John Cooper Clarke/Mike Garry/Son of Dave – Lee’s Palace in Toronto, April 12, 2018

This Just in from Canadia...

Words, glorious words!

Dr John Cooper Clarke operating at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, April 12, 2018

Benjamin Darvill opened for John Cooper Clarke on April 12 at Lee’s Palace in Toronto. He is a former member of Crash Test Dummies now transplanted to the UK, who has pivoted into a suit-wearing, blues-singing character called Son of Dave. With a box of tricks on the table next to him, holding shakers and rattles, a harmonica in hand, and a stomp box at his feet, Son of Dave was the MacGyver of one-man bands. He beatboxed, shook, rattled and rolled, creating a full-band sound. He performed entertaining ditties like “Devil Take My Soul” and “Rattlesnake,” all the while engaging the audience. He delivered comedic interludes between songs, adopting an irascible persona and complaining that he wore polyester suits and played harmonica for a living. He also shared bold, bawdy stories about his adventures in cheap hotels.  The audience was bopping and laughing – the perfect warm-up for an irreverent poet.

Fellow Mancunian poet, Mike Garry, took the stage and introduced himself, mentioning his past incarnation as a librarian and the influence of Clarke on his younger self. Like his friend, “Johnny,” Garry also wields wit and humour the way Spiderman employs his silk – it hits its mark.


He remarked that it was a good day for a song, and he launched into a sing-song that began, “Sad today, and I don’t feel right today, and I feel all uptight today …” He moved into a tongue-twisting conversation with himself about not thinking about things he’s thinking about. The pace changed to a rhyme at the end of every line, and then, free-form observations about life in Manchester. He was meandering, and this was his “Mancunian Meander.” Poetry emphasizes the musicality of language, something Garry focuses on in his work, writing poems as songs.  He also seasons his poetry with references to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, a by-product of his Catholic upbringing.

Manchester figures prominently in his work – a dark, industrial city often enveloped by grey, rainy days. It is a place where things can hide in shadows, though there is no hidden meaning in his work. It is all in the open – exposed – the darkness, the ugliness, and the causes for celebration. Like a town crier, Garry recited “St. Anthony (An Ode to Anthony H. Wilson)” [Factory Records co-founder, journalist, impresario, and Manchester cheerleader]. In this poem, commissioned by the BBC, Garry used an inventive device of including groups of words beginning with every letter of the alphabet in proper order.

He also gave dramatic recitations of poems inspired by Mancunian life, such as “Pay as you Go,” about consequences from sexting, which he prefaced with humour as comic relief; “Penny for a Guy;” and “God is a Manc,” all very gritty. There are many beautiful locations in the world, some described as heaven on earth or paradise; Manchester isn’t one of them. It is unlikely that God is a Mancunian, though people grow attached to the place they call home; however, as in the poem, God may indeed have made its men smart, articulate, a bit rebellious, softly spoken, emotionally open, and in touch with their feminine side, if famous sons like Johnny Marr, John Robb, and Mike Garry himself, are the norm.

Some weeks before his mother died in 2013, she asked him to write her eulogy. Garry balked at the request, but on the morning of her funeral, he did, as a poem called “Things Me Mam Taught Me.” The work makes it obvious how great an influence Patricia Garry was in his life. Besides insisting that he make a habit of reading and working hard, she also taught him, “Charity starts at home / It’s good to spend some time alone / Say something positive, don’t just moan …  If someone’s down, pick them up / If someone’s thirsty, give them your cup …” She also told him to have as many kids as he could. Garry has four. His only son is in New Zealand, and he shared the poem he wrote for him called, “I Truly Miss My Son Today.” In it, he declares he would walk barefoot across Europe and Asia and swim naked through the South China Sea for mere moments with him. He brings a drama to his work with enunciations and accented stops at final syllables. He adds speed and volume for urgency, deceleration and pauses for gravitas, and a lilt to rhythm.

Working with the Cassia String Quartet for several years now (not on tour with him), coupled with his dramatic inflections, Garry elevates poetry to the potent art form it is. The Yin-Yang of his wordsmithing and light, mood-enhancing music can be heard in “The Threads That Weave,” a video created for Manchester United and Nike. He cleverly uses weaving and sewing analogies for Manchester’s industry. The way he purposefully punctuates words with his Mancunian diction, the structure, ebb and flow of his recitation, the timbre of his voice, and the light music hovering in the background, make it mesmerizing. He is the Tesla of poets – engineered for a rocket-powered, yet smooth verbal ride that leaves the listener awed. These talents, and his work with inner city youth, led to an honorary Doctor of Education degree in 2015.

Now that the appetizers had been consumed, the main course was about to be served. The theme from S.W.A.T. (original series) blasted from the speakers for a minute or so, and the Bard of Salford himself, John Cooper Clarke, sauntered onto the stage with his signature skinny chic and now relaxed coif. He informed the audience that he carries a badge. Dr Clarke, as he prefers to be addressed since receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Salford in 2013, drew his scalpel of laser-sharp wit and went to work on the audience. He started with “The Official Guest List” of people too cheap to buy a ticket. Incidentally, all their names rhymed.


He moved on to musing about questions he can’t answer, like, what is occasional furniture the rest of the time? Periodic tables? Then there were questions he could answer. What is the difference between a Lada and a Jehovah’s Witness? You can shut the door on a Jehovah’s Witness.

