tough It Out’. They went for the big finish with ‘Other Side Of Midnight’ and on the basis of the songs on offer, in my humble opinion a mistake was made with the headliner, as FM have the songs and substance to highlight this great AOR festival. Considering the type of festival this is, they were the first band to have a keyboardist on show. (8/10)

The headline act is Lita Ford. I saw her in the early 80s supporting Rainbow on the ‘BOOS’ tour. To be honest, I can hardly remember anything from that set, and the chances are, give me a month and I will be in exactly the same position after this set. I cant complain about the sound, as the songs paled into insignificance with other bands on this bill today. One thing I will say is that Lita Ford still looks fantastic. However, looks cant carry you forever, the songs have to do some talking. From where I was stood (on the upper level near the bar), the songs were bland and uninspiring. I was wondering how someone can headline a festival based on 2 solo songs in ‘Close My Eyes Forever’ where she was joined on stage by a crowd member who was dressed like a Poundland Ozzy, miming the Ozzy parts, and the encore ‘Kiss Me Deadly’, and the other well known song from The Runaways…‘Cherry Bomb’. I looked around near me and I think this is a sign
of what I’m thinking, as lots of people near me were having conversations, and at no point in time did people stop and look up and listen, which would be the reaction to have for a great performance, or song. It was not to be. Near the bar, and way before the last few songs, the area, which was packed out at the beginning of the set, was almost empty. If I judged it by colour, it would be Magnolia. (6/10)





Saturday…..

I watched the last three songs of Haxan based on their T-shirt. ‘You don’t need a cock…..to know how to rock’. My kind of band I thought. The reality was a bit different. I have to give them kudos and balls for a three piece that wants to rock out, but they were let down a bit by the quality of their songs. The feistiness is there, which is great, and I hope they develop into a great little band. Their best shout came from a Zep cover ‘Rock and Roll’. There are lots of other AOR bands in a similar position who would have killed for a slot like this. (6/10)

‘Watch Devilstars’ says Dennis, they’re great. So I did, up to a point.  Their intro tape meant they could have almost fit in an extra song. They looked the part, but the sound of the vocals was inaudible. I don’t think it was down to the sound guy, it was just piss poor projection. I lasted just four songs of the set, and was glad to get out to the main stage. Who did I see in there…..yes, Dennis, who had lasted just two songs of his own tip. (5/10)

Summers were well into their set by the time I landed. This is the third time I have seen them and the first two times they were great. The last was at the inaugural HRH AOR at Magna. What I got this time was a disjointed Summers. Whereas a lot of other bands had a theme or a ‘look’ Summers didn’t know what direction they were headed in. Yes the sound was dodgy again, but I give the band the benefit of the doubt. Crash Summers appeared to be disinterested and there had a severe lack of activity up there. Plus, his gran would have been well pissed off when she realises that he was wearing her curtain tie-backs. ‘Inseparable’ was like a Bon-Jovi country track which is now all the rage. They made up for it with decent versions of ‘Shot In The Dark’ and ‘I Came Here To Rock’. Five years ago I thought Summers had a great future, but they have been over taken by bands on this festival that are now higher up the bill. I really hope they pull something good out of the bag in the near future as I still want them to make it. If they do, it will probably be the hard way. (5.5/10)


  The next band should have the previous three I have mentioned, standing in the photo pit taking notes on how a gig should be done. Or at second best giving them all lines. The Radio Sun, making their second appearance in a row at HRH (four if you count their own, and six if you add the Paul Laine gigs), are aeons ahead of most of the bands on this whole roster. I was hoping for a bit of light hearted banter, with say the ‘Home & Away’ theme tune as an intro, but they came out with all guns blazing for ‘Tell Me What You Want’ With Steve Janevski and Jason Old, pulling out the 80s shapes and style, the only thing missing was a Scorpions pyramid. Their ace up the sleeve are Robbie Erdmanis and Ben Wignall. Why you may ask?  I will tell you why, because when these two are added to the mix with Steve’s BVs all backing up Jason, then its pure harmony heaven. ‘Wrong Things Right’ drove this fact home even more, as the final lines send me and hopefully others into a goosey frenzy! ‘One In A Million’ follows the same path. Why if it aint broke, don’t fix it. Highlights for me are ‘Worlds Crazy Now’ and their cover of an Andy Taylor classic ‘I Might Lie’. The Radio Sun are a class act, and should they make it three in a row, they fully deserve at least an hour to perform next time around. (9/10)


