RnF’nR! Slash Brings Proper Music Back To MTV. I’m there!

Well, what a night that was! You all know I like a bit of rock ‘n’ roll. Last week I ended up at one of the best gigs EVER (and I’ve been to a few). 🙂

An amazing announcement was made two weeks ago: Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators would be playing a gig to be filmed as part of MTV World Stage, on the run up to the European Music Awards in Glasgow. This gig would be available only to fans on Slash’s mailing list. Anyone who knows about music television will get what I mean – MTV don’t play music anymore. Especially not rock music. And an unexpected Slash gig! This was a pleasant surprise.

I lurked by the computer on the appointed sales day and got tickets, which were limited to two per person. The morning of the gig dawned, and hubby arranged to leave work early. Like the madpants that I am, I took the day off and queued at the venue in order to get to the front. I was accompanied by the usual suspects (you know who you are). 😉

Security was tight: bags were searched on entry, as well as tickets being scanned and photo ID checked. This did make entering the venue a slightly saner experience than usual, as everybody was slowed down. Usually it’s a mad dash to see who can get to the barrier first! I marched in quickly (walk, don’t run) and gazed in surprise at a completely empty hall. I was first in! I strolled down and took up my favourite spot, right between where Slash and Myles would be standing. My crowd of crazy friends soon joined me and the hall filled up. MTV bigwigs and VIPs were up on the balcony, safe from us moshers downstairs.

The gig was a double bill with Glasgow band Biffy Clyro going first. They’re not my kind of thing, but their fans had a ticket allocation as well and certainly got things going. After that came one of the quickest turnarounds ever seen in order to get their gear off and Slash’s on, so the latter wouldn’t break curfew. (Ha – they still ran over). The already-buzzing crowd got more and more excited, and totally drowned out the wee lassie from MTV when she announced Slash.

Slash and Myles take command of the stage

Slash and Myles take command of the stage

From the moment the guys took to the stage, the crowd, myself included, went MENTAL. This band just get better and better every time I see them. Every rock fan (and many others) knows Slash’s signature guitar style and top-hatted appearance, but vocalist Myles Kennedy is a force to be reckoned with. I stand by my opinion that he has the most versatile voice in rock. He delivers songs by Guns ‘n’ Roses, Velvet Revolver – basically every band Slash has played in up to now, as well as their own stuff – and manages to keep the feel of the old numbers as well as adding his own style. I could listen to this guy sing forever. Yes, I do have a crush.

Myles singing - to me! *swoon*

Myles singing – to me! *swoon*

Bassist and backing vocalist Todd Kerns is an amazing musician in his own right – check him out, rock people – as are Brent Fitz on drums and Frank Sidoris who provides extra depth to the guitar sound on tour. They all manage to be slick and down ‘n’ dirty at the same time. Although the set was shorter than usual, they squeezed in 14 tracks, including four from the new album ‘World On Fire’. Brilliant stuff.

Talented guys

Talented guys

Highlights of my evening: having Myles sing part of ‘Anastasia’ to me, getting a handshake and a thumbs up from him at the end, and Slash throwing a setlist in my general direction – which several hands grabbed for and missed, but a nice security guard handed it up to me. Result!

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat

Long-suffering hubby enjoyed himself alongside me and took these super photos. Big kisses to him.

Addendum: Since I began writing this, the guys also closed the MTV EMAs show proper, with a tribute to Ozzy Osbourne, who received a Global Icon award. Slash and the boys (together with Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro) played a fantastic rendition of Ozzy’s hit ‘Crazy Train’. Ozzy and Sharon were in the audience and loving it! Awesome.

If you like your rock ‘n’ roll loud but fun, go and see Slash, Myles and Co. You’d be mad not to. I’ll stop burbling now. 😉

See you again soon, guys!

See you again soon, guys!

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World On Fire! It’s Music Monday and it’s hot hot hot!

I LOVE a bit of heat! Yes, there is a double meaning to that. 😉

Let’s get the weather out of the way. This week has been toasty, even when it’s been raining. Since we bought an air conditioning unit a few years ago, this is not a problem when it comes to a good night’s sleep. As for the daytime, bring on the heat! The car is air conditioned, too. Shades on, visor down. When not working, I’ve actually been able to sit in the garden. Sometimes with a beer.

World On Fire album artwork. Bonkers.

World On Fire album artwork. Bonkers.

