On Board Flight 666

31 10 2011

Last week my old mate John McMurtrie very kindly posted me a copy of his new book-On Board Flight 666, which documents his travels with the mighty Iron Maiden over the last few years.

I have to say,the book is an absolute must-buy for Maiden fans, photography geeks and music lovers in general so make sure you pick up a copy. I can’t wait to get properly stuck into it when the deadlines calm down a little, but in the meantime, here’s some shots of a few pages from the inside.

(I’ll post up some news stories/reviews I’ve written on the book once they’re published).Up the Irons.

Polar-‘Tonight Matthew I Am The Batman’

20 10 2011

This is just what the doctor ordered-

Rocket From The Crypt Reunite.For A Wee Bit Anyway…

15 10 2011

Yes folks,one of the greatest acts to ever grace a stage have reunited for one more show and, in typical Rocket fashion, it was most certainly unqiue.Here’s the quote from Speedo himself-

“ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT REUNITE! Apparently no one got the email invites to witness the sole reunion performance of the defunct San Diego rock n roll band Rocket From The Crypt. The band played a surprisingly tight and choreographed show on the set of Nickelodeon’s children show Yo Gabba Gabba. The unfortunately small audience (about five to ten 3 year olds) did not hamper the bands energy as they played favorites from their first 4 LP’s. One attendee was overheard saying ” I’m thirsty”. When asked about future Rocket performances the band answered, ” No. We are only interested in playing to audiences of 5 to 10 people between the ages of 3 to 6. Although we were surprisingly tight and choreographed , we will most likely never play as a band ever again.”

New Therapy? Q And A

14 10 2011

On Nov 4 Therapy? play a gig at the Ulster Hall in Belfast, so I decided to give my old mate Michael a shout for a quick Q and A for the Big List. Here’s a reprint below which includes exclusive news on their forth-coming single.

Therapy? Q and A

This month we take a brief respite from out regular interview with some of NI’s up and coming movers and shakers to bring you an interview with one of this country’s biggest exports-Therapy? Currently celebrating 22years of kicking ass and taking names, the Larne/Ballyclare natives will be co-headlining the Belfast Rocks showcase at the Ulster Hall on Nov 4 alongside the Answer, so we caught up with bassist Michael McKeegan to hear about their plans for the homecoming show and he also gives us some details on their upcoming 13th album ‘A Brief Crack Of Light’ and makes an exclusive announcement on their new single. Enjoy.


Hi Michael, welcome to the Big List. First off, Therapy? are playing a “Belfast Rocks” showcase at the Ulster Hall next month. The gig announcement definitely came as a welcome surprise last week. Why did you guys decide to play the show?

Michael McKeegan: “We were actually asked to do it a while back and for various ‘logistical’ reasons it didn’t seem likely. Obviously being a hometown show we were keen to make it happen, so everyone went the extra mile and we’re all very pleased it’s happening.”


You’re performing alongside the Answer. Did that play a big part in your decision to do the gig? Who doesn’t love Cormac and Co. after all.

Michael: “Definitely! The Answer are another great band and we’ve done a few ‘one off’ shows over the years in Europe and England together, so its brilliant to finally do a proper NI show with them. Their new album is also damn good, so we’re all looking forward to hearing it live.”


The Ulster Hall has always been a special place for the band-are you looking forward to playing a full set there?

Michael: “Too right. The last time we just did two songs as part of the ATL “Do You Remember The First Time?” show…that was ace, but it just waaay too short.”


The gig is part of “Belfast Music Week.” How important do you think events like this are for promoting new bands and also paying respect to those that have paved their way?

Michael: “I think there’s a pretty good vibe in NI with regard to bands putting out quality music and generally just being creative. So yeah, I think these kinda shows tend to put a little bit of extra focus on the local scene and for us it’s always nice to get a bit of recognition on home-turf. I think as a culture we can be quite self-effacing and hard on ourselves.”


Album number 13 ‘A Brief Crack Of Light’ is coming out in February 2012. How’s it sound?

Michael: “It’s a great sounding record. We definitely wanted to push the vibe and sonics of ‘Crooked Timber’ a bit further and I think we may well have done that! There are (hopefully) a few surprises on there for long term fans and newcomers alike.”


I understand a single is being released in November. Can you tell us anything about it and the planned video?

Michael: “Nothing definite yet with regard to the video, but the song is entitled ‘Get Your Dead Hand Off My Shoulder’ and I’m especially interested in seeing what kinda feedback we get from people.”


Will you be playing any new songs at the Ulster Hall show?

Michael: “We haven’t tweaked a setlist as of yet, but I imagine we’ll play at least two of the new songs. It keeps it nice and fresh for us.”


You’ve mentioned on your official website that 2012 will see the band play a pretty extensive tour. Can we expect more Irish dates on the cards next year?

Michael: “Most definitely. Again, there’s nothing confirmed but we should be starting to see some European/UK shows announced for 2012 soon. The plan is to try and get back to everywhere that’ll have us!”

Therapy? co-headline Belfast Rocks at the Ulster Hall, Belfast alongside the Answer. Tickets for the show cost £17.50 and are available from all Ticketmaster outlets. Therapy?’s new album ‘A Brief Crack Of Light’ is scheduled to be released in Feb 2012. For more information on the band visit www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk.

