// The Rock Service Gig Reviews
Gigs We've Attended
In the end, we did attend quite a lot of gigs in 2021 - perhaps not as many as in a 'normal' year but we feel like we did a lot under the circumstances.
The European ones were arguably the highlights - Vetrar Draugurinn / Autumn and As Night Falls / Spatial.
Raging Speedhorn and Earthtone9 were equally great.
But, some of the early ones in May when gigs were allowed to restart were possibly the most memorable because after so long, just seeing live music again was a novelty !!!!
Let's hope 2022 gets off to a better start and we can get in a full calendar of UK and European gigs.
Happy Christmas from the Rock Service.
Hannah White and Robbie Cavanagh @ The Musician, Leicester - 19th May 2021
"Well, well, well. LIVE MUSIC IS BACK !!!!!! AND WE'RE SOOOOO HAPPY ABOUT IT :) :) :)
Neither of these artists would usually have attracted our attention - both are the sort of musicians we'd usually chill out to while watching them drunk late on during a festival :). However, after nearly 18 months of no live music, when we saw Darren @ The Musician was reopening, we had to be there, whoever was playing :). As it turned out, it was a truly wonderful evening and I don't think I could have hoped for a better introduction back into the real World of live music. Both artists totally 'got it' and had a full grasp of the situation and how significant it was, for themselves and for the small audience that had gathered.
Darren @ the venue did an absolutely awesome job and I'm so pleased for him that he's managed to survive these hard times and is now ready to bring live music back to the East Midlands once again :).
Robbie Cavanagh opened the evening and we REALLY liked his voice; very raspy and very soulful. Check out this song from his set, which was early on in the set and almost had us in tears it was such a moment -
Robbie did a relatively short set but it was just totally awesome see such a great artist as my first live experience after so so long.
We knew little about Robbie before the show but even less about Hannah White. Hannah's set was full of emotion and back stories, which really painted a picture that touched the audience. A truly outstanding musician and with her husband alongside her on the guitar, a really impressive double act (which we believe is usually a band with more members, but they are 'stuck' in the Nordics somewhere right now).
Here is one of Hannah's tracks we happened to video during the evening -
The evening was certainly very memorable and we are so so happy we took a punt on it and decided to go along.
LIVE MUSIC IS BACK and let's just hope it stays back and we're not in for any more surprises like we've seen during the last 18 months of this shit storm that has crippled the World."
As Night Falls @ Ragnarok Club, Bree, Belgium - 15th November 2019
"Well, it's been a while since we've seen them; 6 months in fact. That's not because they've not been gigging, but because we've been too busy and not managed to get anywhere near where they have been playing. So, in true Rock Service style, we chose the hardest and most obscure place to go and see them last Friday :).
For the first time since I discovered these awesome people 3 years ago, for the very first time on Friday night I thought to myself 'this isn't 'normal' behaviour for a middle aged man' :). It was the precarious situation I found myself in that prompted these thoughts. But then I thought, screw everyone :) and screw my negative thought process, almost getting run over by an articulated HGV on a dark and frozen country road in the middle of nowhere Belgium, that's my life :) (although it nearly wasn't !!!). Alas, we lived to tell the story and made it to the venue.
The venue was the Ragnarok club around 6km outside of Bree. Not the most inviting of places I must admit (the venue, not Bree. Bree is a beautiful and quaint kind of place). As I arrived it looked like an abandoned warehouse and the only signs of life were a drunken individual outside (who it turned out I knew:)) and a badly scribbled note on what appeared to be the entrance door to the 'venue' that said 'Prive', which using my excellent French and Flemish skills I deduced meant I wasn't supposed to enter, but enter I did. Of course, behind the door, Pawel D and Ania were waiting to greet me, and all was fine again. All the hours and hours on cold trains, and buses that stop halfway along their published routes, along with the near death experience with a lorry, all was forgotten, and all was good again. The fact we had no way of getting back to the hotel 6km away after the gig wasn't a thought for now - we'd let the excellent Belgian beer take care of that situation during the evening.
Pleasantries done, it was time for soundcheck. The sound man clearly didn't want to be there - either that or he didn't like Polish people, one or the other. It wasn't the smoothest soundcheck I ever saw but they got there in the end, but not before lots of cursing and angry gesturing from the sound guy. As it turned out, the sound for ANF was average, and it seemed to greatly improve for the headline band - fair play to the fella.
So, first band up were Gallia. They were from the local area I believe and seemed to have some friends with them. Not exactly my cup of char, but as the opening band, they did ANF and the headline band proud. Not much more to say about them - we enjoyed their short set and plenty of head nodding occurred. The 'crowd' seemed to enjoy them too. Here's an example of their work -
Next up were ANF. One thing we noticed in soundcheck, which carried through to the main performance, was the fact that the bass drum and the backing samples were sounding more powerful than usual, which actually sounded good in the room, but my camera didn't like it too much :(. Kudos to the sound man on this though - he really made those parts of the mix sound full of life and energy (my chest felt the bass, which was nice). It was a familiar set list, starting with Eternal Dance, the trademark set starter. This was followed by Haven -
The set continued with Find your Freedom, and Pawel had his usual big moment on the lead guitar standing on the platform (we do like that addition to the live show setup from late last year). Then came Forgotten Legacy, one of our favourites. Well, every single song is our favourite, but this one in particular.
Next up was Tale of Blood, which actually is perhaps our 'bestest favourite' :) on the Album. Towards the end of this track on the album there is a part of the song just before the final 'push', where the vocal goes
"Feel all that anger inside,
Leave all the reason behind,
Think of the blood in your eyes,
Death is approaching for us all"
I've been waiting for Ania to sing it live like she does on the studio version, and we almost got there on Friday night :). Such a powerful chorus - love it love it love it !!!!!!! When the vocal moves from 'Feel all that anger inside' to 'Leave all the reason behind' to 'Think of the blood in your eyes' to 'Death is approaching for us all' and then the drums come higher in the mix and the song builds to a conclusion, I have the impression of being wrapped up in a ball and then exploding out and seeing the World for the first time - almost like a being born experience :). Weird, right ? For me, the performance totally captures the lyric and paints a story of 'literally' standing up and fighting for what you believe in and coming out of your shell (PJ writes smiling).
