Sunday, 15 July 2018

Dynamo Metal Fest - Eindhoven, 14 July 2018


Dynamo Metal Fest seems to be back on our annual calendar, holidays allowing that is. This being the fourth version after the return the program seems to focus at least partially on the older generation of fans. No wonder that several bands spoke about songs for the old school fans. At the same time it becomes a yearly reunion where you can catch up with freinds you didn't see at any venue around you recently. This year the sun was out and in the afternoon the thermometer showed us 31 degrees, which meant a good old steaming day in Eindhoven. We travelled with nine this year and we almost all had to swallow a deception up front, when Sons of Apollo had to pull out unfortunately. It always is hard to replace an international act last minute, but we were somewhat disappointed with the return of Vuur. Well that is 8 of us, as Lida is a fangirl of  any band where an Ayreon vocalist turns up.


Trains were early after a summer evening in the city the night before. Upon arrival the connecting busses were functioning much better than the year before and alse the entrance was swift this year. Early train or not we managed to miss opening band Elephant from Belgium. Well if they tour the Benelux often I undoubtly shall run into them soon. For us openers were Iron Reagan with their punky thrash metal. That sounded refreshing and very nice for an opener and the pit was big from a distance. The only mistake we made was that while the ladies went shopping we started with a beer. Following an unwritten rule 4-5 songs means a next beer was kind of tricky as Iron Reagan plays fast and furious songs, which can last some seconds only. Good band and if we were in the mood already it wa up to Vuur to reduce energy levels to another day in the office. Sorry, but Anneke might be one of Hollands most famous vocalists for me that voice does not work. Well on the background or in duet with Devin Townsend it does, but Vuur is just not my thing.


I Am Morbid was the right band to wake us all up again. This band around David Vincent gives you Morbid Angel songs. Last year I saw them in het Paard and that worked better for me than on the meanwhile steaming hot grass or what was left of it. Still a nod with the head banging along fast drums and heavy music was fine indeed. Next on where the band Iwas most curious about how they would go down. Leprous is for us a revisit after two Progpower shows in the last decade and a few indoor gigs. Now I loved them the first time I saw them at PPE when they had released their best album Bilateral. Later on I saw them either disappoint a bit or fully impress again. So not sure what to expect I did lose them a bit not getting their last album Malina after somewhat disappointing albums before. In order to judge fairly I moved more upfront, where I ran into a firm PPE delegation. Technical problems with no keys delayed the start a bit and then they were brave. I was hoping they would metal up their show a bit, being at DMF. Well they did none so and gave us only newer songs. Still the performance was tight as we are used by them and at times it was very good. Up front the reaction of the audience was pretty OK and Hans next to sound tower told me at the back they were partially appreciated as well. Hope they gained some new interest as fish out of prog water on Dynamo.


With the Sons of Apollo cancelation for me the band to look out for most was Annihilator. Never seeing them giving us a bad show ( I was not at Alcatraz 2016) I was looking forward to see some classics passing by again. I missed the Alice in Europe tour in the late eightes, but the Never, Neverland tour stopped in The Hague as well and from there occasionally I saw them play again. Different line-ups, differnt vocals, but always good. Nowadays Mr. Waters is taking care of vocal duties himself again, which went rather well. So again moving forward to have  acloser look, Mary and Astrid joined and we were just behind the pit eating dust for 50 minutes. This was no problem whatsoever as their set was glorious again. I do not have that many albums by them but seeing King of the Kill, Phantasmagoria or Set the World on Fire works for me any day. 50 minutes is short, but Annihilatr managed to give us a fairly good overview from old to new. When the show was coming to an end we knew Alice was till going to be put in Hell. What a great song that still is! With Jeff Waters being smart we were invited to sing the twelve times very high Alice into the deep in hell. I did so loudly and hope they appreciated. I definitely enjoyed Annihilator again and a pity they were the only band without any merch at the market, my sympathy vote would mean a T-shirt or CD I do not have yet.


After this high another one followed. Overkill on stage means a party. This band leaves no prisoners either and thrashes hard and tight. One added factor of fun during their show is the Dutch mr Bobby Blitz speaks. Lines as Ik hoor je niet and Tjongejongejonge came out well and brough many a smile to the ice-rink. Similar to Annihilator they understand we need to hear old and new songs. So Rotten to the Core, In Union we Stand and the inevitable Fuck You made Eindhoven one happy moshing place. What a great band and for us brilliant closer of the party. Closer indeed as the last two bands Ministry and especially Ghost could not interest us all. With all of us being 50+ we already had our bags full (zakken vol) and appreciated an early train home. Ghost is a generation thing indeed as when we walked out there were still people arriving freshly at the stadium. Sad for them as to could get such could histry lessons in metal this day. During the day it seemed at first way emptier than last year, although the move of merch stands to inside opened additional space. When we left it seemed suddenly very busy. One fine day in Eindhoven it was with decent food options (The Asian was good this year) and faster beers than last year which were also filled up to avoid last year's half empty computerized glassses. Next year we shall be back and I would like to see some returns from the 91 version I attended (Psychotic Waltz, Armored Saint, Extreme and Obituary would mix genres nicely) Thanks Dynamo and until 2019.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Anubis weekend - De Duycker / 't Blok, 7/8 July 2018



Next week it is Night Of The Prog at the Loreley and Anubis are on that bill. Before that major prog festival they are making a small European tour, starting with the world famous quadrangle, Hoofddorp, Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel, Paris London. So this meant two opening shows in Holland and as they both had a very different character in advance I went for the double. For those not knowing the band a short introduction. I discovered Anubis in 2009, when they released their debut album 230503. This was one beautiful concept album holding all the characteristics the band kept until today.  Their main style is Neo prog maybe, but there is some eighties pop blended in and at the same time they can go more metal than most prog rock bands. For me this blend works wonderfully and I can state they are my favorite new prog rock band of the last decade. Their succesive albums A Tower of Silence, Hitchhiking to Byzantium and last year's The Second Hand all confirmed that status. A few years ago they had their first 3 gig European tour, which brought them to de Boerderij's small stage. All present that day, for sure would try to see one of the two dutch shows now, as they played very well and very long that memorable evening. So to say that I was looking forward to this weekend can be called an understatement. Warm sunny temperatures or not it was de Duycker for me on Saturday evening. Do I need to link to the worldcup somehow? No I don't need to, but it was funny to see England qualifying for the semi-finals before leaving home,  where especially Belgian but also Dutch TV spoke about a poor team and the BBC starts believing football is coming home indeed. But back to the music.


The line-up in Hoofddorp was surprising to say the least. Where Anubis plays mainly progrock, the other three bands seemed to be put on stage especially for those dutch fans, not willing to travel all the way to UK Tech Fest. This meant screams, grunts, polyrythmics, many strings on guitars and basses, plus the obligatory beards. The performance of the three bands was for me widely spread and I could enjoy them together with some ProgPower regulars in the hall. Opening band Transient State played varied and loud, but did not play any melodies that stayed in my head. After their gig the discussions were mostly about the HEAVY bass drones in one song sounding and feeling pretty uncomfortable to me and most around me. Those without earplugs. might need to see a doctor after the weekend. With Hillsphere matters changed dramatically for the better. I saw them once in the past and remembered and instrumental band. Now they have added a vocalist and at once promoted for me to the absoute top of Dutch progmetal bands. As if this voice was what they needed to feel fully comfortable. Great songs and good performance, so I was getting their CD. Untill I waited too long and noone was behind the table, making me sort my Anubis merch first. I will see them again hopefully soon and shall get their CD anyway. Closer of the night were also Australian Copia. These guys also play progmetal of the extremer form, but my first impressions were positive. For starters their vocalist had a good voice on the clearer bits and power when heavy. Adding the hectic playing I quite liked what I shortly saw. I say shortly as I needed to get the last train home (Note to self Armored Saint in August car might be the better option) When you put on 4 bands and start at 20:30 only it is bound to happen that people need to leave during the last band catching last public transport.Copia is touring Europe for the fifth time now, so maybe they return soonish.


