Like most of us, it’s not easy being stuck in this Lockdown, especially when there’s a very active young child bouncing around the walls of the house, so the new set of Jabra Elite 65T wireless earbuds was a really good investment to try and keep things a little more quiet when trying to work from home. Honestly I picked them up for my daily walks as sometimes you can catch your hands in the cables of standard headphones and that was an annoyance that wasn’t needed, I saw them on offer and decided it made sense, and yep, they have been great for walking outdoors and also being around the house.
One positive of being stuck around the house is that it would appear I have finally been able to get back to doing some review writing again, So go check out the latest couple of reviews over on my Reviews – Albums/Gigs 2020 and seeing as there aren’t going to be any gig reviews for some time it’s great to be back in the saddle so to speak on the Album Review front. Latest additions are the brilliant new Dynasty album and yet another excellent release from Newman, both for my good friends over at RockposerDotCom. Links to both reviews are on the page below, hope you like them, there will, touch wood, be many more to follow. Also, without new gigs, will be looking back at some from last year and will add them to the page as well.
Hope everyone is keeping busy, healthy and sane throughout this crisis, it is of course more difficult depending on your situation, I have to be extra careful since the heart attack, and still need to get out and exercise. Sadly even if I didn’t can’t visit my sick mother, so that’s an extra strain, but I know she is being well looked after by a caring group of staff where she is, so that is a comfort. Right time to get out and have that walk, stick a new album on the headphones and see where the walk today leads, it’s really important to get fresh air for mental health, four walls no matter what sort of accommodation you live in can close in around you after a period of time, add to that being stuck in it’s much more difficult to eat healthy foods, get a little down and it’s much easier to reach for chocolate rather than fruit, but I will hopefully get there. As more and more gigs and Festivals are either cancelled or postponed until next year it’s looking like a very quiet Summer ahead. But 2021 is going to be crazy busy for gigs, so bring it on, will definitely be trying to get to some different places next year, if Germany doesn’t happen this year then next year will try and bring the camera along.
The little man is being a brat today, but he’s going to have good days and bad too, gotta try and keep patient with everyone and everything, new music is out there, lots to listen to, new albums to buy and keep helping out your favourite acts if of course you can in difficult financial times, and hopefully we’ll all be out at a gig on the other side of this thing.
Well it’s been just over 3 weeks since my Heart Attack, and I guess my impatience is starting to grow, as I mentioned last time I would not be the best patient in the world. There are no hard and fast methods or details on how far you should push yourself during recovery. With regards to exercise I did manage to find an example table of distances to walk within time periods from week 1 to 6 following the attack/operation, on the Scottish Heart Foundations website. What I had initially forgotten about/ignored was that Week 1 does not start until 10 days after the Attack itself, meaning I’d started longer distances way too early, of course everyone is different, but I walking too fast too quickly. Very hard to balance a walking pace when you are naturally a fast walker, but will continue to try.
Food wise, well I’m not saying I wouldn’t destroy a large bar of chocolate right now, but the dietary changes have not been as difficult as first expected, being someone that eats a lot of potato and used to eat a lot of fruit and veg it’s just simply been a case of swapping fruit in as snacks and adjusting meals to be a lot more veg based, not a massive problem, eating breakfast every morning and working on 3 square meals a day hasn’t been too difficult at home, but when I go back to work it will all become a little more difficult….. massive reduction in my salt intake alongside sugars, no sweets or fizzy drinks since it happened, The odd treat will happen every now and then, but if I can stick to what I am doing and maybe add in some foods that I don’t normally eat then the variation will help the situation as well, it would be nice if there was a safer alternative to salt as a flavouring agent .Plenty of stuff to learn with regards to meals, nutrients etc, working hard on what is probably the most important part of the process and that’s getting correct portion size, which is certainly one thing that was out of control.
It is quite difficult to figure out what to do in the period between being discharged from the Hospital after the operation and the time Cardio Rehab begins, obviously we are all different and levels of exercise alongside the rate we can increase workouts. Having found to my detriment the danger of pushing too far too soon, it’s careful one step at a time stuff now. and try and rest up as much as possible. At this point I still have to figure out how the transition back to work will happen, but will discuss that with my own Doctor, the relevant parties and something will be worked out, the benefit of having a very understanding employer can not be overstated, they have been excellent. Taking the extra time required to be ready to return to that environment will hopefully make all the difference, Still hoping that I’ll be able to make the HRH AOR Festival in 5 weeks, it’s a goal I’ve set myself, but if it’s not possible the decision to be made will be to for health reasons and not just feelings.
