Hotter Than Hell, Glasgow Garage, 30/12/2016

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Those of us who attend gigs on a regular basis will relate to the whirlwind of emotions and sensations which arise both during the performance itself, and those which become rooted within ourselves in the aftermath.

Tonight’s performance brought alongside it the familiar feelings – intense apprehension, excitement and nostalgia.  Not to mention the blissful feeling of a pounding bass drum and powerful chords reverberating in your ears, making your bones quake and your heart race that little bit faster.

That, dear readers, is the effect of an evening with Hotter Than Hell, Europe’s No.1 KISS tribute.

Fans from Glasgow and beyond were gathered in tonight’s venue, The Garage, eagerly awaiting what was sure to be another incredible set.

And this quintessential quartet did not disappoint.  From the moment those platform boots and iconic painted faces donned the steps to the stage, the atmosphere was ablaze, and they were welcomed with cheers from their dedicated fans, not to mention those visiting for the first time.

Opening with the beloved hit ‘Detroit Rock City’, Hotter Than Hell captivated their audience right from the beginning. 

Marty McStravick, our very own Paul Stanley, brought an abundance of energy and charisma to the centre of the stage.  Strutting and dancing round the set, he absolutely nailed the characteristics of the Starchild, from the engagement of his fans to the perfection of his pout. 

To his right, Hotter Than Hell’s Demon, Rory Judge, reigns as the ‘God of Thunder’, head bobbing to the beat, tongue wagging.  Plucking hit after hit, Judge had the crowd positively baying for blood, which he soon gladly spat over the stage in true Gene Simmons style.

On the other side of the stage, stands our Spaceman.  To those of us here on Earth, he is Davide Liddi, delivering awesome solos and a charismatic performance, gazing out over his audience with satisfaction. Quite simply, he adds even more power to an ‘Outta This World’ set.

And last, but certainly not least, bringing the thunder from the back, is Luca ‘The Animal’.  As tonight’s Catman, Luca brought the heartbeat of this live extravaganza, earning the utmost respect and admiration from Glasgow’s crowd.  Pounding and thrashing his drums, this cat showed no signs of retracting his claws – and the audience loved it.

The hits just kept coming – from the popular ‘I Was Made For Loving You’ to the anthem ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’, not to mention the appearance of ‘God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You’, which only served to further unite both band and fans.

Finishing with the one and only, rock and roll national anthem, ‘Rock & Roll All Nite’, Hotter Than Hell not only ended a truly amazing show here in Glasgow, but also found their way into the hearts of their fans, old and new.

From the intricacy of their makeup, to the accuracy and passion which set their stage alight, Hotter Than Hell are an act NOT to be missed.

Glasgow wanted the best that night, and, wow, they really did get the best!  Congratulations, gentlemen, on what was yet another memorable gig.

Hotter Than Hell are set to return to Glasgow in 2017.  Check out their website for details and announcements.

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Welcome, to the Eternal City…

 

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Rome… a city of intricate beauty and desire.  The city that captivates all, and resides in hearts for a lifetime.  A place of incredible architecture and wisdom, and a place where memories are truly made.   
But just what is there to see and do in this city, with which thousands of people admit their love affair?  I visited in late July to find out what it is that keeps bringing tourists back for more.

They say Rome is one of those cities that truly captivates all who pass through its doors, that instills only the greatest desires and passions one could possibly imagine.    

Stepping from the crowded flight, ablaze with tumultuous tourists and contented natives, the heat of the eternal city allowed one to bask in its glory, and devour its beauty.    

Admittedly, when thinking of Rome, the mind can instantly conjure images of Legionnaires, battalions and Emperors, marching in impressive thousands along dusty roads.     

You muse over the Colosseum, and the historical transition from barbaric amphitheatre to world-famous, iconic tourist attraction.  And of course, all the guilty women out there will be thinking of that thick, charming accent that could melt butter, and millions of hearts around the world.   

