Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Here We Go...Again

You are my Portsmouth,
My only Portsmouth,
You make me happy when skies are grey,
I never noticed how much I loved you,
Until you take my Portsmouth away.

Please don’t take my Portsmouth away...

Must admit, I’m feeling a certain sense of Déjà Vu writing this post.

Last year, we were faced with the prospect of liquidation. On October 22nd 2010, a press statement was released saying that Portsmouth Football Club was due to be liquidated. The next day it transpired we weren’t going out of business. Between then and the takeover by CSI, the future of the club was a concern for all PFC fans. The club was taken over and collectively I imagine, the fans sighed with relief. Finally, our troubles were over. Finally we had owners who would spend more than the bare minimum on the club. Finally we can move on from the debacle of Al Fahim and Al Mirage (I’m not including Chanrai in the debacle list – it wasn’t great under him but he did so much to ensure there is a Portsmouth Football Club to talk about today). CSI owned Portsmouth Football Club and we could look forward to a bright future. CSI passed the fit and proper persons test (which I believe was changed following Al Fahim/Mirage but I’m not 100%) so they must be perfect, right?

After some confusion over what would happen at PFC following the arrest of chairman and director Vladimir Antonov, the club today released the following statement:

The club's parent company, Convers Sports Initiatives plc (CSI), has been placed into administration.

Vladimir Antonov has resigned as chairman and director of Portsmouth Football Club.

Portsmouth Football Club (2010) Limited – the company that operates PFC – is not in administration and continues to trade.

The club has funding in place for the short term, but will now be seeking alternative investment for its longer-term requirements.

Pompey chief executive David Lampitt said: "After the extraordinary amount of work put in by so many people over the last 18 months to get to this point, it is incredibly disappointing for the club to find itself in this position.

"I want to assure staff and fans that we will continue to do everything possible to safeguard the position of the club and its longer term future."

Well, that’s excellent. After daring to dream that the problems of the past few years were just that, a thing of the past, something else just had to go wrong. I believe a quote from the film Bad Boys 2 is appropriate here – “same shit, different day”. The big question is this - what happens now?

Well, I guess in the short term, nothing will happen. As the statement says, the club is not going into administration just yet as we have the cash flow for short term existence. However, as the clubs parent company has gone into administration, I believe that still leaves us facing a point’s deduction (much like Southampton suffered a little while back). The administrator we had last time, Andrew Andronikou, is once again looking for new owners for the club. I’m not entirely sure I am happy with this news as he was the one I believe who helped find CSI and look how that’s turned out.

I think some serious questions need to be asked about the FA and Football League’s fit and proper persons test though. This has let the club down again in a serious way. We fans now have the fun of wondering whether the club will cease to exist and if we do what level of football we will be playing at. If we are deducted 10 points, we will be bottom and will have a massive task on our hands to avoid relegation. It seems somewhat unfair that we will be deducted points for the 2nd time in 3 years considering this problem arose due to a failure somewhere with the FA & Football League’s fit and proper person test. To be blunt, it is absolute bullshit.

This is a tough time to be a Portsmouth fan. I hope that a new buyer comes in and soon. I don’t know the definition of “short term” in the statement issued by the club is. I am slightly in disbelief that we are going through this all again. I’ll end this post (which I accept hasn’t contained all that much new information but has helped me vent a little) with some analysis from Matt Slater, taken from the BBC’s website.

"Almost three years ago to the day, Portsmouth nearly beat AC Milan on a stirring night of European football. Pompey were the FA Cup holders and solid Premier League performers. How things have changed. News that the club's parent company has filed for insolvency protection would be shocking news at most other clubs but not Pompey. Crisis has become the norm. A second spell of administration looms, Pompey's seventh regime in 27 months, and a points deduction looks likely. Never has a club needed fit and proper persons at the helm more urgently."

