Posts Tagged ‘Darth Metal’

Gig Review: Extreme + Hot Leg, Leeds Academy 14 Nov 2008

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

As someone who loved The Darkness, I was made up at the chance to see Justin Hawkins’ new band Hot Leg. He has teamed up with a bloke from a band called Anchorhead (who play what they describe as “Darth Metal“, which it would appear is what I’ve been waiting to hear my whole life), to continue the legacy of riffs, awesome guitar solos and high pitched vocals. Sentimentally, it made me happy to see Justin looking and sounding so good, not to mention having such a good time, seeing as he’d been a bit fucked up for a few years. I can’t wait to see them again once their album is out, as I had only heard two of their songs previously (including Trojan Guitar, the title of which should let you know the sort of thing you’re in for.)

 

We Are Hot Leg

We Are Hot Leg

 

There aren’t many bands that had the rug pulled out from beneath them as spectacularly as Extreme. After the massive one-two punch of the throbbing cock rock Get The Funk Out and the swoonsome romantic ballad More Than Words in 1990, the world was at their feet (although I always preferred the acoustic 12 string stompalong Hole Hearted). They then went ahead with their Big Statement, which, as they had clearly grown up not only in thrall to the tight trousered histrionics of Van Halen and Kiss, but also the meticulously constructed fantasies of the likes of Queen and Yes, resulted in a triple (!) concept album. However, it was now 1992 and the public no longer had time for either raucous metal anthems or twenty minute orchestrally augmented song suites. Grunge had arrived.

This led the band to follow up with a raw sounding album full of angry, bitter songs, such as No Respect, Cynical Fuck and Hip Today (“You’ll be gone tomorrow” etc etc). And then they split up.

But they’re back back back baby, with a new album (the implausibly named Saudades De Rock) and tour, and good grief they’re pretty much the same as when I saw them back in ’90. Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt are practically unchanged, Cherone resembling an Easter Island moai, and Bettencourt being possibly the most ridiculously beautiful man I’ve ever seen. Surely being that talented should be enough, and some universal justice would kick in and make him look like a guitar toting Joseph Merrick, but no. How utterly unfair.

I had initially been taken aback that the tickets were a credit crunch baiting thirty quid, a bit cheeky for a band that have been absent for so many years, but my god, they gave it their all, and it was worth every penny. I think the rest of the audience were in agreement with me (for once), considering how mental they were going. Usually these nostalgic shows tend to be a little subdued, but the band and the audience acted as if the early 90s had never ended. The new songs were pretty good too,?my only grumble being that they didn’t play the hilarious King of the Ladies. I even sang along with More Than Words. Well, you have to, don’t you?

 

Nuno. And some other blokes

Nuno. And some other blokes

 

Now, when are Living Colour coming back?

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Hot Leg and the pursuit of fun

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Why do we listen to music? Sometimes it’s a way of associating ourselves with something cool or exclusive. Alternatively it can be purely for the pleasure of it. Often i suspect it falls somewhere in between. When a certain type of music is makes us happy, but posesses no inherent cool factor or arbitrary stamp of approval from the media and tastemakers, we are tempted to brand it  a “guilty pleasure”. But should there really be any guilt involved in something as simple as enjoying a piece of music?

Hot Leg’s Red Light Fever could never be accused of being hip. Shamelessly unreconstructed 80s hair metal with cheesy synths and twiddly guitar solos was never going to make them a critics’ favourite, and the too cool for school brigade left their affected and ironic love of rock behind a long time ago (although the ironic rock t shirt still lingers like a bad case of crabs  – case in point Agyness Deyn pictured in this week’s Heat wearing a Jethro Tull tour t shirt. Do you think she prefers Songs From The Wood or Heavy Horses?).

 

Great music. Great.

 

However, there are plenty of people who loved The Darkness for what they were, a great rock band that made brilliant pop records, to be out in force to appreciate Hot Leg’s particular brand of “Man Rock”. We went to see them at the Academy in my old stomping ground Sheffield (although I didn’t get to do a lot of stomping when I lived there – during The Indie Wars, y’see). Interestingly enough, because of The Academy’s policy of booking two bands to play on the same night (albeit in separate rooms) we nearly went to see T-Pain by accident. I don’t know him personally, but I think Mr Pain needs to turn the bass down when he performs live, because from what I heard between the songs in Hot Leg’s set, he’s going to suffer from terrible tinnitus in later life.

