Monday, September 16, 2019

Muse, Simulation Theory World Tour, at London's O2 Arena (and Nothing But Thieves too!)

Muse, Simulation Theory World Tour, London
Muse, O2 Arena, London, UK
London stop on the Simulation Theory World Tour: it was my first Muse show. It won't be my last.

At the O2 Arena in London, out to the east of the city on the North Greenwich penninsula: the venue is a city to itself, with street food, restaurants, clubs, a garden, mountaineering (OK, not really mountaineering, but you can climb all the way over the dome) - even London's biggest cinema. You can travel to the O2 by tube, bus, river bus (boat), even by crossing the Thames on a cable car. Tube is the most fun because then you see the signs by @allontheboard. (Leaving the venue is a little trickier, but if you're floating on air after a show like this, it doesn't matter how long it takes.)

Muse, Simulation Theory World Tour, London
Muse, O2 Arena, London
The show opened with Nothing But Thieves, who I have been guilty of missing on several occasions when over the other side of the Atlantic. So very, very good! With a backdrop of the stunning artwork from their 2017 album, Broken Machine, - a new album next year? to add to this and their self-named 2015 release, Nothing But Thieves deserve to be huge. Huge. They filled the arena with their music. Lovely. If you haven't heard them yet... it's about time you did.

Muse, Simulation Theory World Tour, London
Muse, O2 Arena, London
And then Muse... I knew to expect lights, lasers, spectacle and had found a spot at the sounddesk barrier, to better experience the whole show. It started pretty low-key... blue lights and a troupe of LED-costumed-trombone-players seemingly right in the centre of the arena crowd - the stage an elongated arm into the centre of the audience... Matt Bellamy with glasses lit up neon like Times Square (how does he see? let alone sing, or play?) and it just built from there, a crescendo of live video and animation on the huge screen, a near-perfect sound system, and a bloody great monster that from my perspective could have been video, could have been hologram, could have been real, might just have been the dream that everyone in the room was dreaming at the same time.

The music was pretty darn good too. Yes, I'm the queen of the understatement today.

Muse, Simulation Theory World Tour, London
Muse, O2 Arena, London
It was my daughter's first Muse show in the UK - by no means her first Muse show, she's seen them in many countries so far - and indeed, her first concert in this country (we left the UK before any of my kids had the chance to experience big venue live music) and for her, the experience of being in the middle of singing, dancing, ecstatic fans, and seeing everyone in the galleries and boxes and nosebleeds standing up and too, was very very special. (There is nothing in the world quite like British music fans... nothing.)

Muse, Simulation Theory World Tour, London
Muse, O2 Arena, London
Some of you get the chance to do this all over again, tomorrow night in Birmingham. We very much wish we were there, too. Have a blast.

More Muse tour dates here and Nothing But Thieves here.

Muse, Simulation Theory World Tour, London
Muse, O2 Arena, London
(Photos in this post are cellphone shots from the audience and there are a few more here. Yes, I did spend part of the show wishing I had my pro cameras... can't help it with these amazing visuals... but sometimes you just have to go for, and with, the music. Wonderful evening!

That was some show. Thank you - you know who you are!)

Muse, Simulation Theory World Tour, London
Muse, O2 Arena, London

Friday, September 13, 2019

Five Finger Death Punch tickets for European and UK tour on sale now!

Jason Hook, Five Finger Death Punch, Aftershock 
Tickets are on sale now for Five Finger Death Punch with special guest Megadeth and supported by Bad Wolves. The UK and European winter tour calling at major arenas begins on January 14th in Kiev, Ukraine, and runs until 20th February (Budapest, Hungary). UK dates are 30th January (Cardiff, Wales) and 31st January (Wembley Arena, London, England).

Ivan Moody, vocals, Five Finger Death Punch
Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch

The shows will sell out - don't miss this opportunity to see these three bands. Some brilliant, beautiful locations: make a vacation of it, road trip!

Yes, for those based in teh UK, London's Wembley will be an unforgettable experience - but also check some of the other locations as it's an inexpensive time of year to travel and vacation plus music is always a good thing! (Just ask my bank manager.)

Need an intro? Check out Wrong Side of Heaven from FFDP, Symphony of Destructionfrom Megadeth, and Remember When from Bad Wolves (you may have already heard their version of Zombie, it's brilliant.)

Chris Kael, bass, Five Finger Death Punch
Chris Kael, Five Finger Death Punch
See also: Five Finger Death Punch at Aftershock, 2017; photos and review

Photo galleries:

- Five Finger Death Punch
- Megadeth

Zoltan Bathory, guitar, Five Finger Death Punch
Zoltan Bathory, Five Finger Death Punch

Saturday, September 7, 2019

New release: Marillion, Afraid of Sunlight deluxe edition!

