And by recent, I mean, urrrr…gig reviews that I’ve done this year.
Despite not updating LBEMD recently, I continued with my work for local paper the Portsmouth News throughout 2011. Here’s a few of the reviews I’ve done for them:
Katy B – Portsmouth Pyramids
You have to give a round of applause to Croydon’s BRIT school – they sure know how to pick impressive young artists. Adele, Jessie J, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis and Imogen Heap read as quite impressive alumni (apart from Jessie J – you can take her back).
Katy B is yet another graduate of the school but her music making began from outside of the institution and it shows. Her championing of pirate-turned-legit grime/funky station Rinse FM is an obvious influence on her dub-lite pop, separating her from the Lilys and Jessies of the pop music world.
Tonight, she performed at the Portsmouth Pyramids to a sold out crowd. Her new record, On A Mission, was released to critical acclaim and the whole set was dedicated to her debut album (excluding set opener Louder, strangely missing from the record).
She doesn’t have a fantastic stage presence but her band as a collective manage to give her the boost she needs to propel her soft but ultimately dance-inducing vocals through the saxophone, bass, trumpet, percussion and synth.
This girl has a very bright future if she just keeps on the same musical path. Congratulations, Katy – you’ve hit the big time.
Bring Me The Horizon – Southampton Guildhall
It would be fair to say that – like them or not – Bring Me The Horizon are the UK’s biggest extreme metal export. The release of new album ‘There is a Hell Believe Me I’ve Seen It…” has divided fans but ultimately raised them to the top of UK metal pyramid.
It’s not very often that an extreme metal band plays a venue like the Southampton Guildhall and it’s even rarer that the gig sells out within a matter of days. One of the reasons behind the tickets being shifting faster than you can say “breakdowns” is the incredibly strong support bill of Parkway Drive, Architects and The Devil Wears Prada.
However, it’s unfortunate that the run-of-the-mill pop-metal from the latter two bands, especially the once-great Architects, puts a dampener on the beginning stages of the gig. Parkway Drive, on the other hand, were absolutely incredible and showed a ruthlessness and intensity that Architects could learn from.
Credit to Architects’ drummer, though – he replaced Matt Nichols of BMTH at very short notice and played the vast majority of BMTH’s set. Nonetheless, the phrase‘Heavy Metal Boyband’ sprung to mind throughout the headliner’s set. Fun but disposable faux-metal.
Whitechapel – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
After the increasingly prevalent shallow-deathcore trend popularised in the modern age by UK bands like Asking Alexandria and Bring Me The Horizon, sometimes you just need three burly groups from across the Atlantic on stage bringing the pain.
This is exactly what Impending Doom (who hit the UK for the first time), The Acacia Strain and headliners Whitechapel deliver tonight to a packed Wedgewood Rooms.
“This is negative music,” bellows Vincent Bennett, vocalist of The Acacia Strain, and he couldn’t be more correct. After a bad day at work, college or school, there is nothing better than listening to the intense guttural rage brought by these three groups to release pent-up aggression.
The sheer vocal range and brutality of this extreme metal trifecta makes a change from the tinny shrieks heard from inferior metal bands as the depth and power exuded by these groups rocks 300-odd south coast metalheads.
Whitechapel, despite having three guitarists, don’t capitalise on their increased sound but it still makes for a crushing night. The band airs new tracks from their latest release, A New Era of Corruption, and the crowd laps it up. All in all, a heavy night.
Chase and Status – Southampton Guildhall
It’s no secret that drum and bass duo Chase and Status took a different direction after their impressive debut album. Following in the footsteps of rock/d’n’b crossover act Pendulum, the twosome have achieved the adoration of a mainstream audience, turning their back on the underground faithful.
If increasing their profile and achieving global success was their target then this reviewer, and a capacity Southampton Guildhall, cannot help but give the boys a round of applause for reaching their goal.
Their music is incredibly throwaway and cannot hold a candle to peers like Shy FX or DJ Marky & XRS, but there is something undeniably catchy about their crossover tunes being played at 1,000 decibels. It’s the sort of volume that this genre of music deserves, compared to a weak sound system in a dingy student nightclub.
The duo bring a decent stage show, consisting of five screens and an incredible drum set, for the opening night of the tour. The vast majority of their output has guest vocalists who either sing on stage or make a pre-recorded video appearance on the screens.
If incredibly bassy breakdowns are your thing, then grab a ticket for their gig at Portsmouth Guildhall in October.
Feeder – Portsmouth Pyramids
Strolling out to Ennio Morricone’s The Good The Bad and The Ugly theme, Feeder come prepped to quick draw a bucket load of feel-good anthems to a sold out Pyramids Centre.
That’s one of the best things about the UK rock quartet. They have a frankly absurd amount of sing-a-long tunes and the vast majority of them get an airing tonight. Bands who have been touring for a long time tend to omit some of the classics but not our Feeder. If you don’t find yourself singing your heart out to Just A Day, Just The Way I’m Feeling, Lost & Found among many others then you must have been living under a rock for the past 20 years.
Along with the classics, tunes from current album Renegades make an appearance. Call Out and Down To The River stand up very well against anthemic singles like Buck Rogers and Come Back Around proving that the band can still make hit singles like they used to.
They even throw Breed, a Nirvana cover, at the end of the set for good measure. Feeder are Portsmouth regulars and, judging by the crowd reaction, they’ll be gasping for them to come back soon.
Periphery – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
This tour marks ‘djent’-metallers Periphery’s first foray into the UK scene. Lead guitarist Misha Mansoor and his genre-defying cohorts have built up a phenomenal fanbase stateside so it only seems fair that they let Britain have a slice of their brand of extreme metal.
Coming along for the ride are UK acts Monuments and Tesseract, two more djent-based bands, which makes the tour name ‘The League of Extraordinary Djentlemen’ seem quite apt.
And extraordinary it was. Monuments and Tesseract were both fantastic, with Tesseract’s ‘Deception’ and ‘The Impossible’ proving to be a highlight. The lead singer of the latter sounds even better live than he does in the studio.
Periphery’s task as the headlining band is made slightly difficult thanks to one of their guitarists pulling out due to injury earlier in the tour, but the fill-in does a great job. The band only have one studio LP to date so the majority of their set revolves around their debut.
Despite this, the band put on a great show. Songs like Buttersnips and Icarus Lives! set the venue alight and I can only see ‘djent’ becoming more and more popular within the metal scene.