Midlands Rocks Team “Best of the Year” – 2021

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Another year has come to an end and the team at Midlands Rocks have put together their personal favourite moments. In addition to bringing us some amazing new music, 2021 saw gigs restart and most of the team got back to enjoying some live music at festivals, arenas, theaters and clubs. As you can see from the below MR continues to be made up of an eclectic bunch with a wide range of tastes. One thing we can all agree on though – the Midlands most definitely rocked again in 2021 and we all look forward to seeing you out and about next year. If you spot any of us at a gig be sure to come and say hello and let us know your 2021 highlights in the comments section.

Peter Brockwell

Artist of the Year

Lifesigns

Midlands Artist of the Year

Rebecca Downes

Top 10 Albums –

  1. Lifesigns- Altitude
  2. The Little Unsaid – Lick The Future’s Lips
  3. Troy Redfern – The Cosmic Fire
  4. Steve Wilson – The Future Bites
  5. Transatlantic – The Absolute Universe
  6. Dave Bainbridge – To The Far Away
  7. When Rivers Meet – Saving Grace
  8. Big Big Train – Common Ground
  9. The Washboard Resonators – The Streamlined Rag
  10. Cinelli Brothers – Viva Jukejoint

Top 5 Gigs

  1. Lifesigns – Chinnerys, Southend (a revisit of the last gig I attended before lock down on 15th March 2020)
  2. The Little Unsaid – Water Rats, London
  3. Public Service Broadcasting – Friars, Aylesbury (I new nothing about PSB prior to this gig but they came highly recommended)
  4. Jack J Hutchinson – Black Heart, Camden
  5. Marillion – Hammersmith Eventim Apollo

This was a category which was very difficult to decide. I eventually decided on the gigs which were my most anticipated and which still managed to live up to their promise. I could have just as easily included the IQ Christmas Bash at 229 Venue, Robert Jon & The Wreck/Troy Redfern at the 100 Club, Steve Hackett at Friars or the Dead Daisies/Quireboys/ Grand Slam at Shepherds Bush Empire.

Three Things To Look Forward To In 2022

1.Marillion – An Hour Before Dark

2.Lifesigns April tour

3.Porcupine Tree at Wembley Arena

Fingers Crossed.

Peter Dennis

Artist of the Year

Tom Hunting (Exodus)

Midlands Artist of the Year

Robert Plant

Top Ten Albums

  1. Eyehategod – A History Of Nomadic Behavior
  2. Flotsam & Jetsam – Blood In The Water
  3. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined
  4. BRIDEAR – Bloody Bride
  5. Carcass – Torn Arteries
  6. Pestilence – Exitivm
  7. Ophidian I – Desolate
  8. NECRONOMIDOL – vämjelseriter
  9. Paranorm – Empyrean
  10. Dio – Evil Or Divine: Live In New York

Top Five Gigs

  1. British Lion + Airforce @ The Craufurd Arms, Wolverton, 7th December 2021
  2. BRIDEAR @ The Castle & Falcon, Birmingham, 7th October 2021
  3. Acid Reign + Inhuman Nature @ The Craufurd Arms, Wolverton, 10th September 2021
  4. The Professionals + Desperate Measures + HAZARD @ The Craufurd Arms, Wolverton, 27th October 2021
  5. Glen Matlock + Adrian Stranik @ The Craufurd Arms, Wolverton, 25th November 2021

Three Things To Look Forward To In 2022:

  1. New Lawnmower Deth album (Blunt Cutters)
  2. New Scorpions album (Rock Believer)
  3. The festival season

Claire Frays

Artist of the Year

Dance Gavin Dance

Midlands Artist of the Year

Awake By Design

Top 10 Albums

Starset – Horizons

Eidola – The Architect

Trivium – In The Court of the Dragon

Tilian – Factory Reset

Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

Ice Nine Kills – Welcome To Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2

