Pacific Coliseum – Vancouver

Slayer’s Farewell World tour rolled into Vancouver on Wednesday night to a sold-out crowd in excess of 17,000.

For more than three decades, Slayer’s onslaught has proven the band to be the supreme thrash-metal band on the planet, the band that other heavy acts are measured against and aspire to. Their membership in “The Big Four” – Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax – the four bands that defined the thrash/metal genre – secures their place in music history.

The two-time Grammy-winners have accumulated an abundance of certified Gold Albums along with “Best…” awards from media outlets all over the world, including Kerrang!, SPIN, Metal Hammer, Revolver, and Esquire. 

The band has never faltered in unleashing its extreme and focused sonic assault, and has remained crushing and brutal, steadfastly refusing to cater to the mainstream.  Slayer’s founding member, guitarist Jeff Hanneman passed in 2013, and Exodus guitarist Gary Holt has been filling in for him since.  Paul Bostaph, who was Slayer’s drummer from ’94 – ’01, rejoined bassist/vocalist Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King in 2013, and is back behind the kit to stay. 

In September 2015, Slayer released Repentless, the band’s 12th, and what would be their final studio album, the first without Hanneman and first with producer Terry Date, to widespread rave reviews and the highest chart debut of the band’s career.  The band also teamed up with director BJ McDonnell for three high-concept and brutal music videos for the album’s title track, then for “You Against You,” and the most recent, “Pride in Prejudice,” racking up a combined 25-million+ YouTube views. 

On January 22, 2018, Slayer announced its decision to do one last world tour to thank its fans for their decades-long support, and then move on.

Based on the outpouring of support at tonight’s show they will be sadly missed, and there are many, many fans who will be hoping for another “final” tour sometime in the future.

Check out more from the band at

Photos: Stewart Johnstone


lamb of god

pacific coliseum – vancouver

Slayer’s Farewell World tour rolled into Vancouver on Wednesday night to a sold-out crowd in excess of 17,000. Closing the show out ahead of the headliners were Lamb Of God.

The Richmond, VA natives are one of heavy music’s most successful and uncompromising bands.  When the band’s first major release, New American Gospel, was released in 2000 it was immediately touted as a classic within the genre.

AllMusic stated it best,

“The essential signatures of post-Pantera metal are in abundance on Lamb of God’s inaugural album. New American Gospel provides a mighty oak upon which gritty American metal’s faith is maintained, effectively bridging the ’90s’ insistence upon drill-sergeant technicality and the old school’s determined focus on riff construction.” 

This debut was followed up in 2004 by Ashes of the Wake, and since that time the band have gone from strength to strength, and have now released eight studio albums, one live album, one compilation album and three DVDs. ​

Since inception and through it all, LAMB OF GOD’s consistent and unwavering commitment to their music – and their fans – has kept them a critical and fan favorite worldwide, selling millions of albums and tickets around the world. 

Tonight they had second billing, and played a phenomenal set, giving their fans 10 of the best:

  • Omerta
  • Ruin
  • 512
  • Engage the Fear Machine
  • Walk With Me in Hell
  • Still Echoes
  • As the Palaces Burn
  • Inherit the Earth
  • Laid to Rest
  • Redneck

​LAMB OF GOD is Randy Blythe (vocals), Mark Morton (guitar), Willie Adler (guitar), John Campbell (bass), and Chris Adler (drums).

Check out more from the band at

Photos: Stewart Johnstone



pacific coliseum – vancouver

Slayer’s Farewell World tour rolled into Vancouver on Wednesday night to a sold out crowd in excess of 17,000. Third on the bill out of five bands playing were Anthrax. Playing for just under an hour they managed to pull together an adrenaline fuelled set. 

Over its 35-year career, Anthrax has been a pioneering band with its unique style, sound and heavy brand of thrash metal, and,

as Metallica’s Kirk Hammett put it

“one can hear their influence on any number of up and coming bands.”  

Anthrax has sold in excess of 10-million units, received multiple Gold and Platinum certifications, six Grammy nominations and a host of other accolades from the media, industry and fans.  From the race and genre barriers Anthrax helped break down in 1988 when they collaborated with Public Enemy on “Bring The Noise,” to becoming a card-carrying member of The Big Four – with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth – as one of the four bands that defined the speed/thrash metal genre – to being the first metal band to have its music heard on Mars when NASA played “Got The Time” to wake up the Mars Rover, Anthrax continues to break ground and innovate.  

