Monday, 6 June 2011

Where in the buggery fuck have I been?!?!?! the question you've probably not been saying to yourself. My last post was a Scott Pilgrim review. Seriously. LAST YEAR. Ah, I've gone and gotten myself a nice little jobby since then, but work/life balance ya know? I'll never make it to Time magazine hauling boxes to unimpressed big city banker wankers. Anyways....

Look below and you may notice I said I'd be back to tear the Expendables a new arsehole. I'll do the quick version now considering that film was SOOOO LONG AGO: It's boring, predictable, worst action movie I've ever seen, what the hell was Jet Li doing, don't watch it. There, promise fulfilled. On to more topical affairs...

First, the Doctor. Is back. Yey. As of writing, we've had the first two thirds of Matt Smith's second year as the eponymous Time Lord and so far it has been glorious. Richard Nixon, alien conspiracies, pirates, NEIL FUCKING GAIMAN, 'Biting, it's like kissing only there's a winner!' (thanks Neil,) freaky clone people, AMY IS PREGGERS AND NOT ACTUALLY REALLY AMY, The Doctor can seemingly call up an army any time he wants and finally...River Song is Amy's daughter. When Moffat wrote for Song in the Tennant episode The Silence In The Library, he can't have known it was going to get this twisty turny did he? It's nice that he's doing it with a character that I don't mind turning up frequently, yes, River Song is the new Captain Jack. Barring character death, if she doesn't up and join Torchwood at the end of this story arc, I'll munch my own beard. Oh, and she's totally the girl in the alley too, making her part Time Lord. I think Eye Patch Lady (Mistress someorother whose name I foget that I totally thought was The Rani. And may still be. Who knows.) misplaced her and the flesh baby Amy was tricked into taking was to distract from the fact that NOBODY knows where she is. Time Lady on the loose with powers she cannot control? Makes you think she'll spend her childhood getting Time Lady lessons and learning how to fly the TARDIS...So, more predictions? Well the next ep is Moffat penned and it's called Let's Kill Hitler. I don't think, judging just by the title, that Who has attempted anything quite so brazen before. Historical figures, yes, mass murderers, only fictional ones. I suppose we'll see if it can walk the fine line between intrigue and horrible shark-jumping.

On the cinematic front? Good news, both Thor and X-Men: First Class are fucking awesome. Thor is good in a superhero movie, thank-god-they-haven't-screwed-the-run-up-to-the-Avengers-movie kinda way, but X-Men, wow, in a different league. Props to both Matthew Vaughn and Bryan Singer for approaching the franchise in a manner which with which it hasn't been treated before. By not going down the old 'superpowers/responsibility' route, something different is invested in each of the characters. Magneto has to find a way to control his rage before he can master his powers and Xavier himself may have mastery over his own telepathic abilities, but he has to learn to not be so goddamn smug and empathise with people. Giving this flaw to a man who is supposed to be a telepath is a master stroke: he can read minds but when it comes to human emotions, he is as clueless as the rest of us, maybe more so. Plus, Magneto as a totally awesome Nazi hunter does a good film make. I expect more from the new reboot. Oh, and it also erases two shitty films from existance (Read: X-Men 3 and Wolverine) So double points, Vaughn and Singer!

Back to the realm of television and yours truly as been watching the rather awesome Game Of Thrones. The sheer level of beheadings, gore, same sex/incestous/casual shagging and out and out violence happening should make it awesome alone, but ground that with deep characters and a twisting hooking narrative and we're on to a winner. Expect television studios to be scooping up book rights to option into T.V. shows left, right and centre after this one wins umpteen awards and get proclaimed the best thing to happen to fantasy since the Lord Of The Rings movies. And rightly so. Also, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister is a FUCKING REVELATION. Kudos to you my man for breaking out of the 'dwarf actor' category he seemed to have been previously lumped in alongside that guy who played Mini-Me. The irony there being, the role demanded a dwarf actor, but fuck it. He is easily the best thing about the show, regardless of height.

So, I'll try and keep this up to date with both the Doctor and Game Of Thrones from now on, plus the new Torchwood whenever that decides it wants to start and any films I happen to cough up the money to go see.

Signing off,

Cap'n Mark


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Scott Pilgrim v.s. The Box Office

Okay, so first a film review, and then a mega-rant. There's blood in the water about the recent travesties at the box office and I'm feeling like a big nasty literary shark.