Clarke’s poetic style is funny, unfiltered, and often voices things others are afraid to say. His not caring what others think made him a punk darling in the 70s. His performances are a treat: he’s a top tier comedian who zig zags between American mafioso impersonations, jokes, stories, observations, poems, and limericks. The wise guy persona may be linked to his poem “Evidently Chicken Town” being in the penultimate episode of The Sopranos, or his fascination with American society. Either way, he performed this poem with an extra helping of Jersey swagger. JCC has a talent for saturating himself with culture, particularly the North American variety. At one point, he told the audience not to worry, he’d be done in time for them to get home to watch Jimmy Kimmel, then barreled into “Beasley Street” at 700 mph, one of his early and poignant works about the poverty and seediness in Salford. He conjures misery with sound play such as, “Hot beneath the collar / An inspector calls / Where the perishing stink of squalor / Impregnates the walls / The rats have all got rickets / They spit through broken teeth / The name of the game is not cricket / Caught out on Beasley Street.” He updated it three decades later as “Beasley Boulevard” to account for change. Clarke joked that Thatcher may have gotten ideas from “Beasley Street,” which he wrote 18 years before she got in power.

He stated he’s had weight fluctuations like Luther Vandross. He suspected though that Luther’s were due to a combination of deep fried soul food and prescription sedatives, while his own were due to non-therapeutic drug use; then, he kick-started into “Get Back on Drugs You Fat Fuck.”  Clarke refuses to own a smart phone or a computer; having known the allure of drugs, he prefers to stay away from the temptation of information, or the rewarding beeps and alarms of social media. He writes all his work by hand in notebooks which he travels with. Since he’s become a “doctor” though, he can’t read his own handwriting. Clarke shared a story of how he had gotten into minimalism. At one point, he was down to a George Foreman grill and a bottle of disinfectant. The Dalai Lama told him he needed to “get some shit.”

“She’s Got a Metal Plate in Her Head” from 1979, the more recent “I’ve Fallen in Love with My Wife,” and forty-year old “Orientation Course” all loosely covering different relationships were showcased. The latter he had recently rediscovered. Clarke stated it is about the inner workings of a man who spent his time at Kwok Man, an all-night Cantonese restaurant in Manchester. It is about a crush on an Asian girl who works in the family restaurant. Some lines from it are, “Crazy for that Chinese girl / Her brother knows where I live / I’ve seen him slice up a raw shark / with a non-serrated shiv … Crazy for that Chinese girl / Her dad’s a fabulous guy / If I ever put the move on her / I’m gonna have to die.” He assured us this was an unrequited love, in case his wife asks. He has run the gamut of relationships. He told the audience that when he got divorced he split the house with his ex. He got the outside.

At the end of the show he stayed on stage; he was “gonna milk it, but a staircase was involved.” Clarke mentioned Alex Turner being influenced by his work and making Clarke’s poem “I Wanna Be Yours” into a hit song for the Arctic Monkeys. He finished the evening by reciting it as the encore. Beneath all the biting commentary, his sarcasm, and mischievous frankness, Dr Clarke has the heart of a romantic – to a sadistic degree, as he says. He is a rare creature – smart, sharp, and sassy. An evening with him involves culture, commentary, and a generous dose of comedy. At 69, his performance was still one of those entertaining, laugh-out-loud evenings, that left a smile on the viewer’s face and an uplifted feeling, long after John Cooper Clarke had left the building.

Words, Images and Video: Maria Meli

Over…

The Damned Manchester Academy 31st January 2018

Guest Review – The Damned Manchester Academy 31st Jan 2018

Due to Indian excursions and other committments, EiTC is yet to catch up with the Damned on their Evil Spirits Tour, hopefully this will change next week when they roll into the big smoke...

In the meantime sit back and enjoy a review from the Manchester gig from our guest: Greatkudu.

Well Well Well... Captain Kudu reporting from Sunny Madchester 
(or was, as back in suburbs now). Down to brass tack's...

I haven’t seen The Damned since 2007, just been concentrating on “The Stranglers” to my musical loss, More about that in a bit. Support was the brilliant “Slim Jim Phantom” from The Straycats (just in case you didn’t know) his three piece band took us through a very enjoyable Rockabilly master class from 20.00-20.30, lots of “Straycat” songs with other classics thrown in like “Cmon Everybody” etc, a really enjoyable set from the slim one, rock on!


Moving on at 21.14 the intro tune started on the PA in preparation for “The Damned” and it was “Mars” which is part of “Holst” planets suite, this was also used by “The Stranglers” as their intro on the 1987 tour how strange.”The Damned” came on with a very atmospheric start with dry ice, really setting the scene, Dave Vanian’s mic stand lit up in fluorescent green, really cool. They came on stage to a big cheer, Dave Vanian came on last.


They kicked off with one of my fav songs of theirs “Wait For The Blackout” (from “The Black Album) a great start to a great gig and that’s being understated, as it was possibly one of the best gigs I have ever been to? From the first song it was just pure class from a band who are better than ever as a live band, they then played 3 more from “The Black Album” including one of my all time favs “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” a song giving full rein to Dave Vanian’s goth image and persona.


Before I go on, great to see Paul Gray back on bass and a great Madchester welcome he received on the first song with a pint of beer launched his way by some lovely person, luckily he seemed to dodge most of it but personally I would have smashed the bass over the beer throwers head (Waste of a good bass – eitc), it’s 2018 not 1976, yes years ago “The Damned” encouraged stuff like this, maybe the offender was stuck in a time warp? But Mr Gray being the professional that he is, just played on regardless.


The rest of the set was made up of songs from “Machine Gun Etiquette”,”Damned Damned Damned” and “Strawberries” including “Gun Fury” which isn’t played that much? I don’t think (I think 2010 was the last time I heard it live, eitc). There were also a few from “Phantasmagoria”, “Street of Dreams” and “shadow of love”. Also, 3 songs were played from the upcoming album “Evil Spirit’s” including the rather good new single (Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow – EiTC) plus “Evil Spirits” and “Devil in Disguise” (not a cover of The Elvis song) these other two were a bit faster than the single and sounded really high quality, for these two other songs the crew brought on a “Tablet” with the lyrics on, he didn’t need that for the new single “Standing on The Edge of Tomorrow” really love this song, it’s a grower and live the bass was far more meaty and while we’re talking Bass, a mention must go out to “Paul Gray” a fantastic Bass player, you could tell that the band were very happy to have him back, he was interacting a lot with the good Captain, not slagging “Stu West” the previous Bass Player but “Paul Gray” is one of the finest Bass players around, a great trebly sound but with light and shade too, he seemed to be enjoying being back (even though his hearing is shot to pieces,he uses a lot of protection to keep what he has left).


