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Live Reviews

Jimmy Eat World

Brixton Academy, London

Wednesday 6th July 2022

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JIMMY EAT WORLD – LONDON – LIVE REVIEW

After two years of waiting, Arizonian emo icons Jimmy Eat World finally arrive at what Jim Adkins refers to as his favourite venue to play. That love is reciprocated as Brixton Academy is packed tonight as fans await their heroes.

Those in the venue early are greeted by opening act together PANGEA from Los Angeles. A promising start soon begins to plod as the heat takes hold. It’s been a hot one today and as this set continues, fans begin to wilt.

Anticipation rises again for our main support act, The Get Up Kids. The influential group are given a good forty five minutes to play with, but this may end of working against them. Again the set starts well, but soon becomes samey and tiresome, with the general lethargy of the audience not exactly helping to create an exciting atmosphere.

With a crowd devoid of vigour, and energy sapping, tonight needs a kick up the rear end. Thankfully for everyone Jimmy Eat World are ready to do just that and start off their performance with ‘Futures’, ‘Pain’ and ‘Bleed American’.

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Jimmy Eat World – ‘Pain’

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Suddenly the venue finds its voice and our headliners are able to revive the flagging audience. There is a connection between Jimmy Eat World and their fans and that means even new tracks such as ‘Criminal Energy’ from latest effort ‘Surviving’ are savoured.

The first two bands time on stage dragged, but our headline set flies past, which is always a good sign. This is a band that knows what the fans want, and they simply plough through their fantastic back catalogue.

Obvious highlights come from the sing-a-long moments such as ‘Big Casino’, ‘A Praise Chorus’, ‘Work’ and ‘Hear You Me’. The whole set tonight flows well though and by the time main set closers ‘Sweetness’ and ‘The Middle’ are aired the crowd are refreshed and able to let loose.

An encore of ‘Get It Faster’ and ‘23’ brings an end to what has ultimately been an enjoyable night which was well worth the wait!

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Album Reviews

Shinedown

Planet Zero

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SHINEDOWN – PLANET ZERO – ALBUM REVIEW

Shinedown’s stock continues to rise album by album, with their previous effort, ‘Attention Attention’, being the first to crack the UK Top 10. They just performed a huge main stage slot at Download Festival and later this year they will headline Wembley Arena for the first time as part of a UK Tour.

Yes, their trajectory in the UK finally appears to be matching that of their homeland so it would be a good time now for the band to release a top quality album wouldn’t it?

Well, within a couple of tracks it’s pretty clear that their seventh studio album, ‘Planet Zero’ is just that. With 20 tracks, including 7 short interludes, and sitting at just shy of the 50 minute mark, I did have my trepidations, but the album simply breezes by.

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Shinedown – ‘Planet Zero’

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Everything that has got Shinedown to this point is present with thronging guitars and soaring vocals met by moments of melancholic captivation. This is also an expansive album however with the band continuing to explore the further reaches of their signature sound.

This means that there is a pleasing familiarity to the album whilst your interest is routinely piqued. The themes on this conceptual release are highly relevant, daring and thought provoking which engages the listener from the beginning with ‘No Sleep Tonight’ and ‘Planet Zero’; all the way through to the records climactic run of ‘Daylight’, ‘The Saints of Violence and Innuendo’, ‘Army of the Underappreciated’ and ‘What You Wanted’.

This is the second album to be produced by bassist Eric Bass following ‘Attention Attention’ and that dynamic appears to work well for a band who have always appeared direct and assured in their self-belief and faith in their artist approach.

‘Planet Zero’ is peak Shinedown and the album does exactly what the band need it to do at this point in their career. They may be seven albums in now, but the future remains very bright for this empowering band.

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Live Reviews

Rival Sons

UEA LCR, Norwich

Monday 27th June 2022

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RIVAL SONS – NORWICH – LIVE REVIEW

It was March 2012, some ten years ago now, that I first discovered Rival Sons on this very stage. The band supported Black Stone Cherry here at the UEA LCR in Norwich and instantly had a new fan.

I was captivated by the incredible power of the band and the unbelievable voice of singer Jay Buchanan. The bands most recent release at the time was their breakthrough second album, ‘Pressure & Time’, so imagine my delight that the band are back on this stage tonight playing that album in its entirety!

My history of this band in this venue doesn’t stop there however. Two years later in 2014 the band headlined the venue for the first time and I attended to review for another publication. Just two songs in Buchanan departed the stage unable to continue and the show abruptly ended. The last song played, you guessed it, ‘Pressure and Time’.

WATCH ‘PRESSURE & TIME’ FROM RIVAL SONS ON YOUTUBE
Rival Sons – ‘Pressure and Time’

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The band made up for that show in 2015 and now some seven years later they return with Buchanan acknowledging onstage “…I remember this place…”. Before that though we have the support band!

Tonight, that band is Dirty Honey who hark back to that night of discovery a decade ago by delivering a blistering set of classic rock infused numbers that somehow seems to channel the same energy as Rival Sons way back when.

Many in the crowd appear clued in and lap up the likes of ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘When I’m Gone’. I can certainly see history repeating itself and Dirty Honey making similar strides to those of our headliners tonight.

The weird time warp that I find myself in then comes full circle with Rival Sons arriving on stage and banging out ‘Pressure & Time’ in full with very little time spent coming up for air.

It isn’t until the band plough through the tracks that you remember just how many great tracks are on this album. ‘All Over the Road’, ‘Save Me’, ‘Burn Down Los Angeles’, ‘Gypsy Heart’ and ‘White Noise’ all stand out this evening.

It’s not until after they return from a very short intermission that the band begin to engage with the audience and the atmosphere becomes more relaxed. ‘Open My Eyes’ and ‘Electric Man’ certainly help to loosen up the crowd a little.

There are stunning moments with Buchanan demonstrating those hauntingly good vocals on ‘Jordan’ and ‘Shooting Stars’ before the band stretch their legs on ‘Feral Roots’.

They close out the show with ‘Do Your Worst’ and new track ‘Nobody Wants To Die’, and the audience are sent into the night happy. We’ve relived the past and looked to the future, and we’ve celebrated the fact that Rival Sons remain an incredible force live.

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Live Reviews

Rammstein

Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry

Sunday 26th June 2022

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RAMMSTEIN – COVENTRY – LIVE REVIEW

This review could be very short indeed, as just four words would really suffice. Quite simply, “Go see Rammstein live!”.

A Rammstein show is truly an experience from start to finish. What other act could have only their own music piped into the venue in between acts, and have the only support act be two classical pianists playing, you guessed it, Rammstein songs, without appearing to be egomaniacal?

Every minute detail of the event is planned methodically to welcome attendees to the theatre that is Rammstein live.

The praise heaped upon the current spectacle that the band are touring has been well documented, with most audience members walking away from their Milton Keynes show proclaiming it the best gig ever.

Since then we have had a pandemic, and importantly due to this down time and delay to these follow up shows, we have a new Rammstein album! ‘Zeit’ arrived this April and is typically insane, so there should be no worry of these new songs fitting in tonight.

Following the classical takes of Duo Abelard, anticipation reaches a fever pitch inside the packed stadium. The stage protruding out the top of the stadium, the setup really is intimidating, and the fact that the front pit is called the Feuerzone should tell its own story.

As soon as the band take to the stage the onslaught of noise and flame commences and the audience are split between those banging their heads to the likes of ‘Links 2-3-4’ and ‘Mein Herz brennt’, and those more akin to attendees at a fireworks display with eyes wide, mouth open and plenty of ooohs and aaahs.

WATCH ‘ZICK ZACK’ FROM RAMMSTEIN ON YOUTUBE
Rammstein – ‘Zick Zack’

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As expected the new songs slip in seamlessly with ‘Zick Zack’ and ‘Zeit’ going down particularly well amidst the fire, confetti and extravagant lighting of the show.

The run of ‘Deutschland’, ‘Radio’, ‘Mein Teil’, ‘Du hast’ and ‘Sonne’ is incredible and demonstrates that there is so much more to Rammstein then just the show. That being said, the show is also so good that you needn’t be a fan of the music to have an incredible time.