Port Zelande, The Netherlands, 24 March 2019: Marillion performing on the final night of the PZ weekend 2019.
Marillion, 2019
Marillion will release a deluxe edition of Afraid of Sunlight later this year... a four-CD/Blu Ray set and a five vinyl box set, each with a whole lot of new stuff including a full remix of the original album by maestro Michael Hunter, a live recording from Rotterdam, The Netherlands (1995): full details, track lists for each set and the link for preordering is here:

- Afraid of Sunlight deluxe edition CD/Blu Ray
- Afraid of Sunlight delux edition vinyl

 (and yes, they are different, and yes, you really do want both so check the listing for both.)

Marillion are heading out on tour in November with "Friends From The Orchestra", beginning November 1st with a sold-out show at Liverpool Philarmonic and following on with Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Bath, Oxford, Glasgow, Gateshead, Southend, Cardiff... and then two nights, yes TWO nights, at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Check here for all dates and locations and try to find a ticket somewhere along the way. Haven't seen them live, yet? You're a fan just waiting to happen. I'll see you there.

More Marillion photos here

The Feast of 2019: listen to all of these

Corey Taylor, vocals, Slipknot
Corey Taylor, Slipknot, Chicago Open Air 2016 OLD MASK!!!
Late 2019 is turning into a celebration for fans of the heavier side of music - and through the success of albums so far, the new music is coming to the ears of those who might not previously have heard. In August, Slipknot's We Are Not Your Kind knocked Ed Sheeran from his perch to take the number one in the UK album charts, the first metal band in four years to top the pile in the land where heavy metal began. And, incidentally, Slipknot's first UK number one in eighteen years. And then of course they did the same in the USA, reaching the top of the Billboard album charts.

Slipknot wear masks and put on an incredible live show. The masks (not the one above any more - new ones) elicit emotion: fear, laughter, ugliness, nightmares, and that of course is intentional. If you've never listened to Slipknot yet because of the visual image, think again. Listen to the music somewhere different: a walk on the beach, when roaming through an art gallery, while shopping in the supermarket. Find the music first - the appreciation of the not-faces comes later. My photographer brain wants to see the musician's emotions and I had to get past that to the sound... it's a learning, and I learned to really appreciate this band in all it's incarnations. Loving We Are Not Your Kind!

Maynard James Keenan, vocals, A Perfect Circle
Maynard James Keenan, not Tool, Aftershock 2017
Then Tool... Tool's Fear Inoculum, the long-awaited, very long awaited ... really, let's not count the years, let's just bathe in the sounds, let's just drown in the music. Entering the UK album charts this week at number four, in Kerrang!'s rock chart at number one, (and if anyone can tell me how to understand Billboard's myriad of ridiculous classifications I'd give you the placement there too), it's an album for the years - who cares how long it took? While Tool are being interviewed by metal magazines this one should be on the playlist for anyone who reads PROG too; it's a delight.

Jonathan Davis, vocals, Korn
Jonathan Davis, Korn, at Aftershock 2016
Then... coming soon, and with a new single "Can You Hear Me" in my inbox yesterday afternoon UK time, on September 13, Korn's The Nothing arrives. I may be gone for some time, listening to that one... check out the interview in this week's Kerrang magazine (and some beautiful photos too), you'll have to buy the mag to read it. The Nothing will be a personal and dark collection of songs - don't expect any stone to be left unturned. My soul hurts already.

Mark Tremonti, guitar, Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti, Alter Bridge, Houston Open Air 
Alter Bridge release Walk The Sky on October 18th... another one to add to the preorder list if you haven't already! And check tour dates just about everywhere in the USA and Europe - just make sure you pick the Manchester on the correct side of the Atlantic, if that's where you're planning to see them. Or heck, go to to both. I might.

Johnny Stevens, vocals, Highly Suspect
Johnny Stevens, Highly Suspect, at the Boardwalk, Orangevale, CA
Another album to anticipate this year: Highly Suspect will release their third album, MCID, on November 1st. With a couple of songs - 16 and Upperdrugs - already out, it's going to be special. (While listening to 16 did keep wanting to ask, "are you sure???", because DNA and bloodlines can do some strange things...) With their November tour dates in the UK and France sold out seemingly within seconds, if anyone has a clue how to get hold of two billets for either show, please let me know.

And guess what??? Four out of these five bands (and many, many more) will be performing at Sacramento's Aftershock Festival, October 11 - 13th, three days yes three days of huge music, wonderful music, fun, friends, food and festival. Go check out the lineup to see which three... and then hurry up and buy your tickets, there are only a few left... it's going to be an incredible weekend. So much good music. Be there!


- Aftershock Festival
- Slipknot
- Tool
- Alter Bridge
- Highly Suspect
- Alison Toon Photographer: Music