The spit and polish effect continued into the afternoon with Brit melodic rock starlets, Vega. I’ve previously stated that these guys get better every time I see them. Well this is the third time in less than 6 weeks, and I still stand by that statement. Vega are built for the big stage. Their songs are made for it, their vocalist Nick Workman is made for it, Bollox, all of them deserve the bigger stage and the chance to play in front of thousand(s). Should Vega stick around long enough, they are at the sharp end of being the best in their field. All the songs are anthems, end of. No expense is spared when it comes to their tunes. You can tell that every note and word has been carefully chosen and sweated over for maximum effect. Vega are the second band of the weekend to have the ‘must have’
AOR keyboards. Vega prove to be one of the best bands of the whole weekend, their time on the road currently with DRN has tightened up their repertoire even more. Its just killer after killer – 'Stereo Messiah', 'Every Little Monster,' and 'WTH' just bombarded us with quality, and 'Fade Into The Flames’ highlights just how good a singer Nick Workman is, he just doesn’t stand still and is the focal point for Vega. The pièce de résistance for me is the set closer ‘Saving Grace’, an absolute defining song for Vega that shows they are ready for the next big step. (9/10)


My final viewing of the day was for Paul Laine (I had a meeting to keep with a real Count! I’m sure it was Count!!). Backed by the lads from The Radio Sun for their third appearance of the weekend, I knew it was going to be a bit special. I caught 8 of the 100 songs of the set and was blown away by how good Laine is, even when he is well on the way to being shitfaced! Some people may find him a bit arrogant due to the drink, but I prefer to let the voice literally do the singing. What with Paul also playing guitar, they are the AOR equivalent of Iron Maiden, because with Steve and Jason also playing, there’s absolutely nothing that can be played.  There wasn’t much solo stuff to be played unfortunately. Then again, he was in D2 after all. I’d love to have heard a
Defiants track if I’m honest, but its no loss, as Paul is still fantastic. His on loan guitar from Lee Revill kept failing in the strap dept., so there’s now’t that duct tape can’t fix, even if it probably lifts the lacquer of it. ‘Under The Gun’, ‘We Are The Young’ and ‘Don’t break My Heart Again’ just tripped off the tongue. I’d love to see him, and as The Defiants invited back. I just hope his liver allows him to! (8.5/10)

One again, HRH have one of the best organised festivals in the UK. Whilst I don’t necessarily agree with their choice of bands (at the very least, Epic and Bailey should be on the main stage) as more than a few were sleaze than AOR, but it proved overall to be very good, but it could have been great. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Pictures courtesy of Simon Dunkerley and Sean Larkin 



Sunday, 5 March 2017

Dan Reed Network and Vega Live Review - The Live Rooms Chester, 4th March 2017

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Dan Reed Network + Vega – Live Rooms Chester, Sat 4th March 2017

The two bands on stage tonight deserve/d to be huge. DNR had all the ducks lined up in the late 80s/ early 90s and were tugging on the coattails of the likes of Bon Jovi with their funk/rap/jazz/ soul infused hard rock edge with some pop overtones. They were fairly unique in their day, and is possibly....no, make that definitely why their record company did bugger all in spreading the word. So instead of tonight’s gig being at Wembley, it’s at the Chester Live Rooms. 

Vega on the other hand still deserves a shot at being huge. They’ve been around a while now (since 2009) and with every passing album and gig, there’s bigger and better performances coming from the guys.  Last night nudged my Vega viewing into double figures. One thing these lads do ever so well is, first and foremost hit you with a powerful melody. The first song ‘Stereo Messiah’ was missed due to visa issues (a Welshman travelling into England) so I entered to the anthemic ‘What The Hell’ and by this point in the place was rocking. Its also nice to see a Live Room gig attended by quite a few people for once, and Vega, whilst nowhere near the same type of band as DRN, they prove to be a perfect foil for them. When you have the Martin brothers shitting out melodies for fun, and then having this backed with the guitar prowess of Marcus Thurston, and a powerful and engaging front man like Nick Workman, it makes for a cracking nights entertainment. ‘Gonna Need Some Love Tonight’ is a prime example – infectious, and with an end line harmony that will melt the hearts of any a detractor. Apart from a minor potential electrocution, Vega was superb. New songs like 'Every Little Monster' (I cant type it without singing it) are potential future classics. All the songs are anthemic, and why set out your stall as being ‘average’ when you can write and perform songs like ‘Hands In The Air’, ‘White Flag’ and ‘Savin’ Grace’. I expect them to be one of the bands of the festival at HRH next weekend.

Dan Reed Network is a different band. They all seem relaxed; in fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen a happier looking band. Just don’t miss your cue, or set the monitors up correctly as Mr Reed, despite the smiles and political statements/and Trump jokes, is a consummate professional. After the lady jiggled some wires  (oo-er!) at the front of the sound desk, we were ready to be taken on a journey. Tonight (possibly others too) the set list is non-existent pretty much and the DRN is open up to offers….but more of that a little later.