Play Up Pompey

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Review: An Evening with Dimmu Borgir - Academy 3, Manchester 25/11/2011

The first observation which I feel needs to be made relates to the venue itself. Before going into the gig, I found out that Manchester Academy 3 is in the Manchester University student union (as is Academy 2 and Club Academy). I also found out the student union is pretty massive! Club Academy (300 cap) is in the basement, Academy 2 is on the 2nd floor (800 cap) and Academy 3 is on the 3rd floor (450 cap). Genius idea if you ask me to have 3 gig venues in one building like that. That would be a great place to have a one day festival of sorts, especially if you utilised the big 2300 cap Academy 1 next door to the union. I assume it is the same for all 3 of the venues in this building, but Academy 3 had a fantastic sound system, something which would prove vital in a gig like this one. When walking into Academy 3, I couldn’t believe I was about to see Dimmu Borgir, arguably the biggest international black metal band, in this very small venue.

This tour was titled “An Evening with Dimmu Borgir” – 2 Dimmu Borgir sets with no support. The first set was a run through of an entire album voted on before the tour by fans and the second being a selection from the Dimmu Borgir back catalogue. The album which won the vote was Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. I voted for a different album personally but was pleased to see this one win. I voted for Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia because it has the very first Dimmu Borgir song I ever listened to on their, Sympozium. Ah, nostalgia.

The crowd roared with mass approval when the opening notes from Mourning Palace played over the PA. This level of enjoyment remained throughout the entire of the gig. There was a certain sinister atmosphere in the venue, created not only by the music but by the lights and smoke. In between and during songs there was a lot of crowd interaction, with Shagrath wanting to see a lot of horns thrown in the air, something which the crowd had no trouble doing. “Raabjorn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde” was the final song of the first set. Shagrath declared the evening to be a celebration towards the 14 year old Enthrone Darkness Triumphant album, and what a celebration it was.

The second set began following a brief interval. It started with a drum solo from Daray which was immense. The rest of the band returned to the stage for Vredesbyrd. Following this, Shagrath said “Left are the kings of the carnival creation, carrying out the echoes of the fallen” to start the next song, which was “Kings of the Carnival Creation” which truly was one of the highlights of the second set. We were treated then to 3 songs from the new album, Abrahadabra - Dimmu Borgir (a song about strength and unity), Ritualist and Gateways. The set then finished with the powerful Puritania. Throughout the material from the new album, Shagrath had demanded mass headbanging which happened slightly. During Puritania, almost every person in the room was banging their head. Dimmu Borgir left the stage but the crowd wanted more. Sure enough they returned and closed the night with The Serpentine Offering and Progenies of the Great Apocalypse, which was a stunning close to this evening.

A special night all round with a superb performance and set list from Dimmu Borgir. I really feel this tour has benefited from being in smaller venues. The sheer intensity coming from the band combined with the intimacy of the venue and the almost demonic atmosphere created a stunning show. I will see them again, at Wacken 2012 where they will play with an Orchestra. That has the potential to be even better than this gig, but we shall wait and see.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Review: Alter Bridge @ MEN Arena 24/11/2011

For Alter Bridge, Thursday marked their biggest headlining gig ever. For me, Thursday was the first time I would be seeing a headline Alter Bridge show. I saw them at Rock AM Ring 2008 and remember being impressed with them. I also remember wanting to see them both times they came close to me (they did UK tours with Portsmouth and Southampton Guildhall dates). However, I never got sorted out and ended up missing the gigs. I was looking forward to this gig not just because I would be getting to see Alter Bridge again but they were being supported by a band I love in the form of Black Stone Cherry (BSC). I’ve seen them twice when they’ve come into town and once at a festival and it’s all been good. The other band on the bill was one called Theory of a Deadman (TOADM). I did some investigative work, with the help of Spotify, and found out they seemed pretty good.

Arriving in the MEN arena, I noticed that the upper tier was covered. I can only assume that is because Alter Bridge isn’t quite a MEN sell out band just yet. The timing of the arrival could not have been worse. The MEN Arena does things differently to any other arena I’ve been to in that to access the standing area, you have to walk through the lower tier of seating and get to the floor that way to have ticket swapped for wristband. I quite like the system as it means avoiding a 10 mile walk to get to the only standing entrance door at the o2 Arena. However, this time around I didn’t care for the system because as we walked in and got maybe 3 stairs down into seating, the lights went out for TOADM. That was really quite dangerous actually. There was no way of seeing where the steps were, and there were a lot of them to go. I think that may need to be changed. Anyway, didn’t fall down them this time so no matter!

