People Watching at a Rock Concert

So the rock music year began a couple of days ago with a visit to legendary Glasgow venue ‘The Barrowlands’, to see Halestorm. For once hubby and I didn’t queue all day like mad people to get to the front. For this one, we lurked at the back, drank Irn Bru, and enjoyed the music. I also enjoyed something you can’t do if you’re on the barrier: people watching.

The wonderfully tacky  Barrowland sign  - its been like this for as long as I can remember. Pic courtesy of Gordon Soutar

The wonderfully tacky Barrowland sign – its been like this for as long as I can remember. Pic courtesy of Gordon Soutar

It’s fascinating to watch other people at gigs. Most people are similar: bouncing up and down, air punching, horns up, singing along, having a good time and not spoiling anyone else’s night, even if they’ve had a few drinks. It’s great fun looking around and seeing everyone united in support of a fantastic band.

Then there are those who behave in such a way that they either a) mystify me or b) get on my nerves. Here are a few examples:

Moshers. Especially the ones who are clearly off their face. Why go to a gig and throw yourself into a melee of nutters where you’re extremely likely to get injured? The ones who are totally out of it – they could be anywhere. Why pay all that money when you’re not paying attention to the band?
Having said this, my friend’s son seems to be on the way to becoming an expert mosher. Must ask him what he sees in it… 🙂

Excessively drunk people in general. Who appear to have no idea where they are. Again, why not just go the pub? Then there are the ones who are rowdy and aggressive and spoil it for others, especially youngsters who are new to gigs. Take your drunken bad attitude somewhere else. Home, preferably.

On to something not annoying, but mystifying…okay, it is annoying. The couple who stood near to us and basically snogged the faces off each other for most of the gig. Hello, the band is over there! Yuck, you’re distracting me. Again, please take it home where you can’t gross everyone else out.

If you’re a big lad, don’t squeeze through and then stand in front of the shortest lassie you can find. That’s just rude. Stand behind her, you moron! She might thank you for it later…okay, probably not. 😉

When the band play the occasional ballad, don’t talk all the way through it. There’s Lzzy Hale with her beautiful voice and piano, singing her heart out – for all of about two minutes. Don’t worry, hardcore rockers, the noisy stuff will be back shortly. In the meantime, shut the f**k up.

I’m sure those of you who don’t see the appeal of going to gigs are thinking ‘Ugh, that’s why I don’t want to go!’ Let me reiterate that most people are NOT like this. Rock fans are some of the nicest folk you will ever meet. I’ve made so many friends around the world and had so much support from my rock music community. It’s become a cliché in itself, I know, but I find that the tattooed, pierced, black-clad brigade are usually far nicer and much less judgemental than many others I’ve met. Anyway, I digress.

Mz Lzzy Hale rocking out wearing our flag. Pic courtesy of Coral McCallum

Mz Lzzy Hale rocking out wearing our flag. Pic courtesy of Coral McCallum

Halestorm played a blistering set and further secured their place on my list of top bands to see live. I love Lzzy Hale’s lyrics – her songs really resonate with me: strong empowered women taking charge of their lives, especially in the bedroom. Sexy stuff. Some of my erotica pieces are actually inspired by her words. Then there’s her brother Arejay on drums. This guy has to be seen to be believed! No hiding behind the drum kit for him – he’s a consummate entertainer and a huge part of the rock show.

Arejay Hale demonstrates his unique drumming style. Pic courtesy of Coral McCallum

Arejay Hale demonstrates his unique drumming style. Pic courtesy of Coral McCallum

Next gigs are folk and orchestral music – yes, really! Then it’s back to rock again at the end of April. Until then, I’ll just have to crank up the new surround sound system. 😉


(This post also features on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog Fiction Writers Blog Hop.
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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!

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 L-R: Zach, Barry, Eric, Brent

Pic courtesy of
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!


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 L-R: Arejay, Josh, Lzzy, Joe

Pic courtesy of
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

Photo credits to Austin Hargrave, via

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.

I’m Your Gun – Tattoos, Tunes (and Trashy Humour)

Hubby got tattooed again last week – rather spontaneously. He recently started a new job and, when he left the old one, the staff gave him a voucher for our favoured tattoo studio. He was going to go there on his day off and book an appointment, but our lovely tattoo artist had a cancellation and was able to do his tattoo there and then. It was a fun piece that she was itching to do, and hubby was up for it, so off they went.

Being in the studio reminded me of when I was there last getting tattooed. Needless to say, there was a rock music soundtrack playing in the background. One song in particular got stuck in my head, and when I got home, I had to dig out the album and play it again. For this week’s Music Monday, we have Alice Cooper: I’m Your Gun.

Even non-rock fans MUST know Alice Cooper. His career spans five decades, and his iconic look and shock-horror themed stage performances are legendary. He is credited with being the first to introduce horror imagery to rock ‘n’ roll. He ‘dies’ on stage during every performance. I’ve seen his show – and it is a show, not simply a gig – and it’s awesome. The early seventies gave us such classics as ‘School’s Out’ and ‘I’m Eighteen’, but the track I’ve chosen is from the eighties. Lots of fans will poo-poo this decade, but personally I love the album ‘Trash’, and this track is fun. As I was saying, I’ve chosen it because:

1: I got tattooed to it, and you get tattooed with a gun (ah, see, this stuff doesn’t just happen by accident, you know. 😉 And apologies to those tattoo artists who don’t like the machine referred to as a ‘gun’).

2: You can jive to it.

3: It’s full of innuendo, and being brought up with Carry On films and seaside humour, I love a bit of that.

Sadly there’s no video, as it wasn’t released as a single. So you’ll just have to imagine me jiving round the living room to it. I’m so out of practice, that’s nearly as horrific as watching one of Alice’s stage shows. 😉

A selection of hubby’s tattoo artwork, and the legendary ‘gun’.