Alrighty, first up: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Yes, this review is a little late, but to hell with it. This is easily the best movie of the year so far. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the movie adaptation of the semi popular Bryan Lee O'Malley comic series, directed by Shaun Of The Dead/Hot Fuzz director and long time Simon Pegg collaborator Edgar Wright, this being his first film outside said collaboration. The plot in brief: Scott Pilgrim (played by Michael Cera) is a lazy ass 22 year old Canadian fellow who doesn't have a job, plays bass in a band (the brilliantly named Sex Bob Omb - and if you got the joke, you need to see this movie) and is dating a 17 year old high school girl. Then he meets Ramona Flowers, a frosty cool tough chick from New York in the vain of Woody Allen's Annie Hall, and his life is turned upside down. First, he falls in love. Then comes the crushing news that to continue dating Ramona, he must defeat her seven evil ex's. Bummer. This is where the key element of the movie (and the comics of course) comes into play: Scott's version of Toronto, Canada is running on videogame rules, including experience points, extra lives and opponents turning into money when they are defeated.

Anyone aged 17-24 (give or take a few years depending on maturity level) will majorly enjoy this film and even those outside that age group will find something in it they like, even if they don't maybe get all the videogame and music related jokes. It works both as a kick ass action movie (with full blown martial arts style fight sequences) and a thoughtful and intelligent look at the machinations of the social lives and dating habits of people Scott's age. Edgar Wright, forever the master of being able to craft a story that combines traditionally seperate themes like these, has really hit the ball out of the park in his first foray outside the Spaced camp. The action scenes are some of the best I've seen in cinema for a long time and the soundtrack kicks ass (the original songs by Sex Bob Omb were actually written and performed by indie godfather Beck, with vocals provided by Mark Webber, the actor who plays Sex Bob Omb's singer/guitarist Stephen Stills)

The casting is also, for the most part, spot on. Micheal Cera plays somewhat against type in the role of Scott Pilgrim in that, he's not the perfect sensitive caring young man we usually see him portray. Scott Pilgrim is somewhat whiny and self centered and although we like him, throughout the film you often cringe at some of the bad choices he makes. But in turn, that's what makes this film really work: we see how he deals with those bad choices and ultimately (in an awesome turn of events involving an extra life) rising to the occasion. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is perfect as the icy cool Ramona Flowers, taking the classic world-wary pixie character template and making it pop on the screen. A special 'Where the hell has he been all this time?!' mention goes to Kieran Culkin as Scott's side splittingly dry humoured gay roommate Wallace Wells for providing some of the film's biggest laughs. I sense a career revival in the making here. Of course, the film wouldn't be complete without the infamous evil ex's, most of whom audiences are already familiar with: Brandon Routh as psychic vegan Todd Ingram and the new Captain America, Chris Evans, as action movie star Lucas Lee both ham it up in their villanous roles, entertaining immensely in their short times on screen.

Of course, no film is without it's faults: the plot arc of the comic series spawned six rather in depth volumes and compressing that all into just under two hours wasn't the easiest thing for Edgar Wright to try and pull off, as the main plotline must of course take precidence. This leaves us wanting more time to spend with some of the secondary characters as a result, but this perhaps can be excused as being unavoidable. Also, final big bad Gideon Graves (played to the douchebaggingly effective max by Jason Schwartzman) wasn't given enough screentime for my liking, he perhaps could have been foreshadowed a little more considering he is supposed to be behind the whole League of Evil Ex's idea. It's also worthy to note that this film was made before the final volume was actually released, so it has a somewhat different final third based on O'Malley's rough notes, meaning fans wanting a hardcore straight adaptation may leave disappointed.

In the end though, this is the best film of the year, on a par with the excellent Inception. The action works, you care about the characters and it crafts a compelling story that you as an audience want to see through to the end, and ultimately, that's what film-making is all about.

Which leads to my rant. I'll put it in a seperate post, but beware, if you liked the cinematic disaster that was The may not like what I have to say next.

Stay tuned,

Captain Mark

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Sonisphere 2010 or how I learned to remember sun tan lotion

I burn. My arms are a lovely shade of Walkers Ready Salted red. My friend Andy Smith is worse, so before I start, a big thanks to him for driving us there and for a chicken sandwich at the service station on the way home!

