Once again, I think I need to make some admissions. Eagle eyed readers will remember that I have, once or twice, mentioned my addiction to Rock of Ages (the stage musical, NOT the film!)? Well, it appears that I have a couple of other vices….hair metal, dressing up and rock and pop/other mash-ups (the cleverer, the better – and preferably live). I now have to add another to that list…I apparently like DISCO! Now, when I say disco I don’t mean I’ve suddenly gone all spandex, glitter and…er, um, er…. What I mean is that, as I have discussed with Jess and the guys from Rock Sugar, amongst others, the best rock songs could be great pop (or now disco…stick with me here) but with proper guitars, bass and drums. In fact if the whole lot can be delivered with a big smile, a knowing wink and by a band who are clearly having a ball – so much the better.
Well, now you can add another to my list. To be honest, you would thin the premise behind Tragedy was, to say the least, a bit thin. Heavy metal tribute to The Bee Gees? Well, you know what those kings of the 1970s flared disco suit didn’t half know how to write great songs. Don’t believe me? Can’t bear the thought of listening to disco (even those of you who have Kiss’s “I Was Made for Loving You” in your collection)? Try these boys from New York.
I’ll be honest, up until last Friday I, too, had not heard of them. A friend mentioned that it might be just up my alley and … well, the next thing was I was making arrangements to see the penultimate night of what was, it transpires, their 10th (TENTH!) tour of the UK. Mrs Davey Ravey and myself made the journey from our holiday beach hut to the big city and made our way down the stairs into Legends. I’d forgotten that places like this still existed (oh sheltered life that I’ve lived over the last few years) – all sticky carpets and that strange aroma of…what is that smell? The support band were a bit shouty for our delicate ears, although they did seem to go down well with the locals (although we did like the song that seemed to remind us of RATM singing a nursery rhyme).
Soon came the main event as the 10 legged band of disco/metal warriors (plus Lance!) hit the stage in a blizzard of glitter, feathers and more spandex than lives in my wardrob…er, shall we move on? Opening with “Night Fever” and “Jive Talking” from their first album (“We Rock Sweet Balls and Can Do No Wrong”), it was clear that these guys were here to rock us hard, fast and for a brief couple of hours bring a little glitter and sparkle into the world of rock and metal. Three from second full lengther (oo-er!) “Humbled by Our Greatness” (including a great version of “Disco Inferno”, sung by new boy Disco Mountain Man) showed that what Tragedy realised was that they could take the disco theme and expand – first with songs done by the Bee Gees and then move on to songs written by the Gibbs, produced by the Gibbs or were from that era of the 70s where you either rocked or danced in your white, flared suit (and sometimes, some of the songs are payed “because they want too!”).
The first of the tracks from new record (“Death to False Disco-Metal”) brought about the first name change of the night (you see, Tragedy are not just the number one Bee Gees Metal Tribute in the Tri-State Area…they are also the only band that changes their name throughout the show. So for one song, ladies and gentlemen, we present… Black Abba-th. There’s not many people who can listen to an Abba song and not grin like an imbecile (not that I know anyway!) and metalised it’s no different, with big cheesy grins throughout the audience. A great medley of the one song that they KC & the Sunshine Band re-wrote again and again, was introduced as KC-DC – I think that should give you an indication of where we’re going here. Those of you who listen closely will spot riffs and references galore…was that “Rock You Like a Hurricane”? That is definitely a spot of “Raining Blood” at the start of the current video “It’s Raining Men”.
Talking of big, cheesy grins – the appreciative audience clearly lapped up the lunacy on offer! There is nothing quite like watching people in Slayer t-shirts singing along to disco classics…I suppose that, amongst friends and in a nice safe place, anything is possible. Anyway, this is metal…isn’t it? Most importantly was this concept of friendship…Tragedy clearly enjoy entertaining the fans as much as the crowd enjoy them (apparently they had DECIMATED Bloodstock the previous weekend) and they are one of those bands that make you feel part of the show. Making clear their love for Newcastle, Barry Glibb (lead vocals, lead rhythm guitar) mentioned Rachel who has followed them around the country for all their tours but sadly couldn’t be with us last night – would that all bands were like that.
It’s only fair that mention is made of Lance – the Tragedy helper, onstage roadie, dancer an who bore the brunt of much abuse. He performed a rather cool ukelele solo (that had absolutely NOTHING to do with Mo’Royce! ) and generally mopped the brow of the band, handed out beer, etc and joined in with backing vocals…sort of! With the rest of the band made op by Andy Gibbous Waning on lead bass and The Lord Gibbeth on lead drums, Tragedy are not all joke and no substance…fine musicians who have spotted the opportunity to create a lasting, happy impression on the world of metal (and probably really upset the disco fans…so great all round!).
All too soon the 11 song set was over….or not quite! Another swift name change – this time to Bad Girls the Number 1 Tribute to Donna Summer and a spot of “Hot Stuff” and for one last hurrah and involving dragging a pile of ladies up on stage, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.
Then it really was time to get back to the holiday and, once again, I have another band to make sure that I catch next time they’re around….in fact if you are near Carlisle tonight (13th August) Tragedy play The Brickyard. Go on…you’ll LOVE them.
Islands in the Stream
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
It’s Raining Men
KC-DC & the Sunshine Band
You Should Be Dancing
How Deep Is your Love?
Total Eclipse of the Heart
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Photographs by David Wilson & Celia Wilson