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Saturday, 25 April 2015


I must admit, before this gig, my knowledge of Russian rock was limited, bar Gorky Park, who back in the late 80's were doing their best Bon Jovi impersonation. But thankfully Reds Cool, a five piece from St Petersburg, eased my ignorance with an hugely impressive performance. Taking to the stage, the band led by vocalist Slava Spark, looked a tad daunted by the lack of bodies in the venue. But as the masses gathered the band's mojo grew. Rattling out some hard edged melodic rock tunes like Love & Pain and Bad Story, what looked a formidable task at the beginning ended in glorious triumph.
When Phil Mogg eventually decides to end his UFO days, he should seriously consider joining the after dinner speaking circuit. His laid back, wonderfully humorous interaction with the Dublin crowd was a pleasure to witness, especially his tale about not being invited back to Geddy Lee's house, and then recognising a fan he'd seen in a bar earlier that day.
But this crowd didn't come to hear Mr Mogg shoot the breeze, all they wanted was to revel in a band that has produced some of the most memorable rock songs in music history. A robust, We Belong To The Night followed by Fight Night kicks things off in true UFO style.
Touring in support of new album, A Conspiracy Of Stars, their 22nd studio album, only two songs were performed, Run Boy Run and album opener The Killing Kind. Not that it disappointed their public, this only left the path clear for the classics. The always brilliant Lights Out and a stirring Only You Can Rock Me had their faithful in raptures. Guitar god, Vinnie Moore performed as you'd expect, majestic all night, especially on Burn Your House Down and Venus. Proving why this man is worshipped by guitar enthusiasts the world over. Sadly his paper aeroplane making isn't the same, as he tried to launch the set list sheet into the crowd but unfortunately nosedived straight into the photo pit.
But there can be no doubting the highlight of the night, Love To Love is now 38 years young, although never mentioned among the so called best rock ballads, it's enduring power and emotion still remains beautifully undiminished. Mogg's heartfelt vocal and Paul Raymond's soothing keyboards still grab you tight. The attentive Dublin crowd were thoroughly transfixed, even the hardest of rockers had their heartstrings tugged with no resistance. Rock Bottom once again showcased Vinnie Moore's incomparable genius, and giving the well lubricated Mogg a brief sit down.
First encore, Doctor Doctor, without doubt the bands live security blanket still retains it's live zest. Drummer, Andy Parker and bassist Rob DeLuca provide the steely rhythm that gets the place in a state of full on delirium. Hordes of ageing rockers shamelessly slung on their precious air guitars to mimic Moore and Raymond's relentless riffing. And slung they stayed for the ballsy closer Shoot Shoot, a smug and contented looking Mogg delivering yet another unblemished performance to finish off a truly memorable night of classic rock.
The only real flaw was that it wasn't long enough, but don't forget longest serving members, Messrs Mogg, Raymond and Parker have a combined age of 200. So lets just be thankful that we still have the opportunity to witness these legends, and god willing for a little longer.

Sunday, 12 April 2015


When I discovered that Joe Lynn Turner was including Belfast, and not my native Dublin, on his acoustic tour, I must admit feeling an overwhelming urge to kick something, or someone.  Nevertheless there was never a doubt about me hopping on the train and heading north to witness the former frontman of Fandango, Deep Purple and of course Rainbow.  And obviously this was a man without any airs and graces, because folks this place was a dump.  So much so that I wiped my feet, twice, when leaving.  But this gig was not about interiors, this was a personal and intimate show with a legendary singer hellbent on bonding with his long serving fans.
At 9.30 the great man took to the stage, and after a quick tune up he launched into a thrilling version of Rainbows' Stone Cold followed by a brilliantly recieved Street Of Dreams.  Devil horns were raised when Joe Lynn paid tribute to former Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio with a moving version of Catch The Rainbow, a memorable moment in the evening.

