Friday, August 7, 2015

August 2015 update

Recently I have been enjoying:

Robert Plant - Lullabies and the ceaseless roar. Real expectation defying material, reminding us that he is a genius.

Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltry - Going back home. Very pure, very immediate rock 'n roll. I can't begin to explain how much I enjoy this album.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Live review: Metallica in Johannesburg, South Africa - 27/04/2013

Saturday 27th April 2013 had been looming large on my Calendar for many months. That was the day that Metallica would be in Johannesburg.

I had seen them before when they came to Centurion (between Johannesburg and Pretoria) for the Cokefest. That show was incredible, but marred by incredibly poor event management. This, coupled with the fact that being on a festival bill possibly restricted their stage set was enough motivation to want to see them again. This time as head-liners of their own show, I expected it to be quite different.

My experiences from the Centurion show helped me to better prepare for this show, and make some crucial decisions up-front. Particularly, deciding whether I would be head-banging or watching (I found the two actions mutually exclusive in Centurion when I head-banged my glasses two rows of seats below me).
The event this time was staged in the Soccer City stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Getting there and back was a breeze, and the Stadium handles these types of events very well. I have been to a few now and have no complaints other than that of the in-stadium vendors charging absolutely crazy prices for everything.

Metallica started promptly at 21:30 - true professionals. We had the western clip of James living out his cowboy fantasies (I can totally relate) and then they ripped straight into an evening filled with monumental guitar shredding.

What was different from the last show I saw was that they had some new songs from their last album to choose from (Cyanide), they had some amazing fireworks displays throughout the later songs, and then most startling, the fact that James has become such a pleasant, engaging entertainer. Throughout, his between song conversation was genuine and engaging, this did not impact the ferociousness of their songs, so he has achieved a great balance. Everyone was inducted into the 'Metallica family', and, I was at least, convinced that the band was enjoying the show as much as the incredible crowd (apart from the idiot in front of me, wearing a t-shirt of one of those bands with an illegible name and screaming f-bombs each time Metallica invited crowd participation - I thought he might have been happier back in his bedroom in his Moms house with his head-phones turned on loud).

There was great atmosphere, the band played really well, Kirk had his iconic guitars there (Boris etc) and the weather was perfect. Two encores later, people started filing out - James, however, was still on the stage, chatting to anyone who would listen.

PS - You can purchase live Metallica concerts for download over here:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Live Review: Kings of Leon in Johannesburg

It’s been far too long since we have had some fresh and exciting rock band visit us in Johannesburg. Sure we had U2 and Coldplay, but the last of the more edgy rock bands will have been Oasis or Muse.

Needless to say I snapped up tickets when the Kings of Leon show was announced only to end up waiting half a year when they postponed it to 29 October 2011. It was well worth the wait though.

Supporting Acts:

The Black Hotels

I have seen these guys before, and blogged about them before (check my first Parlotones review). They have come a long way since then and sounded much better this evening. One thing that was clear this evening was that the opening bands were at least given a great sound system for the stadium and came across very well from a sonic point of view (Springbok Nude Girls sounded appalling opening for U2 in the same venue).


There is a lot of hype around Shadowclub in local media, with their debut album ‘Guns and Money’ recently released. I can understand why – they have a great hard rocking sound going on. They are a power trio who have some great songs and excellent music ability.

Die Heuwels Fantasties

This band put on a good show, but for me at least were over-shadowed by The Shadow Club (no pun intended). But I could see that conversely, for a lot of the audience, this was the best SA band on show tonight.

Kings of Leon:

With all the media stories about a Caleb meltdown, I really did not know what to expect. What we got was a real rocker of a show!

The stage was quite simple, but really effective, with some split screens and lights set up that worked extremely well, never detracting from the music or the performance.

The bulk of the material came from ‘Only by the night’, but they threw in some earlier songs, the second song they played being ‘Taper Jean Girl’.

The audience was amazing, singing along to a lot of the songs: ‘Crawl’, ‘Closer’, ‘Revelry’ and then almost drowning out the band with ‘Sex On Fire’.

