Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with a Live Orchestra – Echo Arena Liverpool – 1st December 2017

As we all know The Chamber of Secrets is the 2nd film in the Harry Potter series and is the 2nd (and last) time I’ve paid what I find to be an extortionate amount of money for this live Orchestra experience.

I bought tickets the first time at £50 (money my friend still owes me nearly a year on) because it seemed like a novel idea. I’m not a Harry Potter fanatic like a lot of the people who paid even more for the floor seats, but they’re enjoyable films, John Williams is a legendary composer, and I like listening to Orchestras. Also the Echo Arena sells Crabbies Fruits in those plastic bottles that make them taste better and that’s always an added bonus. This might actually have been the deciding factor in going to see the 2nd one I’m not really sure. Anyway there was something not quite right about the first film and I thought possibly it was just where I was sat. It was still good, just not quite as good as I expected. So the second one comes around and obviously having been to the first one I thought I might as well go and see this one but have more central seating, and as much as they were still £50 (extortionate) I went ahead and bought them.

This isn’t like one of my usual film reviews anyway I’m not going to explain the plot of Harry Potter to you, if you don’t know it by now you probably don’t want to. I’m reviewing it as a show as opposed to a film. It’s a big arena, the tickets are pricey, it’s supposed to be spectacular, it’s supposed to blow your mind, but it just doesn’t. It’s underwhelming and disappointing, and as much as I had better seats, I went with my girlfriend instead of my friend and we had a lovely evening, the show is just so average. I’ve seen the film before, I’d probably go so far as to say I watch it annually, but it never costs me £50, there’s never any distractions, and the soundtrack is just as prominent watching it at home as it is with this set-up. That sadly is where this ‘experience’ massively lacks.

It’s supposed to be a show with a live Orchestra, yet the Orchestra are so in the background that they’re forgettable. There were only 3 parts of the film I actually felt like I was listening to live music; the start, the quidditch match, and the end. Even then the end was the most infuriating part of the entire thing. 

In the event’s defense this part is not their fault, but arguably, the best part of the film musically is the end credits. There’s no dialogue interference and it’s a great piece of music, yet what happens in this city with one of the greatest and most iconic musical histories in the World, half the arena leaves. I was all excited for the end, the clapping for the end of the film had finished and the Orchestra were ready. Or where they? I couldn’t see them, because a horde of fucking morons were walking in front of me to leave. But maybe it wouldn’t be too awful because I’d still be able to hear them. Oh yeah I couldn’t, because the horde of fucking morons sounded like chatty elephants with clogs on. It topped off the event for me and made me sure that I definitely won’t be going to see the 3rd installment which I’m sure will be coming around to steal money from everyone next year.

In all seriousness about the cost, I’ve exaggerated the annoyance of it and I understand how much it costs for an entire Orchestra to be travelling around the country, but I went to see Hans Zimmer with his Orchestra in the same arena for only £5 more, and so I have to compare it to that. People left Hans Zimmer in tears because his music and his show was that powerful and that emotional. John Williams’ music can do the same thing, okay maybe people shouldn’t be crying at Harry Potter but that’s not the point, the Orchestra here added nothing, they were irrelevant, and that’s what was so disappointing about this because you leave feeling like it could have been so much better.


Lordi (supported by Silver Dust and Shiraz Lane) – Hangar 34, Liverpool – Review

A few months ago I went to see Lordi for the first time since I first became a fan (Eurovision 2006 obviously) and as promised I thought I would write a little review. I don’t know a great deal about music, I just know what I like and I feel like that’s all you need to know to enjoy yourself at a small concert like this.

