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Raw Glory – Hard Rock Hell III – Prestatyn

Raw Glory was formed in 2006 as a vehicle for the accomplished professional musicians, drummer Mick Underwood and guitarist
Cosmo (along with their ‘old bassist’ Johhny Heywood) to keep the rhythm rocking.

The combined talent and  the significant antecedent histories of these three notable rockers (Cosmo and Mick were playing professionally back in the 1960s) together with their new bass player Andy Hodge and their flamboyant frontman Paul Manzi, easily earn them a place in the ‘Rock Royalty’ section of the lexicon of popular music  With these credentials, they really should be sipping margueritas on a sunny tropical shore somewhere.

But it is not enough to rest on your laurels, especially if you wanna live a rock n ‘roll lifestyle to the extreme … these guys are still out working every week – making  new music and recreating their old fire and magic at local venues around West London.

These guys still rock.  They still perform out-and-out guts and glory assaults on the tender eardrums of unsuspecting punters any given Saturday night.

Big dirty tunes like ‘Bad Girl’ are overblown heavy metal anthems stylistically blasted through with bombastic beats and heavy riffs. These songs crash out of the Raw Glory speakers in waves and waves of sound, drowning the audience, and making ‘em gasp for air.

I am at that ‘dangerous age’.  So, when I had my first “sound attack”, inflicted upon me by Raw Glory, I clutched my heaving chest.  My arms went stiff like a starfish, but at the same time, my legs turned to jelly. Then my ears started to drum, hiss and crackle intermittently and, finally, a shooting star whooshed up the left side of my brain and fired out of my pineal gland like a flame blasting from a blow torch.  I thought that I would never recover.  Wow – this is potent stuff.  If heavy metal was illegal then Raw Glory would be ‘class A’ – and this stuff they are still pedalling would be the equivalent of 100% pure Colombian.

The rest of the audience at Hard Rock Hell also suffered severe  “Sound Attacks”.  We even had a taste of the kinda magic that drummer Mick Underwood could still evoke on the skins. It seems unlikely that there was a better, faster, fatter performance on the drums over the entire three days of the festival.  And guitarist Cosmo also cranked up the angst and let fly with furious laments, banshee cries, whispers, whelps and raining chords.  It was all there in the sound attacks that he performed for the crowd at Prestatyn.

But it was the singer who stole the show from his distinguished colleagues and turned a modest pub sized gig into a major tour de force suitable for a stadium-sized sell-out.  The tail of the peacock, the enlarged claw of a male fiddler crab and the overblown curly mop of hair upon the head of wild rock singer such as Paul Manzi or Robert Plant are all sure-fire signs of male virility. Here was an alpha-male strutting the territory of his stage in glorious dominance. The truest definition of all that is, and ever was, so macho. He said that he owed everything to Led Zep.  And the band’s startling rendition of ‘Whole Lotta Love’, to round off their set, proved this to be true.

Like the rest of the eager audience I was swept away by the sheer vibrancy of the Raw Glory act – and my favourite number “White Lies” was still ringing in my ears several hours later. Raw Glory is the sum of all that is noble and  strong in the world of heavy metal and rock n’ roll.

And they prove that you don’t have to be youthful to be vital.

I wish them many, many more years of rocking.  Good Health!

© Neil_Mach

December 2009


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Four Wheel Drive, Hard Rock Hell – Part 2

Four Wheel Drive


Four Wheel Drive at Hard Rock Hell III – Prestatyn North Wales-
Part 2

I worry about Danny (the singer from Tribal Law) all night. I worry about  4WD missing their chance for glory.  First thing in the morning I go down to see the Hard Rock Hell management.  They say they have been inundated with fans coming up asking about Four Wheel Drive. They confirm to me that 4WD will go on. The band will play at the end of the ‘day’ on the Old Skool NWOBHM Stage  – They will have a slot right at the end of the afternoon on this (smaller) stage set in the Queen Victoria pub (within the camp.) They will go on after the likes of Dumpys Rust Nuts and Hammerhead etc. It is not a grand stage.  It is not even a great setting. But it’s gonna be just right …. just right because those other old skool bands will warm up the crowd in all the right places. And what about Danny from Tribal Law?  “No news” says the man …. “But I hear he is OK”.