TOADM headlined this tour out in America. It was a 5 band tour with Alter Bridge and BSC (plus two other bands) playing below them. I don’t know if it was the fact they weren’t headlining or whether they are just boring live, but I wasn’t overly impressed with them. They lacked any form of stage presence I felt. Musically they were fine but they weren’t great. They had some sound issues (not sure if that’s due to them being a support band though) but they can’t be blamed for the set being not all that enjoyable. I hope it was due to them not headlining, but they aren’t massive in this country so you would assume they would want to be in top form to sell themselves to all of these potential fans watching them. I wasn’t impressed by them and to be honest I probably won’t go out of my way to see them again. They did come out to Blame Canada from the South Park movie though, which was win.

After a short break, it was time for BSC. I had no doubts about how good these guys would be. I had said before their set that seeing them at this gig would probably tide me over and I wouldn’t end up going to their March headline tour. They played a set which evenly covered their 3 studio albums which was good. They are just fantastic live. There is little for me to say which hasn’t already been said elsewhere but they are just one of those bands who deliver live every time. One thing which made me smile was that sing-along moments were loud. It seemed that the now much bigger crowd generally approved of BSC, especially during the song Peace Is Free. The energy coming from the band was infectious. The crowd was loud for the last two songs, Blame It On The Boom Boom and Lonely Train which signed off a great support slot. At the beginning of the set, I said I wasn’t going to see them in March. Now, I probably will.

Having seen Alter Bridge only the one time, and it being at a festival, I knew they were comfortable on the big stage. As soon as the lights went off, the MEN crowd exploded. I thought they were loud for BSC but damn! Opening with Slip To The Void, they proceeded to play a very strong set list (although from what I am hearing, it wasn’t that different to their last tours set). The band seemed to be genuinely blown away by the response they were getting from the crowd. Highlights from the set for me include the opener, I Know It Hurts, Metalingus, Blackbird, Isolation and Open Your Eyes. The rest was really good to be fair. I only have one gripe with what they did on stage and that occurred during the encore. When they went off, the crowd (or at least quite a few people near me) were chanting for more. The house lights didn’t come back on, that’s usually a good indicator they are coming back! Anyway, they played Open Your Eyes and took a pause. During this pause, Myles Kennedy thanked the crowd again for coming out and paid tribute to Freddie Mercury (Thursday marked 20 years since he passed away). Him and the other guitarist then proceeded to duel (I guess is the best word) with guitar solos. It was a bit strange and seemed pointless to me. I kinda guessed throughout the rest of the show that these guys could play guitar. Anyway, aside from that, it was a cracking gig. Alter Bridge will headline and sell out arenas in their own right soon I think, and they certainly have the ability to perform on the big arena stage. BSC will I’m sure continue to grow and grow in popularity in this country if they continue to be as good as they are live. TOADM though...I just don’t know. Maybe their headline shows in March next year will be better? I don’t know, as I won’t be there.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Give The Dog A Bone

With November coming to an end shortly and the first of the summer festivals in Europe not happening for at least 6 months (I’m not sure if there is one in May or not), it makes perfect sense for me to post a blog about the topic. I am going to cover two specifically – Wacken and Download. I haven’t spoken much about Wacken since they announced the first 7 bands at the festival. The festival has been steadily announcing bands since then and we know a fair amount of the line up now. For sake of ease, I am going to go through each band that has been confirmed A-Z.

Amon Amarth – This is a band I’ve wanted to see for quite a long time. I’ve had a ticket to see them headline in London which I then couldn’t make. I also had a ticket to see them support Children of Bodom but I couldn’t make that gig either. They haven’t played a festival I have been to either but they were announced for Wacken 2009 which I had a ticket for but ended up selling it (on reflection, I really regret that decision). I am looking forward to seeing them.