The lineup of gigs and Festivals for the year will no doubt have to be amended, don’t think there’s any chance I’ll be able to do so many back to back events, but will see what can be managed sensibly, and also if we can get photography back on track. Haven’t picked up a camera since before Christmas, so perhaps that’s the next step in my recovery, next week is the aim just taking some photos of the birds in the back garden, and besides there is a new lens to try out.
We are all smothered with a heavy cold now, so that’s certainly not helping this morning, but hopefully that will pass over the weekend and I need to get to the Doctors on Monday morning to sort a few things out, there is always something else to do.
Stay safe and look after yourselves……picked up a little capsule last week that holds a couple of asprins in case of emergency and attaches to your keyring so alongside my spray I think that will be coming out with me everywhere from now on.
It really has been a hectic couple of months, have shot or attended a number of Festivals in July/August/September so far and one more to on the books this coming weekend. A little over a week ago it was HRH Sleaze in Sheffield, another cracking weekend with some great sets from old and new bands alike, a cracking atmosphere and again a really good variety of styles.
It’s been difficult to keep up with the writing as my head’s been in a bit of a whole lately, nothing picking it up yet either, the little guy picking up a nasty bug and trying to keep my mother on track certainly hasn’t made things any easier, and the madness of work really pushes you to the edge. But hey getting away for some music is great, really helps to keep you sane.
Just about got everything tidied up from Ramblin’ Man Fair, some writing to do from Sleaze and next up we’ve got Uprising 4 in Leicester, first time in that City, and in interesting Heavy lineup with the likes of Napalm Death, Acid Reign, Godthrymm all taking to the stage alongside a number of up and coming local bands, should be really interesting.
After that still have some trips this year for gigs, not sure I’ll try and shoot any of them, but still will be good breaks away. Especially looking forward to hitting Nottingham for a couple of days in December to catch AlterBridge/Shinedown/Sevendust one night, followed by Dan Reed Network/FM/Gun the next……that will be a great weekend and will hopefully be able to catch up with some friends along the way.
This has been a very mixed bag of a year, but have thankfully been able to shoot a lot of bands in different places, including some at home, most recently at the always excellent Unleashed Festival in Dublin. Keep an eye out for Fornoth, those lads have something that just might elevate them to something special.
On the health side, so far touch wood another year Fit free, so continuing to manage my Epilepsy even though I think over time the medication is making me more and more lethargic, alongside that sleep patterns have been really bad recently, so will hopefully not tax the body too much at Uprising. Mentally, well I see more and more friends stuggle and just think we are all going through this stuff now, added stresses of everything, seem much less than what our parents may have had to deal with, but the immediacy of life now has brought with it a whole new raft of problems.
If you have time and like music go check out my Ramblin’ Man Fair reviews, Day 1 & 2 are up there at the moment on the Reviews page, just click on the link and Day 3 as soon as it’s published. Photo Galleries for everything will continue to be posted when I can and will hopefully get back to posting a couple of Blog posts here and there again.
Sadly my trusty, and also my standard for concerts, Sigma 24-70mm lens has died, happened at the most inappropriate moment of course just before travelling to HHR Sleaze, so will be on the lookout for a replacement, but managed to get through the Sleaze Festival with a 35mm f2 Canon prime lens, so hopefully it will also do the job at Uprising, but would really prefer to be bringing something a little wider, so may try and grab a second hand 18-35mm lens somewhere, we will see, time is short. Will hopefully get a few days away in between everything else and see some nice scenery 😉 with a bit of luck.
Was still rather disappointed with the cancellation of Amplified Festival, and missing the opportunity to shoot a number bands for the first time and some of my favourites, but these things happen, and had resigned myself to staying home this coming weekend. Then out of the blue you see a message that intrigues you, initially you go, no, not possible, can’t be done, but you decide to check out the details, the travel options, accommodation etc….etc….
But still, there’s no way, it can’t be done……so this is my Sunday…..many hours of option checking, re-checking, deliberating, questioning, pricing, saying no, and eventually saying yes. So with many planes, trains and automobiles to come over the next 4 days I’m off to Photograph and Review the Ramblin’ Man Festival in Maidstone in Kent, haven’t managed to make it over to this Festival for a couple of years, so really looking forward to being in that chilled out atmosphere again, and a great lineup this year, along with a couple of acts that were playing the list time I was there, including the mighty Airbourne, and headliners The Darkness and the legends that are Foreigner. The third headliner I managed to see at home here in Dublin last night, and Black Stone Cherry were on fire.
Not their first time closing out that main stage but they are a great live act, so should be a great set to look forward to. Another 2 RMF acts were on the bill last night, the excellent Kris Barras Band and OTIS both of whom are well worth checking out.
This particular Festival has a bit of everything, lots of Rock, Metal, Blues, Prog, Country and a stage just for up and coming bands, it works, and it’s a great way of doing things. Everything from Beth Hart and Kenny Wayne Sheppherd to Anathema, to Foreigner, some really top acts like Cheap Trick, there really should be something for everyone. This time around
So it’s time to get off and finish the packing, and try to get some sleep…..it’s been sorely lacking this week, so could do with a few hours before it all kicks off, could do with another week to prepare and relax a little 😉 not likely. So although it’s going to be a full on weekend I need to also make sure I do some of the sensible things, eat, take on liquids, take tablets at close to the correct times, and try and sleep a little, just a little. So expect lots of updates over the weekend most especially on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and see you all on the other side. Although the stress isn’t really good for the mental health, the elation of the event itself certainly tends to balance that off.
Where have the first 3 months of the year gone, wow they really have flown in. On a personal level, I’ve made it to a decent number of gigs, managed to shoot roughly 50% of those and a lot more in the pipeline, on the downside, have missed a couple of shows due to ill health, which is never any fun, and have been extremely over tired of late, which definitely doesn’t lead to a good place.
Since returning from this years excellent HRH AOR VII festival which took place in Prestatyn it’s just been crazy, not much time to get anything done. Have got the photos pretty much finished, and just have to plough through some of the review and finish up a review of The Ocean Collective show in Dublin last week, and as soon as that’s done there are more albums, but so so many gigs getting announced at the moment it’s unreal. It doesn’t matter who you are, as you age it becomes more and more difficult to get to as much as you want to, and even then it’s difficult to organise work/home/gigs, that balance is becoming impossible, so this year I’m getting to absolutely as much as I can and next year may be very quiet.
So with new shows just added to my own list for Machine Head, and a number of bands later in the year I’ve found I’m also adding stuff in the near future I didn’t think I could get to, so looking now like Jizzy Pearl and Mike Tramp in Ahoghill next month, and also with a work trip to London next month I’ve managed to schedule an Avantaisa gig, so happy days. Tonight it’s my first chance to get to see Cellar Darling, should be an interesting set. with support from another new band to me, Appearance of Nothing.
Next wee it’s a triple header, Dead Label in Dublin on Friday night (with some great supports), Jizzy Pearly in Ballymena on Sat and hopefully The Black Dahlia Murder on Sunday back in Dublin…….then it’s just a week to HRH Blues in Sheffield and the previously mentioned Avantasia in London…..all of fun and lots of hard work ahead……..
Ana Popovic with Ben Poole supporting kicks into May with another London trip, along with Cormac Neeson’s solo show in Dublin and Whiskey Myers. June is mental, July starting to fill up now, August sees Bloodstock, the Bash and HRH Sleaze III straddles August into September. Rocktober is building up and as always November/December will busy.
Yes I’m flying, 2 added this week, the latest one once again for Rockposer.com of the superb new Elles Bailey album Road I Call Home which you should most definitely have a listen to.
Link now added to the Reviews Page – click here or the album cover below
Elles begins here UK/Irl Tour this coming weekend and is in Whelan’s in Dublin next Thursday night 7th Mar 2019, well worth going to see if you can make any of the dates.
Busy times ahead, going to try and shoot some local bands this weekend, Elles on Thursday, off to see Tyketto in Nottingham next Sat night and then HRH AOR VII, wow that has come around quickly, preview of that event will be up today or tomorrow I hope. Will once again be doing what I said I wouldn’t do again and shooting + reviewing HRH AOR/Blues/Sleaze this year…….and Amplified in July if I can.
March busy, April sees HRH Blues and then we kick in towards a hectic summer, a couple of early nights are needed to keep the head clear and the mind functioning 😉 It’s very easy to start working on too much and let the mind get overloaded, then you just can’t get anywhere or anything done – have already had far too many nights at home just sitting there and not able to do anything created or not, will definitely get more done this year, and have to keep an eye on the sleep too, reality is I think I’m getting 4-5 hours a night at the moment, and while that’s ok for a while, long term it will end with me hitting the floor/ground somewhere, and that would not be fun. Everything in moderation 😉
Finally, after a few unscheduled changes, bloody flu, and a rather bad start to the year which has seen friends lose those near and dear it is time I got out and went to a gig. First on my calendar was a trip to London the weekend before last to catch a 5 band lineup at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, one of the few venues I’ve not attended there This time around there are some bands I was lucky enough to shoot last year at different Festivals, but this time around it’s just a fun trip. Just took a long a little point & click camera for some momentos.
