Monday, December 28, 2015

R.I.P. Lemmy

BB King and Lemmy in the same year? What kind of world are we going to leave for Keith Richards?

To be honest I was never a huge fan of Motörhead, in fact I think I like the idea of Lemmy more than I like his brand of heavy speed n’roll. But that’s not to say they didn’t make some kick-ass records. And their catalog contained at least half a dozen hard rocking numbers which have become classics. Yes, they never strayed from their formula but like AC/DC or the Ramones, that was one of their appeals.

I only got to see him once with his legendary band. He was no longer the strong, imposing Rock demon but he wasn't yet the frail old man that health problems turned into a shadow of his former self. That is not how he should be remembered.

All his life, Lemmy was rock and roll incarnate. His persona wasn’t fake or manufactured: he really was this cartoon character of a rock star: uncompromising, larger than life and hedonistic yet surprisingly deep. Our friend in rebellion, living hard for the rest of us mere mortals, stone deaf forever.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

King Crimson @ Olympia, Paris - September 20th, 21st and 22nd 2015

Last time I saw King Crimson was twelve years ago, and the band looked and sounded very different. They were a quartet playing very futuristic music, with electronic flourishes and metallic undertones. They are now a seven headed beast, including three (!!!) drummers positioned at the front of the stage.

Crimson has never gone the obvious route, or done things the usual way. Which is why they are the only band to have kept advancing. But now for the first time, they are allowing themselves to look back.

Which doesn't mean they have adopted a retro approach, and which certainly doesn't mean this is another exercise in nostalgia from reunited old rockers. In fact, Fripp has assembled personnel from various previous eras of the band as well as new blood in order to better shake things up. Old compositions are given a clever re-imagining, while newer ones are introduced to an audience who came in knowing not to hold on to expectations. Lasciate one esperanza, voi ch'intrate.

Three nights in this venerable music hall, three nights of pure music with slightly different set lists. There is no star, no focal point: all the musicians are flawless, committed and inventive. And there are no highlights: all compositions are equally thrilling, with breathtaking moments of tension leading up to a climactic release.

Until recently it was looking unlikely that King Crimson would ever play again, and that we'd have to get our supply of Crimsoid insanity through one of their offshoots like the wonderful Crimson ProjeKct. Thankfully Robert Fripp is an unpredictable fella, and King Crimson can live and breathe again.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Who @ le Zénith, Paris - June 30, 2015

On the hottest day of the year, five thousand people decided it would be a good idea to step into a closed space with no air conditioning and dance.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Billy Idol @ Zénith, Paris - June 22, 2015

Last time Billy Idol played in Paris was 22 years ago when he was in his Cyberpunk phase. He is back to promote his new record Kings & Queens of the Underground.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Judas Priest @ Zénith, Paris - June 17, 2015

Four years ago Judas Priest embarked on their a farewell tour, and evidently it didn't take because they are now back touring behind a new album. Dragonaut is a decent piece of old school heavy metal, and the first one with new member Richie Faulkner.

The young guitarist has really given Priest a shot in the arm. He is by far the most active member on that stage, and on top of playing KK's role he seems to have taken over a lot of Glenn Tipton's leads. As for front man Rob Halford, he spends most of his time hunched over his microphone like Phil Anselmo over a spoon full of... sugar. But if that's what he needs to do to conjure up those vocals, then by all means hunch away, Bobby. He might be in his sixties, but he is still the Metal God. His shrieks on Painkiller are worth the price of admission alone. The man is a force of nature.

The setlist was brilliant, with great renditions of Electric Eye (we really like that one) and Victim of Changes. The new songs were very good too but let's not kid ourselves: people are here for the classics.

A great show from a veteran metal band, one of the originators of the genre, who despite their advancing age keep Delivering the Goods.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

KISS @ le Zénith, Paris - June 16, 2015

Hard to believe the KISS reunion tour is almost twenty years old. The personnel has changed several times since then but now seems to have stabilised around Gene Simmons (duh) and Paul Stanley (double duh) and in the roles of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss the more reliable Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer.