Gig Review – Ruts DC – Chris Pope – The Duel – The Garage Islington 101223

In a cave on a desolate planet beyond the furthest reaches of the known universe something stirs…

Suddenly… beep! FFFSSSHHH!!! Fizz! Pop… Buzzzzz Whirr! 
Holographic AI EiTC (HAIE) materializes into view and begins mumbling to itself…

“S’pose I better wake ‘im up then!” He cranks a lever on the cryogenic capsule which lights up and emits a low humming sound before the glass doors slide open with a smooth low hiss… 
Out steps In Real Life EiTC (IRLE) and the following conversation ensues…
IRLE “What the bleedin’ ‘ells goin’ on?”
HAIE “You told me to wake you up in December for the Ruts DC!”
IRLE “Blimey is that the time already? Put the kettle on then…”
HAIE “Yeah alright!”

The following transcripts may or may not be based on actual events…

Hello EiTC here. So, it’s been a while since I last dusted off the Quill but Ruts DC are in town and that’s always a good enough reason…

In this modern age of technology running wild and self-serving soulless fakers running the show, it’s good to have some link to hope, humanity and humour. Ruts DC provide!

Having made my way back to Earth landing somewhere in the vicinity of Clapham South, the trajectory went downwards, undergroundwards and didn’t come upwards again until the vicinity had changed to Highbury and Islington. From whence minimal footfall ended the journey and entrance was granted…

Up first, The Duel…

The Duel are in a process of continual evolution and the current stage is working very well. There is a good contrast of material from light and dark poppy textures, through to more uptempo punky rockers. With a strong sense of melody infused throughout.

On the subject of textures; there was a tangible textural change when Tara donned her Stratocaster creating a nice contrast to Paul’s Humbuckers.

Their convincing stage presence captured the attention of and continually engaged the rapidly growing crowd

Fab!

Next up Chris Pope…

Chris Pope donned his acoustic guitar and stepped out in front of the crowd like a greatly less disheveled Bob Dylan.

His delivery was strong and well received, the crowd were engaged and enjoying Chris’s set.

Not having any better reference point, at times I was put in mind of both Paul Weller and Billy Bragg.

Good stuff!

On to the show…

Magic…

Nicely warmed up, there was electricity in the air, as the crowd anticipated the main event.

Enter stage left: Ruffy, Segs and Leigh – Boom!

Here we go…

Segs and Leigh were highly animated up front where the whole stage was covered by this pair with their gesticulating, strutting, gurning, rocking brilliance.

Underpinning them at the back, still waters ran deep, as Mr. Ruffy gave a master class in cool precision with even more brilliance.

The set twisted and turned with the contrasts we expect of Ruts DC/Ruts material. A great mix of both old and new with a good number of songs from the most recent album – Counterculture.

The crowd lapped up each last morsel. And seemed to enjoy every moment. It almost felt as though sum of the band and crowd doing their respective thing together was greater than the sum of their constituent parts. And whilst we’re on the subject of the crowd – there was a real sense of camaraderie as they danced and leapt around gleefully in celebration of the band and one another.

At one point, I turned to my left and there was Jona Lewie standing next to me totally absorbed and loving the band – we had a quick chat and were in agreement about the brilliance of Ruts DC

As awesome as ever it should be, Jah War tonight included a dedication to Benjamin Zephaniah.

After a brilliantly psychedelic mid section In A Rut broke down to Dirty Old Town as a mark of respect for the recently departed Shane MacGowan. Blinding!

All too soon it was all Babylon’s Burning and bye…

Eventually returning for an encore, Segs paid tribute to Sinead O’Conner and Geordie from Killing joke. And gave some inspirational words about the state of society and the need for us to look out for each other – People Unite!

Brilliant!

Ruts DC get my vote every time…

The gettings always good but get ‘em anyway! Right now on tour accross the nation – be quick!

https://rutsdc.com/shows

Over…

EiTC

Words and Images Matthew Elvis Brown

Bonus:

Ruts DC Club 85 Hitchin 20th May 2023

Blimey! It’s been a while…
Ok, let’s get this gig review stuff out of the way:
A charming band paid tribute to a charming man in the middle section of a charming song at a charming gig in a charming town…
Done and done!
Rebel Music Punk Rock Taxi

It’s very easy to lose your way in this life.