But that day, all I could think about was how truly lucky I was to be standing in this city.  For years, I had wondered, marvelled and dreamt of wandering the streets, getting lost in the puzzle of alleys and side-streets, and feeling my heart swell at the sight of incredible architecture.  It is in very few other cities which you can truly imagine yourself residing, living la Dolce Vita, am I right?    

But what is there to do in this wonderful city, other than stand in awe?  Here, I’ll be explaining some of the best sights and attractions in the eternal city, as well as speaking to Margie Miklas, a popular author and blogger, from MargieinItaly.  

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Vive La Dorian – An AC Fanfiction

DISCLAIMER – I do not own the character of Arno Dorian, or of Elise.  They belong to the rightful owners of the Assassin’s Creed franchise at Ubisoft 🙂  The above image was found on Flickr.

Based on Arno’s speech at the end of Assassin’s Creed – Unity.


Arno

Winter.

Such an unforgiving season, but withholding such dangerous beauty, that coats the earth white, and the cobblestones glitter.

The chill of her bite, that rises us early in the morning, and reminds us that we are very much alive another day.

The streets, vibrant with life once again, citizens filing along the pavements in the returned civil manner.  The soft whirr of the carriage wheels as they go about the town, accompanied by the crack of hooves, and the gentle nicker of old bay mares.

Children, darting from one side to another, their squeals of exhilaration as they tag each other, oblivious to the scolding of the adults whose paths they obstruct.

Life returns to the streets of France once again.

But at a greater cost than one may have originally assumed.

In a scene of proposed tranquillity, a new tragedy is bestowed upon the shoulders of an unfortunate soul.

A death rocks the personal world, but barely tremors the one in which we reside.

The spilling of blood will release a torrent of agony, yet will leave merely a stain upon the written figures of society.

History’s progression brings not beautiful destruction, rather a savage cull of innocent lives. Revolution, brings infinite pain and tarnishes our colours.

We wonder, as only humans can wonder, what brought the notion of war into being? What spurred one man to draw blood from another, to inflict the worst of suffering upon those who loved him?

To leave his children oblivious to the love of a father?

To grow, bitter, to one day exact revenge for a stolen childhood, and restart the cycle?

We must defend our right to be human, to have our choices, and to live the lives we dream of living – not follow blindly in the path of a leader, like cattle to the slaughter.

Revolution, it seems, was not quite the way to follow this.

Correct, in the sense that we fought for this right, and never felt quite so united for one cause before.

Wrong, in the opposing sense that the bloodshed became too difficult to handle.  Men and women began to crave the liquid existence of others, like some form of horrific mystical beast.

It seems as though we humans will never truly comprehend what it is to be at war.

We argue.  We raise our weapons.  We draw blood.  We mourn.  Resolve.  We fight again.

It seems that war can never truly be brought to an end.

But why must we declare conflict on such a grand scale, for the sake of bickering leaders?  Why did our predecessors follow so blindly, to be told that they were fighting for freedom, when it was in fact profit?

We know not our forefathers, only their principles.

I have never known such pain to rest within my chest, and to reside for an eternity within my conscience.

My dear Elise, snatched from me in the prime of youth, when her eyes had just sparkled, and her smile defined the worthiness of living.

She would have loved to have seen how peaceful these streets have become.  To see the people walk freely and without fear, and to see the children play and cause mischief.

To see the life revived in France once more.

Maybe that is the price for the sins I have committed.  Maybe, this is the price to pay for the blood which runs down my blade, like the tears of a thousand casualties.

Some call it war crime.  We call it revolution.

I am Arno Dorian. And I am…

… an assassin.

 

Let The Rope Snap – A Story for Oppression/Overcoming Depression

You’re striding through an open field, lifting your feet higher than normal, feeling the lush emerald blades brushing your skin. A gentle breeze permeates the thick, black mane that shines under the warm light of the sun, its caress reminding you that you are very much alive.

A steady, rhythmic thud of hooves stands to say that you’re steady once again, that you’ve carried yourself through different lands and left memories of them all. That you’ve left a little imprint of yourself on the canvas of the world.

