With three bands on the bill tonight and the M4 traffic, it was always going to be a struggle to get there early enough to catch all three so sadly Buster Shuffle was a victim of congestion getting off the motorway so as we make our way into the packed Tramshed The Skints amble onstage and proceed to lay out their stall of ska but with added dollops of Reggae. With vocals coming from Josh, Jamie and Marcia there was a lot going on especially with Marcia providing keys as well as Saxophone, flute and drum pads.  Not for me, I’m afraid to say, I prefer my ska with added rock like The Bar Stool Preachers or Jaya the Cat but I did appreciate they handled their craft with style and precision but it was a little laid back for me tonight maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a chill-out.

Now the last time I saw the headliners was their first headline tour of the UK whilst they were good (the songs are great) I found the showbiz side of their slick performance a little too much too soon if you know what I mean.  Tonight, Was a different beast altogether.  Sure they were still slick and the songs are great, upbeat numbers were knocked out thick and fast with added brass for good measure. The band is so positive and smiley tonight there was little banter between songs and they pretty much got on with the job and rocked! Let’s face facts here The Interrupters have drive-in abundance and a will to get to where they want to be and through sheer determination, they simply have to get to the top, they don’t expect anything less and if it’s through hard work and hitting the road then they’re going to put in the hard graft.

Cardiff is bouncing on a School night and if the band is gonna play then they are going to get a helping hand from the audience and the enthusiasm is infectious. In Aimee, they have star quality born with a beaming smile and a tonne of energy and backed up by the brothers three tonight they are on fire.

Starting off with ‘A Friend Like Me’ and straight into ‘By My Side’ it was a sign of intent. By ‘Take Back The Power’ the audience was won over and this was cooking up to be a special night. The band breaks into ‘Bad Guy’ by Billie Eilish and totally own it. Kevin took a breather and then the band jammed a crowd-pleasing ‘Message To Rudy’ Kevin seemed genuine when he said how blown away he was with this first night of the tour and a new City.  I’m sure the band were impressed enough to come back next time when they have a new record to haul around the globe and I’m sure the thousand capacity venue that’s rocking and rolling as one won’t be big enough to house those who want to come see the band who have managed to cross-generation divides as the audience is from teens to people almost collecting their bus passes and they’re all beaming.

‘She Got Arrested’ bled into ‘Gave You Everything’ and it was already time for the encore.  What a difference and sure Kevin played a snatch of Oasis followed by some Tom Jones which seemed to make his brothers and he laugh out loud but by this point I’m sure had he sung the local take away menu the crowd would have sung along. For the final slice of fake encore, we were taking stock of what had happened, oh yeah we’d even had a drum solo! oh yeah, remember them?  ‘Family’ preceded the final bow of ‘She’s Kerosene’ and we were out of there. The Interrupters had come of age.  Played a blinding set full of great tunes and people were wandering into the cold night air drenched in sweat and beaming smiles all around – It’s great when a band is just winning at life and by doing what they do spreading a little bit of that love and happiness around this island that short on that right now.  Until next time see ya! Exactly what the doctor ordered to shake of those January post Holiday blues.

 

Author: Dom Daley

It’s a cold Wednesday night at the start of December. You’d think by now people would be winding down for the big, fat man in red to come and empty his… ahem… sack of goodies, but no. Cardiff is alive tonight and ready to rock. For the first time in a long time, there was a long queue outside the venue. I haven’t seen a smaller gig venue with a queue for quite some time.

I got there just as Hollowstar were launching into their final song, which was a shame. I really wanted to catch their set but traffic and the newly extended 50mph zone in Port Talbot aren’t a good mixture when coupled with an early starting gig! After all, there are 4 bands to get through here.

Second on the bill are Swedish sleaze meisters Crashdiet. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Crashdiet. I loved their first album with Dave Leppard on vocals. Admittedly, I was never a huge fan of much they put out beyond that, but I’ve caught the band live a few times but never been as blown away as I was at the sound of their first album.

Tonight, they are here promoting their new album Rust with a new singer in tow (Fourth singer in five albums!), but boy, do they deliver. Hard hitting, headbanging, big haired rock and roll is back with a vengeance. Or at least it was for the short time they tore up the stage. The new singer Gabriel has brought a new fire to the band. New songs like ‘Rust’ sounded perfect alongside old favourites like ‘Riot in Everyone’ and ‘Breaking the Chains’.

Main support tonight are the UK’s finest blues rock and roll exports. You know them, you love them, you’ve seen them 10 times already this year because they are the hardest touring band in the world… ladies and gentlemen, The Quireboys.

Can the Quireboys play a bad show? Probably… Have I seen them play a bad show in the 10 or so times I’ve seen them? Not a chance. I saw them perform in Swansea in mid-November to a tiny crowd and they nailed it. Tonight, the room is full, beer cups are in the air and it’s party time and Spike really comes alive. You can see he’s at home on the big stage, and so he should be. They deserve gigs of this size.

Their set is full of all the usual suspects from ‘7 o’Clock’ to ‘Mona Lisa Smiled’ to ‘This is Rock and Roll’. They’ve got so many tracks to get the room bouncing that it’s probably hard to pick a setlist this short. Spike stated at one point that while he loves a good chin wag between songs, tonight he had to be kept on a tight leash as they had to get through as many songs as they could in a short time.

A few new songs made an appearance in the set, after all, they have a new album they are currently promoting. Original ‘Black Eyed Sons’ and ‘Sinners Serenade’ have all the swagger of a Quireboys classic.

9:30pm arrives, the lights go down and The Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ comes blaring over the PA. It’s time for the main event. Now, I should admit that Skid Row certainly aren’t my favourite band but tonight they really captivated me. From start to finish the band were firing on all cylinders and having a great time doing it. I’ve actually seen them a few times in recent years and always thought they sounded great but tonight they seemed to have an extra spark under them.

The set was littered with 80s mega hit after 80s mega hit. Opening with Makin’ a Mess was a nice change. I lose track of how many times I’ve seen them open with Slave to the Grind. Big Guns, Piece of Me, Livin’ on a Chain Gang, that’s a pretty hard and heavy first 4. The majority of the set it high octane, high energy with only a few slower moments for the usual suspects 18 and Life and I Remember You.

Skid Row have plenty of albums under their belt and they choose a diverse setlist that covers every era of the band. ZP Theart showing the crowd just why he’s the man for the job. He sings the old songs in vocal ranges unheard since Sebastian Bach fronted the band. ZP is known already for his soaring vocal style from his days with Dragonforce but Skid Row is a different animal and he shows the crowd that rock and roll is alive and well as he pours a bottle of Jack Daniels over himself and the crowd.

For a brief period, Cardiff turned into a dingy rock and roll club in LA. Skid Row took the crowd on a trip back to when the beer was flowing, the rock was loud and the roll was louder.

They may be over 50 now, but these youths can still get wild.

Author: Leigh Fuge

 

Its been a good year for Justin Sullivan and his New Model Army.  They’ve managed to capture the essence of what the band are all about in 2019 on the record ‘From Here’ and are playing to packed venues right across Europe promoting that very same record.  Now I’ve seen the band live many times from festivals to small clubs and most venues in between but tonight I was really looking forward to what kind of set they were going to deliver.

On entering the venue I was reminded of my first foray as a young man into the belly of the beast that was a New Model Army show back in the early to mid ’80s,  they rode the crest of a wave in the mid ’80s and dented the charts and it was where tonight began as the band appeared out of the clouds of smoke on stage to head straight into ‘No Rest’ which signalled some older men to start flinging themselves around the pit like time had stood still (something they might regret come the morning) . It was without pause we headed straight into the new record from there with the epic ‘Never Arriving’ that seemed like the perfect soundtrack as the wafts of dry ice cleared and the stage bathed in red the band’s silhouettes cast large on the backdrop as the opening new track from  ‘From Here’ was received like a prodigal son.

With an immense back catalogue its always a treat to see what they will perform live as they smatter the set with “singles” it’s not nessasseraly the singles that are crowd favourites anyway.  The NMA faithful are a rabid bunch who seem to love all the songs equally but deep down they’re probably like me and wish now and again that they’ll turn up to hear a run-through of all the singles in order of release followed by the best of the rest.  Something that made me smile towards the end of the set when Justin announced that the band were quickly approaching their 40th anniversary and he might be persuaded to do a tour with that in mind but I’m not convinced and smiling as he said it he wasn’t even convincing himself, but we can certainly hope for it. 