I’ll talk about the opening band first though. A pleasant surprise as it was because there were no supporting bands advertised from what I had seen. I had never heard of either Silver Dust or Shiraz Lane but both put on excellent shows considering they didn’t have much to work with in terms of a crowd. There were probably about 200 people or so in there by the time they started but that actually made for a more interactive experience. Like me, most people seemed not to know who they were or what to think of them but after a song or 2 people got into it and “Lord Campbell”, the lead singer, was talking to everyone, getting everyone clapping, basically doing what a good front man should do. I’m still not exactly sure how to describe the genre Silver Dust fit in to but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’m not sure it’s something I would listen to at home, but they’re a very good band to watch live. At the same time though I’m not sure I’d travel to go and see them, just if it’s local and convenient. I did like them but I didn’t love them.

Shiraz Lane are a different story. I haven’t done a great deal of research for this because well It’s all free and I don’t care that much but whatever that lead singer’s name is, he is phenomenal. I’m not just saying this because he’s Scandanavian and has long, curly hair (well maybe a little bit actually), but he really reminds me of Joey Tempest from Europe. Currently Shiraz Lane are an underrated band on the way up and I always felt the same about Europe. So many people knew them for ‘The Final Countdown’ and nothing else and they were always so much more than that. That guy has an insane range and knows how to perform on a stage. In a way he’s a throwback to that era and that type of glam metal but at the same time they have a very current, relevant sound and I think they’ll become something a lot bigger in the years to come. They didn’t do as much talking as Silver Dust and didn’t have the experience to maybe control the intimate crowd but they’re fantastic musicians with a special vocalist and I would love to see them come back to the UK soon, headlining their own show.

Finally Lordi, possibly the most entertaining band anybody could hope to see. I don’t know how I’ve managed to avoid them for so long but the 10 year wait to watch and listen to them live was very much worth the wait. I feel like they could play in front of a dozen people or in a festival in front of hundreds of thousands and bring the same energy because they love what they do. They love every aspect of performing and it shows when they’re on stage. I won’t go through the set list but they did a good mix of their most famous songs and their newer maybe lesser known tracks. It was unfortunate that you could tell that a lot of people were solely there for one song but it didn’t take away from the atmosphere that they created. There were a lot of people still singing along or who clearly knew most of the songs they played so that was good, but as I said they provide such an entertaining experience they could probably play to a room full of people who have no idea who they are and put on a good show. I genuinely cannot say a bad thing about any of these bands or the night in general. For me it’s not the same as going to see a band I adore from a musical standpoint, for example Alter Bridge who I went to see the following week, but it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had a gig.

I’m glad the venue was changed last minute because this intimate style of venue suits this type of show perfectly. It wasn’t exactly easy to find but once you saw the tour buses and grouped up with other people who looked lost it was all good. I’ve got to say the staff were excellent. A strange layout of bar and only 2 bar staff on from what I could tell but they worked tirelessly all night. The security staff were excellent from start to finish and it’s all those little things that make a small gig like that work. All round amazing night and if I were to do it again I wouldn’t change a thing. Hard Rock Hallelujah!

Alter Bridge – My Top 10 Songs

So it was the 12 year anniversary of Alter Bridge at the start of this week so it seems only fitting that I write a post about my favourite band. I can’t pinpoint the exact time when I first discovered Alter Bridge, it may have been when Edge started using Metalingus as his theme song in WWE but it feels like about 10 years or so. It sounds sad but I feel like they’ve been a vital part in my life. They have a song for every emotion so no matter what mood you’re in, you can always play a bit of Alter Bridge. My 10 will be mainly quite typical I think, but hopefully at least one will surprise you.

10. New Way to Live

One of the bonus tracks from Blackbird, “New Way to Live” goes pretty unnoticed to everyone except the die hard AB fans but it was one of my early favourites and continues to be so. Although if I were introducing someone to Alter Bridge I would go for the more obvious songs like “Addicted to Pain” or “Metalingus” I feel like this song has everything that summed up a good rock band in the late 2000’s and summed up the general tone of Alter Bridge at the time. It might not be an epic or the most memorable song they have written but it reminds me of the consistent excellence that AB provide across the board.

