Headline Act: Animals as Leaders
Support: The Bad Channels, Convex
Venue: Bunters, Truro
All the way from California, acclaimed jazz-prog-metal act Animals as Leaders ventured down to Truro for a free-entry performance at Bunters. The fans could hardly believe their luck, and perhaps the band could hardly believe how their booking agent had allowed it to happen. Tosin Abasi and co have been embarking on a heavy touring schedule that has seen them play virtually every day for the past few months. Fears that the trio may be suffering from fatigue were put to rest as the band effortlessly ploughed through a set demonstrating high-calibre musicianship.
In today’s musical climate it is harder than ever for a band to get the spotlight and accumulate the following it needs in a landscape that is cluttered with music piracy and immeasurable competition. Kudos then to Animals as Leaders, their ambitious world tour on the back of their debut album has shown their passion and dedication in getting their music heard across the world.
Support came from two local bands. Convex opened up the night with a set of grunge rock. Sounding like a modern Nirvana, the band managed to deliver a decent set yet bizarrely managed to not acknowledge the audience once. The Bad Channels’ then swiftly succeeded in rallying the audience with an excellent set of high-energy stoner rock. During this time, Abasi was perched by the merch stall. Seemingly warming up by playing through the night’s set alone, a small audience had gathered around him simply to watch his virtuosity up close.
When the headline act took to the stage the room became full to the brim and the venue erupted in a roar of cheers. Animals as Leaders played for just over an hour, displaying excellent performances of fan-favourites such as Wave of Babies, Tempting Time, and CAFO. The band were somewhat taken aback by the high positive reception and shouts for an encore left Abasi in a state of bewilderment, resorting to apologetically packing away his gear. An impressive set nevertheless and a promise to return in the future left all those who witnessed the magic hungry for more.
Reviewed by Daniel Aston 28/08/2011
Photography by Daniel Aston
Headline Act: Judas Priest
Support: Queensrÿche, Rival Sons
Venue: Bournemouth BIC
Fans gathered feverishly early on a cool Sunday evening in anticipation of Judas Priest’s final UK date on their farewell Epitaph tour. Opening the night was Rival Sons. The American four-piece are building up a reputation as one of the most promising new rock acts and their placement on the Epitaph tour has allowed them to play some of the UK’s larger venues. A decent audience turned up to watch them deliver a convincing half-hour set where they displayed their 70s classic rock roots with essences of Led Zeppelin, Free and the Black Crowes. Amongst the cliché vintage blues-rock is a band with a true identity, and despite frontman Jay Buchanan’s stage presence being a carbon copy of Robert Plant, he thankfully doesn’t try to sound like a tribute act.
Next on the bill was Seattle’s Queensrÿche. Once pioneers of progressive metal, the band has significantly moved on over the years and has recently released their most controversial album to date with Dedicated to Chaos. An album that saw them yet again reinvent their sound has received a great deal of largely unfair frustrated criticism from fans and critics alike. Get Started from that very album opens things up, with Geoff Tate jumping around in a trilby and waistcoat failing to engage Priest’s loyal ‘metal maniacs’. Thankfully the band then strayed away from the current release to perform some of their classic material. Anthems such as I Don’t Believe in Love, Empire and Eyes of a Stranger manage to get the audience singing along, with Empire being a particular standout. Despite Tate’s recent statement that Queensrÿche are definitely not to be seen as a prog band, there is space in the set for the experimental pairing of NM 156 and Screaming in Digital. The sci-fi themed songs work excellently together both musically and lyrically, with the tales of futuristic machine dominance over mankind being expertly executed by the band with Tate’s operatic vocals on top form.