It’s very easy to lose faith in this life.

To give in to the cynicism 

To feel oppressed by an uncaring society based on greed and selfishness…

But all is not lost

You are not alone

There are others out there who give a shit

Good people who embrace positivity

And restore your faith in humanity…

You may well think WTF, isn’t this a gig review?

Well, yes and no!

Ruts DC embody the spirit of the aforementioned good people.

Ruts DC give a shit!

They create an atmosphere of positivity, inclusivity, fun and downright decency.

All while being fully in control and keeping it real.

But what of the songs?

Well, let’s talk about the whole, rather than its constituent parts!

There is not a beat out of place with their exquisitely delivered and perfectly executed performance of their homegrown brand of Punk/Rock/Reggae/Pop/No Nonsense/Rebel Music.

A perfect night out.

Miss them at your peril!

Over…

EiTC.

Words: Matthew Elvis Brown.

Pictures: Gill Baglady (DoOM).

Bonus:

Ruts DC – Camden Jazz Cafe – 070821

(Buzz… Crackle… Whir…)

(Voice in background) Oh Blimey!

(Oscillating high pitch whine interspersed with white noise…)

(Background voice becomes more prominent) Hold on… got it! Just need to connect the interdimensional sub space relays… …And…

(Loud whooshing sound followed by a beep…)
(Voice in foreground) …Resume transmission…

Continuing notes to home from alternate dimension…

We’ve seen something of an improvement in the last few days as green shoots of hope continue to offer promise of better days to come…

Our journey tonight led us to a gathering of more souls dipping a tentative toe in the waters of witnessing a live musical performance in a three-dimensional enclosed space…

Arriving Camden, following a quick call in to the Temple of Seitan for sustenance, it was destination Jazz Café. Wherein a cordial greeting was proffered from a familiar friendly face in the form of Leigh Heggarty. A quick scout around the venue revealed a healthy attendance of like minds in search of musical nourishment. The tasteful Dub sounds emanating from the sound system courtesy of Adrian Sherwood (re)assuring these souls were in the right place…

Then…

… a little after 9pm…

Ruts DC took the stage along with Keyboardist Seamus Beaghen and Adrian Sherwood (who remained in situ).

And the sonic emanations intensified – Dub Style! Considering we’ve all time travelled a couple of years into the future of an alternate dimension – Segs, Ruffy and Leigh appeared unperturbed and (as) ever at ease, as they took us to new sonic heights. The added dimension of keyboard/Melodica from Seamus and the underpinning of Adrian’s dub wizardry, sit naturally with and are a welcome addition to the Ruts DC sound.

Segs appeared calm, cool and collected as he took the helm and steered us back to safer/calmer waters in fine voice and with beautifully booming bass.

Ruffy back in the seat of beat is an always welcome occurrence – rock solid with fluidity and brilliant harmonies.

The extra layers from Adrian and Seamus provide the band with a bit extra wiggle room, allowing them to explore the dynamics a little more than usual. This is especially evident with Leigh as he utilised the extra space to explore, experiment and conjure new tonal palettes to great effect.

Along with a mix of some of the great reggae-fied songs from their canon we were also given an airing of excellent new song Born Innocent – a natural fit in tonight’s set.

The band went for it and the crowd duly reciprocated. In a flash it was Babylon Burning and Goodnight.

In summary tonight saw another brilliant performance from Ruts DC. Proving their versatility and skill as a band who can comfortably shape-shift from; Punky/Rocky/Reggae to Electro-Acoustic to Full on Dub Style.

Highlight: the whole shebang – but if forced to choose – Love in Vain.

Thank you very much.

Over…

EiTC.

Dodgy – The Half Moon Putney – 050821

(faint electrical crackling)…
Hello…

(louder electrical crackling)…
Is anyone out there?...

(loud beeping and white noise)…
Begin transmission…

If anyone can hear this message, we are attempting to find a way back…

A couple of years ago we encountered a sub-space anomaly which sent us through a rift in space/time to an alternate dimension. Here we found an exact replica of Earth, its development appears to have taken the same path as our own sweet home up to a point of approximately 2019 - Around the time the meteor struck our Earth - forcing us all to work together to ensure the survival of humanity. 

