Author Archives: Jason Miller

TVD Live Shots: Three Days Grace at the O2 Forum Kentish Town, 9/15

It’s easy to write off Three Days Grace as just another alt-metal band from the early 2000s, but that would be the cliched thing to do and the easy way out.

The fact that they have a record 17 number-one singles is a testament to how they stand out by a long shot among their peers and the long line of copycats being snatched up by major labels after they hit it big with their self-titled debut. Even I was a bit hesitant when I heard “I Hate Everything About You.” But I was quickly sold on “Home” as I thought this was one of the best rock songs from that entire decade. Great lyrics, chunky riffs, and even a bit of passion and soul in the chorus. It sounded like this guy was singing from the actual experience of this story happening to him, right there.

I have to admit I lost track of the band after original frontman Adam Gontier left, but I was intrigued when I saw that they were coming to London. I hadn’t seen these guys since I lived in Austin, Texas, more than thirty years ago. Now fronted by former My Darkest Days singer Matt Walst, the band is still going strong, having just released their latest album, Explosions. They don’t seem to tour very often in the UK, so I was interested to see what the crowd would look like. American alt-metal bands from that era were a bit hit and miss when they hit London, but this show was sold out. 

The O2 Forum in Kentish Town was jammed to the gills. The crowd was a mix of new and old fans alike. One younger guy I ran into said he’d never heard of Three Days Grace and that he was more of an Ed Sheeran fan, but his girlfriend dragged him to the gig as she was a massive fan. I saw them on the way out, and it looked like he had converted.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Starsailor at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 9/8

This is the tenth time I’ve seen Starsailor. I’ve seen them live more than any other band, with Cheap Trick and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult a close second. (Yeah, how’s that for a mix?)

I am very aware that I throw around the phrase best show I’ve seen, best band etc., quite a bit, but I see ALOT of live music, and the majority of it is pretty epic. But Starsailor is on another level. I don’t think they’ve ever written a bad song. They’re one of the few bands left that consistently deliver brilliant albums from start to finish. They also continue to evolve their sound but never go off the deep end.

This time around, it is to celebrate their debut album which came out 20 years ago. Love is Here was the album that kickstarted the post-Brit-Pop movement in the early 2000s. It seemed to be a competition between Coldplay, Travis, Feeder, Keane, and more. It’s a masterpiece in terms of a marriage between glorified acoustics and a one-of-a-kind voice. The hits just kept coming in the form of “Lullaby,” “Alcoholic,” “Fever,” “Poor Misguided Fool,” and of course, the career-defining “Good Souls.” To hear this album from start to finish isn’t a fucking gimmick; it’s a privilege.

Even though the gig was rescheduled three times due to the pandemic, it was worth the wait. Yet again, the timing wasn’t perfect. With the announcement earlier that day that Queen Elizabeth II had passed, it was impossible not to acknowledge it. “I’m not a big fan of the monarch, but she played by the rules just like us, and that I have to respect,” said Walsh just after the first few songs.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Bauhaus at the O2 Academy Brixton, 8/19

It may be cliched to call them the Godfathers of Goth, but it’s also challenging to explain one band’s impact over such a short time.

Bauhaus are to post-punk and goth what the Sex Pistols were to punk in terms of impact, and The Clash in the melding of musical styles. They defined a genre, crafted two perfect albums that ignited a movement, and set the stage for a number of new artists to carry the torch. Interestingly, one could view Bauhaus as an all-star band, but the process for each member coming into their own is reversed. The sum of the offshoots returns to a place where each band member is known by their reputation, not necessarily their early legacy. I mean, how many bands are there from four decades ago where every fan knows each of their individual names?