Moving on they played their biggest hit “Eloise” a song where again “Dave Vanian” can show of his fantastic baritone voice.


The last song was of course “Smash it up” and they wen’t off about 22.45 and people started to leave… there was a quite a long wait but The band came back on and finished with “Jet Boy Jet Girl” with the Captain on lead vocals, great when you think it’s over and it’s not!


Now to sum up the only negatives were; of course my personal favs the beer throwers, About 3 or 4 pint’s seemed to be thrown, I just got a few drops,why waste good beer? or maybe the beer tasted of piss, still at least the audience mostly seemed ok, quite a few Mohicans at the front.


And now for the positives; possibly one of the best gigs I have ever seen, just fantastic,the whole band were firing on all cylinders. The Star of the show is “Dave Vanian” a totally unique character with one of the best voices in music ever in IMHO, the man is just so cool in his black frock coat and shades, a really theatrical performer, he stalks the stage like victorian spectre, then to compliment him you have the Captain a tacky dresser who is an amazing guitarist and has great banter with the crowd and is actually funny, great to hear him sing a couple of songs, on drums the power house drumming of “Pinch” but he also has the light touch, did some sublime tom and cymbal work, I’ve already mentioned “Paul Gray” and last but not least the barking “Monty Oxymoron” as mad as a hatter but a fine musician and lovely bloke. Sound was excellent too and also the stage set and lights, they create such a unique atmosphere, so in all a great night and, now I am going to get shot down here but I actually think “The Damned” are better live than “The Stranglers” these day’s, maybe it’s because I haven’t seen “The Damned” for a few years? But the set was more interesting, they didn’t play the obvious songs and they have the original singer, they also interact with the audience so well, it seems they actually appreciate the crowd, I know it’s a different style of music but i have to be honest I think they are better live at the present time. I know its sacrilege to say that on here (Tsk tsk! etc Etc EiTC), I will see “The Damned” again next week in shitty (Shoorlie knott eitc) “Southampton”.

I recommend “the Damned” just brilliant!

Capt Kudu back on ops in the suburbs,

Over and out.


Words: Greatkudu.

Images: Britta Hoppe.

Proof Reading: Rockula.

 

Stranglers and Bad Manners – Bands In The Sands, Perranporth, Cornwall, 21st July 2017

Sand!

 Miles and miles of sand!
 In every direction sand, sand, sand, sand, sand and more sand!
 The weary travellers settled in this barren desert…
 Hope was on the horizon, was that the sea or just a mirage?

 But wait!
 This just in…
 A superb round-up of events from last Friday in Cornwall… 

Over to our crew on the spot –
 Elliot, Martin & Lindsay…


Going to Cornwall to see the Stranglers was a fair way to drive for us from Scotland but given the chance for dad to see his band and re visit childhood holidays he was up for it. We travelled through torrential rain wondering if indeed there would be a gig at all. No worries though, we arrived and the weather changed to glorious sunshine. A few pre-gig drinks with dad and Lindsay and it was off to the beach. After standing the queue for quite some time we finally managed to grab more drinks and take place on the steel barrier at the front. We were joined by Audrey and Sandra then Matt, Karlos, Philip and Mark Taylor. Dad met up with Mark Davies who had travelled from Australia with his family.


The first support act was Sarah Marie with her guitar followed by Chris Haddon who I secretly enjoyed the most out of the two so far…


Up next was buster blood vessel and Bad Manners did all their well-known tunes like lip up fatty, my girl lollipop, walking on the sunshine etc. which seemed to go down well with the crowd, everyone was pushing and shoving each other while tipping the other person’s beer out of their hands. There seemed to be a couple of issues at the front but no matter as the security were good and soon after it started to rain and drizzle for a bit.


The classic Waltzinblack soon struck the stage again and the crowd seemed to be in full voice tonight with great enthusiasm suddenly the meninblack graced the stage and I noticed instantly how tall JJ is, standing in such a little venue!

JJ showed us just how cold it was up there on stage as he gave off a shivering pose… Toiler was the opener of the night and what a cracking opener it is, with its instrumental start which got a great reception from the fans.

Next up a brilliant Grip, off their first album Rattus marking its 40th birthday, followed by an equally brilliant Nice ‘N’ Sleazy. Relentless off Suite XVI then the ever threatening Five Minutes before slowing down for the core fan hits ‘Golden Brown and Always the Sun (which had totally gone by now).

Norfolk Coast had the crowd raring to go and start jumping again before a perfect Peaches on the beach to top off…

The new song of the amazing and brillant March – ‘Classic Collection’ tour – Bear Cage was included and good as ever with the crowd chanting along to GMBH, hit every note perfectly while JJ stared across towards us during it in full concentration mode (new to the set – old song etc Etc EiTC).

Walk On By next and the crowd loved it with the sheer and utterly brilliant musical instrumental part. Next up was Skin Deep great hit by the band from 1984, then another new song not played live before the tour back in March – 15 Steps! from Giants. A song they played very well considering there was a few times the timing was out but still sheer class brilliant underdog tune (Didn’t notice timing issues but agreed this song is really sounding great live now they’ve settled into it a bit, EiTC).

Then back to the old hits next, we have Duchess off The Raven, and the awesome Hanging Around, followed by a great JJ vocal, sung in full voice – Something Better Change the smash punk hit from ‘77 off No More Heroes, which is also marking its 40th this year also.

Then things got even more sped up as we were treated to the fabulous Tank, or Tank!! (As Hugh says) which I think is a brilliant song and very glad they put that in the set. It went down with the fans as well as it started to get a bit rowdier at the front but never the less all good fun on the beach but I hardly even knew as I was totally focused on JJ’s bass (which was just in front of me!).