This alternate Earth didn’t get struck by the meteor. They have been experiencing instead a more fractured path of events. As a consequence of rampant consumerism and a misplaced drive for acquisition of wealth; misinformation, propaganda and overpopulation begat a dystopian isolationist existence where gathering and human contact were prohibited. But the human spirit is strong – the natural survival instinct and compassion have prevailed, bringing people back to people. Just yesterday a small team of us were sent on an away mission to Putney in Southwest London to witness this remarkable phenomenon…

With caution we entered the edifice known as The Half Moon. Wherein we encountered a gathering of convivial pioneers here to witness the rebirth of Live Music…

Enter stage right Dodgy the advanced guard in this musical renaissance…

Clearly pleased to be back in business, Dodgy proceeded to deliver sonic delight with good humour and aplomb to the delight of the capacity audience.

The band were tight, delivering finely crafted pop gems with apparent ease. After some good-natured banter with the sound crew some niggles with the bands monitoring system were quickly ironed out – not that you’d have known – the sound out front was superb!

Clarity!

All elements…

Effortless skilful drumming – check!

Sonorous melodic bass – check!

Silky smooth acoustic guitar – check!

Soaring stratospheric Stratocaster – check!

Sweet vocal harmonies – check!

Add to this the keyboards/trombone courtesy of Graham which provided a sonic layer that helped knit together these elements of the band to great effect – everyone needs a Graham! In addition to a Graham, Dodgy also appeared to be in possession of a fully functioning Martin Clunes, who quipped – “The only way to defeat the menace of C*v*d is with sustained guitar solos” which gets my vote!

In summary tonight saw a perfect blend of upbeat pop infused with some sweetly melancholic psychedelic leanings born from a seemingly instinctual/innate grasp of melodic composition…

Most haunting melody award goes to – If You’re Thinking of Me – sublime!

Well Dodgy!

A tonic for jaded / weary souls.

End transmission.

Over…

EiTC.

Images:

Josh Smith – Borderline London – 26th March 2019

A plan was made…
A rendezvous…
Meet up with Karlos in India before moving on to the next adventure in time and space…
Taking refuge at Govinda’s we devised a plan to follow the thread of timelines pertaining to the electric guitar. We set off on our journey. After loading the parameters into the time machine and pressing go, the machine whirred and fired as expected. Then upon landing we ventured outside to find that, apparently, we were in exactly the same spot in exactly the same timeline… We called the ATMA recovery people and decided to go the Borderline to see Josh Smith instead…
Wherein we discovered the answer…
Disclamer: read no further if you are not a fan of guitar
music and/or get upset by the idea of extended instrumental passages…

The guitar and gear gods had smiled on us this evening as we entered The Borderline to see the stage bedecked with an array of first-class audio equipment. Further still, it would be in the hands of those who could well use it to help satisfy our enquiring minds.

Being somewhat of a guitar enthusiast (geek), occasionally enjoying some of the many guitar related videos available on the internet, (which activity) has brought to my attention a number of talented individuals, one of whom is the super capable player Josh Smith.

A recent video with Josh on Andertons TV, once again highlighted his skills and he also happened to mention he was currently on tour in the UK, which got me thinking… After a quick check of the calendar and a call to Karlos, tickets were purchased for the London show of the tour. Which brings us back here…

We ventured towards the stage to secure our viewing positions. Where, along with many others we cast a keen eye across Josh’s set up; three beautiful guitars, a brace of amplifiers and Josh’s marvellous new Schmidt Array pedalboard built by pedalboard Supremo Dan Steinhardt of the Gig Rig and That Pedal Show renown.

Support act Rory Evans, bravely sat in front of a packed borderline with a lone acoustic guitar and proceeded to capture the hearts of the crowd with his guitar virtuosity, showmanship and banter. A good warm up.

On to the main attraction…

Tonight’s sell-out show in London’s West-end, saw wall to wall guitar enthusiasts (geeks – present company included) packed into this fairly intimate venue.

As Josh and his band took the stage all recent fluctuations of time and space began to cohere. Josh appears down to earth and at ease, no mean feat given the soaring, searing guitar lines he pumps out. A very fluid style sees him going out on creative limbs, coming back down to earth and weaving in many licks and riffs which nod to his influences (from across the whole of electric guitar history with a heavy helping of Blues, Rock, Soul and Jazz). At one point there was a bit of a nod to Charlie Christian, which struck me as so cool, how it had been added into the context of one of the extended instrumental sections with great subtlety. (I spoke briefly to Josh afterwards saying to him “7 Come 11” to which he excitedly replied “Yeah man! That was in there…” )

The numbers of the main set tonight were all Josh Smith originals available from his catalogue of Album releases. Post show, I purchased the most recent two and they are both great. However, live is where it really seems to happen. The numbers, stripped of the studio finery, are brought to life in front of your eyes and ears, in this marvellous 3-piece format. Talking of which, bassist Jonathan Noyce and drummer Darren Mooney, perfectly complemented Josh’s songs and playing as they subtly underpinned the song frameworks and created a perfect platform for Josh to explore. They were also allowed plenty of room to shine in their own right, with extended solos and passages.

2 hours or so were over in a flash and all too soon they exited stage right and (we) the crowd were howling and whooping for more…

To which the answer came, in the form of an encore comprising just one song. However, within that song a journey was undertaken, exploring sonic frontiers far and wide before returning to the earthly confines of the song structure. And that song was tonight’s only cover, a beautifully mind-blowing rendition Jimi Hendrix – Angel. Sublime!

Offstage post-performance Josh appears calm, centred and down to earth with a winning, infectious smile (I’m guessing this comes as a result of him having heavily worked his mojo up on stage for the last couple of hours). He takes the time to stop and talk with everyone who says hello and happily obliges those who ask for a photo (including Karlos).

If you are an electric guitar geek, or simply a music lover who likes their Blues/Rock with a healthy dose of Soul and a smattering of Jazzy leanings, I really can’t recommend a Josh Smith live show highly enough. Check it out!

We ventured back out into the mild London evening and found that the ATMA agent had discovered the source of the issue with our Time Machine… A crack in the ST housing unit had caused a temporal malfunction and while we hadn’t appeared to have travelled anywhere, this malfunction had caused a singularity along the lines of our intention and drawn creative energy along timelines spanning 90 years both future and past with the present as the source. Ah well that explains it then! Oh, and we got a parking ticket from the year 1967!

Over…

Words: Matthew Elvis Brown

Photos: Karlos Antrobus

http://www.joshsmithguitar.com/

Bonus:

Guest Review – The Stranglers – Dr Feelgood o2 Academy Bournemouth 25th March 2019

The Great Kudu, was in need of a Loo, 
so partook of a hedge.
Encountering a few, still in search of Hugh,

near pushed him over the edge.
Having done what they do, Feelgood in his view,

won his praise, a privilege.
And of course too, The Stranglers of who,

are a band worthy of their Sege*.

Part 1-The Journey-

Left Salisbury at 18.00 but forgot about the everlasting road works on way to Bournemouth, hit road works and then became desperate for a call of nature, huge mug of coffee before I left was a bad idea but as driving, I knew I couldn’t have a beer at the gig. So clenching my thighs (too much info) I was faced with a wall of traffic, 30 minutes just to do one mile… I finally hit Bournemouth, by now I was at bursting point, so parked car where I could and jumped over someone’s large wall and fertilized their bush (no sexual references intended). If you are the owner of the property, I apologize but sometimes desperate situations call for desperate measures! After that I drove around looking for parking after ending up on the seafront, eventually I found the large open car park that I have used before, mission accomplished.

Part 2- Passive Listeners-

After parking the car I got talking to two blokes, now they were really clued up; firstly they had no idea Dr Feelgood had no original members and secondly they asked if Hugh Cornwell was still in the band? Now that’s why I have titled Part 2 Passive Listeners, it’s just laziness all you have to do is go on the internet and you can find current line-up formations on most bands, I always do a bit of research if I am seeing a band that I don’t know much about.

There are two types of listeners when it comes to music:

1-Passive Listeners – music is just a distraction and means nothing

2-Active Listeners – actually listen to music and get something from it, i.e. appreciating the art behind it.

A lot of people who attend gigs just seem to be there to piss in the toilets. Oh well it’s free country? sort of?

Part 3- The gig-

Now this was my third and last date of the tour, next gig will be Lille in November, so I hoped to end on a high? (not with Drugs?) More about that in a while.

