Review: Mallory Knox, Cambridge Corn Exchange

Last night, I was lucky enough to see Mallory Knox perform live for the second time.  Last time I caught the band live was at Leeds Festival in 2014, not long before the release of their second album, Asymmetry.  This time, the band are touring to promote their third record, Wired.  

First off, however, I’ll talk about the support acts.  Scottish act Fatherson were first to take to the stage, and this was my second time seeing them perform live – the first time was when they supported Enter Shikari on The Mindsweep tour.  In all honesty, I thought their performance took a little while to kick off, so maybe the first 20 minutes of their set was a bit lacklustre.  Their last couple of songs, thankfully, picked up the band’s energy levels and managed to get the crowd jumping.   Here’s the video for Lost Little Boys, one of the tracks the band played last night.

Next up were fellow Cambridge band Lonely The Brave. Unfortunately their performance was marred by a few technical issues: lead vocalist David Jakes had a number of issues with his microphone and in-ear headphones, so there were a few awkward pauses between songs whilst the problems were sorted out.  Otherwise, the band’s performance was spot on, just as good as when I saw them supporting Deaf Havana in 2014. Check out Black Mire, one of my favourite Lonely The Brave tracks:

Finally, Mallory Knox took to the stage.  Their performance was very strong throughout the night, with the entire band working together like a well oiled machine. Lead vocalist Mikey Chapman had some trouble with his voice, declaring about halfway through the set that his voice was “fucked up”, but he managed to power through and perform the rest of the set.  Plus, backing vocals from bassist Sam Douglas helped to fill any gaps.

The band’s set list was very strong, with a great mixture of tracks from all three of their albums.  They probably got the strongest reaction from the crowd whilst playing Lighthouse, Beggars and Wake Up from their debut record Signals, but it seemed like the crowd were equally happy hearing songs from Asymmetry.  The tracks from Mallory Knox’s latest album went down very well, and even though Wired was only released a couple of weeks ago, a decent portion of the crowd were singing along to the tracks.  Here’s the video for last night’s opening track, Giving It Up:

So there you have it.  Mallory Knox put on an awesome show, and if you have the opportunity to see them live, you’d be silly if you didn’t take it.

Have you already seen Mallory Knox live on their Wired tour?  What did you think of their performance?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.


Review: Avenged Sevenfold, Nottingham Motorpoint Arena

Last night I had the great honour of seeing Avenged Sevenfold live for the second time, at the Nottingham Motorpoint Arena. Last time I saw them, they were performing in the O2 in London during their Hail To The King tour, so it was great to witness how the band’s performance and stage set-up has evolved over the past few years.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Here’s my photo-dump of the few, poor quality pictures I took on my phone.

First up on the line-up were the Swedish metal band, In Flames.  Unfortunately I was unable to watch these guys perform, as we encountered a traffic accident during our drive to Nottingham which put us behind schedule.  I was pretty gutted to miss them, because I reviewed their latest album Battles in November and I really enjoyed it.  If anyone was at the gig last night and you saw In Flames, comment below and let me know what their performance was like!

Next were Disturbed, a cornerstone of American metal music over the past couple of decades.  I had no idea what to expect from this four-piece band, as I only really knew arguably their biggest hit, Down With The Sickness. However, I was absolutely blown away by singer David Draiman’s fantastic voice.  His range and performance was incredible, and was totally not what I was expecting from him.  Overall the bands’s performance was excellent, and their 45-ish minute setlist was full of high octane riff-heavy tracks which got the crowd jumping and circle pits forming.  One moment of calm amongst the storm was the band’s beautiful cover of Simon And Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence, accompanied by a live strings section.  If you’ve never heard their cover before, you can check out the music video below:

Finally, Avenged Sevenfold took to the stage, suitably enough opening their set with The Stage.  Bassist Johnny Christ was ill during this performance, which put a dampener on things slightly, but he still performed well and I certainly didn’t notice any issues with his bass playing.

