Author Archives: Jason Miller

TVD Live Shots: LA Guns at the O2 Islington, 8/31

I’ve always loved LA Guns and thought that these guys conjured up their own unique sound during an embarrassing mess of look-alike hair bands from the late ’80s. These guys were a bit more rough around the edges and had a much more raw, sort of lo-fi sound to their debut record that helped it stand out from the slick production and ridiculous lyrics of their peers. That self-titled debut album is an absolutely fucking masterpiece.

While I’ve celebrated several of the other releases from these guys, this is the one that set the bar, the one that all others shall always be compared to. The band sort of lost their way as they would split into two dueling projects and there’s not enough time in the world to discuss that saga. The good thing is that founding members Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis finally did the right thing and came together again. Even better, they made a brilliant record. A return to form for a band that everyone knew had this in them—it would just take a decade or so of bad decisions to get to this point.

The record is called The Missing Piece, and I guess you could consider it a reunion recording, but more importantly it is the first album of new material featuring both singer Phil Lewis and guitarist Tracii Guns in 15 years. Oh, and it’s bloody brilliant. But don’t take my word for it. How about the 77 plus nearly five-star reviews on Amazon, or the critics across the blogosphere praising it left and right.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Fantastic Negrito
at Nell’s Jazz and
Blues, 8/10

I was supposed to be at the Iron Maiden show at the O2 on Friday night here in London. Instead, I decided to check out something from the other side of the spectrum entirely, and I’m so glad that I did. Nell’s Jazz & Blues was hosting a sold-out show by Oakland, California native Fantastic Negrito. No opening act, a capacity crowd, and a venue that was somewhere between a cocktail lounge and a full-blown rock ‘n’ roll venue. I had no idea what to expect, and it quickly became apparent that this was going to be something over the top.

A primarily self-taught musician with a colorful background of dealing and hustling on the streets of the East Bay, Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz—aka Fantastic Negrito—is a unicorn upon the current musical landscape. Even the most prominent music labels in the world seem to be confused on what to do with his genre-fusing which he calls “Black Roots Music.” Is it funk, is it blues, is it rock, is it something completely different? That answer is yes to all of the above. The problem continues to be, how do you promote it?

As I squeezed my way up to the front of the stage trying to set myself up for a few good shots I mentioned to the two people next to me that I would only be up in front shooting the first few songs. They replied, “No problem, we’ll be dancing the whole time anyway.” Last time he played London was opening for the late great Chris Cornell at the famed Royal Albert Hall. Xavier asked the crowd how many had seen that show, and several people raised their hands with a loud cheer. What would come next was a full-blown blues and rock ‘n’ roll-fueled jam that at times felt like an underground sermon delivered by a master storyteller (and boy does this guy have some stories).

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
at the O2 Kentish Town Forum, 7/26

Is there a cooler fucking band on the planet than Black Rebel Motorcycle Club? I think not.

These guys are the essence of rock ‘n’ roll, and eight albums into a steady and impressive near two-decade career they continue to make brilliant albums as if the digital single had never been invented. Although I’ve always been a fan of these guys, first seeing them at legendary Emo’s in Austin during the tour for their first record, I really fell in love with them on their third release. It’s one of the best records, start to finish, that I’ve ever heard—sixty minutes and twenty-six seconds of pure genius songwriting and production, entitled Baby 81.

Baby 81 was the last album for BRMC on a major label before going independent. “Berlin,” “Weapon of Choice,” “Took Out a Loan,” “Windows.” Holy shit, this record is brilliant. You can tell there’s a major label behind it because it’s too perfect. I would guess that there was a tremendous amount of pressure on these guys to deliver a breakthrough record with every critic in the world raving about them. But that’s a story for another time—on to the show at hand in London.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Ministry at the O2 Kentish Town Forum, 7/21

The last time I saw Ministry was in 1992 at the second Lollapalooza. They were touring in support of their genre-defining masterpiece Psalm69 while being groomed by their record label as the next big thing.