Anthrax are Joey Belladona ( vocals ); Scott Ian ( guitar ); Frankie Bello ( bass ); Jonathan Donais ( guitar ) and Charlie Benante ( drums ).

Full set list:

  • Caught in a Mosh
  • Madhouse
  • I Am the Law
  • Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
  • Evil Twin
  • Antisocial
  • Indians

Follow Anthrax at :

Photos: Stewart Johnstone

Jd and the straight shot

Photo Credit: Kristin Barlowe

rogers arena – vancouver

Being an opening act is a tough gig. Being an opening act for a musical legend, in a 20,000-seat arena takes a band with personality and confidence. JD and the Straight Shot have plenty of both, and brought it to the stage in support of the Eagles on Thursday in Vancouver.

JD and the Straight Shot play a pleasing mix of country rock and Americana, with influences as diverse as The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and The Beatles along with traditional Irish folk music.  The band comprises vocalist/guitarist Jim Dolan (known to the sporting world as the Executive Chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company), guitarists Marc Copely and Carolyn Dawn Johnson, drummer/percussionist Shawn Pelton, bassist Byron House, and last, but most certainly not least, the irrepressible violinist/fiddler Erin Slaver.

The band wasted no time at all getting started and launched into Never Alone, a Mya Angelou inspired track from their latest album Good Luck and Goodnight. This was the first of many times in the evening we would be treated wonder harmonies from the voices in the band. Next up was the fast-paced Redemption Train, which featured some wonderful bass play from House, and a stirring violin solo from Slaver. Slaver’s almost acrobatic violin playing also featured heavily on melodic Moonlight.

Despite that fact that the audience was still slowly filling up, Dolan did a commendable job of engaging them, with a short story around writing the song Perdition for the famous movie Jane Got a Gun. Thankfully the song, with some wonderful mandolin playing and prominent drumbeat was likely more memorable than the movie (sorry Natalie 🙂 ).

Better Find a Church, featured a duet with Slaver and Dolan’s voices combining to fine effect, and topped off by a rousing guitar solo from Copely. Copley and Slaver also featured heavily on the next track the horse race inspired Run for Me, where they combined for an upbeat violin/guitar duel.

Having hit town during one of our first spells of hot weather, Dolan quipped that it was the perfect time for a Christmas song. The Ballad of Jacob Marley saw bassist Byron House swap the upright bass for the banjo, for what is probably my favourite track from the latest album.  An upbeat foot tapping number, Marley even managed to get the Eagle’s fans clapping along.

After playing the song Glide a song which featured on the band’s first album Ballyhoo, and inspired by Dolan’s young sons love of the fair, the band closed out the evening with a solid rendition of the Three Dog Night classic, Shambala.

Overall the set was a great mix of newer songs, and some older favourites, delivered with level of enthusiasm and sense of fun that seemed to resonate with the crowd, and no doubt won over a few new fans along the way.

Follow JD and The Straight Shot at



ROGERs arena – vancouver

Rogers Arena in Vancouver was the latest stop on the Eagles North American tour. The band were in fine form on the first of two virtually sold out nights at the venue. It was a blessing to get the see the band, as after the death of funding member Glenn Frey in 2016, Don Henley was doubtful that the band would perform live again.

Happily, they have continued to tour, with the help of two special people, Glenn’s son Deacon Frey and country singer/songwriter extraordinaire Vince Gill. Both performed admirably, and were warmly welcomed by an enthusiastic audience.

Since forming in 1971 in Los Angeles, The Eagles have become one of the most successful bands of all time. They have sold more than 150 million records, with more than 100 million in the U.S. alone, making them the top selling band in the U.S. Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) is the best-selling album of all time in the U.S., beating out Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Led Zeppelin IV.

Not surprisingly with such a great pedigree, the band has also spawned numerous hit singles, and the show this evening was s showcase for many of them.

Of the four founding members Glenn Frey (guitars, vocals), Don Henley (drums, vocals), Bernie Leadon (guitars, vocals) and Randy Meisner (bass guitar, vocals) only Don Henley remains in the lineup. Joe Walsh (guitars, vocals) replaced Leadon in 1975, and Meisner left the band in 1977 to be replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.

Shortly after 8pm the band took to the stage.  This actually took a little longer than usual as a result of Schmit ‘s recent accident that has resulted in him needing crutches and a leg brace.  He did not go full Dave Grohl, however, preferring a simple stool and leg rest rather than a full-on game of thrones guitar throne :).

The evening opened with Seven Bridges Road, which was backed by an amazing visual backdrop which was fantastic throughout the show.