I have found that now since seeing them played live, the songs off ‘Come around sundown’ work better for me. It was not initially an album that had the same impact with me as ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ or ‘Only by the night’, but now it is making more sense.

The band trooped off the stage after ‘Sex On Fire’, only to come back with a blistering encore that included a stunning ‘Use somebody’. Audience participation on this song was even more lusty that ‘Sex On Fire’. They closed out with a spectacular fireworks show.

Kings of Leon put on an under-stated, solid rocking show. They have a great bunch of stadium filling songs to choose from. The pace changed variously throughout the show, and it was good to see how well their slower songs carried in the live context.

I can’t wait until they come again!

December 2011 Update

It’s been some time since my last update, but that just means that I now have more to blog about.

New Music (to me):

I got the new Feist Album – Metals. This is really good, a combination of rootsey, poppy songs that reel you in.

I also obtained Kate Bush’s - Directors Cut. This is a real bargain, three albums for roughly the price of one. It includes The Red Shoes, remastered, which I never owned before. I find it a great album with some high credibility guest artists. Then there is the Sensual World album. Including this is great for me since I only ever had it on vinyl. The third CD is re-workings of songs from these two albums that provides some fresh takes on songs.

Also recently acquired is the new Felice Brothers – Celebration,

Florida. This band goes from strength to strength. Their sound evolves and they definitely do not get stuck in a rut. My favourite track thus far is Ponzi.

Then of course there is the new Bon Iver album called Bon Iver- get it, it is truly awesome. He has also expanded his soundscape in very positive ways.


Check out this is another good website for reading about music news.

For some end of year lists, check these out:

One good for a laugh:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summary July 2011

It's been too long since I have updated my blog.

As a summary I will mention various topics.

1) New(ish) music:
The Robert Plant - Band of Joy album is brilliant.
Paul Weller's - Wake up the Nation is also good.
The new Bon Iver - Bon Iver is beautiful.

2) Discoveries:
The Pitchfork website is good reading -
Wolfgangs Vault is an amazing website for watching and listening to an incredible variety of live recordings for free - There are also Ipod and Android apps that can be used to access this on your mobile devices. Extremely cool!

3) Live concerts:
I saw the Parlotones again at Teatro at Monte Casino recently. They have a revamped live show. There are a variety of props, dancers who remind me of the zombies from Pinball of the Dead (had my flipper fingers twitching), and more polished songs. It was an enjoyable experience. There are some pictures at the beginning of this posting.

I saw U2 live in Johannesburg. I had a seat way out at the top of the stadium, but it was still and excellent show. A stunning experience. Opening acts were Springbok Nude Girls (the sound quality was appalling it was difficult to recognise even their most famous songs), and Miriam and Amadou (also suffering from poor sound quality).

I have tickets for Kings of Leon who were already meant to have come, but due to injury were not able to make it. Apparently they will honour the tickets in October. I can't wait.

4) Deaths:
Since my last posting, three of my heroes have sadly passed away: Ronnie James Dio, Gary Moore and Clarence Clemons. I believe that you can hear Clarence on Lady Gaga's The Edge of Glory.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Live review: The Parlotones at Monte Casino September 10 2010

Venue: Monte Casino

You may have noticed that I tend to moan about the sound at the Dome in Northgate. This was one reason why I passed up the opportunity to see The Parlotones there recently.

Monte Casino however, I approached with an open mind. The only other show that I had seen there had been Cats, and apart from everything else, the sound was actually quite good.

On Friday 10/09, parking was easy to find, there were no big queues, and arriving at the event was a pretty stress-free occasion.

Opening Act: The Black Hotels

What do The Black Hotels sound like? They came across as a non-intrusive band playing songs in the key of Joy Division, New order, Lightning Seeds, A Flock of Seagulls and Cat Stevens. They came out in a 1 4 formation..... sorry still struggling to come down from the soccer world cup. I know that it is September already, but the high from the South African Soccer World Cup 2010 is a very difficult thing to get over. The additional guitarist on the right wing seemed to me to be a little superfluous and the keyboard sound a little high in the mix.