So we wait till the end of the ‘day’ for Four Wheel Drive.  We pass the time with the bands like Kingston’s Pig Iron (amazing Southern style raw metal) and Girlschool, Glitterati and Tigertailz.  Then we move into the Queen Vic ‘pub’ which is heaving with hot sweaty rock luvvas grinding to the sounds of Hammerhead.  For a few anxious moments it looks like Hammerhead don’t wanna relinquish the stage to the ‘new’ boys – Four Wheel Drive.  Paddy and Ben are standing at the back of the stage with sullen expressions upon their faces – well it is understandable,  this is their second day without booze ! God love ‘em.   But, anyway,  the stage manager (a rather short man wearing a cap that is too large for him and comedy eye-wear) finally tells old-timers Hammerhead to ‘F** Off’ and ushers on our hard working rock heroes…

The hairy festival poet introduces our boys and makes reference to their latest album.  He gives ’em a good, solid warm up and even goes some way to explaining why their gig had been postponed from the previous night.

For a few moments I thought that the crowd of NWOBHM die-hard fans would wander off from the area, but 4WD caught ‘em with an amazingly electrifying opening that cleared the way for a stupendous set.   Hooray!  Four Wheel Drive had finally made it. They had got to the zone before the zone had got to them…

The band’s balls-out Rock N’ Roll ‘attitude’ has accelerated considerably since the last times I caught ‘em live.  They are now less Southern Rockin in sound and stature and instead play a harder variety of rock / heavy metal. Yes, the Southern blues influences are still there but now the sound is brasher, bolder,  more self-assured.   Their’s is now mainstream variety rock, fit to fill stadiums – think the Australian rockers Airbourne to get an idea.

Paddy and Ben, stripped to the waist, played intertwining guitar solo arrangements and brazenly brash chords with flare and finesse and the excitement was truly raw and unpretentious. Will played Herculean drums with pride and pomposity, beating out the rhythm until the fragile walls of the pub began to tremble in sympathy.  The crowd roared with delight as the band ladled out the hits like ‘White Lines’  and ‘High Roller’.

The spectacle and the sheer brute force of this band were more than the ears (or eyes) could behold. Yet the Hard Rock Hell punters were screaming for more. As I looked around the venue I realised that scores more rockers were filing into the venue from next door (Stage 2) – which I assume was hosting Witchfynde.

The best man of the day, however, was – for me – the 4WD front man and bassist Jamie. He stands out like a tall icon of common sense and propriety in between the berserk frizzy mopped guitar twins. He holds his guitar high and shakes his black locks. His voice is so large it should come with its own planning application stapled to the front of the speaker boxes.  His voice adds another huge layer to the crisp sounds and textures going on in a flurry of activity around him. This band is so great and the sounds are so enriching, that you want to jump, jive and jig for joy.

In the latter stages of the incredible set, as Jamie introduced the band to the rapturous crowd and thanked Total Rock Radio and Hard Rock Hell for the opportunity to play the festival he also took out time to mention Tribal Law.  A shriek and claps rose up from the crowd. Everyone looked around to see where the gleeful noise was coming from.  “He is here …. He is here” a female voice squeals out.  Standing at the back of the crowd, hidden by a glass panel, was none other than Danny the lead singer from Tribal Law.  He had made ‘a full recovery’ and was watching Four Wheel Drive play their show.

After all that we had been through – that was truly the final blessing!

© Neil_Mach

December 2009



The news item about the collapse of Tribal Law lead singer Danny Adams:


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Four Wheel Drive, Hard Rock Hell, Prestatyn

Danny - Tribal Law

Outrageous Fortune

Part one – Hard Rock Hell – Prestatyn

Imagine the pressure and the pain . . .  Our plucky high-rollin’ heroes are up in North Wales, Prestatyn to be exact, for the Hard Rock Hell III – for the gig of their lives.  They arrive early morning to find that the official 4WD T-shirt is proudly displayed in the Merch shop alongside shirts for New York  Dolls, Monster Magnet & W.A.S.P. and their concrete barrack-style ‘chalet’ is laden with gallons of booze . . .  it is rock n’ roll time and they are here to play a vast crowd on an immense stage at the biggest winterfest in the known universe. They are chosen ones and this is their moment.

On the official running order for the event the boys are shown on LAST on the Total Rock Radio big stage at 01:45am after ten more bands (on that stage) and after a heavy metal party that started the PREVIOUS AFTERNOON at 5pm.  So the stakes are high and the slots are tight….

