Sunday, 20 August 2017

Band Review - "Hotter Than Hell"

So, over the course of this last weekend I had the opportunity to get out and watch a live band in action.  Something I really enjoy, but don't often manage to do.

This, however was something different for me as I had never before seen a "Tribute" band in action.
"Hotter Than Hell" claim to deliver a classic 1970's style KISS stage show right down to the pyrotechnics and blood.  Now, speaking as a life-long fan of KISS, I can tell you, this is quite a claim to make and, in all honesty, I had my doubts.  So, did they deliver?

The simple answer is, absolutely, unequivocally, YES!!!

From the moment they stepped onto the stage I knew we were in for something special.

The costumes and make-up were amazingly detailed and incredibly close to the originals, but it was more than that.  The personalities were right there.  All the mannerisms were absolutely perfect, from the stomping dragon claw boots and snaking tongue of "The Demon", to the evocative pouting and outrageous flirtation of "Starchild" and  "Space-Ace" maintaining the perfect balance with his  trademark hypnotic, enigmatic presence.

This was only a small venue with a limited stage which obviously impacted on some of the more extreme elements of the show (primarily in the fire-breathing department), but that didn't really matter.  The boys used the available space to perfection and, for the next hour and forty minutes the entire audience was caught up in the show completely.

The music itself was absolutely "on point", with  perfect vocals from all  and some impressive guitar work from "Ace".  They played classic tunes such as "Black Diamond", "Strutter" and "Firehouse" flawlessly and with an energy that was truly infectious.

Then, as if all that wasn't enough, the band took the time after the show to come out, still in costume, and mingle with the audience, taking photos and offering autographs (and before anyone asks, no, there was no extra charge for this).  You know, I payed only £5 for an advance ticket to see these guys.  They are worth a lot more than that.  

I would recommend that any fan of classic 70's/80's rock and especially fans of KISS - go and see these guys.  You will not be disappointed.

I know I'm looking forward to their return in November.

For more information on "Hotter Than Hell"

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Mental Health and Art

I have a tendency to be a very private person, revealing the more personal aspects of my life and personality only to selected individuals.  Over recent years this aspect of my nature has gradually changed and I have developed a more open policy.  This post is a case in point.

As far back as I can remember I have always felt that I thought differently to everyone else and my degree of emotional control has always been tenuous at best.  I experienced wild and unpredictable bouts of both depression and mania as a child and teenager, all of which made me very difficult for my parents to either understand or control.

As the years progressed, this aspect of my nature drove me to make some incredibly poor choices in my life and I was generally not a very nice person to know.  Ultimately I suffered a number of severe break-downs and numerous serious suicide attempts.

Ultimately I survived and approximately 15 years ago (when I was around 35), following my last major breakdown, I was diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder.  Finally my world started to make sense.

So why am I telling you this?

Well, I don't believe there should be any stigma in mental illness and I have never had an issue with telling those around me of my condition.  Why should I?  It is, after all, a part of who I am and, if I expect people to interact with me in anything like an effective manner then I believe this information is useful for them to have.

I refuse medication for my condition and have learnt over the years how best to control this aspect of my mentality and use it's quirks to my benefit.  This is why I write and sing and paint.  There are times when my mental state is perfectly suited to these endeavours and during those times I work, and work hard.  At other times when my  mind refuses to function in a satisfactory way, I simply avoid these pursuits and retreat from the world until these periods have passed.

This strategy has allowed me to be very productive and, in some small way, successful.

I am writing this piece to illustrate the importance of awareness and acceptance for individuals like myself.  We have as much to offer this world as anyone else, we just need to find a different way of doing things and we should be allowed to explore that without stigma and/or prejudice.

There is an organisation which i support and am a member of in the UK.  It is called "Mind" .

They are a national charity that supports and champions those with Mental Health issues.

