It was a tough decision, which took me about 23 nanoseconds to reach, do I go ‘trick or treating’ with my 2 kids, with a bin liner over my head as I forgot to get a costume beforehand, knocking on neighbours doors, asking for sweets and pelting them with eggs should they not be able to provide…..OR do I go check out a massive night of live bands in Exeter courtesy of the Mike James Rock Show Halloween Zombie Ball, yep, I was there…..
Earlier on in the day, the fourth annual Zombie Walk took place in the city centre, consisting of hundreds of zombies wandering about a route, taking in all the cities sights and sounds prior to ending up at the Lemongrove, this years venue for the annual Zombie Halloween Ball.
The night consisted of a whole host of local bands including Cambion, I Divide, The Dreamer Within & Kill All The Gentlemen, York based Glamour of the Kill and topped off by legendary Welsh rock heavyweights, Skindred. We heard that there were burlesque dancers, alternative cabaret and Dainton vs Pritchard (from Dirty Sanchez) coming up after midnight, whether we would last the night after a very early wake up on the day, we would see…..
We bumped into Mike James at the start of the event, he looked very busy and dare I say, a little stressed, we got our ‘AAA’ (access All Areas) passes from him and headed to the bar. We were excited to see so many bearded zombies, I don't mean a couple of days stubble, I'm talking BEARDS, imagine ZZTOP and you're not far off the mark, we even had a wager as to who could 'spot' the coolest face furniture throughout the evening, check in at the end of the feature to find out who took this year's trophy!
Up first were Exeter Tech/Prog metallers, CAMBION, they formed in 2009 after meeting at the Exeter Academy of Music and Sound where they all served their time. They’ve toured the UK and Europe and have even shared stage space alongside Chris Jericho’s band, Fozzy.
Their ‘tighter than a gnats chuff’ set consisted of tracks from past EP’s and a couple of new ones that are to appear on the re-issued ‘Virus’ EP that should be available in early 2015.
They are working on their debut album which, they had hoped would be released midway through 2015, this now looks to be on track for a late summer/autumn release, be sure to check their website for more information.
Cambion are a talented bunch of guys who have learned their craft well and continue to dazzle audiences everytime they perform. I look forward to future dates where they’ll be promoting their re-issued “Virus’ EP and festival performances up and down the country.
KILL ALL THE GENTLEMEN are a Devon based metal four piece who were brought up on a steady diet of Machine Head, Trivium, Megadeth & Cradle Of Filth, blending in elements of Death Metal & Grindcore to their music.
Their music was brutal and punishing, just what you needed to on a Friday night to let off some steam, I witnessed some of the most impressive double bass pedal work that I've seen in a long time! There was no let up in their attack, each and every member of the audience were well and truly shaken by the end of their set.
KATG are riding high on the back of their self titled debut EP which is available now from their website
Continuing the charge for the local acts was THE DREAMER WITHIN, an Exeter based vest and tight jean wearing quintet who draw upon their penchant for synth, melodic riffs and the proverbial breakdown to produce an altogether enticing sound that had the crowd locked in from their first track.
They say that 'creating something brand new in today's heavy music scene is no easy task...', I totally agree with you guys but you HAVE managed to get yourselves out there and generate a new sound that is not your cliche metal music, I applaud them for that.
With their awesome makeup, they looked like they were ready to tear up a Halloween party, full of zombie revellers who were ready to rock and boy, did they do just that!
Up next were Europe’s leading Slipknot tribute act KNOTSLIP, I always have preconceived ideas of tribute bands and normally shy away from seeing them as I think that unless you can see the ‘real deal’, you’re not getting the full picture, think again my friends, these guys rock!
From their dramatic entrance onto the stage at the Lemongrove, they whipped the audience up into a frenzy, climbing over the pit barrier, goading the front row with rude one fingered gestures and generally causing unprecedented levels of chaos throughout their set.
These guys have it down to a tee, from boiler suits to authentic masks (there’s something really sinister about the masks don’t you think?) they rocked the joint from top to toe, with the trademark heavy riffs and pounding beats, accompanied by the exuberant duo that danced about the front of the stage bashing their keg drums in unison.
I am not well versed when it comes to the musical output of Slipknot but, from what I heard and saw from their show, I’m definitely going to go out and acquire some of their material.
Check the bands Facebook page for live dates between now and Christmas, I know I’ll be hoping to get down to The Hub in Plymouth on December 19th to see them, what a Christmas treat that’ll be !!
A quick change to stage 2 and we saw Tom Kavanagh lead out his band, dressed in a priest outfit, the rest of the band dressed as zombie nuns, covered in blood, having just feasted on some non believers (no doubt). I DIVIDE hail from the ‘darker depths’ of Exeter (Burnthouse Lane?) and have been tipped as one of the hottest breakthrough artists this year. Their catchy hooks, energetic stage presence and plethora of sing along choruses had the audience pumping their fists in the air and screaming for more come the end of their set.
We noticed that as the evening wore on, the musical output appeared more ‘commercial’, I don’t mean this in a bad way at all, just that the vocals became easier to comprehend (do I sound really old? like your dad?….shit!) , the music remained as technically brilliant throughout and I was really getting into the heavy breakdowns, the driving beats and the mosh pits that formed in the front few rows of revellers.
Over to the main stage to check out a band called GLAMOUR OF THE KILL, this York based 4 piece rock/pop/metal act, influenced by such heavyweights as Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and KISS made damned sure that their well executed sound, technical guitar licks and stunning stage presence kept the crowd begging for more.
They played a variety of tracks from their second studio album ‘Savages’ as well as older material, ensuring that the die hard fans were kept entertained as well as recruiting a few hundred more followers throughout their set. Towards the end of the set, Davey Richomnd suggested that the audience partake in a 'wall of death', which involved the room being parted down the middle, then, when he gave the word,the people on the right side of the room ran towards the people on the left side of the room, resulting in a mad mosh frenzy, guaranteed to spill your drinks and probably cause a few minor injuries, this went off well, so well, he decided to do it again shortly afterwards! To see the ULTIMATE 'wall of death', check out this VIDEO.
All too soon, GOTK’s set came to an end, they left the crowd perfectly setup for the headline act that were to follow shortly.
The final act to grace the main stage at the Halloween Zombie Ball are a long established Newport based act who fuse heavy metal, alternative rock, reggae and punk with elements of dancehall, jungle, hardcore, ska, hip hop, drum and bass and dubstep, yes folks, welcome to the world of SKINDRED.
Onto the stage walked Mario the plumber (Dan Pugsley), a bearded skeleton (Mikey Demus), Jack Sparrow or a zombie looking pirate character (Arya Goggin) and lastly the cop from ‘The Village People’ (Benji Webbe) and then, the festivities began.
Having such an impressive back catalogue to choose from, they played tracks that spanned their sixteen year career covering every genre that they have long been renowned for.
Benji’s stage presence and crowd communication was legendary, if you want to see how this should be done, just head to one of their live shows, you will find yourself punching the air, waving your hands and singing along with the choruses in no time at all, you just cannot help getting drawn into the show. He asked the crowd who had illegally downloaded their latest album, not surprisingly, the majority of the the crowd cheered, (I am sure that many had indeed purchased the album legally, me included), this resulted in Benji referring to them as a ‘bunch of pirates’ and using the ‘C’ word which I feel is very much underused in today’s uber PC society!
To say that the room was shaking was very much an understatement, I was stood stage left, right next to the speaker stack and my inners were pulsing inside my body and I am sure my filling had worked its way a little looser, I felt at one stage like I would explode, just the way you want to feel at a gig of this magnitude.
The audience were well and truly engaged and were loving every minute of their set, I did see a couple of crowd surfers, even a member of Knotslip ended up being deposited over the barrier, during the process he was unmasked, proving his true identity!
Skindred were the only act to perform an encore, probably because they were the final band of the evening and without it, a riot may well have ensued! They took a brief break and came back on to play one more track, the crowd leaping about like crazed PCP addicts, hungry for more. They left the stage to the sounds of Carly Simon belting out the power ballad ’Nobody Does it Better’ which you’ll remember as the theme song for the 1977 James Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’….and then they were gone!
That wrapped up the pre-midnight events and from then on, any under 18’s had to vacate the premises, leaving the big people to party the remainder of the event away until the wee small hours.
We did venture into room 2 to catch the start of the ‘Cabaret of the Undead’ show which involved a girl with green hair playing a song about having an orgasm whilst playing her ukelele, whether it was a song about having an orgasm or having an orgasm whilst playing a ukelele, I’ll never know. We were then treated to some burlesque dancing courtesy of a masked female in an orange boiler suit who quickly de-robed leaving saucy underwear and some tastefully placed tassels over her ‘nips’…
Whilst the thought of more provocatively dressed young ladies, shaking their wares about for all to see was alluring, so were our beds, we had been up since 6am and were just about done (what did I say earlier about being old?), we called it a day at 12:30am, knowing that Pritchard vs Dainton (Dirty Sanchez duo) were still to come, even this wasn’t enough to sway our minds away from warm duvets and fluffy plumped pillows so off to bed it was.
Full credit to Mike James who laid on a fantastic evening of music and entertainment and to all of the people who worked ‘behind the scenes’ who, without them, the event would NOT have happened. Finally, a big thank you to ALL people who attended the event, dressed up as a zombie or other Halloween horror and generally got into the spirit of the event, we are already looking forward to 2015
Who won the best beard competition, well, it was looking like Mr Mike James himself was walking away with the coveted MusicMuso trophy for fab facial fuzz....UNTIL Skindred took to the stage, their guitarist was donning the longest beard I have seen in a long long time so Mr Mikey Demus, step up to collect your prize!
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photogaphy by Julian Baird