9. Slip to the Void

I struggled to get to grips with ABIII when it first came out so I found myself listening to this song a lot simply because it was the first track on the album. I feel like this is a forgotten song because it precedes “Isolation” which really kicks off the heavier side of the album and was the first and most successful single released from the album. However “Slip to the Void” provides both sides of this album into one song. It’s not the happiest song in the world and it’s not intended to be but it’s actually quite a beautifully melancholic song that has always resonated with me.

8. Breath Again

As much as the word mediocre isn’t one I usually associate with Alter Bridge, keep in mind that I am only comparing it to other AB songs when I say that this song for a large part is rather mediocre. It has a mindblowing section though. If you’re a massive Alter Bridge fan, then you’re probably in love with the sound of Myles Kennedy’s voice and there is about 30 seconds of this song that renders me speechless every time I hear it. There are only 2 other songs where Myles Kennedy reaches these ridiculous notes, one of which I will talk about later. The other is “Summergirl” by The Mayfield Four and it is quite spectacular and deserves to mentioned alongside “Breath Again”. I may do a Myles Kennedy top 10 soon which will talk about this song more but for now I will move on.

7. Waters Rising

After the success of ABIII, Myles Kennedy went off to work with Slash which led to Mark Tremonti releasing his first solo album. Any AB fan knows how good Tremonti’s backing vocals are and how good of a song writer he is so it’s no surprise how good that first solo album was. When Alter Bridge then got back together for Fortress it was no surprise that Tremonti had been given the lead vocals on one of the best tracks on the album. There are a lot of exceptional songs on that album so it was hard to stand out but what it did was add another dimension to Alter Bridge that makes them that much better. Fortress was an experimental album and this was one experiment that definitely payed off.

6. One Day Remains

The title track of their first album and it’s still a brilliant song 12 years later. As much as it wasn’t the first song of theirs I heard I feel like there aren’t many bands around who’s debut song is that good. It wasn’t the first single they released, it was never the most popular song on the album, but vocally and lyrically it was and still is superb. Although I feel like they have come a long way since then and Fortress is a much more complete album, there are some songs that just won’t ever get old and this is one of them.

5. Wayward One

Hopefully this is a surprising one, I don’t often see it being quoted or talked about even within other AB related blogs/pages on social media but it has always been one of my favourites. The song is beautifully put together but the end is what makes it truly stand out. It’s one of those songs that when that ending guitar solo starts, I don’t want it to end and that’s why it’s probably the song I’ve put on repeat the most. It’s not the longest solo they’ve done, but for me it’s definitely one of the most memorable. It sort of comes out of nowhere but at the same time connects perfectly with the lyrics and the timing is impeccable. They don’t add another chorus on the end like they do with a lot of songs they just end it with the solo and leave you wanting more.

4. Cry of Achilles

I think this song was a certainty given the name of my blog but I think a lot of people thought it would be number 1 or 2 so hopefully this is surprisingly far down. As a general rock and metal fan though songs just don’t get any more complete than this. It is the first track on an experimental album and it’s one of the strangest yet excellently put together songs I have ever heard. It starts off with a brilliant soft rock acoustic solo for an intro before Myles kicks in with some typically perfect vocals. Then after a few verses and a chorus we get the first of two solo’s. Firstly we have a lengthy melodic soft rock solo, followed by a chorus, then the second solo; a short, scintillating hard rock solo from Tremonti. Despite the solos, the last 30 seconds of this song is my favourite part of the song. The end of the solo just drives into a last burst of Myles excellence with a final ending verse. This song sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the album, it’s experimental, it’s something they’d never done before and it shows how much they have progressed in the time they’ve been together.

3. Metalingus

The song that introduced me to Alter Bridge a long time ago and hooked me in. Most of the focus of AB will always be on Myles and Mark but this song showcases the whole band in all their glory. Scott Phillips puts on a masterclass on the drums and Brian Marshall equally on the bass guitar. It also tends to be the one song that people who aren’t even AB fans still know and love. I had a friend a while ago who was a massive Metallica and heavy metal fan and thought Alter Bridge were nothing but soft rock for teenagers. Then he saw them at Download and watching this song live made him and instant fan. For me it’s the perfect mix of soft and hard rock, and because of this ‘sitting on the fence’ style, they stand out. They’ve not tried to copy anyone else, they’re just doing what they love and this song is the epitome of that.

2. Watch Over You

A breathtakingly beautiful song. After listening to other songs on this list like “Metalingus” or “Waters Rising” it still baffles me that they’re capable of producing a song that can make a grown man cry but this manages it. I’ve chosen this over “In Loving Memory” just because it hits me harder really. They’re both beautiful songs and the story behind “In Loving Memory” is well documented so it’s very personal to the band, but for some reason I’ve always connected more with this song. When I went to see AB live just over 2 years ago Myles did an acoustic version of this song with Lzzy Hale and it was absolutely stunning. It’s never going to make me smile with joy but in the right mood this song is simply perfect.

1. Blackbird

The most obvious song on this list but I think this would be number 1 on most AB fans lists. It is just a sensational piece of music. I said before they have songs for every emotion and every mood and nothing sums that up more than this. I have this song on every playlist because it doesn’t matter what sort of mood I am in, I know I will want to listen to this song. It manages to be melancholy, haunting, and uplifting all at the same time. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how much I love this song. The lyrics, the vocals, and the solo (helped by sublime drumming) are all incomprehensibly brilliant. Going back to the time I went to see them a couple of years ago, (sadly, the only time until hopefully later this year) it’s hard to believe that they’re actually doing it when it’s happening. It is an epic song, it means a lot to the band and it means a lot to the fans and as much as I think they are always improving, I don’t think they will ever top this exquisite and captivating song.

Chris Stapleton – Traveller – Review

Chris Stapleton came in to my life courtesy of Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist which I have to say has added some great songs and artists to my music collection. Having looked at his Wikipedia page he has written some pretty famous songs over the last few years but Traveller is his big break and with his voice and songwriting ability it’s a well deserved big break. I will admit that I don’t remember which song of his I heard first. I definitely heard “Tennessee Whiskey” before any other track off this album but I also heard The Jompson Brothers song “Barely Alive” on Discover Weekly. I had never heard of The Jompson Brothers and didn’t realise it was Chris Stapleton singing until Wikipedia informed me when I looked him up to see what else he’s done after listening to “Tennessee Whiskey”. It doesn’t really matter which I found first, both are amazing songs, it’s just one of those little things that annoys me.

I realise that “Tennessee Whiskey” is a cover and not an original. “Whiskey and You” had been released before by Tim McGraw but I think was written by Stapleton and as much as my knowledge of country music isn’t great I think all the other songs on Traveller are originals. So with all that out the way I have to say it’s a brilliant album. There is a perfect mixture of slow and fast paced songs, all very easy to connect with, and all showing off Chris Stapleton’s stunning voice. It’s an old school passionate, gritty mixture of rock, country, and blues. He has a very unique voice, sometimes he sounds older and more controlled and sometimes he sounds younger and more powerful but you can always hear the experience in his voice. You can tell he has spent a lot of time honing his craft, and he has written and chosen some songs that compliment his voice and allow him to show everything that he’s learnt.

There are 14 songs on Traveller and every single one could have their own page because they’re all so different so I’ll just talk about the few favourites I have. I’ll start with “Traveller”, the most upbeat song on the album and a very happy song to start off the album with. It’s quite a slow album generally so it makes the faster songs seem that much better. So this song as well as “Parachute” are cherishable. They’re good mood songs but at the same time just as relaxing as the rest of the album.