It wasn't just Purple and Rainbow classics that received the bare bones treatment, Turner belted out Beatles classics Blackbird and aslo a jazzy version of Van Morrison's Moondance to a decent reception.  But you could sense this crowd wanted their own classics, the stuff this man regularly performs majestically.  And they got their wish as the Purple classic Hush followed by an unrecognisable, but brilliant, version of Smoke On The Water brought the house down.
But the biggest surprise of the evening was the absence of I Surrender from the set, one of the most recognisable songs in rock history and the one most synonymous with Turner.  Which would of being a perfect way to close out a fantastic evening.  Instead we got a robust rendition of ZZ Top's Tush which had many a plastic pint glass rattling.  A clearly happy and contented Turner exited the stage to a fantastic reception from the real fans, who hung on his every word throughout the night.  Unfortunetly I couldn't say that for 70% of the Belfast audience.
In between songs, Turner was sharing intimate stories about his time with Rainbow and Deep Purple, and also about a possible reunion with Ritchie Blackmore.  But the majority of this crowd were just plain pig ignorant who choose to ignore him, and instead gave their fog horn gobs an unwelcome workout.  I got talking to a couple from Manchester who travelled over especially to witness their hero up close and personal, but were left disgusted by the obnoxious behaviour.  Those who cared behaved impeccably and saw a true rock great showing his undying talents in it's barest form.  Next time Joe head south, you will have our full attention.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


If I could recommend one band to catch in 2015, it would undoubtedly be British melodic rockers Vega.  Their slick brand of AOR went down a storm with the sparse festive audience.  Vocalist, Nick Workmans' impeccable range, and high octane energy, on songs such as White Knuckle Ride and the Joe Elliot penned 10 X Bigger Than Love absolutely cooked.  If your Christmas music vouchers are burning a hole in your pocket, I would thoroughly endorse their new album Stereo Messiah.                                                                          

Down 'n' Outz brought new meaning to the words super group tonight.  Containing members of Def Leppard, The Quireboys and Vixen, most of the band were suffering from a nasty bout of bronchitis.  But you're dealing with old school pros here, these guys know the show must go on regardless of the sniffles.  Plus this is Dublin, Joe Elliot's adopted hometown for the best part of 30 years, he had absolutely no intention of letting his people down.                                                                                                          

All the same, Joe is a lucky old sod, not content with fronting one of the biggest selling rock bands in history, in his spare time he gets to belt out tunes of his first love, Mott The Hoople.  Elliot has long been Mott's cultural ambassador, and for many years has voiced his annoyance at their continued snubbing.  Now, having followed up 2010's My ReGeneration with The Further Adventures Of...., his crusade continues.  

Opening with Elton John's Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Elliot displayed some highly impressive ivory tickling, before donning a Gibson for One More Chance To Run.  Quireboys guitar duo Paul Guerin and Guy Griffin looked well in their element on Rock n Roll Queen.  The ultra cool swagger of their playing was sublime all night.
Share Ross of Down 'n' Outz
After toughing his way through some vocally challenging songs like Drivin Sister, Whizz Kid and Overnight Angels, the Leps frontman's stripped raw throat was starting to feel the strain.  But to tell you the truth, I don't think anybody really cared.  By the time One Of The Boys was played, the video of which was filmed just a few hundred yards from the venue, their was a real 70's nostalgic party mood.  But without doubt, the highlight of the evening had to be the moving Sea Diver.  Looking around I saw a couple of misty eyes, and frankly I'm not surprised, it was delivered with a heart wrenching intensity.    

Not hogging the limelight all for himself, Elliot paid tribute to his exceptional rhythm section.  The still beautiful Share Ross on bass and sticks man Phil Martini.  A robust encore starting with England Rocks, changed on the night to Dublin Rocks, brought the house down.  Then closing the night in style with the Vanda/Young written Good Times.
Paul Guerin
Down 'n' Outz made sure that anybody who wasn't familiar with the work of Mott The Hopple, bar All The Young Dudes, got a first class crash course tonight.  And such was the brilliance of their performance, I completely forgot for the night the lead singer of Def Leppard was up on stage.  This was ElliotGuerin, Griffin, Ross,Weir and Martini of Down 'n' Outz.  I look forward to their further adventures.

Thursday, 4 December 2014


There was a time when you wouldn't hear a peep out of AC/DC from one album campaign to the next.  But in 2014 that all changed.  First were the rumours, and eventual confirmation, that Malcolm Young had been diagnosed with dementia.  When all the talk of a split were put to bed, drummer Phil Rudd found himself inhabiting the New Zealand courts, charged with attempting to procure the murder of two men, and possession of drugs.

But amidst all this, probably the majority of the planet were awaiting the release of the bands 16th album, Rock or Bust.  The follow up to the massively successful Black Ice.  With Stevie Young filling in for his uncle Malcolm, he gets the honour to strike the album's first chords.  As openers go, no one, and I mean no one does them better than AC/DC.

