Martyr De Mona

The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, 20th April 2014.

Martyr de Mona hit the Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton with an explosive performance in front of an extremely loyal home crowd. This latest UK tour celebrates the release of their stunning new album ‘Imperia’ and demonstrates how the music of this incredible bunch of hard rockers is going from strength to strength and follows on from their success to date in supporting many highly respected bands including Guns’N’Roses, Avenged Sevenfold, Alter Bridge and Black Sabbath.

Martyr de Mona

Singer Louis Hale delivered smooth yet powerful vocals on the opener ‘Siege Mentality’, with the equally talented band members following up with gigantic guitar assaults and thumping drum smashing. The full energy of this rock and grunge tinted outfit came into its element on the big stage tonight as their stage presence becomes more and more commanding. This was no more demonstrated at their encore with endless crowd chants of ‘MDM, MDM, MDM !’ as they launched into one of their classic anthems ‘Esprit De Corps’. Some have dubbed Martyr de Mona the UK’s Answer to Alter Bridge proving to me that Martyr de Mona are on the verge of something big, following in the tracks of the great Rock and Metal acts from the Black Country and West Midlands.

Martyr de Mona.

The Black Hounds tonight debuted their new front man Anthony Wright. The former Whisky Syndicate lead vocalist and guitarist brought with him all the guitar shredding charisma that he has always been known for, adding immensely to the depth of The Black Hounds awesome heavy rock performance. Since forming in early 2013, The Black Hounds have honed their craft well, culminating in a heavy laden rock guitar riff set that was shown to full effect tonight. 2014 is looking to be a good year for The Black Hounds with a new EP and more gigs in the pipeline.

The Black Hounds

Fools Glory’s energetic guitar tear up of a set was outstanding. This young rock band have a great confident sound that shows they are undaunted by the big stage experience. The pocket rocket that is lead vocalist Katie Mainwood belts out the tunes with power and strength that seems beyond her years. There’s no standing still for the rest of the band either with awesome guitar work all round and pounding drums throughout their lively set.

Fools Glory

Lightfire pack an undeniable punch. Their alternative rock sound is full of meaty riffs. And while their sound is very hard and very loud, their melodies are elegant and they bring out a softness with soaring vocals throughout. With their influences listed as Karnivool, Thrice, Blink 182, Bullet for my valentine, Foo Fighters, The offspring and Skindred you can see how they have evolved. Lightfire have popped up on the radars of radio stations such as Kerrang and on the 18th May 2014 they will be at the LG Arena Forum to play an acoustic set before the Nine Inch Nails show. Nice one lads !

Lightfire

To see more photos from the night, click HERE!

Words and pictures by Stephen Turner

Soley Mourning

‘The Rocket Pool’ Review.

So last week I had a very special delivery! What was it you ask? It was Soley Mourning’s latest album, ‘The Rocket Pool’!

For those who don’t know, and honestly how could you not, Soley Mourning are a five piece, melodic classic rock band from the West Midlands, featuring Mat Partridge – Vocals, Tone Chambers on Guitar, Andy Guest on Guitar, Dattani on Bass and Lloyd Daker on Drums.

Soley Mourning - The Rocket Pool

Formed in 2006 the band already has three studio albums, with ‘The Rocket Pool’ being their fourth!

Soley Mourning have a distinct sound, with an easy to listen to base-y rock back line, plus super funky vocals and interesting guitar solos so you can see why they are rolling out the tunes!

Moving on to ‘The Rocket Pool’….

The new album featuring ten tracks, opens with ‘Last Of These Nine Lives’ which is a substantial track at 6:41mins. This track has a gravel toned guitar intro, leading into Mat’s distinctive vocals that promise it to be a strong first to the album and it doesn’t disappoint as the accompaniment of Tina V and her softer female vocal works beautifully with Mats’. My only criticism would be perhaps that the vocals could sit within the music rather than on top of it but the track is easy to listen to and structured beautifully! Sit and relax, listen to it in the car or hey, jump about with the cat because this one is a good ‘un!

Second on the listing is ‘Accidental Enemies’ and this track follows the previous one with real class. It is catchy and funky and if you like a little rock in your music, here it is…! This track has all you could want, from great vocals, OK, again maybe a little over the music, but you know what, the more I listen to the album the less this bothers me, great melody, solid guitar and bass! Bring up those drums and it’d be just perfect! Great, love it!

Bring on ‘Turn Yourself Around’ and what a different piece of music to the previous tracks! Vocal harmonies, waves of sound and full on funky! The flow of the chorus sits well within the track with the punchy bite of the verse and guitar solos all just adding to this tracks appeal! I can almost imagine the argument in these strong words especially the closing line… “Oh, have you only got the one agenda? No, and I am wasting time depending on ya!”