It wasn't the band that messed up the intro - it was the sound guy :).
Now then :). It was time for my surprise for the evening. The trials and tribulations of getting to the gig were long forgotten now and things were about to take an awesome turn :). We have a new song !!! In fact, there's a whole album of new songs almost ready :). The band weren't sure whether to play this on the tour or not, but because we were there that night, they decided to premiere it right there and then. And, well, it's another blinder of a song :). As with every single other song they've ever released into the public domain, this new one sounded so so familiar right from the first listen. That's one of the truly special things about this band - every song is so well crafted and put together and every one just sounds so familiar to us, like it's been around for decades, but it truly was the first time we'd heard this new one.
And, it has a twist at the end :). The band are experimenting with a new vocal direction and a new sound overall. No doubt this has happened due to Ania's involvement with Spatial, but nevertheless, whatever the reason, we like it, A LOT !!! It's a kind of symphonic doom :) - perhaps a new style !!!!! It also has the sound of an 80s Power Metal ballad in parts :).
Check this out. This is 'The Cancelled'.
We like that A LOT !!!! Did we say that already !!
The set ended with the usual 'Stronger' and that was it - all done for another show.
It was after the set that I managed to ask Pawel why he cut all his lovely hair off. The reasons he gave were no surprise to me - been there and done that :). I like his new James Hetfield look.
Now it was time for the 'headline' band and to be fair to them, they did deserve to be the headline. Again, another band we didn't know but we grew to like them a lot during the set. They are another local band and are called Elusion. Their new album singularity is out now and they played several tracks from that album including this one called 'Lovelorn' -
We really liked their style and technically they were very tight. The vocalist is clearly well-trained and has great control over her voice - even when 'growling' :). They didn't set our World on fire, but they were good on the night, and rounded off what was a really great evening.
Luckily enough, another ANF 'Super fan' was in attendance and kindly offered to drop me off in Bree at the hotel before his 150km drive home to Germany. Thank you my man - you saved me from a very cold and dark 6km walk :). Hope to catch up with you at the next event."
PJ @ The Rock Service
17th November 2019
Secret Rule @ Numbucca, London - 18th August 2019
"This is quite a simple review to write. First 2 bands were very average. Secret Rule were AWESOME !!!
We strongly suggest our listeners check them out live and download some of their material - you wont be disappointed !!
We've never seen them before, or heard of them if truth be known. They are from Italy and follow in the footsteps and genre of Lacuna Coil and their sound is remarkably similar at times. They do bring their own uniqueness though.
Here is one of the videos we took on the night. It's not up to our usual standard and you could be forgiven for thinking that the gig was really busy, but no, it's just that we ended up in a rather bad standing position, with lots of tall people in front (story of PJ's life).
and here is a slightly better attempt by Steve Martin....
Steve also grabbed a copy of the set-list too. Check out all of these tracks on YT (mostly all) -
PJ, 22nd August 2019
Metallica @ The Etihad Stadium, Manchester - 18th June 2019
"So it's been a while since I've done a gig review. The truth is, although there have been several review-worthy gigs recently, I never got round to writing about them, and trying to do so after-the-fact several weeks later seems to lose the shine, and I can't quite get back the same feelings and vibe I had at the time. So, a new TRS rule, I only write gig reviews on the same day of an event, or at latest the day after :)
So, back to last night. WOW !!!! I could end the review there....just WOW !!!! It's always a WOW moment when you see Metallica - for me it is anyway. They formed such a huge part of my early life and gave me strength, belief in myself and courage when I needed it most. As one of the first Metal bands I ever heard in 1985 approx. with Kill 'em All and Ride The Lightning already huge records, then came Master of Puppets and I was hooked for life !!!
It wasn't all WOW though and this isn't going to be a 5* glowing review I'm afraid. There were a couple of negative aspects. It's still WOW though !!!!
It was certainly a night that we'd waited for - for a very long time. On the drive up to Manchester it occurred to PJ that it was almost 10 years ago since we last saw Metallica. That didn't seem right and mulling it over and over on the drive did make the journey go faster (as did the whole of Kill 'em All and Ride the Lightning). PJ has been fortunate enough to see the band many times over the years but just not since 2010 or so. I didn't manage to confirm why this happened. My best guess is that after Death Magnetic, not much happened until Hardwired :). I know they were still touring but perhaps the lack of much new material put me off - who knows. We wont mention Garage Inc. too much - I'm sure it had a purpose. And, well, it gave us Whiskey In the Jar, which is a superb 'cover' and so for that alone, it was worth recording it.
It's no surprise to anyone who knows PJ that it was the earlier part of the band's career that is of most interest. In fact, everything up to and including the Black album is, in my view, their best period. Load, Reload, St. Anger had some good songs on them but as overall works of art, not so much. Then came Death Magnetic, which I recall very vividly at the time touched a sweet spot in me, almost like when I very first heard the first few albums - the fire was back. That album is certainly up there with their best for me. Then came Hardwired, which I was pleasantly pleased to discover rather continued the Death Magnetic sound, even though it was recorded some 8 years later. Anyway, the purpose of this discography ? Within the opening 5 songs last night, we had new, middle and old Metallica !! James was quick to point this out as well.
I've often thought that it must be hard for a band with so much material and history to choose 15 or so songs for a 2 hour live show. How do you select which ones to play when there are just so many damn good ones ?
PJ's initial thought when the band came on was 'it's going to rain soon' :). Followed by 'that stage has no roof - they are going to get soaked' !!!!! But then, the opening chords of Hardwired rang out around the stadium. It did take some time for the sound Engineer to get things right. Certainly in my corner of the stadium, it took several songs and arguably, it wasn't sounding too great until right at the end with the encore songs. Perhaps it was OK for people in other parts of the stadium - I don't know. I've never seen a gig at the Etihad and so have nothing to compare it to.