It was an absolutely cracking night and I have to say Skid Row have improved so much with ZP in just 10 months since HRHAOR last March, they look lean and hungry and sound a lot better too, which is great. But the lineup overall tonight was very strong, sadly due to a stupid mistake on my part I was delayed getting in and only managed to catch the end of the Killit set, but there was certainly enough there to make me want to see these guys again, so until next time. Next up were the always excellent VEGA, and once again the guys played a really good set, one hard working band and as always a very energetic Nick Workman led the band through a set that got people moving.
Having not seen HEAT for quite a while I was really looking forward to catching them again, and in reality them being on the bill was a major reason for the trip, and as always they just don’t disappoint, the energy of frontman Erik Grönwall is just so infectious you just can’t help wanting to move along with him. Cracking set, with tracks from the most recent release Into The Great Unknown, and the newer tracks sounded great, especially kicking off with “Bastard Of Society” which set a marker for rest of the set.
The set is made up of not only new songs but great tracks like “Breaking The Silence”, “Living On The Run” and what is now a definite in the set “Mannequin Show”, this band are still on the rise, and live they are just always spectacular. The amount of people on the floor now during this set has dramatically increased as we move towards the last two bands of the night.
The penultimate band on the show tonight are none other than Sweden’s very own Backyard Babies, these guys were really excellent headlining HRH Sleaze back in September last year, tonight they working through the difficulty of Nicke being down with flu, but the show must go on and these guys are still determined to give the crowd all they can, and nobody can ever ask for more. They are not all about tricks and gimmicks, sound very different from everyone else playing tonight and I really enjoyed this set. I guess they had to change up the Set a bit and tracks like “A Song For The Outcast” are great to hear. It is certainly not easy for any singer to be on top form when under the weather, but he worked his way through the set very ably and managed to turn in a very good performance with a slightly different set containing perhaps some of the less upbeat BB songs, but no less entertaining and a really good lead into the Headliners, hopefully we will see these guys back again really soon, could certainly never be thrown in the same pigeon hole as so many other rock bands, their music contains so many different elements, mixing electric and acoustic brilliantly, with songs that tell stories, love them or hate them we need more bands like the Backyard Babies.
And then it was time for the Headliners, a band I’d only seen 10 months previously at HRH AOR 6, and this performance all around was so much better, the guys are looking lean and mean and were just so up for it. The guys are on top form and just powered their way through, with big guns right from the start, opening up with a monster version of “Slave To The Grind” and just running like a freight train through a set littered with their classic hits, slowing things down here and there with “18 And Life” the beautiful “I Remember You” with a massive crowd sing along.
As mentioned I’d seen the band headlining at HRH AOR last March, and to me although it was a good set, here and there it dipped a bit and ZP’s vocals were certainly not as powerful in the 2nd half of that set, no such issues here start to finish this was full on and the crowd could see how much effort has been going into this. Tonight we get a haunting version of “In A Darkend Room” that somehow managed to fit perfectly with the rest of the set, and this show is a massive success, great response from a full house, a band absolutely loving themselves, brilliant to see, with a new album in the works there is plenty to come from these guys, and they can only finish the tonight on one song, “Youth Gone Wild” and they absolutely smash it, a great trip away in a cold and rainy January, this warms the heart and lifts me to push forward for the rest of the year, got for the mind, if not always the body.
Last weekend it was back to the UK for a trip to Birmingham to catch the mighty King King being supported by the wonderful Sari Schorr, check out my review of the night here – King King – Town Hall, Birmingham – 01-02-2019 – and it really was a cracking night all around.
This weekend hopefully will be shooting Behemoth in Dublin, this will be a special show, Sold Out in Vicar Street has seen both the band and the Promoter (DME Promotions) come a long way since their first show here. Still more gigs being added every couple of days, and all the time having to try and keep my Brain functioning better and stave off being overtired (the storm outside will not help that this evening. But grabbing sleep where I can, trying to avoid putting anymore stress on top of what is already there. Hopefully this weekend blows some of the cobwebs away and we get back on track for the many shows ahead.