You halt at the edge of a low precipice, casting your gaze out over the horizon, to the origin of infinity.

A surge of pure joy, makes you leap onto your hind legs, executing a perfect rear, and you emit a long, loud whinny, just for no real reason. You don’t care who hears it. Only you need to. It says, I am here. I am alive. And I don’t care if you won’t join me.

You turn, trotting down, adrenaline carrying you that little bit higher, that little bit further each time.

Life is good.

The sun dulls down, the breeze turns sharp. You look up, ears pricked, confused. Where is the light going? Where is it going, when it has taken so long for it to shine?

And then your ears fall back, apprehensive.

You know why.

In the distance, a rumble shakes the very ground you stand on. That seemingly endless horizon, sealed with the silhouettes of dozens of men, and women, on horseback, armed with ropes and spurs.

You turn to run, but they’re coming from the other side too. From the right, and the left.
They’re closing in on you.

Before you can even think to fight or take flight, they’re onto you, ropes flying, and one circles your neck, and you can’t breathe.

Voices raise, horses bray, and you too cry out, screaming for them to let go, that you can’t breathe. But they keep coming.

Before you know it, before you can even hope for understanding, a horse slams into you, taking your breath right from you, and leaving you to struggle in the dust.

One person, two people, too many people, dismount to leer at you, and to laugh.

To laugh at the pain, fear and bewilderment they cause.

You feel yourself slowly dying, and wilt into the dirt, hopeless.

Maybe it will do good.

Maybe a world cannot function without the decimation of the good at heart.

Maybe freedom can never be permitted by all who are hesitant to pursue it.

But you will not be afraid to grasp for that freedom one more time.

A final rush, and you roll to your feet, feeling the ropes weakening, feeling the faded warmth of the sun on your back. It may be gone, but what it gave to you remains.
Throwing your head up, you snap the rope that holds you to the people.

And you throw yourself forward, galloping off and leaping over the other horses.

You never want to die in conformity for the happiness of others.

There is shouting. Confusion. Loud bangs of weapons that try to stop you.

But you keep running. Faster, and faster, your ears flat back in terror, unsure whether a bite of metal or a singe of rope will strike you down again. To the point where even the thunder of your own footsteps frightens you. The rope that snapped on your escape hangs from your neck, desperate to hold you back.

You won’t let it.

A frenzied, energetic buck soon solves the problem, and you feel lighter than a leaf, your beauty shining upon the glint of the returning sun, but does not dwindle when returning to the ground.

The voices fade. They remain, but not so prominent.

You’re free again.

You showed them that a life is not subject to destruction under their perception of normality.

You might get caught again, not this time, but maybe the next.

But they know now.

They know they cannot destroy you whilst the sun retains it’s shine.

You know, that you live the life of an Inkblack horse called Freedom.

The Perception of Disability In Theatre

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

There are many benefits to being a student these days.  One of those benefits includes having discounted access to some of the best theatre plays touring Britain at present.

I have had the pleasure of seeing many of these productions since I was around twelve years old, starting with nail-biter The Woman in Black, and working my way up to the more complex productions, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet.

All fantastic plays, and a great value for money.

But some of the greatest plays, I think, are the ones which not only rake in younger viewers, but challenge the perception of mental disabilities amongst younger people.

Take both adaptations, firstly Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, and then John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’.

The plays both feature a protagonist with a profound mental disability (Christopher Boone and Lennie Small, respectively), and the emotionally distressing scenes in both are enough to bring the viewer to tears, and to challenge the way in which they view the treatment of those with such impairments.

Mental disability seems to remain a difficult topic in the classroom.  In fact, names of disorders seem to be turning into adjectives of sorts nowadays.

As a student myself, I remain passionate about the treatment of mental disability – say anything offensive, and you’ll have me snapping at you for the weeks to follow.  Be warned.

When I received tickets for The Curious Incident last Christmas, I was impatient to get to the theatre in August.  It was too far away!