Beauts like Go Down, Rock n' Roll Damnation, Hells Bells and Heatseeker to name a few have all given our eardrums a sweet smack.  And this albums opener, title track, Rock or Bust, is no different.  Lyrically it's cringe worthy, but the rousing chorus, and a typical hard edged riff are vintage AC/DC.  That vibe continues on Play Ball, Brian Johnson's 67 year old pipes are still as powerful as his 1928 Bentley, and Angus Young tickling the frets of his Gibson SG with a clanking riff.

As with most of the albums in the Johnson era, they tend to lose their mojo along the way. Rock the Blues Away sounds like an Anything Goes afterthought, and Miss Adventure gives you the impression producer, Brendan O'Brien, was absent that day.  The song may be a bit of a mess, but the lyrics are reassuringly filthy.                                                                                                                                      
One of the highlights of the album, Dogs of War, struts along with incomparable ease, this gem has live favourite written all over it.  The same can be said for Got Some Rock n' Roll Thunder, though not as dynamic as the previous track, with the chorus lacking a bit of melody, it's still a big balls rocker.  The infectious blues stomp of Hard Times, will have you drumming your steering wheel instantly. Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams once again showing that they are the stitching that holds AC/DC's music together.                                                                                                                                                                

The band roll back the years on Baptism By Fire, the only track on the album where I could visualise Bon Scott singing.  It's relentless driving rhythm and Johno's nasty delivery would stand up against anything on Powerage or Highway to Hell.  The saying, good things come in small packages, more than applies on Rock the House.  Clocking in at 2 minutes & 42 seconds,  it's the shortest track on the album, but this riff loaded belter stands tall throughout.

The cheeky Sweet Candy, won't win any awards for lyrical content.  In fact I wouldn't be surprised if the lyrics were written by a pubescent schoolboy.  Nevertheless, these guys are the grandmasters of the innuendo, and this little rocker is glorious smut from start to finish. Unfortunately the album ends with a bit of a damp squib, Emission Control.  The song has early promise with Angus at his strutting best, but the chorus falls flat on it's face.

But this album has more highs than lows, at this stage in their career, AC/DC know their limitations.  Long gone are the days when they can churn out all killer albums like Back in Black. You could say they're playing it safe, but the formula is tried and tested, and for the most part it works.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Dave Meniketti
If there were awards being handed out for the unsung heroes of rock, then the name Dave Meniketti should without doubt be top of the pile.  The only remaining original member of Y&T, his talent as both guitarist and singer is nothing short of brilliance.  For two and a half hours, the man from Oakland, California gave the Dublin crowd a relentless masterclass.  A dedicated crowd of classic rockers thronged to this tiny club to witness a band celebrate 40 years of ball breaking rock.

9.15pm, Meniketti and co take to the shoe box of a stage and rip into Hurricane from the 1981 album Earthshaker, immediately laying down a statement of intent.  Black Tiger and LA Rocks swiftly follow to raise the decibel level.  The mainly age mature audience get a bit of respite as Meniketti struggles to tune his battered Gibson.  But normal service quickly resumes as Mean Streak hit the crowd firmly between the eyes. Being one of Y&T's signature tunes, everyone except the barman, fist pumped with genuine passion.

A lot of high-fives ensued when the opening chords of Midnight in Tokyo were sung.  I remember my older brother spinning this in my parents backroom 31 years ago, and it's impact still resonated with this crowd today.  I must admit, it pisses me off that generations of so called music lovers don't know this gem.  Meniketti's tuning problems continue, but it only adds to the intimate atmosphere.  While tinkering with his axe, he enlists drummer Mike Vanderhule to tell a couple of dirty jokes.

Surrender, Eyes of a Stranger and the wonderfully suggestive Contagious are played with military precision.  This is largely due to the skills of rhythm guitarist John Nymann and bassist Brad Lang.  Drummer Mike Vanderhule is no slouch either, his thunderous beats give Y&T a bruising backbone like no other.  Lonely Side of Town was a major highlight for me, not because the song strikes any particular chord with me.  The reason being, from the moment the band struck their first chord, an over exuberant fan beside me, high on hops and yeast was roaring for the song. Don't get me wrong, I loved his passion, but he was shouting for it incessantly, like a parrot on speed.
John Nymann(left) and Dave Meniketti
A rare rendition of All American Boy goes down a storm, while Summertime Girls injects a real feel good factor, with it's 80's rousing chorus.  But the real money shot was set closer I Believe in You, with both Meniketti and audience totally getting lost in the heart wrenching guitar work.  This was a perfect example of this man's sincerity, passion and astounding talent.  On returning for the encore, Meniketti reminds club management, that on arrival, no food was laid on for the road crew, and that this entitled them to break curfew,damn right.