It’s that combination of music and show, style and substance that truly elevates Rammstein above anyone else. A piano version of ‘Engel’ performed from the b-stage before the band crowd surf back to the main stage in boats is another stunning moment from a show packed full of wow moments.

By the time the band close out the experience with ‘Adieu’ even the most cynical of critics will be won over or they are just lying. So… music, fireworks, insane antics, burning towers, impossible amounts of confetti etc etc etc… basically, four words… “Go see Rammstein live!”.

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Live Reviews

Red Hot Chili Peppers

London Stadium

Saturday 25th June 2022

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RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – LONDON STADIUM – LIVE REVIEW

The career of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is well chronicled and isn’t something that we need to go in to great depth on. The fact that John Frusciante is back in the fold however is highly noteworthy.

Frusciante takes the band to a different level, one that they have struggled to retain over the past decade or so during his absence. Both on record and live it has felt like the legendary act were simply going through the motions.

That all changes now though with the iconic four members in place, the band instantly finds themselves elevated. A huge world tour taking in some of the biggest venues on offer tonight arrives at the London Stadium for the first of two nights in the venue.

Opening acts Thundercat and Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals both do a good job in warming up the crowd, who bask in the summer sun. Yes, the great British weather does well to accommodate three Californian acts which helps to add to the atmosphere.

It’s then over to the Red Hot Chili Peppers as Frusciante, Flea and Chad Smith hit the stage and break into an intro jam that ramps up in intensity until the unmistakeable opening to ‘Can’t Stop’ cuts through.

WATCH ‘CAN’T STOP’ ON YOUTUBE
Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Can’t Stop’

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From here frontman Anthony Kiedis leads his cohort through a mixture of old and new tracks to the delight of the receptive audience. The likes of ‘Dani California’, ‘Scar Tissue’ and ‘Snow ((Hey Oh))’ elicit stadium filling sing-a-longs as the band showcase their immense back catalogue.

The past decade is ignored as the band celebrate the return of Frusciante, who is a breath of fresh air for the band tonight. Of course, the guitarist joined the band for their recent album ‘Unlimited Love’, and tracks from that album help to testify to his impact. ‘These Are the Ways’ and ‘Black Summer’ are two highlights tonight even amongst the older offerings.

Read our review of ‘Unlimited Love’ from Red Hot Chili Peppers

Naturally the biggest reactions come for the likes of ‘Otherside’, ‘Californication’ and ‘Give It Away’ but the whole setlist tonight is well structured to the occasion. Tonight is a celebration and that is reflected in the bands performance.

An encore of ‘Under the Bridge’ and ‘By the Way’ sends the crowd off into the night having witnessed a legendary act prove that they do still have something left to give.

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The Hella Mega Tour

London Stadium

Friday 24th June 2022

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THE HELLA MEGA TOUR – LONDON STADIUM – LIVE REVIEW

The mass hysteria of excitement over the initial announcement of The Hella Mega Tour was something to behold. Of course, multiple unpredictable delays have occurred since then and these shows take place now almost three years later.

That initial excitement naturally dimmed by the events of the past few years soon returns however as you approach the impressive London Stadium in Stratford. Spirits are high as fans funnel into the venue ready for three iconic acts.

Before then though, they are greeted by opening act Amyl and The Sniffers who christen the stage with their unique brand of punk rock. Punk was built on rebellion and spite so it’s refreshing to see a band going back to those roots after the genre has become somewhat safe over the last decade.

WATCH ‘SECURITY’ FROM AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS
Amyl and The Sniffers – ‘Security’

Some fans get it, others look on in bemusement, but one thing is sure and that is that playing a potentially poisoned chalice of a support slot, the group deliver something memorable.

Any opening band was always going to be overshadowed by what follows on The Hella Mega Tour. It’s soon time to start the feast of music on offer today, and the crowd has piled in early for the first of our three headlining acts Weezer.

Read our review of ‘Van Weezer’ from Weezer

What makes The Hella Mega Tour special is that each of the three main acts get not just a headline set length but also full production. Weezer take full advantage of that with a stunning stage setup, but for me the appeal of Weezer live has always been the music, and today the fans are treated to a stunning setlist.

