Posts Tagged ‘cambridge hotel’

Live Review: Cancer Bats @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – October 11, 2019

20 Nov


I was lucky enough to witness Canada’s Cancer Bats in action back sometime around 2013 and was struck by the band’s intensity and obvious enjoyment with what they were doing. That was a Sidewave at Sydney’s Hi-Fi Bar supporting Bullet for My Valentine – which in this reviewer’s mind was a bit of an odd pairing, but whatever…

Seeing the band tonight in the Cambridge Hotel‘s diminutive pressure-cooker of a front room seemed to amplify the intensity of the band’s performance. With no photo pit, I was shooting from the mosh – experiencing the effect they were having on the audience first hand. The band tore up the stage with a set list bursting with tracks from just about their entire back catalogue, with highlights including ‘Sorceress’ and ‘Hail Destroyer’ from the album of the same name and ‘Gatekeeper’ and ‘Space and Time’ from latest album ‘The Spark That Moves’.

As a band not known for their five-minute-plus prog epics, they move through their 15-song set list rapid fire, broken up with witty banter from frontman Liam Cormier, including some classic Aussie piss-taking that the crowd laps up, despite being the brunt of the jokes. All in all, a great way to spend a rainy night in Newcastle.


Cancer Bats @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle - October 11, 2019
Cancer Bats @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle - October 11, 2019
Cancer Bats @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle - October 11, 2019
Cancer Bats @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle - October 11, 2019

Live Gallery: Take My Soul @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – July 11, 2019

26 Jul


Take My Soul @ Cambridge Hotel - July 11, 2019

I went along on July 11 to watch Take My Soul headline a show at Newcastle’s Cambridge Hotel, supported by Father Deer Hands, PSTCRDS and Some Heard Trouble.

Take My Soul @ Cambridge Hotel - July 11, 2019
Take My Soul @ Cambridge Hotel - July 11, 2019
Take My Soul @ Cambridge Hotel - July 11, 2019

Phil Anselmo & The Illegals @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – March 31, 2019

10 Apr

Originally published on Life Music Media

Phil Anselmo & The Illegals - Newcastle, March 31, 2019
Phil Anselmo & The Illegals – Newcastle, March 31, 2019
Phil Anselmo & The Illegals - Newcastle, March 31, 2019
Phil Anselmo & The Illegals – Newcastle, March 31, 2019
Phil Anselmo & The Illegals - Newcastle, March 31, 2019
Phil Anselmo & The Illegals – Newcastle, March 31, 2019

It’s not every Sunday that you get to experience some of the crustiest, filthiest metal the scene has to offer while the sun is still shining (festivals being the exception). But here we are on a perfect Autumnal day, walking into the iconic Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle before 5pm to witness just that.

Palm (Japan) - Newcastle, March 31, 2019
Palm (Japan) – Newcastle, March 31, 2019

Sadly missing out on openers Potion, we’re glad that we’re there early enough to see Palm from Osaka, Japan rage the stage with its own unique blend of down-tuned riffage. The Cambo is about half full at this stage, but razor-throated singer Toshi bounces around the stage in full flight with a blood curdling scream that get the punters riled up. More than once there’s a circle pit collecting bodies in the middle of the room. By the end of the set, the band’s dreadlocked Aussie bassist is pulling a shoey from a random punter’s jogger.

King Parrot - Newcastle, March 31, 2019
King Parrot – Newcastle, March 31, 2019

Melbourne’s King Parrot is up next with an extensive set of its uniquely Aussie, filthy, rockin’ metal. The band’s energetic live show lives up to the hype generated by existing fans and Phil Anselmo himself, who has previous done a lot to champion the band on the world stage. Looking gloriously bogan as each member barges their way around the stage, humour is a major component of their image, but there’s nothing funny about the songs – which are brutal, crusty and have the rapidly-filling room hanging on to every riff. It’s easily the heaviest use of a Gibson ES-355 this reviewer has ever seen.