“Whiskey and You” and “The Devil Named Music” fight it out for the best song on the album for me. Both very different and both exceptional songs. As I said before his unique voice just makes these songs so emotional and it makes for beautiful listening. Nothing about his vocals are perfect, but it’s that grit and emotion that make his music so easy to connect with and these two songs do that so well for me. They’re not exactly head and shoulders above the rest of the album and it’s so hard to pick a favourite because the entire album is so good, but first time listening to the album these two stuck out for me and have done ever since.

Listening to the album more and more “Might as Well Get Stoned” and “Nobody to Blame” have also become favourites of mine but as I said at the beginning of talking about this album, every single song could have its own post it is that good of an album.

Discover Weekly has not been so kind to me recently but I am very grateful to Spotify for introducing me to Chris Stapleton and I look forward to hearing more from him in the future. I would highly recommend Traveller to anyone who likes the rock/country or country/blues blend because there are some fantastic songs to listen to on this album.

Halestorm – Into the Wild Life – Review

Halestorm are one of those bands where I am permanently trying to figure out when and where I first heard them. I first saw them live in Manchester in 2014 when they were touring with Alter Bridge and Shinedown but I had definitely been listening to them for much longer than that because I remember listening and loving The Strange Case Of… when that first came out. Lzzy Hale is just a goddess among women and her old school style and voice is what instantly hooked me in. As much as there has never been a shortage of female rock vocalists over the years I don’t think there has been anyone quite like her. You always have to question singers who have that much power on a record because you never know how much of it has been changed and autotuned. There’s no doubt that Halestorm, like everyone else in the world, has had a bit of fine-tuning on their recorded albums, but they are insanely good live. That raw power, grit, and passion in her voice is so real and she knows how to put on a performance that blows away a crowd.

It’s not all about her though. Arejay steals the spotlight too, and it is that brother and sister dynamic that I loved about watching them live. You can tell they’re ridiculously professional and it’s about putting on a show for the fans, but at the same time it always feels like they’re competing with each other and I love that. There are not many bands who could have a drummer do a solo for 10-15 minutes but he is incredible. On top of that they’re another band who have not had a lot of changes over the years so the whole band just has great chemistry and you can see that on stage.

Having said that Into the Wild Life is not the best album they’ve done. I like it but it’s not setting the world alight. I thought “Scream” was a good opener to the album, good energy, still a proper rock song. “I Am The Fire”, “Sick Individual”, “Amen, “The Reckoning”, “Apocolyptic”, and “Unapologetic” on the Deluxe Edition are all really good songs, but that only makes half the album. The other half is a bit predictable, repetitive, and pop-rock-ish. They have their token slow song with “Dear Daughter” but in all honesty it’s just a boring song. I have no idea what they were trying to do with “New Modern Love” and “Bad Girl’s World” but they sounded like Lana Del Rey songs with a bit of personality. The rest of them just sounded like fillers to put a few more songs on the album but I would much rather have an album with just 9 or 10 good songs than 9 or 10 good songs and a few shit ones.

Having said all that I think they released the right singles from the album. “Apocolyptic” is what I would expect from Halestorm. Not in the way that all their songs sound the same but just the standard I would expect that some songs on the album don’t live up to. “Amen” is a bit more pop than “Apocolyptic” and than anything else Halestorm have done before but I think that’s a necessary change in today’s music industry. I’m glad “I Am The Fire” is the next single being released because it’s my joint favourite song on the album. It’s a perfectly suited song for Lzzy, the lyrics and the rhythm suit her voice perfectly and the music surrounding her is spot on.

Overall the album isn’t bad, it’s just not great, and because I love Halestorm I’m not disappointed with it, I just wanted it to be great. I will listen to every song on the album like I do with their self-titled album and The Strange Case Of… but it is a bit different to those and for me their previous album was so good that any change was going to be a bad thing. I do still love them and will definitely be seeing them again soon but I would hope they’d exclude a few of the bad songs off this album.

