Live Review: Covent & Thick Skin @ Fulford Arms, York

Support: Heartsink, Merrick’s Tusk

Date: 15/04/20

This was the last show before COVID-19 shut everything for myself so I’m going to do my best as to remember as much as I can from the show. As with the Frank Turner review, I’m writing this late because I’ve had problems on my end with different aspects which have punctured my ability to be online and continue this blog but now I’m at a stable capacity as to continue for the time being.

Now I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching Heartsink play. I don’t know if it’s their drummer Jake and the hilarious faces that he makes to the audience or Kiel’s nature to just never stand still for more than two seconds at a time, but they’re just so much fun to be able to watch live and to date one of the bands I’ve seen live the most as well where their sound is constantly being perfected where hopefully when the lockdown has stopped we’ll see them playing to their best!

Seconds on are Merrick’s Tusk. Off the bat, I didn’t guess that they’d be as melodic as they came (which is one of the most charming things about the band) across but as with everything these days, looks can be deceiving where they powered through some utterly fantastic tunes to get everybody just that little bit more interested in what was going on during their set. What’s more, is that everyone just became more fixed on them as if they were in a trance so just watch out next-time you watch this band play.

Now I don’t know what it was about Thick Skin but it was as if someone ordered everyone straight to the front of the stage and were made to salute but everyone packed to them in a timely fashion. This band just stormed on and without seemingly trying to stole everyone’s attention and got everyone in the crowd in form. Now I’m not sure if it was the infectious guitar streams of ‘Medicine’ or the accompanying Bass mentality but there was something about this band that made them piercing to just watch and as when I’m finished here, will be listening to again and again.

 

Now Covent showed us why they were there. Some bands rarely understand how to get themselves picked up by the masses and Covent are just well on their way to. If you listen to any of their tracks, the production is among the best and when compared to watching them live, you see more or less exactly what you hear. But what you see as well, is a well put together setlist which draws everyone in further as well as the group’s energy, more than what Thick Skin we’re able to culminate to something which just pulsates to what just has to be seen. Hopefully, next-time people are in, we’ll get some pits going and things can turn up to eleven.

Rating: 6.5/10

 

Live Review: Frank Turner @ Barbican, York

Support: Micah Schnabel, Jess Guise

Date: 08/03/20

I do have to confess, I was in the Photo Pit for a little of each of the artists set’s for this occasion so I do apologise in advance if I fangirl a little bit in this review. Also, I do apologise that this is coming late. I’ve had a bit of trouble finding the right way to do these reviews in an uncertain time in the world at the moment.

Straight off the bat, this was a soulful very toned down show from three distinct artists that did steal the show in their own lights. What’s more, I think being in this intimate a setting for such a large show as well shows how different artists are able to captivate the audience, even if it is in such a calm environment.

First up was Jess Guise, whom I didn’t know at the time but is, in fact, Frank Turner’s wife! In a few ways her musical styling is similar but on the other end of the spectrum of things, it couldn’t be more apart. On one hand, Jess is getting used to performing in front of the fans although, she’s definitely affirmed herself ing the songwriter category where her voice is one of the most defining things about her music aside from the production but everything was so clear when she was performing, you could see why she was there on the stage in terms of her unique attitude as well as her musical skills.

I think I do have to say Micah did remind myself of The Homeless Gospel Choir in terms of the DIY punk-y nature they both have about them, but the things that separate everyone tonight is he was so open about everything he talked about. He was funny, charming and above all, he had this calming quality which came across in his performance that just made you stop and listen to him. You don’t get too many artists such as Micah and it’s important that we listen to the DIY nature because of the lyrics. It’s because of the geographical gap in how he produces his music. He sings about things in the track below, ‘Jazz And Cinnamon Toast Crunch’ that I don’t believe you’d hear if an English artist were to write about and it’s his experiences which divide him among everyone on the lineup.