During the day the boys wait patiently, gently floating on a sea of anticipation, excitement and nervous anticipation …. They don’t dare drink any of the moonshine in their Spartan chalet – or get involved in any fist fights or other harmful shenanigans because they need to preserve every inch of their energetic verve and spirit for their big moment yet to come.

Around Midnight the Staines’s favourite live band start to prepare religiously for their big show. They even miss seeing Monster Magnet and Sonata Arctica whilst they get ‘into the zone.’

Meanwhile the Total Rock Radio stage is being prepared for West Country southern-rock lads Tribal Law.  Soon enough these fun loving lads are bringing the burgeoning crowd to an effervescent climax with their zingy, zippy mix of twanging guitars and growling bass lines. It is all going so well that the Tribal Law lead guitarist (the Apache Koe Naiche) suggests to the lead vocalist and front-man Danny Adams that they do one more song.  The crowd is by now in a state of frenzy and is hollering for more. Danny doesn’t think so. “Stay around for the next band” he yells to the over excited crowd of rock fans “The next band is Four Wheel Drive and they are gonna blow your mind”.  The crowd erupts in cheers and applause.

Back stage the 4WD team are making their final adjustments to hair and instruments. A whole day of patient preparation and grooming is about to pay dividends.  The Tribal Law lead guitar kisses his turquoise feathers and says to the crowd and his band-mates  “Just one  more….”  Danny agrees, but with some reluctance. They start their final number, a blistering, searing bluesy finale. The crowd is going berserk.

On the final note, of the final chord, of that very final song I watch in horror as Danny, the Tribal Law lead singer suddenly and without any warning, keels over backwards onto the drum stage. He is a big lad and he goes down hard onto the cruel stage-floor. The crowd gasp.  The band chingles to a halt and band-mates Koe, Frazor Clubb and Jaymz Perry stare at the scene in disbelief. A stage manager runs over to Danny who is now laying stationary on the stage floor his head at a nasty angle against the fierce metal edge of the drum stage. I hear several members of the crowd saying “Oh God.”

“Get a medic, dial 999” shouts the stage manager to the security.  Danny is out cold and we fear the worse. He must have suffered severe concussion at a minimum – worse probably – possible life threatening injuries. Paramedics are called but they won’t take the risk of moving him… possible neck or spinal injuries. For a few agonising moments we think we have lost him.

He requires CPR and fast. This is becoming a nightmare.

The consequences of all this are that, by now, our West London Heroes 4WD are now on stage attempting to do a sound check whilst the paramedics are working on Danny. It looks grim.  Then the security decides to empty the arena.  Punters are moved slowly out.  And they are in a solemn mood.  Now all signs of fun and joy have been dashed. We wait in the big corridors outside the venue for about twenty minutes. By now Four Wheel Drive should be playing their hearts out to this big crowd.  Instead we are all waiting here in an eery silence. Another few minutes pass and a supervisor comes out to tell us the news.   The evening is over.  The party is a no-no. Four Wheel Drive are cancelled. The venue is closed. We are all told to go home.  “How is the boy who fell over?” Someone asks.  “I dunno”. Says the supervisor as he scurries off.  Shhhh…..iiiitt!

Visit here SOON for PART TWO of this story ….

If  you cannot wait for Part 2 and you wanna read the review of Four Wheel Drive’s senstational show at Sticky Fungus Staines in the meantime,  click here >>>

© Neil_Mach
December 2009

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Imicus – Hobgoblin, Staines – 7 May 2009


The National Union of Imicus – Hobgoblin, Staines – May 7th 2009

Rock, as we know,  is theatre and this band knows how to play a crowd. The crowd is clapping for a while and the band has been playing ‘long time’ before the singer even takes to the stage. And when he does I really can’t help thinking that he reminds me of someone. For a start, lead singer Miller appears to be an eighties throwback (think a cross between Gary Numan and the Cure’s Robert Smith ) And, Sorry, Imicus, you are probably not gonna forgive me for this… but this is the second time in a week that I have had to compare a singer to Tony Hadley… I know it sounds mad but it’s true. The vocal style of Miller (with and without the growls) is Spandau-esque. Yes, I know that Hadley didn’t perform groove melodies, death growls etc, and I know you think I’m mad but still, I am right… if you look / listen you will agree with me.

