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Rammstein: Paris – Preview

So yesterday (23rd March at the time of writing), my friend and I were lucky enough to manage to get tickets to see a screening of Rammstein: Paris at the Electric Cinema in Birmingham… and what a hell of a night it was! I do admit, it was odd to sit in silence whilst watching the band perform a pre-recorded show on a screen, but it was an interesting experience. Still, I’d have liked to have partied a bit harder, rather than just nodding my head to the music and mouthing the lyrics.

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As for the film itself, it was interesting on many levels. In some ways it was utter brilliance, and other aspects I’m not too sure on. The show in question that was filmed was at both nights of Bercy, Paris in 2012, as part of the band’s Made in Germany tour. Of course, as we all know, Rammstein shows are pretty damn spectacular and these nights were no exception (having attended the Birmingham gig myself during this epic tour, I can attest to this!)

I’d been wondering why it had taken so long for this to get released, as it was almost 5 years since the concerts had taken place, but upon seeing it, it was clear to see why. The production quality is absolutely out of this world, with minute attention paid to every single detail. Director Jonas Åkerlund proves that he’s the master of his craft here, and then some! The way the film flows is more like a long music video, or perhaps a set of music videos in this case (more on that in a second), and I was surprised how up-close some of the angles were. The visuals are sharp, it was stunning to see the detail in every frame. It really captures the essence of each moment.

The usage of special effects were quite intriguing too, if a hindrance at times. Before each song starts, a title card is presented of that song, in a style that suits the overall track. It is a neat and quirky little feature, but I felt it really pulled me out of the moment, and reminded me that I was watching the event on a screen. Also, the special effects were a mixed bag. For a start, there were visuals added into the performance that ranged from the genuinely interesting (such as Till’s face distorting as he mouths the screams during Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen), to the outright odd, and a tad cheesy (like when Flake literally emits blots of lightning out of his fingers as he plays his keyboard during Du Hast.) One effect that is used often, that I can totally get behind, is the usage of slow motion. It captures the pyrotechnics and stunts in such a beautiful way, it’s stunning to watch. Okay, I do admit, I am a bit old-fashioned when it comes to watching gig footage, as I want to relive those moments how they transpired, without anything to dilute those memories. I guess that’s the main objective of this film; this is Åkerlund trying something completely different. After all, standard format of concert films have been done to death, so why not spruce it all up a bit? With my rantings, I make it sound awful, but it’s actually still very, enjoyable and fun to watch.

A quick preview from the band’s offical YouTube page!

To keep the theatrical release to a minimum time-frame, some songs were cut (which I listed below. If you want to avoid spoilers, don’t look), and I was sad to see some great ones cut out. Then again, at 97 minutes, this is no short film! Luckily, the full concert will be viewable in all it’s 128 minute glory when Rammstein: Paris is officially released on DVD and Blu Ray on 19th May! Yes, I’ve already pre-ordered my copy, so expect a more detailed review once I’ve seen it in it’s entirety. I’m actually rather intrigued on how the other tracks will get presented; maybe all this extra visual snazziness will grow on me, and maybe even make more sense once I have the full picture?

Either way, I reckon it’ll be just as intense of an experience to watch, no matter what size screen you watch it on.

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Blurbs – 20.03.2017

And now for something completely different. I’ve been toying with this idea for a while now, and today I’ve decided to put that to use. Instead of basically taking forever to do one essay long blog post about a single topic, I’ll be rounding up all recent news/events that have caught my attention or have got me hyped recently. Long story short, it’s pretty much a round-up of the latest news from music and gaming, but with my opinions tacked onto it… and it’ll still probably be essay length (but at least it’ll be about lots of different things, yay!)

First up, in the world of music, and probably the news I’m most excited about (which will surprise no one), is that The Birthday Massacre have finally released the first track off their upcoming album, Under Your Spell. The track is entitled Counterpane, and it’s a bit brilliant! The track kicks off with an aggressive, heavy riff, before transitioning to a mesmerizing synth section, with Chibi delivering soft, beautiful sounding vocals. The production quality is outstanding, and it has even more of an 80’s vibe than ever. If anything, it’s very reminiscent of their earlier works, such as Violet and Walking With Strangers, which has me very excited indeed! It’s certainly a lot darker in tone than more their more recent albums, and if reviews from those that were lucky enough to hear it at a recent listening party are anything to go by, it may very well be their darkest, heaviest album yet. Even better, its been confirmed that Under Your Spell will drop in the next couple of months, pretty much confirming a May release! With this, and 3teeth‘s highly anticipated <shutdown.exe> releasing in the same month, May is looking very exciting for music. If you want to listen to Counterpane for yourself, head on over to The Birthday Massacre’s Pledge Music campaign, donate, and the track will be yours to listen to as much as you wish. Pledges start as low as £8/$9.99 for the ‘Access Pass’, which nets you a digital copy of the album on release, plus access to their update feed. Also, more exclusive and elusive rewards are available at varying prices (I personally pledged twice, as I love them so much!)

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Next up, good and bad news from the world of Ashbury Heights. First off, the bad news is that frontman Anders Hagström, appears to be quite ill. Confirming on band’s Facebook page a few days ago, he states he has been ill for about six weeks, and “is now living almost entirely off liquids.” Whatever this illness is, I really hope it’s sorted soon, and wish him a speedy recovery. I have nothing but kudos for him though, as he still plans to play upcoming live shows, with no plans to cancel yet. In terms of good news, we should be hearing our first taste of Victorian Wallflowers very soon! He has confirmed that the next Electrostorm Sampler will feature the track Science from the upcoming album. He describes the track as “an uptempo synth pop track with heavy 80s vibes and a black heart”, with more info promised soon. I’m intrigued to see where this next chapter takes them, and with the promise of this next outing being highly experimental, we should expect some very special things from this one!

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There also seems to be some surprising developments from Muse, after the Devonshire trio were spotted at Air Studios in London by an avid fan. It was thought that they were practising for their upcoming US tour this summer, but after speaking with them, it was revealed that they’ve been working on “new material.” The band stated that they’ve recorded three new tracks with one “heavy” track and two that are “not so heavy.” As they’ve pretty much said to not expect LP8 until the distant future of 2018, perhaps a new EP is on the way? It’s certainly an exciting prospect. After all, with no album theme or schedule to tie them down, who knows what they’ve come up with? Also, let’s not forget that one of their best (and probably my favourite) tracks was off an EP, Dead Star. However, if the source of this information is from Matt Bellamy, then its pretty difficult to trust. After all he’s vague with his information most the time, let alone completely way off the mark! However, to give him credit, a lot of things he said about Drones turned out to be true, so maybe he’s actually being a lot more up-front this time. Let’s hope that something actually comes of this!

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As for videogames, a slew of new information regarding the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise was revealed this weekend, courtesy of a panel at SXSW (South by Southwest Conference and Festivals.) It appears that the highly anticipated back-to-retro-style Sonic Mania has sadly been pushed back from a Q2 2017 to a vague “Summer 2017” release window. However, the reason given for the delay is so that Sega can ensure that Mania is a “high quality product.” I don’t know about you guys, but this definitely sounds like a completely different Sega to the one we’ve seen in recent years. They have lead us astray before, but hearing this fills me with some confidence and high hopes. Plus, it’s now going to have a physical release, so it’s no longer digital only. This may seem like a surprising move, but considering the massive hype surrounding it, I’m personally not that surprised. I mean, come on… it’s Sonic going back to his glory days of 2D platforming, how can it fail? I’m hoping those aren’t famous last words there. Oh, and Flying Battery Zone from Sonic & Knuckles is getting a ‘remixed’ set of stages too. As I love these stages (and the amazing soundtrack accompanying them), this only fills me with joy!

Sega also lifted the lid on some of the mystery behind ‘Project Sonic 2017’. First of all, the title was revealed which is… *drumroll* …Sonic Forces! Ok, so I don’t know if its just me, but I find the name a little odd, although it is growing on me (plus the pun potential is off the charts.) I have to admit, the logo is rather pretty, and the name is interesting in the sense that “forces” invokes the idea of divisions in some sort of war or battle. Judging by short glimpse of Modern Sonic gameplay that was shown, I’d say that’s not a far off theory! Our blue hero blasts through the level (reminiscent of Rooftop Run from Sonic Unleashed/Generations) at lightning pace, as chaos ensues around him, with Eggman’s robots completely laying waste to the city. It all looks gloriously apocalyptic, and if the teaser and the events around this stage are anything to go by, it appears Eggman has won. If so, then I love this idea! It’d be great to see Sonic and co as the underdogs for once, it could add an interesting dynamic that’s not been explored much in the games before. Of course, this all seems pretty grim. Hell, at one point an air raid siren starts sounding, which is actually pretty damn haunting! Luckily, it was confirmed that this is one of the games “darker moments” and that the entire game won’t have this tone. As for the gameplay, it’s pretty much following on from the Generations style of gameplay by the looks of things. This can only be a good thing, as it was pretty solid, and well balanced. If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it. Many mysteries still remain, however. How will Classic Sonic play? How is Classic Sonic involved? What other things can we expect? What about this new gameplay mechanic that has been promised? Will that screw everything up? We’ll have to wait until E3 to find out, but for now, we have this to whet our appetites with, and the direction they’re taking with it is very promising so far. Please don’t screw this one up Sonic Team!

One final word before I end this post; I’d like to give a shout out to a colleague, and friend of mine, who, along with his dad, competed on Robot Wars this past weekend with their robot Tauron! Sadly, they went out pretty quickly, due to technical issues, but it was pretty cool to see him on TV (if a bit surreal.) Still, it’s a pretty massive achievement to make it onto the show, so well done to them! Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of them!

Tom and Tim - Team Tauron

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Memoirs of a Ginger, Part 5.2 – Hier kommt die Sonne

So yeah, like I said, there would be no abridging of the tales from this event. I just had to talk about it in detail! Of course, I didn’t want to make it too long of a read, so split it in two. So, anyway, as I was saying…

M’era Luna/Goths on a Bus – August 11th-15th 2016 (continued…)

Day two arrived, Sunday. Thankfully, it was a bit of a later start, so it wasn’t to hard on us. After the previous night’s shenanigans, we relaxed for a bit, then ventured forth into the arena.

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Rabia Sorda, really kicking things off on the Sunday!

First up, back at the hangar, we checked out Rabia Sorda. This is actually a side-project of Hocico, and I’m genuinely impressed at how well they owned the stage, after such an energetic set the night before. After an awesome intro, the set kicked off with “King of the Wasteland” and was a torrent of furious industrial rock. They blasted out tracks such as “Obey Me!”, “I’m Tragedy” and “Out of Control”, before ending with “Hotel Suicide”. It was a storming set! The next band were also playing in the hangar… and in fact, I pretty much stayed there the rest of the day. Centhron put on an absolutely brutal set of harsh EBM that got the entire room moving to the beat.

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Centhron put on a brutal performance!

Next up, Zeromancer. Now, this is a band that I go waaay back with. It’s not necessarily a band I listen to all that much any more, but listening to it takes me back to the early days of dancing in the goth room at Eddies in Birmingham. Needless to say, the younger me was screaming with excitement on the inside! Overall, they were pretty good. Certainly not the strongest act of the weekend, but I’m still glad to have finally seen them. It was a joy to hear “Need You Like a Drug”, “Sinners International”, and the obvious (but just as epic) choice of closer, “Dr. Online”. Suicide Commando put on a fantastic set, and it was great to be dancing to some stompy EBM again. The presentation of the show was superb, and definitely one of the most visual sets of the entire weekend. Screens backed the music, with relevant (if sometimes grim) visuals. It was all part of the act though, and it made for a very prominent, very strong statement.

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Sucide Commando’s set was pretty impressive

Now, I will admit, I’m usually easily impressed when it comes to seeing live bands and artists. For the most part, I do enjoy them quite a lot (although I do tend to go for the good ones, and could still easily reel off a big list of acts I’ve found mediocre.) However, I’m not exaggerating when I say the hangar stage headliners, IAMX, were incredible! All throughout, they had a massive presence, and delivered a magnificent set filled with an intense energy. It was an excellent mix of tracks old and new, that was non-stop brilliance all the way through. Honestly, they were, without a shadow of a doubt, the band of the weekend!

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IAMX, easily one of the best live acts I have ever seen!

I missed Within Temptation, which in hindsight, I’m a bit gutted about, especially considering they were joined on stage by Tarja when they performed “What about us”. Bugger. It was an epic enough day as it was, and it got even more epic with intense after-partying all night! Well, most of it… let’s just say I overdid it, and it got a bit messy. This, of course, made the long trip home a bit hellish. However, it was the great company that truly got me through it.

I have to genuinely say that M’era Luna has to be one of the best experiences of my life, and hands-down the best festival I’ve ever been to. The atmosphere is incredible, the line-up was insanely good, and it’s the most organised, pleasant festival I’ve ever been to! This is why I could never do a UK camping festival again; M’era Luna completely runs circles around them, and puts them to shame. Travelling with the Goths on a Bus group was a brilliant decision too, it was great to hang out with such lovely people, and I can honestly say I made some great new friends this weekend. Thank you to everyone involved with Goths on a Bus, especially the organisers, you’re all truly amazing people!

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Homeward bound!

All I can say is, if you’ve ever considered M’era Luna, then do it! It’ll be one of the best decisions you will ever make! If you’re from the UK, and decide to do so, check out Goths on a Bus on Facebook and their website, it’s worth every second and every penny!

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[On a side-note, I did fully intend to write about some more of my 2016 adventures… but I’m looking at my calendar, and it’s somehow now March. When the hell did that happen?! Needless to say, its time to start living in the present, so this’ll be my last chapter of my “Memoirs of a Ginger” series. Thanks for reading it folks, I’ve got more awesome stuff on the way!]

Memoirs of a Ginger, Part 5 – Hier kommt die Sonne

Yes, when it comes to Germany, I’m always going to try and fit in a Rammstein related pun, somehow. If it’s not blatant by now, I love my music, and I attend a lot of related events, especially festivals (which should be pretty obvious, as I’ve talked about two of them already!) In 2015, I popped my abroad music festival cherry, and ventured to Cologne, Germany for Amphi Festival. Alas, I sadly missed out on it last year, although I’m already locked-in for Amphi 2017! However, determined to not miss out, I decided to book myself into a festival I’d been meaning to attend for years…

M’era Luna/Goths on a Bus – August 11th-15th 2016

So the Thursday arrived, and after meeting some mates at a bar in the wilds of Birmingham, we all headed off to Birmingham International to get our “Goth Bus”. For those of you that don’t know, Goths on a Bus is a scheme run by some awesome people! A number of coaches pick people up across the country, meet up at Dover for the ferry to Calais, before a massive trek across Europe, reaching the final destination at the festival itself in Hildesheim, Germany a day later. At over 600 miles (a quick check on Google Maps gave me 666 miles… eerie), this was no small journey! I was intrigued to see how this would all work, as I’d never done this before. Needless to say, this would end up being the journey of a lifetime!

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Ready for departure… Deutschland, wir kommen!

When we approached the rest of the gang, we were given a warm welcome by old friends, and some awesome new people, and that’s when the party started! In fact, that pretty much sums up the journey! It was pretty much a non-stop party all the way there (with the exception of a quick nap later on), with some great conversation, awesome music, and hilarious shenanigans. How some of us made it over the border, I really have no idea. Needless to say, a huge supply of my weekend’s booze was pretty much gone by the time we reached our destination the following morning.

Upon arrival, setting up camp was pretty easy! We pitched our tents, had a quick rest, then went to explore the grounds of M’era Luna for the first time. I can honestly say that I’ve never been to such an organised festival before in my life! The walk from our campsite to the main arena was a mere 3-4 minutes away, and I could even see the main stage from my tent! Everything was literally minutes away from each other. Oh, and there were actual flushing toilets! Even then, the portaloos were the cleanest I’ve ever seen at any festival I’ve ever been to. Nothing horrid or rancid, no fears of catching some sort of weird disease, it was amazing! I’m aware I may have droned about toilets too much here, but I’ve seen some horrendous stuff in my time, which I still have ‘nam style flashbacks of to this very day!

The Medieval village was a fantastic place to visit! It had a full-on medieval look, with stalls also selling goods that related to the setting. The nerdy side of me was in bliss, as it literally felt like I’d walked straight into a D&D campaign! Oh, and the food was to absolutely die for! If you ever go to this festival (which why aren’t you now?), I highly recommend the garlic bread, it’s simply the best garlic bread you will ever have in your life.

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A stall in the Medieval village, serving delicious food

As for night time entertainment, one of the hangars just outside of the arena is converted into a venue for club nights. Sure, you have to pay to get in, but it’s a night of epic proportions! For a start, it’s nice to actually see a room completely packed out at a goth industrial/EBM night! With there only being a select few small clubs in the UK, it’s nice to see that there’s somewhere in the world that truly embraces the scene. This was a great way to spend the Friday, prior to seeing any acts, and was a non-stop party with some fantastic tunes.

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Paaaaarrrtttyyyy!!!! 😀

So, the Saturday arrived, and with it began the barrage of bands and artists! Gothminister was the first act we checked out, and it was quite fun! It was a great Gothic rock set, but did feel a bit cheesy, with the addition of props being used, and cheap ones at that. Mind you, they had their tongues firmly in their cheeks, and it was glorious! Sadly, we had to leave the set early to get to the next stage. This was my first experience in the hangar stage, and holy shit, it was industrial as fuck! The choice of venue was absolutely perfect for such a festival, and really added to the atmosphere. Chrom took to the stage, and they were absolutely incredible! Having recently released Peak & Decay, they played a fantastic mix of new anthems and classic hits of Synthpop goodness, the room was filled with an epic ambience, that got many moving to the beat. “Staring at the Sun” and “Visions” were true highlights. I highly anticipate that they will be a lot higher up the bill in the future.

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Chrom performing an astounding set!

Staying in the hangar, Noisuf-X was next up, and he delivered a storming set. His trademark gritty hard dance beats literally got the entire room shaking, and the crowd went absolutely mental. Tracks like “Hit me hard”, “Warning” and “Big Bang” went down a storm. It was that packed out, that it was impossible to get close to the half way point! Finally, returning to the main stage, it was time to catch OOMPH!‘s set, and they were also brilliant. Heavy industrial metal filled the airwaves, with some riffs so heavy and epic, that it felt like being hit by a brick wall. I admit, I lost it to “Gott ist ein Popstar.”

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The decor in the Hangar Stage was on point!

Diary of Dreams were next up, and they were pretty awesome too, delivering a set of dark, moody, ambience filled music. They’re a band I really need to check out a lot more. We returned to the hangar, and pretty much remained there for the rest of the day, as there was a pretty damn strong line-up ahead! This proceeded with Diorama, and they put on a great performance, with their catchy electropop sound going down a treat! They blitzed through tracks such as “Defcon”, “Exit the Grey” and “Advance”. The lack of “Synthesize Me” was a bit disappointing though. [:SITD:] followed, and they were one of the bands I was really looking forward to. Needless to say, they did not disappoint! A set of haunting EBM/Industrial tracks filled the hall, with an atmosphere so rich, you could cut it with a butter knife. I would’ve been moving more, if the room wasn’t so crammed with people! Opening with “Rot”, they went through a great choice of tracks, including “Dunkelziffer”, “Redemption”, “Richtfest”, ending on the mighty “Snuff Machinery.”

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[:SITD:] put on a fantastic show

We managed to make our way to the front for Die Krupps, as one of my friends is a massive fan, and could not rave about them enough. Upon seeing them live for myself, it’s clear to see why, they’re fantastic! An onslaught of hard, heavy stunning industrial metal. At one point, lead singer Jürgen Engler even played a tune on a giant self-made xylophone style instrument.. only it was made with pipes, and was HUGE. It was quite quirky, and quite a spectacle to watch, even if it was harsh on the ear drums. They ended the set in style, rebelliously trashing their equipment.

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Die Krupps cooking up a storm!

The final band I intended to see were Hocico, and the Mexican duo, as always, put on a spectacular show. It was a hard-hitting frantic set, filled with massive EBM anthems, bound to make anyone move their feet. Reassuringly, I was one of the only ones wielding glowsticks. Transparently it’s not a big thing over in Germany, so I got some funny looks. I didn’t care though, it was too much fun. Afterwards, I needed a good sit down outside, so met with some friends and chilled with them. Sadly, I caught the end of Sisters of Mercy. I say “sadly” because they definitely were not on form this night. You could barely see anything behind all the fog on stage, and they were totally off-key. Luckily, we only caught some tracks, and weren’t really playing too much attention. After a night of clubbing, having a glowstick rave with some of the gang in the communal Goths on a Bus tent, then talking to some lovely Germans until about 5am, I settled down for the night.

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I asure you, Hocico are there… somewhere

Fuck… I sure can waffle, can’t I? There’s just so much to talk about, that it’s difficult to contain it all. So difficult, in fact, that I’m gonna have to split this article into two halves. Simply abridging it would not do it justice! Stay tuned for part two of my epic tales from M’era Luna soon!

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Memoirs of a Ginger, Part 4 – I’ve been in this place before

There’s no denying it, I’m an absolutely massive fan of Ayria, so I was thrilled when she released her album, Paper Dolls. My excitement ran wild when she announced her UK tour, and that she was going to tour over here first! It had been two years since I’d last seen her, when she toured for her previous album, Plastic Makes Perfect, so there was no way I was going to miss out on this one!

Ayria – Electrowerkz, London – 18th June 2016

I always enjoy a good trip to London, and seeing Ayria meant yet another venture down south. However, it’s not really London itself I’m too bothered about, it’s a club nestled within Angel Islington, known as Electrowerkz. The place itself is a bit of a dive, but in the best possible way; it has a really gritty warehouse feel, that gives it an absolute ton of character. It really adds to the atmosphere of the place, and makes for a brilliant venue for a Gothic club night, and especially for gigs.

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I’m going to be brutally honest here, at the time of writing, it’s been seven months since I’d been to this event, so my memory was pretty hazy. The night kicked off with a brilliant set from KLOQ, and once again Inertia were providing support. They had supported Ayria the last time I’d seen her, and that was a pretty solid performance then. However, they had even more energy and enthusiasm than before, plus with a bigger crowd, and better venue, the atmosphere was much more awesome.

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Then Ayria took to the stage, and what can I say? It was an amazing show! Opening with “Feed Her to the Wolves”, Jennifer Parkin, backed by the talented Sarah Stewart and Bob Malkowski, stormed through the set with finesse, with a setlist that spanned her entire back catalogue. Songs such as “Analog Trash”, “You’re So Vacant”, “Games”, “Crash and Burn”, “The Gun Song” and “Bad List” were played. I was stoked to finally see “Blue Alice” live too, and closer “Six Seconds” sent the room into a frenzy. It was a gig packed with epic moments, and the entire crowd were really going for it, and were probably one of the best crowds I’d seen at a gig for a while. The atmosphere was truly electric. Jennifer Parkin completely owned the stage too, constantly interacting with the crowd, clearly loving every moment that transpired. As she said herself, they chose London as the last date of the UK tour because they “wanted a big send-off”, and what a hell of a send-off it was too! I honestly cannot wait until Ayria returns to our shores with another tour, they just gets better and better every time! It all felt like it was over too quickly.

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Of course it didn’t end there, this is Electrowerkz we’re talking about, and Slimelight is the club night to be at! I doesn’t end until about 7:30 the following morning, so it would be rude to not stay as long as possible. That was the case this night, and even though the exhaustion does take it’s toll later on, it’s always worth it! The cool thing about this night, was the fact that all the bands hung out after the show to say hi to fans, and party. It was great to say a quick hi and thank them for the awesome gig, I truly have nothing but respect for artists/bands that show so much appreciation towards their fans, and who are up for a party! Needless to say, it was a great way to end a spectacular night.

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Special thanks to Gavin Grant Photography for the photos! Check out his work here: https://www.facebook.com/gavgrantphotography/

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Resident Evil 7: Biohazard full play – Part 4!

Here’s part 4 of my RE7 full play! I actually posted this a few days ago, and forgot to add it to the blog. Sorry! Also, apologies for the audio issues in this video. Enjoy!

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