Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Joey

Yesterday (as I write this) I saw the very sad news that Joey Jordison, the founding drummer of Slipknot, has passed away aged 46. This news has certainly bummed me out as a fan of Slipknot (despite it being the case that Joey hadn't been in the band for some time). In my mind, I always assumed at some point, he would be invited back, even if it was just as a guest at some live shows or in the studio if not a full member. I never really got into any of his other bands, though this is definitely a case of me not trying to, rather than me trying to and not liking them.


It made me reflect a little bit on my relationship as a fan of Slipknot, and the times I saw Slipknot with him in the band. My first exposure to Slipknot was flicking through the music channels and seeing the video to Wait and Bleed. At this point in my life, I hadn’t really started listening to rock music of any kind (other than what was on the radio when I was in the car with my parents), and I was very much still in the phase of life where I was judging bands and their fans (in this instance, the “goths”) with no real knowledge behind my opinions - I believe the most accurate way to describe this was that I was a prick (I have previously tried to defend how I was then, but there is little point as I was most definitely in the wrong). Anyway, I think this was just before I started listening to Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. I didn’t know anything about this band, but this video captivated me. I might be remembering this wrong, but I recall not following this up for some time afterwards. I was still some way from realising my then-behaviour was moronic, but when I had realised this and looked to rectify it, Slipknot were one of the bands I went back to and realised they had a lot of good music. I didn’t immediately like everything, but a lot grew on me quickly. I seem to recall another music video, this time for Left Behind, particularly striking. I also found My Plague a song I particularly liked as an angsty teenager. 


I really wanted to see them when they sub-headlined Download 2005 - the Sunday was System of a Down, Slipknot and Slayer (a decent way to end a day at a festival, that). All my friends at the time went to Reading festival that year, and I didn’t have the means to attend Download anyway, so this was a non-starter. I was then meant to see them for the first time sub-headlining Reading 2008, but they had to withdraw due to Joey breaking his ankle. My memory of that situation was breaking the news to a friend who was spending that whole weekend at Reading (I was only there for the day), and everyone felt quite sad about it. I had a ticket to see them twice on their December 2008, but I ended up selling one of them as I couldn’t afford the travel to go twice. I saw them for the first time at Hammersmith Apollo supported by Machine Head and Children of Bodom and just loved it. The next time I saw them was on their first tour following the passing of Paul Gray at Sonisphere 2011. The show was incredible and you could certainly feel that it was an emotional one. The final time I would have seen Slipknot with Joey in the band was very fleeting. At Download 2013, they clashed directly with Black Stone Cherry who were headlining the second stage, and I opted to watch the beginning and end of Slipknot’s set, and all of Black Stone Cherry. I don’t really remember much of Slipknot’s set other than thinking the end was amazing. That was the summer of 2013, and by December 2013, Joey Jordison had left/been fired from Slipknot.


As I said above, I always thought he would be invited back, somehow/someway, but this wasn’t the case and now, sadly, never will be. Rest in Power Joey Jordison. 46 is no age at all. 


Saturday, 24 July 2021

And We're Live

The last time I wrote, I gave an excuse as to why I don’t write more often - that excuse being that I honestly can’t be bothered in most cases. That remains the case, as actually there have been a few things recently that would have been worth writing something about, but I just haven’t. One common theme, pre-Covid at least and once during, for this blog is now about music and the gigs I go to. Obviously during the pandemic, opportunities for me to go to gigs have been few and far between. It is something that I’ve missed very much, but I don’t think I realised how much until recently. In the last month-ish, I’ve been to 3 gigs. Two of these gigs were socially distant affairs and one was as standard as a gig as you can imagine. I thought about writing three separate reviews of each gig, but instead settled on writing a blog covering all three of them. So without further ado, these are the gigs. 

Beans On Toast (Socially Distant). Saturday 12th June (Matinee) - The Clapham Grand, London. 

Briefly, Beans On Toast’s music is something I only properly discovered during lockdown and working at home. I decided once to listen to his then complete discography in a day or two, and I found that for the most part, I very much enjoyed it. I decided it would be cool to see him live at some point, and then this opportunity came up, and I decided to go. 

I got there far too early, so I strolled around Clapham for a bit, though not too far from the venue.Due to the staggered entry, I didn’t have to queue and was in the venue pretty quickly. The rules were masks on when walking around the venue, but could come off when you were in your seat. Drinks could be ordered to the seat via an app, which I did once and was pretty straightforward. I thought the staff I encountered were all great. In terms of the upper balcony seating, the instruction was to sit on any bench, but to keep 2 metres away from people as best as possible. This wasn’t a challenge really. 

On to the gig itself, it was opened by a solo act called Tensheds. I enjoyed his set - more than once it made me think of a stripped back Bruce Springsteen at a piano/keyboard, which in my mind is a compliment. I’ve since gone back and listened to his music on Spotify and enjoyed it, so I’m sure I will listen again. Beans On Toast was the main event and it was just ace. He played a number of his songs that I love, which certainly helped matters. There was a really cool moment where he played a song from one of this new albums that he wrote about a former teacher (positive song!) and the teacher was in the audience. There was also a nice moment where his young daughter came on stage to dance to one of his songs (about her). 