Bad Wolves – Dear Monsters

ERRA – ERRA

Light The Torch – You Will Be The Death Of Me

Epica – Omega

Three Things To Look Forward To In 2022

New Five Finger Death Punch

New Dance Gavin Dance

Ghost returning to the UK

Andrew Manning

Artist of the year

Genesis

Midlands Artist of the Year

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Top 10 Albums

Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

Neal Morse Band(NMB) – Innocence & Danger

Big Big Train – Common Ground

Styx – Crash Of The Crown

Great Van Fleet – The Battle At Garden’s gate

Steven Wilson – The Future Bites

Dead Daisies – Holy Ground

Mostly Autumn – Graveyard Star

Dennis De Young – 26 East Vol 2

Dream Theater – A View From The Top Of The World

Top 5 Gigs

Genesis

Marillion

Steve Hackett

Cats in Space

Vambo

Three things to look forward to in 2022

Nightwish Gig

Magnum – New Album

The return of the Wolverhampton Civic Hall

Dean Pedley

Artist of the Year

Morgan Wade

Midlands Artist of the Year

Saving Grace

Top 10 Albums

Morgan Wade – Reckless

Dawn After Dark – New Dawn Rising

Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise the Roof

Billy F. Gibbons – Hardware

The Pretty Reckless – Death by Rock and Roll

Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Georgia Blue

Cody Jinks – Mercy

Caned By Nod – None The Wiser

Top 5 Gigs

Saving Grace – Dudley

First gig back after the restart and couldn’t have been any better. RP is clearly having a ball playing with some excellent musicians and the wonderful Suzi Dian.

Dawn After Dark – Birmingham

A superb night and first time seeing a gig at Muthers in Digbeth which is a cracking old school venue. There’s a New Dawn Rising.

Steve Hackett – Birmingham

A complete performance of Seconds Out from the maestro and his incredible band, a stunning show from start to finish.

Genesis – Birmingham

Saw the first two shows in Brum and despite Phil’s obvious physical limitations it offered everything you would expect from an arena show. They leave us with some amazing memories.

Marillion – Birmingham

Terrific set list of some of my personal favourites from Marillion’s epic back catalogue. Looking forward to the new album.

Three things to look forward to in 2022

E Street Band back in Europe

Festivals getting back on track

Return of Wolverhampton Civic Hall

Angelina Pelova

Artists of the Year

Ronnie Romero and Dino Jelusick

(cannot choose one, they have been equally epic!)

Top 10 Albums

Lords of Black – Alchemy of Souls II

Seven Spires – God of Debauchery

Circus of Rock – Come One, Come All

Annette Olzon – Strong

Magnus Karsson – Heart Healer

Laurenne/Lauhimo – The Reckoning

Jeff Scott Soto – The Duets Collection

7even Bridges – Million Voices

Intelligent Music Project VI – Creation

Vega – Anarchy and Unity

Three things looking forward to in 2022

Going to a gig again!

Going to a gig again!!

Going to a gig again!!!

Angri Peters

Artist of the Year

The Body.  They’ve released two albums this year, both polar-opposites, and yet both clearly by the same artist.  I’m always blown away by what they produce, and always excited to see what they do next.  They’re a band I’ll pre-order before I know what it is they’re up to.  I look forward to another 17 albums in the next few months.

Midlands Artist of the Year

Matters.  They continually produce brilliant music and everything from their stage setup to their packaging is a work of art.  Their collaborations with Blue Ruth have been fantastic, and I’m hoping to see more of them.  Yet another gig I couldn’t attend, and I am suitably gutted as a result.

Top 10 Albums (in no particular order)

  1. Cavalcade- Black Midi

Utterly bonkers.  Keeping the spirits of The Cardiacs alive.  One of the gigs I missed this year. Utterly regretting it.

  1. Gas Lit- Divide and Dissolve.

I reviewed this one.  You know my thoughts on it.

  1. Hey What- Low

While I said this list is in no particular order, this is nonetheless my album of the year.  I see this as a companion piece to their previous album and Drums & Guns. A career high.

  1. House of Lull. House of When- Alexis S.F. Marshall

Intense.  In the spirit of Swans, but not 3 hours long.

  1. I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A. – Dean Wareham

He’s never going to set the world on fire, but the former Luna/Galaxie 500 frontman always turns out great tunes that fill a particular space in my tastes.

  1. I’ve Seen All I Need to See- The Body

One of their two albums.  I reviewed this too.  You also know my thoughts on it.

  1. Present Tense- FACS

Genuinely the most underrated album of the year.  A brilliant slice of post-punk with shimmers of cold wave.  “Strawberry Cough” is one of my tunes of the year.

  1. Promises- Floating Points

It got a Mercury Nomination and lost to something that sounded like Morcheeba.  Disgusting.

  1. Songs From Isolation- A.A. Williams.

Home-recorded covers album, based upon requests from fans.  Amazing versions of everything from The Moody Blues to Deftones from a top Goth warbler.  Always bordering on the ridiculous, but always remaining sublime.