Opening with ‘Hash Pipe’, ‘Beverly Hills’, ‘My Name Is Jonas’ and ‘Pork and Beans’, the band instantly have the packed audience in the palm of their hands. The band proceed to mix old, new and covers. By the time they take their leave with ‘Buddy Holly’, the band have set the bar very high for their contemporaries to follow!

Thankfully for both those following bands and the fans in attendance, both are more than capable to keeping pace with the very best. Next to grace the stage are Fall Out Boy who again waste no time in plying the crowd with huge hits.

‘The Phoenix’ sees the band flex their muscles with pyro galore and the extravagance of the band never really fades with their set designed to tell a story. There is no real lull in pace by the band today as they blast out hit after hit; the only short respite coming due to an issue in the crowd.

Fall Out Boy are slightly younger than their tour buddies but with their performance today they show that they have reached that iconic status already. You really could go home happy at this point following three great performances, but that’s the beauty of The Hella Mega Tour, it’s mega and there is a final performance remaining from global superstars Green Day.

WATCH ‘BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS’ FROM GREEN DAY
Green Day – ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’

By this point anticipation from the crowd has reached a fever pitch and after years of delay and hours of acts behind us, fans are ready to explode. Imagine the response then when the band open with ‘American Idiot’ and ‘Holiday’!

Yes, it’s clear that the band are prepared to make up for lost time and it’s an old fashioned rocker of a show from Green Day. Perhaps they are trying to keep up with Fall Out Boy or justify their position on top of the bill, but their performance is slick and removes some of the bloatedness of latter year Green Day.

Of course, the band has the hits for a situation like this and hearing a packed stadium sing every word of the likes of ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’, ‘Minority’ and ‘Basket Case’ just shows what we have missed over the past couple of years.

We may have had to wait an awful long time for The Hella Mega Tour but wow was it worth the wait. Every band brought their A game, and the show as a whole will become a thing of legend from here on out!

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Album Reviews

Nova Twins

Supernova

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NOVA TWINS – SUPERNOVA – ALBUM REVIEW

Nova Twins have been slowly building their fanbase with impressive support slots and festival appearances. In February 2020, you know just before the world stood still, the duo released their debut in ‘Who Are The Girls?’.

Despite the difficulties for music promotion over the next year or so, stock in the band has only risen with their debut album a critical success. The quality of that first album helped to back up the hype that had begun to surround Amy Love and Georgia South.

Now, the duo are unleashing their sophomore album on the world as they continue to lay the groundwork for stardom.

The potential for this band is unlimited with their genre-defying sound making them a true crossover act. Fans of various musical types will find comfort in ‘Supernova’, which sees Nova Twins once again delivering a slice of action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled, electro-punk groove.

WATCH ‘ANTAGONIST’ ON YOUTUBE
Nova Twins – ‘Antagonist’

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Single, ‘Antagonist’, is straight in your face and sets the tone for what’s to come from the rest of the record. ‘Cleopatra’, ‘K.M.B.’ and ‘Fire & Ice’ are highlights but there really isn’t a bad track on ‘Supernova’.

The duo are clearly growing in confidence with every record, and this album is a timestamp of a band transitioning from having potential to delivering the goods.

If you like music with attitude, passion and ferocity then this album and Nova Twins are most definitely for you. ‘Supernova’ really is a half hour of power and it will do nothing but continue to push this incredible band on their upwards trajectory!

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Live Reviews

Download Festival

Donington Park

10th to 12th June 2022

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With the pandemic taking a hold back in early 2020, Download Festival became one of the first major festival victims. It was perhaps fitting therefore that the small Pilot version of the event was the first step on the road back to normality last year.

Read our review of Download Pilot Festival

That does mean though that as we head into Donington Park in 2022, it is the first fully fledged festival since the 2019 edition. After three long years, it is finally time for rock and metal fans to convene again on these hallowed grounds.

There are a number of changes this year to the layout of the festival but the best change is the installation of a strange golden orb in the sky. The usual brown flooring has also been painted green. Yes, goodbye Drownload and hello sunburn!

The main changes to the festival relate to the layout of the campsites, parking and transport hubs. Given these new changes, a little extra signage may have assisted seasoned attendees finding their way around, but in general the changes work well. There is a lot of walking required, however there always is at Donington Park however the event is laid out.

