Author Archives: Jason Miller

TVD Live Shots: My Vitriol at Scala, 4/12

Photographed by Jason Miller-2

The doors are opening at London’s famed Scala for one of the most anticipated shows of the year, but it’s a show that almost didn’t happen.

My Vitriol has launched into full backup mode due to an unforeseen issue that has left the band’s touring van in Wales from the previous show. Frontman Som Wardner is racing to program the lights for tonight’s sold out show and he’s finished just as the doors open. As if all of this wasn’t enough pressure, the band is one lady down as Tatia Starkey is still away on maternity leave. She’s disappointed to be missing out on all the shows, but family comes first and the band couldn’t postpone touring any longer. She gave them her blessing to carry on without her.

To say that I was excited is an understatement. Finelines is one of my favorite records of all time and to be honest, I never thought that I would have the chance to see the band again live, especially in their hometown. Having never been to Scala before this was a new adventure for me as both a photographer and a fan. The venue is sort of a choose your own adventure for watching a show. Several different levels accompany several different stairwells in which some lead to what seem to be secret bar locations.

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TVD Live Shots: Sting at the Eventim Apollo, 4/10

Sting is a living legend. He’s got nothing left to prove to the world of rock ‘n’ roll as he’s seemingly done it all. He’s in the Rock an Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Police, he was nominated again for induction as a solo artist in 2015, he’s ventured into acting, and even Broadway. Add to this having sold more than 40 million records worldwide and numerous top lists from Rolling Stone to VH-1—and one wonders what’s next? How about going back to his roots and releasing his first rock album in 13 years?

That record is 57th and 9th which has laid the foundation for a full-blown tour.  The album’s title is a reference to the New York intersection Sting crossed every day to get to Avatar Studios in Hell’s Kitchen where much of the album was recorded. The record is a return to form for Sting and it’s really interesting to see the band of musicians he’s put together for the record and the tour.

Photographed by Jason Miller-3

Sting’s backing band is a your sort of alt-country act from San Antonio called the Last Bandoleros. They sounded a bit like the soundtrack to From Dusk Til Dawn crossed with Crosby Stills and Nash with a touch of Wilco. And holy shit can these guys sing—I’m talking four part harmonies for days here.

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TVD Live Shots: Ghost
at the O2 Forum Kentish Town, 3/26

Photographed by Jason Miller-4

Swedish metal lords Ghost are at the top of their satanic doom and gloom game in 2017. Lead singer and founder Tobias Forge—who performs as Papa Emeritus and is the driving force behind the band—continues to evolve the group’s sound and lineup. Rumor has it that the evil priest did some demon cleaning earlier this year by firing and replacing the entire band. While no one really seems to know the truth as the “nameless ghouls” go to great lengths to hide their identities, what I saw was apparently the third show with the new lineup and these ghouls didn’t miss a beat.

This was my first time seeing Ghost live and I have to say that this is a very special band. If you see a photo of Ghost before you hear their music, their image alone would make you think that they are burn the priest style, hard core death metal. But they are not, actually nothing of the sort. They are more of an early Black Sabbath or Pentagram from the ’70s, but with a much bigger sound. Think Phil Spector producing Sabbath with a hint of Type O Negative and Clutch. It’s a truly unique sound—and that’s the best I can do to convey this in words.

I love a band that has the balls to open up their set with their current “hit” in the form of the brilliant “Square Hammer.” There’s a sense of confidence in that they needn’t save this one for the encore like countless other bands do just to ensure that the crowd sticks around for the entire show. That’s not the case with a Ghost show as they have several stellar records to choose from which fill a nearly two-hour set. Highlights included the Grammy Award winning “Cirice” which has one of the greatest riffs in doom metal history, “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” and the hauntingly gorgeous “He Is.”

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TVD Live Shots: LA Guns at the O2 Islington, 3/25

When it comes to Sunset Strip metal in the ’80s, Appetite For Destruction is always hailed as the crown jewel of the genre. While that record was, of course, a brilliant piece of work that was ahead of its time, there was another—the self-titled debut masterpiece from LA Guns.

Released in January of ’88 and clocking in a just over 30 minutes it was the “Never Mind the Bullocks” of hair metal. It had a sound that was distinct given the killer vocals of Phil Lewis, and monster riff after riff from arguably one of the best guitarists on the planet, Tracii Guns. Rough around the edges, every song led perfectly into the next, giving birth to instant classics in the form of  “Sex Action,” “Electric Gypsy,” and “No Mercy.”

LA Guns Photographed by Jason Miller-13

LA Guns took it up a notch on their second record with Cocked and Loaded and continued successfully until Nirvana arrived and single handily murdered the genre. It was a shame that LA Guns got looped into that mess of hair metal at the time because they had the substance that many of the others lacked. Either way, many years later the band would later dissolve into two versions, one led by Phil Lewis and the other by Tracii Guns. 2016 found the two back together again and I absolutely had to see this for myself.

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TVD Live Shots: The Devin Townsend Project with TesseracT at the Eventim Apollo, 3/17

Photographed by Jason Miller_

The first time I saw Devin Townsend perform live was when he was hand selected by Steve Vai as the vocalist for Vai’s landmark album Sex and Religion and the tour that would follow.

That was back in 1993 at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis. I remember the show being epic as one would expect from a Vai show, but the bigger question was who in the hell was this insane singer that looked like a superhero and sang like a prog-rock version of Mike Patton? This guy’s voice went from gorgeous soaring highs to razor-sharp screams in a split second. It was the perfect complement to Vai’s eclectic, mind-bending soundscapes, but that wouldn’t last long.

Photographed by Jason Miller_

A year or so later I got a copy of Townsend’s new band Strapping Young Lad in the mail at the record store I worked at. I think it was part of the Concrete Corner program. I put this thing on inside the store and scared the shit out of every person who was shopping at the time. This was by far the heaviest thing I had ever heard in my life, and it had a huge wall of sound layered harmonies. It was as if Queen had been crossed with Pantera but then stuck to the front of a Mack truck and driven through a brick wall at an insanely high speed. In other words, it was awesome.

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TVD Live Shots: Big Wreck at the Gramercy Theatre, 3/3

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Big Wreck is a very special kind of band. One that has a truly unique sound, an unrivaled live show, and a frontman who does a remarkable job transporting the listener through storytelling and thought-provoking lyrics.

Formed by Ian Thornley in Boston back in 1994, Big Wreck released a stellar piece of work in the form of their debut album In Loving Memory Of. This record spawned a couple of minor radio hits for the band. The folks who got it know that Big Wreck never really got their fair share in the clouded and confused major label clusterfuck of mediocre rock at the time. But more importantly, it was just enough to lay a foundation for the band to build upon for the next decade.

I haven’t seen Big Wreck since 1994 back in my hometown of St. Louis as the band rarely tours the lower States because they remain quite popular in Canada and the New York/ New England area with a rabid fan base. During a business trip to New York City last week I saw that the band was playing a show at the Gramercy. I extended my trip by one day to see this one, and holy hell was it worth it.

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TVD Live Shots: ZZ Top at Beacon Theatre, 3/1

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 50 years since ZZ Top formed back in Houston Texas. For one reason or another, I’ve never seen the band live and thought it was about time I do so. That opportunity came during a recent work trip to New York City where I found out the band would be playing at the legendary Beacon Theater. Even though I had to deliver a speech the next day at a tech marketing conference, I jumped on the opportunity. On top of that, I was able to score a photo pass to get my gear inside.

Having never shot at the Beacon before, to say that it was a challenge is an understatement. We were limited to the far sides of the stage and with all the photogs piled up on one side, I ran to the other and had stage left all to myself. I quickly realized that the duo of Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons tend to cater toward stage right, so I was in quite a difficult position. Regardless, I did what I had to do to get some decent shots. Did I miss the big EPIC ones? Yeah, maybe. But there were half a dozen photogs on the other side to get those shots. I was going to pull a George Constanza (and do the opposite).

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You would never guess that these guys have been jamming for close to five decades as they came out on fire with “Got Me Under Pressure” as the opener. Up next was “Waitin’ for the Bus,” right into “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” Then it was time for a couple of hits before diving into a blues extravaganza including a slowed down, boozy version of the Hendrix classic “Foxy Lady.” The rest of the set was a jam-palooza of ZZ Top staples old and new, topped off with a finale of the King’s signature track “Jailhouse Rock.”

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TVD Live Shots: Band of Horses at the Troxy, 2/23

Photographed by Jason Miller_-2

There’s a certain mystique surrounding Band of Horses when one listens to their records. It’s a sort of atmospheric elegance led by Ben Bridwell’s dreamy vocals which are in contradiction to his dark, withdrawn lyrics. That all gets blown to hell though when you see the band live. In an instant, it goes from quiet and reserved to a full-blown rock ‘n’ roll explosion. It’s night and day compared to the record, but isn’t that what a live show is really supposed to be anyway?

Falling somewhere between the Avett Brothers and Sunny Day Real Estate, Seattle’s Band of Horses are touring in support of their fifth studio album Why Are You Ok. The critics will say it’s a return to form for Bridwell, but then again those are the same people who criticised the brilliant Mirage Rock. Now, before we start debating this, I will tell you that in my not so humble opinion Cease to Begin is the band’s masterpiece and I would simply call it an extension, or an evolution of that record.

Photographed by Jason Miller_-3

I know what you’re going to say next—Infinite Arms was the band’s breakthrough. And I would say to that, great record, but a major label and a Grammy nod don’t make the record “a breakthrough.” The songwriting on Cease is arguably some of the best from the first decade of the 2000s. But enough about debating what’s best, let’s get onto the show.

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TVD Live Shots: Meshuggah and The Haunted at the O2 Kentish Town Forum, 1/20

I’ve seen some metal shows in my time, but Meshuggah is by far the heaviest. They make Lamb of God sound like Air Supply. Their time signatures are so incredibly insane that even Stephen Hawking would have trouble deciphering them. It’s controlled chaos that’s orchestrated perfectly by one of the most forward-thinking bands on the planet—and it’s a fucking mind trip to watch live.

Meshuggah‘s name (almost) literally translates to “crazy” in Yiddish. It’s the perfect word for encapsulating the contribution this Swedish experimental death metal band has provided the genre over the past 25 plus years. The band’s eighth studio album, The Violent Sleep of Reason, continues to push forward and evolve their very complex sound.

Drummer Tomas Haake (named by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest drummers of all time) recently talked to Loudwire about the songwriting process which is equally as complicated as the song structures. Haake says, in a nutshell, that the band doesn’t write on tour because “they tend to compartmentalize their responsibilities and even a show three months out can disrupt the writing.”

The process of writing actually starts on a computer and later translates into a live setting. Rehearsals take months to perfect the mind-bending rhythms and time signatures, and the band has reported playing one song more than 50 times straight through in rehearsal with an additional 20 in order to nail the recording.

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TVD Live Shots: Sabaton, Accept, Twilight Force at the Brixton Academy, 1/14

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“We are Sabaton and we play heavy metal,” says Joakim Brodén singer and frontman of Sabaton. This Swedish power metal band are the masters in their niche of singing songs about war and historical battles. Make no mistake, Sabaton wear their influences on the sleeves, well more like on their (camouflage) pants, literally. Army helmets, cannons, fire, explosions, tanks—these guys are not f*cking around when it comes to putting on a full-blown metal show and the fans hang on every single note.

I’ve seen some metal shows in my life but never have I seen a crowd fist pump in unison so perfectly. The energy in the room was undeniable and the comradery that Sabaton orchestrated with their fans is absolutely remarkable. That crowd was losing their sh*t the ENTIRE time and it was contagious.

Touring in support of their 8th studio album, The Last Stand is a concept which takes inspiration from famous defensive “last stand” battles. Released in August of last year, The Last Stand debuted at number one in the Czech Republic, Finland, and of course their home country of Sweden. It’s a testament to the power of metal and the insanely large fanbase in Europe.

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TVD Live Shots: Biffy Clyro at the O2, 12/8

Having moved to the UK only a few months ago, Biffy Clyro has not always been on my radar, but after an awakening of sorts last night, I have now seen the light. It absolutely blows my mind that one band can be so massive in one country but never quite break through in another. Such is the case with Biffy. Back in the States the band plays 500 or so capacity clubs (and I regret not going when I had the chance), but in the UK they sell out 20,000 seat arenas. It begs the question; what’s the US missing and why does the UK get it?

This is an age old question that’s been haunting record labels for decades. All it takes is one spark to ignite an audience anywhere around the world and for one reason or another Biffy reigns supreme seemingly everywhere but the US. After hearing the band’s seventh album Ellipsis, with my pick for song of the year in “Howl,” you would think that world domination is right around the corner—and that still might be the case.

I haven’t been to an arena show in years. I mean, how many bands can even fill an arena these days? Maybe a handful. Standing in the world famous O2 Arena and watching the capacity crowd sing along to every single word while simultaneously whipping themselves into a frenzy, it’s undeniable that this band has something for everyone.

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TVD Live Shots: The Damned at the 02 Brixton Academy, 11/26

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What better way for me to see my first live Damned show than to see the band in their hometown at the legendary Brixton Academy. They’re touring with a two hour set that opens with the classic punk masterpiece Damned, Damned, Damned played in its entirety—which is just ridiculous in a good way.

It’s hard to believe that The Damned are celebrating their 40th anniversary as the band is still going strong. Having been the first UK punk group to release a single AND a full-length album is one hell of a legacy to live up to, but frontman Dave Vanian and guitarist Captain Sensible are certainly up to the task.

Having grown up in the US midwest, The Sex Pistols and The Clash were the only UK punk bands on my radar back in the ’80s. While both played their own unique role in the punk rock explosion, you could argue that The Damned were the spark that lit the match. Somehow I completely missed The Damned, so I have a hell of a lot of catching up to do.

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TVD Live Shots: The Dead Daisies at the Electric Ballroom, 11/22

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The Dead Daisies took over Camden’s Electric Ballroom for an old school rock ‘n’ roll show that is truly one of a kind these days. Touring in support of their third album Make Some Noise, this supergroup has a rotating lineup that never disappoints. On deck for the Daisies during their UK tour are Brian Tichy (Ozzy Osbourne, Foreigner), David Lowy (Mink), John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, Union, The Scream) and Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake), and guitar virtuoso Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio).

Let me start by saying that these guys might be the hardest working rock band on the planet. Not only do they connect with their fans in meaningful ways at their shows (they do meet and greets every single night), but they are masters at social media marketing at which most artists are flat-out terrible.

From live video performances to video updates and exclusive photos across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, these guys could give a masterclass in social media to 99% of their rock ‘n’ roll colleagues. It’s always an approach that makes all the difference and these guys are leading the way and setting one hell of an example for their peers.

But back to the music. I have two words for you: John Corabi. This guy is one of the most underrated/ under-celebrated talents on the planet. He’s got it all—the voice, the chops, the personality—it’s as if he was born to lead a super-group, and I think he’s found a perfect home for his talents.

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TVD Live Shots: Death Valley High at the 02 Brixton, 11/4

There was a magical time in the mid-90s when a seemingly new genre took over the world, led by the likes of Marilyn Manson, Filter, Nine Inch Nails, and distilled even further by Mindless Self Indulgence, Prick, and Orgy. These were the highlights while a more generic movement was spawned on the flipside, led by the Dave Matthews Band and Counting Crows. It was the golden age of industrial if you will, but it would soon go back to where it came from—the underground clubs—before losing its edge during the rebirth of the rave scene that it helped to create.

Fast forward 20 years and a new torch-bearer has emerged with an updated spin on the forgotten genre with multiple personalities. Doom pop, gothic, industrial, cinematic art rock, whatever you want to call it, Death Valley High are primed to re-introduce the world to a time when music pushed the very boundaries of art. The new record is called Cult [As Fvk] and the first single is a brilliant number called “Ick Switch,” coupled with an equally impressive video.

The live show was a mix of punk fueled industrial rock and these native Californians have mastered the delicate balance between man and machine. While many in this genre have relied too much on the latter, eclectic frontman Reyka Osburn leans more on his performance and audience interaction to seal the deal. The end result is a band that’s paying their dues on the road and seem ready to embrace the spotlight and the long grueling touring years ahead that follow the release of a highly anticipated new record.

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Motor City rockers Warrior Soul ready new live set and UK tour

“Give me a fucking drink” shouts Warrior Soul frontman Kory Clark as he launches into an assault against all things un-rock n roll. It’s the opening line to the Warrior Soul classic “Fuck the Pigs” and it’s one of the most powerful shows you will hear and see this year. Kory Clark is a master of the lost art of combining poetry, politics, and aggression with a punk rock, in your face attitude. As Clark puts it simply, “Warrior Soul is an aggressive artistic riot.”

The band kicks off a UK tour this Saturday night at Proud Camden and if you’ve not seen this spectacle, you need to get off your ass immediately and do so. What makes this performance so special is that Warrior Soul will be releasing their new live album appropriately titled Tough as Fuck, Live in Athens the day before. “Athens is such a strong supporter of rock ‘n’ roll and the fans of the music there share my political views in many ways. It was such a special night with the crowd and the playing is phenomenal; there are no overdubs. My voice is a little shot as it was the very end of the tour, and the day after the sold out show in London at the Borderline, but it still holds up very good and to us it sounds the way it should.”

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Having recently completed both a US and UK tour, Clark finds the audiences not very different at all. “Americans seem to be in a much meaner place in general. Competitiveness and jealousy make it hard for me to operate there. The fans have the same enthusiasm, but it’s often the clubs and people who do the sound that have a less flexible approach.”

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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