There’s a feeling of high spirits at a packed out Ramsgate Music Hall this evening. Part of that is due to summer having finally kicked in – we’ve just sweated our way through two of the hottest days of the year – but more than that, there’s a genuine excitement surrounding the return of tonight’s headliners, KOLARS. Despite being based in the US, Rob Kolar (vox, gtr) and Lauren Brown (drums, tap dancing) almost feel like they’re seaside dwellers from Kent by now and the locals love them. They’ve played the venue twice during the previous fifteen months, but they’re the kind of band people would come out for even if the venue booked them even more often. KOLARS are pretty enamoured with the small venue too, having chosen it to record live material back in July 2018.
When Lamb of God headlined a cold January night at the Brixton Academy in 2014, their performance bordered on woeful. Bad sound, a short setlist and a lot of time spent talking between songs resulted in a massive disappointment. With hindsight, the night’s opening act wiped the floor with them. In an energetic half-hour slot, Huntress, fronted by the spirited Jill Janus, showed a lot of energy and a willingness to please the audience, obviously being more than aware of how hard it is to be a relatively unknown support band. After the revelation that Jill took her own life in August 2018, that set is now a memory to treasure. Lamb of God’s, not so much.
Wembley Arena is packed to the rafters this evening. The night’s event – headlined by Slayer, but also featuring Obituary, Anthrax and Lamb of God – is a metal fan’s dream. Obituary have shown themselves to be true professionals even as underdogs, and Anthrax – stalwarts of 80s thrash – have put on a really fun support slot, showing why they’ve retained their legendary status.
It’s Thursday night and the third night of the Pixies’ five day residency at London’s legendary Roundhouse, celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the classics ‘Come On Pilgrim’ and ‘Surfer Rosa’. Reports suggest that last night’s show was amazing, so tonight, already knowing that both releases will be played in full and the band appear to be on form (actually talking to each other for long enough to stage such an event is a start), everyone is expecting good things. For any band to take up such a residency is a brave move – even a band with a huge back catalogue – but for Pixies, it’s a move that seems incredibly bold, considering both discs only total approximately fifty two minutes’ worth of music.
In 2017, Tom Robinson celebrated forty years of his hit single ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’. He announced a show at London’s legendary 100 Club to mark the occasion. The show would feature the ‘Power In The Darkness’ album played in its entirety, joined by associated singles. That gig sold out in under an hour. A second show was announced and that sold out in a day. A third achieved the same feat.
In 2018, ‘Power In The Darkness’ also turned forty. An Autumn show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire was scheduled to replicate those 100 Club shows for a bigger crowd.
Some gigs come with a huge amount of pre-night excitement. The Smashing Pumpkins’ first – and only – UK date on their 2018 ‘Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour’ is one of those times. Firstly, the tour is the first in decades to feature founding guitarist James Iha. In addition, Billy Corgan has already promised “a show like [the fans] have never seen before”. To say there’s a lot riding on the night is a huge understatement. Can the rejuvenated Pumpkins pull off the near impossible? Can they make the soulless environment of the Wembley SSE Arena feel friendly and justify the cost of a hugely expensive ticket?