I digress. The new album is well represented with no less than eight songs being played. The band are a well-oiled machine and the songs are performed with much passion. Ceri Monger didn’t stop and his role is such an important part of the band as half of the rhythm section that really drives the sound on the more uptempo numbers something Justin has maintained throughout the bands existance and something thats such a big part of the sound.

We were treated to a blistering run through ’51st State’ which seems like it could have been written yesterday such is the stance at Westminster these days anyway I’ll try and keep politics out of this much like Sullivan did except to use his place to plead with the audience to do anything but vote Tory which went down well in south Wales even in these messed up times.  New Model Army fans still know what’s right and wrong.

To put together a fluid setlist must be a tough call for Justin but we got ‘Believe It’ from ‘The Love of Hopeless Causes’ then to follow it up with the excellent new track ‘Where I Am’ was excellent then to dip back into ‘Eight’ for a run through ‘Wipeout’ wasn’t something I was expecting.  The balance of the set was something that came across really well  ‘winter’ was appropriate and ‘State Radio’ gave the pit a second wind. then surprisingly we dipped back into ‘The Love of Hopeless Causes’ for a couple more as we headed for the encore.

I was hoping for a couple of choice picks and I kept my fingers crossed for maybe ‘White Coats’ and ‘Stupid Questions’ or maybe some ‘Vengence’ but alas I got none.  However, I did get a run-through a pretty impressive ‘125 mph’ so at least there was a few off ‘Thunder And Consolation’  as ‘Bodmin Pill’ brought the encore to an end but there was a second encore from a really vocal and appreciative crowd who called the band back for the oldest track in the set ‘Betcha’ to play out as we finally made our way out into the cold evening having been treated to an impressive set from one of the UK’s best alternative and still relevant  live bands.  Tonight the New Model Army were inspiring and uplifting and I can’t wait to do it all again next year after all a promise is a promise, Justin.  See you down the front.

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Well, the hills were definitely alive with the sound of music this weekend as Cardiff was rock city central with quality on offer at every turn across the city and tonight, Saturday, You have MC50 and the Coop over at the enormadome but me I’m in the sweaty packed confines of the Tramshed to witness the first performance of Black Flag in this town along with Californian punks total Chaos.

I was pleased to see the venue was pretty much sold out considering what else was on in town and a really mixed audience packed out the place. Total Chaos takes the stage and immediately get down to business and use every year of their 30 plus in this business to knock out a set of dirty filthy metal meets street punk that ticked all the boxes.  Spikey har, shouty choruses, swearing, studded belts, black and white t-shirts, and songs that rally against the government, cops, teachers, parents, society etc bla, bla, bla but- big but.  They do it well and in a really convincing manner. In fairness, unlike many of their contempories, the temptation to take it in a full metal direction is resisted and to be nothing more than a “go through the motions” punk by numbers band is also averted but only just. 

As nice as it was to see the likes of Total Chaos play Cardiff Tramshed tonight is all about the headliner for me having never seen Ginn play and having been familiar with the various line ups throughout my adult life it was one to tick off the list even if it was Black Flag twice removed.  to say it is a band that had many line up changes and different vocalists that managed to remain credible throughout its existence so why should now be an exception? if you’ve got a ticket for Black flag 2019 then you know what you’re getting so all that history and he said she said should be tucked away under the mattress for tonight.  Ginn and Valley work well and to be fair as a frontman Black Flag are the perfect vehicle and his delivery is spot on at times you could close your eyes and be forgiven for thinking Rollins was on the stage. It was a best of set and I’d imagine by the laminated set lists the same set on every night of the tour ‘Black Coffee’ sounded brutal as did the likes of ‘Fix Me’, ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ and ‘Loose Nut’ and this four piece were nailing the Black Flag sound with the aid of the incredibly tight rhythm section  who to be fair were the perfect players to enable Ginn to do his thing as he gave his head a wobble and let his fingers fly across the fretboard. There were times when the extended intros went on a little longer than they possibly should as it kinda stopped any momentum building but it did provide some respite and showcase how good the players were riffing off each other ‘Six Pack’ was definitely the exception to the rule with the rhythm section hammering home how tight they were and how bloody good the song is.