So, I'll do this somewhat similar to my Download review, day by day. Of course, I can only comment on what I saw, so if I missed your favourite should have bought tickets yourself you lazy fucker! Before I start though, just a few comments on the festival itself. First of all the camp layout, Download organisers pay attention: the campsite does NOT have to be a million miles away from the arena. Next door is much better. Also, band scheduling, do it like it was done over this weekend: when a band were on the first stage, the second stage was in between bands and vice versa. Leads to less clashes! Brilliant! Anyways, on with the review!


After finding a camping spot way faster than I've ever done before at any festival, kudos to the fantastic campsite layout, I drink beer until the bands start at 5. Delain kicked the weekend off but due to a very tired Andy Smith, our slow motion ramble meant we only caught the end of their set. They sounded alright, kinda HIM by way of Abba. And the frontwoman wore the single greatest corset I've ever seen. Really though, as evidenced by the thongs of people wearing red face paint, the crowd were there for Turisas. They, nor I, were disappointed. Considering the music they play is called battle metal, they are the best band to get everyone in the mood for the weekend ahead. Eschewing usual crowd pleaser Rasputin for some newer material was a somewhat brave move on their part, but it went a long way to show that there is more to them than a cover of an old Russian folk song. As Turisas winded down, I decided I wasn't drunk enough and decided to wander about for a bit to get more beer and checking out the festival shops and as a result, missed Europe. Oh well, it was around 6000 people waiting for them to play the Final Countdown anyways. I did, however, ramble on back in time to catch Gary Numan. And he was fantastic. Of course, he played both Cars and Are Friends Electric?, but looking around I think he surprised a lot of people who assumed that his entire body of work sounded like the two aforementioned classics. Go check him out when he tours with Emilie Autumn this year. One expensive burger later, I was all set for Friday night headliner Alice Cooper, who bought his A game. Playing all the hits and parading around like some kind of demented circus ringleader, he proved why his live show is so legendary. Getting killed on stage around five times is something other acts just don't do! Also, playing a song twice within one set (School's Out being the song in question, both opening and closing the show) is something only he could get away with. When you write songs like that and give a performance like that, you can do whatever the hell you want!


I don't know if any of you have ever played the Tim Schaffer video game Brutal Legend, but in the opening sequence the main character Eddie Riggs is roadie-ing for a seriously godawful band who proclaim themselves 'heavy metal' but sound like the bastard love child of Busted and Ke$ha. I'm almost sure the game developer just recorded some of Saturday's main stage opening band Family Force 5, then decided that was too harsh and so recorded a slightly better approximation for their game. Family Force 5 are seriously THAT bad. Thankfully, they were a slight speed bump in an otherwise awesome day. Surely praising The Powers That Be that whoever followed the awfulness described above would look phenominal by default, Lacuna Coil thankfully don't fall back on this fact and take it easy, delivering a solid set that probably earned them a few new fans. Next up was Soulfly on the second stage, Max Cavalera playing up to his status of modern metal hero by tearing the crowd a new arsehole. A satisfying mix of their own material and Sepultura tunes, they whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Hell, these days Roots Bloody Roots is a guaranteed circle pit if you blast it in your local Tescos, let alone at a festival full of drunk metalheads raring to go. After that, back to the main stage for Anthrax. Coming off the back of the Big Four shows they've been doing at Sonisphere Poland and now complete with their original singer once more, Anthrax couldn't go wrong. Opening with Caught In A Mosh and closing with I Am The Law, this is the Anthrax from the 1980's all over again, renewed. Their next album has the potential to be on par with their 80's material, if this set is anything to go by. At this point, I was out of beer, so we headed back to the tents, returning in time to watch Skunk Anansie thoroughly fucking enjoying themselves. Frontwoman Skin has always been half sexy, half terrfying and today is no different (responding to a sexual request from the crowd by saying "I can't fuck you now, I'm busy at the moment! Maybe later!") A career revival at just the right time for this band, hopefully they can garner the same recognition from today's audiences as they did from audiences in the 90's. On hearing new material and seeing Saturday's performance, methinks yes. Placebo then hit the main stage five minutes later and although it was a solid set, the band seemed in somewhat of a hurry. And no Pure Morning either. Oh well, they played Nancy Boy, which is rare to hear nowadays anyways. After this, I wandered over to the Jagermeister stage, taking the opportunity to check out bands I haven't heard before, and was greeted by Audrey Horne from Norway. Complete with a massive crowd. Intrigued now at this apparently incredibly popular band I'd never heard of, they came out and played some solid fucking metal, think a cross between Turbonegro and Led Zepplin. I shall be purchasing some of their output very soon.