Lastly, we’ve moved onto Frank Turner, the main man of the night. This tour is in celebration of his latest record, ‘No Man’s Land’ which focuses on the life and stories of historical women. What’s so fantastic about seeing Frank perform is that you see him as a true artist. He’s not doing this performance to prove himself, you see him as playing the tracks so everyone has a chance to hear them and you hear it as if it’s being played for the first time when it’s tracks from the latest record such as ‘Jinny Bingham’s Ghost’, ‘The Lioness’ or more established track such as ‘Get Better’. It’s always as if you know where you’re meant to be when hearing these tracks and I hope Frank continues to alternate and play so many different tracks so people can feel the emotions and celebrate every track and show for many years.

Going into his setlists a little, he played roughly 22 tracks from his career on the evening so you definitely get your money’s worth at a Frank Turner show. But what he’s managed to perfect is how to keep it rising without letting the overall show peak close to midway through his setlist and it’s not just a collection of his best tracks, because there’s always the underrated gems, the heavy hitters and the occasional track that just makes you stand and think about everything there for the performance.

 

Rating: 7.5/10

Live Review: Chasing Dragons @ Key Club Leeds

Support: Pulverise, Sertraline

Date: 29/02/20

Take it all in, for this is the final show of the story of Chasing Dragons. This would be possibly the great show of their careers, it was rowdy, energetic and downright crazy (some might say a touch clumsy from Adam, but that’s because when he came back on stage from the crowd, he immediately crashed into Kate’s drumkit and destroyed it) but enough of the spoilers, this last night, their farewell Leeds show was a triumphant look back into just what makes Chasing Dragons such a great band to experience live and from this, a celebration of just what the independent Hard Rockers have been able to achieve over the last decade together as a band.

Turning things up to eleven from the very start of things were Rap Metal Partycore (at least this is what they go by on their bio) heavy hitters, Pulverise. This was my first time experiencing this band live and wow, they were just a joy to watch! Everything just seemed to flow naturally for this band but it did look as if you were tripping through half their set because that’s why it was so great to watch. You just never really know what you’re going to get from some bands you see for the first time. High energy riffs and headbanging all around, what more could you want to get things going in the Key Club?

Moving onto the main support of the evening was the Progressive Mettalers; Sertraline. I did have a quick chat with another attendee on the evening, saying that this band were probably the more technical band on the evening and I do have to say that description was fairly accurate. Still, though, the rhythm sections of the band were perfection where the solos cut in to delve into the mix very well. In this, Lizzie’s vocals were tuned almost to perfection where some of the changes from the scream vocals to the clean were lacking as they weren’t as smooth as others in the set. Apart from this though, my only complaint is that their set wasn’t longer because they were pretty fun to watch but I think maybe they gear towards a younger crowd as I think they could’ve gotten a little more out of the audience, especially with their energy output. Still, I’ll be happy to attend a headlining set in the future which I can’t wait to see.

Now after an anxious wait, Chasing Dragons came onto one smoky but thunderous applause, especially with the appropriately named, ‘How The World Went Black’, to open up their set. Powering through some energetic riffs we’ve all come to know and love, especially where ‘Bare Knuckle Lover’ and ‘Parasite’ (Not at all connected with the Oscar-winning 2020 film of the same name) are concerned. All of this is made captivating by a mix of things; Tank’s vocals which just sound absolutely pristine as she leads the fold, which then goes into Kate erupting behind on the drums where you can just see her slamming away and enjoying every moment, then you have riff master Adam who looks as if he’s about to go ballistic tucked away onto the left hand of the stage but from here, it’s as if he’s cooking something truly spine-tingling and last but not least the deep grumble of the one and only man (but not the only one with facial hair on stage tonight) with some glistening facial hair and even more badass on bass; Murf moving into some slyly duotastic moments with everyone on stage.

Switching things over (into an out of tune guitar at first) to an acoustic part of the show, where Tank did dedicate ‘Bravery, Honestly’ to her wife was just so touching and amazing to witness where you could see her stage presence is unmatched, even if a larger band playing on this stage. Not only did she perform that track, but she also performed Shinedown’s ‘How Did You Love’ and you just can’t imagine anything better right now. The intimacy that came with the timing of these tracks in the set is something that’s really lost on a lot of bands but here, Chasing Dragons deliver a gut-punching few acoustic treatments that just beats anything I’ve seen this year so far and quite possibly, within the last few years.

