The Very Best and Very Worst of 2017


Lest we forget…

Once again our writers are looking back over the past year, and also forward to the year to come. Sadly, 2017 was another of those years, when we lost so many more great musicians and personalities, but while their music lives on, sometimes it’s been someone whose career you’ve followed for so long, their passing seems to leave a genuine void in the world.  This is for those we have lost, but also for those who will make their own impression on 2017.

Stephen Brophy

Eclipse - MonumentumBest Albums 2017

  • Eclipse – Momentum
  • Midnite City – Midnite City
  • Pain Of Salvation – In The Passing Light Of Day
  • Brother Firetribe – Sunbound
  • Samarkind – Samarkind

Best Gigs 2017

  • Living Colour – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – 29-09-2017
  • Jo Harman – Jazz Cafe, London – 19-02-2017
  • Brother Firetribe – Rockingham 2017
  • Black Star Riders – Academy, Dublin – 04-03-2017
  • Matt Andersen – Grand Social, Dublin – 19-05-2017

Midlands Band Of The Year 2017

  • Stone Broken

Musical Highlights of 2017

  • Watching the deluge of talented young bands flourish and grow.
  • Some older bands coming back strong with new album releases, reversing a trend of quite forgettable releases in recent times.
  • Finally getting to see Living Colour live in Nottingham, may be a personal highlight, but damn they were good.
  • As venues closing is on the Lowlights list, the opening of new live music venues is great to see
  • We may reach a saturation point soon, but it’s awesome to see so many Rock/Metal Tours hitting out shores in 2017, and not just the bigger bands either, being spoilt for choice is a good thing as long as people continue to support live music.

Musical Lowlights of 2017

  • Once again the loss of so many talents and icons throughout the year, the latest being Warrel Dane (Sanctuary/Nevermore).
  • Another batch of venues either shutting down or changing from Live Venues to pubs/restaurants.
  • There are a lot of formula releases still out there, doesn’t mean the music is awful, but when you hear 10 albums with the same sound it’s not a good thing, and eventually the listeners will start to tune out.

Things To Look Forward To In 2018

  • So many new albums on the way, right across the board genre wise there is another massive bumper crop on its way.
  • The sheer amount of gigs and Festivals with really good line-ups already announced for 2018
  • Getting back out to Live shows a bit more than this year and hopefully better health
  • Surprise Tours and shows that always just blow you away, get out there so small gigs, you just never know the next big thing might be playing in your local pub next weekend.
  • Continuing to write reviews that I hope you all like.


Paul Davis

Bigfoot 2017Best Albums of 2017

  • Roger Waters – Is This The Life We Really Want?
  • Bigfoot – Bigfoot
  • Little Steven – Soulfire
  • Thunder – Rip It Up
  • Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics – The Man With Stars On His Knees

Best Gigs of 2017

  • Guns n’ Roses @ Slane Castle, 27th May
  • Bigfoot @ The Giffard, 18th March
  • The Cadillac Three @ Download Festival
  • Prophets Of Rage @ Download Festival
  • Thunder @ Wolves Civic 15th December

Midlands Band Of The Year

  • Piston

Highlights Of the year

  • Seeing Axl, Slash and Duff Back on stage together
  • The success of bands from the Midlands, Stone Broken flying high, and great things from Theia, Hell’s Addiction, SKAM and Piston.
  • The launch of new mags from Planet Rock and Rock Candy

Lowlights of the year

  • The sad losses of Chris Cornell and Malcolm Young
  • Venues under threat, including The Flapper and Bristol’s Thekla
  • Josh Homme kicking a photographer during a show in Los Angeles

Things to look forward to in 2018

  • Guns n’ Roses @ Download
  • Seeing the name Rival Sons on the famous ‘Atlantic Records’ label
  • Stonedeaf Festival, a brand new one day fest for all those who have fond memories of Monsters Of Rock


Claire Frays

arch enemyBest Albums Of 2017

  • Trivium – The Sin & The Sentence
  • Arch Enemy – Will To Power
  • Blink 182 – California (Deluxe Edition)
  • Rise Against – Wolves
  • Five Finger Death Punch – A Decade of Destruction

Best Live Performances of 2017

  • Five Finger Death Punch – Wembley Arena, London
  • Alter Bridge – The Royal Albert Hall, London
  • Children of Bodom – Manchester Academy 2, Manchester
  • Black Sabbath – Genting Arena, Birmingham
  • Blink 182 – Barclaycard Arena, Birmimgham

Midlands Band Of The Year

  • Black Sabbath

Musical Highlights of 2017

  • Download Festival 2017
  • Bloodstock Festival 2017
  • Seeing Black Sabbath’s last ever show in Birmingham.

Musical Lowlights of 2017

  • Black Sabbath calling it a day.
  • Ivan Moody leaving the 5FDP European Tour over the summer.

Things to Look Forward To in 2018

  • Download Festival 2018
  • Bloodstock Open Air 2018
  • New music from Five Finger Death Punch (as a super fan, I cannot wait!)


