Friday, November 23, 2007


The Blues Is Alright, & Magnum

Last weekend was action packed! On Friday I ventured to the Shpeherds Bush Empire for an evening of blues with Gary Moore. My 220 bus got stuck in traffic and when we got to Shepherds Bush, the driver decided to terminate the service there much to the annoyance of other travellers. None to me as I was where I wanted to be. I saw the first half hour of the dull England friendly in Austria, which was enough to see Owen get injured before getting to the venue and cementing my usual place on the left just in front of the bar. Mr Moore did a good show, similar to his set here a few months ago. Strangely the house lights got turned on after the end of his first encore ‘The Blues Is Alright’ which featured Otis Taylor on harmonica, which led to several people leaving before he returned for Parisienne Walkways. This meant I and a very nice girl called Corinne who I met earlier on at the gig were able to get very near the front for the final number. I decided not to make a bet with her as to how long the note would last in the final verse which is something I would probably do in male company. Alas she was heading back to Plymouth where she lives so unlikely that we’ll bump into each other again, which is a shame.
Saturday, me and a few friends did a good crawl of Tottenham Court Road and Holborn. Hopefully Dr Lovegrove will write it up on his site that is linked, if he gets round to fixing a few bugs. Highlights were for me sitting beneath the stairs in Bradleys and the coloured barmaid in the Intrepid Fox. Also the fact the Bloomsbury did Oranjeboom and whilst in here we learned that Israel beat Russia handing England a lifeline. As always with Holborn we ended up in the Polish bar and feeling rough the next day.
Sunday I was back up in the same area for Magnum. An awful rainy evening we got fairly wet as we did a mini crawl of North Picadilly / Soho before getting a quick eat. My brother went to MacDonalds where we saw Thunders drummer ‘Arry James in a Palace scarf. He confirmed he was only up here for the beers. We then had a quick pint in the Intrepid Fox, we went into what is now known again as The Astoria 2. (Good for the pub count!). We were ecstatic to see they now serve Tuborg in cans here, not so much when we saw they were £3.20. Magnum did two sets, the first one a best of, with five from their excellent Princess Alice album and the second playing the whole of their classic ‘Wings Of Heaven’ album. There was not a duff track here, and when you hear ‘Start Talking Love’ and ‘Don’t Wake the Lion’ live for the first time in years you wonder why they have been dropped from their normal shows. The gig, which was recorded for a live release next year, ended with an elongated ‘Sacred Hour’ showcasing Mark Stanways keyboard talents no end. A great show from a great band.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Sonata Artica / Epica Camden 12.11.07.

Been a long time since I visited the Electric Ballroom in Camden which I did on Monday for a double bill of Euro Metal. For two fairly obscure bands I was surprised to see the gig sell out and it was heaving. The lay out of the venue made it impossible for me to get my usual space down the front on the left so I had to settle for a view halfway back on the right. There were several rock and goth chicks about, and an incredible tattooed barmaid who looked fantastic, even with three studs pierced through her bottom lip!
Epica are a dutch band with the lovely Simone Simons on vocals. They fuse female operatic vocals with a heavy music a male gravel growl voice. It works well too! They played for forty five minutes with a set based around their latest album the Divine Conspiracy. Lots of synchronised head banging and hair flying around they were very enjoyable.
Sonata Artica are a Finnish band playing their first ever British show. Again lots of headbanging, but also stuff the audience could singalong to, the highlight being a song called Full Moon. They opened the encore by covering We Will Rock You, which was good and kept the crowd ‘up’ before they ended with a song called The Cage. A really entertaining rock evening had, despite not being familiar with the material played!

SA Set - In Black And White / Paid In Full / Victoria's Secret / Broken / 8th Commandment / Tallulah / FullMoon / Caleb / Black Sheep / It Won't Fade / Graven image / San Sebastian //// We Will Rock You / My Land / Dont Say A Word / The Cage

Wednesday, November 14, 2007



So a difficult week last week. As probably expected our dog passed away last Tuesday. She was a lovely pet and I will miss her very much when I next go down to visit my parents. Southampton have been playing shockingly bad! Not sure what’s going on down there. However, on a plus side my antibiotics finally kicked in though, and hopefully I am now over the worse of my illness. This meant I could enjoy a trip to Southend on Friday. An afternoon of pubs followed by Status Quo at the Cliffs Pavillion.
The first pub was O’Neills by the station. An ok chain, with a person wearing a really ridiculous hat. The Townhouse was next where a game of pool was had and also McEwans lager on tap. This was actually alright though imagine it could get a bit rough later on. After some pleasant chips, we headed down to the sea front and went in the Liberty Bell, a large pub with a sixties feel to it. Another game of pool was played here. The Cornupica claims to be the smallest pub in Essex but it really wasn’t that small. It reminded me of one of those pubs in Brighton. The landlord/barman was well dressed looking like the Derby manager Billy Davies. Also it was a real ale pub with Camras news letter being displayed. A walk back to the venue saw us stop at the Sun Rooms with a ridiculously high bar. However it did have Red Stripe on tap. El Vicolinos was a wine bar restaurant with an emphasis on the bar part. I think we had Kronenberg in here. Also, a man with a very big beard was standing at the end of the bar. We then went in the ‘scream’ student pub called The Alex. Here we were stupendous on the quiz machine which kept us in beer for the rest of the evening. The Hamlet Court was the final pub before the gig, a spacious pub that was fairly pleasant. As for Quo, a good gig, but disappointing in that besides two new songs it almost identical as when we have seen them a few times over the last three years or so. Quite why they aren’t adventurous enough to try a few other tracks I don’t know, especially considering the 40 year age depth of material in their back catalogue.
Good news heard today. Paramore are back touring in February with a Friday night gig at Brixton. One not to be missed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Bad Week

Those ‘friends’ I have on facebook know I am upset about everything at the moment. Frankly, it has been a hideous week where Saturdays last minute defeat to Charlton is the least of it. It started badly with a recurrence of me being quite ill. Vomiting, fever, pins and needles, resulted in more tests and antibiotics. However as I write this I feel that I am recovering. Also this week my dad was in hospital and each time he looked like coming out, he didn’t. Finally, it doesn’t look like the family dog has long left. This is perhaps most traumatic as she has been with my parents for over a third of my life. All this necessitated in a trip to Dorset at the weekend, where Dad was finally released on the Sunday, and I could a huge fuss of our pet. It puts other things like "girls I like" ignoring me and football low on my hypothetical list of bugbears.

To cheer myself up on Saturday I had a bit of a splurge and bought two Buffy books. Both graphic novels. Omnibus volume 1, is a collection of stories taking place before the TV series started including an excellent origin story. The second, is Joss Whedon’s official season eight, which is what would have happened had the series not been cancelled. Originally released in monthly instalments, this is part one covering the first five ‘episodes’. Haven’t started it but as it is written by Buffy’s creator and is ‘official’ and I am looking forward to it.

A few remaining gigs of the year to attend. Sonarta Artica and Epica should be a very heavy night out as in metal. It’s back to the blues with Gary Moore and have lined up The Pigoen Detectives amongst the indie stuff which also includes Shed Seven’s reformation. Finally my brother & I have decided on another trip to Nottingham for Thunder’s Annual Christmas Show at Rock City. This always seems to be a good show, full of covers, obscure Thunder stuff and some of their classics. I’m sure there are a few others I’ve missed too, Magnum immediately springs to mind!

Monday, November 05, 2007


Carter USM - Brixton Academy 2.11.07.

My song-writing and bandmanship owe a lot to Carter USM. Sulphur have covered their ‘The Only Living Boy in New Cross’ and Carter cover The Inspiral Carpets ‘This Is How It Feels’ which was a staple of a Sulphur set. Also if I play solo then I do occasionally throw in Carters ‘Born On The 5th November’. Another parallel is that both bands often appear as a duo, though I must admit, now, it is unlikely that Sulphur will sell out the Brixton Academy upon a reformation gig.
Here, Carter appeared just how they started off many years ago, with just the two of them and a drum machine/keyboard backing tape. At times this reduced them to just karaoke, ‘England’, with just Jimbob singing alone on stage, being a prime example, which did not make stage viewing that great. However, with a good combination of videos and lighting, when both were on stage together with the atmosphere of the crowd, most of whom had not seen them for over a decade the performance was far from stale. A lot of this is due to the fact their songs are very very good. All bouncy with singalong chorus highlighted by ‘Do Re Me So Far So Good’ and ‘After The Watershed’ with the Ruby Tuesday chorus. ‘Bloodsport For All’ transcends into a Gary Glitter coda, written a few years before Oasis did the same trick and ‘Glam Rock Cops’ nods his head to The Sweeney and Professionals theme tunes. The set had enough singles to keep the casual fan happy together with the more obscure tracks such as ‘The Music That Nobody Likes’ and ‘Rent’ keeping the diehards happy. It was slightly disappointing that the set was a bit too nostalgic with nothing post 1995 being played but to celebrate 20 years of Jimbob and Fruitbat it pleased most people. It remains to be seen whether this and their Glasgow show a week before are one-offs or a lead up to something more permanent.
Interestingly, as I am not drinking at the moment, Fruitbat in the encore had his first alcohol for seven months, downing a can of lager, responding by saying ‘that’s nice!’. Least when I start again next week, my abstinence will probably be nearer seven days than months!
Set - Surfin USM / Everytime A Churchbell Rings / My Second To Last Will And Testament / Say It With Flowers / Rubbish / Billys Smart Circus / Taking Of Peckham 1-2-3 / Do Re Me So Far So Good / This Is How It Feels / Anytime Anyplace Anywhere / The Only Living Boy In New Cross / Prince In A Paupers Grave / Shoppers Paradise / After The Watershed / RSPCE / Glam Rock Cops / Lean On Me I Won’t Fall Over / The Impossible Dream / Bloodsport For All / The Music Nobody Likes / A Perfect Day To Drop The Bomb ////////
England / A Sheltered Life / Rent / Sheriff Fatman / GI Blues

Friday, November 02, 2007


McQueen, Halloween at the Barfly

Starting with The Runaways and Girlschool there have been many all girl rock groups over the last couple of decades. Very few make a success of it. In the last few years I have seen Phantom Blue, Fluffy and Twist and whereas they may not have played the biggest venues all of them have been frankly worth it. (interpret that how you will). Rock chicks playing instruments always work!
McQueen are the latest to the list and On Wednesday I saw them for their Halloween special at the Barfly. As if to give them a seal of approval, Denise & Jackie from Girlschool were in attendance as was journalist Dave Ling. Guitarist, Cat De Casanove, looked gorgeous and greeted me on the arrival to the venue, tearing my ticket and handing the stub back as a ‘memento’ as my hand was stamped by the door crew. The show was all out rock from the beginning, with singer Leah Duors dressed in a witches hat. She probably wore far too much eye shadow and swore far too much, but certainly looked the witch. The bass player, Gina, was far too much in the shadows alas but the drummer did come to the microphone at the front for a few words. Musically, highlights for me, were the title track from their album, ‘Break The Silence’ and ‘Neurotic’ where Cat certainly showed her guitar prowess.
A final thought, the band accepted some shots as a Halloween treat from a member of the audience without knowing what is was. It could have been anything or should I just get my mind out of the gutter! Dont accept drinks from strangers!


Three gigs in four days.

After working in a more southerley office for most of the week, I return home for a very busy four days. Thursday I was at Cadogan Hall for Suzanne Vega. A poncey place if ever there was (£3-50 a bottle of Peroni) it was a cross between a church and a local theatre. This was the first time for a while I had seen Ms Vega with a full band and whereas her set probably had too many new songs in it, we did get most of her associated hits including both versions of Toms Diner. Incidentally her new album returns to her writing about living in New York as per this classic. She did Blood Makes Noise and Left Of Center only accompanied by her bass player who managed an industrial sound not unlike the record of the former.

Friday we ventured to Brixton for The Twang. Having got down the front for the support, Little Man Tate, a Chasndave esque Artic Monkeys type band, my friend says that it won’t be a moshy gig. How wrong was this assumption? Very. Big mosh, a couple of fights and lots of stewards through water over you!
To be honest I wasn’t impressed with Little Man Tate. If you are singing about real life at least do it with a bit of irony. There are too many bands trying to be the Artics at the moment, and that genre isn’t great to start with. Actually when I really think about it they were pretty dire, with the singer a smug git! The Twang on the other hand are a little different to draw an absolute comparison, a rocky Streets maybe. Bravely, they put ‘Either Way’ early on in the set and got away with it. Other highlights were ‘Two Lovers’ & ‘Push The Ghosts’. Before the gig we found a great place in Balham to drink called the Balham Bowls Club. It is an old Bowling Club Pavilion that has been refurbished into a very nice pub, with a gastro bit at the back. Bitburger and Cruzcampo were among the choices on draft. Very good, and imagine we shall be back at some stage.

After a trip to Cardiff to see a friend, I managed to get back to the Shepherds Bush Empire to see Ian Hunter, the lead vocalist of Mott The Hoople. His latest album, Shrunken Heads is pretty good and whilst doing a few tracks from that, including the great ‘World Was Round’ opening the encore, he played a great selection of Hoople classics. He ended with ‘All The Young Dudes’ with two other Mott members on stage as well as Jeese Malin, Tracie Hunter and the late Mick Ronson’s wife.

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