Monday, 20 February 2012

Sonisphere Starts Up

After weeks of speculation, rumours, leaks and general confusion, Sonisphere have announced the first batch of bands for their 2012 festival. Below is the poster and I’m going to review it day by day. I will also have a look at the latest Download announcement.

That is a pretty good start, it has to be said.

Kiss – Strong announcement in the context that it is their only European show of 2012. I find it hard to get excited about them though as there is only a handful of their songs I really like. I would watch them if I was going.
Special Guests TBA – I’m seeing a poster which suggests it is Skid Row. I really couldn’t care less about that if it is true. If it is Motley Crue as rumoured, well they were a bit boring at Soni 2010 so another proclamation of meh from me!
Within Temptation – Pretty cool announcement. I like some of their stuff so they would be worth watching.
Wolfmother – Urm, alright then. They were ok at Download 2007 but 5 years have passed, they’ve released nothing of note and changed their band members (other than the vocalist) – not interested. I might give them a “meh, there’s nowt else on” watch but they are certainly not a selling point.
Queen (w/ Adam Lambert) – This is an interesting announcement. Would I watch them if I was there? Yes absolutely. Would I pay to watch them? No. That for me personally is not a good thing when it comes to being a headliner.
Tim Minchin – Always funny. Pretty good booking and it will be interesting to see him try to replicate what Bill Bailey did in 2011. I’m told Bailey had really shit sound at the beginning though, so that could be a worry. Anyway, good booking.
Evanescence – They are a band who I would watch if there was no clash. From what I can see, they are sub headlining the main stage to Queen. Not sure why but that strikes me as odd.
The Darkness – Again, I would watch them but they really don’t do a lot for me.
Flogging Molly – I really need to see this band. I’m told they are so good live.
Fields Of The Nephilim – Well I don’t know anything by them. A brief Spotify did nothing to endear them to me.
Lacuna Coil – Excellent announcement as ever. Really hoped they’d be at Download so well played Sonisphere
Gojira – See Lacuna Coil!
Katatonia – Not bad at all. Decent booking
Ghost – Pretty solid booking
Faith No More – OH FUCK YOU FOR BOOKING THEM FOR THE SUNDAY! Now that I have calmed down – this is such a kick in the face. I really want to see FNM but unless I book the day off with flexi time long in advance I will miss them again. Boo-urns! Well done Sonisphere
Incubus – They do the squared root of zero for me. I almost died with boredom during their set at Rock AM Ring 2008. I wouldn’t watch them.
Marilyn Manson – This is an interesting one. I saw him at Download 2007 for the first 6 or so songs and I thought he was alright. The universal opinion of him though was he sucked balls. So, I dunno what happened after I left but yeah, not good apparently. Reviews of his 2009 set were completely scathing. Andy Copping, the Download Festival booker, said he will refuse to book him until he sorts himself out. That is why this is an interesting booking. Will he be shit again? Who knows?
Refused – I quite like Refused so I would watch them.
Mastodon (playing The Hunter) – I really can’t get into Mastodon. Now, I just gave The Hunter a quick blast through (not all the songs and not all the way through) and it’s alright. People talk of Mastodon as if they are the best thing to ever happen to metal – they aren’t.
Cypress Hill – Leftfield booking but a good one all the same. I bet they would be a lot of fun.
The Blackout – A mediocre man once said “The Blackout can suck on both of my testicles, and even then I still wouldn’t watch them”.
Andrew W.K – Strong booking. I would like to see him one day.
Switchfoot – They seem reasonable.
I Killed The Prom Queen – I got nothing.

So all in all - not bad. It is a fairly strong start in terms of a festival line up. I think considering the wait it could have been better. The big question for me is whether I am going. The simple answer at the moment is no. The complicated answer is two-fold. Firstly, I could book the Monday off work after Sonisphere and go to see Faith No More. This is the most likely option from where I am sitting now. The second part of the answer is that if I get the job I have an interview for next month, then I might just treat myself to a weekend ticket and hang out and watch all those “meh why not” bands while seeing Faith No More and the others who I really want to see. If that option happened though, I still wouldn’t watch Mastodon!

Anyway, Download did a mini announcement last week to fill out their line up a little more and to be honest, it was quality.