Then the mind-blowing bass solo into the finale No More Heroes as the last song of the night to end in a bang which everyone loved as per. The crowd walked (or staggered) away with smiles and enjoyment which certainly proved the meninblack made them a very happy bunch. The lads played excellent and Baz even handed a little lad, Nick his plectrum!! Awesome eh, it was his first concert also and won’t be his last I’m sure!

We all walked away feeling rather cold as I only had my t-shirt and shorts on, now wishing I had come more prepared but I guess there’s always another time! Glad to have seen them and hopefully see the Meninblack and Familyinblack soon to do it all over again!!!

Best Wishes Everyone!!!

Over…

Words: Elliot, Martin and Lindsay.

Pictures: Audrey Grant and Karlos Antrobus.

Bonus Audrey:


Bonus Karlos:


Bonus EiTC:

Guest Review – John Rossalls Glitter Band plus The Priscillas – Dublin Castle Camden 290417

John Rossall’s Glitter Band

Live at The Dublin Castle, Camden Town, London

 

Saturday 29 April 2017

 

A Report by PaulinLondon

 

18.45 GMT / 15.45 Zorg Time : I am escorted to the Transporter Module by the charming yet ageing, Tobias. Tobias is one of the last operative T-1000 androids who are soon to be replaced by the new T-2000 A Class. The technicians at Zorg have been unsuccessful, despite many attempts, to improve the battery life and power circuitry for the long serving T-1000 Class. Tobias is fully aware of this even though he knows his fate and those of the remaining T-1000 Class is sealed... 

 

As I lie down in the Transport Module, Tobias bows his head from behind the heavy Zorg glass door; his way of saying, “Bon Voyage”.

 

Seconds later, I am walking up Parkway in Camden towards the venue for tonight’s show; the wonderful Dublin Castle. Sporting my red Raven tshirt underneath my black leather jacket, I look down and nod approvingly at my still relatively new Dr Martens. This for them will be their second concert in a matter of a few weeks. 

 

The Dublin Castle is already busy with what promises to be a large and excited crowd for tonight’s Glitter Band performance. In no time at all, I am joined by Turkey Troter, Lou, Guildford Lil, Elvis in the Clouds, Nigel (Drum Major) and Streatham Mick. With glasses charged, we head outside to the front of the pub and take in the pleasant London evening. Whilst Nigel engages in a deep conversation with Spizz of Spizzenergi (good to see him again), I check out the fantastic number of people who are turning up tonight. There are punks, young and old, Glitter fans young and old, all mixing together and sipping away in great anticipation. One very tall chap arrives and he looks as though he is a retired City trader. He has a fairly long mane of hair and is wearing a fabulous knee length Glitter coat. As he steps into the pub, he turns to his wife/partner and says, in a most refined accent, “I wonder if they sell port of sherry here”. “I am sure they do”, she replies.  

 

There is a quite a delay before the door staff let the punters into the rear hall for the music to begin. We are at the head of the queue and take our places at the front of the stage; excellent vantage positions !

First up are the superb all female band, The Priscillas. Their sound is first class and we are taken on a sonic journey of power-pop, glam and indie-punk (perhaps a touch of The Cramps and B52s influence in there somewhere too etc Etc EiTC).  

These Holloway ladies put on a powerful and impressive show and receive much deserved applause from The Dublin Castle attendees.

 

I head stage left to the heaving bar and finally manage to return to position, Pinot Grigio supplies dutifully restored. It is time for the main act. To roars of adoration and approval, John Rossall and his Glitter Band take to the stage. The mighty “Rock ’n Roll Part I” opens proceedings and the crowd are loving it.

Everyone is dancing and smiling. I last saw The Glitter Band in the early 1980’s at The Venue in Victoria. That was a crazy evening but this is even better. We lap up every song and are taken along The Glitter Band memory lane with classics including “Angel Face”, “Goodbye My Love”, “Let’s Get Together Again, “Rock ’n Roll Part II” and “Just for You”. The energy of the band is fantastic, as is their engagement and banter with the crowd. Even John (Dave apparently – see comment from Jill below… EiTC) on bass smiles down and compliments me on my dancing to “Angel Face”. 

 

This is arguably one of the most nostalgic gigs I think I have ever been to. Hit after hit after hit and sadly, matters come to a conclusion with a barnstorming, almost punk/heavy metal version of, “Leader of the Gang”. Well worth the entry fee Gentlemen. Thank you from all of us. 

 

At 23.15 GMT / 20.15 Zorg Time, the heat sensor activates on my wrist chronograph; the signal that it is time to report back to the Mother Ship. I bid farewell to members of The FamilyinBlack and make my way back onto Parkway. Taking position as instructed by The Earl of Camden pub, I look up into the London night sky and see the faint green glimmer of the approaching Transporter Module. I will look forward to sharing with Tobias what an excellent evening I have just had on Planet Earth. 

 

Thank you to John Rossall’s Glitter Band and thank you to The Priscillas. “Magnifique”, as they say in the French General Elections. 

 

PiL, 1.5.17.


Over…
Words: Paul in London.
Pics: Missy Lou Antlers and EiTC.
Bonus:

Guest Review – The Monochrome Set – The Lexington – 080417

Stardate 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286...

 ...Today we beamed an away team down to a hostile planet in the Sol system.

 Headed up by Admiral PiL, for the most part they fitted right in!

 The following is a first hand account of the mission...

The Monochrome Set
Live at The Lexington, London, N1.

Saturday 8th April 2017

A report by PaulinLondon

I alight from Angel tube station at 18.45 GMT and into the fantastic sunshine enveloping Islington’s uber trendy, Upper Street. It is a beautiful Saturday evening; London at its best.