The band played tracks from across their impressive discography, including a few tracks from Waking The Fallen and Sounding The Seventh Trumpet.  I can understand that Avenged Sevenfold must find it difficult to put together setlists, considering that the band has fans of their different eras of music, but I was glad that they managed to play a good number of their older songs to keep long term fans happy.  I was a little disappointed that they only played Bat Country from City Of Evil, but when you’ve got a two hour setlist to fill and seven albums of songs to choose from, something’s gotta give!

My highlights of the night included the performance of two of my favourite songs from The Stage: Sunny Disposition and God Damn.  I also really enjoyed hearing the band perform Planets followed by Acid Rain from Hail To The King: the two tracks naturally go together, and it was a great opportunity to get the flashlights out and belt along to the epic choruses.  And of course, the encore included the incredible A Little Piece Of Heaven, which singer M Shadows dedicated to The Rev’s “fucked up lyrics”, which was a wonderful nostalgic touch.

However, I think I can guess the highlight of the night from Daniel, the man M Shadows pulled up on stage to sing Johnny Christ’s backing vocals for Nightmare in his place.  He looked like he was having the time of his life singing along, and I think everyone else in the arena wished they were on stage in his place.

Overall, the band’s performance was polished and well executed, the same as it was when I saw them live in 2013.  It’s plain to see how well M Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, Synyster Gates and Johnny Christ play together, and they’ve been a band for long enough to work together like a well oiled machine.  New Drummer Brooks Wackerman fits into the band really well, and I really enjoyed his performance of both new and old Avenged Sevenfold tracks.

If you’re planning to see Avenged Sevenfold during the rest of their The Stage tour, you’re in for a real treat. Have you already seen them live this year?  What did you think of the show? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: Of Mice & Men, Nottingham Rock City

Last night I went along to Nottingham and saw one of my favourite bands, Of Mice & Men, performing live for the fourth time.  I hadn’t planned on attending, however a last minute change to my work and my sister’s sixth form schedule meant we could take the trip to see the performance.  I didn’t manage to get any photos from the gig, but here’s a snap from the band’s Instagram account which will give you a taste of the atmosphere.

A photo posted by Of Mice & Men (@omandm) on Oct 4, 2016 at 12:13am PDT

We arrived to the venue a little late, so unfortunately we only heard opening act Hands Like Houses perform three songs of their set.  From what I heard, I really enjoyed their performance: the vocalist’s voice was strong throughout, and the instrumentals sounded pretty tight.  These guys were definitely a solid choice of opening act.  Here’s the video for one of the songs they played:

Following Hands Like Houses was Crown The Empire, whose performance I also really enjoyed.  There were a couple of issues with microphone levels throughout this set, however: during the first couple of songs the vocalist’s voice was drowned out by the instruments, and towards the end his microphone was too loud and the guitars were overpowered.  Even noticing this issue, I still thought Crown The Empire put on a great show, and they really helped to amp up the atmosphere in preparation for Of Mice & Men to take to the stage.  Here’s the music video to one of the songs I most enjoyed hearing them play:

Then it was time for the main act to take to the stage.  Of Mice & Men opened with Pain, one of my favourites from their new record Cold World, and it was a fantastic, high energy start to the gig.  They mainly played songs from the new record, which is understandable as it was only released a couple of weeks ago, as well as a fair few from Restoring Force.  I was extremely pleased when I realised that they were also playing The Calm, The Storm, The Flood and The Depths in succession, which definitely went down well with more long term fans of the band.  Their encore was topped off with Second & Sebring, was was probably my highlight of the whole night.

Overall the performance by Of Mice & Men was brilliant, as per usual, with no noticeable technical issues or dodgy microphone levels.  In the past I’ve consistently noted that Aaron Pauley’s vocals live were fairly weak and quiet, however even though he complained of waking up with a cold yesterday morning, I think his vocal performance was the best I’ve heard.  Maybe he was pushing his voice harder than usual to make up for his illness?  The only issue I found with the band’s performance was Austin Carlile’s clean vocals during Away: I thought his voice was quite nasal, and reckon he’d be better off sticking to harsh vocals from now on.

It was definitely worth seeing Of Mice & Men for the fourth time, as to me their performances are getting better and better every time.  If you’re able to attend any of the remaining UK tour dates this month, I’d highly recommend it.