I don’t think anyone expected them to return quickly for a London show after a magnum opus Halloween show less than a year ago at Alexandra Palace. Still, it was a welcomed return to the iconic Brixton Academy. There’s a certain mystique around the band and their live performances—and in addition a new song conjured out of lockdown. “Drink The New Wine” marks their first new single since 2008’s Go Away White, and the story of how it was created proves that the band have not lost their edge for experimentation.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | 2 Comments

TVD Live Shots: Rebellion Festival
2022, 8/4–8/7

I’m not a massive fan of festivals as I generally prefer the smaller club shows and theaters. But there’s one festival I’ve had my eye on for the past few years, and it finally happened after a series of pandemic-induced delays. The Rebellion Festival lineup continued to get more and more stacked as each postponed year rolled into the next. So much so that they added an extra outdoor stage and a slew of additional acts outside of the original announcement more than two years ago. This was gearing up to be the biggest and best Rebellion yet, and I was on my way.

The festival is held in Blackpool, just north of Manchester. Having never been to Blackpool, I was told this was sort of the Vegas of the UK, or at least it used to be many years ago. Today it’s a bit of a forgotten seaside town, which seemed perfect as the host for a punk rock festival; the underdog with the potential to be great.

Over 200 bands were playing, and there was no way I would be able to see half of them, so some careful planning and research was underway. There were several hidden gems, one-off performances, reunions, new bands, legendary bands, and of course, once-in-lifetime opportunities to see punk legends sharing the stage with other punk legends. There’s no telling who will show up where and with whom. It reminded me a bit of the Monsters of Rock cruise, which I’ve covered several times.

Still, instead of a mishmash of ’80s hair metal legends and the new breed of rock ‘n’ roll, it was a history lesson in all things UK punk, mod, and new wave, along with a stage dedicated to the best up and comers, the ones who will define the future of the genre, and to be honest, that’s where I found myself spending the majority of my time.

I ended up seeing more than forty bands over three days (I couldn’t stay for the fourth day as I had to get back to London). It’s certainly not easy to choose a top ten, but here’s my attempt at pulling together the best of the best over the weekend. I couldn’t narrow it down to ten, so here’s my top twelve and why they made the list:

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
George Thorogood & the Destroyers at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 7/29

George Thorogood is a bit of a mythical figure to me. Growing up in the midwest of the US, I was eight years old when I first saw the video for “Bad to the Bone.” Here’s this regular-looking dude walking into a pool hall with a guitar case that, instead of a Gibson, had a pool cue in it. He would go on to hustle the legendary bluesman Bo Diddley (I had no idea who he was at that time). I thought it was a bit strange for a storyline for a music video, but there was no denying that this guy was a bad motherfucker when it came to playing the blues. Is he a shredder like SRV or Hendrix? No. He’s got style, he’s got finesse, and most importantly, he’s got attitude.

Fast forward 40 years (Jesus, I’m getting old), and I get my first chance to see him live, and he brought the Destroyers. Celebrating 45 years of rock, the show that had been postponed several times finally arrived at London’s famed Shepherd’s Bush Empire. George came out on stage, immediately walked up to the front, and gave all the photographers in the pit a chance at an epic shot—then he went straight for the crowd. I’ve never seen anyone have such a good time playing the blues. He made the sold-out, packed to the gills theatre feel like the roadhouse saloon somewhere outside of Philadelphia. He was cracking jokes, chatting directly with the crowd, telling stories, and making quips; it was as if George knew the crowd intimately.

And I’m here to tell you, George didn’t miss a beat. His personality and that character I saw in the “Bad to the Bone” video is authentic; that’s just how he is. Even the security guy told me he was making jokes and telling stories to the staff during soundcheck. You can clearly see in the photos that George was on fire, and the Destroyers were tight as can be with original band members Billy Blough and Jeff Simon holding down the groove. For me, this puts a show over the top, seeing someone who’s been doing it for this long and still looks like they are having the time of their life.

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots:
The Struts at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 7/14

The Struts made their triumphant return home last week in London, kicking off their UK tour at the beautiful Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Having recently announced signing on with one of the hottest labels on the planet, Big Machine, The Struts look to be primed to finally break through and fulfill their destiny to be one of the biggest rock bands on the planet.

If you’re not familiar with Big Machine, they are the leading “independent” label based in the States with a rich history of not only turning artists into hit-making machines, but also opening up the heavens in terms of opportunities to reach the masses like no one else. Big Machine is a shining example of the modern record label; when it works, it works and generally blows up, taking the band to the next level of their career; when it doesn’t, well, let’s not go there.

The first sign of the “rebirth” of The Struts comes in the form of a new single. The band is super excited about this one as they invited the VIP ticket holders into the venue early to give it a spin. Then they played it live. I heard this song three times that night, the studio version once and two times live. While it certainly sounds like The Struts, it’s moving in a slightly new direction. Holy shit, the Machine is working.

The Struts 3.0 is an evolution, and it’s quite good. The song is called “Falling with Me,” and it’s about a night out in LA with the band as they personify the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle at the legendary Rainbow Room on the once famed Sunset Strip. It’s no surprise that these guys love their ’70s and ’80s glam rock, so why not retrace the steps of your peers and inject that into your music?

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Mika at the Roundhouse, 7/3

Mika made his triumphant return to London at the legendary Roundhouse on Sunday night, 7/3. This was quite the intimate venue for an artist of his magnitude, especially coming off the high of an epic Eurovision performance. The line wrapped around the venue as thousands queued to get in, some even waiting out front for nearly twenty-four hours. Why on earth would anyone wait that long? For a live spectacle like no other and the perfect way to wrap a month of pride celebrations.

The Lebanese-born, British singer-songwriter has proven to be a virtuoso over the past decade and a half, with a sharp wit and an incredible sense of melody. He’s like a cross between Barry Gibb, Freddie Mercury, and Idina Menzel, bridging the gap between theatrical rock, pop, dance, and Broadway. He was hitting notes that I didn’t think were possible, and he made it look easy. He can write a hook like no other, his musical resume speaks volumes, and he’s become an icon and inspiration for the LGBT community and beyond. It begs the question, is there anything that Mika can’t do?

Soft-spoken, charming, and personable, he had the audience in the palm of his hand, not because of ego but because he’s vulnerable; he was one of them. He’s also quite the storyteller. Throughout the set he spoke to the capacity crowd as if they were all gathered around the fireplace at his home. He told a heartwarming story about his mother before dedicating “Grace Kelly” to her. He also talked about how excited he was about writing the symphonic score for an upcoming movie about an unusual friendship that blossoms between a boy and a camel (I couldn’t make out the name of the film, and I don’t think it’s been announced yet).

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

TVD Live Shots: Mushroomhead at the O2 Islington Academy, 6/24

Cleveland, Ohio natives Mushroomhead kicked off their tour in London last week, bringing their signature industrial-infused brand of metal to the European masses. Over the years, I’ve been a bit of a casual fan of the band since someone gave me a copy of Xx back in 2001. This is a beast of a album, and although the band was constantly being compared to fellow midwest metallers Slipknot, I didn’t really get it. Sure, they wore masks and played in a similar ballpark genre-wise, but it was way too easy to dismiss them as simply copycats. With all the hype surrounding Slipknot, I actually thought Mushroomhead was the more interesting band. After seeing them live, I’m convinced. 

They are certainly more accessible and arguably more creative in terms of the mashup of styles that they bring together. Some might say it’s a bit too commercial with their latest endeavor, but who really fucking cares? So was Static X, and they were able to keep their metal cred by crossing over (OK, not the best example, but you get it). Fast forward twenty years, several revolving members, five studio records, a major label stint, I finally get to see the band live. The chaos, the rabid fans, the mystique—it was all about to explode into the twisted metal circus that came to town.

In support of their 2020 album, It’s a Wonderful Life the tour is being called the best lineup and best album since their peak with XIII nearly two decades ago. This is a massive leap forward for the band in terms of production, songwriting, and experimentation. Seventeen songs clocking in at 71 minutes with an overarching Faith No More vibe happening across several songs and a progressive metal feel to a few others, it’s rounded out with some massively heavy grooves and classic Mushroomhead chunky guitar breaks. There is something for everyone here. 

Read More »

Posted in TVD UK | Leave a comment

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
  • 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