After a short stroll, I spot Elvis in the Clouds, Turkey Troter and Lou, each armed with a charged glass, standing outside The Angel pub. “Stranglers !” I cry from across the road and at the top of my voice as I go over to join these three members of the clan known as, The FamilyinBlack. It is very good to catch up again and we are soon joined by my old friend Nigel; a fine drummer who I have had the pleasure to be in a band with over many years and who is a hardened fan of The Monochrome Set.

In no time at all, the moment has come to partake of the five minute walk to tonight’s venue, The Lexington. We are now joined by Guildford Lil who makes up the final cog in the Stranglers presence at tonight’s concert (a little later we are joined by Streatham Mick but no sign of Hammer EiTC). On entering this fantastic old and vast pub, we have our hands stamped at the ticket desk and enjoy some more drinks and merriment outside in the wonderful warm London air. Support act, “The Bitter Springs” are already on stage and we miss their performance on this occasion.

The venue upstairs above the pub seems huge; reminiscent of the The Forum in Kentish Town but on a smaller scale. The Monochrome Set have a great crowd tonight including none other than Spizz from Spizzenergi. At 21.30 GMT, The Monochrome Set take to the stage to almighty applause. They launch into “Super Plastic City” which is then followed by my all time favourite, “Jet Set Junta”. Bid on guitar and lead vocals never seems to age. He is a cool frontman and seems genuinely touched by the great attendance at this evening’s show. To his left, the unflappable Andy Warren on bass who is dressed in black and whose nonchalant expression reminds me of one Jean-Jacques Burnel. His rolling bass lines are complimented by the excellent, almost Swiss clockwork, efficiency of Mike Urban on drums. Adding a layer of synths and organ, is the fantastic and bizarrely dressed keyboard player, Mr John Paul Moran. He is dressed in either a light grey jumpsuit or some form of late Victorian pyjamas; I can’t work out which.

There barely seems time to draw breath as the band play through a fine set of “post punk” material which includes great numbers of theirs such as “Ruling Class”, “Eine Symphonie”, “Cosmonaut” and “Waiting for Alberto”. As I have said already, it is great to see such a fine turnout for this band. I last saw The Monochrome Set two years ago at another venue close by called The Islington. Yet again, their loyal fans have come out in great and adoring number.

As with all good concerts, the finale arrives all too soon. You just want to hear more and more but alas, it is 23.00 GMT and that means, curfew time. We make our way downstairs and after a short Committee meeting, one of the shortest I can remember, my proposal to go next door for a curry and a debrief is agreed unanimously and with no dissenting votes.

The Monochrome Set look like they are here to stay. Formed in 1976, they have an energy and unique addictive sound.

Catch them if you can.

PiL, 10.4.17.

Over…

Photos: Missy Lou.

MIA: Hammer.

Bonus:

 

Guest Review – Straighten Out – Hope and Anchor 240317

Black Friday Part 1…

Sadly EiTC had to miss the annual pilgrimage to the Hope and Anchor for the afternoon mass in black...

Fortunately,  Little Lil was there to egg on Bag Lady to big it up...

Straighten Out – Hope and Anchor Friday 24th March 2017

It was late morning when I slipped my little feet into my little DM’s and took a little train ride to see a little gig in a tiny basement. It was the pre-Stranglers meet up to witness lil’ ol’ Straighten Out at the mighty Hope and Anchor (well, something in this little review had to add a bit of stature). A little afternoon out? Oh no, this was to exceed expectations.

The pub took a while to fill up with people in black but eventually the bar was three deep in dark figures. The thud of a sound check penetrated the floorboards as greetings were called out and old acquaintances re-established. Without announcement the doors downstairs were opened. A homing instinct called to those in black who turned and obediently filed down in an orderly queue. Flippin’ heck, Lil, the place was rammed to the rafters. What does a little ‘un have to do to find a breathing space in here? Scuba gear attached and sauna towel adjusted, it was once more into the fray with the band emerging from the crowd.

Longships into The Raven, ah, a proper start. Are we going to be a better audience than Glasgow? Of course we are. Dead Loss Angeles and Ice. Does anyone know what album they’re playing? Maybe cracks are appearing in our superiority when the audience consensus is that Rattus is having an airing… I am delighted, although after Bordello and ND not surprised, to hear Shah Shah A Go Go, now that’s a treat. What’s up next? An omission and an addition. Bear Cage and a chance to chant along. The voice changer is employed through Meninblack and later in JLNOE (or is this Shaggy’s real off-stage voice?). As we are in MiB territory I should mention my view of new drummer, Casey’s set up meant his head appeared to be a cymbal in an alien way. Legs, torso, rather attractive biceps and a cymbal up top. It’s a relief after nearly two hours to see him unfold from behind the kit and find that he is from our planet. Welcome.

After a little flirtation into Gospel territory, SO move on to the very best of La Folie – Man, Tramp, Family and Everybody. I know I’m listing (and that is not referring to my heading to starboard with my wonky dancing to Who Wants the World nor to an impeccable Toiler) but this was a set list written for fans and that marks this gig out. Plus each track was belted out, not even slowing when Phil burst a string. Add again to that the authentic sound with Mick’s keyboards and you have a room of hot, happy people. Shaggy says from the stage that they read the various forums, take note of what fans want to hear and try to provide. For any dry trees seeking water, this is the place to be.

The appreciation of the audience was there throughout but they took time to make noisy expression. It was after all mid Friday afternoon and the creation of a rowdy late night atmosphere takes some working. In the well-crafted set the arrival of Tank was perfectly timed, the audience were hungry for it. We were like children who have gorged on the party buffet of rich and rare Stranglers tracks, thinking it was time to head out for a go on the swings, only to be presented with ice cream sundaes. There’s pudding too! Oh yes, we’ve got room! Sleazy followed (the dancing rather sedate this afternoon), SBC and Heroes. The whipped cream on top was added with a magnificent seven and a half minutes of Sewer. Our appetites were satisfied. The temperature had soared. The smiles had grown. The cheers had risen.