And what did Anubis do as lightweight on this heavy bill? Well I thought them concentrating a bit more on their metallic side. Later on they told me I heard wrong as this is their usual style of live shows. Whatever the style, how great it was to see them reaching same heights as their Boerderij gig from the past. Of course this would be a shorter setlist with four bands, but it did hold epics, calm bits, heavy guitars and those beautifull melodic solo's. One characteristic I did not mention yet, is they are also fond of darker lyrics covering some rather depressing love-lifes. One of my favorite songs on that respect is Dead Trees. Haven't we all at times slowly but surely been driven to the bottle, so how nice to hear that sung to us in a wonderful song. A telephone ringing brought us back to the 230503 album with The Deepest Wound. Further focussing on the last two albums, we did also get a teaser for 't Blok in All That Is.. from ATOS. With a solid performance I only started looking forward to the full show of today and went home pleased with my Byzantium Tee and the acustic CD.

't Blok holds prog shows organized by Prog Frog. Those few times I have been there I always have to start with a compliment for the organization. Never will you find anything more relaxed, where the volunteers welcome you and serve snacks during the gigs. But how nice everyone might be over there, the biggest compliment must go out to Anubis. How often does it happen that you see an underground band with six great musicians dressed  in black giving you a show of almost three hours!!! This is a show without any films on the background, pyrotechnics, or amazing lightshow. How great is that? well go catch Anubis on tour and find out for yourself. Today  A Tower of Silence was going to be played in full. That was after the short break. The start of the show had some overlap with the night before, but was not following fully the same order. Even more surprisingly with the very long playing time they left some songs out that they played in Hoofddorp. Seems to me they rehearsed their full catalogue, so another thumbs up to that. During ATOS the order became predictable, and my highlight was And I Wait For My World To End (did I tell yet they like to write darker lyrics?). So when ATOS ended we did get two more songs without the leaving stage routine. These Changing Seasons from the last album and that song from HTB with the endless closing guitar solo Silent Wandering Ghosts. Well no words to describe this show really. This band gives so much to the audience that you feel humble just watching them. As if it all was not enough we got the question if we liked another song, long or short. So Disinfected and Abused really closed the afternoon with another hihlight in the heavy banging part of  Knives and Forks. So I am still speechless, which is not the reason that I did not wait for the band to come out. That reason was dinner with Tiago after such a long set. I did have a word with them in Hoofddorp and these sympathetic guys deserve in my eyes a breakthrough. I hope that the NOTP festival with a large audience can bring them many new fans. If you have the chance to see them, don't miss out. Thanks Anubis for two great gigs within 20 hours and that all jetlagged. If football is coming home or not to the UK. Anubis is passing by thsi Friday. Seems an easy choice for me. Today all those  going to the beach or organizing a summer BBQ proved to be wrong again.

 

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Ozzy & Priest - Altice Arena Lisboa 2 July 2018


Ozzy and Priest playing together. Me not going to large metalfestivals for years, Magchiel and I decided last year after Stampede in Bristol to have one old school party abroad together per year. And most of all Lisbon being a home match of sorts, as I was visiting Josie anyway this weekend. All in all a show not to miss for us. And then I started digging in my memory, trying to avoid the gaps over the years. I believe I only saw Ozzy at Monsters of Rock Germany in 84 and 86. For Priest I believe the Arnhem show with Annihilator and Pantera in 91 or 92 came after the Zwolle show with Bonfire. So while both Priest and Ozzy make part of the basics of my musical formation I had not seen either in ages. Before the Monday show we got to spend the weekend in beautiful Lisbon. Magchiel being there first time loved the city as well and did support Portugal in the Portugal Arena against Uruguay, but that ended not as we liked. Two days Lisbon also means climbing and descending for hours, so when finally arriving at the Altice Arena we were close to exhausted to start with. So up to Priest and Ozzy to get us in the mood again. Spoiler alert: they did.


Judas Priest as support act. I did not know how that would work in Lisbon. Following the metal gig agenda on undergroundmetal.pt I thought they might be way more popular. But then again this was no underground event. Apart from the bands playing most shirts spotted were either Maiden or Metallica, with hardly any underground names (Budgie was named). This hall hosted the Eurovision songfestival in May and it seemed that Priest needed two songs to clear the hall from this camp party against good music.So Firepower did not blow as impressive as on CD, but as soon as we heard It's Monday night and the Priest is back and arrived at Sinner/The Ripper all was good. Well not just good, what a party we got. While Rob Halford walked the stage very slowly his voice with effects or not still reached some high screams when needed. Highlights to me were Turbo Lover, Freewheel Burning and Painkiller. Last song closed the set as announced, which after one hour could be. Than we got an encore, which made sense given the number of Classics not played. To my surprise  Mr. Glenn Tipton joined the band and we got treated on Metal Gods and Breaking the what?. 75 minutes of Priest was well worth the trip already and to Magchiel winners of the evening.


While waiting for Ozzy we noticed the Arena was packing up from decent to very full. This meant that the toilets and bars got queues too long to confront. As the beerselling backpack also disappeared suddenly it was all about the music. Well never would I have expected Ozzy to follow a similar line for this show, as his voice was great and he seemed very fit and well humored. Opning somehwat surprising to me with Bark at the Moon, followed by Mr. Crowley and I Don't Know the party was officially opened and the roof came off. And this was not just Ozzy, the band was on fire with a leading role for Zakk Wylde on guitars. Actually Adam Wakeman of Headspace fame was very good as well.  As Ozzy has no recent album to promote the setlist turned into a greatest hits parade, with some Sabbath blended in. My highlights were No More Tears, Shot in the Dark and Crazy Train. But actually the full show was entertaining with a minor break halfway. As Ozzy needs his rest to regain forces there was a very long guitar solo moving from right to left of the audience offstage. While being impressive it lasted a bit long. Hereafter followed a drumsolo which gave nothing special really and when Ozzy came back the weakest song in the set (I Don't want to Change the World) followed. In the end it was not that bad, just a small drop in the high we experienced. After the full set the encore brought us Mama I'm Coming Home and Paranoid. The latter even bringing a pit in front of us and showing many happy faces around when it was over after 95 minutes.


So this was one great trip to Lisbon and we should think next year what can follow this up. On the bands future there was alos some clarification. The Priest will be back was shown in great letters at their end of the show. Ozzy is touring under the name No More Tours Vol.2. The T-shirt of the Vol 4 Sabbath album, so who knows how long this will drag on. Ozzy seemed in shape to go on for some more time, carrying buckets with water to throw over the front row. So People look to him and say, is the end near? when is the final day? I don't know!!
 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The Contortionist & Palm Reader - Patronaat Haarlem 26 June 2018


26 June 2018 was one of those days. Originally I was planning to see Ritchie Kotzen in Leiden. Then the Heavy metal party of Iced Earth and Martyr was announced in Alkmaar. Work would bring me the day to Amsterdam for a Metal Bulletin Conference. My work as my musical taste are both very much rooted in metal indeed. This conference made Alkmaar a bit complicated on trains and timing (as unfortunately proven by Robert, but that's another story). And then there was the announcement of The Contortionist in Patronaat. The Contortionist state they play Progressive metal on their FB page, but with a foot in djent I'd say. Actually in that genre they are probably my favorite band. Watching the site of Patronaat it turned out that Soulfly would play the main hall the same night. And to complete the busy agenda on the train to Haarlem some Leiden students entered on their way to Limp Bizkit. When they started talking about House Festivals it only confirmed to me that Limp Bizkit has nothing to do with Metal.


Arriving at Patronaat it was warm and busy outside. For some reason Patronaat decided to put The Contortionist on the bar stage instead of the small hall. This meant sold out, but also slightly tight to move and the low ceiling there is somewhat annoying. First band of the evening would be Palm Reader from the UK. This band reminded me more of the older The Contortionist as vocals would be mainly screaming and the  band was pretty heavy. I liked their enthusiasm and sympathetic announcements. Musically I thought this to be nice live, but I was not attracted to get their last CD.


During the break I learned that Messi made a rather nice goal. My decision to not watch the possible exit of Argentina was rewarded by today's Riesenentauschung from the Germans. Before The Contortionist kicked of let me share my history with the band. I discovered them when Aardschok wrote about Instrisic as something like only for those who consider Rush too straight forward. Checking that album out I loved Intrinsic. Mostly heavy they had plenty of short calm breaks which made a great balance. Next album Language made it high on my list of albums of the year and the trend was more clean vocals and calmer music. Now they are touring last year's Clairvoyant album, which eliminated harsh vocals altogether on the front. So to say doing an Anathema in their career this last album is filled with beautiful music, interesting enough to keep all technical music lovers on board. So the question was, how would they bring this set together and is there still space for the heavy. My hopes were high, as during their Language supporting tour, they blew Tesseract of the stage. An opening tune started 21:00 sharp and the start was for the Clairvoyant album. This is actually such a beautiful album that many people out of metalworlds should be able to like it. But that is the return to the old exposure story. The second song was a heavy monster and I did not recognize it, so probably from the Exoplanet album. This is just wat I wanted mixing the heavy and the mellower. During the remainder of the set the focus would be on the last two albums, but occassionaly it all blasted. Now I did recognize the songs, but cannot immediately place title and album next to it. So I just state here that The Contortionist surpassed my hopes and expectations and I now also came to love their last album even more. Their presentation is rather introvert, but their playing is from another (Exo?) planet even when they Return to Earth. Happy to see a band confirming their status with me and who knows Complexity or Progpower can get them back to Holland any day soon.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Amulet & Scavenger - Little Devil Tilburg 17 June 2018


The World Cup is on and for those who like football this might impact the number of shows attended. For me so far no direct loss of gigs, but writing shall be reduced. So last Friday there was a great CD release party for Rages of Sin and Acrid with strong support of PPTA and Saturday Icarius was way too heavy for the average visitor of Vlaggetjesdag in Scheveningen and the new hering tastes good. Yet with a marathon of matches on Saturday no reviews or impressions from me in writing. Comes Sunday 17 June and Amulet would make their Dutch debut in Little Devil. At the same time Germany was losing and Brazil, a country where family and work play more than a small role for me would play in the evening. Still music over football is the rule that holds firm for now (let's see what happens when Exodus-Savage Messiah play on the evening of a semi-final). Arriving at Little Devil a big screen was on, which gave me the chance to see some 15 minutes of first and 30 minutes of second half. Enough to see that Neymar is a provoking-spaghetti headed- cry baby-twat representing all I hate in modern football. And then there was metal.


First band were from Belgum Scavenger. I must admit that in the eighties I missed them and their album Battlefields.  This band rejuvenated and now played their third show together as their female vocalist told me afterwards. This vocalist was a small girl with lots of hair. While being Belgian and speaking Dutch her inbetween song English reminded strongly of a certain Doro. It seems that Drums and one guitar are back from the original line-up and the rest is younger blood. Scavenger brought us Heavy Metal in eighties style and while old school it sounded nice to me. Songs like Battlefield, Heartbreaker or Ready were reason enough to pick up their original 1985 CD  afterwards. What a great eighties cover it holds. Nice band warming us up for Amulet and me for some 30 minutes of football as well.


I did read of Amulet in Iron Fist Magazine first, where a review of their US west coast tour was published some issues ago. After reading the article I checked the band on the internet and found the Cut The Crap EP on Bandcamp. No physical copies on sale I could not order, but liked what I heard. Then de Nobel organized a metal CD & Vinyl fair and I did run into their debut full album The First. This album is filled with short NWOBHM style metal songs and very nice indeed. So when Mario got Amulet to play Little Devil on their way back from Der Detze Rockt festival in Germany I knew I was going to see this. After all it was father's day so I could do what I bloody well wanted. Kicking of with one guitar due to a broken string the question amongst the band was if they woud wait for second guitars kicking in. Yes was the answer and he joined on Evil Cathedral (a killer song) Hereafter the question was if he could take some time for tuning. Another yes to that and we finally went off for some 45 minutes of good old British Heavy Metal. Some new songs were included, but the bulk was build around Cut the Crap and The First. This evening was also being the last gig for vocalist Jamie Elton with the band. So the story ended with The Hangmen who would send him off. Now as a gimmick a hangman walked the stage with a noose. Suddenly I thought of their US tour review and did understand why this would get some raised eyebrows in the States. Well at the end of the song the Hangmen disappeared and Jamie was burried under a guitar and actually kicked to death by the remaining band members. A fitting end to a very nice show. As Tilburg means long train rides I decided to rush out catching an earlier train gaining on arriving home without time to thank the band. Amulet a name to watch, hope they get a good vocalist for following up the corpse of Mr. Elton.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Seven Sisters - Toxik - Black Cyclone