Straight up from the debut is in force with DRN storming into ‘Ritual’. Despite being the wrong side of 50 (60+ for Brion James!), not just Dan, its all bar young Rob, they all prance about the stage just like it was 1988. The faithful were not to be disappointed, songs were played from all across the network, “seven Sisters Road” played with a frenetic ending, after which the floor was opened up by Dan, now taking requests….’Rainbow Child’ shouted a punter. The usual response for this said Dan was for every ‘Woo-hoo’, there’s a ‘fuck no!’ Thankfully the ‘fuck no’s’ were beaten down and they hammered it. ‘I’m So Sorry’ was up next. It sounded as if it hadn’t had an airing in quite some time, but this added to the whole enjoyment and spontaneity of the evening. I prefer to call it an ‘off the cuff’ performance.

‘Baby Now I’ segued into a medley of Kiss’ ‘I was Made For Lovin’ You’, ‘Enter sandman’, ‘Relax’ ‘All Right’ (sung by Melvin, followed by a bass solo) and a smidge of ‘Highway To Hell’ Fantastic stuff indeed! A couple of new songs (Infected’ and  ‘Champion’) sandwiched ‘Under My Skin’ and some Bruce Lee Kung Fu with added drum sound effects. Young pup Rob Daiker was given the chance to shine with one of his own songs, an excellent blues number ‘All For A Kiss’ first accompanied by Brion, then the rest of the Network joining in. This stripped down version with just a guitar was superb.

The last three songs were at hand with ‘Ritual’ being my fave of the evening. That much so, I still can’t stop singing it some 15 hours later. The staple ballad ‘Stronger Than Steel’ set the tone, finishing with a crescendo and ‘Tiger In A Dress’.

Dan still sounds pretty much identical as he did almost 30 years ago, and it makes for a terrific nights entertainment. Throw in James. Pred, Brannon Jr and Daiker, and the end result is one of the best gigs you’ll witness in 2017 or any other year. Most of the gigs are almost sold, so what are you waiting for….get your asses our to one of the best tickets in town. All this for a mere £9 a band and you can say hi afterward. No £50 meet n greet to be seen here folks! My only gripe…..no ‘Make It Easy’, ‘Slam’ or ‘Long Way To Go.’

That said Vega and Dan Reed Network provided one of the gigs of the year without a shadow of a doubt.


PICTURES COURTESY OF 'JEFF PRICE PHOTOGRAPHY'

You can still catch them on tour......


DRN March 2017 UK Tour with special guests VEGA
Mar 5: The Globe Cardiff
Mar 7: The Cluny Newcastle (Sold Out)
Mar 8: Òran Mór Glasgow
Mar 10: The 100 Club London (Sold Out)
Mar 11: The Local Authority Sheffield
Mar 12: The Robin 2 Bilston
Mar 14: The Ruby Lounge Manchester
Mar 15: Rescue Rooms Nottingham


Thursday, 23 February 2017

Lionville - 'A World Of Fools' Album Review


Lionville – A World Of Fools

Born as a high profile project dedicated to pure AOR with a touch of Westcoast and melodic rock, Lionville draw inspiration from acts like Toto, Richard Marx, Giant, Bad English, Survivor, and Boulevard. The project was started by Stefano Lionetti, a songwriter, singer, and guitarist based in Genova, Italy and his brother Alessandro. After years of playing the local club circuit of Genova, Stefano started LIONVILLE with the encouragement and help of Pierpaolo “Zorro” Monti (Shining Line) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Edge Of Forever, Eden's Curse, Hardline). With the involvement of singer Lars Säfsund (Work Of Art), LIONVILLE quickly began to take shape

Its surprising how fast time passes. It’s been five years since Lionville II was released. In a time where peoples musical tastes change quickly, and more and more bands come into the scene, five years is a lifetime. Good things come to those who wait……

There’s been a bit of tinkering in the lineup since ‘II’, but thankfully the sound behind Lionville remains constant with Stefano Lionetti and Lars Såfsund the two key components. Bringing up the rest of Lionville is Michele Cusato – Guitars, Giulio Dagnino – Bass, and Martino Malacrida – Drums

If I had to describe Lionville’s sound, it would be in two simple words….’silky smooth’.  Most of that is down to Såfsund’s vocals. Since he came on the scene with Work Of Art, his vocals prove to be one of the finest in this genre. If anything, the quality of songs are what makes or breaks a band, and this is the finest Lionville album yet. Its 80s AOR with a Westcoast vibe that will have fans of Toto and the like in raptures. Its aor-candy for the 21st Century!