  1. Super What? Czarface, MF Doom

A nice bit of a send-off to MF Doom.  A short blast of pure hip hop joy.

Top Gigs

  1. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Stourbridge Town Hall.

The only gig I made it to.  Not usually the top of my list, but they were the only gig I got to attend this year and I loved it.  Not just because it was my return to gigs in my (now) hometown of Stourbridge, but because they have a body of work that is very underappreciated.

  1. I didn’t get to any others because they were cancelled, moved to days when I had other commitments or I was ill.

Three things to look forward to in 2022

  1. The gigs that have been postponed from this year or set up for next- The Damned, The Cure, Brian Wilson, OM and a bunch of others.
  2. The return of Supersonic Festival (finally), with June of 44 and A.A. Williams.
  3. The publication of my first book, which I mention because it’s why I haven’t reviewed anything for months. It is finally coming out.  I’ll start reviewing again.

Paul Quinton

Artist of the Year

Steve Hackett, two fine albums, and a superb, emotional show at Symphony Hall, not to mention being a classy person, on and off the stage.

Midlands Artist of the Year

Robert Plant, it would be so easy for him to rest on his past, but that’s not his way. A great album with Alison Krauss and terrific shows with Saving Grace.

Top 10 Albums (in alphabetical order)

AURI – II Those We Don’t Speak Of.

ECLIPSE – Wired

FROST – Day And Age

BILLY F. GIBBONS – Hardware

HARDLINE – Heart, Mind And Soul

HEARTLAND – Into The Future

CHEZ KANE – Chez Kane

SMITH/KOTZEN – Smith/Kotzen

STYX – Crash Of The Crown

  1. E. T. – Retransmission

Top 5 Gigs (In no particular order)

Steve Hackett, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 14/9/2021

Robert Plant and Saving Grace, Dudley Town Hall, 26/7/2021

FM, River Rooms, Stourbridge, 28/11/2021

Thunder, KK’S Steelmill, Wolverhampton, 17/12/2021

Jim Kirkpatrick, Eleven, Stoke, 30/7/2021

Three Things To Look Forward To In 2022

  1. The firm possibility of Springsteen playing UK gigs next Summer.
  2. Wolverhampton Civic Hall reopening again in the autumn, all being well, after a long, problematic refurbishment.
  3. The HRH organisation finding a decent venue for their weekend festivals. Great Yarmouth’s limitations are all too obvious.

Rich Ward

Artist of the Year

Saving Grace

Midlands Artist of the Year

Saving Grace

Top 10 Albums

The Alarm – WAR

Deep Purple – Turning To Crime

Blackberry Smoke – Stoned

The Dust Coda – Mojo Skyline

Cheap Trick – In Another World

KK’s Priest – Sermons Of The Sinner

Bernie Marsden – Chess

The Last Internationale – Live at Arda Recorders

Steel Woods – Stones

Dawn After Dark – New Dawn Rising

Top 5 Gigs

Saving Grace – Dudley Town Hall

Judas Priest – Bloodstock Festival

Michael Schenker – KK’s Steel Mill

Fish – Leamington Spa Assembly

Elles Bailey – Lichfield Guildhall

Three things to look forward to in 2022

Gigs (obviously)

Ozzy Osbourne tour (d’oh)

Tony Martin solo album

Paul Castles 

Artist of the Year 

Mayhem

Midlands Artist of the Year 

Memoriam – Quality DM at Bloodstock and Damnation

Top Ten Albums 

  1. Darkthrone – Eternals Hails  
  2. Årabrot – Norwegian Gothic 
  3. Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Noktvrn 
  4. Amenra – De Doorn 
  5. La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio – Trivial Visions 
  6. Sunn O))) – Metta, Benevolence BBC6 Live: on the invitation of Mary Anne Hobbs 
  7. Mastiff – Leave Me The Ashes of the Earth 
  8. Sanguisugabogg – Tortured Whole 
  9. Necronautical – Slain in the Spirit 
  10. Ministry – Moral Hygiene 

Top Five Gigs 

  1. Bloodstock, Catton Park 
  2. Damnation Fest, Leeds Student Union 
  3. Batuskha + Belphegor, Castle & Falcon, Birmingham 

Three Things To Look Forward To In 2022: 

  1. First Damnation Fest in Manchester, after many happy years in Leeds
  2. Anything from Birmingham underground black metal label, Clobber Records 
  3. First Desertfest in Camden in 3 years in May