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Bowling For Soup Acoustic Tour

Bowling For Soup Acoustic Tour
Birmingham Academy, Birmingham

Taking the stage for their 'First Acoustic Show of their first Acoustic Tour outside of Texas', Bowling For Soup's Jaret Reddick and Erik Chandler are a little unsure of what to expect. Could this be a potential disaster? How does a six hundred strong crowd react to two guys sitting down playing acoustic tunes for almost two hours? Will the predominently young audience lose interest after twenty minutes after openers 'We Sunk Atlantis' seemed somewhat out of their depth (no pun intended)? The Texan duo could have an uphill struggle on their hands. Yeah right?! Straight away it's as though the crowd have welcomed home their two best friends and are ready to sing out their hearts to some of the most fun songs they know. What is delivered is an off the wall mix of great songs and improvised comedy - basically 100% of what makes a full electric BFS show so darn special in the first place. This time around though there's even more crowd interaction and pretty much a free for all set list. Whilst hits such as 'My Wena', '1985' and 'Girl All The Bad Guys Want' are all present and correct, it's the unexpected versions 'Val Kilmer', 'On & On Again', and 'If You Come Back To Me' which give the show it's extra sprinkling of quality and dare I say BFS'ness? Even the band's theme tune to the cartoon 'Phineas & Ferb' is given a dust off. Reddick and Chandler have an untouchable bond and chemistry on stage which allows them to carry the whole show effortlessly between pee breaks and forgotten chord progressions which give way to off the cuff performances of Poison's 'Every Rose Has It's Thorn' and The Pixies 'Here Comes Your Man' - just which other rock show would you hear these two songs in the same set? Bowling For Soup continue to prove they can roll under the music radar safe in the knowledge that in there's and our hearts, they're the greatest band in the world - bar none. With two weeks of shows on the horizon the whole UK is in for an acoustic treat which is nothing short of electric!

Review by ROB LANE - Photo courtesy of

Patchwork Grace

The Pleasures / Patchwork Grace / Shush
Seven, Nottingham

When the best live music venue was closed down over the New Year, many a face of music fans throughout The Midlands grew a downturned smile. Simply put, Junktion7, and particularly their ‘fans point of view’ way of promotion, was the place to discover new bands and to get up close to your favourite rock stars. So when the news spread that it was to re-open only a matter of weeks after it had closed as the newly named ‘Seven’, once again there was a mosh pit of joy bounding around Nottingham’s famous rock scene.

Tonight saw London based Shush play to the recently re-assembled Seven audience. The female fronted four piece sounded tight and powerful. Vocalist Milena was on top form not even dropping a note as she screamed out their catchy choruses one after another.

Local giants-in-the-making, Patchwork Grace followed and displayed their ever growing hunger for the big time. Their new songs are a darker, tighter formula to the earlier material but do not detract from the fun element that makes them so watchable. Tori Trash’s vocals were amazing tonight and her onstage persona is something straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Joey Strange leads them through their set prompting comic heckles from the familiar faces in front of him with regular "Your Mam" comments. Danny Gunn sits at the back behind his custom kit and judging by the grin on his face is having the time of his life, while ice cool Crip on guitar leans out over the front rows playing his Firebird above their heads without even breaking into a sweat.

Tonight’s headliners come from the seedy, fetish filled streets of late night red district Hamburg, and they bring it all with them. The Pleasures, dressed head to toe in 70’s styled Glam pop paraphernalia, they literally shock the whole venue into submission. No-one is left untouched by them or their music. They play a modern version of the great glam rock explosion drawing influences from Bowie, Suzi Quarto and Bolan. By the time Patchwork Grace join them onstage, The Pleasures have displayed that they are both completely ridiculous and thoroughly entertaining in equally huge measures. Tonight ‘Seven’ reclaimed its status as the best music venue in Nottingham.

Andy Pearson

The Erotics

The Erotics / Falling Red
Seven, Nottingham

Cumbria’s Falling Red explode on stage!
That is the only way to describe them live. As soon as they strike up with their first song (and right through to their fifth or sixth when they first take a breather) they play at full throttle. Their personalities pour offstage towards you and you become quickly infected. To the right of the stage, their ‘Angus-a-like’ guitarist Shane is on fire throughout the gig and takes every opportunity he can to jump from the stage speakers, throw axe-hero shapes and gurn his way through every blistering riff. Centre stage is vocalist and guitarist Rozey, holding the room in the palm of his hands with his justified confidence. Watching him, you can tell that he loves what he is doing and it wouldn’t make an iota of difference if the room was empty, or he was headlining a festival in front of thousands. They are completed by the far quieter Millsy on bass who looks like he sleeps in his shades, and at the back, but not in the shadows in any way, is Dave ‘The Colonel’ complete with cowboy hat and full on eye make-up. By the time Rozey has completed his look with his flame red top hat the set is drawing to a far too short end.