After a decent wait (even though it is still only 7pm!), The Illegals take to the stage amid a cacophony of distortion and pummelling drums. Former Pantera and Down (and many more besides) front man Phil Anselmo clenches his fists and plays a little air guitar side stage in the darkness – psyching himself up before launching into a blistering set that is split between 50-percent new material and 50-percent Pantera classics.

Perhaps the first thing you notice is that Anselmo still has an imposing presence on stage. The second thing is that he still boasts one of the best screams/growls in metal some 30 years after hitting the world stage on Cowboys From Hell (there weren’t any songs in the set list that let us gauge the health of his singing voice).

The Illegals are super tight, in a wonderfully ragged way and the mix is thick and full, which makes the aural onslaught of the blast beats and breakdowns particularly satisfying. While all the chosen tracks in the first half of the set get plenty of attention from the crowd (who clearly are also almost universally familiar with them), it’s no surprise that the Pantera tracks in the second half send everyone in the room into a state of apoplexy.

Mouth for War, Becoming, I’m Broken, Hellbound (with a medley of Domination and Hollow riffs), Walk and A New Level pretty much flatten the building and sound even more intense tuned down a couple of steps from the original recordings. At times the crowd threatens to drown out Phil’s barks and screams as everyone sings along to the classic lyrics that for many, influenced their adolescence.

During I’m Broken, Phil brings Toshi from Palm and Youngy from King Parrot on stage to help with the words. It’s not the last time the small Cambridge stage plays host to more musos. At the end of the set, the band invites all the other bands up on stage for a ‘jam’ to celebrate the end of the tour for Potion and Palm (a result of additional dates being added to the end of the tour with Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane being sold out).

It’s a barnstorming set and a brilliant afternoon of metal that leaves the room spent – even though it is still only 8.30pm!

LIVE MUSIC: Make Them Suffer @ The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – August 15, 2018

22 Aug

Make Them Suffer

Live Review: Make Them Suffer + Silent Planet + Oceans Ate Alaska + Thornhill @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – Wed, August 15, 2018


Newcastle’s Cambridge Hotel has been playing host to a run of great metal shows of late. The latest gig to warm up the cold winter nights is Perth’s Make Them Suffer and despite being a mid-week show, Hunter punters turned out in their masses to witness a strong international line up of modern heaviness.

First on stage was Melbourne’s Thornhill who brought their own blend of contemporary metal styles to the proceedings. While they seemed a little self-conscious in front of the crowd, they brought with them some solid, dramatic progressions and some great, if well-worn riffage.

The UK’s Oceans Ate Alaska took to the stage in front of a half-filled room and proceeded to rampage like they were in front of a full house. Showing much more polish and cohesiveness, the five-piece boasted a great frontman in Jake Noakes, who stalked the stage with a brutal combination of screams, growls and hardcore shouts. From the blast beats, skittering riffs and finger tapping through to the breakdowns and sing-along choruses, Oceans had something for every modern metal fan and put on a very solid performance.

Perhaps the highlight of the night, LA’s Silent Planet made a big impact with their metal with a message. From themes of war and refugee welfare to mental illness, the band tore through a set that boasted metalcore at its core, but also included progressive traits for a sound that was at once mature and brutal. Singer Garrett Russell was clearly a bit of an eccentric, but that just added to the tension and sense of drama. Some fans up front looked as though they were having a religious experience.

After a short wait, headliners Make Them Suffer enjoyed a hero’s welcome to a darkened stage before they erupted into a powerful set of tracks from across their catalogue. The band were self-assured (coming straight from a sold-out show in Brisbane) and emitting a bruising energy that spilled into the crowd, where bodied flowed over the mosh barrier for the duration. At one point, singer Sean Harmanis instigated a Wall of Death, with half the audience politely obliging, no doubt causing more than a few bruises.

Currently touring on the back of their latest album Worlds Apart, Make Them Suffer were taut, tight and left the Cambo audience wasted, sweaty and just a little damaged.


Oceans Ate Alaska

Silent Planet


LIVE GALLERY: Polaris @ The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – July 21, 2018

07 Aug

(Originally published on


I pity any metal head in the hunter region that missed out on tonight’s show at the Cambridge Hotel. Between the four acts on show, just about any genre-loyal fanatic would have been well catered to.