I was slightly worried about going, because doing so would involve the first train to London since the end of 2019 (I think when I went in 2020, it was by car or coach) and, as well, it wasn’t as if Covid had just gone away. I hoped the gig would make it worthwhile though, and I can say without hesitation that it did. It was the first gig since the test event at the Kings Theatre in September, and the first non-test event since March 2020, and it was a really good first experience. And, I got home early enough to do a food shop on my way home (I was still fucked the next day mind...that’s probably an age thing though!)

Fleetingwood Mac (Socially Distant). Saturday 17th July (Matinee) - Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth. 

Fleetwood Mac are a band who I’ve never really listened to their albums, but in my view should be in any conversation about bands with the best “best of” compilation albums. Additionally, I’d heard nothing but good things about Fleetingwood Mac as a tribute band, so as an opportunity to see them came up, and at my favourite local venue, I decided to grab a ticket. Firstly, a massive thumbs up to the Wedgewood Rooms - I booked three tickets, a 1 person bubble ticket for me, and a 2 person bubble ticket for 2 friends, and the venue clocked this and put us on a 4 person table together, rather than splitting us up to two separate tables for two. I was very pleased with how that worked out. Again, drinks were ordered via an app and this was a painless process.

The support act were called The Hill Brothers, and I very much enjoyed their stripped down interpretations on some songs I really like, White Stripes Seven Nation Army immediately springs to mind from their set, as well as a cover of a song from The Black Keys (I want to say Gold On The Ceiling but my memory might be failing me now). Fleetingwood Mac themselves were excellent. As above, I had only heard good things about them, so went in with high expectations and they were comfortably met and then some. They are an excellent tribute band, and I will definitely see them again (all being well, December!). 

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls - Grand Aid 3. Monday 19th July - The Clapham Grand, London. 

When this gig was announced for “freedom day”, I found myself wanting to go, but anticipating it would sell out immediately, I decided initially to not bother getting a ticket. I have a ticket to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls as part of Lost Evenings festival in September, and a ticket to see Beans On Toast (main support) in December on a headline run (not mentioning, as I did earlier in this post, that I had just recently been to a Beans headline show). However, when it didn’t sell out immediately, I looked to see if I could get the day after off work, and I could. I then found a cheap hotel room round the corner from the venue and decided to take the plunge. I was nervous in the build up to the gig, which I think is fair enough considering it was to be the first full capacity show I’d have been to since March 2020. I wore a Frank Turner shirt from the “Get Better” range, which out of context could be taken as insensitive during a global pandemic, considering it says “Not Dead Yet” on the front. However, the only comments I had about it (to me, at least) were positive. One note is that the show was a Revive Live show in conjunction with the National Lottery, which meant I could bring a friend for free, however I got my ticket at short notice and the 1 person I asked said they couldn’t make it, which was a shame. I kept my mask on, as I wasn’t sure what the situation would be, and I would guess less than 5% of the crowd had them on. Mentioning this isn’t me being critical, but I was surprised at how few people did. 

I arrived as Ciara Haidar was performing via satellite, which was cool. I couldn’t really hear much of her music as people around me were talking. What I heard sounded good though. Next up was Gerry Del Guercio from SixNationState. I didn’t know any of his stuff, but I enjoyed his set. There was a moment during his set which was cool, as he covered Oasis - Half The World Away, and that was the first singalong of the night - I have missed singalongs! Beans On Toast was next and that was ace as well. It felt very different to the show I saw at the same venue a month earlier, though were you to ask me why, I would struggle. He played a few songs I really like, and some new songs which sound good as well. Essentially, what I’m saying is I enjoyed the set, and there are no complaints from me. 

After a wait that felt like eternity (whereas in actual fact, it was about 30 minutes), Frank and the band came on stage and launched into Get Better and 1933 (which seemed to have an extra bit of venom behind it...can’t imagine why). From the off, every song was accompanied with a big singalong by the crowd, which every so often I would just pause and take in. It was a high energy gig all throughout, which was cool. I think the only time it slightly dipped was when a new song (Punches) was being played for the first time as a full band, which makes sense. There was a moment later on (in my mind, I want to say between the two solo songs in the set, but I might be wrong) where it appeared Frank was very emotional about the whole experience, which is entirely fair enough. The second of the two solo songs was The Ballad of Me and My Friends, a song which is usually well received anyway, but on this night it appeared the reaction it got was something else. The encore of Frank’s set, and the end of the night was a solo rendition of Balthazar, Impresario, and then the full band coming back out for Recovery, I Still Believe (a short video of one of the singalongs for this song can be found here) and Four Simple Words. It certainly will be in the conversation, should I ever have one, about the best times I’ve seen Frank Turner live, that is for sure. I put on social media that the gig was genuinely life-affirming, and nearly a week on from writing that, I completely stand by that. I left the venue with a massive grin on my face. 