That wasn’t the end though as they kept pulsating through some crowd-pleasers, ‘For Kingdom, For Glory’, Throw Down For King’ just blow everyone away and surpass the expectations that have come to be expected from this band tonight. There was some crowd surfing going on (This is where I said enough of the spoilers so apologies for the repetition in advance) with Tank and Adam but with him, he immediately loses his balance and crashes into Kate’s drumkit, where she just has the most shocked face on in the world and you have to wonder, the look she has on, is it one of ‘Oh no, not again’!, as if he did it on the previous night as well. But nevertheless, Adam soldiers on and marches straight back to his feet, as if he’s Kyle Reece sent back to protect the bands set if this was a musical Terminator film (which would be interesting to watch, now that I think about.)

The last two tracks Chasing Dragons would ever play you ask? Well, that could only be ‘Spawn Of The Succubus’ and ‘Devil In Her Eyes’. I think it dawned on everyone there, no matter what the energy was during these last two tracks (both were high octane, as it should be) is that they have gone above and beyond throughout this set and lived past expectations of an unsigned band as they should be but now, this will live in the bands memory, or at least Tank’s as she declared, (and I can’t remember the exact word for words she used so don’t hold me to this) that ‘This is my favourite show ever’. And it’s not hard to see why; it’s a packed house, some moshing, high energy and right at the end of the set they bring out the Champagne, of which they got me good! And when I say they got me good, they hit me right in the face with it! It’s a good feeling right there I do have to say. Hopefully, all the band members will spin off into some different musical projects because the talent every individual member has, it would be a shame if they didn’t.

Rating 9/10

Live Review: Home Wrecked @ Fulford Arms, York

Support: Kiss Kiss Kill, Old Selves, Palmist

Date: 21/02/20

I’m back at the Fulford Arms for a few homeowners as well as a few out of towners tonight. What’s great about these gigs is that it brings so many people together on the night; friends, family, other bands and new faces. It’s fantastic to see more and more people come down and support everyone on the bill and especially for Doncaster’s very own Home Wrecked, York was more than accommodating for our Yorkshire brothers in arms.

First on the bill for the evening was Kiss Kiss Kill. This is one local band I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing but you know what they say, there’s a first time for everything. For me, it was a half-decent performance as there was some half-decent parts of their, i.e. the introduction in the style of a flight attendant for one but apart from this not much else. To hit top gear, they need to be able to take a step outside of their comfort zone to match the other bands on the bill.

I don’t think these guys are capable of putting on a bad set. Ever since their first set a few months ago a the end of 2019, I was anxiously awaiting just what Old Selves would come up with next. Here though, they’ve built on the anticipation of that first show with a few new tracks, including their huge sounding debut ‘Strength In Four’. There was some room for improvement but I have faith that they could be the ones touring themselves soon. What stood out to me was their (I’m assuming he’s a lefty because we certainly are a rare breed) was the energy Kiel Hodgson always seems to emit when he plays live. I just hope he’s able to give off more high energy performances as this band blossoms in the future.

 

Moving up in the ladder and the energy are Palmist. From the outset, they do have some Don Broco vibes fused with some punk to give off a well-rounded performance at both ends of the spectrum. What is a little more Punky is the vocals from Sam Paterson as he shifts from all ends of the stage, clearly someone you can’t tie to one place to connect with each and every audience member in the room. More than that, it gives a little freedom to the other band members on the stage in order to have a little breathing space from the infectious rhythms that inevitably come during their set.

 

Now, finally, we’re upon Home Wrecked. With two EP’s, one or two singles, they’re ready to unleash some carnage. ‘What You Want’ is definitely one track which could define that band going forward into 2020 and with this tour as well as an appearance at Pop Punk Pile Up 3, is it a staple track in their set moving forward? One thing that’s for sure, my expectations were smashed because it’s great to see everyone down for this band and join in with everyone as far as vocalist Joe Daniels is concerned as well as getting being quite photogenic as far as you can see in the gallery below the music video I’ve linked in there. Soaring higher and higher into heir set, the Pop Punk feels just become more apparent with some old school touches which just hype the band up even more. Brothers in Arms for Yorkshire Rock indeed.