Axel Rudi Pell – They were announced for Wacken 2008 but had to pull out. I remember thinking that was a bad thing. On reflection, they seem like they could be worth a watch (assuming they don’t pull out again).

Coroner – I don’t know much about Coroner but they seem like they are worth a watch. They appear to be a pretty decent thrash band.

Cradle of Filth – They are a band I’ve been aware of for some time now but never seen live (even when they played Portsmouth – dropped the ball on that one). Anyway, if there is no clash I will give them a watch.

Danko Jones (Spoken Word) – I would like to see Danko Jones at a festival some time, but I don’t see me watching him do spoken word for a number of reasons. The main one being it will likely be in German.

Dark Funeral – No ta. They, like Mayhem, are not for me. Granted, if there is nothing else on I may as well watch them, but as they will likely be on the Black stage, there will be something on the Party stage!

Dimmu Borgir – Well, I am massively in favour of seeing Dimmu Borgir at Wacken. They used pyro on the smallest stage at Rock AM Ring, so I can’t imagine what they will do on a big festival stage. Oh, and they will also have an orchestra with them, so that should be fun.

Endstille – See Dark Funeral entry.

Forbidden – They seem like they could be worth a watch. Another thrash band that seem pretty good but truth be told would likely lose a clash against another band I wanted to see.

Gamma Ray – Definitely got to see Gamma Ray. They seem really good. Thanks to Wacken I’m a lot more receptive to Power Metal, part of the reason why I must try and see Gamma Ray

HammerFall – See above really! I was really happy to see these as a part of the first announcement.

Henry Rollins – Every time I’ve seen Henry Rollins, it has been really good. I will do all I can to catch him, but I am concerned that he also will do his sets in German. I don’t even know if he can speak German, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he can.

In Extremo – These have to be seen! I don’t know much by them but what I’m listening to now has folk, metal and industrial elements. Sounds like it should be good!

Machine Head – I am actually looking forward to seeing Machine Head. I haven’t seen them since 2009 and since then they have released a new album so if nothing else, at least the set list will be different. The new album is alright as well, which helps matters.

Ministry – I had a ticket for the CuLatour which I thought would be the final chance to see them. I had a ticket for the last UK date on that tour as well. I couldn’t make the gig so I assumed that was it and I wouldn’t get to see them again. Al Jourgensen seemed fairly adamant at the time that Ministry were done. So to see them announced for Wacken is amazing. I will definitely have to watch them.

Moonspell – This band seem pretty good. Fairly gothic and doom-y (I accept that isn’t a word). Shall give them a watch

Napalm Death – I have to be honest, I couldn’t have given two shits about this band when they were announced for Wacken. However since I saw the vocalist appear with Volbeat on stage in London, I have been a lot more receptive to them. They shall have to be watched.

Opeth – The latest announcement for the festival and it is certainly a strong one. They played Sonisphere this year but I missed them due to a clash. I last saw them supporting Dream Theater and they were really good. I will give them a watch.

Paradise Lost – I really like this band and think the album Draconian Times is stunning. I saw them do a short set at Sonisphere 2009 which I enjoyed, so I am looking forward to seeing them do a full set at Wacken.

Saturnian – They are from the UK! That’s all I have on that one

Scorpions – This is going to be superb - Scorpions closing out Wacken 2012 with a best of set. I am really looking forward to see them

Sick Of It All – Epic announcement this is! Saw them at Sonisphere 2010 and rated them a 10. Definitely going to see them again.

Six Feet Under – I don’t know anything by them. All I know is the vocalist is the original one from Cannibal Corpse (the one who provided the vocals for such family favourites as I Cum Blood and Entrails Ripped from a Virgins Cunt). Might give them a watch.

U.D.O – The vocalist from U.D.O appeared during Skyline’s set at Wacken 2011. After that appearance I thought “I’d like to see them” and then they got announced for Wacken 2012. Strange how that happened really!

Volbeat – OH MY A GOD! That was pretty much my response when I saw they had been announced. At the tail end of my Volbeat in London review, I said: “They were outstanding live last night and left me hoping for another UK tour next year (and a Wacken appearance hopefully).” Well, this show is the only European show in 2012, so I get one of my wishes come true. Only European show of 2012 and I will be there, now that is cool!

Watain – I missed them at Sonisphere due to my headache. I was annoyed about this. However, they are at Wacken so that should be good.

Winterfylleth – Nah, not for me.

So that is the round up of all the bands that have been announced so far. I like quite a lot of them and want to see most of them. That’s always a good thing until times are announced and then it is an utter cunt. Oh well, crossing bridges when they arrive and all. Graspop just announced their first lot of bands and aside from Black Sabbath, the announcement is pretty good (BS making it awesome). Aside from the bands that played the last Wacken festival and the ones who are booked for the next one, I hope Lamb of God, Sacred Reich and Obituary get announced for Wacken.

Changing countries and festivals now, let’s head back to the UK to Donington Park, where a purple looking dog brings music occasionally. There was rumbling about Download getting ready to announce a headliner for their 2012 festival recently and I was excited as I always am. I haven’t spent the weekend at Download since 2007 but I always look at their line up before deciding my summer plans. Anyways, they not only announced one headliner, but over the space of a week, they announced all 3.

My word! That is a good set of headliners! Let’s deal with the major one as far as I am concerned. Metallica at Download is awesome. They are heading back to Donington for the first time since 2006 and like last time, they are playing an album in full. Last time it was Master of Puppets, this time it is Metallica (The Black Album). That is awesome for me as it was that album which got me into Metallica (much like a lot of their fan base I am sure). The main difference though between the two albums is that Master of Puppets has 8 songs on it, while the Black Album has 12. Generally speaking a Metallica set list is 18 songs long, which only leaves 6 songs to cover 8 albums (9 if you include St Anger, but does anyone include St Anger?) Anyway, this is my realistic guess at the set list, assuming of course that they stick to the 18 song set formula and play the album in order, like they did Master of Puppets:

Creeping Death
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Enter Sandman
Sad But True
Holier Than Thou
The Unforgiven
Wherever I May Roam
Don't Tread On Me
Through The Never
Nothing Else Matters
Of Wolf and Man
The God That Failed
My Friend of Misery
The Struggle Within
Master of Puppets
Seek and Destroy

Seek and Destroy seems to be the go-to set closer for the last few years. Despite the fact on the 2011 Big Four tour, whenever they played a Sonisphere festival they didn’t do it that way; I think for this summer vacation tour, it will be that way around. Breadfan is just my guess at the cover song they will do. It could be anything in that spot truth be told. As for the rest of my guesses, the only one which may get cut is For Whom The Bell Tolls but I couldn’t possibly guess what they would swap it with. One thing I love about Metallica is that they aren’t afraid to mix up the set lists and even though this could be the 9th time of seeing them, I would always have seen something I’d never seen live before. Metallica would once again be a must see.

Black Sabbath is one that honestly I can’t decide how excited I am about seeing. The name value makes the announcement genius and it would be impossible for me to say that the original four members of the (arguably) first ever heavy metal band getting back together after a tour is important. But I saw Ozzy Osbourne at Wacken this year who played War Pigs, Iron Man and Paranoid (Black Sabbath wise anyway) which are my favourite songs of theirs. I’ve also seen Heaven and Hell, which was Dio-era Black Sabbath and saw them play the best of the Black Sabbath material they released. I flit between Ozzy-era and Dio-era as my favourite era of Black Sabbath but I believe I’ve seen the best of both worlds. I wouldn’t object to seeing more Black Sabbath material but I feel it would be more of a nostalgia trip seeing Ozzy-led Black Sabbath rather than going to see a band I need to see. I’m not saying that is a bad thing at all.