Once inside the area the setup is pretty standard if a little cut back with smaller stages, fewer food stalls and no wrestling or other extra areas. But, it’s Download and everyone is just glad to be here.

FRIDAY REVIEW

So then, on to the music! Opening the main stage on Friday are NWOCR favourites Wayward Sons who make the most of their short time on stage. They are quickly followed by Canadians Theory (of a Deadman) who also only have a short time to show their stuff. Thankfully for them they are able to call upon some festival-perfect material as the crowd sing along to ‘Bitch Came Back’, ‘Hate My Life’ and ‘Bad Girlfriend’.

Recently rejigged Bury Tomorrow follow on the main stage and bring the first real taste of heavy to the festival. The band are clearly honoured by the opportunity and try their best to win over the audience, with our first pyro of the weekend helping to add to the occasion. By the time the band leave the stage and a pile of bodies in the audience, the set has to be considered a success.

We go walkabout next and visit first the second stage for a man who has already played Download Festival with both Alter Bridge and Slash, Myles Kennedy. With two solo albums now to his name, Kennedy only grows his legacy with another top class performance.

Read our review of ‘The Ides of March’ from Myles Kennedy

Secondly we head to the Avalanche Stage for something new. American pop-punk band Meet Me @ the Altar have intensifying hype around them, and keeping with the tone of the day they are able to grasp this opportunity with both hands. Expect bigger things from the band in the near future.

As day one begins to draw to a close with catch two of Download’s house bands with Skindred on the main stage and Airbourne over on the second stage. Both bands attract big crowds, because fans know what to expect from them. High energy, entertaining rock shows are delivered by both as fans get to revel in what they have missed over the last three years.

Read our review of Airbourne live in Norwich

Having delivered an incredible headlining performance at the Pilot event last summer, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes return to Donington Park next to headline the second stage. Carter and co show the crowd what they missed last year with another stunning performance. This band must be considered one of the best live bands on the planet and who would put it past them headlining the main stage in the future.

Read our review of ‘Sticky’ from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Download Festival after all needs to begin focusing on that next generation of headline acts, because many of the old guard are saying farewell. It is the ‘End of the Road’ for KISS, but not before one final triumphant showcase this year.

The band are able to deliver all the pageantry of a KISS show with every party trick played with precision. As the fans walk away with ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’ stuck in their heads, the band have brought the party and night one is closed out in style.

SATURDAY REVIEW

Saturday morning brings a fresh day with the sun still shining bright, but early risers at the main stage are left waiting with opening act The Raven Age almost forty minutes late. When the band do arrive they are able to show their continued growth with a matured performance.

This delay subsequently leads to a 30+ minute lag on main stage times throughout the rest of the day which plays havoc with fans carefully curated schedules. It does mean however that we can head to the second stage and catch the energetic Cassyette who is capitalising on the momentum earned over the last year.

It’s then back to the main stage for the classic rock sounds of Those Damn Crows and Monster Truck. Both bands continue the impressive start to the festival. Clearly every act is out to cast off the shackles of recent years and make an impression.

Both of these bands leave the fans wanting more, which is all a band can do with these early festival slots. It’s probably a good thing then, that these two bands will be touring the UK together later this year!

Up next for us is one of the performances of the weekend from Holding Absence over on the Avalanche stage. With songs like ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Wilt’ seemingly made for festival crowds to sing along to, the band completely own the packed tent during their time on stage.

Read our review of ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’ from Holding Absence

Shinedown are also a band that knows how to control a crowd, and they have a large crowd to play with next on the main stage. With a new album on the way, the band incorporate new tracks ‘The Saints of Violence and Innuendo’ and ‘Planet Zero’ into their tried and tested, crowd pleasing set.

It’s then back to the Avalanche stage for another standout performance. This time it’s Creeper on the stage, the band again showing an innate ability to hold the audience in the palm of their hands. Creeper continue to grow and evolve and it will be interesting to see where the band head next.