– Sounds like a great announcement to me.
Nightwish – Well, that’s awesome. Hoping they will be better than they were Brixton 2009
Opeth – Pretty strong announcement although not that bothered by them because I will likely see them do a longer/heavier set at Wacken.
Black Veil Brides – They sound pretty decent. I like what I’ve heard thus far and intend to see them.
Killswitch Engage – Superb announcement. I am interested to see them but I fear they will lose a clash.
Shinedown – Superb announcement. So happy they have been announced.

So overall, I still think Download looks stronger of the two festivals. There of course will be more announcements for both so it will be interesting to see what happens next. If I do end up getting a ticket of some description for Sonisphere, I shall let y’all know. I don’t have any problem admitting though that I do not in the slightest regret getting a Download ticket instead of a Sonisphere ticket.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Summer Shaping Up

This is another one of those posts about music festivals. If this bothers you in any way, I suggest this isn’t the post for you. I’m going to take a look at the latest announcements for Download, Sonisphere and Wacken as well as talk about some other music bits and pieces as well.

I’m going to start with Wacken as there isn’t a massive amount to say. I think since my last festivals blog, there have only been the two announcements which added 4 bands to the line up. Those bands are:

Aura Noir – At first listen to them I was put off, but revisiting them for the purposes of this blog, it would appear that first impressions are not everything. They appear to be a pretty decent black/thrash metal band that could be worth watching.
Manimals – I’m not sure what to say on this band. On Spotify, there is one song which is a short punk song. It is not bad but also, it is not great. On the MySpace page, there are completely different and much better sounding songs. The problem is that I’ve no idea if they are the same band. Helpfully, if you Google the new album name, it returns you to the Wacken 2012 bio page – which isn’t a lot of help. Bottom line, if the MySpace stuff is the band that is playing Wacken, I am definitely in favour.
Megaherz – German singing industrial metal band. They sound really quite good. I think they are rapidly joining the list of bands I have to watch. However if memory serves at one point Blowsight were a band I had to watch and then they clashed with Avantasia. Needless to say, they lost.
We Butter The Bread With Butter – I think I’ll give these a wide birth. I’m prepared to listen to any band with an open mind. It is hard to do that when a similar artist is “BrokenCYDE” but I honestly gave this lot a go and they aren’t for all. They’re also compared with Suicide Silence, which I don’t believe to be a positive thing.

All in all though, the Wacken line up is starting to fill out quite nicely. So far, 75 acts have been confirmed. There were 126 acts confirmed for Wacken 2011 so there are plenty more to be announced, however I think most of the big acts are now confirmed. There are 30 or so Metal Battle bands that will need to be confirmed which takes the amount up to 105. After Mambo Kurt and WOA Fire-fighters, that is 107. I can’t think there will be many big acts left to be announced. That being said, I’m hoping to see Exodus and Devildriver announced as they were announced for 2011 and both cancelled. As far as I can see, Exodus are in Europe over the summer as they are playing Hellfest and Graspop. Devildriver are also in Europe so hopefully they will also be announced. I noticed today that they are playing the With Full Force festival. Now, there are a few bands shared between WOA and WFF (including a headliner in Machine Head), but I feel this could perhaps discount them from playing. I am hoping for Lamb of God but to my knowledge they’ve never played Wacken. I don’t know why that would stop them now – it could just be worth mentioning. Anyway, aside from them I would like to see Korpiklaani as I’ve not seen them and I’d quite like to. I can’t imagine there are many big names left to announce but a couple more surprises would be nice.

To the Download festival now and I said to myself “you can’t afford this festival for the weekend” but after the last announcement (before the one I am about to discuss) I decided to reappraise that decision. I was already going to get a Saturday day ticket but there was set to be an awful lot I would miss out on because I wasn’t going for the weekend. This decision was also aided by me revisiting Soundgarden and quite liking what I heard. I made the decision if I liked the majority of the next announcement that I would look to purchase a weekend ticket. 14 more bands were announced for Download last week and they were:

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – This is a superb announcement to an extent as I’m somewhat favourable to Slash’s solo material but am always a fan of hearing GnR songs sung live (except by GnR oddly enough...) and Velvet Revolver material as well. The big fucker about this announcement is that they are headlining the second stage at the same time Prodigy are headlining the main stage. I may do a split watch, but I don’t know yet. It’s my first major clash.
Megadeth – Quality announcement. Saw them at Sonisphere 2011 of course as part of the Big Four and they were really good. I hope they will be just as good in the 3rd from top spot on the Sunday at Download.
Rise Against – It is an excellent announcement by Download but they are clashing with Black Sabbath which means they lose. Sorry Rise Against
Steel Panther – As much as I would like to get excited about this announcement, I’m not. I wouldn’t mind seeing the song “Death To All But Metal” live but other than that I have little interest in them and may find myself somewhere else. However, the fact they are on before Tenacious D could mean they’ll serve to be a good drink break band.
Billy Talent – I’m actually really happy they’ve been announced. They are a really good band who I’ve not seen live and would like to.
Black Label Society – This is one of those odd ones for me. I like some of their stuff and will probably watch them, but there is a lot of their stuff which just bores me. Seeing them will mostly be a chance to see Zakk Wylde live, which I haven’t done yet.
Kyuss Lives! – I am so happy to see these announced as I really wanted to see them at Wacken 2011 but I wanted to get a good spot for Skindred more. Anyway, they are really good and I think this is a strong booking.
Five Finger Death Punch – Before this announcement, if someone asked me about FFDP, I said I wasn’t fussed and that they bored me. This is no longer the case as I have revisited them and actually quite like what I have heard. So there is a good chance I will check them out.
Fear Factory – This is a cool announcement for me as it has given me reason to go back through their discography and discover some gems. They weren’t the best at Sonisphere 2010 so I am hoping for something more at Download 2012 (that thing being Linchpin, hopefully).
Periphery – They sound really good. They are Dream Theater approved as well which is cool. I missed them at Sonisphere last year due to a clash so I will try and catch them this time around.
Terrorvision – Tequila! It makes me happy! That is all I know by this band and truth be told I probably won’t watch them.
Ginger Wildheart – Best part of the announcement for me. I didn’t think he would be playing live all year. Then I saw suggestions there might be a pledge show. Then this was announced. Ginger always brings it live and I can’t wait to see him again. Short of Metallica/Tenacious D/Black Sabbath, there is no-one who will clash with Ginger, and win.
As I Lay Dying – ALID have been amazing the last two times I’ve seen them at Wacken, so seeing them in this country will be a nice treat. They are opening the main stage on Saturday so they’ll get no more than 30mins, but that is ok. I’ve seen them do an hour twice.
Reckless Love – I’ve got nothing on this. Sorry.

So, another superb announcement from the Download guys. I have purchased a weekend ticket. This is turning into a cracking festival. A healthy balance between awesome headliners and a great under card.

Right, let’s talk about Sonisphere. In the last festivals post, I talked about how it was strange that they had not announced anything yet. I also said I thought it was strange that they hadn’t even commented on the lack of an announcement yet. There was a little splash in the back of a recent Kerrang saying “Next Week: Sonisphere! You Won’t Believe Who They’ve Booked!” which to everyone suggested there would be an announcement. The night before, on a Facebook wall post on the Sonisphere page, the Sonisphere guys said “think Kerrang jumped the gun”. Since then, there has literally been nothing official. An account was made on twitter called SonisphereLeak which claimed to leak the first Sonisphere announcement. Since then two of the bands they leaked have been confirmed for Download (Slash and AILD) which completely destroys any credibility they had (which was very little in the first place). Just recently, there has been a leak to the Daily Star (of all fucking papers) to say that Queen with Adam Lambert (me neither) and Faith No More are headlining. That would be interesting to see how well that sells. All I know is that I’d be tempted by a FNM day ticket if the undercard was excellent. However, all we know about Sonisphere UK officially at the moment is nothing.

That’s all for festival talk for now. I’ll likely be back after more announcements.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Soundtrack Of My Life #0005

The Beatles - 1

Nothing To See Here

This is one of those posts that doesn't really have an overriding theme as such, but is more a number of things I want to talk about smashed together to form one decent sized blog. Starting with the strongest foot first, I'm going to talk about Bath.

"Strongest foot first" is not something I ever thought I would be able to say about Bath Rugby this season but January was a relatively good month for Bath. It started off with a New Years Day win over London Irish 30-3 but from all reports that result came with a cracking performance - something which has been lacking this season. The next two results were disappointments, losing 26-19 to Saracens and losing 24-22 to Montpellier. Losing away to Saracens is nothing to be ashamed about (they are, after all, Premiership champions) and from what I read, Bath played well. On top of everything else, a losing bonus point was earned as well - so at least the game wasn't completely fruitless. The Montpellier defeat was a tough one to take as it was another last move/kick defeat. That's now happened 3/4 times this season, and Bath have lost after taking the lead more than that. That result pretty much ended all hopes of further European Rugby action but it was nice in the next game (and my first one of 2012) to sign off the Heineken Cup campaign with a 23-18 win. I thought when Glasgow went 18-17 ahead that it would be yet another game that Bath had started strong but eventually lost. Thankfully this was not the case. The final game of the month (which I was at again) was in the LV= Cup against Northampton. That tournament is one area where Bath have been doing very well this season with 2 games played and 10 points on the board. I had little hope Bath would beat Northampton, but was astonished to not only see Bath win, but to crush the Saints 46-14. The final pool game is Sunday away to Exeter. We beat them earlier in the season at home and I am hopeful the same result will be achieved in this meeting. The next two games for Bath after that are fairly crucial league meetings against Newcastle Falcons and Gloucester. Both games are vital to push further away from relegation and closer towards the top 6. I will be at both and will likely report back on them another day. At the moment though, with back to back home victories, it is not all doom and gloom coming from Bath for the first time in a while, which is nice.

Moving from positivity to Portsmouth, it has been another dull week for Portsmouth. So much so, that there's nothing to say...

Oh, aside from the fact that it really doesn't look good for the future of the club. I know that has been said a lot on here by me, as well as other people (I believe there are posts about Pompey's 99 problems, 101 problems and even more problems which weren't assigned a code number). What we knew was that the parent company had gone into administration, the chairman of the club arrested and cash flow for PFC coming to a grinding halt. Now, the executive officer, David Lampitt said we had enough money to keep the club running in the short term, but for long term survival to be assured, more investment would be needed. All sounds wonderful as ever. Recently news came out that the club had failed to pay its tax bill for 2 months, owing the HMRC £1.6m. Now, one can only assume that bill will continue to increase month on month which is why the club have been issued a winding up order. We had this before so obviously a second one being issued is of course a massive worry.

On the pitch at the weekend, we were away to Peterborough. A team who we should be beating but who beat us at Fratton Park. Taking into account performances generally this season haven't been wonderful and now the added off-field pressures, I think it would have been a fair move to write off Pompey in this one. However, according to friends who were there, the performance from Pompey matched the score line as we won the game 3-0. Swept up in the victory, Pompey fans such as me may have just forgotten the off-field issues temporarily to enjoy the victory and how much it meant to the club. And then the clubs bank accounts got frozen, which meant that cash flow has come to a complete halt. It also means the players and staff of Portsmouth will not receive their January wages. This appears to be a vital blow right before we go back to court against the HMRC and I honestly don't know what will happen. If the worst happens, I'll be sure to dedicate a post to it then, but I hope I don't have to. This week during Prime Ministers Questions, our local MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt, raised the issue and asked the Prime Minister to back her in getting the HMRC to meet with the club, rather than just go straight to court, which he said he would. This is promising stuff but it is hard to get overly excited about it. After all, you know it’s a shit situation when it gets talked about in the House of Commons!

Anyway, I recently got invited to a St Patrick’s event on Facebook, which I declined as I’m not Irish. Why does England embrace St Patrick’s Day so much?

Perhaps I am missing out of some real enjoyment in life but I really don’t understand the need to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint to the degree that we do. Almost every bar becomes Irish for the day and a lot of people drink Guinness. It could be because I don’t like Guinness which is my whole reason behind me not celebrating St Patrick’s Day. The seemingly obvious answer is that it is an excuse to get completely and utterly shit-faced and write off this country-wide session of binge-drinking to celebrating St Patrick. Now, I enjoy the occasional drink these days (nowhere near as much as I used to) and even on the occasions when I have too many and I get drunk – I don’t feel the need to write it off to anything other than “I got drunk”. Someone actually said to me last year “Oh come on man, you have to celebrate St Paddy’s day” and had no answer when I asked why. Perhaps I am just being a killjoy but I don’t see why England celebrates St Patrick’s Day.