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Concerts I've seen

4/5 Wolf The Underworld
3.5/5 Primitai 30th March 2019
2.5/5 Shrapnel

Shrapnel photo Primitai photo Wolf photo

3/5 Metalworks The Monarch
3.5/5 Saints Of Los Angeles 17th March 2019

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Saints Of Los Angeles were a decent Mötley Crüe tribute act from Germany, who don't take themselves too seriously. Complete with an obligatory fat Vince, they played a set full of the hits. With material as strong as that, it's hard to go too far wrong, and they delivered the goods here. Highlights were probably "Shout at the devil" and "Kickstart my heart", featuring Polina Vidus of STTH/Metalworks fame.

Metalworks were... much the same as they've always been! Matt is a better guitarist now than he's ever been and was the star of the show here. We didn't stay for the whole set, but they played the standard AC/DC, Billy Idol, etc. covers that we've come to expect.

4/5 Doro The Underworld
2.5/5 No Sleep For Lucy 13th March 2019

Doro advert Doro advert Doro advert Doro ticket No Sleep For Lucy photo Doro photo

Girlz Rawk! Nambucca
3.5/5 Kalidia 10th March 2019
4/5 Thundermother
1.5/5 Mask Of Judas
4/5 Bad Pollyanna
2.5/5 Weekend Recovery
3/5 Evyltyde
2/5 Idestroy
3/5 Salvation Jayne
3/5 Novacrow
2.5/5 Bled The Fifth

Girlz Rawk! advert Girlz Rawk! advert Girlz Rawk! advert Girlz Rawk! ticket Bled The Fifth photo Novacrow photo Salvation Jayne photo Idestroy photo Idestroy photo Evyltyde photo Evyltyde photo Weekend Recovery photo Weekend Recovery photo Bad Pollyanna photo Bad Pollyanna photo Mask Of Judas photo Thundermother photo Thundermother photo Kalidia photo

International Women's Slay The Flapper, Birmingham
4.5/5 Dakesis 8th March 2019
4.5/5 Control The Storm
3.5/5 Aonia
2/5 Devil's Playground
3.5/5 Divided We Fall

International Women's Slay advert International Women's Slay advert International Women's Slay ticket Divided We Fall photo Devil's Playground photo Aonia photo Control The Storm photo Control The Storm photo Control The Storm photo Dakesis photo Dakesis photo Dakesis photo

2/5 Korpiklaani Islington Assembly Hall
4/5 Turisas 25th February 2019
2/5 Trollfest

Korpiklaani/Turisas advert Korpiklaani/Turisas advert Korpiklaani/Turisas ticket Trollfest photo Trollfest photo Turisas photo Turisas photo Korpiklaani photo

I hadn't been overly impressed with Trollfest when I'd seen them in Sweden, and this performance was much the same. Once the madcap novelty has worn off, the music is largely unsatisfying. The music was more folky than metal, which didn't help. In the parts where the guitarists and bass player sang clean vocals, it wasn't bad. But the harsh vocals used for the majority of the set just didn't work for me.

Turisas had been away for many years, but had shown at HRH Vikings that they were still a live force to be reckoned with, and tonight provided more evidence of that. Caitlin De Ville did a fine job on violin, standing in for Olli Vänskä, who couldn't make this tour. In truth, although they're a great live act, this wasn't one of their better performances, and the acoustic encore felt like the show ended on a low. But it was still enjoyable, with "We ride together" and "Hunting pirates" standing out for me.

When I first saw Korpiklaani, I quite enjoyed them. But after seeing them a few more times, the novelty wore off and I came to the conclusion that I just didn't enjoy their music very much. Tonight was another example of that. I stayed for the first four songs, but they really weren't winning me over, so I left after that. Plenty of folk, limited amounts of metal and poor vocals just left me cold.

