I wonder how many people that were wandering around Islington last night, just going about their daily affairs,that inside the venue, there were some absolute legends of the rock/metal music scene about to set the place alight. It really was a celebration of old and new, legends and dynamic upstarts all sharing a stage to try impress the gathered worshipers and send them home elated after a blistering evening of rock n roll.
First band up on stage tonight were Wolverhampton rockers Gin Annie who brought their brand of High Octane rock to North London and kick started what was going to be a very memorable night in glorious fashion. Riding the crest of a wave since the release of their awesome debut album 100% Proof, (which I cannot and have not stopped listening to since getting it in January), these five musicians from the Midlands set the tone for the evening straight away with a blistering 6 song 30 minute set that was full of dirty guitar riffs, heavy pounding drums and bass and top quality melodic rock vocals.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfBF6c6JYqo&w=560&h=315]
They kicked the night off with “New Bad Habit”, with it’s catchy riffs and hooks and from the off the band were straight on it. It was evident straight away that this was going to be a captivating performance, with frontman David Foster immediately posing for photographs for the press below and interacting with the crowd. There was no let up as the band went straight into “Fallin” with another great riff and monster drum sound. The band behind Foster are so impressive, guitarists Bryon Gardett and Brian Green are clearly enjoying their chance to warm the crowd up for the highly anticipated Deadland Ritual and the oh so powerful rhythm section of Jack Ryland-Smith on drums and Phil “Hammer” Burrows on bass provide an energy that just drives the set forward.
Next up, we get “Dying to Live Again”, a new song that the band I believe are hoping will be their next single. A real powerful ballad full of dreamy guitars that should get the band some serious airplay. They follow this with “Chains”, one of my favourite tracks from their 100% Proof album and this goes down a storm with the ever increasing crowd in front of them. The penultimate song in their set is “Love Ain’t Here”, a real power house rocker that is kickstarted by some monstrous drums from the impressive Ryland-Smith before another nerve tingling guitar riff that swirls and teases all the way through and a dual guitar solo from Green and Gardett that sits within the song so well. This beauty of a track leads us into the bands last song and the perfect set closer. “Born to Rock n Roll” is a superb rock track, full of drums and guitars and a catchy little chorus that gives Foster the chance to get the crowd joining in, which they do with pleasure. It really sums up what the band are about, great riffs, mesmerising hooks, vocals full of melody and tantalising choruses that just get you singing along. An awesome start to the evening I must say!
Pete Way has assembled a fine selection of musicians to accompany him on his 2019 tour. On stage with him he has Laurence Archer (Grand Slam), slide guitarist Tym Scopes, ex Waysted multi-instrumentalist Jason Poole and on drums, from the Wild Horses, Clive Edwards. Way himself, is a legend, having been in UFO and Waysted along side many other projects which enables him to drawer on a back catalogue of stellar material. Those two factors tonight meant that the bands set was always going to be entertaining.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCphYsw08R8&w=560&h=315]
I have never seen Pete Way before, but have read about his recent health issues and his over exuberant use of drugs and alcohol in his younger years, it was after all, the rock n roll lifestyle he was leading, wasn’t it. With everything that has gone before him in that regard, the ability to still be able to perform on stage is amazing and I guess we should not expect the wild, athletic performer of yesteryear, after all, he is closer to 70 than to 60. The fact that he has surrounded himself with such great musicians and was able to draw on that back catalogue, along with his own status, saw the crowd filling up before he had taken to the stage.
Opening up with the crowd pleasing “You and Me”, it gave the band around him the chance to shine straight away, despite some early technical issues. With some tantalising solos’ and heavy riffs, the song and the band were greeted with huge applause. “American Kid” was up next, with Laurence Archer showing what a superb guitarist he is as he churned out riffs and solos’s whilst the band suffered more issues, this time it being Tym Scopes guitar not working. It was then time to delve into that UFO back catalogue and the opening bars of “Shoot Shoot” were received with cheers and applause and gave the crowd a real chance to open their lungs and sing back to Pete Way at his every request.
From there we got a very heavy and frantic paced “Might as well go drinkin”, which sections of the crowd were suggesting that is what Mr Way had been doing a bit too much of before he took to the stage. “Narcotics”, a new song from the soon to be released album “Walking on the Edge”, which was co-written with Guns N Roses guitarist Slash, was the only new song we got tonight. A real heavy rocker, full of riffs and solos, it gives hope that the new album will be a great piece of work when it is finally released.
Throughout tonight’s set, there had been a lot of ramblings from the frontman. Were they drunken ramblings, I don’t know, but there were definitely those that thought they were. It just meant that they had to drop one track from their set as time ran out. The final two songs could only come from one band, couldn’t they, yep UFO, of course. Putting “Too Hot to Handle” and “Doctor Doctor” together to finish their time on stage was a master stroke. The crowd lapped up every minute of these songs, especially when they were asked to sing “Doctor Doctor” as Pete informed them “He doesn’t sing it very well and doesn’t know all the words”. Anyway, sing they did and they did it well. The band, as they had been all the way through the set were just superb and you got the feeling that for the most part, the crowd enjoyed that 7 song set from the ex-UFO man.