Were you at the gig last night?  What did you think of the performance?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Guest video review: Years & Years, Bournemouth International Centre

A note from altrocklife: Hey everyone! I know Years & Years aren’t the type of music I usually cover on this blog, but secretly I’m a big fan!  My fellow Bournemouth University student Lois Shearing from Faithfull Words went to see them at the BIC and reported back about their performance.

Years and Years are a three-piece band whose sound is described as ‘electropop’. They reached number one in March 2015 with their single King and had a number two hit with Shine. The trio’s début album Communion entered the UK album charts at number one, while shifting 9K copies in the US in its first week. Years and Years are noted for having one of the few openly gay front men in the pop industry.

Guest video review: Twenty One Pilots, Portsmouth Guildhall

A note from altrocklife: Hi guys! Unfortunately I was unable to catch Twenty One Pilots on their Blurryface tour, but my fellow Bournemouth University student Hollie Wong from The Cinema Planet reported back from the venue about their performance.

American rock duo Twenty One Pilots performed to a sold out audience of screaming fans at the Portsmouth Guildhall last week.

The Columbus-born band, formed of singer, pianist and guitarist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun, closed the European leg of their Blurryface tour in the Southern city.

The duo was supported by LA four-piece Transviolet who readied the crowds with their electro-pop melodies.

With a dedicated following, queueing spanned what seemed like miles outside of the Guildhall and inside the atmosphere was no less electric.

The pair took to the stage, first performing their opening track, HeavyDirtySoul, from their third album, Blurryface. They went on to play a number of popular tracks including Holding on to You, Guns for Hands and recent Radio 1 Track of the Day, Stressed Out.

The group put on an incredible show for their adoring fans, particular highlights include the duo crowd surfing and playing drums on boards supported by the audience and lead singer Joseph appearing in the crowd during a brilliant rendition of Car Radio.

Twenty One Pilots certainly know how to put on a show; this up-and-coming duo are ready to crack the UK and after this unbelievable tour nothing stands in their way.

Video review: Enter Shikari, Nottingham Motorpoint Arena

On February 20th Enter Shikari played an explosive set in Nottingham, accompanied by The Wonder Years and the King Blues.  Their set list was made up of plenty of songs from their most recent album, The Mindsweep, as well as a lot of older tracks to keep old school fans happy.  But was their first arena tour too ambitious a step? I reported from the Motorpoint Arena once the encore ended.

Review: Of Mice & Men, Nottingham Rock City

Last night was a first for me: I’ve never been to a gig at Nottingham’s Rock City, and I really enjoyed myself.  It’s a really nice venue and so well laid out too: even stood at the back next to the sound pit, I still had a perfect view of the stage thanks to the step down in front of us.  My poor old camera isn’t really suited to taking pictures at gigs, but here are the best pictures I took last night:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First up on the line-up was Volumes, and unfortunately due to having to queue for the box office we missed most of their set.  I thought it was a bit strange that they started playing so early, as doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and their set was finished by about 7:10 p.m., but maybe there was an early curfew last night.  Their performance was pretty good, even if their vocals aren’t to my taste.  I haven’t seen a crowd as excited for support acts as they were for Volumes and The Amity Affliction, who came next.  Here’s Wormholes, one of the better tracks they played last night.

Next was The Amity Affliction, who put on an awesome show.  Their performance was spot-on and they also got the crowd extremely excited.  I especially like the mixture of Ahren and Joel’s vocals, plus drummer Ryan was on point and enthusiastic throughout the set.  This is Don’t Lean On Me, the track they closed their set with.

Then Of Mice & Men took to the stage.  I was more excited to see them than usual, considering this will be my third time watching the Orange County quintet perform live.  They’re now the band I’ve seen live more than any other, and Of Mice & Men definitely deserve that honour.

This was the first time I’ve seen them headline a gig: the past two times I saw them live, they played at Leeds Festival and in support of Linkin Park at the O2.  You could definitely tell that it was their headline tour, because the entire band was full of swagger and attitude walking on stage.