While Ministry were arguably at the top of their game regarding songwriting and live performances, what was happening behind the scenes would ultimately push the band to the brink of extinction. It’s the classic story of drugs and rock ‘n’ roll but retold in an extreme manner. Ministry founder and frontman Al Jourgensen not only invented the genre of industrial metal, but he also reinvented a mystique and intrigue around an entire rebranding of a band.

How does a group start off sounding like Depeche Mode/ New Order but later find their breakthrough moment pushing the boundaries within an entirely new genre? I think it’s all about timing. Furthermore, you give a musical genius a shit ton of money, an enormous amount of pressure, and some mind-altering substances, and you are likely to generate something no one has ever heard before.

The follow-up to Ministry’s breakthrough is one of the coolest stories of artist vs. major record label. The band was so pissed on drugs and trying to control the chaos of newfound success, that they basically delivered a huge middle finger to Sire/ Warner Brothers called Filth Pig; a noise infested sludgefest that would make the Melvins sound commercial. What could have become the band’s “Thriller” moment brought confusion and alienation to its fanbase. This was sort of the beginning of the end of the beginning of Ministry and begs the question, what would have become if the band did deliver a proper follow-up to their seminal masterpiece?

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: This Will Destroy You at the Electric Ballroom, 7/6

I’ve never been a big fan of solely instrumental songs or instrumental bands for that matter. Music without lyrics always made me think of movie soundtracks or classical music, two things I wasn’t into at all.

But there was a problem for me as a music lover. As a writer in my day job, I find it nearly impossible to write while listening to songs with lyrics. I needed to find something inspiring and not distracting. I needed to find a band that could create something that could be the soundtrack to my life, representing ups and downs, triumph and tragedy, anger and frustration, while tying it all together with the essence of cool and a touch of mystique. Enter San Marco, Texas band This Will Destroy You and their self-titled 2008 release.

Often compared to Explosions in the Sky, which was recommended by several of my friends over the years which still haven’t dove into yet, this quartet burst onto the scene in the early 2000s and quickly gained notoriety among the most prestigious critics. Their sound has been called “near perfect,” their overall tone referred to as, “it doesn’t get much better,” and one critic, in particular, claimed their debut to be “an astonishingly beautiful work that promises a bright future,” priming the record for many best-of lists that year.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Run DMC and Slick Rick at the Eventim Apollo, 7/5

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends Run DMC made a triumphant return to London last week marking their first gig in the UK in three years. Taking the stage at the famed Eventim Apollo, MC Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Joseph “Run” Simmons, and Jason Mizell Jr. (who performs as DJ Jam Master J’Son, the son of the late DJ Jam Master Jay) brought the near-capacity crowd back to a time when hip hop was only just beginning to take over the world. I have never seen Run DMC live, and this would be my first time photographing a hip hop show—and it was one for the ages.

The importance of Run DMC cannot be understated. The list of firsts is second to none. They were the first rappers on MTV, the first rappers on Saturday Night Live, the first rappers on the cover of Rolling Stone, the first rappers to win a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. They single-handedly, seamlessly fused two genres to start a revolution and to breathe new life into a rock ‘n’ roll band on a downward spiral. They would ultimately become one of the most influential acts in the history of hip hop culture, and one of the most famous hip hop acts of all time.

Opening the night was British born American rapper and legend in his own right Slick Rick, aka Rick the Ruler. Rick is known for his storytelling abilities and as a pioneer in adding narratives to hip hop. Although he never really broke through to mainstream success as a solo artist, his music has been sampled and interpolated over 600 times, in over 35 songs, by artists including many of the biggest names in hip hop. Rick took to the stage in his signature throne and wowed the crowd with a selection of old school classics that would not only warm up the crowd for the headliner, but set the stage and the mood for an epic headlining set.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: The Adicts at the O2 Islington Academy, 6/28

One of the many things I love about living in London is the fact that I get to see so many of bands from the original punk movement play live in their native environment. The story of punk in London is littered with stories of the best of the best; the Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, The Ruts, The Slits, and of course The Adicts.