Read our review of Creeper live in London

We stick next to the Avalanche stage for headliners Funeral For A Friend. Perhaps it’s the fact that we’ve just witnessed two fantastic performances on this stage from Holding Absence and Creeper but something feels a little off for this set. It’s not a lacklustre performance as the band give it their all, but on a weekend full of great performances what is probably a really good one feels a little underwhelming.

There is never anything underwhelming however about Iron Maiden. The band are icons for a reason and their current stage show is possibly their best ever. With Maiden on form and a packed Donington Park in fine voice, this headline set was always going to be one for the ages, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Read our review of ‘Senjutsu’ from Iron Maiden
SUNDAY REVIEW

Now onto Sunday morning, with hangovers taking hold, feet aching and stamina’s waning. It’s up to Wargasm to blow away any cobwebs as they open the main stage, and that’s just what they do. The band are developing into something of a marmite band, but there is no doubting the passion and energy that they put into every performance; and judging by the reaction they go down very well this morning.

Sidetracking from the music for a moment, we commented in our Neck of the Woods Festival review about the cost of food and drink this year. There are no surprises therefore that prices are high at Download Festival, but the quality on offer at that price is disappointing. Inflation is one thing, but shrinkflation begins to rub, and more than one meal this weekend leaves a sour taste in our mouth (figuratively and literally in one case!).

Well, if the amenities on offer are disappointing, thankfully the music isn’t. As we have said, the quality of performances this weekend is consistently high. Both The Velveteers in the Dogtooth tent and The Last Internationale on the second stage are fine examples of this quality from top to bottom.

Massive Wagons follow on the second stage and again appear on top form. As many bands have this weekend, they tailor their set list perfectly for their time on stage and it’s wall to wall bangers as the kids would say.

Tremonti next are more methodical as they display their technical prowess. Mark Tremonti and co are mightily impressive and the audience are equally receptive.

Read our review of ‘Marching In Time’ from Tremonti

We shoot then across to the main stage where Rise Against are another band that fail to meet expectations. The band are an incredible force, but sadly today they struggle to translate from the stage for whatever reason.

Read our review of ‘Nowhere Generation’ from Rise Against

Volbeat have no problems though as they are instantly able to grab the audience. They deliver a career spanning setlist to the delight of the field, which shows just why they have established themselves as potential future headliners.

Read our review of Volbeat live in London

We then find time to dart across to the Avalanche stage one last time as Trash Boat showcase one of the albums of last year, ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’. Trash Boat have really come into their own and have the entire tent bouncing along.

Read our review of ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ from Trash Boat

Korn are the penultimate band to play the main stage this weekend and they make the most of their position with one of the best performances of the festival. The band are longtime Download Festival favourites and they evidence today just why that is.

Read our review of ‘Requiem’ from Korn

There is another look at the future next as Yonaka pack out the Dogtooth tent. Those that have made the effort to catch the band are rewarded by an incredible performance from one of the most exciting young rock bands around.

Read our review of ‘Seize the Power’ from Yonaka

Last but certainly not least with have Biffy Clyro who are one of the biggest rock bands in the UK, but seemingly another marmite band amongst regular Download Festival goers.

One thing for certain is that those that chose to the stay until the end are rewarded by way of a sublime headlining performance. Biffy Clyro are another level live act and tonight they deliver a superb closing show fitting of closing this event.

Read our review of Biffy Clyro live in London

Consistent high calibre performances have encapsulated the return of Download Festival this weekend. The event has a special place in the hearts of its fan base and will celebrate next year with a special four day 20th anniversary celebration. We can’t wait!

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Neck of the Woods Festival

Earlham Park, Norwich

Sunday 29th May 2022

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NECK OF THE WOODS FESTIVAL REVIEW

All 📸 (c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

As May draws to a close, the traditional UK Festival season commences. Of course 2022 is the first full season in three long years following the pandemic-related disruption to the 2020 and 2021 summers.

It must be fate then that as we journey towards Earlham Park in Norwich, the skies are grey and the rain begins to fall. It wouldn’t be the UK summer without some of the wet stuff now would it?

Our destination on this chilly spring Sunday is a new venture called Neck of the Woods. The one day festival sees organisers take over a venue vacated by yesterdays Let’s Rock Retro Festival.