So, the other kind of hotness…my fave rock musicians Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators have just released their new single ‘World On Fire’. It’s AWESOME! Link is below. Rock fans – give it a listen. Amazing guitar from Slash (duh) and fantastic vocals from Mr Kennedy and his back up singer (and bassist) Todd ‘Dammit’ Kerns. So much talent in this band. No video as yet, but I’m sure there’ll be one soon. In the meantime, feast your ears!
I can’t wait until the full album comes out in September. I also can’t wait to hear this high energy track live. Unfortunately, this won’t happen until December. Oh well, it’ll heat up the chilly Scottish winter.
(Warning to sensitive people: there is a pretty obvious swear towards the end. I love it when Mr Kennedy swears – he’s the nice boy of rock ‘n’ roll, so it always gives me a thrill when he’s bad. And it fits the song. So there.)

Todd, Myles, Slash and Brent. Too much talent and hotness in one band.

Todd, Myles, Slash and Brent. Too much talent and hotness in one band.

Also on the subject of hotness: checking my stats for the last week, you know what people have been searching for? Sexy poems. Well well. As it happens, I have a few of those on here, and some more waiting to be added. Must be something in the air… 😉

Music Monday: Fairytale of New York

Our Christmas decorations are up! Hubby must put them up on 1st December. He can’t wait any longer. He’s a big kid really!

He decorates the outside of the house, while I do the tree and the indoor decorations. We have a real tree for the first time in years. It’s huge! It does look lovely though.

My lovely hubby, and my lovely Christmas tree! Hubby is six feet tall, so you get an idea of the tree size...

My lovely hubby, and my lovely Christmas tree! Hubby is six feet tall, so you get an idea of the tree size…

I also have cinammon-scented pine cones. I’ve been seeing them in the garden centre every Christmas for ages and saying ‘I must get some of those’. Finally, I got some – and between them and the piney scent of the tree, the whole house smells gorgeous.

I know some of you will be saying ‘Bah Humbug! How can you be doing Christmas things already?’ Truth is, I love it. I’ve always loved Christmas, but sadly in the household I grew up in it wasn’t a happy occasion. I’m not going to go into why in this post. Maybe I’ll explain some other time. But I always wanted Christmas to be magical (probably through reading too many books where it was), and ever since I left my childhood home, and especially since being with hubby, I’ve endeavoured to make it that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that there’s far too much consumerism and that the goodwill often gets lost. I try not to lose sight of the fact that it’s about love, not how big a tree you have or how many presents you’ve got. (Says the person with the ridiculously big tree). I know Christmas is a difficult time for many. Anyway, that leads me on to…

…Christmas songs. I love them too. The carols, the cheery ones, and of course the cynical ones… My Music Monday choice this week definitely falls into the latter category. Frequently voted the best Christmas song ever, Fairytale of New York, performed by the unlikely pairing of The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, was first released in November 1987. It has been re-released several times since, and re-enters the charts every Christmas.

The song tells an Irish immigrant’s story about Christmases past while sleeping off a binge in a New York City drunk tank. It becomes a back-and-forth between the male and female characters of the story, their youthful hopes crushed by alcoholism and drug addiction, as they reminisce and bicker on Christmas Eve.

Kirsty MacColl’s melodious singing contrasts with the harshness of Shane MacGowan’s voice, and the lyrics are sometimes bittersweet — sometimes purely bitter: ‘Happy Christmas your arse/I pray God it’s our last’. The title, taken from author J.P. Donleavy’s novel A Fairy Tale of New York, was chosen after the song had been written and recorded.

Since Kirsty MacColl’s untimely death in 2000, the song has become even more poignant. It’s been a favourite of mine ever since it was first released. During my University years, a friend and I used to give a rendition of it at pub sing-songs. Not sure how well we did it, but it always went down a treat (possibly because our audience was inebriated). 😉

Here’s Fairytale of New York and the wonderful video that accompanies it. (Look out for an appearance by actor Matt Dillon, as the cop).

Let the craziness commence!

Hello and goodbye! No, not forever, just for a week! Tomorrow is the start of my October holiday. Gigs, friends, shows, funfairs, ballrooms, cups of tea, pints of beer, too many calories…you get the idea.

As you all must know by now (unless you’ve been going la-la-la over my last few posts, and I wouldn’t blame you), I’m off to see awesome band Alter Bridge in concert on Monday AND Tuesday. They will be ably supported by other excellent bands Halestorm and Shinedown. So during the day for the first two days I will be standing in a queue, wearing lots of layers and drinking lots of coffee. In the evenings, I will be getting crushed against a barrier, singing screaming my head off and loving it. Some of you will be mystified by why this could be thought fun, but for me it is, honestly!

