17 June 2013

Show Tits!

Some cheeky scamp at Donington made a cardboard signs with the words "Show Tits" written on it. Unfortunately One Direction were not at Download but a large number of young ladies (and bizarrely a worrying number of men) flashed their boobs at the camera on Saturday. Oh, and there were some bands performing...

It had been ten years since I last went to Donington, this time with seventeen year old son in tow, now tall enough not to want to sit on my shoulders whilst Iron Maiden played. Unlike ten years ago, the list of bands on the main stage was quite good (ie. a list of names I by and large recognised) and I was looking forward to the day.

Things went smoothly until we got to Donington when for some inexplicable reason we had to queue for over 45 minutes to get in, missing half of UFO's set which was a shame as what we heard was pretty good and I had made a point of setting off from Bristol at some God forsaken hour to make sure we saw them. They are definitely on the list to catch next time they tour in the UK.

UFO were followed by Young Guns, the only band I was not even passingly familiar with. Not knowing any of their songs didn't help but the sound was awful (my son commented that their best know song Bones was largely unintelligible despite being a good crowd pleaser). I have for many years bemoaned bands wearing black playing in front of black back drops at festivals, however everyone in Young Guns wore white which unfortunately did make them look like a boy band...

Black Star Riders aka Thin Lizzy were next, a good set mixing old Lizzy with new BSR stuff. Ricky Warwick is a great singer and certainly knows how to work a crowd (even as the rain lashed in during Whiskey In The Jar). Heard enough of the new album to decide to investigate further...

I was looking forward to Mastodon but again the sound was ropey' the rain heavy and I am not that much of a fan to be familiar enough with their material to make up for that. However, in fits and starts I liked what I heard so will go back and give them a proper listen as I have a couple of their albums.

I only know one Alice in Chains song (yep, Rooster) but they were entertaining enough, as were Queens of the Stone Age who played a great set in the lovely evening sunshine (the weather was very fickle). Again not a great fan, I only knew Go With The Flow and No One Knows but they played with enough diversity to warrant further investigation (my son has their albums but I've never really taken the time to listen to them).

In between them came Motörhead who played a blindingly good set. I don't know how a three piece band can sound as good as they do but they were great. I wasn't planning seeing them on tour later this year but I just might have to get a ticket now. The highlight of their set was none musical with an ancient looking Philthy Animal Taylor joining time on stage for a well deserved ovation.

After QOTSA came the headline act - Iron Maiden. Their set was preceded by a Spitfire buzzing the crowd (even at 48 I found that too cool for words!)' before the band came on with a great set of material drawn from albums between 1978 and 1992. It was great to hear Phantom of the Opera and Afraid To Shoot Strangers amongst a list of more popular anthems, the only downside was the intermittent sound issues again.

Overall, despite the changeable weather (I got soaked and sunburnt), poor queue management in and out, muddy sound and horrendously priced food (£18 for two burgers and two bottles of Fanta), it was still an enjoyable day and some great music was heard and appreciated by both son and Dad (and he did comment there were a lot more boobs here than High Voltage...)

8 June 2013

Controlling Crowds...

So what do you get when you put a UK prog star and a Scandinavian metal god together? Well, if last year's Åkerfeldt/Wilson Storm Corrosion project is anything to go by, not a lot. So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I decided to order Wisdom of Crowds from The Pineapple Thief's Bruce Soord and Katatonia's Jonas Renkse. My concerns, however, proved unfounded, this is a really good album.

I am not sure what The Pineapple Thief or Katatonia fans will make of it and I have not judged it based on the releases of either band. Renkse's vocals are quite distinctive and his melancholy tones will be immediately recognisable to Katatonia fans but the laregly electronic music underneath is quite different from Soord's Pineapple Thief (even if you catch flashes here and there).

It struck me as somewhat amusing that whilst Steven Wilson embraces the past with his latest seventies prog inspired work, Soord has gone down a more modern electronic route showing touches of the likes of Archive, Muse and Pendulum, whilst still not quite kicking off his comfortable prog slippers. He has pushed boundaries, but not to the extent that he will have alienated his fan base.

Song wise the album has some great songs, Pleasure, Frozen North and the title track, Wisdom of Crowds are all immediate favourites, but there is not one track I feel like hitting the skip button on. Overall, an impressive collaboration and one I hope we see produce more new material again.