Yes, a new paragraph. Because this next set deserves one all by itself. When it came to picking a band to play at the same time as Motley Crue, the festival organisers thought long and hard, I'm sure. Then they made the best decision possble and chose Gallows. If there is one thing that motivates Frank Carter and co. more than anything, it's adversity, and holy shit, they rose to the occasion. Playing the third stage tent, many watching Crue missed out on the single greatest live performance I have ever seen. "Thank fuck we're not Motley Crue!" Carter proclaims before opening with The Riverbank. The rest of the set was thrashed out like constant hooks to the face: London Is The Reason, Leeches, Abandon Ship (dedicated to the fans with them from the beginning,) In The Belly Of A Shark, just inciting the crowd to energy levels approaching that of a riot. There was a reason both Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte had told their crowds earlier to go see Gallows, both men themselves present for the set. Minute long punk anthem Gold Dust incited a circle pit that actually went OUTSIDE the tent through one door and back in through the other. When a man in a wheelchair was crowd surfered over the front row, I actually heard one of the stage attendants say "Have you ever seen anything like that?" to another, to which the reply was "Fuck no." Finishing with a mighty Orchestra Of Wolves (complete with a mighty wolf howl from the crowd and the aforementioned famous people plus Lee Spielman from Trash Talk and Eva Spence from Rolo Tomassi doing backing vocals and the band's guitar tech grabbing an axe and shredding his fingers off) Gallows topped off what will go down in history as one of the most amazing festival performances ever. My phone may have been pickpocketed during the set (I caught the bastard going for my wallet, thank god!) but I honestly didn't care. This performance would be one I'd remember for the rest of my life.

Completely fucking knackered and sweating profusely, the race is on to catch Rammstein. Being all German and very efficient, they started bang on time, thankfully I was there in time to catch Feuer Frei and from then on they proved to be bloody amazing. The pyro, as always, was spectacular and when keyboard player Flake went for a row in a dingy over the crowd, one of the crowd members decided to join him! Only thing against them was due to their extreme efficient German-ness, they ended an hour early! I guess now you can see how much random banter and dicking around on stage can pad a set out. Still, props to Rammstein for being thoroughly fucking entertaining, considering the horrible events that led to the deaths of over 20 people at a free gig they were playing the week before was probably playing on their minds a little, they performed well, worthy of the headlining slot.