They came, they saw, they conquered!
New York’s trash gods, The Erotics are a force to be reckoned with, they are larger than life, louder than anyone and don’t do things by halves. They have enough balls to walk on stage, strike a powerchord, and then announce "We are The Erotics, thank you, goodnight" before exiting stage left! Obviously they re-emerge instantly, but who else could pull this off without some form of heckles or disgruntled drunk in the corner booing? Each member of The Erotics has their own very strong character - Johnny Riott on drums has a glint in his eye and infectious smile, Rachel Toxic, the Les Paul wielding guitarist, is the classic guitar god, complete with full length 70’s style sideburns, face sheltered by masses of falling hair and stance of a thousand riffs. The Erotics bass player is the animated and lively Billy Beer, playing tonight with his bass guitar held together with glue, spit and nails due to the opening night of the tour’s debauchery resulting in his bass guitar being destroyed prematurely. They are completed by the heavily tattooed Mike Trash, standing head and shoulders above the crowd, he imposes a great figure. He sings from his heart and his ‘Alice cooper-esque’ voice is perfect for The Erotics, displaying emotion when needed and a dry snarl to his voice when the song lyrics take a regular trip towards the subject of sex or drink (or both). Introducing songs with pseudo titles like "I left my DNA in your mouth and I want it back", they hold your attention by keeping you amused as well as bouncing you around in the front row mosh. Three quarters of the way through the set, Billy Beer produces a bottle of Tequila and asks their road manager if they have behaved enough to deserve a little drink, the bottle is passed between the four of them until it is empty before carrying on with the gig. Unfortunately guitar amp failure (and not the previously mentioned drained bottle of tequila) closes the set early but even if they had played another two or three songs, you would have still wanted more.

Words & Photo - Andy Nutter

Vains of Jenna

Vains of Jenna - Rock City, Nottingham

After over two years Stateside conquering not only the Sunset Strip but the nation, following a support tour with Poison, Vains Of Jenna return to Europe and the UK. Whether it be the arenas of the USA or the basement of Nottingham's Rock City it makes little difference to the Swedish four piece band as they launch into 'Get On The Ride'. Vains of Jenna are here to provide a rock show whether it be in front of thousands or just fifty people! Wasting little time they blast through songs from their debut album including the infectious 'Hard To Be Vain' and foot stomping 'No Ones Gonna Do It For You' but also bring things up to date with 'Enemy In Me' which sounds huge. Brand new song 'Mind Pollution' hints at a Weezer-eque riff provided by Nicki Kin, who is now much more Steve Clark than Slash in his guitar hero poise, whilst frontman Lizzy DeVine controls the show with total professionalism, oozing cockyness yet still remaining likable. Ending with a blazing cover of 'Jumpin Jack Flash' it seems the band are now more Stones or Aerosmith than Guns n Roses. I guess if the mantle from Tyler & Co is ready to be handed down to a new generation then it's very good hands. Perhaps we should all begin to believe the hype that many predicted quite some time ago?

Slaves To Gravity

Slaves To Gravity - Rock City, Nottingham

The opening act was given to Grantham’s eager youngster ’Last Constellation’ who excitedly blasted out their screamo garage sound in the sweaty basement room of Rock City. The double front of the band, Joe on guitar and jack on bass looked like all their Christmas’s had come at once as they prepared the venues flock for Slaves to gravity. Lead guitarist Liam looked nervous as he stood where many of his heroes had before and drummer Leo sat quietly at the back leaving the bouncing front pair to lead the way.
Tommy stood side stage, just out of sight for the intro loops and erupted onstage in a fedora style black gangster hat and wearing his trademark 70s style black bellbottoms. Slaves to Gravity played what sounds like a hit after hit set list defying belief that it is all from their one and only album to date. Mark, with his heavily wah wah’d low slung white Les Paul prowled around the stage and occasionally duelled with the immaculately stylish Toshi on bass.
They blasted through the set that included a furious version of ‘Meantime’ and the emotive fists in the air anthem ‘Doll size’, with high energy and non stop stage antics, keeping the roadies busy holding the PA together as Tommy launched himself from it to stroll up and down the bar like a jacked up Mick Jagger. Almost every song had the bouncing audience singing along at full volume in the now sweat dripping club. The heat from this years hottest day and the coil-sprung stage energy fuelled Slaves to gravity towards the all too damn soon set end as they propelled themselves through a blistering version of ‘Burning robe’ leaving everyone gob-smacked and exhausted.