Arthur’s Day Belfast

12 10 2011

Here’s a reprint of my coverage of the Arthur’s Day gig in Belfast that ran in Hot Press.

Arthur’s Day at the Ulster Hall, Belfast

For the last few years the music fans of Belfast have looked across the border every Sep 22 and felt, to borrow a phrase from the modern day prophet that is Amy Childs, well jell at our neighbours in Dublin having a fine old time celebrating Arthur’s Day. Tonight though, the green-eyed monster has been thoroughly slain as we’ve got our own event that boasts a solid line-up which rivals other shin-digs across the rest of Ireland and it all kicks off with bona fide local legends Ash.

Wasting little time breaking out the big guns, they metaphorically hit us between the eyes with their opening sucker punch of ‘Jack Names The Planets’ and ‘Girls From Mars’ and for the next twenty minutes or so, Tim and Co. treat us to an absolute pop punk masterclass. ‘Kung Fu’ leaves us feeling all nostalgic, ‘Oh Yeah’ (which is dedicated to Wheeler’s aunt who’s celebrating her 21st birthday tonight *nudge nudge, wink wink*) is as anthemic as ever and ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ proves that Ash can still set the stage alight after all these years. File under “P” for “Perfect.”

Next up, R ‘n’ B chanteuse Kelis takes to the stage clad in a sparkly outfit that would make the Strictly Come Dancing judges weak at the knees if they saw her. Starting her set with ‘Trick Me,’ she has the crowd in the palm of her hand when she performs a mash-up of Madonna’s ‘Holiday,’ Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and her own ‘Milkshake,’ and ‘Acapella’ sounds great in the Ulster Hall. Sadly though, it seems that her eagerness to (responsibly) enjoy some Guinness has gotten the better of her as she doesn’t stick around much longer than that, but what we did see was fun while it lasted…

Beatsmith DJ Fresh is on afterwards and unfortunately his backing singers fall foul to some of those pesky sound desk gremlins, but they grin and bear it and manage to turn in a good rendition of ‘Louder’ for the faithful. After that, local lads Cashier No.9 take to the stage and from the opening strains of ‘Goldstar’ it’s apparent that they’re rapidly maturing into one of the best bands the country has to offer right now. There are plenty of highlights in their short set, but oldie ‘When Jackie Shone’ is this reviewer’s pick for song of the night.

A few minutes later, the Enemy march on stage and perform an attitude-filled set which really benefits from a punkier, rawer sound. One of ladrock’s leading lights now that Oasis have snuffed it, the boys sound like world-beaters during the likes of ‘Away From Here,’ ‘Had Enough’ and ‘You’re Not Alone’ and the Jam-esque ‘We’ll Live And Die In These Towns’ sounds tailor-made for the Belfast crowd.

Irish demi-gods Horslips handle headline duties and the reunited Celtic rock innovators do it with aplomb. The Ulster Hall has always been a special venue for the band and it really does feel as if we’re witnessing something truly special tonight. Though they only have time for a few songs from their much storied history, the five-piece are utterly spell-binding and their musicianship is, as expected, first class. ‘Dearg Doom’ is the undisputed highlight but the band’s unplanned, curfew breaking cover of ‘Shakin’ All Cover’ gives it a run for its money.

So, same time next year then?

Edwin McFee


Window Seats ‘Local Superhero’

11 10 2011

Check out this new video from NI act Window Seats. Tiz nice.

30 Seconds To Mars At Belsonic

7 10 2011

Here’s a reprint of my 30 Seconds To Mars review that ran in Hot Press last month…

30 Seconds To Mars at Custom House Square, Belfast

Picture the scene if you will. Former teen heartthrob turned bona fide rockstar Jared Leto is striding around the stage clad in what can only be described as a cape that makes him look like some sort of emo super-hero (the Incredible Sulk, perhaps…?). The venue is sold-out, the crowd are up for it and all in all, we’re expecting Belfast’s first time with 30 Seconds to Mars to be a memorable one. Sadly though, despite a fairly energetic first fifteen minutes that sees them run through solid stadium favourites such as ‘Escape,’ ‘Search And Destroy’ and more as large inflatable balls are released into the crowd, Jared and Co.’s brand of rock turns a little soft as the singer whips out his acoustic guitar to treat us all to an extended solo session letting the the rest of the boys retreat backstage to update of their Facebook pages.

While the likes of ‘The Kill’ for example are genuine, goose-pimple inducing anthems on record, performed solo in such a large, open-air venue it just sounds rather drab and lifeless. Leto tries his best to include the crowd though and hauls a few lucky punters up to join him, but the momentum is lost and it doesn’t matter how many times the singer tells us he’s “part-Irish,” (snore) it’s pretty clear that he’s blown it.

Still, at the front of the venue the singer and actor’s acolytes’ adoration remains undiminished throughout the set and the show closer ‘Kings And Queens’ (which features the full band and various members of the crowd) is a proper festival “moment” that ends the gig on a high. They say you always remember your first time and on this occasion that’s certainly true. Sadly though, it’s for all the wrong reasons…

Edwin McFee