I’ve long championed the notion that Norwich needs an indie/rock festival and if tagging along to this existing event makes one viable then I’m all for it. Line-up wise Neck of the Woods is certainly going for the growing younger indie crowd with only headliners The Kooks of a certain vintage.

Access is quick and easy and the atmosphere once inside is nice and relaxed. The usual overpriced festival food and bars are present as are four stages of music.

Given the ongoing cost of living crisis it’s somewhat disappointing yet fully expected post-pandemic that food and drink prices have increased since last year. A hot dog, fries and a can of pop coming to a staggering £14.50! As I say, expected given the past couple of years, but a little frustrating.

Full Artists Galleries here

The site is setup well for a one day event with the stages spread out between two different areas, each with one outdoor and one tented stage. As expected there is some sound bleed at times, but nothing too invading.

There are a handful of stalls and other activities scattered around the site, with ample facilities such as toilets plus a separate VIP area. Thankfully there are no major queuing issues all day with the amount and distribution of everything on site seemingly well measured.

That’s the amenities taken care of then, now onto the music! That is after all why we are all in this field, with a little sunshine now poking through.

Full Artists Galleries here

Opening the main stage are local favourites Youth Killed It who do a fantastic job in getting the early attendees engaged. Their unique brand of indie punk captures the imagination of the young audience and shows great promise for a band coming into their own.

The main stage and the tented second stage, sponsored by local venue The Waterfront, alternate meaning eager music aficionados can catch an endless stream of musical pleasures if their legs can hold them. We are able to hold this pace for the first half of the event, allowing us to take in some great young acts including a fair few to have featured on our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist!

Full Artists Galleries here

One such act is Liverpudlian indie upstarts Rats who open the second stage with a blistering set which wins over every single person present. A glimpse into the future of indie music, and the future is once again looking bright.

Full Artists Galleries here

Next on the main stage are The Lottery Winners who, with their great onstage banter and even better musical output, may be the perfect festival band. The group have the audience in the palm of their hands throughout their short set and leave the crowd wanting more, which is all you can really hope to do.

Full Artists Galleries here

Another enthralling act grace the second stage next with their superb 80’s tinged Synth-Pop are Deco. This is a name that is popping up on many a festival line-up this summer and is certainly one to watch out for.

Full Artists Galleries here

Also on the one to watch list is the fabulous Lauran Hibberd who has been making waves for a couple of years now. Hibberd is preparing to release her debut album later this year, and on the evidence of today it is set to be a big one. Fully expect to see this name playing higher up festival bills next summer!

Full Artists Galleries here

The Royston Club continue the hot streak of great young bands at Neck of the Woods next with another top showing in the tent. With many fans seemingly already in the know, the band are able to create a fun atmosphere as our legs begin to tire.

Full Artists Galleries here

No time for rest just yet as we return to the main stage for a band that feel on the cusp of something really big. The Snuts hit the number one spot with their debut album and recently played some huge shows across the country including Brixton Academy.

Songs such as ‘All Your Friends’, ‘Always’ and ‘Glasgow’ from that album feel like they were made with days like today in mind. With the sun now making regularly scheduled appearances from behind the cloud and the crowd fully in the festival spirit, the band go down as expected. A hero’s reception for a group surely destined to headline this sort of event.

Now after that relentless run of superb music, we must stop and retreat to check out the VIP offerings. With a private bar and toilets along with ample seating including a good view of the main stage, the VIP area is basically what you’d expect at a festival; nothing too fancy but a nice place to chill out.

But whilst we rest, the music doesn’t. The organisers have done well to secure a line-up featuring some of the best new bands on the scene with a splattering of larger acts to draw the crowds.

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Whilst we relax we get to enjoy dodie who offers something slightly different to the indie lad rock predominantly featured. An enjoyable set from dodie allows us time to recuperate before another onslaught of music.

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We pick things back up towards the top of the bill now with Sea Girls on the main stage. Sea Girls are a band that I’ve heard of but never actually listened to. Not really knowing what to expect, the band are able to quickly get my attention. They also have the attention of the majority of the attendees with a clear connection existing between band and fans.