With the audience nicely warmed up, Henley informed us the band were going to play for more than 2 ½ hours without a break, which raised a huge round of applause. The appreciation was even more pronounced and emotional when Deacon Frey was introduced to take the lead on Take It Easy, a song previously sung by his father.

After One of These Nights, Vince Gill took over vocals for Take It To The Limit and Tequila Sunrise.

The sheer amount of vocal talent in the band allowed them to play with very little breaks, it was also amusing to see the small army of guitar techs taking to the stage after almost every song, which helped keep it a well-oiled musical machine.

Throughout the show the various band members took the opportunity to engage with the audience, sharing anecdotes, and encouraging the crowd to sing along, although it would have been pretty much impossible to keep them quiet. One of the most poignant moments of the evening came after Deacon Frey sang the lead on Peaceful Easy Feeling, one the bands earliest hits. A huge picture of Glenn Frey was projected, and the audience rose as one in a standing ovation.

After other greats, such as Lyin’ Eyes (my personal favourite), and New Kid in Town, the crowd again rose as one for Heartache Tonight, and remained standing, dancing and singing for the reminder of the night.

The main set ended with Life in the Fast Lane, but the band were back shortly after for the first of two encores. A solo trumpet introduction kept the fans spellbound until the familiar opening bars of Hotel California rang out, and everyone was singing once again.

The evening closed out with a raucous rendition of Joe Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Way, and finally came to a close with Don Henley singing Desperado.

At was a great choice to end what had been a wonderful evening, and I am sure many at the show will likely be back for a second round this evening.


arrival from sweden

orpheum theatre vancouver

It has been a great week for ABBA fans worldwide, with the Swedish megastars announcing that 35 years after they split have recently recorded two new songs. One of which will debut in December when the band kick off a ”virtual tour”, something that has been in the works for a couple of years. 

Arrival From Sweden
Photo Credit: Matthew Baird – VSO

Luckily fans in Vancouver did not have to wait that long to hear the classics from the group that have sold more than 500M records since they first rose to fame as a result of the Eurovision Song Contest win in 1974. On Wednesday evening the equally fabulous Arrival From Sweden brought their  interpretation of the music of ABBA when they performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum Theatre.

Arrival from Sweden have been bringing the music of ABBA to fans around the world since 1995, and in that time have performed in more than 70 countries. In many of these shows they are performing with symphony orchestras, as was the case earlier for this show.

Arrival From Sweden Photo Credit: Matthew Baird – VSO

After conductor William Rowson had taken his place, and with the audience mostly settled, a flurry of searchlights crisscrossed the auditorium, and the sound of helicopter blades filled the air, not your usual start to a show at the VSO J. The orchestra were then joined on stage by members of Arrival from Sweden, including guitarist Andreas Ullbrandt (Björn), and keyboardist Lars Egon Larsson (Benny), Victoria Norback (Anni-Frid) and Tove Lind (Agnetha), the opening bars of Arrival rang out and the show began.

Since Norback formed the group in 1995, she has always wanted it to stay as true to the original ABBA performances as possible. One of the key ABBA elements were their outrageous costumes, so it no surprise to see the singers in green and red satin tops with matching leggings and high black boots to start the show.

After a short introduction, the first song of the night was the 1976 hit That’s Me, next up the orchestra accompanied the band for the first time on Knowing Me, Knowing You. I think at this time most of the crowd also joined the band as well, on what became a giant sing along for everyone for most of the evening. Following this Norback and Lind alternated lead singing duties on the melodic Fernando, which featured a wonderful sax solo from Mathias Backstrom, and the melancholic S.O.S (my favourite ABBA track). After another impromptu ABBA history lesson and classic Money Money Money the two of them left the stage with back up singers. The rest of the band remainder to play the wonderfully quirky instrumental Intermezzo No.1 with the orchestra.

After the first costume change of the evening, into perhaps the most famous ABBA outfits, the white split miniskirts and cat print tops, the first part of the evening closed off with a medley of hits, followed by ABBA’s first international sensation, Waterloo, and Mamma Mia., which had everyone standing and dancing.

After the intermission, the show took on a faster pace for the most part. In tight black pantsuits, they swept through a number of the disco era hits, including Gimme Gimme Gimme, Voulez -Vous and Super Trouper. 

A couple of slower tracks, One Man, Own Woman and Chiquitita, allowed the audience to catch its collective breath, and then it was dancing and singing right through to the end, with Take a Chance on Me and Summer Night City closing out the main part of the show. 