A near breaking point crowd still sang Don't Wanna Lose and closer Forever like rock Armageddon was afoot.  This was my first time seeing Y&T live, and while I headed home having had a stonking night, an empty feeling remained.  The simple reason being, after 40 years of releasing great music, Y&T have never been truly rewarded, and have always been the bridesmaid.  Look at the likes of Ratt and Motley Crue, both great bands, but are they better than Y&T, not a fuckin' chance.  In the height of the 80's rock/metal domination, Y&T regularly tested these bands PA as a support act, yet the massive headline tours always eluded them.

But their fans have never drifted, they are one of the hardest working bands around today, their blue collar approach to their music and performance rubs off on their audience.  A great night of pure classic rock.  Long live Y&T.

Saturday, 15 November 2014


Last Monday I witnessed a phenomenon,14,000 people were miraculously cured of a life long bout of Monday blues.  A miserable, cold and rain sodden crowd, descended on the 3Arena, determined to have their spirits lifted.  At nine bells, miracle worker Slash arrived on stage, top hat perfectly placed and trademark Gibson guitar slung low.  Opener, You're a Lie, from 2012's Apocalyptic Love, got this old bus depot shaking,  before Guns 'n' Roses classic Nightrain, sends the crowd into pure delirium. Slashs' right hand man, Myles Kennedy, immediately got the crowd on side with some slick interaction.

After a stonking version of Halo, new song Avalon, gets it's live premiere, and is appreciated as much as the classics.  Being the opening night of the European tour, new album World on Fire gets a good airing.  Slash could be accused of using the Irish crowd as guinea pigs to test drive his new material, but this is a knowledgeable audience and they know their Slash.  Each new song is warmly welcomed, like a new member of the family.

Stone Blind, while not one of my favourite tracks, definitely works better in the flesh. Brent Fitz drum intro on You Could Be Mine, takes us back to the Use Your Illusion days.  It's hard to believe this song is 23 years old, but Kennedy and The Conspirators barnstorming performance gives it a brand new coat of paint.  After Shots Fired, Kennedy gives his pipes a well deserved break.  Bassist Todd Kerns takes centre stage brilliantly.  Firstly on Doctor Alibi, a song originally recorded with Lemmy from Motorhead and then on another G 'n' R gem, You're Crazy.  This guy clearly relishes being a leader, his arrogant, in your face, delivery brought the house down.
After a robust treble of Wicked Stone, 30 Years to Life and the exquisite doom laden, Beneath the Savage Sun, you sensed the crowd were itching for a classic.  If you don't like long guitar solos, the chances are you made a dash to the bar during the iconic Rocket Queen.  Slash clocked up a near 14 minute solo, probably a little top heavy, but hey, this is his show.  The amazing Bent to Fly had the Slash faithful in raptures,before album title track World on Fire,brings the pace back up to a searing level.  The great man then slings on a double neck, and introduces Anastasia.  The haunting acoustic beginning slowly ascends to that memorable riff, Kennedy struts the stage with a contented grin.  It might be my imagination, but he seems more at ease in this set up than in Alter Bridge.

Then suddenly we're back in 1987, Mr Hudson boards a raised platform, and the prominent chords of Sweet Child O' Mine ring out around the arena.  The crowd swayed their hands in unison, couples embraced, an overwhelming nostalgic feeling gripped the Dublin faithful.  Velvet Revolver fans weren't forgotten about, as couples let go to raise their fists to the menacing, creepy, but excellent, Slither.  Then for the motherfucker of all encores, the ground floor of the arena turned into a mass mosh pit, as Paradise City gives the crowd another nostalgic belt of pure classic rock.

I have never seen so many smart phones and designer eye wear flying through the air.  The songs manic finish featured two exploding confetti guns which only added to the madness.  A memorable way to finish a memorable evening.  Overall, a gripping, emotional and utterly mind blowing evening, with a man clearly on top form at the moment.  Backing band The Conspirators compliment him perfectly.

