Rammstein at the O2 Arena London,25th Febraury 2012

How many bands can simulate bumming one another, cook one another in giant pots, pretend to jizz all over their fans and then set themselves on fire, yet still pack out arenas night after night?  Answer: only one, the truly unique Rammstein.  Not only that, but almost all of the lyrics are in German, perhaps the least fashionable thing in the world.  I saw Rammstein at the O2 Arena in London on Friday and it was incredible yet again.  I had seen them before and wondered if the novelty might have worn off a bit for me by now, but not a bit of it.

They are band who have had their share of controversy and maybe perhaps even courted some negative attention. But for me their choice in writing about taboo, or just obscene subjects in some of their songs is welcome.  In aiming to continually question what is and what is not acceptable and to keep pushing that envelope, means that they are still relevant and still interesting.  It also has to be said that they are great showmen too and put on a live show second to none.  I think they could run KISS, Rob Zombie, AC/DC, or anyone else that you care to mention, very close with the show they put on.  If you have never seen them, get yourself a ticket. If someone you know has a ticket, shoot them and take it, you won’t regret it, I promise.

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Metal Thrashing Madness!

Anthrax at the O2 Academy Oxford, 14th March 2012

OK, so it was alright, not amazing, just alright. Before our heroes took the stage it seemed like there was a lot of excitement and anticipation in the room. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great moments in what seemed like a bit of a rusty performance from Anthrax. Seeing a big band like this in a fairly small and intimate venue (a few hundred capacity) is pretty cool and we were lucky to have the chance. By now this band are considered thrash metal royalty, what with the big four events having taken place just last year. But some of Joey Belladonna’s banter and moves on stage did not really ring true for me. This band were so much better when they were fronted by John Bush. Rumour has it Bush is now the voice of Burger King commercials in the US and so no longer feels the need to gig with Anthrax.
Scott Ian on the other hand is still every bit the metal icon and seemed enjoy himself for the most part. Their encore was solid gold, five absolute belters picked from the golden era of thrash metal. I also really like the new album ‘Worship Music’ and think it is a real return to form. The choice of songs put together for this set is perfect, striking a balance between the new stuff and all the tunes people want and expect to hear live. But I have to be honest, when I saw Anthrax in the summer at Sonisphere and tonight, they didn’t quite pull it off. I left feeling like I had been entertained, but ultimately a little disappointed.

Setlist: #
Worship
#
Earth on Hell
#
Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t
#
Caught in a Mosh
#
Antisocial
(Trust cover)
#
The Devil You Know
#
Indians
#
Hymn 1
#
In the End
#
Got the Time
(Joe Jackson cover)
#
Deathrider
#
Medusa
#
Among the Living
# Encore:
#
Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
#
Madhouse
#
Metal Thrashing Mad
#
I’m the Man
#
I Am the Law @

OK, so it was alright, not amazing, just alright. Before our heroes took the stage it seemed like there was a lot of excitement and anticipation in the room. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great moments in what seemed like a bit of a rusty performance from Anthrax. Seeing a big band like this in a fairly small and intimate venue (a few hundred capacity) is pretty cool and we were lucky to have the chance. By now this band are considered thrash metal royalty, what with the big four events having taken place just last year. But some of Joey Belladonna’s banter and moves on stage did not really ring true for me. This band were so much better when they were fronted by John Bush. Rumour has it Bush is now the voice of Burger King commercials in the US and so no longer feels the need to gig with Anthrax.
Scott Ian on the other hand is still every bit the metal icon and seemed enjoy himself for the most part. Their encore was solid gold, five absolute belters picked from the golden era of thrash metal. I also really like the new album ‘Worship Music’ and think it is a real return to form. The choice of songs put together for this set is perfect, striking a balance between the new stuff and all the tunes people want and expect to hear live. But I have to be honest, when I saw Anthrax in the summer at Sonisphere and tonight, they didn’t quite pull it off. I left feeling like I had been entertained, but ultimately a little disappointed.

Imperious!