A staple of the early ’80s London punk scene and indie charts alike, The Adicts set themselves apart from the onslaught of punk bands by focusing not only on the songs but also on their image. The group wears all-white clothing with black boots and black bowler hats. Frontman Keith “Monkey” Warren sports equally comical and frightening joker makeup, flamboyant checkerboard and polka dot suits, flared trousers, along with the bowler hat and gloves. Their live show quickly became a spectacle of its own as the band complimented their visual style with the likes of novelty items such as streamers, confetti, playing cards, joker hats, toy instruments, and glitter.

I’ve never seen the band live, so when the chance came to catch them at the very cool O2 Islington Academy I jumped on it. The Adicts were recently signed to Nuclear Blast (kudos to NB for being such a fresh and forward thinking label, by the way) and released And it was So!, their tenth studio album, and it’s garnered a slew of positive reviews.

Not a lot of punk bands, or any groups for that matter, can have a 40 year plus career and still look to be in their prime. The Adicts somehow discovered the punk rock fountain of youth which is not only showcased in their recent videos to support the new record, but even live I thought to myself, how old are these guys? They looked fantastic on stage. Maybe it was a couple of drinks impairing my vision a bit, but these guys not only had the energy of their prime in the ’80s, but their Clockwork Orange style dress makes them appear ageless.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Hollywood Vampires, The Damned, and The Darkness at SSE Arena, 6/20

The history of the Hollywood Vampires originates in the 1970s on the Sunset Strip at the world-famous Rainbow Bar & Grill. The upstairs bar is where the original Vamps formed a drinking club that included legends Keith Moon, John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, and just about any other rock star who found themselves passing through.

While the club would lay dormant for a couple of decades, Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp would breathe new life into the Vampires in 2015. Since then, a band has consisted of the core of Cooper, Depp, and Aerosmith axeman Joe Perry. They’ve played gigs and festivals, released an album, and finally made their way over to the UK for a tour in 2018. This is the first time I would see the band live—and they were spectacular.

I’ve read a few recent reviews that claimed Depp was “staggering” across the stage but I’m not sure what the hell they’re talking about. The Vampires looked and sounded great. And anyone who’s asking the question of whether or not Depp deserves to share the stage with rock ‘n’ roll royalty should listen to what his conspirators have to say.

Joe Perry has praised his actor friend’s musical skill, saying he was as “good as anybody I’ve worked with,” and “I don’t think he’d be up on the stage with Alice and me and the other cats if he wasn’t holding his own as he does.” Cooper’s praise is equally flattering, adding, “He’s really a good player. He’s a musician through and through I don’t think of him as an actor. He’s a guitar player.” If that’s not enough credentials, then move along and find another supergroup to bitch about.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
The Struts at Koko,
6/19

It’s make or break time for arguably one of the biggest breakout bands from the UK over the past few years. The Struts will release their long-awaited sophomore record sometime this summer. Will the group be able to shake the stigma of the sophomore jinx? If the first two singles are any indication of what’s to come, that shouldn’t be the case.

Frontman Luke Spiller was recently quoted discussing the direction of the highly anticipated release. “We were very much aware that even though the band has lived with the first album and the songs that come with it for quite a while, for everyone else, it’s relatively fresh,” says Spiller. He continues, “So I felt like it was really important to make this second album somewhat depart from the first one. Not a departure musically, I didn’t want to go completely left. I think it’s important to give people more of what they fall in love with.”

“One Night Only” was released late last year and “Body Talks” was just released last week. Both are strong athematic songs that continue the band’s quest to bring back all the best attributes of ’70s arena rock, but is the world ready for them? Interscope is certainly taking a gamble with a four-year space between albums here, and I can’t imagine the band would agree with this timing, but that’s the price one pays for being part of the major label machine.

Then again, the stars seem to be aligning perfectly as the band is queued up for the opening slot on the Foo Fighters summer stadium tour. While that certainly doesn’t guarantee the future success of the group, especially since the record will not be out yet, it does set the stage for what could be a breakout year for the band.

