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Home » Concert/CD Reviews: Whitesnake, Monsters of Rock, Dragonforce, The Vincent Black Shadow, and Britt Black

Concert/CD Reviews: Whitesnake, Monsters of Rock, Dragonforce, The Vincent Black Shadow, and Britt Black

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A nice batch of items to review this week, including two major gigs and three impressive CDs. There were supposed to be three gigs in the mix but a dodgy piece of fish made sure I didn't make it to The Trews showcase gig last night. I am sure they delivered an excellent set to London's Metro.

Gig Reviews

Whitesnake

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing Whitesnake live at Hammersmight Odeon Apollo. It was an unexpected pleasure since I didn't realize the gig on the 30th of May, which I was unable to attend, had been postponed due to David's ill-health. David was a real trooper doing the gig so close to his illness and you could tell his voice was going a bit by the end of the night.

But being as it's the ole' Cov, he gave his all during the entire show. He and his band performed a variety of his hits from all eras of the man including an opening scorching version of Deep Purple's "Burn." We got all the classics from a storming end in the form of "Still of the Night" (well, the real end was David doing an a capella version of "Soldier of Fortune" by himself on the stage), "Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City," and "Here I Go Again."

The audience of older and newer fans plus children sang along to almost every song offered up. There was even the traditional drum/guitar solos to allow those with weaker bladders a trip to the loo. David Coverdale gave us yet another example of why he is the consummate showman of his generation. And yes, even after being ill, he could still hit high notes most singers could not hit before their balls dropped.

Monsters of Rock

Last Saturday, a sunny (not a cloud in the sky) Milton Keynes Bowl saw the triumphant return of the (in)famous Monsters of Rock festival, which has been on hiatus for quite a few years. An impressive line-up was enjoyed by probably 35,000+ punters in the wonderful summer sun.

First up was somewhat cursed Hurricane Party, a band whom I have seen live many times and rate highly. They performed a storming set to get the day going, doing quite a few tracks from their recently released debut album Grand Hotel.

They were followed by Ted Nugent, who kicked things up a level with his odd antics. "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang," "Stranglehold," "Free For All," and "Cat Scratch Fever" reminded the audience of why this much-maligned rocker has remained popular for so long. He baited those who loathe him many times referring to huntin' and skinnin'. Ted delivers 100% petrol-fuelled rock and roll with such ease it's astonishing.

Then the gig hit a giant road-block in the form of the piss-poor Queensryche who were supporting their disappointing Operation Mindcrime II. Their lethargic, and at times pathetic, performance sprayed cold water on the keen rocking crowd. It did not help matters that Geoff Tate's voice was in no shape to hit the notes. Highlights were few, one of them coming from OM in the form of "Eyes of a Stranger." It was a truly weak performance from a once great band.

Bad memories of Queensryche were quickly ended when Thunder came on to deliver their stunning set. Thunder, like Whitesnake, deliver every gig like it's their last. They are humble yet talented and Danny Bowes knows how to play a crowd, whatever its size. There was a mixture of tracks from their entire career from "Backstreet Symphony" and "Love Walks In" to the cracking "Love You More Than Rock & Roll" from The Magnificent Seventh. In short, they came, they saw, they rocked us all. The fact Danny got to announce, in fine style, England won their last friendly game before the World Cup made it all the sweeter.

Considering how long it has been since Journey was seen in the UK, there was a lot of anticipation for their set. As one would expect, they delivered with aplomb, rising to the challenge of the high level of performance and surpassing it. The band went through all their hits and reminded us why they were so bloody huge in the '80s.

The fact Steve Perry was not around didn't seem to matter — not with his successor, Steve Augeri, delivering every bit of emotion needed for Journey's music. Even the most hardened of heavy rockers at the venue stopped and listened — lighters were raised and their secret pomp love was betrayed.

Alice Cooper delivered a solid performance; but MK Bowl really was not a place to see the man. His on-stage antics were barely visible to all but those who were up front as there were not large screens like at most gigs. However it has to be said what we heard was great. Alice and his band delivered the goods on "School's Out," "Poison," and songs like "Lost in America." His myriad of fans, including a guy dressed in his full top-hat and tails, enjoyed every minute of it.

After a rock star entrance to the site via helicopter: Deep Purple blazed through a set of favorites, proving there is something left in the old dog despite the fact that Richie Blackmoore and Jon Lord no longer perform with the band. Steve Morse and Don Airey delivered the goods in place of the legends. Despite the excellent reaction to the new album from critics; the fans were there to see such classics as "Smoke on the Water," "Hush," "Fireball," et al.