As per usual, their performance was fantastic.  Their setlist had a good mixture of songs from not only their latest album and its re-issue, Restoring Force and Restoring Force: Full Circle, but from their first two albums as well.  I was really excited that they played O.G. Loko, Let Live and Second & Sebring, as well as including The Depths in the encore.  It was clear to see how excited Of Mice & Men were to be on stage, and the crowd responded with boundless excitement.

Aaron’s vocals were a little wobbly at points, which is something I’ve noticed every time we’ve seen him perform live.  This didn’t detract from the overall performance, but the night would have been improved if he didn’t have to battle quite so hard to be heard over the guitars, drums, and Austin’s vocals.  As it turns out, the crowd were singing on loudly enough to make up for Aaron’s lack of volume.

It’s a shame that Of Mice & Men probably won’t be returning to UK shores until next year, as I would love to see them live again.  It was obvious that the band really enjoyed their performance last night.  Every time I listen to Restoring Force I’ll think of last night’s gig – it was unforgettable.

Currently listening to: Hit The WaveMarmozets

Review: Enter Shikari, Portsmouth Pyramids

My year of gigs started with a bang last night, thanks to Enter Shikari’s excellent Portsmouth Pyramids show.  Three diverse but talented support acts got the crowd excited for the main act.

Unfortunately I was unable to snap any pictures, but here’s my verdict on The Mindsweep Tour’s opening night.

The first support were Glaswegian four-piece Fatherson, and I enjoyed their performance a lot.  The vocals from lead singer Ross Leighton were on point throughout the entire set.  Their style reminded me a lot of Lonely The Brave, which is definitely not a bad comparison to make.  Check out the video for I Like Not Knowing, a track from their setlist last night:

Next up were allusondrugs, and whilst I’m not a massive fan of their style of music, I still enjoyed their performance.  All five band members were dripping with enthusiasm (and sweat), and frontman Jason Moules had plenty of attitude.  Blaming the crowd for the day’s rain may not have been a great move, though.  Check out the video for their track Nervous, one of the better songs from their setlist.

The final support act were Kent five-piece Feed The Rhino, and this is when the night started to get messy.  The pit opened up during this set, thanks to the band’s flawless performance.  I’d never heard any music by these guys before last night, but I’ll definitely be following them from now on.  Here’s the video for their track Deny And Offend to give you an idea of what their set was like.

Finally, Enter Shikari took to the stage.  They started the night with a mash-up of pop and dance remixes giving the audience a countdown until the start of the show.  I’ve never seen a crowd more excited with 10 minutes still to go until the main act appeared.  

They opened with The Appeal And The Mindsweep I, which I wasn’t particularly surprised about, but Shikari definitely have better openers.

Their setlist was fantastic for fans of their latest two albums, The Mindsweep and A Flash Flood Of Colour.  Old school fans may have been disappointed, as the only older songs on the setlist were Destabilise, Radiate, Juggernauts, Mothership and Slipshod.  I was also pretty gutted that I had to leave early to catch my train home and ended up missing Sssnakepit, one of my favourite Shikari tracks.

Their stripped-back version of Dear Future Historians, which included Rou playing an upright piano on stage, was a really beautiful part of the night.  I won’t forget it any time soon.

Although there were a couple of technical hitches, I think Enter Shikari smashed last night’s gig.  If the rest of their UK tour dates go as well as last night, they’re on to a winner.

Currently listening to: Chop Suey!System Of A Down

Review: Linkin Park, O2 Arena London

Honestly, this gig could not have come quickly enough.  I’ve been a fan of Linkin Park since I picked up their Minutes To Midnight album back four or five years ago, and I’ve wanted to see the California six-piece live ever since.  If you’d told 14-year-old me that I’d get to see Linkin Park live someday, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

But, back to the gig itself, starting with the support act – Of Mice & Men were an odd choice, I thought, considering the genre difference.  However, their sound was loud enough to fill the O2, and their performance was electric, like it had been at Leeds Festival a few months ago.

As an aside, by the way, check out how close we were to the stage!  I was a little worried when I found out we had seated tickets, in case we ended up right up in the back corner of the arena, but I was more than happy with these seats – the closest I’ve ever sat to the stage at an arena gig so far!

Anyway, back to Of Mice & Men.  I was a little disappointed in their setlist, because aside from The Depths, every track was from their latest album Restoring Force.  As much as I love that album, I would have really loved to hear some of their older tracks, especially some songs they didn’t play at Leeds Festival, but that’s just me being picky.

After a few songs even reluctant crowd members were getting excited by the Orange County quintet.  Austin’s vocals were spot-on, and he did a great job of getting the crowd excited.  Aaron’s clean vocals were drowned out by the instruments a little, possibly down to nervousness or maybe his mic levels were too low – however, what I did hear of his voice was excellent.

The atmosphere during Another You was awesome – the crowd all held up their lighters or phones, and because my sister and I were the only people in our block of seats with their phone lights on, Austin came over and waved at us!  That was a pretty awesome feeling.

Overall, I definitely wasn’t disappointed by Of Mice & Men’s performance, and when they come back to the UK next March/April on tour I hope to be able to see them perform in a more intimate venue.

Now, with no further ado, on to the main event: Linkin Park.

As soon as Linkin Park walked on stage, I knew the entire crowd was in for an unforgettable experience.  Chester and Mike’s vocals were on point throughout the entire night, even if Chester did sound a little nasal at times. Guitarist and Bassist Brad and Phoenix were great fun to watch interacting with the crowd and getting everybody hyped.  Drummer Rob’s performance was flawless throughout the entire night, and his drum solo near the end of the set was one of my show highlights.  Mr Hahn could have done more to interact with the crowd – when he had nothing to do, he simply sat down behind the turntables.

The band’s 16 years of touring was evident in that their performance was like a well-oiled machine.  However, Chester and Mike’s interactions with the crowd and each other gave the night its own unique spin.

Overall I was extremely happy with the setlist – the band used a lot of mash-ups and played shortened versions of fan favourites to try and cover a decent snapshot of their lengthy discography.  It was heartening to see the audience reacted just as positively to tracks from The Hunting Party to those from Hybrid Theory and Meteora, which just goes to demonstrate Linkin Park’s wide appeal, and explains their continued success.

Whilst it would have been good to hear more full-length tracks, obviously time constraints meant that just wasn’t viable, and although I was saddened that a lot of older songs were cut down, it makes sense that on The Hunting Party Tour they would want to play full-length songs from that album.

Highlights included the stripped-back piano mash-up of Leave Out All The Rest,Shadow Of The Day and Iridescent, and the entire encore which included Lost In The Echo, New Divide, Until It’s Gone, What I’ve Done and the incredible Bleed It Out.

Last night was my first arena gig since I saw Avenged Sevenfold at Wembley Arena last December, and I think I forgot just how much can be achieved in an arena – the scope for light shows, video displays and the audio quality just cannot be replicated in smaller venues.  Linkin Park definitely filled every inch of the O2 with their massive performance, and I’m sure they will continue on their path to world domination.

Currently listening to: RebellionLinkin Park (featuring Daron Malakian)

Leeds Festival Round-up: Sunday 24 August

Sunday was an extremely busy day for me, with loads of rushing between stages to catch acts that clashed with each other.  All in all I saw 12 acts, and I think Sunday was the most consistent day in terms of the quality of the artists we saw.  Here are the photos I took on the day:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

M A R M O Z E T S ★★★☆☆

After Pulled Apart By Horses had to pull out of the festival due to bassist Rob falling ill, I headed back to the NME/Radio 1 Stage to catch the first of Marmozet’s two sets.  The entire band was bursting with enthusiasm, and singer Becca’s vocals were spot-on throughout.  I’m still a little confused as to why the band were scheduled to play two sets when another band could have taken part in the festival, however they were really good performers which bodes well for the future of this relatively new band.

R O Y A L B L O O D ★★★★☆

I think Royal Blood were surprised at the massive crowd they managed to attract, and frankly so was I, considering the two-piece only formed last year.  Their performance was well polished, and even though it was only the two of them on stage their energy was palpable even from the back of the tent.  I will definitely be picking up their first album now I’ve seen how promising this band is.