 

Rating: 6.5/10

Live Review: New Years Day @ Key Club, Leeds

Support: Call Me Amour, Lowlives

Date: 18/02/20

New Years Day, February 18th 2020. The date of the first international band I saw this year and my first (of what I’m hoping will be quite a few appearances of mine) the Key Club in Leeds. I was so happy this was my first Leeds show of the year because it was honestly; near perfect! I’d been waiting a few years to see New Years Day, the first being Slam Dunk Festival a few years ago, the other a few months ago but other commitments held myself back from being in attendance on the dates closest to myself. I’ll say this, they didn’t disappoint!

First up on the bill are the dark electronica with distorted guitars and iconic melodies, this can only be Call Me Amour. Cards on the table, I was roughly five minutes late for their set because it took a while to get everyone in but straight in and straight to the point with the bands for gigs, that’s what you want right? Well, that’s exactly what Call Me Amour did, get everyone up and moving slightly, venturing out to communicate with the audience but they only possibly hit about half their capabilities with everything. Their energy though, there’s no doubt that they were infused with it.

Heading into the faster grooves on the night, Lowlives describe themselves as in your face and you can certainly see why. From the point of the inception of their set and they go a little crazy, enough to see that they do mean business here yet give a fresh perspective into the scene. Looking from my perspective, the audience did take to Lowlives a little better than Call Me Amour but I think its because part of their whole look is genre-defining and bending to rekindle the flame and get you truly warmed up for what’s coming next. Nevertheless, what you can see is this band just gaining a legion of followers, even though they’re not the headlining band… yet.

Now, New Years Day. They were formed in 2005, and hail from Anaheim, California. The band consists of Ash Costello on vocals, Nikki Misery on rhythm guitar, Frankie Sil on bass, Max Georgiev on lead guitar, and Zac Morris on drums. They started on Myspace and released their self-titled EP in 2006, then their first full length My Dear in 2007. Since then, they’ve released three EP’s and two full-length albums. Straight away, the audience roars and you can tell this set is going to be a success unless it just blew up in their face via Instagram (where they were streaming the performance on the evening). Also, this is the very first UK headlining tour the band have ever done, so you can expect things to get a little crazy, such as the band moving into the audience to gain a better perspective of everyone.

What’s more, is that tit’s hard to believe that this is the bands first ever UK headlining tour. I mean sure they’ve supported but they play as if they’ve been made for headlining shows. ‘Kill Or Be Killed’, ‘Fucking Hostile’ and ‘Shut Up’ all play key roles in their setlist whether it’s to get everyone moving, their horns in the air (for which everyone kept them all in the air for at least one track). The band have been around for now what will be fifteen years by the end of 2020 and now they’ve headlined the UK, we’ll be begging them to come back for more and just like with every other Post-Hardcore band, we won’t let them go that easily.

Above all else, Ash Costello and co made everyone feel welcome. This wasn’t your usual crazy output of things but this is where you have a sense of belonging within the scene and that’s just a beautiful thing to be feeling and massive well done to New Years Day for making everyone feel loved and included on the night because it felt more personal when Ash Costello shouted it but it’s more than that as if a family was coming together out of all of this.

Rating: 8/10

Live Review: Neck Deep @ O2 Academy Newcastle 7/10/17

Emotional, Huge and Explosive. This can only be a headline show by the band that is Neck Deep.

 

 

 

 

I’ve seen Neck Deep before on a few occasions, supporting We Are The In Crowd, at Slam Dunk Festival and supporting Bring Me The Horizon. Now, they were a good band in those sets but it’s these headlining ones that turn them into legends. They’ve crossed the threshold to turn things up to eleven and now there’s no turning back.