As they switched gears into The God That Failed and The Unforgiven (original) the rain began to fall, heavily !! It was at this moment that PJ felt something was wrong, something was missing. Was it the fact that I was sitting down to a Metallica show, watching 1000s of people below getting soaked and dancing around without a care in the World ? Perhaps it was that, but I'm not sure. I do prefer to sit down at these large stadium shows these days. Truth be told, I've never really liked standing at stadiums because being vertically challenged, I can never see anything :). As I mature (age :)) it seems far more comfortable to have a seat and a good view, especially when it's a band you've seen so many times before, and just want 'one more look' at them.
I do remember noticing that the whole production of the show looked a bit low budget - compared to more or less every other Metallica show I've ever been to, in any Country. The stage was simple. There weren't too many pyros going off. The lighting was basic, but effective. Don't get me wrong, I did kind of like this simplistic approach and far too many bands get stuck up their own A-holes these days with far more visuals than actual musical talent, but it just didn't seem the Metallica way. Maybe this low-key approach was what was missing ? Not sure on that either. Certainly, the band gave it 100% as usual, and the Manchester Crowd really showed them a huge warm welcome to their City. Frankly, anyone will struggle to inject energy and life into a cold, rainy, grey Manchester evening in 'summer'. They did manage it though - just not for me, as much as I was expecting from previous times I've seen them.
As we got to the real 'meat' of the show, Sad Bad True caused the usual chaos of small pits emerging around the crowd, which slowly turned into one larger pit :). A change from the European legs of the tour saw them drop Fade To Black for Welcome Home. I would have been happy with either :).
Then, well, the highlight. One of the highlights at least. I declared this was my favourite song of all time many years ago and it probably still is.
From then on, it was full steam ahead with tracks from PJ's favourite era, and for 20 minutes or so, the 'missing' thing was back, and all was forgiven !! By this point, the band were totally soaked, as were their instruments ! Seeing the puddles of water bounce off of Lars' kit was really impressive, particularly in slow motion on the screens !! Many bands or artists would have abandoned the show half way through, but not Metallica, they'd never do that. This is one of the things that nobody can deny - Metallica do care about their fans and there have been countless demonstrations of this over the years. Yes they make shed-loads of money out of music, but they love doing it, and they love making people happy. That's really special. As a planned part of the show for 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' a 2nd drum kit appeared at the front of the walkway stage, right in front of the crowd and they did a few songs from that position.
Now it was intermission time - well, time before the encore. The encore was a slightly strange affair in some ways. I suppose it made sense to start the encore with another track from Hardwired. And, actually, I didn't really like Lords of Summer on the album too much, but live, it sounded really great. The irony was all too evident though, playing a song called 'Lords of Summer' as the band got soaked by the Mancunian weather !!! Then it was a true moment, which needs no commentary, and wont get any.
Then we were at the final curtain, the last song. Enter Sandman with a twist. I never heard it done like that before, with The Frayed Ends of Sanity outro part towards the end. I must say, it did work though, and as the fireworks and pyros were finally unleashed into the night sky, it was time to go.
It was all over very quickly actually. 18 songs, many of which are over 5 or 6 minutes and some approaching 8 or 9 !!
It was certainly a WOW evening - it always is when I see them. But, there was something missing for much of the show, for me at least. Whether it was the sound (which by the time the encore tracks came, was much better) or whether it was the low-budget feel, which wasn't really important in the grand scheme of things. Whatever the reason, it doesn't really matter, nothing does. Whenever you see Metallica you live it and go through a journey and I did feel that - you can't NOT feel that :).
Maybe if it had been a sunny summer evening or if I'd been down on the floor with the die-hard fans, maybe nothing would have been missing at all. Who knows. Until next time.....I guess. And that's the point really and that's why I was so keen to go this time, and looked forward to it so much. They can't carry on forever. Maybe there is something tangible to the low budget feeling I had - maybe after 38 years of such wonderful music and entertainment they've given the fans, now it's perhaps time to think about themselves and their retirement years and cut back on all the huge lavish productions and expense - who knows. All I know and hope is that they've got more tours in them. Certainly if Hardwired is anything to go by, their hunger to create new (great) music is still there and clearly they still love playing live so much - that was certainly evident last night.
As a kind of side note. The new tour Merch is awesome !!!! That in itself can probably pay for their retirement mansions :) but worth every penny :). In fact, I've not been impressed by Merch as much as this for ages. This hoodie will be getting LOTS of wear !!!!!
All in all, it was a great night. Certainly deserving the WOW designation !! For PJ, there was something missing, not quite right, but that's likely nothing to do with the band or anyone else.
It seems quite appropriate that this is the longest review I've ever done. After all, these four horsemen (and a couple of others along the way, who lost their saddles) were right there at the start of my Metal journey in the mid 1980s and they are still here now, and that says all anyone needs to know about this band. And, well, I've cited that one of their songs is my favourite of all time, so it seems very apt that they get more attention :).
PJ, 19th June 2019
Kayak @ The Underworld, Camden, London, 5th April 2019
"This was the first time the band have played the UK in over 40 years !! In fact, we're not sure they ever did, well not at least with a line-up that could be called true Kayak. We did face a similar dilemma in the run up to this gig. The only original member of Kayak is the keyboard player - the rest are all relatively new in the last 10 years. So, expectations were low but nevertheless, there was also some optimism that we'd witness something special.
The first thing we noticed was that the performance was to begin at 7pm and they were the only band. Curfew was 10pm as it was a Friday (and bands have to make way for the 'rock' night at 10pm). Even so, 3 hours is a long time for any band to play :). As it turned out, we had 2 instalments and a short encore.
The first half was littered with tracks that we know and love - Ballad for a lost friend, Still my heart cries for you and Merlin. They kept the 'A Material' for the 2nd half though :). Starting off with Seagull, which was very pleasant indeed and has some anorak connections to some of us :). Of course, the evening wouldn't have been complete without Ruthless Queen. Now, at this point, reality hit home. Although there was no doubt that the musicians on stage totally deserved to use the Kayak name, even though only one of them is an original member, the singer is no Edward Reekers. Their version of Ruthless Queen was pretty authentic but it wasn't how the original sounded. Now, is that a good or bad thing ? It's a matter of opinion. The rest of the set was brilliant and we even liked some of their new material from the very latest album, but it was during Ruthless Queen that we realised it wasn't quite what we'd hoped for overall.
