Thursday, March 30, 2006


Wednesday 29.3.06 - Ginger & The Sonic Circus

Had a half day at work today for me and Andy to have our overdue best of 35 pool championship. Having made a solid start having never been behind in the first ten frames, I started to flag a bit and eventually lost 18-12. Andy won the final frame by potting the black by coming off a cushion to get out of a snooker. A couple of beers later it was only six o'clock so I decided to head up to town to see if I could get to the Ginger and Sonic Circus gig at the Academy in Islington.
Tickets were availiable and were £16 on the door. I entered at half eight just in time to see the support, The Cardiacs, who were Tim Smith with Ginger and Random on guitars. They were bizarre, with songs about goblins and various prog rubbish. At least they were on on stage 30 minutes, although 30 minutes of my life I won't get back as their singer Tim Smith said.
Ginger (ex leader of the Wildhearts) came on about twenty past nine and did a two hour set of proper rock music. His band had nine musicians including Vix (ex-Fuzzbox singer) on backing vocals. Surprisingly she still looks fab!
The set was mainly from his new album with highlights being Drinking In The Daytime, My Friend The Enemy and Bulb. There was also some good banter from Ginger with the crowd and despite being geordie you could actually understand him! The encores provided two excellent covers, Boys Keep Swinging from Bowie and Elvis Costellos Pump It Up. The show ended with The Wildhearts classic 29x The Pain, where the band were also joined on stage by body piercers The Psychotic Cyborgs. Can't really see the point really of sticking metal through your skin in public. Thankfully by this time I had positioned myself by the exit to ensure I managed to get the tube back to Morden. Despite this pointless guest appearance, the show was good modern rocknroll, being melodic and tuneful in the classic rock fashion, much as one would expect. Hopefully Gingers solo career, mainly being spread via the internet, will continue to rise. It has so much already, he is apparently headlining a tent at the download festival! (although sensibly this doesn't appeal to me!)
The audience had a few rock chicks in attendence, always a good thing, and also the normal hairy metal fans. However, it was quite diverse with some normal people there too of all ages from 16 to 40 meaning this sort of music is not only for rock lovers!
My giging life however gets heavier on Friday this week though with the Priest! Let's Rock!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Heather Nova, Cabot Hall 22.3.06

Heather Nova is one of my favourite artists who is a 'must-see' whenever she plays locally. Her music involves sudden changes of volume, her voice as its own instrument and moments when you can get totally lost. Unfortunately in recent times she hasn't really hit the heights of the period 1995-99. There are a number of reasons, her celloist Nadia hurt her arm couldn't play a full set anymore and wasn't replaced, and Heather's more recent studio albums have been patchy with South being sub-standard at best and Storm a good but mellow acoustic album in a change of direction. Her latest album Redbird is back on the right track but still had a few misses on there. This show was to be slightly different though with her band stripped down to a three piece with Heather on guitar, Fiona Pears on violin and Ian Tilley on piano. It opened with the latter two doing two instrumentals highlighting Fiona's obvious ability. Third song in Heather comes on stage and launches into Gloomy Sunday, a jazz standard done by people like Billie Holliday. A track form Storm followed and although all very pleasant I was prepared to be disappointed in the mellow tone that was being set. However, I miss my Sky from the last album was next and the interplay between Heather's voice and the violin started to become prominent. After another new one, we get Heal from the classic Oyster album. This was fantastic and reminiscent of the old days. Amazing how such a heavy sound could be produced from just three musicians. After the lovely Papercup we had another surprise with Mothertongue form her first album. Again the heaviness of the track came out although I'm not sure the majority of the audience appreciated it or expected something like that. It then went a bit more acoustic and it was only when Winterblue kicked in we returned to the kind of music Heather is the best at. The first half of the set closed with All I Need, one of the more up tempo songs on Storm.
After a break, and another two songs from Fiona and Ian, Heather took to the stage alone and read a poem over her own loop which she created just before. This went straight into the rarely played Avalanche, a song I'd forgotton how tuneful it was. After a short solo set, the other two returned for the B-side Water From Wine which again highlighted how much we've missed Heather previously without a string accompaniment. Unfortunately after this the set seemed to lose its way with some more light acoustic songs sandwiched around a fairly poor version of Walk This World which was the only one of the set that didn't really fit round the violin. Certainly its a song that does need a hard bassline that was missing here. After a song called What A Feeling, (not a classic) she encored with a lullaby she wrote for her baby son called the Sun Will Always Rise, nice but a bit warbly, and Neil Youngs Like A Hurricane which again was pleasant.
All in all a very good show but again by a question of what might have been. As a regular attendee it was good to hear songs she hasn't played previously or for a long time, but a shame she missed her usual classics of London Rain, Heart & Shoulder, Doubled Up etc. Overall an 8 out of 10.
Once again though it was the typical mixed crowd for Heather, some of whom no doubt want the nice quiet songs and some who want the more rocky stuff. It is a difficult position when you need to get a balance right. Considering the front half of the venue was seated at tables then maybe something like Mothertongue was lost of them and conversely something like Done Drifting lost on the standing element. Ideally next tour will be with a full band but hopefully with a string accompaniment, something Fiona Pears on this showing is more than capable of.
At the end of the show I purchased Heathers CD of poems set to Ambient music based on her book the Sorrowjoy. Will be interesting if like the one read last night.

Set One - Memories of Martin & Helen / Magic Sense / Gloomy Sunday / You Left Me A Song / I miss My Sky / This Body / Heal / Papercup / Mothertongue / Motherland / Done Drifting / Winterblue / All I Need
Set Two - Turkish Fantasy / Dark Eyes / Poem - Blood And Bad Rose / Avalanche / These Walls / Storm / Water From Wine / Fool For You / I'm Alive / Walk This World / Walking Higher / What A Feeling ///////// The Sun Will Always Rise / Like A Hurricane

Monday, March 20, 2006


Patala, Bedford Arms Balham 16.3.06

Another free gig this time to see a band project involving the very lovely Frances Ruffelle and Sam Bonner. Patala were promoting their album Purify and choose the Bedford Arms in which to do this. The Bedford has regular music nights and the format for Thursdays is that five or six acts all do two songs for the first half followed by another two after the interval. Tonight was different in that Patala would end the first half with a 20 minute set and not reappear in the second half. Due to some misinformation on the Bedford website (which said doors 7.30pm) I arrived a 7.50 whilst Patala were soundchecking. This in itself was quite interesting to watch. The actual performances don't start till nine but I amused myself with a beer and people watching which included a few fit women! Most of the audience though knew one of the artists performing and each artist had their own reserved table meaning I had to stand at the back with a couple of other random folk.
The first act on were Serese, best described as three Indian girls trying to be the new Sugababes. Good voices, but only one of them was attractive in my opinion (Anu) although Mandip did stand next to me alone for one of the next acts. Pleasant musically but not really poppy enough for me. A chap with a birdnest hairstyle was next called Aaron Norton. Just him and a guitar and unfortunately for him made a bit of a Muppet of himself by breaking a string. Apparently you can't play the guitar if one string is broke and five remain in tact so he finished his song acapella. After a minute gap whilst he was waiting for a replacement guitar (and failing to tell a joke) he started the next song acapella. As soon as he started it the guitar turned up and despite only playing one note he decided it was out of tune. Come on. improvise! Both songs were sung in tune but too slow boring and bland.
A band formerly known as The Michael Kintish Band but currently without a name were next and I thought they were excellent. Quite rocky, seemingly Britpop inspired a barstaff member did rename them as the rocking accountants as two members wore specs. The only downside is that Micheal (singer and presumably writer) plays the keyboards. A lot of wannabe artists do and seem quite good but I can't think of many bands who become really popular have a 'leader' on the keys.
Artist number 4 was Dan Lock. A pretty blond lad who could be in Blue for all I know. Again a pianist with a mate on guitar. Ok but again forgettable. The last 'support' was Evon Brennan with her huge Afro hair. A slow piano style she had a very good voice but again all a bit background for my tastes. Finally at just before ten Patala came on. A very ambient sound with the words sung in Sanscript sounds bizarre but it certainly works. There was a fantastic bongo player in the band (Have you ever seen a poor bongo man?) and this maintained an up tempo rhythm throughout. Frances is an excellent vocalist and this environment really suited her. Very good and will have to check the album out soon. At twenty past ten there was going to be an interval before acts 1-5 did another two songs I decided, as I had seen who I wanted to in full, to miss out and catch the 10.30 train home.
As an aside I was moaning earlier this week about lack of attractive barmaids this year. This was corrected at the Bedford, although it wasn't the same one spotted last year alas. Also, I was disappointed to see Frances partner there who looks like he should be on Hollyoaks!

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Thunder at The Hard Rock Cafe 15.3.06

Thunder, the south London rockers according to Time Out, did a one off acoustic show at Mayfair's Hard Rock Cafe last night. Having failed to get on the guest list we decided to queue early and having turned up at six found ourselves second in the queue. An hour later we were in the basement area of the building confronted of having to pay £3.25 for a pint of Fosters. A few recognizable Thunder followers were in the audience (including Guildford's rock chick!) and after a pleasant but not very memorable set by two of The Ryes, the band waded through the crowd and took the stage. Being acoustic it obviously wasn't the most rocky sound but good to hear songs in a different style. Interestingly only half of the eight songs were played on the last tour. Danny, the singer was in a jovial mood accepting drinks from the audience and as always, encouraging participation. Luke's guitar playing was very good too, despite the distinct possibility he had been in the pub for a few hours beforehand as he passed us queuing up exiting the venue. They ended with 'I Love You More Than Rockn'Roll' which perhaps was the only one that didn't work in the acoustic environment. A short set allowed time for a mini pub crawl of Shepherd's Market an area I'm told, reknown for working girls. A bizarre sight in the King's Arms saw a possible girl refused three successive £10 notes by the barman as she bought a round for two elder gentlemen. Surprinsingly he said her £50 note was ok!

Set - Stand Up / Amy's On The Run / I'm Dreaming Again / Higher Ground / River Of Pain / Lowlife In High Places / Everybody Wants Her / I Love You More Than RocknRoll


Latest Happenings

First post for a while. So what have I been up to? Well having moved to the other side of Sutton not a lot. Still retaining my Cheam connections though having been to the Claret for the Arsenal Liverpool game. Alas the Carlsberg has gone up by 5p to £2.55. Haven't even checked out the new localish pubs yet either. However, one I can't go to is the Victory which is now boarded up!
Went to Crewe Saints game Saturday which was good fun. Their ground on three sides is no bigger than Gander Green Lane. Handy for the station with numerous (allbeit not that great) pubs too! Do have a few gigs to go to soon which will be written up here.
On the pub front I have just broken the 100 mark, although am well down on last year. A disappointing year on the bar maid front too with no stunners to recall. Hopefully there'll be a change soon.
Might go and see the remake of the Pink Panther next week although not sure if it'll compare to the Peter Sellars classics. We shall see.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Louis XIV, The Scala Kings Cross 28.2.06

American 'cult' band Louis XIV were the next new band for me to run the rule over at the Scala on a Tuesday night. Having a day off as I moved home, we started early with a couple of pints in Wimbledon before getting on a train & tube to Kings Cross. We started to look for a semi-legendry place called the Flying Scotsman which has regular strippers. However after walking up Caledoninan Road we could not find it and ended up in a place called Dun A Ri Bar. This was a strange place which reminded me of a school hall with a bar down the side. Bit smoky too. Walking back towards the venue we saw what appeared to be a boarded up place but had a side door and blackboard advertising the Flying Scotsman! In we entered and stayed for two quality dances including one to Bryan Adams 'If you want to be bad...' song. Alas time was against us (albeit it was only seven but a female was about to join us) Leaving the strippers we pass the venue to see what time the band were on (a late 9.40pm) and head to the Carpenters Arms. A place that still serves Double Diamond under the name DD. Also has Toby on draught. A very nice locals. The DD was as you'd remember. Now only to find a place that does Skol or Hofmeister! Swintons was not that place, but did have an impressive selection of lager on tap including Red Stripe and Pilsner Urquell. Finally we went to the Sports pub the Lucas Arms before heading to the gig itself.
Louis XIV aren't the poster type group. Their bassist had a full beard and black cowboy hat and singer/guitarist drinking red wine out of the bottle was not exactly handsome. However their music was a fairly classic rock mould. Their opening song had a near identical riff to Quo's Rain and throughout the set their were touches of Zepplin, AC/DC and Sknyrd. They did try to make it a bit funky and dancey too much occasionally but overall they were entertaining. Only disappointment was that there were no covers (or not that I recognised). Excellent value though for a tenner and good journey home on the direct Thameslink service to Sutton.

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