Valley must have gobbed out twice his body weight but worked up a hell of a sweat as he brought the house down with a brutal ‘Six Pack’, ‘Clocked In’ and crowd pleasers ‘Jealous Again’ but it was the finale of ‘Nervous Breakdown’ followed by an exceptional ‘Rise Above’ complete with gang vocals from Total Chaos before the final number the progbustin ‘Louis Louis’ that seemed like a strange song to end the set, Well under normal circumstances it would have been nice to hear a couple of other Black Flag tunes but I guess a cover is alright but to make it last over ten minutes might have been a cool down post-workout for the band and those in the pit but it was the opportunity for me to snake my way out of the venue and get a head start getting out of dodge.

I’m glad I got the chance to see such a legendary name and player like Ginn play his songs but I can’t help think how much I’d love to have seen the original or the Rollins version but I guess that was then and this is now and the now is a pretty cool place to be. It might not be the ’70s anymore but I’m sure Ginn is pleased there isn’t a line of cops outside with billy clubs drawn. The club is clean and the stage pristine and raised unlike the good/bad old days and security that are really excellent and look out for the audience who might have had a little too much to drink, are rowdy, take no notice of the no crowdsurfing signs and run the club well. Whilst the trade-off might be a little of the danger that’s associated with Black Flag or the edge of seeing them in a tight room with an air of rebellion and danger might have dissipated but these are different times for sure but one thing remains and thats the back catalogue of songs. They are still as good as they ever were and as long as Ginn has six strings on his guitar the singers may come and go but they will always be one of the most influential bands from American punk rock and that will never be diminished.

Who Knows, Maybe, just maybe before these guys retire it would be nice to know that the old members would shake on it and for one night only turn back the clock but until then this version is more than capable of delivering the goods.

Author: Dom Daley

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The Wonderstuff in the Tramshed on a school night?  Couldn’t think of anything better if I’m honest.  Deja Vega takes the stage at eight o’clock and the room is sparsely populated and the band proceeds to give the people who’ve turned up early doors their everything but I notice the guitarist is breaking all sorts of unwritten laws with regards to how high to wear one’s guitar and the belt buckle rule is broken.  Me, I’m disappointed to say the least and can’t get beyond this.  The band is alright knocking out their guitar driven indie but the songs just tend to go on and any tunes get lost in the muddy mix even if the bass player wields a decent sounding Rickenbacker round and the one track I could make out ‘Mr. Powder’ tended to go on a bit too long but tonight was all about the stuffies maybe on another night under different circumstances my opinion would be different.

The Wonder Stuff have been on a journey and I feel like I’ve been on that journey with them from the start when they showed up on the scene playing guitar driven music with a bit of folk – plenty of wah and a heap of attitude oh, and bad shorts.  I love them then and I love them now from Milos lyrics and his spikey, abrasive, confrontational attitude and his mile-wide grin and cheeky chat as far as I was concerned they didn’t make a single bad song until ‘Rubbish Island’ and its not like it was rubbish but it just wasn’t what I wanted and maybe it was me and not them. Hell I even loved the acoustic solo shows the duet shows with Erica and I’ve loved their live sets they’ve mixed up in the last half decade tonight flanking Milo was old boy Malc Treece (guitar) and Mark Gemini Thwaite playing the Bass no less and finally on drums Pete Howard  takes the stage along with mainstays Erica and Milo they get straight down to business with ‘Mission Drive’ followed by ‘Caught In My Shadow’ and already its obvious that the band are right on it and mean business.  Milo announces that the band has been recording a new album and if it was alright they were just going to play a whole bunch of old tunes and weren’t going to fuck about with new songs (as if we minded).  It seemed everyone in attendance was happy with that although I can’t help but think it would have gotten the same response had he said they were going to play just new unheard songs.

As I looked around the Tramshed it was pleasing that the place was rammed full of people out for a good time on a school night. As the band eased through the gears it looked like they were having the best of times and it was contagious.  ‘Circlesquare’, ‘Red Berry Joy Town’, ‘On The Ropes’ and ‘Here Comes Everyone’ were sing songs as everyone got involved.  As the intros kicked in I found myself daydreaming to past shows like Reading festival and hearing them blast through ‘Size Of A Cow’ or Bescott when ‘Welcome To the Cheap Seats’ burst into life.