You can reach your own conclusion by watching our video of the track -
The evening was made extra special due to us bumping into two old friends, Bill and Jodi. Bill has had all manner of health problems over recent years and so it was so nice to see him up on his feet and out and about again.
To round off the evening, Kayak regaled us with Chance for a lifetime, Starlight dancer and then what was probably the highlight of the evening for us, a track we didn't know, but feel like we should have done :). It's called To an end. The lyrics are very simple but effective and convey a message that many of us will relate to, especially PJ.
Check it out here -
Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable evening"
PJ, 6th April 20019
Angelwings @ Molly's Irish Pub, La Linea, Spain, 24th February 2019
"A rather last minute decision saw us take a plane to Gibraltar, walk over the border into Spain, and witness the great Angelwings live for the 2nd time.
Walking over the border was a strange experience and this is something that will change quite dramatically at the end of March 19. So, we felt quite lucky to be here at this time, and be able to experience the freedom of movement people on both sides of the border have had since Spain gave us this territory in 1713 - and no, you can't have it back :).
The reviews of the venue beforehand weren't good and being a Sunday night, there was always the chance it would be an embarrassing level of attendance. As it turned out, we were very wrong and the place was busy. It was only a small bar area and an even smaller stage, but it felt quite packed in there - not that it mattered as we were well and truly glued to the same spot right in front of the stage for the whole set.
And, what a set it was !!!! The band have clearly recovered from their personnel changes and have clearly been rehearsing, hard !!!! Unlike the first time we saw them in Gib last April, this time we heard more of what we expected after hearing the studio album. The new band members have seamlessly fitted into the line-up and were unbelievably tight. The sound quality was also brilliant, which was unexpected as the venue was so small and they were playing more of less just off of the monitor speakers with very little PA reinforcement (there wasn't any available !!).
Divi's voice is nothing less than astounding !!!!!! We knew it, we'd heard it on the album and we'd heard it on the over-dubbed MTV Gibraltar calling videos from 2017, but last night we heard it for real, live. Her voice has so many levels - sometimes raspy, sometimes clean and pure, and everything in between ! Her range is also quite impressive.
The band started with our favourite track - Embracing Fantasy. It kind of caught us by surprise but PJ was ready just in time with his recording device :). They followed up with almost every song on the album and even had time for a few Nightwish covers, which were actually very good.
We've got a REALLY good feeling about this band. They have plans for shows in Spain and Germany this year but I don't believe any are confirmed yet. This is one band that could be really big in the Symphonic World - potentially as big as Nightwish, with the right promoter and a decent record deal behind them. Fingers crossed !!!!!
Check out our videos from the evening here -
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and we leave La Linea with a huge feeling of positivity, and hope that we've discovered something truly special here"
PJ, 25th February 2019
Thunder @ Demontfort Hall, Leicester, 9th February 2019
Gradually, song by song, more and more band members were brought on stage until the full compliment were there for all to see and hear. Having said that, despite the fact the quality of the sound was impeccable (something we'll remember about Demontfort Hall), this was a very different Thunder sound to what we've seen and heard over the last 25-30 years. In some ways it was slightly disappointing not to see a full-on electric Thunder show but actually, seeing them semi-electric and with a much more laid back style about each and every song, even with more than the odd blues twist, was extremely enjoyable. Many bands have done this over the years but Thunder really pulled it off.
"We’re running out of time to deliver our best work, because we’re getting older. I’m acutely aware of that," says singer, manager and radio presenter Danny Bowes. "For us it’s all about quality and value for money for our audience. It would be all too easy at this point to say, ‘The fans are there, the record company are paying for it, let’s just do a standard album’ but we hate that idea. The pressure is there to make everything as good as it can be. Everybody has to step up."
As Night Falls @ VooDoo Club, Warsaw, 2nd November 2018
"On arriving at the VooDoo club, we were immediately struck by the attractiveness of the building. The club is in what appears to be an old industrial/factory style building, which is shared by several other shops and offices. On entering I was ushered down a dark staircase and emerged in the bar - perfect delivery !!!
After a rather challenging discussion with the barman (due to my zero knowledge of the Polish language rather than his very admiral attempt at English) I got the first beer of the evening - a local delight which went down rather well. 2 Tyskies later (yes, the local beer wasn't that great after all !) and we were ready.
The first band came on - Chimera. We've heard of them before but probably not seen them. For an opening band in a tiny suburban Warsaw dive bar/club, they were actually very good. Very much doom/death metal, which we like. There's one example of them on our YouTube page. It was a real shame that there were hardly any people there to see them :(.
Next on were As Night Falls. It became quickly apparent that they were the odd ones out on the line-up - symphonic metal alongside death/thrash/hardcore/post - it was an interesting arrangement ! Starting with 'From Grace', ANF delivered another virtually flawless set (apart from Pawel S' bass cable failing during the 2nd song !!). Due to the fact there were 4 bands on the bill, ANF had to remove 2 songs from their planned list. Finishing with Burn, another very powerful performance. Check out our YouTube page for videos of 'Forgotten Legacy' and 'Burn'.
This was Bocian's 2nd show with the band since replacing Slawek on the sticks. He was clearly far more confident on this occasion and this showed during the set.
Also check them out in Kosice, Slovakia on 23rd November 2018 - we'll be there, of course :).
Third on were a band we've never heard of - Animations. This was something quite different, but quite superb !!! Very much in the hardcore/metalcore genre, on first look, they appear to be a rather mixed up bunch. The drummer looks about 12 years old, the bass player was dressed in some rather snazzy red trousers, which looked WAY too tight and the singer, well, a cross between Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame and my local bin man !!!! Musically, however, WOW !! We really really liked them. Certainly one to get your head nodding, if not your body bouncing :). They were arguably the band of the night - in fact, no, they WERE the band of the night. Very very impressed. We've bought their back catalogue of material and will certainly feature some tracks on our Christmas 2018 broadcasts.