The band were never going to get away without an encore, and it was a huge treat to hear the heartfelt Thank You for the Music as the first of two additional songs.  The evening closed out with everyone back on their feet for Dancing Queen.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable performance for any ABBA aficionado, the band had great chemistry on stage which really made it feel like you were watching the real deal.

I am sure it will not be long until Arrival From Sweden will be back Vancouver to wow the audience once again, and maybe next time they will be singing one of the new songs from ABBA.

Check out some image from the show courtesy of Matthew Baird of the VSO.


uncle sid


vogue theatre vancouver

I arrived at the Vogue Theatre for the Uriah Heep show last night not even realizing there was going to be a support act.  It was a very pleasant surprise to find out that there was one, and it was some homegrown talent, Vancouver’s own Uncle Sid.

Uncle Sid are a melodic hard rock and metal band fronted by the energetic Emerald Green, with guitarist Frankie Scars, Kirk October on bass and Dale Salive on drums.

Continue reading “Uncle Sid – Vogue Theatre, Vancouver – April 28th, 2018”

uriah heep

vogue theatre vancouver

Now heading into their 49th year, Uriah Heep are still rocking venues across the world.  Alongside other stalwarts of the genre, such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the band were at the spearhead of the heavy metal/progressive rock movement, and are still cited as a key influence for many artists in the industry today.

Continue reading “Uriah Heep – Vogue Theatre, Vancouver – April 28th, 2018”

Cafe Deux soleils

Josh Sahunta, Cassandra Maze and Soapbox Duo

A beautiful early summer evening on East Vancouver’s Commercial Drive was the setting for a great and diverse evening of music. Café Deux Soleils was the latest stop on the Before and After Tour, featuring Edmonton’s Josh Sahunta and Soapbox Duo. For tonight they were also joined on the set by Vancouver’s own Cassandra Maze.

Cassandra Maze – Cafe Deux Soleil

Continue reading “Josh Sahunta, Cassandra Maze and Soapbox Duo”


queen elizabeth theatre

Having missed Nightwish’s previous visit to Vancouver, I was keenly looking forward to Saturday’s return at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  The six piece from Finland have a reputation for theatrical performances, and this time around they would be treating their fans to a showcase of their work spanning their entire career.

For those not familiar, the band comprises founder members, Tuomas Holopainen (Keyboards) and Emppu Vuorinen (Guitar), with Marco Hietala (Bass), Kai Hahto (Drums), Troy Donockley(Wind), and fronted by the irrepressible Floor Jansen.  Having formed in 1996, the initially acoustic sounds was quickly changed into a darker, heavier sound with a distinctively orchestral backbone. This is something that has made them so recognizable worldwide.

Given their theatrical leanings, the band certainly know how to build the anticipation for the show. Doors to the auditorium finally opened 30 minutes before the show, allowing the crowd to flood in and take up seats or positions close to the stage. With 15 minutes to go the huge backing screen sprung into life, and the excitement mounted.

The show had an amusing start, with a request to the audience to suspend their current day obsession with cell phones, and travel back in time for a couple of hours to a time before they existed.  This was a nice touch, although largely ignored.

The show began with multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley taking the stage for a beautiful intro before the rest of the band took the stage and launched into End of All Hope, which immediately had the crowd on their feet, this was a sound that has not been played for almost 15 years. This them of revisiting older, and less played tracks continued throughout the show, much to the delight of the audience.

Floor Jansen, who endeared herself to the audience by sharing that Vancouver is one of her favourite places, commanded the participation of the crowd easily, and lent her magnificent voice to such poetic numbers as Elan, Dead Boy’s Poem and The Carpenter, as well as belting out the heavier tracks such as the always popular I want My Tears Back. Marco Hietala joined her on vocals, adding his gruff, tuneful voice to the mix. The playfulness of Emppu, who was constantly engaging with the audience, the beautiful melodies provided by Troy on the Uilleann pipes, the solid back line of tour drummer Kia, and of course the masterful keys of Tuomas, the two-hour set came to a close all too soon.

The wonder Ghost Love Score, sandwiched by parts of the thought provoking epic Greatest Show on Earth, backed by some amazing visuals closed out the show. While the audience waited for maybe one more track the band came out, looking very pleased with the reaction of the crowd, and took their bows.

It was the end of a wonderful performance, and if Nightwish are heading on your direction you should snap up tickets now, as this is a show not to be missed.

More from Nightwish at

Check out our images from the show courtesy of Stewart Johnstone