And what of Myles Kennedy, well the highest compliment I could probably pay him is that if the classic Guns 'n' Roses line up of Appetite for Destruction were to reform, minus the services of Mr Axl, then he would more than fill his boots.  Bar controversy, he wins on every level, especially vocally, where there is no contest.

Oh, and his timekeeping is impeccable.  Great night.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

JIMMY TO GET THE "LED" OUT........and about bloody time!!

Jimmy Page 2014
1988 was a notable year for a lot of things.  The first transatlantic fibre optic cable was laid, Bruce Willis was sexing up the vest in Die Hard, Barbie was a virgin, and Michael Jackson was a whiter shade of pale.  It was also the year that one James Patrick Page released his one and only solo album, Outrider.  Quite a bizarre statistic, considering this is a man who has probably influenced 95 per cent of the worlds guitar player population.
Outrider album 1988
It is now approaching the seventh anniversary of Led Zeppelin's triumphant reunion show in London.  An extremely fortunate 20,000 people packed the O2 arena that night to witness, without doubt,the greatest reunion show of them all.  But what followed was a tidal wave of speculation as to whether the remaining surviving members, along with drummer Jason Bonham, who replaced his late father John Bonham on the night, would perform live again. With Page, John Paul Jones and Bonham, having been open to a world tour, a reluctant Robert Plant was never keen.

With the release of Plant's new album, Lullaby and..... the Ceaseless Roar, and Jones tinkering with an opera, the likelihood of a reunion are now marginally slim at best.  So what of the present activities of Mr Page. Having spent a sizable chunk of his post Zep career remastering the bands classic albums, the west London guitar god is once again now ready to unleash his genius upon us.  Now in his 70th year, the news will be greatly received by his worshippers the world over.  Having stockpiled a wealth of material over the years, Page has been cagey with his answers as to what direction his new music will take.  Our breaths are growing increasingly bated.
Zeppelin 2007 O2 Arena  London
Despite the lack of Jimmy Page headed product, he never drifted down the reclusive route.  1985 saw him team up with  Free and Bad Company front man Paul Rodgers to form The Firm.  Two well received albums were released, The Firm (1985) and Radioactive (1986).  After disbanding, Page went alone, and released his first solo album Outrider.  Teaming up with old friend Robert Plant, vocalists John Miles and Chris Farlowe and sticks man John Bonham, it featured the brilliant single Wasting My Time (sung by Miles).  The album performed well, peaking at #26 in the US Billboard Albums Chart.
Page with The Firm 1993
Coverdale/Page album 1993
Then in 1993, Page surprised the rock world by releasing an album with Robert Plant's feuding partner, David Coverdale.  No love is lost between the pair, with Plant comically referring to him as David Cover-version, and Coverdale saying "I wouldn't send him cat food if he was starving".

Nevertheless, when the acrimonious dust settled in 1994, Page and Plant reunited for MTV Unplugged, and subsequently released No Quarter:Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded.  Containing Zeppelin gems like Nobody's Fault But Mine, The Battle of Evermore and Kashmir,  it achieved platinum success in the US.  A highly successful tour followed, thus giving the guys a renewed vigour, which resulted in the recording of Walking into Clarksdale.  An album consisting of entirely new material, including Please Read The Letter, which Plant later re-recorded with Alison Krauss on the their collaborative album Raising Sand in 2007.

1999 saw Page team up with southern rockers The Black Crowes, for the double live album, Live at the Greek:Excess All Areas.  Recorded over two nights, it was basically Page and a cover band, as the majority of the tracks were Led Zeppelin classics.  But vocalist Chris Robinson, and the rest of the Crowes, performed majestically.  So much so, a co-headline, North American tour with The Who followed.  Despite Page and Zeppelin receiving a glut of accolades, things were relatively quiet on the Page front.  Until that monumental night in London in 2007.
Now with Page having finalised the remastering of iconic albums Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy, he's now ready to go it alone again.  The music world needs legends like Jimmy Page active, I personally think he and his bands work should be on every school curriculum the world over.  Zeppelin's music still continues to permanently embed an imprint on peoples lives worldwide.  I'm proud that not only me, but my two young children are awaiting Jimmy Page's next move.