The Prodigy is an interesting choice of main stage headliner for Download. While I’ve not read any of the stuff, I understand there has been a complete shit storm on the Download Festival Facebook page from people who are desperately trying to cling onto the idea that Download is a metal festival (which is odd as it’s never been a metal festival – rock festival yes). They’ve played Download twice before (2006 and 2009) so it is not as if they or even this genre of music is new to Download. They have also played prominent spots at the festival (headlining the 2nd stage both times they played if memory serves). Them playing again, 3 years after they last played is fair enough. Headlining the main stage is something else. Are they right to headline? In my opinion, yes they are. They have headlined and more recently sub headlined the Reading/Leeds festivals (which I’d say are bigger festivals than Download). They have played high up the bill at Glastonbury and generally attract a fairly high position wherever they play. They are obviously a big enough band to headline Download. People are saying they are not suitable which is obviously nonsense. If they weren’t suitable, then they wouldn’t be playing the festival at all. I for one look forward to seeing them (again, assuming I go) and hope they can recreate something like their set at MK Bowl (I wasn’t there, but I’ve seen videos of it and they looked epic).

So, Download is off to a strong start. I hope to be there for the weekend but will definitely be there for at least one day. And truthfully, if I had to pick one day, it would be Metallica. To see them play The Black Album in full would be amazing. All I know is that festival season is starting to kick into gear and I love it when that happens.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Review: Toxic Shock - Deliverance

For Fans Of: Aerosmith; Guns N’ Roses; Motley Crue; Metallica; Audioslave; Pearl Jam

Toxic Shock is a Portsmouth based band, formed out of the ashes of other local groups. They describe themselves as a Classic Rock/80s Hard Rock band and list a number of big names as their influences. Toxic Shock has just released their debut EP, Deliverance, which is available at all your favourite online haunts (links to follow). The big question here though; does Deliverance deliver?

Before talking about the songs that make up the EP themselves, I think there needs to be a mention made about the production of the EP. It is of high-quality and is clear that some time has been put into making this sound as good as it does.

The EP starts with Make Ma Stand which is an excellent way to open. The song is a mesh of the 80s hard rock style Toxic Shock bill themselves as along with a healthy dose of all the good stuff which emerged from Metallica’s Load/Reload era. This track is a dirty rock & roll song which you could break the speed limit to (I’m not recommending you do in fact break the speed limit to this song, I’m just saying you could!). Insane is a superb track which honours the influences the band cite as having, while making it their own at the same time. While honouring the rock music of years gone by, it gives off a modern vibe almost. Quite like that present when listening to The Darkness or Steel Panther, although to their credit, Toxic Shock is nowhere near as cheesy. Insane is very catchy with a riff you can bang your head along to.

Decreasing the speed somewhat, Vanity is a nod to the grungier side of rock. There is a definite Audioslave/Pearl Jam vibe to this song. It is a noticeable change in style to the previous two songs but this is by no means a bad thing. If anything, it shows off the bands ability to alter their sound, while still writing good material. The title track, Deliverance, is another good song influenced by icons of the past but this time different. I hear a fair amount of Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy in this track. It is another good example of Toxic Shock taking all the best from the bands that influenced them while making the song sound modern. This is another catchy song which forces you to bang your head. This is not optional. The final song, Bring It Down is a great closer as it is simply kick ass hard rock music.

Deliverance is a great debut EP from Toxic Shock. The influences present on this collection of songs are vast, and yet the songs sound fresh and modern. I would highly recommend listening to this EP. Deliverance without doubt delivers (and with that, is the last time I will engage in word play with the EPs title!)

Official Website

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Review - Fozzy @ Talking Heads, Southampton 3/11/11