Next up were our headliners! What a cumulative CV the four members have between them. There are not many bands whose members can write, down previous (and current) employers as Black Sabbath, Guns n Roses, Velvet Revolver, Billy Idol and Apocalyptica as starters. Why were they doing this now I asked myself, it couldn’t be for money after all, so it must be for the music. Musicians need to perform don’t they, they live for that rush of being on stage, of writing that next killer tune. What was tonight going to be then, well as the lights dimmed, I was about to find out.
The band were treated to a massive roar as they entered the dark Islington stage. As you looked at the stage Geezer Butler was stage left, Steve Stevens to the right with Matt Sorum behind his kit and Frankie Perez patrolling every bit of available space. Opening with Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe” straight away showed the band were going to give us a bit of everything tonight. What we ended up getting was 14 songs, that involved delving into the Sabbath catalogue, Velvet Revolver and a bit of Billy Idol at least.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUPp6fD7Jco&w=560&h=315]
The crowd were into it from the start, as Perez sang his heart out to this Sabbath tune. They were singing along and clapping as Stevens played out the master riff over Geezer Butlers chugging bass line and the immensely powerful Sorum drum beat that was so evident all night. “Dismas” and “Neon Nights” came next, with Perez showing what a versatile singer he is as he prowled the stage in his sunglasses, never seeming to stand still for more than a fleeting second and interacting with the crowd whenever he could. Steve Stevens quickly gave us a glimpse of his amazing talents with a couple of breath taking guitar solo’s that makes you wonder why he is not talked about in the same vein as other, more supposedly illustrious six string geniuses.
Three songs in and one thing is quite apparent, the crowd are loving this and loving the band. You get the impression too that the band feel the same way. Matt Sorum is constantly smiling as he pounds away at his kit, although how he finds the effort to raise a smile with the energy he is putting in to bashing that kit is beyond me and Geezer Butler every now and then lets out a little wry grin as he looks across at his band members, almost as if to give to nod of approval.
“City of theNight” is next up before the band tear into a rip roaring version of “Slither” that has every man and woman in the room singing along before getting the biggest roar of the night so far on its conclusion. “Fade to Disappear” with it’s heavy, chugging riff and beastly drum beat is up next before “Sweet Leaf”, another Sabbath classic is churned out. It seems strange seeing Geezer Butler spitting out the bassline to this legendary tune without Ozzy by his side, but it works and unsurprisingly the crowd are in full voice for it. They are lapping up every drum beat, every note sung, every strum of bass and guitar and it is a joy to watch.
“Walls” a track I don’t know follows. Another real rocker of a track but one with some great time changes in it. Steve Stevens shows that he is not just all about flashy guitar solo’s as he plays some wonderfully intricate guitar parts through the song. Perez who has not stopped moving all night, looks like he should be entering a wet t-shirt contest as his sweat soaked shirt clings to his torso. After “Walls” we get a very brief Steve Stevens guitar solo spot, nothing long and drawn out, but just enough to give him a few seconds under the spotlight (which he truly deserves) and the rest of the band a short breather before another sing a long moment as they band tear through a majestic version of “Rebel Yell” that must have raised the roof somewhat.
“Broken n Bruised” the second track to be released by the band came up next and it is a real smouldering, moody little track. Definitely not a ballad but an almost atmospheric rocker that builds into a monster of a track. “Dead Before Sunrise” leads into another brief little solo spot, this time for bass man Geezer Butler before the band dip back into the Black Sabbath catalogue and treat the crowd to a rip snorting “N.I.B.”. The sweat soaked Perez, who has most definitely been taken under the crowds wings has now lost the dripping shirt and the sunglasses he has been wearing throughout tonight’s performance and stands in the middle of the stage with his wet, glistening, tattooed torso proudly on display for the ladies at the front!
We get another, or should I say, the other Deadland Ritual track that has so far been released as the penultimate track tonight. “Down In Flames” is another moody, pulsating track that has a bit of a Sabbath vibe going on although more melodic and sits in the set perfectly after “N.I.B.”. What were the band going to bring their debut UK performance to a close with. It didn’t take long after each member was introduced to the crowd for Frankie Perez to thank everybody and introduce the last song as “Mother Fucking War Pigs”…what a track to end with. They played it superbly, as they had the rest of the night and the crowd lapped it up. This was heavy, this was loud and the crowd were revelling in it. I swear from where I was standing I couldn’t hear the vocals, the crowd was that loud at one point. That is ultimately a testament to how good that track is, how much the song is loved and how great a night those in attendance at the o2 Academy in Islington had has last night.
And as quickly as they had come, they were gone. A couple of drumsticks thrown into the crowd, a few waves and all four members of Deadland Ritual walked off stage to head to Donington Park and an appearance at Download today. So far they have only played a handful of shows, and I like the rest of the crowd last night are the lucky ones who have been able to see the band in , a so called intimate environment as they embark on a journey that will hopefully see an album or albums and more tours in the future.
Review by Sydney -Jane Smith
Photography by Darren Smith for metalplanetmusic