While the overarching theme of the night was of a decidedly modern take on the style, from opener Junkhead‘s spasmodic Dillinger-esque riffage and Diamond Construct‘s more progressive tendencies (these guys have really matured and improved over the last few years), you’d have been smiling from ear to ear by the half way point.

By the time Sydney band Justice for the Damned took to the stage, the Cambo was completely full with an obviously friendly crowd and the five-piece wasted no time in laying waste to each and every one of them. Despite the toy dinosaurs on the stage and some members looking decidedly ‘late ’80s thrash’ in white high-tops and tucked in tees, Justice for the Damned’s blend of ridiculously heavy down-tuned grooving riffs, mixed with equal parts death and hardcore means that while they may not take themselves too seriously, their tunes aren’t to be messed with.

By the time Polaris take to the stage, the audience one big sweaty mess – despite it only being about three degrees outside. One punter has even managed to dislocate his knee in the pit – his only consolation being granted the ability to watch the remainder of the set from side stage.

For the uninformed, Sydney’s Polaris are a highly polished, modern, crushing blend of metal styles, from metalcore to deathcore with hints of progressive elements thrown in for good measure. The band’s mix of growls, screams and clean vocals really adds to the dynamic.

Bodies start falling over the barrier right from the start of the set and continue throughout the show – and anyone not breathless from the full body contact is singing every word at the top of their lungs. It’s really inspiring to see such support and enthusiasm for local music. I’ve born witness to plenty of international touring acts fail to fill the Cambo main room like this.

It was a truly amazing night of Aussie metal.


Live Gallery and Review – Red Fang @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – May 11, 2018

30 May

Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018.

Red Fang + Drunk Mums + Black Rheno @ Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – Friday, May 11, 2018
Words and Pics:

CLICK HERE to view the full gallery on my Flickr page.

Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018.Newcastle has always played host to international bands. It’s just that it has never been with the same kind of frequency of our neighbours south to Sydney. In fact, my very first proper concert experience was Pantera when they played the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on their Far Beyond Driven tour.

Still, it’s always exciting when a good international band gets booked into one of our remaining live venues. So when Red Fang announced a show at the Cambridge Hotel, you can bet this scribe had his hand up waving wildly like an excited kid at the front of the classroom with the answer to a geography question.

There is, however, always some level of trepidation when said international act is below the tier of, say, a band used to playing the big sheds and arenas. I’ve personally seen some amazing bands play to less than half full rooms and so it was that opening act Black Rheno performed to a handful of eager punters soon after the doors opened.Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018.

That’s a shame, too. Because the Sydney three piece (with the guitarist running a split rig that also acted as a bass, a-la White Stripes and Local H) rocked out hard with a manic set of high energy rock that was tight, but loose in all the right ways. Apparently the band has just started recording an album, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.

Next, the Drunk Mums looked like they’d stepped off a plane direct from the 1960s, complete with requisite ’60s axes and well-worn chord progressions. Despite the familiarity, the band brought a certain raucous sense of humour to the sound that helped make it unique. Loose, noisy and plenty of amusing between-song banter.

After a short intermission, no doubt thanks to their stripped down rigs not requiring too much setup, Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang took to the stage in front of a half-full, but very appreciative room of fans. They launched into a sweet rendition of Blood Like Cream and didn’t say too much for about three songs, when they’d clearly started to warm up a bit.

The mix tonight was nice and clear, with plenty of definition in the low end where singer/bassist Aaron Beam’s chord work could really shine. He really wields that thing like a baritone guitar and it works perfectly for Red Fang’s Sabbathian, stoner vibe.

Over what would be a 14-song set with no encore, the band wowed the enthusiastic crowd with tunes from all its previous releases, including latest disc, 2016’s Only Ghosts. They were super tight, despite the inherent fuzziness and ageless scunge that lies between all the grooves in their riffs. Oh, and how sweet their grooves and riffs are! They were certainly inspiration for all the middle-aged rockers in the audience and the DIYers out there.

Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018. Red Fang, performing at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle, Australia on May 11, 2018.


CLICK HERE to view the full gallery on my Flickr page.

What the Hell is a 27twelve?!

11 Mar

I was thinking about my post the other night; the one about the Newcastle music scene and how I got involved with music journalism back in the ’90s. And I realised that somehow I had completely left out the part relating to 27twelve.

Now, for most reading this, you’d be completely forgiven for wondering just what the hell a 27twelve is. Well, it was the name of my monthly metal ‘zine.

After writing for Mark Hughes at concretepress for a while, I was hankering for some greater creative outlet. The writing bug had bitten and I realised that I had a voice. I wanted that voice to spread further; to reach more people and discuss things that mattered to me.

I have to be honest and admit that I really had no prior knowledge of the then-burgeoning ‘zine scene. As it turned out, Newcastle and the surrounding areas were home to many examples of ‘zines on all kinds of topics. But what inspired me to create a little A5-sized publication was a late-night documentary on Hugh Hefner and the Playboy empire. Hugh started his publishing career with much the same concept: a magazine in a small, cheaply printed format.

That very same night I sat up in front of mum’s slow-as-a-wet-blanket PC and started work on the first issue of what would become 27twelve. Don’t bother asking where the name came from or what it meant. I didn’t know then and I don’t know now, suffice it to say that being in bands back then, I was always trying to think up names for bands and song titles. 27twelve was just one of many on the list and not wanting to create a publication with a name that would give people a preconception of what would be inside, I went for something that no-one could mistakenly judge.

In all the mag ran like clockwork for over two and a half years and boasted many of my favourite local and international acts on the cover. Even today I look back and am surprised at how much support the nation’s record companies gave me in terms of access to their acts for interviews and mountainous piles of CDs for review.

It was distributed throughout Newcastle, Maitland and the Manning Valley regions in many of the same places you’d find street presses like the Drum Media and 3D World. I relied on my unemployment benefit payments from the government to pay for the printing of each issue which was completed by simply photocopying each double-sided A4 page 1000 times. After printing was done, I had the support of friends and family to help me fold the pages and staple them in the middle, creating a 28-page A5 magazine.

Often some of those same friends and family members would feature within the pages, writing opinion columns and providing advice on subjects within their chosen field. For instance, my grand mother wrote a regular political column and my best mate wrote a regular piece on computer technology and game reviews. Those were fun times.

When 27twelve turned one, I even threw it a birthday party. I booked five of my favourite local bands to play at the Cambridge Hotel on Hunter Street in Newcastle West, designed up pole posters and invites for contributors, advertisers, local musos and the like. We ended up with a good couple hundred people at the event and I remember through my drunken haze later in the evening, the then-promoter of the pub putting his arm around my shoulders and thanking me for a good night.

So what killed 27twelve? Primarily it was me being sick of being unemployed, never having any money and feeling like the city was closing in around me. The scene there was big, but small at the same time. So, I moved to Sydney to find work.

Ben Hosking, Editor of 27twelve

For a time, the mag continued. I interviewed bands after hours (sometimes even AT work) and basically used all my remaining hours designing and writing – but it all got too hard. I ended the print version of the mag not long after it turned two and a half when my flatmate convinced me that the place to be was on-line. Thus began my introduction to web design, back in 1999. It didn’t last, though, and I closed it for good.

It was an awesome ride that together with my work at concretepress, allowed me to interview most of my favourite bands and see them live for nix, as well as collect the motherlode of review CDs that were regularly swapped at Rice’s second hand bookstore for non-fiction paperbacks and other CDs.

So, here I am now, endeavouring to re-enter the music journalism field in addition to my primary work writing for automotive publications. My love of music never left – I simply had so much on my plate working for Express Publications that there was little time or inclinatin to continue. However, over time I pulled the guitars back out of storage and started reading Metal Hammer, Kerrang and Guitar World again. When I left Express earlier this year, my desire to write about music was firmly reignited.

Thanks for listening.