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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

DOWN 'N' OUTZ and VEGA:THE ACADEMY DUBLIN DECEMBER 18TH.

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

AC/DC:ROCK or BUST:ALBUM REVIEW.


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.