It took around twenty-minutes for Judas Priest’s monolithic stage to be created and as soon as the veil was dropped the crowd was greeted with a display of pyrotechnics, lasers and smoke plumes. Priest ploughed effortlessly through heavy renditions of classics such as Metal Gods, Heading Out to the Highway and Victim of Changes, the latter turning out to be arguably the best performance of the night. Rob Halford’s vocal performance was sublime, and for a man in his sixties his ability to reach all the highs from the record is astonishing. The audience warmed instantly to KK Downing’s replacement Richie Faulkner who does his best to imitate his predecessor’s every move. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Faulkner was also handed the majority of the guitar solos, allowing him the exposure to best display his technical ability and prove himself a worthy replacement. Halford handed over full vocal duties to the crowd for Breaking the Law before giving them the right to mosh during the metal powerhouse that is Painkiller. A blistering rendition of their heaviest song created a wall of colossal heavy metal and an atmosphere that few bands manage to achieve.
To round off the night the crowd was treated to three encores before Priest finally brought an end to their stunning performance. If this indeed turns out to be their final major world tour then they are ending on a glorious high. However, with a new guitarist and Halford’s vocals sounding as powerful as ever, one would suspect that there’s at least another album lurking somewhere on the horizon.
Reviewed by Daniel Aston 26/07/2011
Photography by Daniel Aston
Headline Act: Aynsley Lister Band
Support: Rude Tiger
Venue: Falmouth Pavilions
It was a bitterly cold Friday night in Falmouth, but the weather didn’t deter a healthy turnout at the Pavilions to see acclaimed blues guitarist Aynsley Lister. Lister has been touring prolifically since the release of Equilibrium (2009) and the tightness of his band’s performance is unmistakable. His more recent live session release Tower Sessions is a testament to the current high calibre shows that contains some new material and a long awaited recorded cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’.
Support came from currently unsigned Rude Tiger, a hard rock power trio from Devon. Their presence was immediately stated and not due to their work onstage. The merch stall was all theirs, and what a stall it was! An excess of t-shirts, CDs, badges and an extremely outgoing band rep was all a bit too much to take in with no Aynsley Lister material in sight. As for the musical side of things, Rude Tiger proved that they were more than just a desperate pub band looking for a break. The trio delivered a memorable thirty minutes of original material that was powerful, tight and highly enjoyable. Consistency was lost during their set, a lack of addictive crushing riffage was apparent in certain numbers. However, notable experimentation with time signatures and rhythms kept things interesting yet trying to get the audience to clap along to 6/4 amusingly didn’t get the vibe that was intended.
When Aynsley and his band took to the stage it was evident that a greater force had arrived. Opening with ‘With Me Tonight’ was a platform for Lister to show his renowned solo abilities. A mid-tempo number, the track stretched around the ten minute mark. The set could’ve sounded larger had it exploded into one of his faster tracks such as ‘Soul’ or ‘Hurricane’ given that the crowd had just been exposed to Rude Tiger’s hard hitting rock anthems. A mild complaint indeed, but the night’s set could have done with a few more of his harder hitting hard rock numbers.
We didn’t have to wait long for ‘What’s it all About’. Lister’s signature solo that has earned its place as one of the most emotive guitar solos of all time. If you haven’t heard it already, imagine something in the vein of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘I’m So Afraid’. The power of that one track was the highlight of the evening and in a way it was a pity that it came so early in the set.
There were moments of amusement early on as plaster began to fall from the ceiling directly above where Lister was standing. It seemed that even inside the shelter of the Pavilions, there was no getting away from something that looked like snow. Thankfully the ceiling didn’t collapse and Lister completed another inspiring performance. The encore of Deep Purple’s ‘Hush’ fused with Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ ignited the audience one last time and Lister’s connection with his fans was as strong as his stage presence and charisma. The Aynsley Lister Band have played Cornwall regularly in recent years and his following in the area has steadily grown. Throughout the show audience members were singing along to every song and his loyalty to the area has clearly paid off. However, the tour schedule may show that they won’t be coming back this way for a while yet. So for now, pick up a copy of Tower Sessions and expose yourself to the magic of Aynsley Lister live!
Anysley Lister Band [9/10]
Rude Tiger [8/10]
Reviewed by Daniel Aston 27/11/2010