L O W E R T H A N A T L A N T I S ★★★★☆

I only caught the last couple of songs of their set but Lower Than Atlantis seemed right at home on the stage, and it was obvious they were having a good time.  Vocalist Mike sounded strong, and the entire band’s performance was well rehearsed.

B A S E M E N T ★★★☆☆

Whilst Basement’s performance wasn’t offensive to my ears, it wasn’t particularly memorable either, and I left the tent feeling a little disappointed.

T H E G L I T C H M O B ★★★★☆

I didn’t catch as much of The Glitch Mob’s set as I would have liked as they clashed with Don Broco, but I enjoyed what I heard and the whole group seemed extremely enthusiastic and excited to be performing.

D O N B R O C O ★★★★☆

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Don Broco live for a long time, and they definitely did not disappoint.  Singer Rob is a charismatic fella who knows how to get the crowd interested, and the rest of the band could hardly stand still, they seemed so enthusiastic about their performance.  If the number of people sat on shoulders and crowd-surfers was anything to go by, the rest of the crowd enjoyed their performance as much as I did.

I M A G I N E D R A G O N S ★★★★★

Lead singer Dan had some technical difficulties which admittedly left the crowd (and the rest of the band) twiddling their thumbs, however overall their performance was atmospheric and left me wanting more.  Their closing song, Radioactive, was accompanied by every member of the band joining in a huge drum solo, which added something special to the already awesome song.  These guys were easily one of the best performances of the weekend.

C H V R C H E S ★★★☆☆

Once again, I only caught a couple of songs from Chvrches’ set as they clashed with Jake Bugg, however what I saw I thoroughly enjoyed.  Chvrches get a lot of radio airplay, so their set was a light-hearted sing-along experience.

J A K E B U G G ★★★☆☆

Whilst I couldn’t fault Jake Bugg’s performance in terms of his guitar playing or vocals, his on-stage presence was really lacking.  He didn’t interact with the crowd at all, and spent most of the set stood at his microphone, which got old quickly.  Even his band seemed disinterested – whilst Bugg’s music is fairly upbeat, his attitude on stage was anything but, and I hope he improves with time.  I was glad to leave early in order to catch all of Band Of Skulls’ set.

B A N D O F S K U L L S ★★★★★

I had high expectations for Band Of Skulls, and I was not disappointed – my only critique is that I believe they should have been on a bigger stage, as their performance was truly brilliant and their massive choruses could easily fill arenas.  The vocals from both Russell and Emma were perfect, and the drumming from Matt was full of energy.  They played a great mix of songs from all three of their studio albums.  Band of Skulls were a hidden gem in the Leeds line-up, and easily one of my favourite performances of the weekend.

O F M I C E & M E N 

Whilst I was a little disappointed that I had to leave Arctic Monkeys’ set early to catch Of Mice & Men, I was definitely glad I decided to stop by The Pit and watch the Californian five-piece.  Vocalist Austin was great at getting the crowd excited, even though it was obvious the majority of us were lagging after an intense weekend of moshing and singing along.  Aaron Pauley’s vocals were a little wobbly, possibly due to nerves, but overall the entire band’s performance was electric and I managed to summon what little energy I had left to take part in the circle pit around the tent pillars.

A R C T I C M O N K E Y S ★★★★★

As mentioned above, I only caught 45-50 minutes of Arctic Monkey’s set as I wanted to watch Of Mice & Men perform.  I was extremely reluctant to leave the main stage, as their performance was absolutely brilliant.  They played a good mixture of both older songs and tracks from their latest studio album, and you could tell by their confidence and swagger that they deserved the headlining spot.  Singer Alex’s vocals were flawless, and although I think the band’s performance could have had a little more energy, their type of music doesn’t really call for jumping around on stage, so I think I’ll let them off.  Overall, Arctic Monkeys really ended the weekend on a high note.

That’s it for my Leeds round-up – what did you think of the bands I reviewed?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!  This week was a little hectic, but I’ll be back to my regular Monday and Thursday posting schedule next week.

Currently listening to: Love Has A DiameterBiffy Clyro