The 'headline' band were Kilsorrow. We knew something strange was about to happen when the drummer put on what appeared to be a gas mask - either the Germans had invaded again, or this was going to be something very different ! In a rather Slipknot-esque style, the band came on wearing some quite bizarre masks resembling something out of Star Trek. Musically, they were OK, just OK. The 'crowd' who were still remaining seemed to get into it, but we suspect this was more because of the extra time they'd had to consume alcoholic beverages rather than actually liking the band too much.
In fact, without appearing to be biased, As Night Falls did attract the biggest crowd of the evening but to be fair, this was probably a fluke and just the way things worked out.
All in all, a really good evening. We wanted to go and party with ANF for a while but after a week on a UTC-8 hours timezone, we were done, and PJ was ready for bed. How we actually made it to Warsaw after getting back from LA 12 hours earlier, we'll never know, but PJ made it - what a trooper !!!!
It's off to Slovakia in a few weeks now !!!!
Videos from all 4 bands available on our YouTube page."
PJ, 4th November 2018
As Night Falls @ Klub Alive, Wroclaw, 13th October 2018
"Another day, another new Polish City ! Out of all the places we've visited in Poland so far, Wroclaw (pronounced Roshlav) must be up there with our favourites. The gig venue wasn't the best, but the City itself was lovely - not so different to Krakow, which we also greatly enjoyed visiting earlier this year.
Tonight there were 2 other bands on the bill alongside ANF - Tides and AtMe. Frankly, we cannot remember much about either of those 2 bands (one was the opener and one was headline with ANF in between). The opening band (Tides we think) we pretty boring if truth be told - instrumental prog not done very well at all. ANF didn't have much of an act to follow, but put on a great performance as always. We really are running out of words to use to describe their shows. What was significant tonight though was the fact it was Bocian's first gig with the band as drummer following the departure of Slawek. Bocian has played with the band before, when the original drummer (Darek) hurt his back, but this was his first show as a full time member of ANF. He was understandably nervous but hardly put a stick wrong :) all through the set. Great job !!!!
AtMe were the headline band but we left half way through their set - early morning flight to catch home. We didn't miss much by all accounts and on the night, ANF should probably have been the headline act, but it doesn't always work out how you expect.
Check out this video from As Night Falls @ Wroclaw -
Raging Speedhorn @ Electric Ballroom, London, 6th October 2018
"It's not our favourite London venue, but luckily (in some ways), the Ballroom wasn't totally rammed and sold out on this occasion. That being said, RS did bring in a decent sized crowd, considering it all started for them back in 1998. They were never a huge band in their prime (mid 00s) but we'd estimate at least 1,000 people came out to see them in London on the 6th, which is pretty damn good for a hardcore band in of any generation.
They wasted no time in getting through 'the hits' and had the crowd bouncing and running at each other right from the opening bars of the first song. What struck us the most was the energy they still have, which was really impressive for 40-year olds !!!
Nothing much to say about the evening really. Enjoyable, loud, had a stiff neck the next morning. All in all, great, as ever, but it's clear it was probably their last ever show, even if it wasn't billed as such. We added a new T-shirt and beanie to the collection though."
PJ, 5th November 2018
Serpentyne @ Robin 2, 2nd Sepember 2018
"We really have run out of superlatives to describe Serpentyne !!! Every show is a 'performance' and they always give 100%. This show was rather different though as it was the first time we've seen them do a full 1 hour + set. It was certainly an opportunity to discover some of their slightly older material, which in many respects is very different to what we've come to love about them, but none the less exciting and enjoyable to witness.
One point of note was that Mark was back on the Hurdy Gurdy and there was no sign of the violinist who we saw several times in London during the Metal 2 The Masses finals. In many respects it was great to see Mark make a return but at the same time, the lady on the violin definitely did bring something positive to their sound.
The band are off on a European tour with Tarja (yes, I know....!!!!) later in October. We wish them all the best.
There was talk of them meeting up with As Night Falls in Poland towards the end of the month and joining them on stage once again but alas it looks like that isn't going to come off - until next time"
PJ, 1st October 2018
Serenity @ The Underworld, London, 5th September 2018
"This review was supposed to be about Serenity, but we're not even going to review their show. There was nothing bad or wrong with it, but it just wasn't what we were expecting.
Temperance stole the show !!!! Wow, what a band. The combination of male and female vocals, with harmonies from the rest of the band, really worked well. This is one of those bands who have a bit of everything in their sound - something for everyone. Check out some of our live videos on the 'Video' page or just go to our Youtube page directly.
All three of us attending were blown away by this band and we cannot wait to see them again.
On our 'news' page we got very excited and posted a link to one of their tracks 'We are Free' - this is most certainly a blinding example of how good they are. The whole album is awesome though (it's called 'Of Jupiter and Moons', which we like too). The full album is available for download on our 'audio' page for a limited time (probably means forever).
And here's a link to one of the band's own videos - PJ also likes this track a lot.
All in all, a thoroughly brilliant band, and we cannot wait to see them again. It seems there might not be long to wait as they are back in London before the end of 2018, at least that's what the guitarist told me after the show!"
PJ, 1st October 2018
Al Stewart @ Nell's Jazz & Blues club, London, UK - 9th August 2018
"Al Stewart is one of those legendary British folk rock musicians that you either know, or you don't know, there seems to be no middle ground. Some people would say he's obscure and underrated, others would say he's just under-stated, although that doesn't seem like a fair description based on his live performances. We've seem him play before at a very similar venue to Nell's in West Kensington and the atmosphere was very familiar.
Firstly, about the venue. Cute little place but they really need to allow more standing areas versus seating. Yes, we'd all like to sit down and enjoy a laid back performance from Al in the comfort of a chair, but when you sell premium tickets to sit on what looked like really uncomfy chairs, questions were being asked. We would have course have taken a seat if there had been enough for everyone, but the people with standing only tickets were forced to cram into a small area either side of the stage and although the kind of audience at an Al Stewart gig are unlikely to start fist fighting because of people standing in their way, it could actually have happened :). Anyway, minor point. The sound was good and the atmosphere was good too.