Ten Ton Hammer (AKA Machine Head) at King’s College London Student Union, 6th June

This was the best Machine Head (Ten Ton Hammer) gig I have seen to date and I’ve seen a few. The band were relaxed and enjoying themselves and in turn the audience loved it. It was one of the worst kept secrets that ‘Ten Ton Hammer’ was actually Machine Head playing a load of covers and a few of their own songs in a venue the size of your average local pub, just playing under a different name. The set list was largely made up of covers; some well known from Judas Priest, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Pantera some more unexpected from Foo Fighters and Poison Idea. A few Machine Head classics were included such as Davidian and Halo, along with some rarities like Wolves and Pearls Before the Swine. In between songs the band members joked with each other and bantered with the crowd. At times this gig had the atmosphere of a rehearsal, as songs are started up and the guitarists throw out riffs from different metal classics, before launching into a full song. There are mistakes in what they play, but t

A few hours before the doors opened, MH had been announced as Saturday night head liners at Bloodstock and on the strength of this performance, who wouldn’t get themselves a ticket? Robb Flynn and Co. delivered a master class in entertaining and pleasing your audience, showing themselves to be in touch with what their fans want. Perhaps the band really wanted a show where they could cut loose a bit, before Friday’s slot on the main stage at Donington, which is bound to be more serious, if no less important. There has been talk of this band one day head lining one of the major festivals, but that will really depend on the quality of their next album. Whilst ‘Unto the Locust’ was certainly not bad, it is not on a par with earlier efforts such as ‘The Blackening’, or ‘Burn My Eyes’. As five hundred or so happy, sweaty fans troop out of the door, I still believe that Machine Head have it in them to come back with another truly great album and grow in stature once again.

Korn Live Bristol O2 Academy 4th April

This whole show was very well thought out and well performed. Korn did well to find something to really modernise their sound and change what they do. I loved their first three albums and have fond memories of seeing them much earlier on in their career, when they were more edgy, dangerous and even a bit scary on stage. That said, for about the last ten years I feel that they have just re-made the same album over and over, with a couple of good singles on it each time.

Their gig at Bristol at times had a party atmosphere, which was right on the money, showing this band does still understand its audience. I think they are wise to have taken a change in direction, as they were running the risk of simply becoming parodies of themselves, if they haven’t already done so. Jonathon Davies does not always help his cause either with the things that he says to journalists, for instance “we invented dubstep” and “we were never a metal band” (I think he is wrong on both counts there), but this time the music and the performance did the talking. The crowd were willing to give J Devil and Downlink a chance I feel. Downlink made a good judgement call in playing his remix of “Chop Suey!” last before Korn’s set began, as it became a kind of sing along and set the tone well for what was to come. The atmosphere amongst the punters was for the most part pretty friendly, even though everyone was packed tight into a fairly small, sweaty, enclosed space. A couple of times strangers struck up conversations with me about the music, or speculated on what the band would play next. I am used to London audiences where that kind of thing almost never happens. During the greatest hits part of the show, those standing on the main floor behaved like savages and it was brilliant to hear classics like ‘Freak on a Leash’, ‘Blind’ and ‘Falling Away From Me’. I think the band made another good call in including ‘Oildale’ from ‘Korn 3: Remember Who You Are’ in tonight’s set list, a song they hadn’t played on any of their other stops on this tour.

This was the smallest venue I have ever seen them play and so it was cool to see the band members at close quarters. I enjoyed Ray Luzier’s drumming, which visible to everyone as he was lifted up on a very high drum riser, with his kit inside a kind of metal cage. The new album means that Korn will be around for a good few years yet, but I wonder how much of a Korn album it is and how much it is Jonathon using his band as a vehicle for his own interests. They played six songs from ‘The Path of Totality’ and if I’m honest it is hard to see what involvement the other band members had with the creation of those tracks and what input they provide to the performing of them on stage. Munky and Fiedly seemed to mope around during that part of the night not knowing what to do with themselves. I don’t think Korn can really do another dubstep/ metal album successfully, nor do I think they can re-tread any old ground any more.

Korn Live Bristol O2 Academy 4th April