Author Archives: Jason Miller

TVD Live Shots: Nine Inch Nails at the O2 Brixton Academy, 6/21

I’m standing in the photo pit between five thousand screaming Nine Inch Nails fans and the stage at the legendary Brixton Academy. I’ve been here dozens of times before, but this one was different; the return of one of the most influential bands of all time.

It’s been four years since Trent Reznor and company brought their brutal industrial sounds to the UK, and a lot was riding on this one. The smoke rolls across the stage, cutting through the chromed metal fixtures as if it’s on a mission to engulf the entire front of the stage, including myself. Mission accomplished. The stage is a glowing orange, reminiscent of a futuristic wasteland as it’s contrasting with the darkness leaving an eerie feeling of the inevitable nuclear blast of sounds about to hit.

Then it happens. The lights go dark and before I can even turn my head to comprehend what’s happening, the whitest light I’ve ever seen hits me. It was like watching an atom bomb explosion through a welder’s mask—and just like that the band is blasting into their first song. Holy shit, I didn’t even see anyone walk on stage, and now I’m in the middle of a full-on riot.

I’ve seen thousands of shows before, and generally, you get some inkling that the band is coming on stage in the form of the drummer first taking to the throne with a stick in the air, a gracious wave from the singer, and snark from the guitarist. Fuck that, not this time. It was pedal to the metal, an all-guns-blazing sonic assault. Fuck, this is awesome turns quickly, too, fuck, I’ve got to take some pictures. Seconds later the crowd surfers are in full force, dropping, kicking, screaming, and reaching for the stage; it’s full-blown chaos.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
Public Image Ltd at
the O2 Forum Kentish Town, 6/18

Public Image Ltd in London, are you fucking kidding me? How did this ex-pat get to be so fortunate? The band that invented post-punk returns, and they have plenty left to say.

Never one to shy from controversy, John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) and his band tore through a brilliant 17-song set celebrating the band’s rollercoaster of a catalog. I may be a bit biased as the Sex Pistols are one of my all-time favorite bands, but this isn’t about the Pistols; it’s not even about punk rock; it’s about when Johnny Rotten found the creative freedom to do what he was meant to—change the world yet again. PiL is that vehicle.

The venue is the legendary Forum in Kentish Town, North London. A proper venue for the capacity crowd, full of old and new punks, hipsters, mods, and not surprisingly, a new, younger generation who might be late to the party. They are catching the band riding a wave—backed up by Lydon’s hand-picked band of misfit, musical, delicate geniuses featuring Bruce Smith (drums), Scott Firth (bass), and Lu Edmonds (guitar).

They not only lay down the beats and grooves effortlessly for Mr. Lydon, but they add character with their oddball motions in between their deadpan deliveries. After several PiL personnel changes over the years, he now considers the lineup since 2009 to be “the proper PiL.”

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
Crash Test Dummies
at the O2 Kentish
Town Forum, 6/10

Are the Crash Test Dummies the most misunderstood band from the ’90s? They very well could be. Often pigeonholed as a one-hit-wonder, this band is anything but. I like to think of them as the Faith No More of AOR (Adult Oriented Rock). They are weird, witty, lyrical geniuses and, most importantly, incredible songwriters and storytellers. Faith No More, and especially Mike Patton, share many of these same attributes; they’re just much more aggressive in their approach. Ironically enough, a guy was standing next to me at the show that night wearing a Faith No More t-shirt and he was there with his son; both are massive fans. That speaks volumes regarding the Dummies fanbase who came out in droves to see a band that hasn’t played a gig in London for nearly two decades.

This tour is a celebration of both the band’s 30th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of their sophomore, landmark release from 1993, God Shuffled His Feet. This album would go on to sell close to 10 million copies around the globe and introduce the world to the hauntingly gorgeous harmonies and fairy tale soundscapes that sounded like no other. Their breakthrough success delivered several hits, most notably a song with a chorus that has no actual words in the form of “Mmm, mmm, mmm,” from a masterpiece of an album. But the pressure would soon be on for the follow-up and a repeat performance.

Anyone who discovered the band during either of the first two records, and stuck with them for the next two, understands the depth and complexity of not only the clever lyrics and the vivid stories they unleash but the uniqueness of the overall sound. A Worm’s Life was released in 1996 and pushed the band into a heavier, more guitar-driven direction. While the real fans got it, I think much of the fair-weather fans had already moved on.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Black Label Society at the Electric Ballroom, 6/8

On the road to Donington for what’s sure to be a blistering performance on the main stage at Download, Zakk Wylde brought the Black Label Society to the Electric Ballroom for two epic nights. I’ve seen Zakk several times over the years, but this was my first proper Black Label Society show, and it was colossal. Heavy, bluesy, and loud as fucking hell. The Doom Crew blasted through over a dozen songs covering all the bases. This is Black Sabbath 2.0. This is Pantera crossed with The Allman Brothers. This is one of the world’s best guitarists leaving everything on the table, showcasing more than two decades of pure heavy metal thunder.

The thing that stands out about Zakk is that he’s not just a face-melting guitar shredder; he can just about do it all. I didn’t realize the guy could throw down on a piano for a heart-felt southern rock jam moments after virtually ripping the neck off a guitar. When things slow down, he’s got a seventies southern soul vibe reminiscent of a muddy Greg Allman. This was showcased at its best with a touching tribute to the late Abbott brothers, Pantera’s Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell who left us all way too early. It shows that Zakk isn’t a one-trick pony or overly dependent on the ultra-heavy riff—he’s evolved over the years, and his songwriting reflects that growth.

But enough about the slow jams; we really came for the shredding, the massive sludgy guitars, and the Doom Crew comradery. This crowd perfectly personifies the heavy metal culture; black leather, booze, weed, and, well, heavy metal. They were absolutely losing their shit during the set with a very active pit and crowd surfer after surfer attempting to throw their horns in salute of the metal gods. Even though Zakk stopped drinking years ago, he still makes the crowd feel like they are at a big party with him as the host. And they worship him like the guitar god that he is, but it doesn’t seem to go to his head.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
Mayhem at O2 Academy Islington, 5/22

Being a lifelong metal fan, I’ve always been intrigued by bands’ stories and legacies as much as the music. Sometimes the story overshadows the music, and other times they seem to match up just perfectly. That’s the case with Norwegian Black Metal legends Mayhem. Formed in Langhus in 1984, they pretty much invented the genre and pushed the limits of extreme metal to become one of the most notorious bands of all time. If you don’t know the story, watch the epic movie Lords of Chaos to get you up to speed.

The craziest part of it centers around the death of the band’s lead singer, simply named Dead, who committed suicide. Guitarist Euronymous found him with a shotgun blast to the head, took a polaroid, and made it into an album cover. Rumor has it that he took pieces of Dead’s skull and made necklaces for the rest of the band. I’m not doing the story justice here, so watch the film.

Original bassist Necrobutcher remains the only founding member of the band, but there are some heavy hitters who’ve been in place since the band basically relaunched after the chaos. Drummer Hellhammer (these guys have the coolest names) is the second longest-running member going back to 1987, and Attila Csihar took over on vocals in 1992. Attila is a significant force in the community and also fronts Sun O))) by the way, so the metal street cred remains.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Tom Meighan at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 5/4

Who doesn’t love a good comeback? Former Kasabian lead singer Tom Meighan returned to London for a night of new music and celebrated Brit-rock classics. Having parted ways after more than two decades with one of the most successful British rock bands, he’s back with new music, a new band, a new attitude, and the same swagger and flamboyance that made him one of the most exciting frontmen of our time. With two new singles under his belt and a massive groundswell of support from his incredibly dedicated fanbase, Meighan is about to make a statement to the industry with a new album that’s shaping up to be an absolute banger. 

The legendary Shepherds Bush Empire is a proper stage and gorgeous venue for this over-the-top production. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a glorious light show in an “intimate” venue of this size. Tom and company blasted through seventeen songs that leaned heavily into the Kasabian catalog while gracefully mixing in the new solo material. Interestingly enough, the new songs sound more like Kasabian than the new Kasabian songs do. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a different approach. Tom’s songs feel much more organic and more familiar to longtime fans while his ex-bandmate Serge seems to be taking Kasabian in a completely new direction. They’ve always been known to experiment, but the new stuff is a significant departure.

The standout of the evening was the stellar delivery of the latest single “Let it Ride,” which is one of the best rock songs I’ve heard in years and could easily fit into the Kasabian classics. It’s remarkable to me that Meighan has a knack for writing verses and pre-choruses that are catchier than the chorus itself. There are not too many songwriters on the planet that are capable of that. It’s an interesting twist in many cases and a clear differentiator for him as he embarks on his solo career. Other new songs including “Movin On,” “Out of the World,” and “Sunshine” sounded fresh and vibrant while “Would You Mind” gave the crowd a breather as Meighan shared his story of self-reflection through the incredibly personal song.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Reef at the O2 Forum, 4/16

It was twenty-five years ago when I was first introduced to the band Reef. I was working in a record store, and their label had sent a promo for their second album, Glow. I popped this one over the speakers and heard “Place Your Hands” for the first time and was immediately blown away. It was like hearing Led Zeppelin II for the first time, but with Brian Johnson on vocals instead of Robert Plant. The next song, “I Would Have Left You” was even better. It was heavy, no-frills, groove rock with a bit of soul. It was the Black Crowes with a giant set of balls. And they were British? How in the hell could anyone nail this sound so perfectly? I was obsessed.

This record became a staple in my collection, and I followed the band religiously for the next several years. This was a bit of a challenge as the band was massive in the UK but never really broke out in the states. I finally got to see them live a few years back at the legendary Hammersmith Apollo on the Brit Rock Must Be Destroyed tour, where they headlined alongside the Wildhearts (for some reason, these two bands seem to have some beef between them, but I never got the entire story). It was an absolute banger of a show and spawned an incredible live record which I highly recommend.

Fast forward to 2022 and post-pandemic, and Reef is back with a new album. A band at this stage in their career has lots of options as to what direction to take with their music as they have no one to answer to and nothing to prove. With that being said, someone must have challenged Reef frontman Gary Stringer to make the best album of the band’s career and then turn it up to eleven. I’ve only heard three songs from the upcoming release, but holy shit, they are easily the band’s best work in over two decades. It’s the classic Reef sound, but it’s somehow become bigger, louder, and seemingly more pissed off.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: The Hara at the Garage, 4/7

I digitally stumbled upon this band through a random new rock Spotify playlist. I rarely dive into these as I pride myself on discovering new music on my own, but sometimes a little prod from an algorithm can be helpful.

The song “Until it Comes” came on, and I was immediately taken back to the ’90s alt-rock movement in the States, which had a touch of industrial rock wrapped up with massive hooks and big choruses. This song was immediately added to my custom playlist and dropped into heavy rotation. I’d never heard the band The Hara, and didn’t think twice about where they were from or what was next. Fast forward a couple of months, and I see the Manchester trio is coming to London to celebrate the release of a new EP at one of my favorite venues, the Garage.

The most interesting thing about The Hara is figuring out their style. The earlier songs are arena rock anthems that evolve into that ’90s alt-rock industrial style I mentioned above. But the new stuff is moving into Yungblud/ Machine Gun Kelly territory. Not really my thing, but the way these guys market themselves and the slick songwriting to boot should make this a major label’s dream band. It’s all packaged and ready for the label machine to do its thing. I’d certainly bet on these guys if I were in that seat.

So what’s the live show like as a trio tries to pull off this massive sound? These guys smashed it. They played the tiny stage at the Garage as if they owned the O2 Arena. That song that I love, “Until it Comes,” was number three in the set, so I was stuck in a very tight photo pit trying to capture a shot or two while embracing the live sonic blast that I’ve had on repeat since the beginning of the pandemic. The crowd was going bonkers with moments of a pretty intense pit, followed by arms waving in the air, singing along with every lyric.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Wayward Sons at the O2 Islington Academy, 3/29

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better straight-up rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet right now other than Wayward Sons. I love that classic rock has seen a resurgence of sorts with Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet, but they throw it back and tend to stick in the ’70s while there’s so much more to explore. Wayward Sons take a bit from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s and bring it together in fine form with some exceptional songwriting. Add to that the very capable band, hand-picked by the group’s mastermind Toby Jepson, and you have something extraordinary.

Phil Martini, who’s played with everyone from Joe Elliot to Jim Jones, is a no-frills drummer who hits hard in a style that recalls the great Bun E .Carlos. Guitarist Sam Wood is a tremendous player who makes it look easy to be a virtuoso as the Les Paul seems to be a natural extension of his body. (This guy can fucking shred, but it’s incredibly soulful.) Bassist Nick Wastell holds down the bottom end effortlessly with a massive bass sound delivered via a classic Thunderbird. This guy’s got a style all his own with his signature bass to the sky move as if he’s drawing power from the gods above.

And who doesn’t love a great comeback story to boot? Lead singer and songwriter Toby Jepson was in a “hair metal” band back in the ’80s and early ’90s called Little Angels that had a string of hits here in the UK. It’s not really fair to label them anything other than a straight-up rock band, but they were swept up in that late ’80s wave. I stumbled upon them by accident when someone back in the States gave me a copy of the classic Don’t Prey for Me, which I wore out on repeat. So maybe I’m a bit biased with my love for this band, but I’m not the only one, as was apparent to the packed house at the O2 Islington last week.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Skunk Anansie at the O2 Brixton Academy, 3/25

Another anniversary tour finally gets underway after a massive delay due to the pandemic, and it’s an absolute banger. Skunk Anansie, one of the UK’s most important bands celebrating 25 years (actually 27 at this point) showed up in fine form at the legendary Brixton Academy.

They were Brit-rock’s answer to Brit-pop back in the ’90s, and while they were influenced by a slew of American bands such as Rage and Nirvana, the States just weren’t ready for them. And they were undoubtedly ahead of their time with their messages and songs about race, gender, and sexuality. The fact that they are still a force to be reckoned with is a testament to the timelessness of the music and how the band has evolved. Add the incredibly forward-thinking clash of art and fashion, and you have the makings for one of the best live shows in Europe.

There truly is something for everyone here, and lead singer Skin has an unrivaled voice in the space. From the massive riffs, the heavy electronic-infused grooves, to the over-the-top arena-sized ballads, Skin’s voice soars and slices through the music with the rare element of inducing chills upon hearing her.

Skunk Anansie wasted no time getting the party started by opening the set with two classics, “Yes It’s Fucking Political” and “Here I Stand,” proving that the early songs hold up incredibly well, especially in a live setting. Highlights for me were both “Love Someone Else” and “Without You” from 2016’s Anarchytecture.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
Neck Deep, Wargasm, Higher Power, and Happydaze at the O2 Brixton Academy, 2/23

Pop punk is alive and well here in the UK, and the clear front-runner and driving force is undoubtedly Neck Deep. The Welsh five-piece has been going strong for nearly a decade, having constantly been on the verge of breaking wide open with the release of each album, becoming fast friends with Blink 182, and being one of those few bands that share almost equal success across the UK and the US. Then the pandemic hit. While most bands took a break during Covid putting nearly all their plans on hold, these guys went the opposite direction and dove in headfirst.

Neck Deep seemed to take advantage of the downtime and turn up the heat. 2020 saw the release of their highly anticipated new album, All Distortions are Intentional, a concept album that critics have praised as the band’s best work. The album produced an unprecedented five singles (That’s entering Def Leppard Hysteria territory!) and took the lockdown world by storm. With tours and face-to-face interviews out the door, they would have to rewrite the playbook by creating music videos from their homes and streaming live on Twitch to talk to and meet fans and promote the album. This is an excellent example of a hungry band that found a creative way to stay connected during “unprecedented times.”

So what would it be like once the world opened back up and live music returned to the UK? What I saw at Brixton was a band at the top of their game. Maybe it was the pent-up energy and frustration of several postponements, perhaps it was the lifting of the pandemic restrictions, or maybe it was the fans finally connecting with something they truly missed for two years.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
The Kooks with The Snuts at the O2 Brixton Academy, 2/19

The mid-2000s was easily the best and most exciting time to be a fan of Britpop. You had veterans like Oasis and Starsailor delivering their best work (just before self-destructing) and new artists like Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand, and The Editors being passed the torch to push the genre forward.

The Kooks found themselves smack dab in the middle of a movement while progressing toward a more hard-edged approach with much slicker production values. They flipped the formula on its head, going against the grain and bringing back the ’60s vibe, and it worked brilliantly.

The Kooks were the new kids on the block, but that ’60s influence brought with it an element of old school troubadour coolness that the new crop was missing. A throwback to The Kinks’ finest moments combined with the hipster factor of The Libertines and a focus on songwriting and storytelling would be the differentiator.

The band was apparently signed to a record deal by Virgin after only three months of being formed. Inside In/ Inside Out would become their awe-inspiring debut album in 2005 and would go on to sell over two million copies. It just goes to show that sometimes the major label engine works flawlessly, but it’s also a testament to the talent and attitude that define The Kooks. They’re interesting, relatable, and really fun to watch live.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Glasvegas at the
Garage, 2/9

Seeing Glasvegas live is like a religious experience. It’s mesmerizing, it’s haunting, it’s a surreal wall of sound that proves there is a god of noise pop.

They are one of the few bands to emerge over the past decade who have a sound that is all their own. The best way to describe them is that they fall somewhere between The Clash, Elvis, and The Ronettes with an over-the-top, modernized Phil Spector-type production. It’s a new level of sonic achievement, and it gave birth to one of the best debut albums of all time, in my opinion. 2008’s self-titled debut Glasvegas catapulted the Scottish indie rock band into the limelight where they dominated the UK scene, going platinum and winning the coveted Mercury Prize.

They have it all, the look, the name, the critics’ praise, and most importantly, the songs to back it all up. The media called them “too good to be true,” “the quintessential noise-pop set of the modern age,” and my favorite quote, “a gut-punch of a debut, and one that makes you believe Glasvegas is one of those rare, rare bands who might just have that perfect record in them.” Another critic his called it “their Definitely Maybe.”

While global domination didn’t happen as planned, it wasn’t due to a lack of trying. Columbia Records put their muscle behind the band in the US. Still, it quickly became apparent that the US audience wasn’t quite ready to embrace Glasvegas at a sustainable level. Another casualty of the “why the fuck doesn’t the rest of the world get it?” scenario. 

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Turnstile at the
O2 Kentish Town
Forum, 2/3

Every decade or so, a specific genre of music gets a glimpse of its future and is tested against the greats who came before. This time around, the genre is hardcore and the front runner is a distinctive hybrid punch in the face called Turnstile.

I had somehow missed the build-up for these guys over the past ten years, but am I glad that I arrived in time for their magnum opus third album, 2021’s Glow On. This Baltimore four peace is on an absolute tear and the moment. While most American bands are struggling to keep their tour dates in the UK due to the variant, these guys managed to do two shows in London at two separate venues. I thought it was a misprint, but holy shit, each of the venues was jammed to the gills.

Double jabbed, boosted, and with a facemask, I show up ready to see firsthand what all the hype is about. The first show was two nights before at London’s legendary Roundhouse;—this night would be at the slightly larger Kentish Town Forum. Both are fantastic venues in their own right.

I’ve shot my fair share of punk and hardcore shows over the years, many of them without any sort of barrier or photo pit, which is both a blessing and a curse. If there’s no photo pit, then you have to bring your precious camera directly into the belly of the beast. (I’ve had lenses destroyed in these situations before.) Not the easiest shoot, but you do get some incredibly unique shots. This night there was a photo pit, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Saxon, Uriah Heep, Girlschool, and Diamond Head at the Eventim Apollo, 1/29

Four legends on stage in a single night. Four of the most important bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Forty years of castles and eagles. Delayed nearly two years with the pandemic, it was finally time, and London was ready for it.

A sold-out Eventim Apollo (better known to this capacity crowd as the legendary Hammersmith Ballroom), Saxon and friends not only brought out all the stops but delivered a magnum opus. Who would have thought that four bands born four decades ago would still deliver the goods and arguably sound better than ever? I had high hopes, and they were vastly exceeded.

First up on the bill were thrash legends Diamond Head who rose to fame after Metallica borrowed their sound and covered a couple of their songs. Most notably, “Am I Evil” from Kill ‘Em All. I remember being a 14-year-old kid hearing this for the first time and thinking, that’s it! I fucking love metal. The fact that it pissed off my parents to no end made it all the better.

Living in the states, Diamond Head was this sort of mysterious band that we only knew through Metallica because there wasn’t a ton of info on them to be found. Fast forward thirty-plus years later, and I’m now watching them play these songs and more live; it was surreal for me. I used to think that the Metallica versions of the songs were superior, but now it’s the other way around. Diamond Head may have missed their calling in the US, but holy shit, they continue to answer it across Europe.

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