The show started with a number of songs from Al's touring partner and Guitar supremo Dave Nachmanoff. He wasn't so well known to the audience (we didn't know him either) before Al joined him on stage. Wearing his usual business-looking attire, he got straight down to it. Al is a very engaging performer, not so different to Steve Harley in some respects. Both are good story tellers and both have written countless songs during their careers that are story/tale based - we like that of course.
Just before the interval Al played one of his most well-known songs, Time Passages. This album was one of the ones produced by the equally venerable Alan Parsons and the songs from that period of Al's career do have a distinctive sound. You can check out a video of this song on our YouTube page.
After the interval it was 'hits all the way' culminating in a very good rendition of Year of the Cat.
All in all, a very enjoyable evening.
Al moves onto the festival stage now and will be featuring at the Cropredy folk festival the weekend of the 10-12th August.
PJ, 10th August 2018
Iron Maiden @ The Genting Arena, Birmingham, UK - 7th August 2018
"The fact that it was Bruce's 60th birthday meant that this was already going to be a special night. Just how special it would be, I had no idea.
The set list for the Legacy of The Beast tour has been well publicised and it seems that they've stuck to it throughout the tour across Europe. So, everyone knew what they were going to get, to a certain extent. We all knew in advance for example that they would play Flight of Icarus, which is the first time it's been in the set since 1986 !!! There were other additions that haven't been heard for years such as The Clansman and Sign of the Cross, which both sounded awesome on the night.
The full set-list in all it's beauty and glory is here -
We should also mention that before starting the set, they played the whole of 'Doctor Doctor' with the house lights turned on, which really got the crowd going. This was followed by a regular insert into recent Maiden sets in the form of Winston Churchill's famous speech, accompanied by the throbbing and pulsating sound of Spitfire Merlin engines, followed by the appearance of a full size Spitfire over the stage as they began Aces High.
Where Eagles Dare and 2 minutes to midnight came in quick succession and by this point PJ had noticed something very different was going on. Here we were watching a band of 60+ year olds, sounding THE BEST they ever have done !!!! There was no lacking of energy, even though this was towards the end of the tour, and there was no lethargy associated with playing the same songs day in, day out, it was like watching the band in all their raw and hungry splendour from 30 years ago.
But, there was something else. The sound. Personally, PJ has never heard the band sound this good. Of course, they were tight, that's a given, but the quality of the sound, for an indoor arena, was simply divine. It would appear that the band have been using a new front of house sound Engineer on the tour and the sound mix and balance that he created was truly something special. It turns out that this has been a feature of all the dates on the tour and this guy has worked his magic throughout - so big respect to Ken 'Pooch' - we'll forgive you for previously doing sound-Engineering for Justin Bieber !!!!
Before starting The Clansman, Bruce made a really emotive speech, about his age, the fact that he was overwhelmed with all the greetings and wishes he'd received, but the most poignant moment was when he talked about the fact that men and women 1/3 of his age gave their lives for us in the War......
From this moment onwards, the set takes on a slightly darker tone, with tracks such as Revelations, For the Greater Good, The Wicker Man and then culminating with the unmistakable Number of The Beast.
Despite the fact we knew they would play 'Iron Maiden', to actually hear it, and witness it, was something to behold. The last time we saw that it was being performed by the original singer (Mr Di'anno) but Bruce certainly does it justice.
The encore was a familiar trio of songs, and the night was capped off with 'Always look on the bright side of life'.
Lots to think about here.
In summary, this was probably the best show PJ has been to in years, many years in fact. And to think, it's a group of musicians who started off at the Ruskin' Arms in East Ham in the late 1970s, went through several lead singers, but finally went back to what was without doubt their best line-up. Iron Maiden has become a huge Global machine and it's bigger than ever, but it's also better than ever, and we wish for it to continue for many more years. We really need to cherish these bands while they are still around, because they wont be around forever, nothing ever is.
Happy Birthday Bruce !!!!
PJ, 8th August 2018
R.I.P Nigel - you are sadly missed my friend.
Angel Nation @ Met Lounge, Peterborough, UK - 23rd May 2018
"Peterborough isn't the first location that comes to mind when you think of live music and certainly this was our first visit there for a gig. The Met Lounge is a rather inconspicuous venue located close to the railway station on the end of what appears to be a 'high street'. It was a Wednesday night and despite the fact that we think Angel Nation are totally awesome, we weren't hopeful for a big turnout. As is always the case when this happens, it's great for fans like us, who appreciate seeing live music up close and personal, without rows of people to look over or push out of the way, but for a band playing to a small audience, it must be quite draining and tough motivationally time to time. As it turned out, our fears were acknowledged and this rather small venue looked rather empty, which was very sad to see. The venue itself was very reasonable and had friendly staff and good sound - definitely a place we'll check out again in future.
As for the show. There were 2 support bands. The first of which isn't really very noteworthy, and so on this occasion, we wont bother. Their set kind of passed us by and so to comment on it would be misplaced and unfair - it didn't set the venue on fire, lets leave it at that.
The second support band were far more interesting - Winters Edge. This band are in the running for a Bloodstock set and playing in the M2TM semis alongside Serpentyne. Well worth checking out, particularly if you like growling women :) (not exactly our cup of tea, but it seemed to work).
Angel Nation took the stage and immediately, you knew you were in the presence of something special and far superior to everything that had come before them that evening. They opened the set with Burn the Witch from their latest album Aeon, which we have to say is a fine piece of work - extremely well written and very listenable - not so different to As Night Falls in fact.
Check out the opening track in Peterborough here -
We've grown particularly fond of the lead guitarist Sonny Antoniou - not only is he a top musician, but he's also a great guy to hang out with and his on-stage persona and movements are totally awesome !!!
The band played most of the Aeon album during their set, interspersed with a smattering of songs from Tears of Lust. What became very clear is that this band can most definitely translate their studio material onto the stage in a very impressive manner. Check out this track (one of our faves) from Peterborough - an almost perfect reproduction of the studio version, without any of the post-production etc. - very impressive !!!
You can check out all our vids from the evening on our Facebook channel and also on 666bern666's channel as well.
We really cannot wait to see Angel Nation again, and if the Rock Service all-day fest happens in 2019, we'd certainly like Angel Nation to be on the lineup !!!