The song ‘Inveigle’ went down well with the large crowd at Hobgoblin, Staines – bellowing wolfhound bass notes and thudding great drums hunting you down like an army of orcs raging across the border of oblivion. Contrasted with the golden lines of strings and occasional pinch harmonics, lush and rich lead breaks from Billy and the whole damn effect was other-worldly, dark and devastatingly addictive musicianship. Superb stuff.

My favourite ‘Imicus’ number was the slowest song in their repertoire ‘Isolation Dawn’ with its bitter melancholy edge and a Gothic, earthy sub-text. This number starts as raindrops on a pool of silence and ends in a climax of earth shattering shuddering release.

‘Animal Factory’ with its classic-rock sounding lead guitar breaks laid against the blackest of black velvet gauntlets also gained enthusiastic applause at The Hob. This was a thing of sparkling glory. A black diamond.

Billy plays lead guitar with a rare emotion and skill, and so, it seems, sirens and demons spiral and twirl from his dark strings. These are often beaten down by the raging rattling and unpredictable percussion from Dale and doomy bass notes from Steve, with darkly woven textures from Dan on rhythm guitar. But then, like mystical genies, the lighter guitar  sounds begin to rise again like  fireflies in  the  smoke to  encourage and enchant the enraptured audience  ( check the track ‘Visceral’ to appreciate this.)

This band has already gone down well at this year’s Hammerfest and is due to play at the 2009 BULLDOG BASH FESTIVAL. It is no surprise to learn that the band has recently been signed to TRANSCEND RECORDS and it is a tribute to the good folk at Buckle Up Promotions that they managed to secure this young band for us metal-heads of Staines.

The finale ‘Oedema’ with its melodic hardcore overtures reminded me of ‘Killswitch Engage’ or even melodic death metal bands like ‘In Flames’ – this is a progressive, nutritious and amazing number with unexpected twists and turns and heavy sludgy riffs led, as always, outrageously and energetically, by Miller’s vocals and Billy’s guitar.  Satisfying and motivating stuff.

Billy - Imicus Lead Guitar
Billy - Imicus Lead Guitar

If you like your heavy metalcore sounds to include an enticing classic rock attitude (acceptable to Motörhead or Black Sabbath fans) then you should really take time to listen to this band, or better yet, catch ‘em live.

© Neil_Mach
May 2009

Link:  http://www.myspace.com/imicus

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Iron Maiden's Steve Harris
Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris

You have to admire the geezer who placed Avenged Sevenfold on the Twickers bill with headlining brit-rock gods Iron Maiden. For a start you have got the whole book of Revelations thing going on… “The Number of the Beast” versus “The Beast and the Harlot”. Then you have got the twin-lead guitar sounds of Gates/Vengeance versus Smith/Murray. Finally you get the blatant hero worship of Shadows & co for Dickenson & co that warms the very cockles of your sad old heart. “Maiden are by far the best live band in the world and their music is timeless” says Shadows, as A7X prepares to cover the song ‘Flash of the Blade’ for Kerrang’s “Maiden Heaven” as a free tribute album [available Kerrang! Issue 1219]. Butf you think the similarities end there then just give the track ‘M.I.A’ off of the City of Evil album a woosh. Yes, the track has a bit of Wishbone Ash about it [is that why they played
the Wishbone track Warrior off Argus on the tape during the interval at Twickenham?] and even a bit of Pink Floyd about it… but M.I.A. is, in essence, a very nicely turned piece of homage artwork dedicated by those skull-winged songsters to their favourite sounds i.e. the sounds of Maiden. Just listen to those Nicko McBrain tom-toms thumping – oops – no it was the Rev.

And so onto Maiden who (almost) filled the Twickenham RFU stadium [capacity 82,000] and admitted, on stage, that they were playing to the biggest crowd (in the UK) that they ever have. In fact, the East London Boys (OK, I know Bruce is from Nottingham) were keen to underline that 2008 is the biggest year for Iron Maiden yet. Yes, they have been ‘on the road’ for 25 years but they have now reached stellar proportions (although they promise they have not reached their zenith) claiming to be not only the biggest ‘metal’ band in the world but to be actually the biggest band in the world. And how many, in this millenium, can claim to travel to their venues in their own custom Boeing 757 ‘ed force one’ and play such grand stadiums? I would still like to say, on record, that Led Zep are probably still the worlds biggest band- but I have to admit that Maiden are more flamboyant and certainly more energetic. I cannot imagine Robert Plant jumping, running and wisecracking his way through a 69 date tour (Twickers was the 49th night of the tour and the Maiden boys were as fresh and presumptious as pair of Daisy Dukes box-fresh knickers ). Sorry Rob.