Then I’m off to Blackpool for a few days. Once more I will try and drag long-suffering hubby onto the Pepsi-Max Rollercoaster. He always wriggles out of it somehow. 😉 Blackpool, for those overseas readers who don’t know, is the quintessential British seaside town. It’s glitzy, it’s tacky, it’s chilly (at least at this time of year) and it’s fun. The reason we visit in October is for the Illuminations. The town is lit up by millions of bulbs, including the Tower (smaller version of the Eiffel Tower) and the Promenade (which is six miles long). This Lights Festival was founded in 1879 and runs from September to November.

Blackpool Illuminations

Blackpool Illuminations

Blackpool has three piers, which together with the town have theatres, fortune tellers, and all kinds of other attractions. There is also the Pleasure Beach, one of the most visited amusement parks in the world. It’s home to the massive rollercoaster I keep trying to get hubby to ride on. I think I like Blackpool so much because it reminds of my childhood. We were a seaside holiday sort of family. We didn’t go abroad for various reasons, so resorts like Blackpool were where I spent my summers. I won’t be paddling in the sea at this time of year, though!

When I get back, Halloween will be almost here! That’s an important day in our neighbourhood. More on that next time. On the day itself, Jennifer M Zeiger will be guesting on my blog, talking about scary anthology Midnight Abyss, which is published on Halloween. I’ve read a few of the stories from this new book and they’re great. Looking forward to chatting with Jennifer, and reading Midnight Abyss whilst lying in wait for trick-or-treaters!

Well, I better sign off and start packing lots of woolly jumpers for my queueing and my seaside break. I can’t go without leaving you with an early Music Monday: one more song from Alter Bridge. This is a real crowd pleaser. From their Live at Wembley DVD, here’s ‘Rise Today’.

See you all in a week!

Music Monday: Shinedown

Next stop on the Rocktober countdown: Shinedown. I confess I got to know this band quite late, considering it’s ten years since they released their first album. I’d been hearing them on rock radio stations for years, but only started to pay proper attention when they released their third album, The Sound of Madness, in 2008. Their fourth album, Amaryllis, is one of those perfect, not-a-bad-song-on-it albums for me. I can happily drive around for hours listening to it.

Pic courtesy of maytherockbewithyou.com. L-R: Zach, Barry, Eric, Brent

Pic courtesy of maytherockbewithyou.com.
L-R: Zach, Barry, Eric, Brent

Shinedown formed in 2001. Of the original line-up, Brent Smith (vocals) and Barry Kerch (drums) remain, their current line-up featuring Eric Bass (bass) and Zach Myers (guitar). Don’t they do a good job of looking scary in this photo? 😉

Shinedown, along with Halestorm, are supporting the wonderful Alter Bridge on their UK tour – now only one week until I see them all! Yay! Lots of interconnections between these bands: many years ago in 2006, Shinedown played their first overseas concert in London supporting Alter Bridge. In 2010, Shinedown released a deluxe edition of their album The Sound of Madness, featuring the song ‘Breaking Inside’, with guest vocals from Lzzy Hale – great song. Wonder if they’ll sing it together on the tour? Halestorm’s ‘deluxe version’ of ‘Here’s To Us’ features both Brent from Shinedown and Myles from AB on guest vocals.

I think this line-up of bands for a gig is pretty near perfect. Each is a headline act in their own right, so it’s an icing-on-the-cake, cherry-on-top situation to see them altogether. I would also like to say here, that the ticket price is the same as it would be for one band of that calibre. I commend whoever resisted the chance to charge silly money for this tour – because they could have.

My video for this week is ‘Unity’ from Shinedown’s latest album Amaryllis. Shinedown’s music can be quite dark (same as Halestorm and AB – you detecting a pattern here?), but this track is really uplifting. Great concert footage, starting with one of those little mantras that bands chant, to get psyched up to go on stage. They all have them!

Enjoy!

Music Monday: Halestorm

Yay, it’s week two of the countdown to entertainment madness (otherwise known as the last week in October). This week it’s the mighty Halestorm on my blog. This band feature a brother and sister who are, respectively, one of the most barking mad drummers I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a few), and my rock chick girl crush. 😉

Pic courtesy of halestormrocks.com L-R: Arejay, Josh, Lzzy, Joe

Pic courtesy of halestormrocks.com
L-R: Arejay, Josh, Lzzy, Joe

Lzzy Hale and her brother Arejay started the band over a decade ago when she was 13 and he was 10! Joined in 2004/2005 by guitarist Joe Hottinger and bassist Josh Smith, they released their debut album ‘Halestorm’ in 2009. They toured constantly for the following two years, and in 2012 released their second album, ‘The Strange Case Of…’ I loved everything about this album as soon as I heard it, from the title to the wide mix of songs. The album features beautiful ballads, alongside rousing rock anthems and surely one of the fastest songs ever (‘Love Bites’). It was when the band were writing the album that they realised the collection of songs was a bit schizophrenic. Lzzy then went off and wrote ‘Mz Hyde’ about the two different sides to her personality. I think the song perfectly describes me as well, along with quite a few of the other songs that Lzzy has written! I also find that her lyrics inspire my flash fiction and short stories a lot. Hence my little crush on her.

Here’s the video for ‘Freak Like Me’, from the album ‘The Strange Case Of…’. It has some great ‘on tour’ footage, including crowd surfing. It also pretty well describes the bunch of people I’ll be at the gigs with. That’s a COMPLIMENT, guys, before any of you give me a pile of verbal abuse. 😉

Really looking forward to seeing Lzzy and her guys in October. Here they are – enjoy!

Music Monday: Alter Bridge. WARNING: Fangirl Alert!

Time for some unashamed fangirling now. Today sees the release of ‘Fortress’, the new album by one of my favourite rock bands, Alter Bridge. Three weeks today I go to see and hear them live, along with two other great bands, Shinedown and Halestorm. So, for Music Monday, on the run up to the gig, I’m going to post tracks by each band. My rock fan friends will love this. The rest of you – feel free to skim over this stuff and look out for more sensible blog posts. Although there might not be any of those, as my Creative Writing course starts on Saturday and I’m already mildly freaking out about my workload. 😉

Due to being able to listen to official previews, I have heard the album a few times already and it’s fantastic. A great mix of tracks, from soaring anthems to breathy love songs (although Alter Bridge love songs tend to have a bit of a twist). Actually, a lot of AB’s songs are quite dark. Some of my friends find it surprising that I like this band, as I’m also a glam rock/musical theatre type. I like horror and paranormal fiction, and some of my own writing is dark, so when that comes out in someone’s songwriting, I’m drawn to it. Hubby finds it odd that I like AB because he thinks they’re too ‘heavy’ for me. I keep trying to explain that as long as there’s MELODY, it doesn’t matter to me how heavy the music is. (He doesn’t quite get it).

Photo credits to Austin Hargrave, via metalingus.de

Photo credits to Austin Hargrave, via metalingus.de


Above from left to right: Mark Tremonti (vocals, guitar), Scott ‘Flip’ Phillips (drums), Brian Marshall (bass) and Myles Kennedy (vocals, guitar). Don’t let the scary tattooed look fool you – they’re all dedicated, (fairly) clean-living family men!

In my opinion, Myles Kennedy is the best living vocalist in rock. (Hi, Freddie, wherever you are). I will get people shouting lots of other names at me here: Corey Taylor, Brent Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Steven Tyler, to name but a few. Yes, I love all of these guys. I did say ‘in my opinion’. Myles’s amazing vocal range, together with heartfelt delivery and charismatic stage presence, make him a force to be reckoned with. Before anyone says it, yes, the fact that he is very easy on the eyes helps too!

Myles and Mark are both talented singer-songwriters. Their guitar-playing backgrounds are very different. Myles honed his skills playing blues and jazz, and even taught guitar at one point. Mark is a self-taught, speed metal guitarist. They complement one another perfectly. Together with their rhythm section of Brian and Flip, they make a formidable whole. Stand-out songs for me on the new album so far: ‘Calm the Fire’, which shows off Myles’s incredible vocal range, ‘All Ends Well’, written by Myles from his mum’s point of view, talking to the insecure younger him (genius idea), and ‘Lover’ which sounds very breathy and sexy, then you listen to the lyrics… Mark takes lead vocal for the first time on ‘Waters Rising’, which will delight fans. Mark has shown his ability as a frontman with his band ‘Tremonti’ over the last year.

I’m not setting out to review the album or do a bio of the band here; this is just me talking about why I love their music. So much so that I will queue all day to get to the front row of the gig, along with a lot of other like-minded loonies (you know who you are). 😉

I’ve featured two videos below. The first is ‘Addicted to Pain’, the first single from ‘Fortress’. This is ‘loud, fast and thrashin”, as they say. We all know somebody in a relationship like the one the song is describing. The video complements the dark, angry tone of the song. If you don’t like dark and heavy, give it a miss, and skip to the next one…

…‘Watch Over You’, from AB’s second album, ‘Blackbird’. A beautiful ballad, although if you listen to the lyrics – there’s that twist. Myles often performs this as a solo acoustic number during their live set, which works brilliantly and usually has the crowd (and sometimes him!) in tears.

Alter Bridge are a band who are not nearly as well known as they deserve to be. They have built up a well-deserved following through regular touring and interacting with fans (hello, AB Nation)! They sell out arenas all over Europe and the UK. ‘Fortress’ could be the album that makes them a household name.