I bought these tickets as a Christmas present for a very special friend. I'm not a huge fan of Led Zeppelin (I'd call them a little self indulgent for my taste *cue gasping and perhaps an elderly chap fainting with disbelief*) but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the UK's longest running professional tribute to one of the greatest rock bands to ever grace this earth (according to some people, just not me!) This is a prime example of where I've seen a band that I wouldn't normally listen to and had a great time.
Skindred are a hard band to describe. Hailing from Newport, Wales and fronted by the ever so slightly eccentric Benji Webbe, Skindred are a fusion of metal, rap, reggae, ska, punk and outright rock. Politically influenced, their sound is nothing short of eclectic but they are one of the best live bands I've ever seen (and I've seen a LOT) - they're full of energy and they have some absolutely cracking sing along anthems such as Stand for Something (video below) and Kill the Power.
|Skindred - photo by me!|
A joint headline tour for these two legends of ska pop-punk. Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake were two of the first "alternative" bands that I got into in my late teens. I've seen RBF more than any other band although I don't really check out their new material anymore as my tastes have changed a little. RBF are a more 'jokey' ska band with songs like Sell Out, Everything Sucks and She Has a Girlfriend Now. Less Than Jake are a more politically motivated band with a serious side to their music. This gig was absolutely heaving and I could barely move an inch. I have to say that as much as I've enjoyed seeing these bands in the past I was really disappointed and felt there were too many people crammed in and it was hot, sweaty and at times quite dangerous. We ended up moving to the back just to get some breathing space. I know gigs can be packed and that's some of the fun, but with ska there is usually a lot of shoving and pushing and at this gig nobody was looking out for anyone it just seemed to be full of young teens let loose on a school night without knowing that rock and roll can be fun AND safe (I'll take off my old lady lecturing hat now, haha!)
|Reel Big Fish - photo by me!|
A friend and I had to travel out of the region to see Frank Turner but it was well worth it. Frank Turner, the punk rock troubadour, started out in hardcore band Million Dead. Now he plays mainly acoustic based folk-punk and performed at the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. I now hear his songs being played a lot in supermarkets, sadly. He's been a fave of mine for a while and he always makes the effort to play small, obscure shows as well as larger venues. Frank is pretty much always on tour and I would recommend you catch him if you can!
|Frank Turner - photo by me (which is why it's terrible!)|
I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac because my parents were such huge fans. I first saw this band in 2013 very shortly after my Mum had passed away and I cried through most of the performance as it evoked such strong emotions. It was pretty much the same experience in March of this year but I think I managed to compose myself far more quickly. The female vocalists with the band are both amazing and the Stevie Nicks-alike probably sounds more like Stevie Nicks than Stevie Nicks! Amazing cover band in an amazing venue!
|Sage Gateshead copyright www.pollyhope.co.uk|
18th March - Steel Panther at o2 Academy Newcastle
The Wikepedia entry for this band describes them as "an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California, mostly known for their profane and humorous lyrics as well as their exaggerated on-stage personae that reimagine and parody the heavy metal music and lifestyle of the 1980s." I said I would go and see them with a friend without actually realising just how offensive I would find their songs, lyrics and general misogynistic attitude. They have albums called Balls Out, Feel The Steel and Hole Patrol. Enough said. At one point they had young girls on stage flashing boobs and gyrating - they looked about 14 years old. As a rock music fan I've had to admit that rock music is very sexist but this band, in my opinion, just go too far. I hated every minute of it but I'm glad that by going it meant my friend got to see a band they enjoy...
Anyone remember the Coca-Cola advert from the late 90s featuring First Time? This is the same Robin Beck of Coca-Cola advert fame. If you're too young to remember, here it is:
Robin Beck was a lot of fun although I wasn't really all that into her songs and she came across as a bit of a "diva" by constantly complaining about the sound! House of Lords were a great classic rock style band with a modern twist. The highlight of the night for me though was seeing an emerging band called Estrella from Aberdeen. They were pure rock and roll indulgence complete with cock rock riffs (don't ask...!) They deserve to be HUGE!
20th April - Alkaline Trio at o2 Academy Newcastle
This band are, without doubt, one of my all time favourites. I have their logo tattooed on my neck and they just mean a heck of a lot to me. I always make an effort to be near the front and this time was no different. I walked down the aisle to a music only version of one of their songs called Blue in the Face which has the most beautiful melody (the lyrics are somewhat depressing though which is why a friend played guitar but didn't sing!) They're sort of punky, sort of rocky - hard to describe really but they're just very "me"! I described this gig at the time as 'pleasant with no pushing and shoving' which goes to show I really am a thirty something OAP!
Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio - photo by me!
30th April - Magnum at o2 Academy Newcastle
Magnum are a rock band from the late 1970s who are still going strong. I wasn't familiar with them before seeing them live but they were pretty funky and had some melodic and catchy tunes. I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy any of their CDs anytime soon but it was an enjoyable evening! Their frontman has a habit of waving his hands about in a slightly amusing fashion which the crowd kept emulating!
17th May - H.E.A.T at o2 Academy Newcastle
H.E.A.T are are glam metal band from Sweden who only entered my radar earlier this year. They've got some absolutely cracking tunes and I watched this gig right from the front. The energy and passion was amazing and their lead singer Eric Gronwall was like a Duracell Bunny! Random facts about this band - they represented Sweden in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest (albeit it with their original singer) and their current singer won Swedish Idol in 2009. Don't let either of those facts put you off though - they are a great rock band!
H.E.A.T - photos by me!
18th June - Winger at o2 Academy Newcastle
Winger are an American rock band who started up in the 80s and still have a strong following. I hadn't really heard of them before seeing them and went with a friend. They were great live but like with some of the other older bands I've seen lately I won't be rushing out to buy their stuff!
28th June - Heaven & Earth at o2 Academy Newcastle
Again, I went with a friend and had never heard of this band before seeing them live. They were described to me as a modern Deep Purple. This gig was a little awkward as when we arrived there was literally only about 30 other people there. I'd have thought that with a ticket price of £15 that they'd have been more popular! It was quite embarrassing and I felt sorry for the band who, despite the small crowd, really "bought it" and played a blinding set - there was no encore though which made me feel like they were well aware of the poor turnout and not willing to put themselves though the humiliation of 30 people chanting for more. My friend got the guitarist's plectrum at the end so he was a happy bunny!
I've currently got a few gigs lined up for the rest of the year including Edguy in Manchester, The Gaslight Anthem in Edinburgh and Reckless Love, a glam metal band from Finland (I do so love me a bit of Euro rock!)
There you have it ladies and gentlemen! My year in music so far. Have you seen any of these bands or artists? Who have you been to see this year and who do you have lined up? I'd love to know so please don't be shy and do leave me a comment below.