Straighten Out had taken bigger risks with the set than The Stranglers would later in the evening. There is not the pressure to keep in the general crowd pleaser tracks that the casual attendee expects at a Stranglers gig, giving SO more freedom to roam through the albums for gems. For the Stranglers themselves this freedom might be considered insane. It is good to see SO go large with the set list. It pays off, big time. Classic.

Over…

Words: Guildford Lil.

Photos: Gary Bainbridge.

Coming Soon to a town near you...
Black Friday Part 2...
and now
Black Friday Part 3!

Guest Review – Stranglers/Ruts DC – Southend Cliffs Pavilion – 230317

We intercepted, captured and interpreted this incoming transmission as it was broadcast across space and time... 

There was talk of Lew and talk from Lou but no time was spent in either Lieu or the Loo etc Etc EiTC...

Presented here for the first time in full...

Sugar tongs primed, refractors tweaked and hair straighteners only just remembered, we’re off to the seaside that is Southend.

A relatively painless manoeuvre negotiating the M25 and its’ allies and we’re at the hotel with the sugar tongs reclining on the window sill gazing out to far horizons, well, the Isle of Sheppy at least…

All spruced up and a wander past the Cliffs Pavilion in the glorious sunset for a quick fish and chip tea and a little libation before heading back for the main event – The Stranglers with Ruts DC supporting.

The Ruts are on as we go in and we’re soon into the rhythm with Jah Wars which I’m reliably informed is all about jam making in the WI, everyday’s a school day eh!? (wf)

In no particular order we also hear In A Rut, Babylon’s Burning and the superb Music Must destroy amongst others (soz, memory’s not what it was and I have got ManFlu!), a perfect set for getting us ready for what’s to come.

The lights dim and Waltzinblack sets off the tingle in me as it does every time I hear it and they’re on! Straight into The Raven and I’m laughing and crying with the sheer joy of just being there and sharing it with like-minded folk.

The band look well and seem to be enjoying this tour so much, there’s something there that has been missing for a few tours, the mojo is in great working order.

A blistering set including one of my all time faves Bear Cage – oh wow, hearing that live is something else! Always great to hear Genetix, liking Freedom a lot this time round too and couldn’t resist providing the missing trumpet backing on Was It You (I always liked that bit of brass).And to really knock the orgasmatron off the scale, on comes Lew Lewis for the encore and belts out Old Codger on his trusty blues harp! Innit!?

All too soon it’s time for NMH and the bright lights of the Pavilion suggest it’s time to gather and go.

Dazed, but certainly not confused, until next time…

Over…

Words: Missy Lou.

Pictures: Mrs Bloggs.

Bonus:

Guest Review – Stranglers/Ruts DC – Birmingham o2 180317

Sugar Tongs aside, EiTC is yet to make it to the classic collection tour!!!
Birmingham is always a blast but YT will have to wait...
Fortunately Gizzard was there and brings us this account of the evening...

15 STEPS TO BIRMINGHAM

Here we are all again, March is upon us and it’s the annual Stranglers tour of the UK, still no news of a new album(it’s in the pipeline we hear…?) The tour is called ‘The Classic Collection’, does this mean a new range of clothing or the ‘greatest hits’? We are promised ‘new old’ tracks in pre tour interviews so it looks promising and also a set change every night…

My interest in seeing the band live has waned over the last 3 or so years, they will always be my favourite band without question and in 158 gigs I have only come away really disappointed once(AITUK Birmingham 2005), from a personal point of view I think seeing them so many times has took the edge off, plus the same ‘hits’ and the lack of new material hasn’t helped, so now each tour 2 or 3 gigs max instead of previously 7 or 8.

I have never been one for not wanting to see the set list before I go to a gig, so after the first gig I want to know, I had seen what was being played and to be honest it didn’t really ‘excite’ me, the only real standouts were ‘Bear Cage’ and ‘15 Steps’ and that was because I had never seen them performed live. There were other songs I was pleased to see back but there were also a few that I have heard/seen played to death but hey you can’t please everyone…..

So I leave home around late afternoon in my new 17 plate Black automobile, plenty of CD’s for the journey, starting with a live recording of Toronto 1980, hells fire it must have been good to see them then!

And so to Birmingham, always liked seeing the band there as it’s always a very healthy and appreciative crowd and this time was no exception, before the actual gig there was a fine meet up of black clad people old and new in the nearby Railway pub, always good to meet up with old faces and new.

And onto the gig, wanted to get in early to check out the Ruts DC, have never seen them before but have their albums and have heard good reports so was keen to check them out, by the time they came on at around 7.45 there was a very healthy crowd and they didn’t disappoint, the set was a mixture of old tracks and new ones from their very fine album ‘Music Must Destroy’, highlights for me being the title track and of course the oldies ‘Jah War’, Staring At The Rude Boys’ and ‘Babylons Burning’.

And so to the main event, the place was now rammed and it was very hot, the lights go down and the familiar WIB comes out of the PA and we are off, have to say the new stage set up of the bricks doesn’t do anything for me, a plain black background with the white or red logo would suffice.
JJ looks in fine form(hope I look that good at 65), he actually seems to look younger each tour, the sound is spot on and the hits are rattled through, highlights were for me are ‘Never To Look Back’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘WWTW’ and of course ‘Sewer’, ‘Bear cage’ was very good but I thought it might be better vocal wise.

Both Baz and Dave are on fine form but the keyboards in certain songs don’t sound right, they sound very ‘plonky(is that even a word..?) and he even partly misses singing one of the lines of ‘Genetix’.