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
The Vibrators, Menace, and Time to Kill at the Islington Assembly
Hall, 5/26

Punk rock royalty came together for a final showdown celebrating 40 years of angst, attitude, and anthems. The Vibrators were part of the first wave of British Punk carrying the torch for many to later follow. Signing to Epic records in 1977, the band unleashed a genre-defining masterpiece upon the word in the form of Pure Mania. The album stands the test of time and was named to the Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music as one of the 50 best punk albums of all time.

Opening the evening was a new project by current Vibrators frontman Pete Honkamaki called Time to Kill, a three-piece that brought a no-frills approach to celebrating the foundations of punk with some solid songwriting and snarling attitude. I think they are pretty new as I couldn’t find any music available online, but I’d be one of the first to pick up their record once it comes available.

Next up was Menace. I’m not too familiar with these guys, and there’s not a ton of info online when I searched. I did find a few punk sites that reference Menace as one of the wave of punk bands to explode out of London in the late ’70s. Fun band live, now I need to track down their music.

After a few select numbers, it was time to get down to business with the big finale. I’m guessing that this is not only the last time these punk icons would share the stage together but very likely the first as well. 28 songs, a Stones cover, and hundreds of hardcore fans. It was a bittersweet moment in punk history, but one that was necessary and one that will undoubtedly leave its mark on the world of punk.

Read More »

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Foreigner at the Royal Albert Hall, 5/16

Foreigner’s Records was released on November 29, 1982, the compilation spanning the band’s first four albums through 1981. Along with their second album, Double Vision, the release is the group’s best-selling record. I must have played this one a thousand times when I was a kid. Mind you, I was ten at the time, yet every song on that record is a bona fide global smash hit, and the music still holds up today. It would go on to become certified seven times platinum, something most of us will never see again in our lifetime.

Fast forward almost four decades and a new Foreigner led by founding member Mick Jones (who let’s not forget joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013) is alive and well and arguably sounding better than ever before. Sure they’re missing their original vocalist, the almighty Lou Gramm, but holy shit does Kelly Hansen play the part well. He’s been part of the band for more than a decade now and not only is he a stellar vocalist, he adds a new dynamic to the group. Anyone who sees the band live can’t deny the unbridled talent and charisma Hansen brings to the band.

Add to that Dokken bass master Jeff Pilson, Big Country’s Bruce Watson, former Whitesnake drummer Chris Frazier, sax man Thom Gimbel, and keyboardist Michael Bluestein, and you have a group of musicians who not only recreate the legendary songs live, they add a welcome and slight modern twist. The show was a non-stop hits-a-palooza that featured all the classics. “Double Vision,” “Cold As Ice,” “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” “Dirty White Boy,”—I could go on for a while here, but the real highlight for me was how incredible “Urgent” and “Juke Box Hero” sounded live—two of my favorites.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at the 3Arena, Dublin, 5/10

I’ve seen the Gallagher brothers shows individually over the past few months and let me tell you that they are two very different experiences. Liam opens with Oasis classics right out of the gate, while Noel focused on his new material and peppers in a few Oasis numbers in the middle and end of his. I don’t think it says anything about the strength of either brother’s solo material as both of their current records are equally brilliant, but I do think Liam is making a statement while Noel is a bit more seasoned on the “solo” road at the moment.

Opening with a one-two (three, four, and five) punch from 2017’s Who Built the Moon?, Noel blasted into “Fort Knox” directly into “Holy Mountain.” It was as if he’d be playing his new record in its entirety as the first five songs of the set matched his latest album in running order. Who Built the Moon? is a bit of a progression for Noel and his High Flying Birds. They’ve dirtied up their sound, injected a punch of soul, and dialed up the volume and aggression which made for a proper Britrock arena show.

It’s interesting to me that Noel’s albums are evolving much like the Oasis catalog—starting out very Beatlesque, then growing darker, adding a touch of soul, and finally going full-on bombastic with the wall of sound fueled by real-time drum loops played by an actual human. Don’t get me wrong, there are elements of all the greatness of Oasis and The Beatles, but the first few songs set the tone for each of Noel’s records, and that tone is very different each time.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Britrock Must Be Destroyed: Reef, The Wildhearts, Dodgy, and Terrorvision at the Eventim Apollo, 5/6

Britrock Must Be Destroyed brings together four of the best UK bands who were flying high in the ’90s, each with their own unique sound. It’s a welcome comeback as these Britrock pioneers execute their mission to exhibit to the world that they can still bring the noise bigger and better than any of their contemporaries. Technically speaking it was a triple headliner with The Wildhearts, Reef, and Terrorvision rotating each evening playing extended sets. The London show would see Reef as the final band.