Lauren Harris band
Lauren Harris band- old gent on left

Well what did you get for your fifty pounds sterling? (By the way, I met several fans who had travelled for 5 or more hours to get to the Maiden concert and the general feeling was that you needed to spend about £230 per head to enjoy the day).Well the concert started nicely with the Lauren Harris band -Lauren is the daughter of Iron Maiden bassist and founder Steve Harris. I saw Lauren Harris on a smaller stage at last years Hard Rock Hell (Minehead) and I was quite impressed. Her band has toured with the Led Zep-esque Ulster group ‘The Answer’ and also with the Dutch goth-rockers ‘Within Temptation’ (about whom I shall come onto in a moment) and the band comes across as a gutsy and polished pub rock outfit. At Hard Rock Hell I was kinda surprised at how old Lauern’s team-mates were and especially Mr Tom McWilliams, the drummer, who has played with ‘Glorious’ Estafan back in the ‘90’s and is a multi-grammy winner in his own right. These ‘old geezers’ could certainly knock ‘em out and gave the band a slightly more experienced persona than they might otherwise have managed to achieve if they were a bunch of student musos. My only general moan, at the Iron Maiden show, was the tight-fisted attitude of the Twickenham promoter who decided that the support acts couldn’t have the use of the stage-side TV monitor screens. Now I know that Maiden deserved to have the biggest soundz, the biggest lightz and the biggest buzz but who decided that the punters in the 82,000 seater only need to see ant-size musicians on the stage prior to the big act? In a sports stadium, when the football is being played, all the spectators have an equal chance of catching some action close up because they are all equi-distant from the pitch-side action. But when the stadium is turned into an event arena and the stage is up one end, almost every one of the spectators ‘misses out’ on the intricate moments. That is why they invented big TV screens. So we, the lowly punters, can kind of match up the ant-antics onstage with the human drama via the telly-viewer. And with a group like Lauren Harris who, to be honest, are more-or-less a fancy pub-rock outfit, it was always going to be that they seemed lost in that size arena without the use of the screens. It was a shame. And it was a tight-fisted oversight.

Sharon den Adel from Within Temptation
Sharon den Adel- Within Temptation

And so onto Within Temptation. These are a dutch symphonic rock group who share a similar sound to Evenescence or Nightwish. Sharon den Adel – Vocals- is amply supported by experienced rock guitarist Ruud Jolie (who admits that Iron Maiden is his main influence- and thus the connection) and her long-time boyf, Robert Westerholt. The groups harmonies and symphonic mastery were not helped by the stadium acoustics which were, to say the least, sporadically awful. There was a nasty wind blowing into the East Stand and this helped to give the aural illusion that the spectators were a few crucial seconds behind the events on stage. This is the kind of problem you always get with any out-door event. My tip is to see Within Temptation in a purpose built venue with proper acoustics to get the real sound. But all-in-all Within Temptation were a triumph especially because the mezzo-soprano skills of Sharon den Adel managed to cut through the air and the blacker more gothier riffs were picked up by the crowd who clapped and thumped along with vigour. And it was genuinely nice to see so many younger. delicate and more indie-emo orientated fans, who had only come to see their heroes Within Temptation, mixing it large with the big, burly hell-raising bruisers who make up the majority of the Maiden fan-base.

The Somewhere Back In Time set itself was a satisfying confection of everything we love and admire about Maiden. The event is nicely packaged to include the best of years 1980-1989 (Aces High, The Trooper, The Number of the Beast, Run to the Hills, Can I Play With Madness) but there were also some moments of sheer brilliance and exhilaration and, for me, the high point both visually and musically was the Steve Harris penned number “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (with words by Samuel Taylor Coleridge) from the fifth Maiden album ‘Powerslave’. This was sumptuously staged and was an emotionally powerful piece of music. Obviously, we had the big screens running for the big band. The whole stage was used, with various backdrops and crowd-pleasing animatronics, lots of lights, fog, banner waving and all manner of fizzes, whooshes and bangs. It was hard rock luxury.

Pompous? Yes. Overplayed? Yes. Majestic? Yes.
But what the hell, that is what stadium rock is all about.

M Shadows - Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold’s M Shadows


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