SPACED OUT IN STOKE, WEIRDED OUT IN WORCESTER!! Step into the “Blue Room” as THE ORB, one of trance music’s most revered acts (and secret prog-rockers in their spare time) bring their intimate show to the Sugarmill on May 11 and Marrs Bar on May 19
VOTE FOR THEM!! Two-tone gods THE SPECIALS, one of the Midlands’ most important acts, hit the road for eagerly-anticipated 40th anniversary tour this April- with Midlands dates on the 24th and 26th (and FIVE more in July)
HE ONLY HAS (BRIGHT) EYES FOR YOU- AND YOU, AND YOU!! The incomparable ART GARFUNKEL returns to the UK for a Spring tour- including an evening of songs and stories at Birmingham Symphony Hall on April 17
DOUBLE-HEADLINING PROG FRENZY IN DOWNTOWN BILSTON!! Get ready for some serious melodic widdlage as THAT JOE PAYNE and “this” DORIS BRENDEL rock up to the Robin for a twin-pronged aural assault on April 14
Here at Midland Mania, it’s often not enough to just review the show AFTER the event- we also like to preview some of them too, to draw our readers’ attentions to certain things they may have otherwise missed. Therefore, heralding the first of what will hopefully be a monthly feature, please find below a list of some of the shows I intend to be checking out in the West Midlands over the next two months. Inevitably, there WILL be some date clashes- even more so as more venues get added- but hey, that’s what happens when you’re living in one of the most exciting regions of the country for live music!! What can I say? Verilye and indeede, taketh thy pick, ar kid….
SKID ROW- KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton, Fri August 24
Tickets: £25.00 plus booking fee http://www.kkssteelmill.co.uk
After all these years, the Youth are still going wild- and this year, they’ve chosen to do it in the Black Country’s best brand new all-Metaaaaaaaaaaaaaal venue, owned and run by none other than ex-Judas Priest axeman KK Downing. Having retired from the band a while ago, KK vowed that his next step would be to give something back not just to the area that forged his roots, but heavy metal itself- and now, it looks like he’s finally gone and done it. And what better band to launch it with than the mighty Skid Row- the band that, as teens, looked to the mighty Priest for inspiration and guidance, even covering their classic “Delivering The Goods”? Now fronted by ex-Dragonforce vocalist ZP ‘Zippy’ Theart, they’re about to celebrate their own thirtieth anniversary- so it looks like cause for DOUBLE celebration in Wolvo that night!!
BRIAN WILSON- Digbeth Arena, Birmingham, August 24
Yes, that’s right, BRIAN WILSON!! Coming to a specially-constructed arena in Digbeth of all places!! It’s been a long, hot, unbearable summer across the West Midlands, but if there’s one musician guaranteed to make you see the positive side of things, it’s the Californian sunshine pop legend himself. Now 78 years old and STILL kicking ass, and ably supported by fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, the composer of ‘California Girls’ ‘Surfer Girl’ Fun Fun Fun’ ‘Surf’s Up’ Sail On Sailor’ ‘Til I Die’ and ‘God Only Knows’ shows little or no signs of letting up- and good thing too. Obviously, we don’t have a beach round here per se- except maybe some shingle surrounding Earlswood Lakes- but that shouldn’t stop us from being able to party like it’s Los Brumgeles. For one night only!!
VINCE NEIL- KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton, September 1
Tickets: £43.00 plus booking fee http://www.kkssteelmill.co.uk
Following on from August’s prestigious launch in the company of Noo Joisey noiseniks Skid Row, the Steel Mill moves way out West for its second foray into live rock’n’roll- and welcomes the one and only Vince Neil, former frontman of possibly THE quintessential LA hair metal party band, Motley Crue. Now that fabled quartet have finally hung up their black leather motorcycle boots, their ebullient singer is striking out on his own (for the second time in his career) and again, we’re privileged that he’s chosen Wolvo as one of the places in which to do it. His heart may be in Californ-i-a, but inside him still lurks the soul of a boy raised on West Midlands legends like Zeppelin, Sabbath, Priest, Slade and Mott The Hoople, and for that reason alone, we should give him a bostin’ Black Country welcome.
THE THE- Digbeth Arena- September 7
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the mad yet ever-positive genius of Mr Wilson lurks a man of equal talent- but of a far darker, twisted nature, borne of a colder, bleaker climate. The Londoner. The loner. The man in the permanently bad mood, spitting venom at an ungodly world in the most beautifully poetic, musically adventurous manner possible. That man is Matt Johnson, and the band is The The, functioning as the vehicle for his vitriolic outpourings for almost 40 years now. With the reconstituted lineup having already played several acclaimed gigs in London, Manchester and Nottingham this year, it was only a matter of time before they graced Brum with their singular, unclassifiable presence- and now they’re about to do just that. Whether you call them rock, indie, post-punk or any other vaguely-befitting name, the fact remains that they still sound like nobody and nothing else on earth. Prepare to be amazed.
ROSE TATTOO/GIRLSCHOOL- Birmingham Academy 2, September 11
Tickets: £28.15 plus booking fee http://www.academymusicgroup.com/02academybirmingham http://www.ticketmaster.com
AT LAST!! After over a decade’s absence, the legend of hard-kicking, ball-biting Aussie rock that is Angry Anderson, and the one and only Rose Tattoo, are finally returning to the UK- and we at Midland Mania can’t wait. And as if that wasn’t good enough, their tour support for this jaunt is none other than the legendary GIRLSCHOOL- still, after over 40 years, the greatest British female rock act EVER. What a double bill!! With a headliner laying down such cast-iron classics as “Nice Boys” “Bad Boy For Love” “Branded” “Rock N Roll Is King” , and a very special guest assaulting us with a “Hit N Run” whilst reminding us to “Please Don’t Touch” their “Tush”, at several zillion decibels, how could it be anything less than one of the greatest live experiences of the year? Get ready to ROCK.
FISH- Leamington Assembly, September 24
SHAH!!! The Haddington Bear is back- to deliver a set of hits, oldies, newies, obscurities and more at Warwickshire’s most visually stunning venue. 30 years since he left A Certain Band (who are almost out of tickets for their annual weekend bash in Leicester next month, by the way, so hurry) the giant Scots wit, raconteur and prog songsmith extraordinaire is STILL going strong: he keeps threatening to retire, but as long as he keeps releasing albums of such high quality as 2015’s “Feast Of Consequences”, I think it’s safe to assume he’ll be with us a while yet. Expect a truly magical journey through a wilderness of mirrors, as the sun sets on the empire of the raingods with Zippos, and thus begins the Web. Dilly dilly.
THE BLUETONES- Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, September 26
Always unfairly overlooked during the great “Britpop Wars” of the 90s- largely because they didn’t release their first album, the seminal Expecting To Fly, until 1996- West London’s Bluetones have nonetheless been a constant and consistent force on the British indie-rock scene since their inception. Their first brace of singles are now regarded as classics of their genre, guitarist Adam Devlin is a force to be reckoned with on his instrument, and frontman Mark Morris still possesses one of the finest, most soulful voices in British guitar music: sure, they may not be “cool” anymore, and the “kids” may be now listening to bands that were barely born when classic tunes like Cut Some Rug, Solomon Bites The Worm, Sleazy Bed Track , Bluetonic and Marblehead Johnson were doing the rounds, but they’re STILL an incredible band- and to see them in the intimate surroundings of the Slade Rooms will be quite something. It’s not just a “Slight Return”, it’s a hero’s return. So get on down there and flop that fringe.