Jim does a fine job on the drums but to me it doesn’t look right without the mighty presence of JB and his drum kit, I know that is not going to change but that’s my opinion and in no way takes away the fact that Jim does a very good job and is a fine drummer.On a personal note whilst I was looking forward to seeing the band again I was not as excited as I have been in previous years, as noted above live interest has slightly diminished, that said I really enjoyed the gig, the band are playing as tight as ever and the future however long that may be looks just good for them, although I want to hear new material, I may be in the minority here as the average Stranglers gig goers will only want to hear the old material but not me, it’s been a long time since ‘Giants’ and a new album is well overdue, I would also like to hear some different ‘older’ tracks and more stuff post Hugh, this though has been and will continue to be debated for as long as the band continue and probably further.

To sum up another fine live performance in the company of good people, now FFS get that new material out!!

Oh and roll on Bristol.

Over…

Words: Gizzard.

Images: Simon Kent.

Videos: adperry0

Bonus:

Click for animation

Guest Review – Stranglers/Ruts DC – Reading Hexagon –

We managed to coax the sugar tongs back to life...
And they were ticking over nicely...
Which was just as well as the following message nearly caused an overheat malfunction in the Pigeon to English translation matrix...

The Stranglers Review reading

It’s traditional now that the Stranglers go on tour in March. This year’s March tour consists of 19 gigs. And an added bonus support of the superb Ruts DC, who are promoting their new album “Music Must Destroy” 6 tickets booked for me. Taking in a couple of new cities; Newcastle and Leeds. But my first gig was the Reading Hexagon. A venue I first went to last year on the “Black and White” tour. I thought last year was so good, I decided to go again!

Arriving in Reading I met my friend Adam Cooper at the station. We checked into the IBIS hotel, where we were staying with our friend Alex Owen. At the lobby I met fellow forum member Greatkudu.

After checking in we had a walk to the venue to try meeting the band around sound check time. The walk to the venue gave us time to talk on all things Stranglers. We arrived at the venue at 4pm as we thought that’s what time the band would come out. At the entrance were several fans, I saw Andy Miller, so we had a talk with him. After a lengthy chat, the band came out of sound check at 5pm. Baz and Dave quickly shot off into the awaiting car. However, JJ stopped and talked to fans. It was at that point I asked JJ if I could have a photo with him. JJ said “Well everyone else is”. So I got another photo with JJ. My first was in 2005 at his “Songs and Stories” tour in Salford. Then me and Adam headed off for a Thai curry. We arrived at the venue in time for Ruts DC. It was great to bump into friends Sam Holiday, Owen, Andy and Karen.

Ruts DC took the stage at 7.45 and Ruffy the Drummer said they had not played in Reading for 37 years. And that they would be playing songs from their new album “Music Must Destroy” which is good because I own it (and most excellent it is too – EiTC).

They started off with “Vox teardrop” from the new album. Which Captain Sensible plays on. I like “Music Must Destroy” the song and they play it. Segs the bass player and singer says it’s because we’re still so very angry. He shouts “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” at the start. From RATM. I really like the chorus “We are not your property”. They mix new songs with old songs. So, they play reggae dub song “Mighty Solider”, and their old single “Shine on Me”. Back to the new album they play “Kill the pain”. Obviously most of the crowd are waiting for the popular songs “Staring at the rude boys”, “In a rut” and “Babylon’s Burning”. But it is “Psychic Attack”. Which I am waiting for. They go off to a good applause

Time for The Stranglers at Tonight’s Sold out gig at the Hexagon. These days it is now impossible to not know the set with social media websites. I think I waited a day before I caved in. With the bands back catalogue from 1977 to 1982 supposedly being re-released, it would likely be a set mainly consisting of songs from that time period. Whilst there are many from that time period I would like to see Dropped. I would like to say “Always the Sun”, “5 minutes” and Walk on by” (sacrilege etc Etc EiTC!) for one (that’s three! EiTC). But these are must play songs. Baz has said in interviews there are several folders. “The must play folder”, “band request” folders and “Self indulgent” folders. Whilst he gave away the band would be playing “Dagenham Dave”, and an unplayed song from “Giants”. I guessed at “15 Steps”. I tried to keep the rest of set a Surprise (That was Ruts DC Surely! EiTC…).

9pm. “Waltzinblack” airs from the PA. Like a bus timetable that is timed to Greenwich mean time. Bang on!. “The Raven” starts off. My favourite all time song. So it doesn’t get much better for me already. “Was it you”? next, it looks like Dave has new Keyboards and “Grip”follows. Jim has a very nice looking new drum kit. It looks like a “linpig” (Ludwig??? EiTC) kit. Up next “Sometimes”. I have heard this a fair few times now but never get bored of it. It is clear the band are getting on as good as ever. “Never to look back” is up next, one of my favourites from “10”.

Now it’s time for the first wave of hits. “Strange little Girl” makes a nice return to the set. The first song the band ever wrote this is the classic collection, “Always the Sun” to which Baz and JJ seem to be having banter onstage by pulling faces at each other. We are well and truly in the hit parade now as “Golden Brown’ is up next.

A mad lighting effects. I am thinking to myself at this point Ok it’s a greatest hits set!

…but a keyboard run started off…
“No” I thought to myself it can’t be!!!
A heavy bass line followed and…
“BEAR CAGE”!!!!
I can’t believe it!
I have been waiting years and years to see this…
I just watch in Amazement.
Baz playing a stunning Gibson SG.
And his voice on this is very very good.
He sounds as mean as Hugh!. With “GMBH” and Gee I’m Living in a Bear Cage”.
I was totally surprised by this and this is worth the ticket fee alone!!!

“Genetix” next which is as good as ever (first time with Jim on Drums! EiTC). Only JJ seemed to start his bass solo too early. “Walk on By” which replaces “Midnight Summer Dream”. Which I am a tad disappointed about. Now time for the “Giants” set “Freedom is insane”, and then Baz starts a guitar line to “15 Steps” which is a really interesting version. I really like this song on “Giants” so I am glad they are playing it.