Truly awesome band and like so many others, they deserve a break, and to get wider recognition."
PJ the DJ
27th May 2018
As Night Falls @ Drink Bar Ole, Katowice - PL, 12th May 2018
"The band's first gig since the UK shows. I wasn't expecting an al-fresco show, but that's what I got !!! A lovely Spring evening in Katowice was the backdrop to a rather unusual show from ANF. I never imagined I'd see them play outside !
The band delivered their usual mixture of powerful riffs and haunting piano tunes, which was made all the more exciting due to the rather unusual setting. The sun had set before they started the show but the impending twilight made the evening all the more special (some shots of something strong also helped - thanks to some of the locals for that, who made me feel especially welcome).
The band played a very similar set to London and Leicester, but without 'han solo' :).
What was particularly impressive was the level of support the band have in their home-town. For a Saturday evening in a relatively rural beer garden, it was a great turn-out from the fans. The band played for around 45 minutes, had a short break, and then came back for another 45 minutes and a short encore - busy show !!!
Thoroughly enjoyable (as was the vodka and Polish food at the after-show, courtesy of Slawek) :) :)
'Atmospheric' version of Final Destination :)
18th May 2018
Leaves' Eyes + Mayan @ The Dome, London, 28th April 2018
"Leaves' Eyes always put on a great show and tonight was no exception. This is certainly a band that get better with time and although this is only the 2nd time we've seen them live, there was a noticeable enhancement in their overall performance compared to last time. Elina is clearly a busy lady, touring the World with Leaves' eyes and also keeping Angel Nation going - you wouldn't think so though, as tonight her performance was pretty much perfection vocally.
We've not been to The Dome before (although it is the upstairs area to the Boston Music Room and owned by the same people apparently). The venue was actually very good and the sound was also pretty good too.
The surprise of the night was Mayan, the main support. We've not seen them before or heard much of their material online and so we were pleasantly surprised. When I heard they had members of Epica and the ex-singer of Stream of Passion, it sounded like a proper symphonic supergroup. When I also heard that they had no less than 5 people doing vocals, not always at the same time we should add, PJ was intrigued to say the least. How to describe them ? Take death metal, speed metal, hardcore, symphonic and throw in a few keyboard and synth riffs, combined with 2 male singers, 2 female singers and another male singer who came and went, and you've got something unique - and unique it was. Check out this example of their work !!!!
In many ways totally bonkers but in other ways totally brilliant !!! A band we definitely want to see again, soon !!!!
PJ @ The Rock Service
28th April 2018"
Angelwings @ Rock on the Rock club, Gibraltar, 6th April 2018
"Quite a last minute decision to come down to Gib for this one. It's been 20+ years since PJ was first here (for work) and it's fair to say it's changed significantly. Certainly one thing that is new is the fact that Rock clubs feature 'symphonic metal' and various sub-genres !!!!
Angelwings are a relatively new band to come to the attention of TRS and we couldn't miss the opportunity to come and see them on their home soil, playing their new (and first) album in its entirety.
The Rock on the Rock club is a rather small venue located in the centre of town and is quite 'basic' in terms of its facilities and opening hours (just one or two evenings a week from what we can work out). There were around 40 locals in the venue + myself, which made it feel quite full.
There was only a single band on the bill, Angelwings, and they took to the stage just after mid-night CET. Not knowing their material too well, they completely threw me off track by not playing the album tracks in order !!! However, during the 90 minutes or so they were on stage, they did get through all 9 tracks + had time for a short 'technical' break and 2 other songs, one of which has become our favourite 'Embracing Fantasy'. Other highlights for us @ TRS are 'Legend and the Myth' and 'Wonderland'.
In a very similar manner to As Night Falls, Angelwings' music is extremely listenable and easy on the ear and within 2-3 listens of the full album, all their material sounds and feels very familiar to PJ.
A very enjoyable evening / early morning !!!
Angelwings take their music to Germany in April/May as part of a small festival and so be sure to check them out if you get the chance.
PJ hopes they'll arrive on UK shores sometime soon (hopefully before Brexit, as it will be significantly more difficult for them afterwards no doubt).
Check out our YT channel for 5 videos from their set, including this one -
PJ @ The Rock Service
7th April 2018
As Night Falls + Serpentyne @ The Musician, Leicester - 4th March 2018
"Putting on an unknown foreign band in Leicester, on a Sunday night, was always going to be risky. The weather also had one last twist in the form of torrential rain and flooding, but the show went ahead.
During the evening, we received many positive comments such as 'these guys are so damn tight', 'these guys have something special', 'these guys are ready for the big time'. Lets hope these positive comments grow into something tangible.
Doors opened at 20.00 and both bands had successfully sound-checked in-time. Massive thanks to Malcolm who surely has to be one of the best Sound Engineers there is. Both bands were very impressed with their on-stage sound and front of house sounded pretty tasty too.
Advance ticket sales had been slow, which was predictable. What was interesting was the fact that the first 3 people to be queuing outside at 20.00 didn't have tickets and were happy to pay on the door. This pattern repeated for about 1 hour and although the final crowd wasn't huge, and really didn't do justice to the 2 excellent bands on the bill, it was encouraging that so many people had decided on the day to come along. Also thanks to the few Polish supporters who came along - you were noticed :).
Thanks also to the people who bought CDs of both bands - they were really appreciative.
Serpentyne delivered another flawless performance and just like London, clearly won several new fans this evening. As a result of the fact that the sound was just so damn good, the band were visibly enjoying their time on-stage, and this transferred to the crowd, who likewise seemed to be really appreciating what they were hearing and seeing. We decided to reduce their set to 45 minutes for the Leicester show as they are headlining Darker Days at the same venue at the end of March, and so it was decided to just give Leicester a teaser for what they can expect later this month :).
22.00 approached and with glasses refilled, the crowd were getting restless, and were ready for more entertainment. As Night Falls took to the stage during their traditional backing track and unlike London, and in fact every other show PJ has seen them play, Ania appeared from the rear of stage and started the opening vocals to Eternal Dance. What was obvious right from the start was the fact that technically, this was going to be the best show we've seen them do, and we weren't wrong. The front of house sound was impeccable and this gave the band the confidence to really push everything to the max and give it their all !!!