So first up Dr Feelgood without any original members, taking that aside, I have to say they have actually grown on me the three times I have seen them this tour, they are fine musicians and are keeping the music alive, really enjoyed their set, the best I have seen them on this tour and they are a worthy support act for The Stranglers. (A bit of context, apparently 3 of the current line-up played on more albums with original frontman Lee Brilleaux than the legendary original guitar toting Wilko Johnson etc Etc EiTC)

Moving on to 21.00 we all know the intro tune but it just makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand up with anticipation. My last outing in Reading was a bit flat due to lacklustre audience, so was hoping Bournemouth would make up for it. Well the answer was a big fat yes from the first song Tank, I knew this was going to be a f**king cracking gig (apologies for F Word).

Next song I’ve Been Wild another stonking version, this is a song I was never a great fan of but it just sounds so good on this tour. I am not going to mention all the set list as most of you know it by Now? But tonight we had 3 changes from Reading; TTD, The Raven and first encore song Walk on By. It was Baz Warne’s birthday on the day, so he made some very funny comments about how he wanted to be in Bournemouth rather than at home in Leeds or with family in Sunderland.

Now for a few of my favs of the night; Last Man on the moon – I have grown to love this song, I actually prefer it to the cover version (This Song) that they are playing. Water – a classic in the making – just love this song, even the crowd seemed to react to it… they certainly didn’t to Ice Queen, again one of my tour Highlights (to be honest there wasn’t a song I didn’t like but Peaches really does need a break).

if I could pick any I had to walk out in disgust at; the sexist subject matter and the disgusting lyrics of Nubiles and GB with it’s glorification of Heroin, disgusting vile filth (Joking of course).

The venue was rammed full and holds 1800 a really good size, the sound was very good too, much louder than Reading. The band were really firing on all cylinders, with such great spirit on the stage, it really does add to the dynamic.

Baz’s voice sounded good and the new songs suit his voice well. He was in fine form too and had some great banter when someone was shouting moronic remarks, he put them down with good humour.

The whole band played as a tight as a well oiled machine. Dave has been playing better on this tour IMHO but he still seems to drink quite a bit, I don’t know how many times I saw a crew member replace his Stella but doesn’t seem to effect his playing.

Jim Mac just so part of the band now, adding backing vocals on new songs (and some of the back catalogue EiTC), and f**k he hits those skins hard, but also has a soft touch when needed, he certainly has given them more energy. And he respects Jet’s patterns but adds his own touch too, without detracting from the original pattern of the beat.

And last but not least 7th Dan Shidokan bass meister JJ, he is just so cool and his bass sound and playing are just a joy to behold, that bass intro on Bordello possibly one of his greatest moments? and a highlight, possibly the greatest Stranglers song apart from Sewer, Raven and Genetix but too many to mention…

Moving on, great lights and production too without detracting from the music. Last song of set before encore the mighty Down in the Sewer – really good version, JJ played the Rats Rally bass part with more vigour than my last gig.

Final song of course Heroes with JJ trying to punch a hole in his bass, the way he hits it he may succeed one day – big smile on his face of course. And that was that, band all came out to front of stage and Baz says “It’s been an absolute pleasure, you know they are happy when Baz says that.

Part 4-Epilogue.

Personally, I think the set on the current tour has been the most inventive for years, they have changed the set every night and played new songs and songs not played for 20 years. I commend the band, it proves they are still creative and are not going through the motions. It is the last spring tour apparently? I think they will tour later next year? who knows? But this band really are something special, I just don’t know how they keep up the standard? I hope we have a few more years of excellent gigs and a new album in the not too distant future, I love this band and have done since 1979 (the music of course) .

Lt Kudu over and out.

Words: Great Kudu.

Originally posted on the Burning Up Times forum. Extracted and edited with the authors permission…

Photos: Maria Meli.

  • * Sege (obs): Seat of distinction, Throne.

Bonus:

The Stranglers – Dr Feelgood – Glive Guildford 190319

Then…

Before you knew it, there we were standing in Guildford… so while that was indeed where we were, we thought, why not take a stroll down to The Star and visit the plaque where it all started? Which we duly did…
Suddenly, we found ourselves in a quiet pub on a Guildford backstreet where we chanced upon a Rut and two Dept S’s there were also a Strangler, some roadcrew and a smattering of FiB in attendance…
Even more suddenly, we were transported via the drunken staircase into the bowels of G-Live, to where we now stood in front of Dr Feelgood.