Alter Bridge – Fortress – Review

I have been meaning to do a few music-based posts of a few new albums I have been listening to but it only seemed fair to start with the band I have loved and followed since their formation 11 years ago and have had the privilege to see live and consequently named this blog (and every other form of social media I have) after one of their songs. Alter Bridge for me are just everything good about music. I’m going to write separate posts about Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy so for this post I’ll give a mention to Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips because it’s usually the bassist and the drummer who get the least recognition but for me, there is absolutely no separation between any of the members of this band. Not only are these two incredible musicians they are also amazing performers and that is something that has put Alter Bridge another level above the competition. They are unquestionably astounding live and every review I have ever read of them agrees with that. Obviously Foo Fighters and Metallica have been the two big names of Rock and Metal over the past 15+ years, especially when it comes to live performances on the biggest stages and events, but I just do not connect with them like I do with Alter Bridge.

Fortress is their fourth and most recent album and by far their most experimental but for me also their most cohesive. The whole album is just so perfectly put together and it just shows off everything they have to offer in 12 stunning songs. I don’t want to go into complete track by track analysis of the riffs and the vocals and everything else but when you have an album like this where every single song is so significant it’s quite difficult. Having said that I will pick out a few that stood out for me.

Cry of Achilles: I had to choose this first for two reason. Firstly the name of my blog. It isn’t my favourite Alter Bridge song but there are a lot of AB fans out there who got to some before I did which is something I can only be happy about. Secondly it is the opening track on the album and for me it feels like 9 years of Alter Bridge crammed in to one explosive, yet beautiful song. It has an acoustic instrumental, a short, soft rock electric guitar solo, and then a quicker, harsher, hard rock solo with Myles showing off his insane range with grace and power throughout. I listen to albums on shuffle a lot but the first time I listen to them, I always listen in order and this is the type of song you always want to start off with.

Addicted to Pain: The second track on the album (I swear I’m not doing them all) and the first single they released from the album and that was a decision that I could not have been happier about. Rock and metal bands always tone down one or two songs on the album to make them a bit more marketable to release them as singles. Alter Bridge have done it before with “Open Your Eyes” and “Rise Again”. Foo Fighters, Nickelback, Shinedown, Bring me the Horizon have all done it. Slash has done it in his work with Myles, it’s just a thing everyone does. It’s not a bad thing, they all need to make money to keep doing what they do so they need a single that a lot of people will buy. So it says a lot about the album that this song is the least risky song they had to put out as their first single because it’s just as experimental as the rest of the album.

Waters Rising – After ABIII, Myles went to work with Slash again and it opened the door for Mark Tremonti to finish and release his first solo album. I’ll talk about his solo work a bit more in a different post but his first album was fantastic. It was much heavier than anything Alter Bridge have done and he has a completely different voice to Myles. He has been so consistently good on backup vocals to both Myles and Scott Stapp in his Creed days that he deserved that solo success and consequently he deserved a lead vocal on an AB track. Waters Rising just added another dynamic to this already experimental album. As much as this sounds more like a sports term they have such strength in depth in this band. Myles and Mark are both world class guitarists, vocalists, and writers so there is just so much talent at their disposal.

Fortress: The final track on the album and the climax of brilliance and creativity. A lot of people labelled this as Fortress’s answer to Blackbird and there are similarities but it’s such a different song with such a different meaning. The length and epic solo in this song has similarities to Blackbird but this song conjoins with the rest of the album so well. It started with Cry of Achilles and explores everything Alter Bridge can do and comes round full circle back to something that is again, both explosive and beautiful. I think a lot of people might see this as a negative but I found this album to be quite self-indulgent and that is a massive difference to everything they have done before. I don’t think it lacks emotion or connection to the fans by any means it just doesn’t feel like any of the songs are specifically written to convey emotion or draw out specific emotions from the listener. However as I said I don’t find that to be a problem. I have no doubt that they are four very genuine people and as a group they have reached a stage where they want to showcase everything they have learnt and everything they are capable of and it makes for spectacular listening.