Their time on stage sails by very quickly which is usually a good sign, and with their name featuring on many festivals this summer, I feel they’ve earned a little more attention from me before I hopefully see them again.

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In fact, one of my favourite things about festivals is discovering new music. I’d like to say NOISY on the third stage are a new discovery but they’ve actually featured on our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist already. That said catching them live here gives new emphasis to their music as the band play one of the most energetic and passionate sets of the day.

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Perhaps this energy and passion is what make our sub-headliners DMA’s fall a little flat having to follow them. Another band that I’ve not personally delved too deeply in before, I can’t say that are able to grab me as much as many others have today. A slower paced set perhaps wasn’t what the doctor ordered following NOISY in a small tent and prior to Yonaka in the big tent.

DMA’s are pleasant enough and perhaps do deserve deeper inspection, but as the weather gets colder and the feet start to ache, they struggle to capture my imagination today.

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That was never going to be a problem for our second stage headliners Yonaka however! This after all is a band built on energy and passion, a band whose bond with the audience is synergetic.

Arriving slightly late on stage, the band power through their set which just adds even further impedance and immediacy to their performance. A sublime mixture of the stunning and the powerful encapsulates Yonaka as they deliver the likes of ‘Ordinary’, ‘Call Me a Saint’ and the incredible ‘Rockstar’.

Fans in attendance have probably just witnessed the performance of the day, but having slightly overrun it’s time to leg it back to the main stage where The Kooks have just arrived for their headline performance.

Their setlist tonight features debut album ‘Inside In/Inside Out’ predominantly to celebrate its 15th anniversary. Adding in a few hits from that albums successors makes for a pretty great festival setlist.

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Opening with ‘Seaside’ and ‘See the World’, the band instantly have the crowd in hand. They are able to maintain this connection throughout their performance which is more than worthy of the headline slot.

By the time ‘Naïve’ closes their set and sends the fans off into the night, it is very much job achieved both for The Kooks and for Neck of the Woods. Norwich does need an event like this, and whilst far from sold out, the event is well enough attended to be deemed a successful debut.

Hopefully Neck of the Woods can build on this solid start, build their brand and bring some of the biggest indie acts to Norwich in the coming years. Most importantly though I hope that they maintain the focus on new bands!

Today has been a day of discovery, finding great new acts before enjoying a handful of the best indie acts around at the moment; the perfect mix. I’d imagine we will be hearing a lot more from a number of these acts over the coming years, and hopefully we will be back at Earlham Park next year.

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Categories
Album Reviews

Def Leppard

Diamond Star Halos

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DEF LEPPARD – DIAMOND STAR HALOS – ALBUM REVIEW

With their huge American Stadium Tour on the horizon, Def Leppard have returned with their first new album in seven years. ‘Diamond Star Halos’ is actually only their 12th studio album since their inception some 45 years ago.

The band certainly hasn’t been prolific then, and there has been some mixed results amongst those 12 albums from the sublime and iconic, to the flat and forgettable. How then will this new release stand up?

Well, it starts off very well indeed with ‘Take What You Want’, ‘Kick’ and ‘Fire It Up’. I’d say that ‘Kick’ is up there with the catchiest songs of their career, which is a high compliment indeed.

WATCH ‘KICK’ ON YOUTUBE
Def Leppard – ‘Kick’

Listen to ‘Kick’ on our ‘Hard & Heavy’ Playlist

I’ll note now the length of the album, sitting at just over an hour, and admit straight away that this feels too much. Cutting a few tracks to get the album around the 45 minutes mark would benefit the overall ease of consumption a lot.

Sonically the album is something of a throwback to their past glories and more than just a doff of the hat to their influences. Whilst this leads to some enjoyable moments, it also sees the band linger a little too long in others.

This is a difficult album to review, because there are plenty of high points and not many bad parts to pinpoint; it just feels bloated. It’s around twelfth track, ‘Angels (Can’t Help You Now)’, that I really begin to sap and feel the album needs to wrap up, but I’m daunted when I see that there is another thirteen minutes left!

‘Diamond Star Halos’ is worth your attention and patience, it is a solid album from a band with nothing to prove. I just feel with a few tweaks to the tracklist it could’ve been a great album.

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