After reading the novel, I knew right away that I was going to love the play.  It follows young Christopher Boone, a teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome (on the opposite end of the spectrum to Autism), giving an amazing insight into the mind of an individual’s daily life with the disorder.

Christopher struggles not only with communication, but with the passive attitude of many to his needs and approach to complex issues (like knowing every prime number up to 7,507).

Watching such scenes, including one where Christopher cowers from his mother’s fiancée in fear after being roared at for ignoring his attempts to communicate, not only left me almost hysterical in the middle of the theatre, but also sparked thoughts that perhaps, young people do not realise the damaging impact of their words.

In Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, we saw Irish actor Chris O’ Dowd’s spectacular performance as Lennie Small.  Lennie, despite his name, towers over his best friend George.  He is a hard-working farmhand, and his strength is something to be admired by all.  However, he shows certain characteristics of an individual with autism or severe learning difficulties.

The humiliating and degrading treatment he receives from others left me, again, in tears in the cinema, but this time, I was not the only one.  I saw other young people, who had probably studied the text at school, sobbing at the cruelty and inequality Lennie faces, not to mention his harrowing fate.

This may not be considered a pressing student based topic, but I do believe that it can still be raised in the student environment.

The inequality faced by those with mental impairments or disabilities seems to be ever-present nowadays.  Sometimes I wish that more people could understand the beauty of knowing people with such conditions, not to mention how well they are portrayed in the theatre.

Therefore, the aim of my discussion is not to reprimand or to accuse anyone, but to try to help open the mind.  Watch the plays.  Read the texts.  Understand the needs of the individuals.  Appreciate the beauty of the acting, and the strong emotions they evoke within you.

You never know.  You might just end up being the person that changes the perspective and portrayal of mental disability forever.

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”

  • Erich Maria Remarque

We are all used to talking about the horrors faced by British soldiers during the First World War, and we can automatically sympathise with the brave men who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the trenches from 1914-1918. Though it is rare to hear the story from a German’s perspective.

Erich Maria Remarque’s poignant novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, tells the tale of Paul Baumer, a young man on the brink of adulthood, living in wartime Germany.

Paul enlists to fight, goaded by his pompous schoolmaster to defend the Fatherland. But what he perceives to be a glorious battle couldn’t be further from reality. Upon arrival at the front, Paul and his friends are immediately under fire, with his friend Kemmerich soon in hospital, destined to die.

The loss Paul faces only leaves him open to further heartache. He witnesses innocent boys, some as young as fifteen, dying upon the battlefield, being brutally dismembered and horrifically disfigured before his eyes.

As the novel progresses, we see Paul return to his home on leave. When he enters the door, he cannot help but cry, for his home is no longer there, but at the front with his few remaining friends. Remarque’s stunning portrayal of Paul perfectly encapsulates the fragile mental state faced by many young men returning to their normal lives after the war. He is unable to comprehend his life after armistice, and cannot face even his own mother, as it simply brings him too much pain.

A highlight of the novel would have to be the moment Paul comes face to face with his first kill. As he hides in a crater in No-Man’s Land, he must play dead whilst French soldiers run over his safe haven. It is only when he revives himself that he makes his mistake.

He stabs a French soldier, frightened by his sudden appearance, only to have to watch the man die an extremely slow, agonising death. Paul has never had to face his victims dying before. He becomes increasingly distraught, haunted by the man’s strained breathing and dying cries.

Overcome with guilt, he tries to save the soldier, whispering ‘camerade’ (comrade in French), trying to comfort him in his final moments. The soldier passes away before he can be helped, and the sight of this event further degenerates Paul’s sanity.

Remarque beautifully illustrates the nature of a war-torn soldier here. We see Paul, representative of a young man cruelly corrupted by war, show his capability of empathy for his supposed enemy – a small shred of hope in a world which is effectively crumbling around him.

Put simply, All Quiet on the Western Front is an incredible book, which discusses the long-term psychological damage inflicted upon soldiers – from both sides of the trenches. An emotional, thought-provoking read, this is a book which will stay with you long after you finish the last page.

All Quiet on the Western Front is available from all good bookstores, from £7.99

Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong – Review

“No child or future generation will ever know what this was like.  They will never understand.  When it is over we will go quietly among the living and we will not tell them.  We will talk and sleep and go about our business like human beings.  We will seal what we have seen in the silence of our hearts and no words will reach us.”

Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks’ most successful novel, is a harrowing account of the trials and tribulations of the young men fighting not only the supposed enemy, but their own destroyed psychological system.

A country in which the young Englishman Stephen Wraysford will now sacrifice his youth in exchange for a lifetime of terror and corruption.  Where young men age prematurely and are brutally disfigured, for the moral gain of their leaders.

A country torn by war, only the beginning of the loss of an entire generation.

France, 1910.

We follow Wraysford, from his initial arrival in France to analyse the textiles industry, to his intimate love affair with his guardian René Azaire’s wife, Isabelle, and finally, his hellish experience at the front.

A young man, Stephen is innocent, and upon arrival at the Azaire mansion, is entranced by the beauty of Isabelle.  She at first attempts to ignore her mutual feelings towards him, but this fails.

The pair develop an intense passion for one another, and commit adulterous acts behind René’s back.  Stephen, confident that Isabelle loves him, is unfazed by the potential for the husband’s revenge.

Upon his discovery of the affair, the leader of the Azaire household demands they leave his home, bellowing that Stephen will go to hell for his acts.  This comment barely affects Stephen in his current state, but becomes a gross understatement of the horrors the boy is sure to face in a short while.

France, 1915.

Wraysford, who has matured dramatically, can be found on the battlefields along the Western Front, where he has advanced to the status of Captain.

Throughout this time, he has endured some of the bloodiest events in the conflict, from slaughtering German soldiers to rescuing the decapitated corpses of his former comrades.  He mentions his progression from a young boy, to an old man in an adolescent’s body.

The highlights of this tragic novel are never-ending.  There are multiple points where, as a reader, one will have to put the book down to cry in sorrow at the dreadful experiences of so many young men.

But the scene which really tugs at the heartstrings is that of Stephen’s comrade, Brennan.  A young Irish man, who seems to suffer the utmost devastation of the war.

Brennan is unable to locate his brother upon his return from No Man’s Land, and his frenzied attempts to find something that remains only demonstrates the fragility of his mind at this point.

Stephen watches as his fellow soldier locates the body of his younger brother, unable to comprehend the emotions which course through his veins.  He listens as Brennan does not cry, but softly sings Irish songs to the headless corpse, his mind numbed to the point of no return.

Birdsong is, overall, a poignant and emotional novel, and Faulks’ intricate use of both symbolism and characterisation portrays the psychological degradation imposed upon soldiers from all countries involved in the bloodiest, most devastating conflict in history – the First World War.

The Tactile Lover

I know she is watching.

She waits there, for me to speak, for me to ache for her approach.

The floorboards creak softly under her footsteps, her soles softer than silk.  Closer.  Closer.

My arms reach out, hands grasping at nothing, to find her.

A hand.  Both hands.  So delicate and smooth, but so fragile and cool.  Thumbs pressing, blood pulsing, massaging my palms, her touch consoles me.

In the dark, she is my light.

“I am here.  And my love for you is strong.”

A voice of a heavenly being, like butter on the tongue.  Sweet, and melting the heart.

Her hands squeeze, and I release one to touch her face.  I stroke, gently, what I presume to be her cheek.

A warm palm on the back of my hand, delicate fingers tracing the veins, feeling the rush of blood just under the skin.

“My handsome boy…” she whispers, caressing my hair, which I imagine to be dark and soft.

I cannot help myself.  I hold her, whimpering like a pathetic puppy.  Guiding her wrists, I plead her to do it again, for me to feel the sense of reality in a world of discombobulation.

Her fingertips massage the scalp, relaxing and stroking the hair, before her lips touch my forehead.

In the storm, she is my calm.

I try to force myself awake from a never-ending trance, but I cannot succeed.

“Maria…”

A small sigh, and the feeling of helplessness intensifies.  She looks, searching through the fog to no avail.  I turn my head in shame.  I cannot bear to face the humiliation.

A hand, on my chest, rising with each breath, popping buttons and opening the crisp shirt, until the last one gives way.

My head lowers, in confusion.

Why does she still wish to touch me?

“My boy is so beautiful…”

A sensation of skin upon skin, trailing from my neck down.  She lingers at the stomach, stroking, tracing the muscles.

“So strong, so gentle and kind.”

A rush of warmth, not least to my cheeks, and I know that I blush.

I pant, reaching for her, but cannot hold anything.  My fingers touch nought but emptiness.  Searching for meaning in an endless void.

And she will rescue me.

She holds my wrists, guiding my hands to her body.  I feel the curve of her hips, the supple flesh of her stomach.

I need not my sight to know that she is divinely beautiful.

A light weight in my lap, and her warmth is just inches away.  Her hand sneaks inside my shirt, rubbing my chest, making me shudder in guilty pleasure.

On my neck, she strokes the tense muscle, feeling the pulse of my circulation, the blood rushing through my body.  I feel too warm, but it can be ignored.

My hand is guided once again, and placed upon skin, to feel the beating of her heart.  I lower my head, not quite staring towards it, feeling the strength of the pulse.

“My dear boy…”

I feel her breath on my lips, and the warmth as they connect with that of my woman.  Only then can I feel equal.

I run my fingers through her hair, holding her in our kiss.  My tongue glides along her own, and I know that she intends to be mine.

In my blindness, she is my eyes.

Less Than A Man

To be of homosexual nature, or to have such preferences, is rather something of an outrage in these times.

Society expects you to live a life extracted from the pages of a textbook, to abide by words in ink which  never seems to fade, to smother your inner being and forget your true desires.

Do humans function in a way that we cannot comprehend our own fate through the absence of a conscience, like that of a dog, a cow, a lamb to the slaughter?

We are an example to our children, and their predecessors.  We show them what it is to live a normal, satisfactory life.  Teach them the rights and the wrongs, the birds and the bees, and the things which are nowadays deemed as socially acceptable.

So why is it that we do not teach them to embrace differences?

They do not allow their children to engage with a homosexual man or woman, this lies within the petty myth that we set a bad example – we go against the will of God, we commit our sins and we corrupt.

Sometimes I believe that human compassion ceases to exist.

In this sense, we cannot be differentiated from animals, or mere objects.

They argue that they teach their children to love, but it is easy to see the cracks in one’s facade.  A homosexual, when caught, becomes equivalent to a criminal, and said criminal must then learn to adjust to his new surroundings in a world where he is hated for no real reason but that of which is his diverse approach to love.

We have tried to love those that we were told to love, but how may one truly portray their feelings when they are being suffocated of their freedom to choose?  Is it not our ability to choose which makes us human, and brings us infinite psychological pain?

It never fails to amaze one’s self when they hear of the hardship of their kind.  A man may be a doctor, a teacher, a celebrity of sorts, but one confession can see their career and their reputation come crumbling to the floor around them.  The man who created the antidote to your previously incurable illness a while back, he becomes a monster.  The woman who taught your child to read and write, she is now an animal.

What, one may ask, is the way to cleanse the world of this sickness, this disease?

To shun us.

To chemically castrate gay men, to emasculate them and strip them of the barely existent dignity that they may have had.  To shun the women, talk to them like that selfish, inconvenient piece of dirt on the bottom of your shoe.  To kick us to the gutter and teach your child to mock us.

And we may hardly call the human race better.

The foundations of a self-proclaimed “nurturing” society begin to crumble.

We begin to doubt the meaning of existence in the first place.

Why live when you cannot thrive, cannot love what is natural, and have your love treated as though it can be surgically removed?

The world will weep when it sees the prejudice the people have brought upon it.