Opening the evening was power pop trio Dodgy who were added to the bill as a special guest. I remember these guys from back in the day as they had a couple of minor hits in the States. Nigel Clark and company continue to release new music, and they put on one hell of a show—the perfect opener to set the stage for what would be an intense groove filled evening of Britrock history. Funny enough, even the band themselves mentioned between songs that they questioned how they fit on the bill.

Next up was one of West Yorkshire’s most successful bands, Terrorvision. I had never heard of these guys before as I don’t recall listening to them back in the States, but holy shit they were great. Lead singer Tony Wright sounded spot on, and he doesn’t seem to age, while guitarist Mark Yates was melting faces with songs like “Alice What’s the Matter” and “Discotheque Wreck.” Brilliant set from these guys and I’ve been digging on their catalog ever since, especially the surprisingly good “comeback” record 2011’s Super Delux.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
Bryan Ferry at the Eventim Apollo, 5/3

The sheer mention of Bryan Ferry immediately brings to mind the word class. Mention his music and the conversation turns to the seductive, sensual, and most importantly—legendary.

His band Roxy Music had two top ten albums and a number one album in the UK before I was even born. They were the original glam rock band and paved the way for so many, and while Bowie tends to get much of the credit for pushing the genre forward, I would argue that Ferry transformed glam into something no one had ever heard nor seen prior.

Some even go so far as to cite Roxy Music as the “first true band of the ’70s,” and while I’m certainly not the most qualified person to write a brief history of Roxy Music or discuss the legacy of Bryan Ferry, I can tell you that I was incredibly fortunate to see one of his sold-out London performances on his UK tour—and a first for me.

The Eventim Apollo was completely sold out. Every seat in the house was taken, and it was virtually impossible even to find a place to stand in the venue. Bryan Ferry took to the stage with a substantial backing band launching directly into the Roxy Music classic “The Main Thing,” quickly followed by Ferry’s signature tune, “Don’t Stop the Dance.” It was immediately clear that not only was Ferry still at the top of his game, but that his music is timeless.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Trivium at the O2 Academy Brixton, 4/21

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a great metal show and the Trivium bill looked too good to pass up. How many other metal bands can maintain a twenty year plus career while keeping with the same label for more than half of that? Eight studio albums, one million records sold worldwide, and a massive international fanbase is the result of consistency, decent marketing, and a frontman who masterfully leverages the world of social media.

Touring in support of what is arguably their strongest record to date, The Sin and the Sentence, the Orlando quartet have been blazing a trail of sold-out gigs across the UK. Critics love the latest album and praise continues to pour in by the leading metal mags including Wall of Sound which has given the album a perfect 10/10 stating “a fantastic album …..you are in for a treat as they’ve taken everything they’ve learned over the years and just thrown it together strategically to please any (if not all) of their heavier music loving fans.” AllMusic also came in with a strong review stating that “the band has never sounded more confident, delivering a positively lethal 11-song set that strikes the perfect balance between unhinged and meticulously crafted.”

So how was the show? Trivium celebrate all of the core foundational properties of heavy metal plain and simple. Dual guitar harmonies, screaming vocals, epic choruses, and riffs the size of mountains brought to life through a mashup of styles including classic thrash, melodic metal, and a bit of hardcore.

I’m digging the trend of band’s opening up their sets with their latest single which in the case of Trivium is “The Sin and The Sentence.” Not only does this allow the band to come out all guns blazing, but it also gives the fans something new that they’ve not heard live before. Why the hell doesn’t every band do this? While the set weighed heavily on the latest record as it should, it left plenty of room for the classics including “Like Light to Flies” and “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr” which sounded better than ever.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment
  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text