Monday, 10 February 2020

Three in Three

My first post of the new decade, and it is about live music, who would have thunk it? This weekend, I went to three gigs in three days. I almost started this by saying “this weekend, I rolled back the years to my younger days” but I actually don’t know if I’ve previously done 3 gigs in 3 days before (outside of a festival setting). I know I’ve done two gigs in two days before, but I am not sure about three in three. One of those gigs was close to home, and the others involved a stop in a hotel in London. I was tempted to write a separate post for all 3, and then decided to be lazy and just write one that covers all three gigs. The three gigs were The Menzingers at the Engine Rooms in Southampton, The Interrupters at the O2 Forum in London, and finally Sabaton at the SSE Arena in London - a bit of a mixed bag there you could say (indeed, I am saying that). Anyway, it feels like it makes sense to talk about them in chronological order, and so I will.

The Menzingers - Engine Rooms, Southampton. Thursday 6th February 2020

I bought my ticket for The Menzingers, a gig which happened on Thursday night just a few days before, I remember seeing the listing and thinking I wouldn’t mind going, and then prompted to forget about it until I saw a social media advert for it (they do work, I guess!) The advert prompted me to give their latest album, Hello Exile, another go and I was immediately reminded about how good some of the songs on there are. This, alongside the fact that the ticket was remarkably affordable, and the main support were Spanish Love Songs, was enough to convince me to buy a ticket for this gig. I am very glad I did so. The first band on were Mannequin Pussy, who I thought were pretty decent. Their music was a real mixed bag of genres and song lengths (including a short song which got no response, causing the singer to remind us that not all songs have to be 4 minutes long). Some of the songs towards the end of their set was really abrasive punk, which I liked (I liked it all, but I wasn’t expecting that based on what had been played previously).

The main support and one of the reasons I took the plunge on buying a ticket was Spanish Love Songs. I saw the video for their song Losers a few months ago and thought the song was excellent. They played that song first I think, which was nice. They were excellent. I would love to see them come back and headline (and given the number of people in the room when they came on, they could probably play the same venue and have a decent turnout). Of course, if they wanted to come back and play a slightly smaller venue, I think they would be great at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth (yes I am biased as it is up the road, but I reckon that would be a good night).

Anyhow, the main reason I was in the room was The Menzingers and they did not disappoint. From start to finish, they were on top form. I’m not an aficionado on the band, but they seemed to play a good mix of their back catalogue whilst heavily featuring the new album, which was cool. The highlight for me was the song that got me into them, America (You’re Freaking Me Out), followed by I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore. They even threw in a cover of The Clash - Death or Glory, which was nice. As I said earlier, this was a late call to go to this gig, and it is one I am glad I made.

The Interrupters - O2 Forum, London. Friday 7th February 2020

Up in the big smoke for gig 2 of 3, and this was, before the weekend, the gig I was probably looking forward to the most. The Interrupters were one of the best bands I saw at festivals last year (indeed, in my end of year blog, they were only topped by Tool). I didn’t check out much by either of the support bands before going in, and to be honest I think if I had I would have stayed in the pub longer. The supports were Buster Shuffle and The Skints. Of the two, I preferred Buster Shuffle, but I have to be honest I wasn’t really into either of them. It would be boring if we all liked the same things!

The Interrupters, mind, were bloody great. They played every song of theirs that I love, which was always going to help my enjoyment of their set. I am also pleased to report their cover of Billie Eilish’s song Bad Guy is better live than the studio version, which I wasn’t that into. The Interrupters were great from start to finish, and I am glad to have seen a headline show of theirs. It will be interesting to see when they are back, as they said this tour was the end of the world tour for their third album. One wonders if they are off to do another album soon.

The sad thing for me is that the bulk of my chat post gig has been about not really liking the supports, rather than liking the main band. It shouldn’t be that way, but it has been. Let’s put a full stop on that negativity and end on a high - The Interrupters were banging!

Sabaton - The SSE Arena, London. Saturday 8th February 2020

Right, before getting into the gig, boy did I have a hangover which stayed with me all day on Saturday. I wouldn’t recommend it, kids! Anyway, I hadn’t seen Sabaton properly since the first time I saw them at Wacken 2013 (when they were outstanding). I saw a smidge of them at Download 2014, but they clashed with Volbeat, and I love heart eyes emoji Volbeat so I didn’t see much Sabaton. I am not sure now why I didn’t go see them play Southampton Guildhall with Alestorm in 2016 - my immediate thought is the venue in question played a part in that. No matter! The bill this time round was really good, with Apocalyptica and Amaranthe. Luckily, for my hungover ass, I booked a seating ticket for this one.

Amaranthe opened the night and, for the most part, I thought they were great. I really loved their first EP and first two albums, somewhat liked the third album and just lost touch with them since then. They played a good mixture of their stuff and aye, I thought they had a great set. It was cool when they played Amaranthine, and the fans in the venue lit up their phones to add to the atmosphere. Apocalyptica were up next and I was a bit nervous about their set, I last saw them at Wacken 2014, when they played with a full orchestra, and I thought the set was really dull. This impacted my direct enjoyment of them when I saw them the year after at Download because I kept thinking about that set, and just walked off after a couple of songs. I wondered if that set at Wacken would pop into my head again while they were on stage. I am pleased to say it didn’t. It was cool to hear them cover Seemann by Rammstein (with Elise from Amaranthe on vocals). Elise stayed out there with them for I Don’t Care as well, which was also cool. The end of their set, which featured two Metallica songs, and Hall of the Mountain King was a quality way for their set to end. Thumbs up for Apocalyptica - I very much enjoyed their set.

From where I was sat, I could see the stage show being built for Sabaton and my word, they did a cool job of the war themed stage, tank and all. Wacken 2013 was the benchmark I had for a Sabaton live show and in my mind, that was a high bar to clear. I am pleased to report that Sabaton cleared it and then some! The set, including 6 songs where Apocalyptica were back on stage with them, was superb. I already mentioned how the show looked, but there was a lot of pyro and fireworks (things which I quite like in a big live show). Opening the main set with Ghost Division, and then opening the encore with Primo Victoria was outrageous behaviour (the sort of behaviour I encourage, though!) In short, Sabaton knocked it out the park.

Photos of all three gigs (as well as a tree which was blown over by the wind, I assume) can be found on my Instagram (which is my way of saying I hadn't downloaded them from my phone when I posted this) 

And that was three gigs in three days. I am more than glad I went to all three. I am not in a hurry to do 3 in 3 days again though. Nor am I in a hurry to have a hangover again after the one on Saturday. I am taking a break from going to gigs for a while now. By break, I mean my next one is Thursday, when I dive into Southampton to see Loathe. I’ve been listening to their new album as I wrote this, and it is very good.