Overall though, quite a nice band, good songs, good sound thanks to the venue, and lots of potential. A bit more work on their stage show and they could be great.

The Act: The Parlotones

The lights dimmed, a couple of guys came on stage strumming guitars and we heard singing. Looking around we spotted Kahn jitterbugging down the aisle with drummer Neil Pauw singing about building ladders to the moon looking like a this was an incredibly funny prank. They made their way to the stage, Neil slapping a tambourine to keep time, and the show got under-way. Their formation is 33 3 1, with the Kwa Zulu Natal Youth Orchestra also in attendance. The Parlotones are in their home strip, black skinny jeans, black shirts and red ties (OK I promise - last soccer reference) at the start of their world tour. Next stop USA.

The sound is awesome, the songs with the KZNYO sound wonderful and I started to wonder why these seats felt so claustrophobic, the venue felt so hot and uncomfortable and I felt so trapped in the venue during Cats. This part was closed with an incredible duet with Axene singing the title track from 'Stardust Galaxies'.

After a few songs, they ditched the youngsters, Kahn strapped on a Gibson SG (mint condish) and they started to rock out, warning us that it would get a lot louder. It got louder, still the sound was great and the songs kept coming. The greatest chorus of course – Push Me To The Floor!!!! These guys have a whole lot of fun with their songs and the sold out crowd joined in whole-heartedly.

In terms of the show, there was great on-stage banter, very witty quips flying with no condescension to the audience. Kahn's energy was infectious, with each song delivered perfectly accompanied by leaping and dancing in his worryingly tight jeans. He is a great entertainer!

If you have not seen them live yet, make the effort, these guys put on a fantastic show! They are up there with the likes of Foto Na Dans and Wonderboom. A great South African rock band that we should all be proud of!

The day after, I feel great, my ears are still ringing and I am annoying my better half by screaming out Push Me To the Floor at random intervals.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 2010 round up

Wow, the first quarter of 2010 gone and my blogging is so infrequent.

Two things I can report on are: Kelly Clarkson and also the BLK JKS.

Kelly Clarkson Live at the Coca Cola Dome

OK, I know that this is a rock blog, so what's with Kelly Clarkson? Well this year is not looking strong on the live music in South Africa front when it comes to international acts.....

Another point working against this is the Dome. I have yet to hear a show there where the sound can be described as at the very least good. Every one I have seen there is always abysmal.

Back to the show - the opener was SA Idols 2009 co-winner Jason Hartman and his band. The poor guy has his one chance to play in front of tens of thousands of people and it sounded like he had not even had a sound check. His voice was way down in the mix and everything sounded tinny. I suspect that he and his band are actually pretty good, but who could tell.

After AC/DC's 'You shook me all night long' blasting out the PA, Kelly Clarkson bounded onto the stage. Again the quality of the sound was rubbish, but certainly better than that of Jason.

Kelly actually rocked out and I was amazed by the strength and power of her voice. She also seems determined to build up some rock credibility. Between songs in which she part covered Kings of Leons 'Use somebody', she references current influences (such as KoL) and also at some stage gave us a fantastic cover of the Black Keys. All the while the audience were totally loving her.

KC turned out to be an entertaining, talented and endearing performer!

The BLK JKS - After Robots

Another revelation for me this year has been the BLK JKS. I had heard a bit about them on the blogosphere and have been looking out for their CD 'After Robots' for a while, not really knowing what to expect. I had heard that they were a South African Rock band from the townships, which intrigued me.

Listening to the CD, I was enthralled. From the cutting guitar solo on the first track all the way to the last track, these guys have laid down some great rock songs. To my ear, their influences range from Journey, Santana, Sakhile, Springbok Nude Girls (our South African rock bands like to rock with Trumpets sometimes) to Hendrix and Wolfmother. These guys have integrated a great sonic experience into their sound.

In my view they are the saviours of SA rock music right now. An offering to make us all proud!

Now I just have to try and track them down for a live performance.