Before they went on stage, the crowd were warming to the support acts for a good long while (however long their set times were). First up was new-ish to the stage Woes. I only got to see their last two tracks but it seemed that this was a huge boost for their confidence because they looked like they belonged on that Academy stage. Who knows a few years down the road and they’ll be headlining venues such as this soon.

The second group to take to the stage was Real Friends and from the first track of their set, the crowd were bouncing. Mosh-pit after mosh-pit infested the audience which seemed all but natural to the rising rockers as if they were saying. I hope you’re ready for round two soon. Who knows? But one thing is for certain, when they come back to the British shores, they’ll be ready for us!

Lastly was the main support, As It Is. It’d been a while since they’ve played some UK shows because they’ve been all over the place in support of their second studio record, Okay! Even though that was the case, the crowd took them with open arms with their Pop-Rock blend of nostalgia, cultivating in Hey Rachel as well as their last track, Dial Tones. What they did show is how long they’ve been waiting to play these track for us, and oh, was it spectacular!

Lastly were the headliners, the band everyone had come to see. Before the curtain dropped, I thought to myself “Oh. This is different.” When Happy Judgement Day kicked in, everything went mental. People screaming, multiple moshpits starting in the crowd and everyone losing their inhibitions. It’s amazing to see that bands can still do this and for Neck Deep, it’ll be a pleasure to see.

This is the first time I’ve been in attendance for a headline Neck Deep show in the past, sure I’ve been to an instance when they’ve headlined a festival stage but something does have me wondering as I write this, are all Neck Deep gigs this mental? Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m just curious and I have to ask the question because on tracks such as Kali Ma, Gold Steps and Motion Sickness; all I saw was the crowd going ballistic. It’s undeniable proof that this band have some amazing fans, to say the least.

In terms of set choices, they had around nineteen or twenty tracks for their adoring fans. But did it work? Every track flowed where the atmosphere only got more intense with each. This for myself hit it’s highest when the band played Don’t Wait. It’s such a politically charged track which is a statement by the band. To me, it’s saying to stop and listen because this band has something to say and if you miss the meaning of the message, then like the record, it’s wasted on people. Here though, the show only got more interesting.

When (possibly their best track to date) In Bloom started, I had to hold back a few tears. The first time I heard it, I thought Neck Deep had done it again, when I went to the album signing at HMV Leeds in August, I was nearly reduced to tears because it’s such a beautiful track, especially acoustically and here played properly live to almost two thousand people, it’s something else entirely. The thing about Neck Deep though, (which I’ve heard them say before) is that people think they’re so much older than they are. They’ve written such touching lyrics and had all these experiences in their lives, yet they’re still quite young. Most members aren’t in the second half of their twenties but it’s fantastic that they’ve had these experiences because the way they personify these through their music is something else entirely. It’s this commitment which makes them so unique in the world of Pop-Punk and Rock and it’s what will continue to separate them from others for the remainder of their careers.

The band also played three tracks acoustically. Head To The Ground, Wish You Were Here and their most known track, A Part Of Me. I think everyone was just waiting for this track, (A Part Of Me) especially in the second half of the gig because the band always plays it. It’s become a true staple of their set’s since their early days where it doesn’t feel right if they decide to not play it. What is great to see is that this has expanded into more acoustic tracks where the audience will think, hey we didn’t see this coming. It’s great to see the band evolving and not becoming a group where their sets become predictable and repetitive but now with the full band coming into A Part Of Me, it’s something not as intimate but much more emotional to bring the crowd to its knees.

This was quite possibly one of the greatest gigs I’ve been to in my life, seconded only to Evanescence because of the vocal clarity of Amy Lee. Here it is my second favourite because it’s the most fun I’ve ever had at a gig, I’ve got to see a unique set by one of the greatest Pop-Punk bands England has ever known and listened to track live from one of the best albums of 2017 so far, The Peace And The Panic and I got to see it in my favourite city, Newcastle.

Check out December live from the show below.

 

Support: Woes, Real Friends, As It Is

Rating: 4/5

Neck Deep’s latest album, The Peace and The Panic is out now via Hopeless Records. Here are the links for Amazon, Itunes, Google Play and Neck Deep’s Webstore.