Dean Pedley

Robert Plant - Carry Fire CoverAlbums

  • Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
  • The Cadillac Three – Legacy
  • Robert Plant – Carry Fire
  • Steel Woods – Straw In The Wind
  • Steve Hackett – The Night Siren


  • Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham
  • Dweezil Zappa @ Town Hall, Birmingham
  • Black Sabbath – The End @ Genting Arena, Birmingham
  • Stevie Nicks @ Hyde Park, London
  • Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers @ Hyde Park, London

Midlands Band Of The Year

  • Diamond Head


  • The Robin 2 continues to be a terrific local venue
  • Midlands Rocks increases its followers


  • Death of Tom Petty
  • Death Of Chris Cornell
  • Wulfrun / Civic refurbishment appears to have stalled

Things To Look Forward To

  • Summer festival line-ups are shaping up nicely


Paul Quinton

Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic SymphonyTop 5 Albums

  • Anathema – The Optimist
  • Steven Wilson – To The Bone
  • Threshold – Legends Of The Shires
  • Von Hertzen Brothers – War Is Over
  • Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony

Top 5 Gigs

  • Tyketto – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
  • Riverside – Leamington Assembly
  • Blue Oyster Cult – Nottingham Rock City
  • Y & T – Bilston Robin 2
  • Von Hertzen Brothers – Nottingham Rescue Rooms

Best Midlands Band

  • Diamond Head

Musical Highlights of 2017

  • Steven Wilson’s album getting to No1 in the mainstream album charts. A Prog Album! At No. 1!
  • Going to a gig in a cemetery by the York group Soundsphere. A personal first, definitely (insert your own jokes about it being a grave mistake here).
  • A special mention for HRH Prog in November. A cracking bill, some fine, fine performances, and a great weekend.

Musical Lowlights of 2017

  • The Grim Reaper continued to take his toll, those we have lost this year include Malcolm Young, Tom Petty, Gregg Allman, John Wetton, Chuck Berry, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, and on a personal note, Liam Davison of Mostly Autumn, such a nice bloke, taken from us far too soon.
  • The continuing threat to several venues around the country, especially from property developers.
  • The continuing problem of bands only playing in London when they visit the UK, or if they do, missing the Midlands out altogether. You know who you are.

Things to look Forward to in 2018

  • That the Agent For Change legislation is passed by Parliament, alleviating some of the threats to venues. Write to your MP!
  • It also looks as if Parliament may be looking into doing something about the issue of websites like Viagogo and Stubhub selling tickets at highly inflated prices, and also the use of ticket buying bots to hoover up large quantities before the ordinary punter has a chance. This can only be a Good Thing.


Russ Tierney


Best Albums

  • I just checked my ‘recently added’ in iTunes and there is nothing from this year. That is quite depressing really isn’t it. I’m a binger, I can stick on a rotation of 5 bands for 6 months and it be recently discovered, but nothing new.

Best Live Performances

  • Kiss – Birmingham Arena
  • Barb Wire Dolls – Birmingham Academy 3
  • Backyard Babies – Birmingham Institute
  • The Wildhearts – Nottingham Rock City

Midlands band of The Year

  • Go Primitive – Don’t take themselves seriously but take what they do seriously. It should be every bands philosophy.

Musical Highlights Of The Year

  • A rejuvenated Ginger that sees his relationship with CJ flourishing again. We all dream of that new Wildhearts record he hinted at but quickly retracted as thinking out loud.
  • For me personally it was shooting Kiss as they’re a bucketlist band to photograph.

Musical Lowlights Of The Year

  • Ariana Grande bombings
  • The Marmozets siding more towards their indie roots and looking to mature rather than the raw visceral brilliance of their first record. Maybe I need to give it the new album a chance?
  • The amount of arena-sized gigs, or any show of a professional capacity who find it acceptable to skimp on the set up. Some shows are barely audible past the first 20 rows, and with ever increasing ticket prices, it’s just not value for money.  A gig is an atmosphere, a vibe, a wave that starts at the stage and has to translate to the last man, or you may as well stay at home and put on the CD.  I’m not sure if it lies with the band or the arena’s, or it’s just the communications in between, but the likes of Kiss can get it right at the same venue where Blink 182 sounded like they were playing the far end of a cave. It make and breaks a show for any neutral not swayed by the bias of brown nosing the band.

Things to Look Forward To in 2018

  • More Wildhearts? Certainly more gigs!


Rich Ward

deeppurpleinfinitecdTop 5 albums

  • Deep Purple – Infinite
  • Fireroad – Flesh Blood & Bone
  • Thunder – Rip It Up
  • Gotthard – Silver
  • The Steelwoods – Straw In The Wind

Top 5 gigs

  • Black Sabbath bow out at Genting Arena with an emotional farewell date
  • Thunder – Cardiff Arena
  • Blackberry Smoke – Birmingham O2 Academy
  • Cheap Trick – Bristol O2 Academy
  • Michael Schenker Fest – Sheffield O2 Academy

Best Midlands Band

  • Black Sabbath – Ending on a high

Best things in 2017

  • Zal Cleminson’s return to live touring
  • Re-discovering Iron Maiden live after 26 years
  • Still discovering new music and great gigs

Worst things in 2017

  • We lost Tom Petty – Pretty much overshadows everything else

Things to look forward to:

  • Amplified 2018 – Promises to be a great festival
  • New Diamond Head album
  • New album and live shows from Judas Priest


Jason Guest

Dead Cross 2017Best Albums 2017

Best Gigs 2017

Midlands Band Of The Year 2017

  • Kroh

Musical Highlights of 2017

Musical Lowlights of 2017

  • Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell’s passing
  • Allan Holdsworth’s passing
  • Ex-Faith No More frontman Chuck Mosley’s passing
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan finally splitting up

Things To Look Forward To In 2018

  • Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse
  • Corrosion Of Conformity – No Cross No Crown



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