So anyway. If you find the idea of calling a song Cocktails, solely to allow you to repeat the first syllable over and over again amusing, then you’re likely to love a bit of The Leg. Similarly, the titles Trojan Guitar, Gay in the 80s and I’ve Met Jesus should let you in on the fact that Justin Hawkins isn’t one to take himself particularly seriously. Having said that I can’t think of many songwriters that have emerged in the last few years that have anything like his talent for melodic, hook laden tunes. Even the B Sides are fantastic

Chances are you’re not as cool as you’d like to be, and listening to MGMT sure as hell isn’t going to change that. So leave posing to the poseurs and check out Hot Leg. Your ears will love you for it.

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May The d4s Be With You

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

My journey back through the mystical labyrinths of Role Playing Games led me to the most predictable point possible – The Star Wars RPG. We played quite a lot of this as teenagers  and my memory is that the books published by West End Games were always really well produced and entertaining. This game actually created a lot of what was later to become known as The Expanded Universe. Prior to this, we only had those jokey nicknames like Hammerhead, Squidhead and Motorhead (One of these may be falsified). I still love the fact that there was a character whose given name (or the name of his race) was Snaggletooth. Actually maybe it was both: Snaggletooth The Snaggletooth. Who has a snaggle tooth.

Other stuff from that original RPG that was ace:

  • Anyone can fly any ship – this is quite an important distinction from things like the Star Trek game in which you could only do something if you’d spent a couple of years at the Academy taking exams – here, like in the movies you can just just leap into some bucket of bolts, start flipping switches and be doing The Kessel Run in an unspecified amount of time and/or distance
  • One of the starting “character templates” was called “Quixotic Jedi
  • It taught me the meaning of the phrase “In Media Res” – According to the rulebook, all Star Wars movies start in the middle of the action. Except they don’t – only Star Wars (and, later Revenge Of The Sith)  actually do.
  • It was more about heroically doing faintly ridiculous things, rather than collecting gold pieces and +2 Vorpal Swords
I guess if I’m going to run any RPGs, that’s the one, right? I mean I’ve spent the last 36 years filling my head with made up space nonsense, I may as well put it to some use. So, after a quick trip to eBay I bought up a bunch of the more recent (but now over a decade old) Wizards Of The Coast published RPG books. I think the edition I have is officially called “The One with Episode 2 Shit In It”. Since then my internet research has told me that the later “Saga Edition” (aka “The One With Episode 3 Shit In It”) is better, but even that’s been replaced by Edge Of The Empire published by Fantasy Flight. Even though this brings out a primal urge in me to get back on eBay and spend a ton more money, I suspect it doesn’t matter what system you use. With the old West End Games version, after a while you used to have to throw a bucketfull of d6 dice to do anything at all and I don’t recall anyone complaining.
For a scenario I bashed together a bunch of bits of the movies, along with references to some of my favourite stuff from the Expanded Universe (Purely for my own amusement, there is a casino on Nar Shaddaa called The Kopa Khan). I had a out-of-time Jedi that had been frozen in carbonite since The Clone Wars, a starship chase through the aforementioned cityplanet, Trandoshan Bounty Hunters and a sneaky doublecrossing Duro. Everything came to a head on the Moon of Sulon, purely because I liked the old Dark Forces/Jedi Knight games. No “Grave Tuskens” though – that’s the beauty of this shit – you can ignore anything you don’t like. Now, roll for your Midichlorian count…
Seeing as the game was relatively well received (ie. no one fell asleep, set fire to their character sheet or punched me in the face) now I’m continuing a campaign for these characters – luckily, there are a ton of published adventures out there on the web. Next up is Dawn Of Defiance, a ten part adventure, that I’m not sure we’ll get all the way through, but I’m going to have fun redrawing all the characters from it. And also my own. I guess doodling the most obscure characters I could find from the Star Wars Universe wasn’t quite niche enough – I eventually had to start making them up.
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