3.5/5 Hi-On Maiden Nambucca
4/5 Beyond Priest 23rd February 2019

Hi-On Maiden advert Beyond Priest photo Beyond Priest photo Hi-On Maiden photo Hi-On Maiden photo

Beyond Priest kicked off the evening in style, with their tribute to Judas Priest. The singer can't quite hit the notes, but matching Halford is a tough ask for anyone, and he did well enough that it wasn't a problem. George was strong on guitar, as expected. Highlights for me were "The sentinel", "Painkiller" and "Turbo lover".

It has been many, many years since I'd last seen Hi-On Maiden. 22 years, in fact! The last time, Paul Di'Anno had added guest vocals on a few songs. We didn't get that tonight, but what we did get was a solid set of Maiden covers. I think it's only the bass player and one of the guitarists remain of the band from when I last saw them. George was doing double duty tonight, playing in both bands. Hi-On Maiden are far more accomplished musicians than Beyond Priest, and it showed. But somehow the overall impression wasn't as good. Where the Priest set was wall to wall hits, the Maiden one had too much filler for my tastes. I enjoyed both bands. But for me, Priest took the honours here.

3/5 Vigil Of War The Lounge 666
3/5 PollyPikPocketz 6th February 2019
4/5 Spyder Byte

Vigil Of War advert Vigil Of War advert Vigil Of War ticket Spyder Byte photo PollyPikPocketz photo Vigil Of War photo

4/5 Tiffany Dingwalls
2/5 Lostchild 2nd February 2019

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3/5 Metasoma The Big Red
4/5 Devilfire 2nd February 2019
2/5 Sabatta

Metasoma advert Metasoma advert Devilfire advert Devilfire advert Sabatta photo Devilfire photo Metasoma photo

3.5/5 Imperial Age The Black Heart
2.5/5 Serpentyne 31st January 2019
2/5 Orpheum

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3.5/5 Grave Digger The Dome
3.5/5 Burning Witches 29th January 2019

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3.5/5 Skid Row The Forum
2.5/5 Backyard Babies 26th January 2019
4/5 H.E.A.T
3/5 Vega
3/5 Killit

Skid Row advert Skid Row ticket Killit photo Vega photo H.E.A.T photo Backyard Babies photo Skid Row photo

4/5 Dorja The Unicorn
2/5 Lilith And The Knight 15th January 2019
2.5/5 Indya

Dorja advert Dorja advert Indya photo Lilith And The Knight photo Dorja photo Dorja photo Dorja photo

3.5/5 Gus G The Unicorn
3/5 Andy James 9th January 2019
4/5 Dendera

Gus G advert Gus G advert Gus G advert Gus G ticket Dendera photo Dendera photo Andy James photo Gus G photo

Dendera opened things up in style. They really are a band that are going from strength to strength these days. Their opening track, "Awakening", was ideal for a guitar focussed lineup like this. One might be tempted to think they'd picked it specifically for the occasion, but they've been opening with it for a while now, and it was just a handy coincidence. Going straight from that into "Final warning" and "Claim our throne" made for a very strong opening, and by the time they got to "Blood red sky", it was clear this was going to be another outstanding performance.

I've seen Andy James before, both solo and with Sacred Mother Tongue. As before, it's clear that he's a very, very talented guitarist. For a fan of such things like me, an hour of instrumental shredding should be ideal. But it just doesn't work. Shredding is fine, but it needs to be in the context of a song. James does that, but for my tastes, I find that the songs he uses just aren't strong enough. There's too much Vai-like mellowness for my tastes, where I'd prefer something a big more aggressive.

Gus G, on the other hand, had the shredding but the songs were much better, resulting in a better overall performance. It helped having the fantastic Felix Bohnke on drums, who I've long felt was a very underrated drummer. Throw in a couple of covers in the form of Thin Lizzy's "Cold sweat" and Dire Strait's "Money for nothing", and a great end to the night in the form of "The quest", and it all made for an enjoyable set.

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