With most festival goer feeling consderably fucking battered at this point, getting a Sunday slot is always a tricky thing, you have to be on your game otherwise you WILL be bottled. Metalheads deprived of sleep don't take any shit. Thankfully, CKY opened the second stage Sunday and showed everyone exactly how to play to a festival crowd in that state. Equal parts kick ass and funny, they played all the hits (Escape From Hellview, 96 Quite Bitter Being, e.t.c.) as well as newer material from latest album Carver City and were thoroughly fucking awesome. Following a wander and a munch break (during which we sat on a hill and watched The Fab Beatles, a Beatles tribute band who bemusingly finished their set with a cover of Maiden's Run To The Hills) the next band up with the mighty Skindred, who bounded onto the main stage in shiny silver suits and exploded. Frontman Benji Webbe being equal parts Ozzy Osbourne and Bob Marley throughout, it was easy to see why Skindred have such a massive appeal. You need to see this band live, as soon as possible. Next, we bandied on back to the second stage to watch the spectacularly biazarre Dir En Grey. Being the only other foreign launguage band on the bill aside from Rammstein, Dir En Grey were an incredibly strange prospect for the day and they met my expectations of Japanese weirdness. Around halfway, frontman Kyo climbed up on to his vanity platform and began to howl, a friend of mine proclaiming him to be excorcising a demon live on stage. However freaky this was, I saw more than one head nodding along, so they've definitely won some new fans. One more lunch break later (hey, I was hungry alright!) and the next band on the agenda were Alice In Chains. Yes, I missed both Slayer (I did not have the energy left to handle a Slayer pit to be honest!) and Bring Me The Horizon (because they're shit.) Again, if you want to cry about it, you should have bought a ticket! Anyways, AIC were on top form, inspiring mass singalongs to tunes like Man In The Box and Rooster. Nostalga moment of the weekend methinks, and they certainly landed on their feet with new singer William Duvall, who came across as an amazing singer and a true musician. Much kudos to him. Next up, we dashed over to the second stage to see legendary 80's rock band The Cult. With Billy Duffy being one of the reason I picked up a guitar myself in the first place, to say I was excited is an understatement, but the band fucking killed it. With songs like Love Removal Machine, Rain and of course, She Sells Sanctuary, they were tailor made for a Sunday afternoon at a festival. Go dig up their back catalogue now and while you're at it, grab their new album coming out in a month or so, I'm predicting a big resurgence from this band very soon. And now, we rush BACK to the main stage to catch Pendulum playing what is possibly the most daunting set of the weekend: the slot on the main stage before Iron Maiden. Not easy. Rising to a challenge though, the band performed admirably, with the rave kids out in full force encouraging smatterings of dancing throughout the crowd (including myself) Rob Swire and his crew successfully managed to get even hardcore Maiden fans bobbing their heads along at the very least. A good job. As they wrapped up their set, we head back over to the second stage to watch the legendary Iggy & The Stooges. Playing the classics (Raw Power, Search and Destroy, I Got A Right, e.t.c.) Iggy showed why he makes even the frontmen of today look like fucking slouches. Corey Taylor had apprently proclaimed him to have 'more energy than all of (the crowd) combined' and if this set was anything to go by, he was right. Inviting a bunch of the crowd to come dance on stage for a song (including the single hottest goth girl I've ever seen in my life) was a smooth move too. Long live Iggy Pop. With Iggy finished, there was only one band left. The band the majority of the festival goers were here for, myself included. Iron. Fucking. Maiden. Having toured their 80's material in support of their 80's years album last year, I was not surprised at the night's set, comprised mostly of songs from Dance Of Death, A Matter of Life and Death and A Brave New World. And despite not playing either Run To The Hills or The Trooper, Maiden proved why they are still so relevant. The daunting message within new single El Dorado a scathing attack on the banks that have us stuck in this economic mess, Dickinson's lyrics are still equal part as poignient and as fantastical as they were 30 years ago. Closing with the until now rarely played Running Free, Maiden sent myself and a hell of a lot of festival goers, Maiden fans or not, home with massive grins on their faces. Up the Irons indeed.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

On one of the greatest films ever made

Nolan has made his masterpiece. This summer's biggest film that isn't made by Pixar, Inception follows the Nolan formula of complex, intricate plotting and imaginative methods of storytelling that made films like Insomnia and Memento (another of my favourite films of all time) such comeplling, amazing pieces of art. And make no mistake, this movie is a piece of art. Beautifully crafted, expertly acted, there are no faults here whatsoever. For those who don't know (incoming plot details, turn away if you don't want to know) Leo DiCaprio plays a man who has mastered the art of cracking into a person's mind via their dreams and stealing all their secrets. Unfortunately, his own subconscious has started to interfere with his missions (in the form of his dead wife, the gorgeous Marion Coullitard) and really starts to throw a wrench in the works while on his most dangerous mission yet: planting (rather than stealing) an idea in the head of a young soon-to-be CEO of an energy company, played by Cillian Murphy.

Of course, the beauty of using dreamscapes in cinema is the ability to depict absolutely anything you like and have it make sense. This leads to some incredibly specatacular set pieces, such as a fist fight in zero gravity and a snowmobile chase. All the fireworks and stunts never detract from the acting and characterization however and in this respect, Inception is truly a film with everything: alongside your action you have another sterling performance by DiCaprio, stellar supporting turns by both Joseph Gordon Lovett and Tom Hardy and a surprisingly brilliant leading turn by Ellen Page in her best performance since Juno.

Make no mistake, this is the best film Nolan has ever made and it goes to show that along with this, another two of his films (The Dark Knight and Memento) are in my ten favourite films of all time. Inception is undeniably Oscar-bound and if Nolan can top this with future films, then those films will be a sight to see

Until my next trip to the cinema,

Captain Mark ;)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

On fixed guitars, Sonisphere festivals and some upcoming karaoke...

Just thought I'd let you all in on a bit of news: my gorgeous, lovely Fender Telecaster is now fixed. After like, a year or so. I just always had something else a bit more pressing I had to spend money on! Anyways, now I have my sweet sweet tone back, I'm indulging in something I've seen done elsewhere: bandeoke. As in, karaoke, but with a live band. I test run it at an upcoming private function (my own incredinly delayed housewarming party) and hopefully will be taking it to pubs and clubs around Essex and London soon enough.