With an electric fan positioned between two of the on-stage monitor speakers, Pawel's and Ania's hair was blowing around in a photoshoot-esque manner, which did look rather good on video :)
As Night Falls delivered a flawless set and Slawek even put a new twist on his drum solo with a rendition of the opening bars of War Pigs :). By this point in the set, the crowd had moved forwards and were dancing towards front of stage, which was really nice to see. If only the size of the crowd could have been multiplied by 10 or 100 or some figure that would do justice to the brilliance of the band - the promoter takes full responsibility for this - live and learn. Despite this, the people who were there appeared to really enjoy themselves, and calls for 'more, more' were evident as the band finished 'Stronger'. The band then did their cover of Lana Del Rey's 'Summertime Sadness', which was a smart move because everyone who was in the crowd clearly knew this song, and really got into it.
Sadly, it was approaching 23.30, and it was time to end the set. The band took their bows and people started to prepare to go home. Before that, we received so many positive comments about both bands, which was nice to hear.
With that completed, the mini-tour was done, it was over. All that remained was after-show drinks and celebrations and then the long drive to the airport the next day.
Despite the promoter's comment above regarding the size of the crowd, this was the only negative. The people who were there really enjoyed themselves. Both bands made new friends and new fans. Both bands really enjoyed the evening, more so than London in some respects. The sound was impeccable and luckily, The Rockservice has evidence of this :). Both bands sold many tickets on the door and also sold some merch. We recorded both bands from 5 angles in 4K UHD, and new 'live' videos will be posted on YouTube shortly.
All in all, the 'tour' was a success, despite many challenges, and despite many people saying we were crazy to even try. Hopefully, we'll be able to do it all again one day, on a larger scale, with crowd sizes and venue sizes that really do justice to the brilliance of both of these bands."
PJ @ The Rock Service
11th March 2018
As Night Falls + Serpentyne @ Venue 229, London - 1st March 2018
"A week before the first date of the As Night Fall's mini UK tour, the media were already talking about 'the worst weather for 10 years', the Country is going to shut down, roads will be closed, trains wont run, people will stay indoors. As the 1st March approached, although we were resolute in our belief that the shows would go ahead, the predictions of chaos were becoming more prevalant, and harder to ignore.
The first challenge was actually getting the band to London !! With that completed, and everyone installed at the hotel base in West London, things were looking up. Thursday 1st March arrived really quickly, and with it came the weather. The gig would go ahead, but from 9am in the morning, the cancellations were coming in, and at least 20 people on the guest list bailed on us (totally understandably). At one point, it looked as if there would be a room with lots of photographers and people involved in the show, and not many others. As it turned out, we were totally wrong :)
We arrived at the venue on time, on schedule. Load-in was completed quickly and the bands began the setup process. Sound-checks were completed and at 7pm on the dot, the doors were opened. With cancellations still coming in, although we were all there, the scene was set, the bar was open, there was a real risk that nobody was going to show up.
By 8pm, show-time, we had a good 40-50 strong audience; some were expected, but many just turned up on the day to see what was on (and they stayed until curfew). All of us at The Rock Service were relieved at this point, and the fun could begin.
Serpentyne took to the stage in their trademark majestic style, kilts and real bagpipes in tow !!! From the first note of the opening song, the audience were involved. After the 2nd song, one of the audience members who had purchased a ticket in advance commented 'this is the best £6 I've ever spent', and we were only 2 songs into the support band !!! The positive comments continued to flow and despite some minor technical issues on-stage, Serpentyne delivered a brilliant performance, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Even people who we suspected might not be 'into' their style of music actually really enjoyed it. Serpentyne gained many new fans today. Thank You guys !!!!
Now it was time for As Night Falls to take to the stage. Their trademark entrance is rather different to Serpentyne's :), but equally as dramatic and effective. With the band on stage, the backing track coming to an end, Pawel S, Pawel D, Slawek and Siwy played the opening notes of 'Eternal Dance', and the show was on !!! In her trademark style, Ania appeared from the back of the room and joined her bandmates on stage singing the opening song as she travelled. As Night Fall's show was not without its own technical hitches, but nobody cared, everyone was enjoying the show so much, and the band had already connected with the audience. The band played many tracks from their latest LP 'Embrace the Journey', together with a smattering of songs from 'From Grace To Oblivion' and also included one new song 'Burn'. In traditional fashion, the band finished their set with 'Stronger', which is quite appropriate considering the challenges we faced just getting the show to go-ahead. The band took the applause of the audience, took their bows, and that was it, the show was done.
With curfew time approaching, the evening was coming to an end. The photos had been taken, some merch had been sold, and new friendships had been forged. People began to make their journeys home, and we sincerely hope everyone arrived home safely.
We cannot end this review without making a mention of a certain Birthday 'Boy' :). Ania and the band serenaded the lucky chap with a rendition of Happy Birthday (which they learnt to play while backstage before the show). Happy Birthday young sir !!!!
The tour now rolls on to Leicester tomorrow night (4th March) @ The Musician. Tickets are still available and we'd love to see as many people there as possible. The weather remains challenging but it looks as if there is light at the end of the tunnel (literally light :)).
We'll be doing an interview with the band backstage before the show and this will be posted on our YouTube channel and on The Rock Service web-site.
PJ @ The Rock Service
3rd March 2018
Lacuna Coil @ The Forum, London - 19th January 2018
"It's 20 years since Lacuna Coil first made their debut, and what a show they put on at the Forum. It was billed as a 'unique extravaganza', and whilst that may have been a slight exaggeration, it was certainly a brilliant show, and a real 'performance'. Aside from playing for over 2 hours, including all of their 'hits', the show was littered with numerous on-stage guests and visual acts, which all combined to make it a truly special and enjoyable evening. A good night was had by all. The gig was recorded for a special live DVD/Blu-Ray, which will supposedly be released sometime soon. Well worth a look.
Here's a couple of tracks recorded by us:-
PJ @ The Rock Service
21st January 2018