Having made it just in time to catch the last couple of numbers, they sounded blisteringly good. Giving it their all with a high energy in your face performance of a special patented blend of hard-hitting R&B. Closing number Route 66 was stonking, shame we didn’t get to catch more of their set. Check them out…

Less suddenly, or maybe even further along than that… The lights dimmed… The crowd buzzed… Waltzinblack struck up… Enter stage Right and Left The Stranglers…

Kicking off with Tank, The Men in Black were firing on all cylinders. An excellent set list comprising a little something for everyone, with hits, fan favourites, new numbers and some material rarely played live (if ever).

A symbiosis occurred between Artist and audience as the more they gave the more we lapped it up. And for Guildford on a damp Tuesday evening that was no mean feat.

The stage setup and lighting for this show was magnificent with it’s down in the sewer vibe…

Highlights for me were; seeing the Stranglers in Guildford of a damp Tuesday evening, i.e. the whole thing! To narrow down a selection; Walk on By, Nubiles, Princess of the Streets and much more.

Of the new stuff: Last Man on The Moon – Good Stranglery fare. Payday – standout for me atm – four-part harmonies and nice twists and turns. This Song – good vibe and instant – and the crowd seem to pick up on it. All the new material was well received. Fair play to them for putting them in.

There was a good rapport with the crowd tonight as Baz was teasing us soft southerners. Talking of Baz he was on good form and his interpretations of Uptown and Ice Queen sounded spot on to these ears. Although he sings in a different register from HC, he does the material justice. Uptown coming across as surprisingly strong with this lineup. Ice Queen also sounded great particularly the extended slide guitar section. Keep it up Baz.

Jim is a hard hitter. He pounds the drums like his life depends on it, yet at the same time always pays respect to the subtleties and flourishes of the songs. He has a fine voice too.

Dave is Dave is Dave – the heart and soul, sublime! And the keys were shining through loud and clear.

JJ – the undisputed heavyweight of the 4 string! In fine form – instrumentally, vocally and menacingly (albeit in a good-natured way). At one point he made his way to the very front of the stage, got in the audiences face and yelled ‘Right!’ Before launching into the opening bars of Peaches, much to the crowd’s delight.

All too soon the bass was registering a steady 5.8 on the Richter scale and it was all No More Heroes and over…

Bonus:

Bonus Bonus: Videos courtesy of Andy Miller.

Ruts DC – Shepherds Bush Empire 280219

Now that summer’s almost over as is February, thought it’d be a good idea to head on down to Shepherds Bush to catch up with Ruts DC as they celebrate 40 years since the release of their debut album The Crack (I don’t need to hark on too much about just how brilliant The Crack is. Just to say it is timeless and as relevant today as it was 40 years ago).

The journey wasn’t without complication having taken 1 step backward and 2 step forwards but choosing to live in a positive way.

The ever-decreasing circles being driven around eventually gave way to a parking spot right behind the venue from whence we alighted and made our way inside…

A very healthy (near capacity) crowd thronged in the Shepherds Bush Empire tonight and a lot of like minds and friendly familiars had made their way down all the way from 1979 and earlier and beyond. A beautiful banner showing a recreation of the classic album cover adorned the stage.

The challenges of the short flight from SW to W London all but put paid to the chances of catching the set by The Professionals. However, we did manage to get down to hear the last couple of numbers and they sounded very tight and well delivered as the crowd at the front made the most. And it was of course a delight to see Mr Cook driving things from centre stage…

The dimming lights and a heartfelt poetry recital signalled that the time had come…

…as Segs, Ruffy and Leigh took up their spots and kicked off into The Crack.

The sound and delivery were spot on. The band played a blinder. I’ve alluded in previous ramblings as to their skill and professionalism but blimey! They proceeded to deliver a thrilling and captivating show from start to finish.

As if it wasn’t enough to recreate The Crack they continued through most of the singles and b-sides from that Era and added a smattering of selections from the excellent Music Must Destroy.