Anyways, Sonisphere is just around the corner and my tickets have arrived, great success. I will probably have some kind of report on the action and unlike Download, will end up seeing absolutely everything I want to see with no compromises because I'm only going with one other person who wants to see all the same stuff as well.

Signing off,

Cap'n Mark

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Doctor WHAT?!

AH! I hear you gasp, a new post, so soon? But you're crushing all my expections of your fine self as a lazy yet loveable writer! But today, something as been splashed around the Internet which has driven me to my keyboard of contempt. And that is my beloved Doctor.

Reported on multiple websites, including MTV News, is that a Hollywood Doctor Who feature film is in the works. Even bigger news, Johnny Depp has apparently signed a deal to play the Doctor. Gad-zooks! Soooooo, here's where I stand. If you even care.

Russell T. Davies is apparently back at the helm for the film version. I'm acclimatised to Moffat now! He has fundementally changed the way the show works for the better and to go back to the old style will be somewhat jarring.

And of course we have the obvious problem: Matt Smith is the Doctor! And the best damned Doctor we've had since Tom Baker! Unless they actually write next season so that Smith regenerates into Depp at the end to lead into the film, it won't work! And if they DO end up doing that, we lose Smith before he may have wanted to bow out! I should imagine paying Depp for a two minute appearence at the end of next season's finale would destroy their budget too.

Anyways, this might be a hoax, or it could fall short, I'm apprehensive. Extremely apprehensive. Some fans might love the idea, most fans probably hate the idea of the Americans doing what they do best and Americanising everything, which is a whole other argument to get into. I'm pretty sure homegrown U.S. creative properties (or creative properties from any other country for that matter) aren't adapted and made more English when they reach our shores. Why on Earth do the Americans do the same? Is it any wonder the American population has the lowest international awareness on the planet? Anyways, I'm done ranting. RTD is a fine writer and I love the man for bringing Who back and doing it successfully. Johnny Depp is a fine actor and has starred in most of my all time favourite films. But you could kill off American interest that Moffat and co are currently working so hard to build (this series has just launched on BBC America within the past few weeks) Think about it!

Signing off,

Capn' Mark

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Getting back on the ball...

Yeah yeah, this thing went dead for a bit. My parents went away and my brother invited a friend to live at our house for two weeks, which subsequently had the knock on effect of turning the place into a low rent recording studio. By the time he left, I couldn't muster the enthusiam to keep up with the Doctor Who reviews, the gig reviews...

But now I am back. And I've done things. Life experience crazy things. I'll try and boil the stuff I've missed down into one post I guess. Buckle up ;)


First up, Doctor Who. All done now! I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed with the overall plot arc and the latest Who first of not wrapping up absolutely everything neatly in a bow by the final scene of the series finale. Lingering questions are good, they will have more people returning methink. Kudos to the writing team there, breaking tradition can be difficult. On a extra note, the games which are now being drip fed to us scott free via the BBC website are also pretty bloody amazing. At the time of writing, the first two are now available, although I've only had the time to play the first.

Okay, next, Rage at Finsbury Park. One for the history books. I think a sense of occasion always makes what could have been a regular gig that much more lively. The crowd certainly seemed to think so, I can't recall a crowd crush that intense. Well, not at the time...ANYWAYS, having more bands than just Rage on the bill was a keen idea, as was opening the day with Gallows. Frank Carter was never one to shy away from speaking his mind (some gems include 'Justin Bieber's up the road, if you boo loud enough he'll hear you' and 'I want you to make a wall of death...if you don't know what this is, you shouldn't fuckin' be here!) Amptly put, Frank! In any case, you can never go wrong opening a gig in London with God Save The Queen. The Sex Pistols classic of course, not our national anthem. Although sometimes I wonder...

I will admit to not watching Roots Manuva. Not my cup of tea. And I was hungry, only a seriously overpriced burger would stop the ol' stomach rumbling. So my brother and I wade back to the stage in time for Gogol Bordello. Now if you're headed to Reading/Leeds this...DO NOT MISS THEM. Gypsy punk from the city of New York, they would brighten your dullest, most depressing day. Enough of a singalong factor to get everyone in the crowd all cosy with one another in time for...

Rage. Against. The. Fucking. Machine.

Oh yeah. This easily qualifies as the best gig I've ever been to. Hilarious cartoon Simon Cowell introduction, bringing out the Morters (the couple who started the Facebook campaign that made the gig happen in the first place,) playing a Clash cover (White Riot, if you were wondering,) and playing a video detailing the events at Christmas with Joe McElderry's The Climb playing over the top of it, all of this leading up to an explosive Killing In The Name...simply legendary. Kudos to the bus surfing guys on the way home who saw an easy way to cut through the crowds and took it. Yes, bus surfing. Exactly what it sounds like.

And now we get to a week later, Download Festival! A long weekend of intense drinking, plenty of well proportioned breasts and the best bands in the world. So, a day at a time...

Friday. Waking up semi bladdered already is a good way to start, but Friday for me was actually a bit slow. Not many bands I wanted to see, it felt to me like a warm up for the next two days. It was so unremarkable (except for maybe AC/DC) that I barely remember who I saw. Oh, and AC/DC were good. Never been a crazy fan, and the lack of choice (not to mention lack of their logo on the Festival t-shirt and the butchering of the main stage area all so they could bring their own stage with them) seemed a little off to me, almost like they held the whole thing in contempt really.

Saturday. This is more like it! Rise To Remain open the second stage and thoroughly impress everyone, it looks as if another Dickinson will be making his mark on metal (lead singer Austin Dickinson is the son of You Know Who. And if you don't, go brush up on your classic metal!) Several slots later and the band I pushed to the front of the second stage for are on: Cancer Bats. And they blow the feckin' roof off the place. Well, they would of, if it happened indoors. There's even pictures of me with frontman Liam Cormier as he reaches into the front row and blasts our collective faces off scattered around the internet. We leave after this and I get involved with a Rock Band competition which won me free beer (I play on Expert!) and a preview of what a mass singalong to Killing In The Name will sound like later that night. I watch the end of Megadeth on the main stage (awesome, but the P.A let them down) and then head to the second stage and watch The Blackout. Who are fucking amazing. Two drummers. Inflatable middle fingers. Rage, AC/DC and Aerosmith covers. 300% more Welsh than anyone I've ever seen in my life. Check them out if you get the chance. HIM are on after, my favourite band from when I was a broody sixteen year old, so it's nice to catch them live once more. Almost like greeting an old best friend who you've stopped talking to, it makes you wonder why you broke contact in the first place. The old favourites are all in there (Join Me, Wicked Game, Buried Alive By Love et al) mixed in with some new ones I like and some I don't (Wings Of A Butterfly has an awesome riff, but really, it's the only song on the Dark Light album that should still be played live!) Overall, a fantastic reminder of how much better my taste in music was compared to the chavs back at school. So the headliner rolls around and it's Rage for the second time within six days. The set is pretty much the same as Finsbury Park, with some added Wake Up (which is my favourite Rage song, so big thumbs up from me there) Overall, best headliner and best set of the whole weekend.

Sunday bloody Sunday. It didn't go exactly how I hoped it would. We have a lie in today and get to the arena in time to watch Slash. If you haven't heard the new Slash album yet, you really need to, it rocks. Slash's touring singer Myles Kennedys (from the band Alter Bridge) is easily the greatest male singer on this planet right now. He can sing ANYTHING, from other people's songs on the Slash album to old Guns tunes like Sweet Child and Rocket Queen. Further kudos go the completely topless chick shaking what god gave her astride somebody's shoulders and projected on the big screen all the way through the end solo to set finale Paradise City. Seriously, tits, beer and Slash, my life was perfect for five mins or so!

So now comes the disappointment. I'm all ready for Billy Idol and subsequently Motorhead, Stone Temple Pilots and Aerosmith and then the rain begins. And it doesn't stop. Rebel Yell would have sounded awesome but dying of pneumonia doesn't. I'll admit, I was ill prepared, no poncho, no wellies, and because of that, it was back to the tent for me, my weekend cut abruptly short. Still, I had fun singing the Ace Of Spades at the live band karaoke that night, could have been worse!

Wow, all done, breathe out now! So after the Download insanity, I got festival fever and have roped a friend into getting Sonisphere tickets with me. So come the first week of August expect a full review! Probably!

Your ever lovin' captain,