 
Seven Sisters - The Cauldron and the Cross
Ever heard of the Now Wave of British Heavy Metal? When living in Holland chances are big you'll answer no, as these young and promising bands are blatantly ignored in Dutch metal press. There is something cooking in the UK and many young bands play the music of the greatest musical movement ever to come out of Britain, but with a modern edge. Over the past years I saw great shows by bands like Kaine, Toledo Steel, Vice, Monument or Neverworld. Ususally building around twin guitars they give us Heavy Metal in good old fashioned style. Now The Cauldron and the Cross is the second album by Seven Sisters, but the first one I ran into. And yes it is all there again. Solid rhythm section, twin guitars the screams and clean vocals and lots of melodies. Opener The Premonition can never open a show like this as it sounds as if the fall in halfway during some blasting solo's. Adapting the start it would be a great live opener though. Basically all songs shall please any fan of Heavy Metal and this album can therefore be purchased in the blind. Highlight must be the title tracks (as there is a Pt 1 and Pt 2. In total 16 minutes of classic heavy metal packed in a song which goes from loud to soft and filled with different moods is a must hear I'd say. Good band hope to see them soon. Tip for Andrew: 16 June they play the Portland Arms with Toledo Steel.

Toxik - III Works
Toxik the band that shook the world with World Circus in the eighties and then surprisingly never reached the status many much less talented bands reached. This album is a collection and at first I was in doubt. When I could see which songs would be on it after release date, I could see that purchasing was obvious. This box holds three CD's with three different vocalists. So first we get the 2014 EP In Humanity with Mark Sanders (World Circus) on vocals. I did not know that EP, so this meant 6 new songs. Then CD 2 holds the Breaking Clas$ EP. Now I bought that last year as well, but then it had three songs on it, which now turned into six. Charlie Sabin (Think This) sings on this one and memories go back to the legendary evening in Lazarus last year, where he sung for us from anywhere in the audience he could sit/stand.The box closes with CD 3 holding the voice of new vocalist Ron Iglesias. Not only does this CD contain 8 re-recorded versions of their biggest live hits, it also holds two completely new songs. So for me this CD priced box did deliver 11 new songs to start with. What can I say on the music? Toxik always played technical Thrash metal which does require some effort to get into. The breaks and wildly flying solo's are not always stuck in your head after first listen, but try again and one shall be rewarded. The eleven new songs do confirm Toxik still has it, Ron Iglesias controls the high and low and we can only hope for a return to Holland anytime soon. Finally the artwork is as always beautiful and the box holds a poster of band and fans at last year's Dynamo Metal Fest. Now I was there that day and Toxik drew me closest to the stage. Wearing a Tour de  France mountain stage cap to protect a bold head against the sun, now meant I can see myself on the poster. The Circus continues.

