My abiding memory of 2021 was the feeling of the world returning to some semblance of normality and, in particular, the restarting of live music.
It was a pretty incredible year for new music, and it seems most artists really have put the downtime from touring to excellent use.
Gigs of the year
- Judas Priest at Bloodstock was just sensational. A real life tribute to the spirit of Heavy Metal and a superb way to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
- The Dead Daisies never fail to impress and the addition of Glen Hughes has certainly kept things interesting.
- Michael Schenker was incredible at his London gig and his playing is truly ageless.
- Matt Pearce & The Mutiny played several great gigs I managed to catch, but the headline show in Islington was one of the best – a real blues rock masterclass.
- Black Stone Cherry were great at The Royal Albert Hall and it felt surreal and wonderful to be back in that venue after so long.
Albums of the Year
Some of my personal favourites are as follows:
Jerry Cantrell – Brighten
This year, the Alice In Chains main man returned with a stunning solo album. A gorgeous mix of grungy guitar lines, acoustic accents and lush vocals we have come to expect from Cantrell, it is a superb album.
Enuff Z’Nuff – Hardrock Nite
I’ve been in a Beatles mood since watching the amazing new Get Back movie, and this Beatles cover album is the perfect companion for anyone who loves The Beatles and hard rock. Enuff Z’Nuff are a truly underrated gem of a band, and this is my favourite covers album of 2021.
Iron Maiden – Senjutsu
The reigning kings of British Heavy Metal are so consistently brilliant that I think we often overlook the finer points of their new releases. In 2021, the mighty Maiden returned with the brilliant double album Senjutsu. It’s the equivalent of an epic novel, and so rewards repeated listening to fully appreciate.
Steve Lukather – I Found The Sun Again
This album by Toto leader and guitarist Steve Lukather was a very pleasant surprise. A mix of often heartfelt and uplifting original songs alongside some choice covers, it’s a fine release by one of rock’s greatest living guitar players.
My Album of 2021
Helloween by Helloween
The top spot on my list of albums has to go to the Metal album that fans have been waiting years and even decades to arrive. The return of Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen to the fold and an incredible tour in 2017 left Power Metal fans around the world overjoyed but also tantalised by the prospect of a new album.
Sprawled across a double album, Helloween marks a truly triumphant creative return by the German band to their rightful place in the pantheon of Heavy Metal legends. Epic songs like Skyfall and Out For The Glory are brimming with epic chorus melodies and breathtaking guitar solos.
However, the album never descends to technical overdrive simply for technique’s sake. It is an incredibly catchy selection of songs and one of the finest comebacks by any metal band in recent years.
My MetalTalk Highlights:
All the MTTV interviews I got to do, particularly with Steve Lukather and George Lynch. Speaking to Yngwie Malmsteen was also a pretty surreal experience.
First Big Gig in 2022:
Hopefully Ghost at the O2 Arena!
2022 hopes in five words:
Happier, healthier, wealthier, more lively!