This year they have a competition running, looking for art that expresses the "Workings of My Mind".  I chose to enter a piece of artwork into this competition and I am very proud to say that, although the competition is still running, my entry is one of a number that has been chosen to help promote the competition and, by association, the charity itself.

I hope that this little revelation of mine helps, in some small way, those who are struggling with their own mental health.

I painted this a number of years ago immediately following my last major nervous break-down.  It was a time of incredible darkness and despair for me, yet from it sprang a wealth of creativity which only now sees its real use.

Never give up.  There is always a path through the darkness and the light will always wait for you to reach it.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Film Review - "Crispy's Curse"

I was honoured to receive an invitation to attend the World Premier of a new film, written and Directed by a film-maker local to my area.

It turned into such a fun evening that I thought I'd share my experiences with you all.

Before I get into that though, I feel I should introduce you to the instigator of my weekends entertainment.

He is an independent Film-maker based in the Staffordshire area.  "Crispy's Curse" represents Johns' third independent feature film in the last three years.

His first two films, "The Mothertown" and "The Slayers" have been well received with "The Slayers" picking up a number of awards on the festival circuit around the world.

So let's get on with it then:

"Crispy's Curse"

This film tells the story of the spiritual return of a malevolent clown, hell-bent on exacting revenge for his murder several years previously.  

As he proceeds on his gruesome (and generally hilarious) killing spree he is pursued by three distinct parties who are intent on laying him to rest.  There are the police, bumbling, inefficient and with all the tact and grace of a well aimed half-brick.  Then there a group of self-styled paranormal investigators who call themselves the "Spirit Hunters International Team" or S.H.I.T. .........(need I say more?) .  Finally we have "Messiah Fist", a Christian, Thrash Metal band who see the appearance of Crispy as an opportunity to test their faith and preach the word of the Lord in their own inimitable style.

In case you hadn't guessed already, let me spell it out for you, this is a gloriously gory comedy horror drawn from the deepest recesses of Mr. Williams' decidedly warped imagination.

There is an awful lot of good to say about this film.  It is hilariously funny, with some superb dialogue and a ridiculous amount of blood and gore.  

It was nice to see Pete Bennet (formerly of Big Brother fame) returning to the screen with another wonderfully wacky performance that fit perfectly with the mood of this film.

The appearance of David Acorah (T.V. Psychic and currently a guest of the Celebrity Big Brother House) was also a very welcome surprise.

For me, however the real stars of this film were the wonderful Darren McAree whose portrayal of the "real" psychic was so deliciously camp it was wonderful, and "Messiah Fist" (and yes - there is an actual CD of their music!!)

This is definitely the best film John has produced so far and if the last two are anything to go by then this one is going to be very, very successful.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Book Review - "The Newton Prophecies"

Well, here we are again with another book review.

Born in New Hampshire and currently residing there with his family, Keith is working on his third novel featuring Michael DiBianco.  "The Newton Prophecies" represents the first novel in this series.

Michael DiBianco, physicist, professor and best-selling author has his life turned completely on its head following an unexpected visit from the FBI.  Dragged into a world of secrets and deception, Michael must fight for his own survival and, perhaps even the survival of the world.

“The Newton Prophecies” delivers an action-packed thriller in the best traditions of the genre.  It is an incredibly fast-paced novel with twists and turns a plenty.  Steeped in intricate details, it is clear that the author has invested a great deal of time researching the elements necessary to weave this fascinating plot.

If you think “Dan Brown on steroids”, then you won’t be too far off the mark.  Having said that I found myself, at times, thinking back to old Dennis Wheatley stories I used to read as a teenager and I think, while this does not necessarily contain the same supernatural elements that used to feature in Wheatleys’ work there is, nevertheless, a valid and worthwhile comparison to be drawn here.

All in all, this is a great novel and it is going to be interesting to see where Keith Katsikas takes his protagonist next.

I am rating this novel 4/5

"The Newton Prophecies" is currently available in Paperback
and Kindle versions from

To purchase your copy CLICK HERE