I’m pretty open about things in life, and I’m not always sure that it is such a good thing, but at the same time it’s better than being so closed off that nobody on the planet knows who you are, and from a Mental perspective it can definitely help when you aren’t completely isolated in your own head, so talking to people about some of the difficulties of trying to look after your mother and when your little boy needs a little more attention than others has helped me not go over the deep edge in the last month, but it’s definitely been touch and go at times. Stress levels through the roof, not sleeping, generally feeling crap, but I’ve decided to still call this week part of last year as it contained a day – next week we start afresh, got to start getting into work for 7am and out at 4 again, it won’t be easy to get back into that rhythm of early mornings again, but it’s getting too difficult to get from work, to mams and home again before my wife goes to work, change the times and reduce some of the stress…….. have to get a family holiday in the mix too, and this time around on the Wild Atlantic Way we are planning to finish off County Donegal and finally get a look at the famous cliffs at Slieve League, they look amazing, so camera will be brought along and we will see if we can catch some birds, wildlife, butterflies insects anything really around the cliffs too, a bit of nature certainly won’t hurt us, maybe even another trip later in the year if we can stretch to it.
So it being early January, Christmas done and dusted and the Gig/Festival list for 2019 damn full already for someone who’s time isn’t really his own, it’s Logistics time, when planning travel to a show or a Festival it’s not all about the Flight prices, a lot of the time it’s about making things work, Flying to a different Airport because it’s cheaper and you have to get a Train/Bus anyway, or flying into one place and out another because you have more flight options on the way back. So far I’m already bringing on the madness certainly for one show in March, where I’m staying in East Midlands Airport after a show in Nottingham and getting the 6:30am return flight to Dublin, but hey one more time on the red eye won’t kill me – will it ?
Flight out to a Fest in March sorted, but the flight back is causing me a lot of stress, flying back on St. Patricks Day to Dublin really shouldn’t be a big deal, especially as it’s a Sunday, but apparently it is and all Airlines have hiked up the prices very significantly, but looks like I’ll just have to bite the bullet and take the hit, but it’s very annoying…….the extra money for a single flight would pay for return flights for another show., but there has to be some reason for it as flights from other UK Airports on the same day are not really expensive, if you can figure out the weird combination of prices that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks you are a better person than me, seeing a hotel that you stayed in last April for more than double the price is mindboggling……….. And initially planning to go to just one day of Bloodstock next year, but bloody hell, with bands I really want to see Friday and Sunday it’s gotta be a weekend, Fri-Sunday anyway, ticket bought more planning to do. Might try and get an Arena Photo Pass this time around. Would love to have the Privilege of shooting a Festival I really love. Also hoping to get to Amplified for the first time this year, with the people that I know involved with the Festival and the good things I’ve heard it sounds right up my street, and I love the lineup too 😉
This coming year will certainly be the last that I will be able to make a decent number of Festivals, more time will be taken up with family, and I think by the time those situations change I will certainly be retired from the perspective of hitting 6-7 Fests a year, even if my own health holds up, age will eventually take it’s toll on top of everything else, but until then full steam ahead. On top of that I’m hoping to get to shoot a lot more smaller local shows this year, get back to Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Heats which start on Jan 19th. If all goes to plan it should be a very interesting, busy and rewarding year so time to light the touchpaper.
Although it’s been a very slow year for me personally on the the review side of things, I’ve already submitted a couple of Top 10’s for 2018. My state of mind as it has been I tend to have some different albums in different Top 10’s, just depends on perhaps there is something that slipped my mind between one and another, and depending on the Outlet too some might be all AOR, all Metal or a mix.
It wasn’t until I started looking again that there was an obvious omission from my Favoutites, the excellent Audrey Horne – Blackout and then this morning another popped into my head, it’s honestly not as easy as you think putting together these end of year lists when you listen to so many albums during a year and there are so many quality ones out there, to be 100% honest I already have 2 for next years list from reviews I’m writing now and I just know these will be 2 of my favs next for 2019. With a lot of bands moving back towards releasing albums on a more frequent basis we see quite a few releasing one a year, of course they aren’t always going to make the best of lists but that doesn’t mean they aren’t all releasing quality albums.
Right I had to do a lot of reworking of the Website over the last couple of weeks, so if you see any odd menus or anything missing that was there a few weeks ago hopefully I’ll have everything back in it’s place . It wasn’t until I tried to make sure the site was up to date with TLS 1.2 that I ran into some issues, couldn’t install plugins, couldn’t do a number of things, so the site had to be moved, the providers moved the content (well most of it) and then I noticed stuff missing, and had to start exporting/importing stuff, and then the menus get messed up again….so a little frustrating, but it took my mind off some other thanks going on in life that have made the last few months a disaster.
Here’s to a happier, healthier, easier and more productive 2019.