Andy Nutter

Def Leppard

Def Leppard / Whitesnake / Thunder
Nottingham Arena, Nottingham

Despite the American's love of all things British, very few bands managed to crack the US market when it came to Hard Rock in the eighties and early nineties but tonight we got a lineup of the few that did on a grand scale with the likes of Whitesnake and headliners Def Leppard. It was a smart move to add feel good rockers Thunder to tonight's lineup for the final leg of the UK Tour and as usual they deliver the goods. After seeing them on countless occasions you always know what to expect and yet whilst this could be deemed as a bad thing with no real surprises, Thunder just have that great knack for belting out a stream of top draw rock and roll which goes down great with the early crowd. Even my cynical self has to admit that upon hearing the opening lines of 'Dirty Love' a few goosebumps were raised and all was good! Thunder play things safe with a recognisable set list of their most succesful material and singer Danny Bowes is still pretty much the same great frontman he was when the band opened up the Monster of Rock back in 1990. A great sound and 'rock by numbers' set ensures that Thunder will be around for some time to come.

Whitesnake have always had something of a pompus edge to them. Myself, I've never quite brought into it but it does hold a great deal of charm which is once again very British even though at times their sound is custom built for American Rock Radio. It's very impressive that David Coverdale can hold claim to both looking and sounding pretty much exactly as he did twenty five years ago and has certainly sold his soul somewhere along the way! Obviously excited to be back out on the road and with a new album under their belts, Coverdale and company are eager to push tracks from their new album 'Good To Be Bad' what with solid opener 'Best Years' and 'Lay Down Your Love' which work equally well against familiar classics like 'Fool For Your Loving' and 'Is This Love?'. The interaction between Coverdale and his band, featuring Winger guitarist Reb Beach and ex-Dio member Doug Aldrich is strong throughout and you don't get the feeling that this is a band of hired guns which many acts seem to favour nowadays. So whilst an hour and half sets seems to feel like the band have overstayed their welcome a little it's still a solid outing for an act that could easily continue to deliver for many more tours.

If you were Def Leppard how would you put together a set list when your back catalogue is full to bursting with hits? I'm not sure if bands like this ever see it as a problem and simply churn out the last tours set with maybe one or two new songs as that's what the majority of the crowd expect to hear. The Sheffield rockers favour this option which could be deemed the easy way out and fool proof solution but it is undeniably entertaining regardless. The tour production is second to none with curtains either side of a huge video screen cleverly synced up to each song with cool imagery throughout enhancing the bands feel good songs. Opening with 'Rocket' they follow it up with new song 'Cmon Cmon' which sounds great in a live setting. The band's latest album 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge' is a great return to form but other than lead single 'Nine Lives' they choose to stick to the tried and tested older hits which is a little dissapointing as these new signs sound really strong live. I'd have much rather heard 'Tomorrow' then 'Make Love Like A Man' - come on guys! Thirty years on and Joe Elliot's voice is really starting to struggle but he is still a very likeable frontman which carries him through the show. The band on the other hand sound better than ever and still look and move like a group half their age making this one of the best shows I've seen them do for a long time. Apparently this tour has been a soaring success and it's easy to see why. Each band delivered strong performances and the number of hit singles performed was stunning. I for one left on a high which very few gigs seem to be able to do these days and hopefully we'll see more shows like this in the future.


The Wonderstuff - The Venue, Derby

I always envision Derby as one of the UK's main Indie towns so it's great to see The Wonderstuff making their long awaited return. I've brought it up countless times as to why it baffles me that they haven't received both critical and mainstream acclaim as one of the nation's best bands of the past few decades whilst other lesser talented acts are heralded as heroes? Maybe it's the curse of chart success that clouds people's views? Heaven forbid you have a hit single with a song that is remotely pop-orientated much like The Wonderstuff did in the early nineties on two main occasions with the likes of 'Size of a Cow' and the number one 'Dizzy'. Whilst there were many other successful singles from the band it seems that once anyone crossed over into the mainstream record buying market in the nineties it instantly made you throwaway or less credible which really is a crying shame. With songwriting as powerful as tonight's opener 'Mission Drive' alongside 'Cartoon Boyfriend' and the awesome 'On The Ropes', The Wonderstuff could play for twice as long and still not be short of quality material. This is the bands return gig to the live circuit after over a year away from playing so it may explain vocalist Miles Hunt's more quieter approach in-between songs, prefering more to concentrate on the performance of the songs. Violinist Erica Nockalls continues to add a youthful sparkle to the band whilst Mark McCarthy has the wonderfully, priceless quality of looking like one of the most uninterested bassist's in the world yet somehow manages to be incredibly enigmatic and likeable! The set delivers pretty much everything you'd expect with both vintage material and more recent tracks such as 'Blah Blah Lah Di Dah' from 2006's 'Suspended By Stars'. The Wonderstuff may have missed out on the aforementioned hero worship by the British public, maybe that is yet to come, but for the rest of us, performances such as tonight's continues to let us have them all for ourselves as one of the UK's best kept secrets! 


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