Black Cyclone - Death is King
If this album would have been released in the eighties, I would have bought it in the blind based upon the name of the vocalist alone. Now being the 21st century one goes to bandcamp or Youtube first and orders the album thereafter. The vocalist I am talkin about is Linus Johansson from one of my recent absolute favorites Trial. I saw them live earlier this year and both band and voice impressed. Now from the Heavy metal with doom and prog influences of Trial, Black Cyclone does up the speed. This album is pure speed metal as it was released some 30+ years ago. When the opening line of first song Death is Crowned as King mentions the term unstoppable force it is clear which influence is big. And indeed it is at times hard not to start shouting Masters of Metal, Agents of Steel!! Linus being one of the best Heavy Metal voices around nowadays, also dominates speed metal, with an overdose of high screams. But this band is not only about the vocals. The very fast songs all go down like an ice-cold beer on a Mayday in Holland 2018. This is total eargasm for the fans of good and old. I always thought they don't write them like these any more, but Black Cyclone jump straight to the top of the genre. Actually one recent band they remind of is Ranger, who destroyed de Nobel last year. As even the lyrics have the famous battle and conquer themes all around this band should tour. I'd say typically a band Mario puts on in Little Devil, so one can hope. If they come over, for sure they shall rule and Black Cyclone shall gain many new members for their Chaos Brigade. If you love your Heavy Metal fast with the high pitced screams, this one is obligatory.

 

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Mearfest - The Dukes Head /Village Centre Slough 2 June 2018

 

Mearfest 2018 was on. This might sound simple, but what a fight and effort Brian and Clair put in this year. After losing the Frday night first, later on the original venue was double booked and Mearfest last minute had to find an alternative. Staying in Slough the Dukes Head and the Village Centre came to the rescue, but unfortunately the program needed some serious cutting in the line-up. So we had an afternoon in the Pub, immediately followed by three headliners some 100 meters down the road. For those of you not knowing the story behnd Mearfest please read the beautiful written story on www. Mearfest.org and feel free to donate fo rone of the two charities supported by the festival. For those not knowing my emotional link to the festival, please ask when meeting me again at a venue near you. Her name was Taina and she would have been 14 by now. Two years ago I first attended Mearfest at the Borderline in London and after missing the Southern and Northern edition last year I was glad being able to make it to Slough this time. Even with the loss of several bands I would love to see once or again, the program was stil more than a bit tempting and in the end the Pub factor did add on atmosphere for the day. Now Slough is an English city, which to me makes it holidays to start with during my walk. From the HIE hotel (where water is unavalable in showers or taps and people complain at the front desk 24/7) to The Dukes Head it was all just not like home. The city symbol I bumped into many times was either cynical or absolutely great. It made my 50 minute walk interesting and the sun made me thirsty so Dukes Head bring it on.


Arriving in the Dukes Head the PFJ were on already. Now PFJ stands for The Peoples Front of Judea (Life of Brian anyone). So answering Frank Zappa's question does humor belong in music a big Yes was their answer. We saw a Horse Head, a Devil, beards, long beards, masks and the whole band running outside playing from the parking lot. They played covers from Classic Rock, to Britpop and Metal. Actually during Marillion Weekends in Holland an afterparty has hold the same DJ over past 5 editions, playing exactly the same songs every night. I shall drop Lucy an e-mail that it is much better to have these same songs brought with a smile by a live band.  Next band were playing originals and came from the North East of England. Culloden played metal and did so heavy with a bite. Vocals being fitting the music well aggressive while staying away from grunts. These young guys did convince and more than a few people loved their performance on this hot afternoon.  Inbetween bands we could enjoy the heat meeting new people, including a real Lord, being Lord Dowson. The heat plus drinks also made you explore the pub and its facilities which made me realize that my 6'66" was a bit much for the average height in England some centuries ago. This resulted in being unable to stand up in the toilets, unless I was willing to dug a hole in the ceiling with my bold head. O yes we were in England, so there was a raffle. Given the charity the event supports this made all sense. so I joined in. Not knowing I would win the main price in the afternoon draw, which I could not accept as being unable to make it to Stonedeaf end August with a friend. Now I could accept and sell on internet, but that is just missing the point in my view, so I opted for the second price which was a bag of surprises. Tiago shall wear the Damaj T-shirt with pride and the handfull of signed Diamond Head plectrums shall make me pick up my guitar again and finally get Am I Evil in my fingers.