An argument could be made that Journey should have headlined but no matter. It was a great night of hard rock and a good example of how healthy the scene is these days. I am grateful to the several punters who attended MoR and freely gave their opinions of the performances. Let's hope the promoters are happy enough to do MoR 2007. It was well worth the long wait to see my first MoR.

CD Reviews

Dragonforce: Inhuman Rampage

Classic heavy metal as done by a bunch of young English upstarts sounds like a recipe for disaster and dullness. Like Trivium, Dragonforce proves both live and on record this is not necessarily the case.

A cynical ol' heavy rocker like me just wants to hate this lot for being "derivative," but I just can't. It's hard to be a cynical bastard when you have a smile on your face a mile wide. Dragonforce are the offspring of classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal with a dash of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Diamond Head with a sprinkling of pre-rubbish Metallica to make it current.

The cheeky sods have released a CD of only 8 tracks; which is sheer genius. There is not one lame track on here; they even get away with a cracking ballad in the form of "Trail of Broken Hearts". The only thing that gives me a bit of a shudder is how much lead singer, ZP Theart, sounds like Vince Neil on this track; letting down his macho vocal guard for a brief moment. Rifts, catchy chorus, and pace abound on this slab o' metal. Oh sod it; if you like your metal, go get the bloody thing, okay? It's that good.

The Vincent Black Shadow: Fears in the Water

After the utter lameness of Bif Naked, I was wondering what the rest of the BoDog stable would be like, and when I found two of them were female fronted groups, I worried even more.

I needn't have. The VBS is a most impressive group with a lead singer who sounds like Gwen Stefani if she headed the way of Nightwish as opposed to Bling-Bling. Cassandra Ford has a sultry voice, which just works on any sort of tune even a big band-esque ballad like "Don't Go Soft". The track sounds like it's an outtake from Grease or some other "era" musical. Not the singles but the stronger album stuff. "House of Tasteful Men" has that ska meets Big Band feeling with a Stray Cats feel to it. This album is full of solid songwriting and musical performance that just makes you want to listen.

Despite the 13 tracks on here; there is nothing duff about it. The strength of the material is more apparent with each listen. VBS are current, retro, and quality all in one go. This lot are well worth seeking out; despite the odd name.

Britt Black: Blackout

Britt has far more of a heavier vibe than the lady above; far closer to some of the heavy rock females like Doro Pesch, Joan Jett, and even Die So Fluid's Grog with a modern twist. It's similar to Bif Naked, with a feeling of quality that seems to be lacking in Bif's output. BB's backing band is tight as a monkey's and peel off heavy rock styling with great class. The rather good cover of "She Sells Sanctuary" by the Cult demonstrates the breath of talent from the band. Britt was Bif Naked's guitarist; on the strength of this solo album, going it alone was a great idea.

Vocally, Britt is far easier on the ear than Bif and seems to have a better sense of the songs. Check out the rocking "Jet Black Heart" and the mellow "Stuck Here" for proof of the quality of this release. This is superior stuff that is perfect if you like your heavy rock sung by a woman.

Well that is a wrap of this set of rocking reviews. I am off to Bon Jovi this weekend with my beloved and a band mate or two. As always, stay safe, check out your local live scene, and rock hard!

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About Marty Dodge

  • http://www.kalyr.com/weblog Tim Hall

    Were Queesnryche that bad? I saw them on the Sunday night in Manchester, and I’d describe them as good rather than great. Perhaps they put on a better show when they were headlining their own gig.

    Still, Monsters of Rock traditionally have one otherwise good band that dies horribly on stage. It happened to Blue Oyster Cult once.

    BTW, Hurricane Party have now changed their name to Roadstar.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    wouldn’t it have been weird for Journey to headline? i suppose they were the “biggest” band but they probably rocked the least out of all of them.

    …though i did see them open for Ted Nugent way the heck back in the “Wheel In The Sky”-era. they rocked pretty freaking hard back then.

  • http://www.kalyr.com/weblog Tim Hall

    Didn’t see them at Donnington, but did see them at Manchester on Monday. They rocked pretty hard (and played “Wheel in the Sky”).

  • http://www.andrewiandodge.com Andrew Ian Dodge

    Yes QR were that bad. I think an editor got to Roadstar and changed it to Hurricane Party :p. I know the lads and they deserve to do well. The good review in this month’s Classic Rock probably helped their cause greatly.