‘A World Of Fools’ is consistently good, with a few songs that rise above the parapet into excellent. Their stall is well and truly set out with the pacey and riff heavy opener ‘I Will Wait’. ‘Show Me The Love’ is European pop/rock AOR at its best. ‘Bring Me Back Our Love’ ticks all the melodic rock boxes in abundance, polished sound, hugely melodic chorus, and strong riffage! ‘One More Night’ is one song that is to be played at maximum volume just to show off the infectious chorus and rip roaring solo. ‘Heaven Is Right Here’ follows the same musical path. There’s a lot of positivity in this album, very uplifting any a joy to listen to, as ‘All I Want’ proves. With a song like ‘Livin’ On The Edge’ I expected a rip-snorter of a track, whereas it’s the complete opposite. Its not bad, but its not the best on the album by a long shot. ‘Our Good Goodbye’ is so Toto-esque, I half expect to hear WIllaims/Lukather and Paich to be playing on it! ‘Paradise’ is another of those anthemic arena songs that Lionville seem able to write without and issue. Its like shelling peas for them.

I’ve enjoyed the Lionville journey so far. Their debut came out of the blue for me initially, and ‘II’ was also a joy. I think with ‘A World Of Fools’ they have surpassed themselves.  Existing fans…it’s a no-brainer. If you have not listened before, what are you waiting for. Its silky smooth, highly polished Westcoast AOR. Its exactly the type of band Toto should take on the road with them.

February is proving to be a strong month for Frontiers…

Score 85/100

Tracklisting
I Will Wait
Show Me The Love
Bring Back Our Love
Heaven Is Right Here
A World Of Fools
One More Night
All I Want
Livin’ On The Edge
Our Good Goodbye
Paradise
Image Of Your Soul

Lionville are
Stefano Lionetti – Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards
Lars Såfsund – Lead & Backing Vocals
Michele Cusato – Guitars
Giulio Dagnino – Bass
Martino Malacrida – Drums




Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Tokyo Motor Fist - 'ST' Album Review


Tokyo Motor Fist – TMF

Now, either Tokyo Motor Fist has come from a random name generator, or its an inspired band name. I can just imagine the conversation….Ted...‘Guys c’mon! The albums almost finished and we don’t have a band name for that Italian dude that’s given us the money to make this thing’. Chuck, ‘I know, lets come up with a name something like your porn name – you know your first pet and the street where you live!’ Ted, ‘Awesome dude! Let's put the following things in the hat….1. Your favourite place….2. A part of a car…..3. a body part’

So out of the hat comes ‘Tokyo Motor Fist’. It's a good job they didn’t go with the second random generated name….’Paris Gearbox Elbow’.

Based on this line up I am expecting great things, as these guys should know what they are doing and what fans expect. After all, it is Ted Poley (D2), Steve Brown (Trixter), Greg Smith (Rainbow, Ted Nugent) and Chuck Burgi (Rainbow, JLT, BOC). As per The Defiants debut last year, I want this to be every bit as good.  Best way I can describe the whole experience is that its like the summer feel-good sound of Y&Ts Summertime Girls crossed with D2s Naughty Naughty and a slice of Van Halen thrown in for good measure. There’s not a single duff track on this album, and its one of the most feel good, uplifting, unashamed slices of 80s classic rock AOR. They’ve gone through the elements of the 80s that made their original bands great – huge riffs…check. Even bigger harmonies….check. Widdly solos….double check!

Ted Poley sounds great. Basically, the album just flies by. The first six songs just kick you in the nuts and doesn’t back off for a single second. Its hard to pick any faves as its so consistent. If I had to pick one, it would be the all guns blazing ‘Shameless’. Its in a similar vein to DFPs ‘Gimme Your Good Lovin’. The album only draws breath for the ballad-ish ‘Don’t Let Me Go’, before that 80s influenced (and future classic I swear to God) ‘Put Me To Shame’. In fact its one of the best songs I heard in the last few years. It’s that good, I asked the mother in law to knit me a new set of legwarmers! ‘Done To Me’ is as if Poley was fronting Def Leppard. ‘Get You Off My Mind’ borders on arena rock with its instantly memorable chorus. The album is all over waaay too quickly with the brisk and pulsating ‘Fallin’ Apart’.

Signore Perugino certainly has a knack when he is putting projects together. I'm hoping (like The Defiants) that Tokyo Motor Fist tour our shores, or at the bear minimum play a festival over the coming 12 months. TMF is one of the best debuts I’ve heard since The Defiants, Blood Red Saints & Angels Or Kings in recent years. Its not just the Poley Show, in fact Steve Browns guitar work is simple awesome, and when its all backed up by the gruesome twosome of Burgi and Smith, it all makes for a superb album and listening experience!

If this isn’t at the sharp end of my (and your) top 5 albums of 2016 I’ll be very surprised

95/100 (it has to be immense to get 100)

Tokyo Motor Fist are
Ted Poley – Vocals
Steve Brown – Guitars
Greg Smith – Bass
Chuck Burgi – Drums

Tracklisting –
Picking Up The Pieces
Love Me Insane
Shameless
Love
Black And Blue
You’re My Revolution
Don’t Let Me go
Put Me To Shame
Done To Me
Get You Off My Mind
Fallin’ apart