After a somewhat longer break with new drums in, we got another cover band Bawls -Out from Essex. This was their first show and I think I can state if interested in a covers band, why not get Bawls-Out to make your party. They play all these songs from the eightes we love to hear. So you get your Riot, Scorpions, MSG, Maiden, Whitesnake, Priest and many more. Afterwards I did compliment the vocalist, which is a bit neglecting the band. What I actiually meant is that when someone does a Dio, a Coverdale, a Dickinson and never goes painfully woring half the work is done. At the same time the band were tight and solid to bring this. One critic on the vocals might have been that the vocalist was a bit sloppy on his Kraut accent while doing Scorpions, that sounded far too British to me. Highlight must have been the many gimmicks/dress-ups they brought along seemingly forgetting half at home. Highlight came when during The Ripper, first the Female vocalist was half raped on stage, after which at the end she got her revenge with a slitted throat of the attacker, followed by a dry "Are you OK?" from the audience. Friendly violent fun as Exodus would say. Good band and highly recommended for any party with a metal edge. While ordering food and getting ready for the evening two more acustic sets followed, which unfortunately I only heard from a distance. Locals who were just visiting their home pub meanwhile blended in and seemed to like the whole purpose of the day and the great atmosphere around.


And then we moved, when the Lord guided me to the village hall. First band of the evning were one of the main reasons fo rme to get to Slough anyway: Trespass. Two years ago they had their Dutch debut and I could open my occassional HM B&B for the first time. Now they released Footprints in the Rock and I was curious how some of those songs would blend in with their regular set. Well Trespass came, played and conquered. To me it seemed that the duals (!) between and Mark and Joe got more tight and the change in soloing increased. The set was the blend we hoped for giving us something new, but don't forget the past. Be Brave was dedicated to Brian and Clair and I loved the version of The Visionary. When the intro announced One of Those Days we knew it was over, but first their hit would be coming at us. What a true classic in NWOBHM that song remains. Several people I spoke with afterwards were very nicely surprised with this performance and my Sudbury city tour guide Paul had some work after the gig.  Great seeing them again and what an opener of the evening. The next band were a coverband and not just any cover band.but a Budgie cover band. Now Budgie were pre-NWOBHM really and I believe they were never that big in Holland nor in Belgium according to Patrick. To be honest unlike the Diamond Head, Savage, Blitzkrieg or whomever Metallica covered, this band I only knew because of Metallica. When I knew I would attend Mearfest some months ago and I ran into a crazy cheap box of MCA albums at Amazon I decided to give it a try. Now I got why this band is considered to be underestimated and misunderstood. Live we had two sets. First Bandolier playing powerful and showing what a diverse band Budgie were. Them original drummer Ray Phillips came on with two friends and we got some more classics with In For the Kill especially strong. In the end the drums stayed and the Bandolier bass/vocals and guitars returned for one hell of a version of Breadfan.  After seeing this show I must admit I missed out all these years.


Closing the party would be NWOBHM band Satan's Empire. This band is gaining some good feedback by British NWOBHM friends and I was glad I finally got to see them. Their new album is called Rising and shall be released 15 June. Unfortunately no advance copies on sale yet, so this gig would be the decider to order or not. Well that was decided after one song, I am going to get that album.  This band plays the more metallic side of NWOBHM with the classic line up of drums, bass , two guitars and vocals. Very convincingly they rocked through their shortened set with the 11 O clock curfew. One song before the end they arrived at their hit. Well hit  might be a bit much, but the Lead Weight compilation from Neat Records ended with Soldiers of War by Satan's Empire. This is one fine song and if you ever wonder where Iron Maiden got their opening riff motivation from for Wasted Years just have a listen. The final song had a guest appearance from Bilk Gang from France who brought his band last year to Hastings. This turned out to be one fine closer of a wonderful day. When it was all over it basically came down to thanking Brian and Clair for giving us this great day, which I hope was as good to them. The mood at this festival is something different indeed and for me this is what celebrating good old Heavy Metal is all about. Togeteher with Power & Glory these are parties I might come back to again if timing works out. After a firm walk through Slough, partially with a huge Budgie fan I arrived at the hotel with no water. So I hope to be back, but shall be staying somewhere else. Molly smiled and Taina laughed along.