Rock City Nottingham 24th January 2014.

Rock City bound tonight and strangely, I’ve missed this legendary place. I know it’s not been that long, but you get attached and in this case, for good reason. The gigs that are held here are always going to be special and tonight was no exception.

Since I last saw Skindred at Hard Rock Hell, their profile has exploded and they have been featured EVERYWHERE! You name it, they’re in it, why, because these veteran’s from South Wales have a new album out, called “Kill The Power”. I finally got my copy through the post this weekend (paid for) and it features some real classic Skindred gems. This, however is a live gig review and not an album review, so first support band tonight are Viza.

I first came into contact with Viza at Hammerfest V, in 2013, I’m starting to see a pattern emerging here, anyway, I digress. For me they were a real stand out act from that festival, simply for the fact that their sound was so fresh, flamboyant and energetic, but above all, their live show was so much fun. As stated then, Serj Tankian has also seen these qualities in the band and things have really picked up for these guys around 2011, but they have been around since 2006. Also with a new album, titled ARIA, on the horizon, available to “Pre-Order” now. Can I just say, I understand why bands need to offer their music up for pre-order, what with recording costs etc. but it really gets on my nerves, having to wait for new music.

Tonight’s set list was a 50/50 split between tracks off the new album, ‘Viktor Vangard’, ‘Vanished’, ‘Midnight Hour’, ‘Forward March’ and old favourites, ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Trans-Siberian Standoff’, ‘Whiskey Bar’ and ‘In coins’. I personally loved tonight’s set and the guys on stage seemed to be in fine form, but for the majority of people that could get to the venue in time to see them perform, they were a relatively unheard of act. This, I’m sure will all change after this tour, as they are a great live act and I can confirm that by the end of tonight, everyone in attendance was pleasantly surprised.


Next up were a very well thought of and much loved act, SOIL. Hailing from Chicago City –USA, these guys optimise everything that is good in Hard Rock and Metal and are a true endorsement to the Genre. Tonight was my first time seeing the band live, it also transpired that lead singer Ryan McCombs hasn’t played a show in Nottingham in over 17 years, as he announced to the ever increasing crowd. Tonight’s set had everything, energy, emotion, power, showmanship and above all full throttle metal music.


At one point, the crowd started to call out for one of this bands biggest hits ‘Halo’, but Ryan stated that if we do that song now, then they’d have to leave the stage and asked ‘Do you want that?’, “NO” was the crowds reply, so they continued. Set list consisted of ‘Loaded Gun’, ‘Breaking me Down’, ‘Shine On’, ‘Need to Feel’, ‘Redefine’, ‘Hate Sons’, ‘Unreal’, ‘Black Betty’ (A Ram Jam cover that only just got released in the UK, apparently) and finally ‘Halo’. Before the final track, McCombs addressed the crowd stating “The music starts with you, ends with you and is all possible because of you, so thank you” then got down off the stage, took a giant swig of beer and proceeded into the centre of the crowd, with his mic/staff held aloft so people could see where he was and much to the crowds delight, he joined the mosh pit whilst continuing to sing the song. SOIL also have a new album out, titled “Whole” which is now on my to purchase list!


SKINDRED……..I’m such a huge fan of this band, tonight and tonight I’m feeling very fortunate and grateful to be seeing them for the second time in less than 6months. People on the guest list got called cheap c**ts, which was fair hahaha, however now that the album “Kill the Power” has been officially released, I was intrigued to see how the set compared or differed from Hard Rock Hell. ‘Thunderstruck’ (AC/DC) got the crowd going and the ‘Imperial March’ was strangely the perfect walk on song. It was re-assuring to see Benji’s outfits haven’t calmed down, nor has his larger than life personality, and he is, without a doubt one of the best front men and voices on the planet! Tonight the pit was rammed, which was no surprise, as these guys are big news, but what was a surprise – we got to photograph four tracks, which has never happened to me a Rock City before, so this truly was a special night. There is no disputing Rock City’s legendary status, but the lighting at times is questionable, it seems Skindred weren’t going to take the risk and decided to bring their own lighting stands and strobes, strong enough to melt ya face off!


Throughout the set Benji interacted with the crowd in the only way he knows how to, he abuses them, yet the crowd love him for it. He told one quite beautiful girl to cheer up, you’ve got a face like a smacked arse, nobody is coming on after us, which cheered me up at least lol.


Benji does have a very warmer side to him which he showed tonight, stating Skindred have played Nottingham many times over the years and see the City as a second home. Tonight really was a great night and the first show for many in 2014, and what a way to start off the year – we even had a crowd surfer! Everyman and his dog were in attendance and it made for an awesome show. Check out the remaining tour dates, as this truly is one tour not to be missed! A special “Happy Birthday” goes out to Skindred drummer, Arya Goggin, who’s birthday was on the Sunday, after tonight’s show.


Set list consisted of:  1.Rat Race  2.Stand for Something  3.Doom Riff  4.Ninja  5.State of Emergency  6.Selector  7.Cut Dem  8.Bruises  9.Babylon / Niggas in Paris/ Intergalactic/ Jump Around/ Don’t Stop Me Now/ Omen/ We Will Rock You  10.Kill the Power  11.Worlds on Fire  12.Trouble / Sad But True (cover) 13.Pressure  14.Saturday with “Take the Power Back” snippet by Rage Against the Machine and 15.Nobody. The Encore consisted of 1.We Live  2.Warning [With “Toxicity” snippet by System of a Down] and 3.Nobody Does It Better.

Words and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Emma Scott

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 18th January 2014.

So 2014’s giggin year starts here and now for me and it really is a case of out with the old and in with the new, as all our five contenders for this event are a brand new experience for me and sit well outside my staple musical diet of rock and metal.

Opening up tonight was the solo acoustic artiste, Sir. O (aka Saar Oron). A little bit of background reading had uncovered Saar’s love for playing the guitar from an early age and listening to him play, it became quite apparent that man, musical instrument and vocal chords were truly meant to be. Having said that, the life of a solo artiste on stage can be a lonely one, but not tonight as for one song only Sir. O became a duo, courtesy to the beautiful supporting vocals from Lir Shilton. With the sound at the O2 being perfect for Saar’s set, each song was compelling to listen to and if his intention tonight was to raise awareness of his talent, he certainly achieved that!

Saar Oron - Sir.O

Taking solo performance to the next level, Sean Duggan’s set was initially launched with the able support of three band mates on bass, electric guitar and drums. Sean is quite a master of delivering the feeling good vibe in a very chilled manner, and his infectious charm on stage soon had the audience moving closer and happily foot tapping and dancing along to his beat. Another set given that was a pleasure to hear and see and another artiste to look out for.

Sean Duggan

The midway point of the evening heralded a change in musical direction for tonight courtesy of the three remaining bands and boy, oh boy, what a great experience that was to be!

I can only describe Red Crow’s set as an absolute privilege to have witnessed, as the humble confidence that poured out of these guys in both their ability and originality, simply smacked me in the face and stopped me dead in my tracks. Their intricate acoustic guitar and vocal melodies mixed with the creative use of double bass, keyboard and trumpet, whipped up a perfect storm of rock, bluegrass and hillbilly frivolity that all translated into one heck of a performance! Standout songs in tonight’s set for me were ‘City Riser’ and ‘Rising Son’, both of which can be found on their EP ‘Roots In The Soil’. It is bands such as Red Crow that pull you out of your musical comfort zone and show you the door to a whole new world – and when you step on through, what an inspirational world it is too.

Patrick Currier - Red Crow

For those who regularly attend Emma Scott’s gigs, two members of our fourth band, The Strangler Figs, would have looked becomingly familiar, as both Joe Pickering (vocals) and Joel Hanson (on Double Bass tonight) are also part of the much loved and well respected Duchamp Pilot. In their new entity, Strangler Figs venture into the realms of a semi-acoustic delight that is rich in foot tapping character and lush in the glow of its performance. Considering this band is less than six months in age since it’s conception, their self penned songs are strong, catchy and give great definition of what it is that makes this band tick, so I shall look forward to watching Stranglers Fig’s journey, as I suspect it is going to be a successful one.

Joel Hanson - The Strangler Figs

Our final and headlining band for tonight were Rhino & The Ranters and here lies a whole new chapter to be added to the extent of my musical experience. Suited, booted and fittingly coiffed for an excursion into the wild world of crazy cowpunk, shameless gospel and all round wanton good times, Rhino & The Ranters made light work in announcing to the audience at The O2 Academy that they had arrived!

Loz Kingsley - Rhino & The Ranters

I can only describe the set that followed as being one of those experiences that leaves you feeling lucky to have witnessed, as the level of energy and euphoria on stage, courtesy of main man at the mic, Ryan Webb, was infectious and even now whilst I’m sat writing this, there is still a smile on my face from the memory of their performance.

Ryan Webb - Rhino & The Ranters

Tonight’s show was a musical wildcard event for me, but my, oh my, what an amazing experience it was indeed!

Review and photography by Sue Wardle.


With Support From Fury and Droid Soup.

The Sitwell Tavern Derby 11th January 2014.

Firstly, Happy New Year music fans, lets hope 2014 is as good, if not better than 2013. From a personal perspective, it’s been interesting to see what fellow journalists have chosen as their first gigs of 2014. A fair few decided to see the mighty Evil Scarecrow over in Nottingham tonight, for their home town show and from what I can gather it was well covered and a great show. I decided on, with it’s ever increasing in popularity, The Sitwell Tavern in Derby. Tonight we had three great bands, local act, Droid Soup and what a great name for a band by the way! Fury, a band music224 know and love, who made the short trip from Worcester and headliners KaiDekA, who I believe traveled from Cornwall, some 5 hours away.

First up then, we have the hard rock act, Droid Soup. Having opened with two Iron Maiden tracks, ‘Ides of March’ and ‘Wrathechild’, these tracks helped warm the crowd and gave us an indication of their own personal sound. “Never Satisfied” was the first of their own songs, an oldie, but a goody. The track “Affair of Honour” was next, by which point I’d noticed an interesting characteristic with this band, depending on which track was played, determined who was singing! Everyone in the band can and does sing, whether that be backing or lead. Tonight though, only Lee on rhythm guitar and Andy, the bands “official vocalist” sang, but it made for an interesting and diverse viewing experience that I’ve not come across before. As stated, between tracks, these guys have a new album being produced and will be released this year. Three further Droid Soup tracks followed ‘Last Supper’, ‘The Prophecy’ and ‘Dreamscape’, which were all commendable rock tunes. To finish, they chose the classic “Lights out” by UFO and “Forever” by Y&T, clearly both band favorites, confirmed as Lee was sporting a Y&T t-shirt. All said and done, the people in the crowd enjoyed this bands performance, though in my opinion, they were a little static and lacking in emotion at times, but these middle aged rockers are still enjoying what they love, so we cant knock them for that.

Droid Soup

After a short intermission, the mighty Fury took to the floor. There is no stage as such, at The Sitwell Tavern but what it lacks in space, it makes up for in character and personality. Another plus for this venue is the lighting, which, in my opinion is the best I’ve ever photographed in (providing Christmas tree’s are your thing) and better than most large music venues!

It’s been a year since I last saw Fury play live, however these guys haven’t been resting on their laurels, no sir. I can reveal these guys are currently working on their first full length album “The Lightning Dream”, which will consist of around ten tracks and due to be released in 2014. Tonight was a real treat as 2/3rd’s of the set consisted of unheard by the naked ear, new material. Kicking off the set was firm favourite and still a relatively new track ‘Saviour’ which was quickly followed by this bands monster anthem “Warriors Prayer”. From here on in Julian – rhythm guitar/Lead vocals, Jake – Lead guitar/backing vocals, Mart – Bass/backing vocals and Al – Drums treated us to the new stuff! ‘The Storm’, ‘Britannia’, ‘Russell Crowe’ (apparently this song was written after watching the film Master and Commander starring the man himself, therefore this title stuck) and ‘Prince of Darkness’. As this was one of the first times these track had been played live, JJ made his apologies early, in case of any mistakes however, being the professionals they are, I didn’t detect any errors within the set. Trust me when I say, fans of Fury will not be disappointed with the new album! With only one issue tonight, that being a string on Mart’s Bass snapping, thankfully he had a spare Spector to hand and quickly tuned it in to continue the set. Whilst this was going on, JJ treated us to some jokes he’d been learning this past year, well done sir – very entertaining, but you can do better!

Julian Jenkins - Fury

Fury have some cracking gigs coming up this year, including Les-Fest in July, up in wee Scotland, but before that, these guys grace the halls of Hammerfest VI in March and I cant wait to see them play this festival with also tipping Fury as one of their bands to look out for at this festival. In their review, they gave each band member one of the best personal bio’s I’ve ever seen for these guys and I’m slightly jealous I didn’t write it! hahaha!

Jake Beesley - Fury

As previously stated, any band and I don’t care what genre, who are willing to travel 5 hours to play a show, are obviously serious about their music. As it goes, KaiDekA, who have released two studio albums on Rising Records and consist of Jamie Gill – drums/vocals, (who also doubled as the sound Engineer tonight, until the official guy arrived) Tom Healan – Bass, Curt Nash – guitars, Dax Partridge – vocals and Lewis Allen also on Guitars are a Nu-Metal/Thrash band and are brutal. After a rousing intro these guys propelled themselves, applying full force, into a blistering set. Dax, seen with a rather cool full length chest tattoo, made good use of the floor space available to him, as did the guitarists. Drummer, Jamie quickly impressed Martin Short tonight, who knows his metal and can be a hard man to please, not really, but it sounded good! At one point both Martin and I were discussing other brutal bands, similar to KaiDekA, that we’d seen, with the guitarist between tracks, which was rather a surreal moment!

Dax Partridge - KaiDekA

As this was my first gig of 2014, I was very pleased with the quality and happy with my decision to attend, so much so that I will tip KaiDekA to make an appearance at Bloodstock this year,  as they deserve to play based upon what I saw, with such great energy and powerful material, they are well worthy of that festival. If this prediction doesn’t materialise, nothing ventured and nothing gained, but be sure, you’ll see these guys again in the coming years live events, that’s for sure!

Tonight’s set consisted of; 1 – 25145400  2 – Pre requisite  3 – Let’s Blame Dahmer  4 – The Vindicators Facade  5 – Shackles Of The flesh  6 – Dim Cave Droan  7. Obsessive


This year I’m going to get as many headliners to complete an encore  as I can, providing they’re good enough on the night (This all started with a gig I was at last year) and I’m happy to say I managed to get KaiDekA to perform ‘Drowning’ as their encore, their only request of us the crowd, was we all get down the front and rock out. I was there camera and all, moshing like a nut case, great set guys, thanks for the memories!


Keep your eyes on The Sitwell Tavern this year, as they have some cracking live shows coming up and have acts on every weekend right up to April already confirmed!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)