 

Damn The Wonderstuff have got so many good tunes from the earlier songs like ‘Ruby Horse’ to the bigger hits it was songs like ‘Wish Away’ or ‘Ten Trenches Deep’ that had slipped off my radar but not tonight – they sounded fresh and a match for anyone tonight the Stuffies could have gone toe to toe with anyone and everyone.  Although tonight was a greatest hits set they’ve remained fresh and continued to turn out albums that are worthy of the Wonder Stuff monicker and what a legacy.

Before we knew it the band had left the stage it seemed like ten minutes ago they began such was the good time we were having. With no less than five songs in the encore ‘Can’t Shape Up’, ‘Cartoon Boyfriend’ and the fantastic ‘Radio Ass Kiss’ closed off ‘Hup’ in fine style and probably my favourite album from the band which left the sublime ‘Disco King’ and to finish off a rare B Side ‘A Song Without An End’ to keep the anoraks like myself happy.  As I make my way home I’m mulling over what they didn’t play and why no ‘Goodnight Though’ to finish off with or how it might be nice to hear a cover of ‘Planet Earth’ thrown in just for giggles.  Oh well, maybe next time eh?  If you get the chance go see The Wonder Stuff because they are excellent – most excellent regardless of what’s in the set list.  Now get on with that new album – pretty please.

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Author: Dom Daley

20th March 2007 was the last time I saw the “classic” line up of Towers of London live, in of all places London. It was also to be one of their last headline gigs together. Fast forward 12 years and the prospect of seeing Donny, Dirk, Rev, Snell and Tommy back together on stage really is getting me all nervous. Not least because I’m due to meet up with the guys beforehand to hand over some much sought-after film footage that has been in possession all these years that the guys now need for an upcoming documentary. A film, as I was soon to find out, they want to be a true reflection of their time together back in the mid-noughties, not some cheap expose piece only looking to create headlines.  

That reckless sense of irresponsibility that drove the band first time around has very much been replaced by a more focussed and mature set of heads all looking to finally set the record straight both off and on stage, and what better way to start than by heading off on an eight date UK tour supporting The Wildhearts with Massive Wagons also along for this rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster ride too.

Unfortunately tonight I can only stick around to witness the return of  Towers Of London so I’ll leave the full gig reviews to my RPM colleagues to pick up at subsequent dates, but this is a very well-attended tour that’s for sure, with two dates sold out in advance and quite a few of the others close to capacity . This, in turn, means Towers of London get to play to full rooms and most importantly to a largely new audience, so come 7:30 sharp I’m stood a couple of rows from the barrier waiting for that infamous air raid siren intro tape to go up, before the 5 black boiler-suited Towers guys open fire with ‘I’m A Rat’ and suddenly all the years they’ve been away just seem…well….insignificant.   This is the band who I thought could be the UK’s answer to Guns N’ Roses and save for a few, ahem, “misplaced” career decisions along the way what this line up did leave us with was one of the finest debut albums of the last 40 years.

Tonight then their nine-song set is split 60/40 in favour of that ‘Blood Sweat and Towers’ album and along with the likes of ‘Beaujolais’ and ‘Air Guitar’ the newer tracks (all set to be included on their as yet untitled third album) like the stadium rocker ‘Shot In The Dark’ complete with Snell thumping the kit and Rev adding the guitar chops now come over as with much more sneer and a lot less veneer, and the more polished sound that had been creeping into the band’s musical direction really has been toughened up with the return of the old guard. ‘Kill The Popscene’ indeed, but sadly that anthem is nowhere to be seen tonight.

Finishing their 30-minute set with Donny face to face with the front rows for a stinging ‘Fuck It Up’, it’s his comment “we’ve all fucked something up” just as he lets the microphone fall to the floor that perhaps best sums up this new/old version of Towers Of London. It’s that old Drink Fight Fuck spirit but without any of that “baggage” getting in the way of you finally realising that Towers of London were never really a guilty pleasure they were always a fucking great rock ‘n’ roll band. 

Now, let’s have album number three and the highly anticipated documentary and perhaps finally we’ll get see Towers of London make it big. Who’s with me?

Author: Johnny Hayward