The fourth track on the album has a slightly heavier rock sound than its predecessor and starts as it means to go on! ‘Shark Eyes’ captures the slow drawn out guitar and vocals that are mixed with a faster and jumpy melody and keeps you guessing throughout – it’s smooth, it’s funky, it’s bold and you very much feel those eyes bearing down on you! It’s a quick one tho at only 3:10mins so don’t miss it!

‘Gumstream’! Well, what a beautiful intro that builds to a delicate guitar riff with vocals that come in with an equal amount of calm and delicacy. Then with a tempo change, the tune opens up building on that soft foundation with strength of dedication! A great Melody that is well centred around the baseline!

We next come to the title track, ‘The Rocket Pool’ with its abundance of gravel tones, strong drums, catchy bass and guitar, that all open this track with a bang! This track is just all there – it is together and it feels tight! With a middle track shift, we see down tempo break, then back to all cylinders go! “Rise like a rocket from the bottom of the pond!” It sure does, uplifting, powerful and over too soon!

You know what, over too soon it might be but when followed by ‘The Unmaking Of A Rational Mind’, you don’t mind. The synchronicity between the two songs works well together and makes for great track placement on the album. This track has so many lyrics and is a very involved piece of music which has a clear message to convey which only Mat could get across with his smooth funky tones. Take the time to listen to the words here, (if you don’t normally, that is) it just works!

Ooooh, ‘Seed Of Doubt’ next and this is a melodic rock song of two parts, seriously easy to listen to and almost gentle in its flow – I said almost! With its lingering lyrics, high notes and punchy drums, there is certainly no doubt that this is a pleasure to listen to!

We move onto the penultimate track on the album, ‘Only Embers’ which opens well with an intro that is great, powerful and tuneful! The break in the vocal comes just when you want it to and it doesn’t hang about either, making this track come alive with melody! With a strong tuneful vocal harmony that compliments Mat’s powerful voice but in the absence of competition on the ears, the vocals on this track simply work!

Then, last but certainly not least, we have ‘So Long Song’ which is dedicated to Paul. This track is primarily quite far removed to the previous nine as it has a soft and gentle soul to it which builds gradually from a folky back line! I am getting feelings of Noah and his gentle Whale when I listen to this and when it comes out of the shadows with a down pour of flowing melodic crescendo and string symphony, the phrase “remember you are my brother, and you ain’t heavy”, make this a stunning finish to what I found an enjoyable and easy on the ear new album!

Review by Xenia Seurat.

Foreigner

With Europe and FM.

Nottingham’s Royal Centre 7th April 2014.

Tonight was a night of firsts for me. First time shooting at Nottingham’s amazing Royal Centre, which is a fantastic state of the art venue and first time seeing all three of these amazing classic bands live. Although I am very familiar with both Europe and Foreigner, FM were a completely new AOR act for me and a pretty impressive one at that!

FM are a British rock band who formed back in 1984 and performed their first concert on Valentines Day in 1985 and since that day, they haven’t looked back! They have ten studio albums to their name which have produced multiple chart successes over the years in both the UK and the US. The band have also toured with many of the greats over the years including Tina Turner, Gary Moore, Statues Quo, Bon Jovi and of course, Foreigner, so clearly they are no strangers to the industry. As with many bands, nothing stays the same forever and they have seen line ups changes, relationships broken then fixed along with new recruits and new alliances formed, but the one thing that has always remained true, has been their music.

FM’s current line up consists of Jem Davies on keyboards, Pete Jupp on drums, Steve Overland, vocals and guitar, Jim Kirkpatrick also guitar and Merv Goldsworth on bass and as the guys came onto the stage they were all smiles, especially Steve and Merv. With this great venue filling up nicely and their eight song set being rolled out impeccably, their focus on the music amongst the company of fans, saw FM give a performance that confirmed exactly why these guys were here!

FM.

You could clearly see that the band were enjoying themselves, with the smiles on stage being infectious amongst the crowd who were quick to sing all the words back to them, especially the few dancing in the isles. Many of the FM’s classic tracks were featured tonight, but with time limitations they were a few suprise omissions in their set list. The positive side of that was the added inclusion of some of their lesser known and lesser played live tracks, which kept their audience more than happy.

FM

Full track list consisted of: 1. Tough Love  2. I Belong to the Night  3. Don’t Stop  4. Closer To Heaven  5. That Girl  6. Crosstown  7. Train  8. Burning My Heart Down.

With FM having warmed the crowd up in preparation for what was still to come, the time was fast approaching for super Swed’s Europe, to make their mark. This band needs no introduction, love them or loath them, their monster rock anthem “The Final Countdown” struck a chord with millions upon millions of people all over the world, myself included and continues to do so with every generation that comes along! This track is still regarded as their biggest hit to date as when it was originally released in 1986, it managed to score the No. 1 slot in over twenty five countries world wide but Europe have kept moving forward with their latest album ‘Bag of Bones’, which was released in 2012, getting them great reviews and support slots like tonight’s show.

Europe’s classic rock sound has appealed to a mass audience for years, and with each new album released, they’ve managed to put a new perspective on their music whilst maintaining their identity. Tonight’s set was as varied as their musical career and featured many of the great tracks they have produced over the years. One of the biggest crowd reactions was for the track ‘Carrie’, and although a seated venue, there was no stopping people getting up from their seats to embrace the music and with the crowd played a big part in tonight’s performance, you could see the band appreciated and fed off these reactions. Without doubt, this band have a super hardcore following and you could plenty of them in the Royal Center tonight, all singing their hearts out to every track played.

Europe

Having toured the UK extensively, Europe are no strangers to Nottingham but I believe tonight was their first time visit to this amazing venue and as Mr Tempest stated, the Royal Centre is truly state of the art. The acoustics this building achieves is out of this world and you could see the band were enjoying playing here. Tonight’s line up featured Mic Michaeli on  Keys, John Levén on Bass, John Norum on Guitars, Ian Haugland on Drums and Joey Tempest on Vocals and one thing for sure each and everyone of them gave it their all. Tempest even cracked a few jokes and asked the crowd if he could still get a pint of Shippo’s – which got a hearty reaction from the crowd.

Europe.

Tonight’s set list tonight included the following classics; 1. Riches to Rags  2. Firebox  3. Superstitious [Included a snippet of ‘Here I Go Again’]  4. Scream of Anger  5. No Stone Unturned  6. Carrie  7. Sign of the Times  8. Cherokee  9. Rock the Night and  10. Last Look at Eden and of course, they finished with “The Final Countdown”. This track will always remain special to me, as it was the first track I ever fell in love with as a child, at the tender age of six! It was an absolute delight to see Europe perform this track live, and another great first for me! These guys are an absolute must see band for any hard rock fan out there, as tonight’s show was such a great live performance from start to finish!

Like Europe before them, Foreigner are special, if not more so. Formed in 1976 and spanning their thirty year illustrious career, they have produced so many of the great tracks of our time that have resulted in ten multi-platinum albums and sixteen Top 30 hits.

Tonight’s line up consisted of, Kelly Hansen – Lead Vocals, Jeff Pilson on Bass, Tom Gimbel on Flute, Rhythm Guitar and Saxophone, Michael Bluestein on Keys, Chris Frazier on Drums and I believe, Bruce Watson – as stand in on Lead Guitarist.  Sadly founding member and guitarist Mic Jones wasn’t in attendance tonight due to ill health, but I’m pleased to read that he was back on his feet and fighting fit again in time to accept his induction into Portsmouth’s Wall of Fame, the first inductee in fact, which was in his home town.

Foreigner..

Opening up tonight’s set with their amazing track ‘Double vision’, very much met with audience approval and the hits just kept on coming after that! Kelly Hansen is an impressive vocalist and a real jack in the box on and off stage, making him an addictive to watch frontman and quite a character. With the impromptu collapse of Michael’s keyboard stand and whilst the crew were busy sorting that ou, Kelly was quick to grab the moment as an opportunity to tell the crowd “This is a rock and roll concert, there are no restrictions, if you want to get up and party, do so. If you have a spare pair of underwear, throw them, but above all, enjoy yourselves”. Seeing everyone get up on their feet, Kelly decided to run out into the crowd, stopping at row J, our row in fact and ran along the isle seats, giving high fives to those he could reach.With the set ready to continue, he was quickly back up on stage and straight into Foreigners timeless anthem ‘Waiting for a Girl Like This’.

Foreigner

With so many classic songs to choose from, the remaining set list truly captured the spirit of Foreigner and delivered many great performances of their tracks that included ‘Feels Like The First Time’, ‘Juke Box Hero’ and ‘Urgent’ to mention only a few. Their encore was something very special though as their three final tracks left everyone speechless, especially “I Want to Know What Love Is” which ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

Foreigner.

Being such a great live act, with timeless music and great musicianship, it’s easy to see why this band continues to sell out tours around the world. Long may they continue to do so, as tonight was truly spectacular

Full set list consisted of: 1. Double Vision  2. Head Games  3. Cold as Ice  4. Waiting for a Girl Like You  5. That Was Yesterday  6. Dirty White Boy  7. Say You Will [Acoustic]  8. Feels Like the First Time  9. Urgent  10. Keyboard solo / Drum solo  11. Juke Box Hero. Encore was: 1. Long, Long Way from Home  2. I Want to Know What Love Is  3. Hot Blooded.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)