Some photos of all three gigs can be seen via my Instagram (as well as other stuff when I remember to post stuff there, which isn’t often). 
And, that is that for now. I was tempted to go and see Black Spiders this week just gone, when they were due to play The Joiners in Southampton on Friday night. However, that gig has been postponed for now due to a member of the band getting pinged (something I suspect will be more frequent in the run up to the date on which fully vaccinated people can test and release if they are pinged). My next gig is scheduled to be at that same venue next Wednesday night to see Bob Vylan - I very much like the album We Live Here, so I’m looking forward to the gig as well as going back to The Joiners - my last full capacity gig before the pandemic was there. There is already chat about restrictions coming back in some form, though as is the case with the current lot in office, messaging has been mixed and confusing so who bloody knows. I have a lot of gigs booked for the rest of the year, so I am hopeful I will be able to write an end of year list - fingers crossed that either restrictions aren’t needed, or something can happen to allow gigs to continue going ahead. 

Saturday, 20 February 2021

A(lmost a) Year Indoors

As I write this, it is February 20th 2021, which means in 3 days it will be 11 months since the first lockdown was announced in the United Kingdom as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Admittedly, saying the lockdown was as a result of Covid-19 is probably something I didn't need to write, but thought it worthwhile to provide some form of context, just in case we all forget (laugh out loud). Whenever I renew the domain name linked to this blog, I always promise myself that I will sit down to write more and then inevitably never do. More often than not, it is because I can't be bothered. A small part of it is because, aside from a tweet now and then and quietly having the links on my social media, I don't promote the fact it exists (and so, no-one reads what I write). However most recently my excuse has been there is nothing happening (which I feel is a perfectly valid one). I've considered writing full blogs about new albums I've liked, or books I've read that I've enjoyed, but I always decide against it. The Albums of 2020 post would give an example as to why, just picking something and saying "I like it" isn't exactly enthralling reading (and a bit pointless to write, in my view). 

The point of me writing this now is because I've just completed an update of a spreadsheet I keep, which records what bands I've seen and where I've seen them. A recent update before I bought my Chromebook was to add the years I saw certain bands at festivals. When I purchased the Chromebook, and imported the excel sheet across to my Google Drive, I saw that the comments I had written could now not be edited, and if I wanted to add to them, I would have to reply. This was something I considered a minor annoyance but nothing more. That is until the pandemic started and the only form of live music I was getting came in the form of live streams. Without question, for my tastes at least, the most prolific live streaming artist that I am a fan of is Frank Turner. I asked the question of myself whether I could include the live streams on the list and concluded that I could provided I watched them when they happened (as opposed to a replay of it). How this is all linked is that I was adding the comments on top of the exported comments that were there and it looked ugly as all hell. Given that I am not exactly what you could call busy right now, I decided to re-do the list so it was a fresh list on Google Drive and rewrite all the comments. If you are bored like me, you can look at it here

Doing this was an arduous task, because the list has 817 individual entries on it. I decided as I started to also include, where possible, the year the gigs all took place (to match the festival sets). This isn't always possible (mainly for local band gigs where I don't have tickets, and there are no records online of the gig having ever taken place). but I think the list is as accurate as it can be. The main takeaway from doing it I think is how bad my memory is in terms of thinking when gigs took place. An example of this was me trying to find the year I saw Madness at the O2 Arena. I couldn't find the ticket in my ticket scrapbook, and there were two cleat entries on setlist.fm for Madness gigs at the O2 Arena that I thought either could be plausible - 2014 or 2016. I immediately thought it was 2014, but there was something on the setlist which just didn't look right (that thing being they played My Girl and then immediately played their new sequel for the song, My Girl 2). It was my memory of this that eventually enabled me to pinpoint the gig I went to, and in fact it was actually in 2012 (and sure enough, the ticket was there in my scrapbook, but I didn't think to look that far back). This also happened in reverse as well - I couldn't remember when I saw Stiff Little Fingers in Portsmouth and didn't have the ticket, and setlist.fm again gave options, and at first I chose 2016, which is wrong as it turns out because I saw them in 2019. 

It wasn't the most fun of tasks by any stretch of the imagination, but I am glad it is now done. I did have a few moments of sadness when doing it though because I am still very much missing live music. It is coming up to one year since I went to my last proper gig, a day I imagine I'll be a bit sad on. The chat about when gigs can come back isn't exactly filling me with joy either. That said, I am of the view that everything that needs to stay closed should stay closed until it is safe to open (and the government should support the businesses in this position). I would not be happy if removing restrictions happened too early and shit hit the fan again. I saw some chat the other day about a potential 3rd wave, and yet there are voices in government saying this lockdown needs to be the last one - which isn't exactly reassuring. I guess we'll see what happens. 

Anyway, ramble over.