I walked into The Talking Heads for the 2nd time in 3 weeks really quite excited. Seeing a Fozzy headline show was something I had not done. I also was only able to watch half their set at Sonisphere. As I arrived, there was a band on stage (I didn’t catch their name). They seemed alright but the in between song banter bugged me. I get that if you are a local band opening a gig like this, there is a chance I won’t have heard of you. Hell, I don’t know many of the support bands I see when I go to gigs unless I research them. Anyway, you don’t need to remind me that I don’t know who you are. They also came across as disrespectful to Fozzy. I get that Fozzy probably didn’t choose them to open and it was the promoters call (or possibly the venue...I dunno how this works) but they said something to the effect of “coming up are two bands who are just as good as Fozzy”. That may or may not be true (for the record, in this case it is not) but your job is to open the gig and pump up the headline set, while selling your own material. Perhaps this is a minor thing which bugs me but it did. Maybe the intent was not to be disrespectful but to me, that is how it came across. I liked what I heard from them but I’ve spent more time talking about how they annoyed me rather than their music. Like I said, they seemed alright...whoever they were! The next band was called Verses. They seemed pretty good and got a fairly good reaction from the crowd. However the job of really warming up the crowd before Fozzy fell to a band called Jett Black. They were excellent. I was told by a friend that I had to see these guys and I do not regret it one bit. They were a lot of fun and are also a good listen. As a crowd, Jett Black warmed us up, and it was time for Fozzy.

From the off, Fozzy were superb and this remained the case until the last note of Enemy at the end of the gig. Personal highlights of the gig for me included Paraskavedekatriaphobia (Friday the 13th), God Pounds His Nails, Under Blackened Skies, Enemy, Let The Madness Begin and Martyr No More. It truly was a superb setlist from Fozzy. A superb performance from the band which was met with a superb crowd. At the end of every song, there were loud and prolonged Fozzy chants. Chris Jericho early on in the gig asked if we could come in the trailer with them and come to every gig. Considering how good this gig was, I’d be in favour of that. The chants varied throughout the night from “we love you Fozzy, we do!” to “fuck you Reading!” when we were told we were the best crowd on the tour. Granted, it was only the 2nd night and we might have been topped since then but what the hell, I’ll take it!

I recall reading on Twitter that this tour will be Fozzy’s last visit to the UK for quite some time. I hope that this is not true because they were superb. If it is though, I’m sure when they come back; they will be just as good, if not better.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Poundland's Poppy Problem

There is one thing I am sick of seeing and that is people using the “we didn’t want to offend people” excuse to justify their actions. Especially at this time of year, when there is always a story about how a company has to send “season’s greetings” rather than saying “Merry Christmas” so they don’t offend. However this isn’t a story about someone trying to ruin Christmas. This is about remembrance. At this time of year, people in this country (and others around the world) wear poppies. The reason for this is simply to remember and honour those who died in the two world wars. Remember the contributions and sacrifices they made for this and other countries. Due to the nature of my work, I am unable to wear a poppy while working. However, I have one which I donated for today which will be attached to my coat shortly. It is a simple gesture but one that should not be taken away from someone who wishes to honour the war veterans, well, that is unless you work for Poundland.

A complaint by a Poundland employee in Lisburn has led to the company changing its policy over the wearing of poppies.
The woman walked out of the store in Bow Street Mall after she was asked to remove the poppy from her uniform as it was against company's dress policy.
Poundland said after listening to customer and staff feedback it had reviewed its UK policy.
The company apologised for any unintended offence caused.
“We have for some years operated a clear and simple dress code that store colleagues are requested to observe," said Jim McCarthy, Poundland's chief executive.
"The policy was designed to prevent issues arising that for whatever reason could upset individuals or communities and to focus our energy on raising money for colleague-nominated charities.”

OH DO FUCK OFF! How could wearing a poppy upset or offend someone? I can’t think of a scenario which isn’t really unlikely and/or ridiculous to justify having a policy which bans wearing one. As for violating a dress code policy, that is absurd. I’ve worked in retail (for more than 1 company) and have never read anything which suggests the wearing of a poppy should not be allowed. At absolute worst, there has been something about management discretion. Discretion is fine and fair enough, but no manager I have ever worked for has banned the wearing of poppies. The thing which makes this worse for me is that I’m reading contradicting stories on their u-turn on dress code policy. More than one source has said they changed their stance on the matter only after customers threatened to boycott their business. If that is the reason why the change was made, they ought to be ashamed of themselves (more so than they should feel already). In their efforts to try not offend people, they have offended every man, woman and child who fought in the war and gave their lives to protect the country.

So like the member of Poundland staff who refused to remove hers, wear a poppy and show that you remember those who gave their lives for us.