1981’s Animal Now wasn’t represented we can only live in hope that they are saving that up for a 40th anniversary show too (please)…

More on the performance. Not only does Dave Ruffy never drop a beat he seems to effortlessly lay down the rhythm and deliver the BV’s without breaking sweat. Master.

Leigh continues to go from strength to strength as was abundantly clear in his superb delivery tonight. Completely faithful to the legacy of Paul Fox while being in, above and at times way beyond the zone. Expert.

What of Segs? I hear you ask… Now Segs had it all sewn up tonight and we were eating out of his hands. The bass was biting and crunchy where it needed to be and subsonic smooth and dub-wise, also at the appropriate moments. The vocals were superbly sublime. And his whole demeanour was flawless, dynamic and polished. Star.

I hope they recorded this in some way shape or form as it will be a belter to add to their canon.

Get ‘em while they’re ‘ot…

Over…

EiTC.

Bonus:

The Damned – Shepherds Bush Empire 23rd Nov 2018

Black Fridays and Full Moons…

…Suddenly, I was standing on Shepherds Bush Green on a murky Friday evening. Time being what it was and what it is and inevitably will (and did and still will) become, a decision was arrived at for the most of it to be made. And it was! Here’s how…

A sea of faithful, young and less so, new and not so, gathered for a performance by none other than your old compadres The Damned...

Quite by chance I bumped into the ever charming and talented Leigh Heggarty from the Mighty Ruts DC and we briefly discussed the blueprints for an automated dual-action de-mystifier that works simultaneously and with equivalent efficacy on both mind and spectacles. Then he introduced me to the drummer from Johnny Moped and went for a pint… …from whence, I crossed the road to rendezvous with Kate and Dave (and we were joined by Owen and Jac and a little later Nini and Lucio) at an establishment where you could part with your hard earned to the tune of £6 for 1/3 pint of crazily strong beer… After not too long, we found ourselves inside the Shepherds Bush Empire.

We spotted a pidge and a few other familiars and took up our positions to witness the show. Johnny Moped were already well into their set by the time we arrived, delivering an audial experience that wasn’t an ordeal. Convincing both visually and sonically they warmed up the crowd a treat on a late autumn evening.

Before we knew what was going on, it was all Peer Gynt courtesy of Sounds Incorporated, banners fell from the above and raised from below and we beheld the spectacle of The Damned at the following points along the fissures of time…

2018: Kicking off with the super-duper We’re So Nice (rightly) showing confidence in the new songs we were treated to a set of first class tunes spanning The Damned’s 5 decade and counting career. And the crowd went bananas and lapped up every last morsel, loving it too!

1977: They set the controls from 2018 to 1977 and engaged us with Born to Kill.

2001: Before coming back in to the current Millennium with the ever more relevant Democracy where they stunned us into submission with Pinch’s sonic double pedal kick assault!

1980: Three from 1980’s Black Album next and the crowd showed no let-up for; Wait for the Blackout, Lively Arts and Silly Kids Games. Much to the Captains amusement as he commented something on his amazement at people moshing to the latter of the three (or it may have been DJAMH or HoTWPO etc Etc EiTC).

2018: Back to 2018, the delightful Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow.

1980: Before zagging back to 1980 for the ever awesome Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

1982: Stranger on The Town – perfection.

2018: 2018 again and a song Pinch declared not to be about Donald Trump – Devil in Disguise.

1980: Back to 80 for sonic brilliance in the form or History of The World Part One.

2018: The epic I Don’t Care.

1986: Their awesome rendition of Love’s Alone Again Or replete with the sublime trumpet work of Chris Coull. Who also added flair and flavour to a handful of other tunes throughout the night.

1979: Love song, brilliant, crowd nuts.

1977: 1 of the 2, mighty, all fists of fury.

1976: New Rose – the invoice for the new ceiling of the SBE is in the post!

1977: Neat neat neat – perfection in sound.

Tada.

Encore 1.

1980: Curtain Call – Masterpiece!

1982: Ignite – sheer burning brilliance!

Tada 2.

Encore 2.

1980: There Ain’t no Sanity Clause – festive fun…

1979: Smash it Up – they smashed it!

Tada 3.

(Surprise) Encore 3.
1979: Anti-pope – thought we were going to get Disco Man for a second but a mighty bonus none the less.

Tada 4.

And Over…

Or is it…

Just a few more words… (a: if I may, b: if you’re still awake and c: because):

The Damned are on fine form and easily rank as one of the best live acts I’ve seen, with consistent great performances from an amazing back catalogue. You get your money’s worth for sure. Dave Vanian is the coolest front man ever in his dapper vampiric way crooning with excellence while effortlessly covering the whole stage and beyond. During the first encore I noticed a kerfuffle to my left and turned to find Dave Vanian there making his way through the crowd to apparently watch the band up at the front, then gallantly escorting a young lady to the side before somehow vampirically managing to be simultaneously back on stage and singing the next line of the song, spooky genius!

Talking of genius and not wanting to wear out the term but Captain Sensible is greater than the sum of his constituent parts with his faultless ever-inspiring guitar mastery/voice and stage presence.

Paul Gray providing point-blank bass brilliance and balance to the band. You can hear the nuance in his delivery and his presence has led to a more balanced sound overall (IMESHO)…

Pinch, Punch, Precision, Perfection…

Monty, Mighty, Madness, Maestro…

Over…

EiTC

Pics: ‘A Study in Dave’ by Lewis Utley.

 

Hugh Cornwell – o2 Islington – 7th November 2018

Inspiration, perspiration, blah blah blah!

What you going to do on a dull November evening? All the fireworks were yesterday and everywhere being eerily quiet…

Then…

…a rendezvous in Islington with good friends for a quick drink at The Alma pub followed by a bite at the charming Delhi Grill before heading out to a seemingly deserted o2 (going by external appearances) …

…inside was a different story as it seemed a healthy gathering of like-minds and interesting souls had amassed to bear witness to the sonic outpourings of none other than Mr Hugh Cornwell!

Hugh graced the stage accompanied by Windsor on drums and Pat on bass as they ran the first few numbers concurrently nary drawing a breath between and without so much as a Hi or Howdy Doody! And it set the mood accordingly…

The format tonight was two sets from Hugh, with the first being material from his solo output, while the second was material from his time with The Stranglers.

Kicking off with Pure Evel, here comes the inspiration, with the bass being lifted directly from LA Woman, Hugh has done his best to take it and make it his own, largely succeeding with a super catchy ear-worm of a chorus that won’t let you go once it takes hold.

Hugh seemed a little on edge but this edginess translated into the performance providing an edge of its own. The performers were all focussed and tight.

After the first few numbers Hugh began to engage with the audience a little more. The first set contained material ranging from 1979 to 2018. The audience were receptive and warm to the solo set. Highlights from a great set were for me; Stuck in Daily Mail Land, Monster, Getting Involved, Mothra and the sublime Duce Coochie Man.

The new material really shows Hugh’s maturity as a tunesmith (I feel). He’s always been able to knock out a ditty or two with his subtle (or not so) quirks. However, the new material builds on this skill exponentially. Take the main guitar hook for monster for example, deceptively simple, it wouldn’t be out of place on some obscure 60s hit produced by Joe Meek or indeed nestled somewhere in the album of covers that he and John Cooper Clarke released a little while back. But then contrast that with the complex twists and turns of Mothra and his Stranglers output and it’s clear that the skill has always been on tap. Back to the present day and the aforementioned Duce Coochie Man, to me a masterpiece!

In summary the solo set was fab and well received.

Onwards to perspiration, or Death by Strangulation as Hugh called it.

The crowd filled out considerably more for The Stranglers portion of the show and Hugh did not disappoint. The interpretations in this format were very inspired and evocative of the spirit of the originals. It is of course a great thing to hear Hugh play and sing these numbers which he and the band delivered with due diligence.

At times Hugh was a little out of his comfort zone, the solo on Golden Brown for example but he more than made up for this with a near perfect NMH solo and the beautiful chiming of his Tele and Vox on Strange Little Girl.
The rhythm section of Windsor and Pat did a standout job providing all the requisite drive and energy in abundance while also adding subtlety and creativity where needed. Pat’s interpretation of JJ’s bass lines was nothing short of excellence while his seemingly note perfect representation of Dave’s keyboard runs (on the bass guitar) was superb.

Highlights for me being; Strange Little Girl, Sweden, Grip and a stonking 5 minutes.

All too soon it was all hugs and see you in March…

Over…

EiTC.

Images courtesy of Karlos Antrobus.