“Dagenham Dave” up next. One thing I notice the band are playing superbly. “5 Minutes” and then “Peaches”, “Nice N Sleazy”, then another great Surprise “Down in the Sewer”. Always a joy to hear this song another one of my favourites I never tire of hearing it live. It’s a song of four individual parts climaxing in the “Rats Rally” finale. The band go off to a very loud applause and come back for a shortened encore tonight of “Go Buddy Go” and “No More heroes”. I sat here typing this review out as we are in a car with Mark Owen at the helm with me Alex and Mrs Owen heading in the direction of Newcastle for my 2nd part of the tour … Marching on in Black

Over…

Words: The Legendary Pigeon.

Pictures and Videos: Andy Miller.

Bonus:



Guest Review – The Stranglers/Ruts DC – Lincoln Engine Shed – 070317

The Sugar Tongs have been offline due to a malfunctioning T-unit and what with cloning technology being what it is at the moment (etc Etc EiTC), Elvis had to resign himself to the fact that in this (or that) instance he wasn’t (currently isn't) able to be in two places at one moment.
 
Fortunately help was on hand... 

Cue John Dewhirst…

Whether it is Seasonal affected disorder (SAD) or age, the passing of winter and the coming of spring is always a welcome occurrence. March can be hit and miss in terms of the weather but it is a month that has assumed a particular significance, heralding the start of the touring season for the Men in Black that can be relied upon to brighten the mood.

I have seen The Stranglers on most tours since 1979 but have no hesitation in saying that those of the last five years or so have been the best for sheer all-round enjoyment. I am not alone in confessing that there was a phase in an earlier decade when I attended gigs more out of a sense of duty or habit than a compelling case of having to be there. But how things have changed! At the start of the decade I had a deep-rooted fear that a forthcoming tour was going to be the last but The Stranglers remain the band which continues to surprise and defy.

The last forty years bear testament to the band’s ability to reinvent itself with different styles of music. This decade however has been a statement of vitality almost akin to a rebirth, sufficient to persuade myself and others to commit significant chunks of time to follow the band across the UK on its annual March tour.

This year The Stranglers began their 19 date schedule in Lincoln on 7th March and I was fortunate to be there. It was the first time that I had visited the city and walked the streets having only previously been to Sincil Bank to watch the football. (Baz Warne alluded to the recent FA Cup exploits of Lincoln City and I share his sentiments of goodwill towards the club in its forthcoming Quarter-Final tie at Arsenal. As a supporter of Bradford City and someone at the Valley Parade fire in 1985, I share a certain affinity with the Imps.)

Although based in Bradford, I work across the UK and on this occasion had the relative convenience of travelling from Sheffield, only 50 miles distant. I arrived in Lincoln in the early afternoon and enjoyed a few hours wandering around the city before getting some food and heading off to the venue. It was a great day with spring sunshine and a nice place to visit. There is also the friendliness of the people in black from diverse backgrounds but with one thing in common.

What I have discovered is that when you attend a Stranglers gig you can be assured of a decent, charismatic venue (Fibbers at York included) and in that regard, the Engine Shed in Lincoln rates highly as one of the best. As far as sound systems go, neither was the support band plagued by the sort of issues that occurred in nearby Skegness last October.

It is very easy to take for granted all the incidental stuff that makes for an enjoyable experience seeing The Stranglers but the common theme is that you get good, solid entertainment. The Ruts DC were no exception to this and once more we have another hard working, enthusiastic band in support.

The atmosphere at the Lincoln gig was in many ways characteristic of what Stranglers concerts have become and the enjoyment of the evening is evident not only on the faces of those in the audience but on stage too – as well as the road crew. Everyone has fun. It is quite a unique bond between all concerned and what is so refreshing is just how down to earth it all is. All quite matter of fact and with no pretentiousness.

There is also the relaxed manner in which the band performs consistently to a high standard. Yet whilst it could be claimed that this comes from the familiarity of the band members it overlooks the professionalism of those concerned. For all the laid back delivery there is a wonderful team ethic and attention to detail that few of us have the privilege to witness in our day jobs. Also noteworthy is that this discipline is maintained during the entirety of a tour, a stamina challenging routine of at least four concerts per week that would test the energy levels of performers thirty years younger.

In terms of the music, Ruts DC gave a good performance that featured songs including ‘In a Rut’ and ‘Babylon’s Burning’. Crucially these were musicians who wanted to be there and were enjoying the occasion as much as the regular Stranglers fans.

The back catalogue of The Stranglers is so extensive as to make a mockery of any description of the set list being one of classics. There was probably an ironic grain of truth in the admission by Baz that it is in fact what the band wanted to play. The choice of songs showcases a real balance of musical talents and underlines the credentials of Jim and Baz alongside J-J and Dave – it is difficult to believe that the former pair are relative newcomers to the line-up.

The Stranglers never fail to be innovative and the rendition of ‘Bear Cage’ deserves special mention – a version that is destined to be a new live favourite. So too the contribution of Dave’s swirling organ that was particularly noticeable on the night. A new song – ’15 Steps’ – was given its (live) debut and was well received (15 Steps is the closing track on Giants eitc). Other favourites included the opener, ‘The Raven’ as well as old favs ‘Dagenham Dave’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Buddy’ and ‘Down in the Sewer’. If this was the choice of tracks for an album it would be nothing less than balanced – a classic collection indeed.

On the basis of the first gig we have a great month ahead and much to look forward to. I remain in awe and have nothing but praise for the band – The Stranglers surely offer the benchmark for what a good gig is all about. Whilst there have been many videos of live performances, the one that is missing is a film about the hard work that goes into making these tours such a success and allowing us to celebrate the coming of spring!

See you next in Glasgow…

Over…

Words: John Dewhirst

John was co-founder of the longest surviving football fanzine The City Gent and has written a number of books about the history of both rugby and soccer in his home city, Bradford: https://johndewhirst.wordpress.com/ @jpdewhirst
He is the proud owner of a Triumph Bonneville T120 – black, of course.

Photos and Video: Andy Miller

Bonus: