Guest Review – Public Image Limited – Shepherd’s Bush Empire 2nd October 2015.

Public Image Limited played at The Shepherd’s Bush Empire Last Friday…
The Legendary Pigeon flew in with this report

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I am somewhat of a late comer to the band that is Public image Limited…

Before I was a fan, i knew of the hit singles, but not really the albums. It wasn’t until 2009’s album “This is P.I.L” that I really started to get into them, as I thought and still think it is a very good album.

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A few years passed, of missing them live, so at the start of the year I made them on the top of my list to finally see live. With the news at the end of last year, that a new album was underway, I thought I would await the news. And it slowly arrived midway through the year, that they will be doing a UK tour, and a concert at London Shepherd’s Bush Empire at the start of October, I immediately snapped up a ticket during the pre-sale. With the albums release of “What the world needs now”, we were treated to an instore signing session, at London’s Rough Trade Records. Johnny was in great spirits with his tour manager and best friend Rambo, and duly signed everything. A few listens to the new album it does take a while to get into but as I learnt over the years what PIL album doesn’t?. The opener “double trouble” is very good and funny. So the countdown the gig begins…

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And the day finally arrives. Plans are made to meet fellow gig attendees, Matt, Graham, Kate, and Marcus. Tonight’s gig is being recorded for future release.

We get into the venue and support band are on a reggae band. I watch the rest of their set, though I haven’t heard of them and not a fan of Reggae music. (EiTC note: Dear Pidge, it was a set of upbeat Reggae and Ska from the delightful Rhoda Dakar (ex of The Bodysnatchers) and her amazing band culminating in the wonderful – Do Rock Steady! Yours sincerely EiTC… )

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We get to the front of the barrier and wait for Public Image Limited. Eventually the band members come onstage, Drummer Bruce Smith, Bassist Scott Firth, the former member of the Damned on Guitar Lu Edmonds, and finally Mr John Lydon himself. Dressed all in black!!!

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Lydon addresses the crowed “What you fucking nagging again???, about What? What?, the toilets fucking broken again, I told ya I repaired that, get the plumber in Again Again, Again, & Again” this is “Double trouble” the opening song from the new album, and it’s very catchy and a great way to start the gig. Most know the song by now, there are not that many people that don’t know it. A good start, up next is track two from the new album “Know Now”, you can see in the crowd not that many people own the new album yet so they didn’t know this song.

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Now it is time to hit the crowd with something everyone knows and “This is not a love Song” is up next, the place is rocking for this song. And they follow it up with the superb “Poptones” YES!!!,Lydon’s voice is always so powerful on this song. Two songs I really wanted to see them play and they did. From then they started to play a varied set list with “Disappointed”, songs from the new album and older albums.

Before “The one” Lydon announces “These are my best Mates say hello to them”, whilst this is not one of my favorites on the album, I think this will become a part of the set in years to come. Up next a very long version of “Deeper Waters” from the “This is PIL” album which I like a lot, so I am glad they played a song from it, however it wasn’t well received as it was too long, and people started talking amongst themselves.

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Time for the band to rapture up the set a bit and the massive song “Death Disco”, to which a lighting effect. As Lydon yells “I can see it in your Eyes, you can see it my eyes”. With its grooving beat had the crowd rocking once again. Up next a song from the new album “Corporate” which I thought would go down well with its chorus “MURDERER,NICK A WALLET,YOU FUDAWADA,MURDERER,NICK A WALLET,COPORATE MURDERER”. Up next a song i must admit i didn’t know “The Body”, but i have heard it now. “Warrior”, and “Bags/chant” follow. Then the band close the main set with the fantastic “Religion” which was an extended version of the song tonight, with its thunderous bassline as Lydon shouts “TURN UP THE BASS”.

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The band go off “We want more, We want more”, and they duly come back on, now it’s time to get crushed I think to myself as they launch into “Public image”, the first song I heard by them as Johnny’s “Ellos” deafened the halls, The place erupted into a frenzy. I am surprised I didn’t lose my glasses but they stayed on. And they finished off with of course “Rise” with everyone singing “ANGER IS AN ENERGY”. Lydon finishes of by saying “So what do you think Rambo 10/10?” My conclusion is that it was a very good concert and I don’t know why it took me so long to see them, but I definitely won’t be waiting as long to see them for the next time.

Words: Pigeon.
Photos: EiTC.
Spellcheck: Microsoft.

Bonus:

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Guest Review – John Cooper Clarke – The Garrison – Toronto – 10th Sept 2015.

Guest Reviewer Maria Meli caught John Cooper Clarke’s recent show in Toronto…

John Cooper Clarke Review

Punk poet John Cooper Clarke at The Garrison, Toronto, September 10, 2015
(Rescheduled from the original May 15 & 16 dates at The Rivoli)

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Self-styled “Dr.” John Cooper Clarke took the stage at The Garrison in Toronto after an audio intro hinting pomp and circumstance. Cocaine-thin, the lanky rhyme master looked even taller than he is, dressed in a tight-as-second-skin royal blue suit, white shirt, crochet blue tie and kid-smooth black shoe boots. How tight was his suit? One could see that the doctor dresses to the right. He sported black sun glasses, no doubt to ward off the blinding blue stage lights in the dark club. Indisputably, Dr Clarke has style!

He began by letting us know, due to the late hour of his arrival in the city, there was not enough time to submit a guest list in advance, so he was going to read it out, which he did – in verse – after first entertaining us with his wit and humour. The guest list was read from his dog-eared note book. All his verse is recorded there, regardless of later publishing or recordings.

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His performance was a combination of older classics like “Beasley Street,” “Evidently Chickentown,” “Hire Car” and “Twat,” newer works like “I’ve Fallen in Love With My Wife,” and “Bed Blocker Blues” and his droll musings.

Clarke can poke fun at himself, and he shared a story about his old friends in Manchester commenting on how he’s gained weight since he stopped taking drugs. He’s downright obese now! He segued into a poem about this rotund, drug-free state – he’s still a skyscraper sliver – called “Get Back on Drugs You Fat Fuck.”

He shared his thoughts with the audience on many topics, for example, the temperature in Toronto.

“Who knew it went tropical in Canadia? [No typo, he said Canadia a few times.] Here down next to Mexico. Consequently, I’ve been sweating like a glass blower’s ass.”

“Did I ever get a wrong number,” he continued. “I even brought a parka. A snow parka!”

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His tirade on relationships, definitely coloured by his acrimonious divorce with his first wife, included his thoughts on handling conflicts.

“If they really get upset with you, they give you the silent treatment … It’s worth putting in the extra effort.”

He was incompatible with his first wife. He shared that he’s an “Aquarian, while she’s an asshole.”

When asked if he’s a romantic, his reply is, “To a sadistic degree.”

Besides being blessed with humour and a quick wit, Clarke has a gift for impressions. He did channel, or perhaps “don,” the persona of an American mafioso (well, a mash of Bronxian and Brooklynese) several times during his performance.

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He has matured and the topics he wants to comment on have expanded. In his preamble to “Bed Blocker Blues,” he opined how the health care system considers old people who have to be in hospital bed blockers. A seventy year-old with dementia is taking the spot that a 56 year-old father of four awaiting gender reassignment could be using. He tackled two current issues in one sentence and managed to inject humour into it.

After amusing the audience with a morbid limerick, which he didn’t write, but wished he had, he moved on to haiku.

He reviewed the basics: three lines, 17 syllables, structured in five, seven and five words. No deviation half a syllable either way.

“You know what the Japanese are like,“ he said. “There is no Japanese literal translation for the term ‘near enough.’”

Get it wrong, and it’s like spitting on your ancestors – then he would be obliged to eviscerate himself in a public place and he doesn’t want that to happen. He had to think carefully about it before attempting haiku. He thought if push came to shove, he could live with himself spitting on his ancestors, but he drew the line at eviscerating himself … however wavy.

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He read six haikus in a random order, starting with Haiku #6 and ending with Haiku #1. Three of them follow:

Haiku #6
Smarter men than I
Have been total idiots
And I’ve met them all

Haiku #2
With patience and faith
You may catch your enemy’s
Funeral cortège

Haiku #4
With its golden pledge
of a pain-free existence
morphine makes me breathe

His penultimate poem was a more recent composition about his wedded bliss, called, “I’ve Fallen in Love With My Wife.” He then ended the set with “Evidently Chickentown.”

A short break and he was back for an encore and more storytelling.

Clarke divulged that he prefers the disabled bathroom as it is more “residential.” One can apply cosmetics. He used to have a Joan Jett hair style which needed maintenance. A man found him there and observed, “You don’t look disabled.” It was the best news Clarke had all week.
He liked him already. When the man asked what Clarke was doing in the disabled bathroom, he replied, “Keeping the dream alive.”

He ended the evening by reading “I Wanna be Yours,” the poem that Alex Turner liked so much, the Artic Monkeys recorded it.

After four decades, Clarke is still the scatological, original rebel he has always been, with a sharp wit and an “Up yours!” attitude. He has the timing of a comedic actor and the ability to spin a web that both captures and captivates the listener.

An anthology of his work titled Anthologia comprising both CDs and DVDs will be released on October 16th.

Over…

Words/Photos/Video: Maria Meli.

Bonus:

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Guest Review – Hugh Cornwell – Weyfest – 5th September 2015.

Guest Review – Hugh Cornwell – Weyfest – 5th September 2015.

Hugh Cornwell played at the Weyfest Festival in Surrey – Guildford Lil gives us the lowdown…

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I was initially lured to Weyfest when the Stranglers played there in 2010. I was then so won over by this most civilised festival that I have been coming back every year since, seeing it as a chance for me to unwind and for my children to go feral. I purchased my ticket for this year back in October when none of the line-up had been announced. As the artists were gradually announced over the following months there were few that I knew and rather a lot that I had never even heard of. In mid-July came the announcement that The Troggs (yes, I’d heard of them) would not be able to attend and would be replaced by Hugh Cornwell. Bonus!

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This isn’t a review of the entire festival but I have to mention that I went to see Inside Information play on the Old Kiln Stage. I was basing my decision on the flimsy connection to Hugh’s account of his time in Pentonville having the same title as the band’s name. I was surprised to see that the bass player was a former work friend of my husband’s. For a computer nerd he rocked pretty well and I stayed for several songs.

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The other honourable mention of the weekend goes to the Charley Farley Sunday Four’s performance of Golden Brown. Always a delight and I am continued to be indebted to Mr Bloggs for passing on a recommendation to see them that he was given a couple of years back.

Weyfest was a little quieter this year than in previous years. This may have been down to a slight change to the weekend it was held which meant that the schools had already gone back but what the audiences lacked in numbers they continued to provide in enthusiasm.

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At 18.20 on Saturday I joined the small group at the barrier of the Village Green Stage to enjoy the sound check and admire the Totem and Taboo banner that had been strung across the back of the stage. At 18.30 Hugh, Chris and Caz formally took the stage. They were well received and the audience swelled in numbers throughout the set. It was the familiar pattern of a solo song alternated with a Stranglers song. As expected T&T featured heavily (the title track, Stuck in Daily Mail Land, I Want One of Those, God is a Woman, Gods, Guns and Gays, A Street Called Caroll) with just Beat of My Heart thrown in for variety. Representing the Stranglers were Skin Deep, Dagenham Dave, Duchess, Strange Little Girl, Grip, Peaches, Straighten Out and an encore of Sleazy and No More Heroes.

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The tunes were blasted out with energy and zest and received by the audience with gentle but keen, warm appreciation. Splinters were flying from the back of the stage and Chris finished up Daily Mail Land with about two thirds of one drumstick remaining. Hugh had bass levels tweaked at the beginning of the set and even JJ must have felt it during Peaches (although it was less prominent by NMH in my opinion). A Street Called Caroll didn’t pause before it was straight into Straighten Out. Was this truly a proper segue? A jury may decide in its favour another time.

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Strange Little Girl produced the biggest crowd reaction when it started up. The Stranglers please note: no one was shouting for Golden Brown or Always the Sun and no one seemed to miss them. There were several calls for Nice and Sleazy and ultimately those punters were satisfied unlike the optimistic cry for Genetix from someone. Only a handful of Stranglers t-shirts had been in evidence during the day but along with them a lot of Weyfest regulars had chosen to wear their 2010 and 2013 t-shirts which bear the band name too. A friendly bunch. Hugh introduced songs at times and commented about how nice it was having a village green atmosphere but noted how cold it was “I was picking mushrooms last week, in August, not magic mushrooms, too early for those.”

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A technical hitch almost lost us the encore that managed to get squeezed into the tight festival schedule (most of the bands appearing on the main Beekeeper’s Stage were denied an encore no matter how enthusiastic the audiences). Hugh returned to the stage to find his guitar strap was hanging off when he picked up the Telecaster. A quick search of the stage found the offending bolt (or whatever was required) and disaster averted. It was a short set, as expected, but the crowd left satisfied and I spoke with several people who were impressed.

Hopefully Hugh will return to Weyfest soon. Too much to hope for but Hugh Cornwell on Saturday and The Stranglers on Sunday? A girl can dream!

After a cold night I awoke to find that Chris Bell and Caz Campbell had pitched their mini camping corral next to my tent. I had to give in to temptation and have a chat. Chris confirmed that he was down to his last drumstick by the end of the set “must have been hitting something wrong” was his opinion. Meanwhile I can confirm that Caz still looks that good even early in the morning after a night in a tent, in case anyone doubted it, wf.

Over…

Words: Guildford Lil.
Photos: Gill Baglady.

Bonus:

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Guest Review – The Stranglers – Tyntesfield – 14-8-15.

To bring the recent run of Stranglers gig reviews to a fitting conclusion and definitely forwards in going backwards, Gill Baglady recalls from her very own memory events from 14th August…

Guest Review – The Stranglers – Tyntesfield – 14-8-15.

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Delightful review as always Agent IntheClouds.
(Thank you kindly Ma’am)

Last things first: on my return to south Devon I found the sky was the clearest that I have seen it for a long time, chasing thoughts of sleep away as I settled down to observe the Milky Way and a few spare Perseids shooting by. Magnificent.

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Before that: exiting the croquet lawn via gently undulating paths lit with hundreds of tea lights in lanterns after a Stranglers gig, felt like a unique experience but one that I would be more than willing to repeat. A word of thanks to the kind staff and volunteers who not only lit all those candles but did not herd us away from the stage in a hurry, most genteel.

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In the middle: a splendid gig brought to us by a familiar set of gentlemen who initially took the stage in jackets although their caution was unwarranted and the night clement.

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Prior to that: Donkey Hot Pink who had come a long way. And possibly still had further to go. Ahead of them I caught only a couple of tracks from Howard in the Leaves. As Mr Warne commented, where do they get these names from? Random generator, perchance Sir? (Perhaps Ma’am, although someone may have missed a trick with the excellent device name itself! eitc Eitc EiTC)

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Earlier: M5, thanks, excellent fuel consumption per mile at those speeds (got to look at the positives, haven’t we?)

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Previously in the day: I was only permitted a small amount of wedding anniversary Prosecco, the price I had to pay but worth the trade off!

Words: Gill Baglady.

Photos: EiTC.

Bonus:

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Guest Review – The Stranglers – Warwick Uni – 15-8-15.

The Stranglers played Warwick Uni on 15-8-15…
Roving Guest Reviewer Mully tells all…

ALAS POOR WARWICK, I KNEW HIM HORATIO

A couple of days before my departure to another Strangler’ gig in The Copper Rooms at Warwick University, an EasyJet e-mail to remind me of things to do in The Midlands, freaked me out as my flight time to Birmingham was much earlier than I initially thought. Anyway, once I’d double-checked my booking, rather than re-arrange my original plans, I decided to take in a visit to Birmingham Arts & History Museum before journeying to Coventry.

With a couple of hours to kill, I hurried through galleries that did not grab my attention (The Staffordshire Hoard left me bored, the Warhol exhibit a rip-off) and mused over some of the Egyptian/Roman/Greek archaeology. The 17th Century Baroque Art drew me – masterpieces by Carlo Dolci “St Andrew’s Prayers Before His Martyrdom” (with a self-portrait of the artist watching on) and Gentileschi’s “Rest On Flight To Eygpt” were particular highlights as were some Degas sculptures. Modern culture of Birmingham was represented with some wartime memorabilia, through to more recent period exhibits. I noticed a small display on Duran Duran, records, badges and concert tickets – which had been supplied by a ‘superfan’ – who had seen the band an amazing five times!! Five times – jeez, I had already seen The Stranglers five times in March!!

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It was soon time to catch the train over to Coventry and a 30 minute journey left me a stone’s throw from my hotel – which also allowed me to check in a bit early. Pleasant enough accommodation and a couple of Strangler fans were already in residence. Dropped off my bags, unpacked – a quick wash and brush up left me ready to head into town. Before contacting Kevin, John and Tracy with a meet up point, I grabbed a fish and chip from a greasy take-away and sat in a sunny town garden to consume the said fare. Across the road was a freehouse, and so I texted the troops and arranged to hook up there before heading to the venue. Getting in a round of drinks, on a whim, I purchased a wee shot of Sambuca for a birthday boy at the table next to us – which was gratefully received, and led to the ladies in his company getting him a couple more!! Good luck to you later on mate!!

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Steve H texted to let me know he was already on The Sun Terrace at the Uni Bar and Bryan messaged me (even though I didn’t see it) to inform us that the pre-gig BBQ social at Mark T’s had also progressed up to the venue. We finished off our drinks and caught a cab to take us there – eventually (after the foreign cab driver finally understood my accent!!). Disembarking from the taxi, a steady stream of Strangler T-shirts were converging from all directions towards the bar room and once inside with fresh drinks in hand, the greets, hugs and handshakes, general catch-ups with friends (many of whom I had only said good-byes to a month earlier!!) began. All the great and good were in attendance (with some notable exceptions who were missing in action – especially Audrey, who had a prior arrangement to see her son’s band Osmosis). As the beer flowed and Mother Nature’s nicotine additive ‘blowed’, all intentions of catching the support band went out the window, as the craic was just too good. God help the poor girls behind the S.U. bar as at one stage the queue for drink practically meandered out the door of the bar.

There were chats with three Steves and cuddles with Sharon,
Hugs with Isabella, Sandra and Karen,
Belfast memories with Bryan and Mark T,
Bazzainblack and dead ringer Billy B.
Keith with Dave, Mandy and Liz – catching up on all the biz.
Eileen and Julie, and talking to Matt
About small flying tigers and zoos and all that,
Paul and Alan, and Jacqui sans Owen,
Soon it’s time for Kev and Elaine to be goin’.
Hellos to Munros, Katie and Tony,
And Nikki and Sarah – and even friend Joni.
Pidge, Pete and Dave, Cathy and Martin
Back to John and Trace as the gig was soon startin’.

So it was into the venue and it wasn’t long before The Stranglers made their way on stage – kicking off with an immense version of ‘Toiler’. The low ceiling and pillared hall gave a limited view from where we were stationed, but the sound was good and at this stage that was all that really mattered. A set list change saw the inclusion of ‘Goodbye Toulouse’ – one of my all-time favorite Strangler tracks – absolutely love the killer guitar solo from this song. My night was already made. The band rocks on through ‘Grip’, ‘I’ve Been Wild’ and ‘Curfew’ – the crowd responding to the energy coming from the stage. By the time Golden Brown’ comes round, I am ready to depart for my obligatory smoke-break, but Bazza twists my arm into having a pint and so I watch the performance for the first time in an absolute age. With my drink in hand and after listening to another ‘new’ track – ‘Death’n’Night’Blood’, it is not until ‘Freedom Is Insane’ that I make my way to the smoking area door (just beside the stage). Outside, you can still hear the band play – if somewhat muted, so it ain’t too bad out here!! Back in during ‘Nuclear Device’, it wasn’t long before I was boogie-ing along to ‘Time Was Once….’. During ‘Duchess’ I reckon I could manage another quick sneaky cig in before the end, but once outside I bump into Bazza and we start talking to Arletta (who bizarrely works for the Royal Mail – you couldn’t make it up!!) and before long the encores have started. Bit confuddled by ‘Heroes’ being the last song of the set, then ‘Something Better Change’ and ‘Tank’ make up the ‘real’ encore tracks.

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As the house-lights go up and everyone mingles for the post-gig ensemble, I meet up with a few people I had as yet not had the pleasure to encounter – Martin and his lovely wife Lyndsay (happy birthday again) but without young Elliott this time, and as I turn, I notice Pat – but before I can properly say hello – I only see my Belfast Belle, Bev. What a surprise – I was floored (literally) and this blew ‘Toulouse’ out of the water in making my night.

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Back into the Uni Bar for further drinks and the revelry continues in earnest. I find myself on the comfiest seat in the house as the craic continues on into the wee small hours. Before long it is good-byes, handshakes and kisses, to see only eight remaining figures – Keith, Dave, Kev, Elizabeth, Mandy, Elaine, Mark and yours truly – taxi-less, drinkless and ready to head back into town. Luckily we are in Mark T’s company and he knows how to escape the rat-run maze of avenues in the campus. Although taxis had been ordered, we find ourselves roaming round the empty varsity and after various piss-stops (both male and female varieties!!) we find ourselves at the Security Hut. The staff order us a couple of cabs and we are soon on the road back to our respective hotels.

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Sunday morning arrives all too soon, to find the sun once again splitting the trees and for me, an alcohol induced splitting headache. If you have read any of my previous tour reviews, you will know I often take in a trip to the local zoological gardens – this weekend was no exception. I had planned a late flight back home, hence allowing me the time to visit Dudley Zoo. A trip back to Brum on the train and a bus journey out to Dudley saw me dropped off outside the castle and surrounding park.

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I was immediately on guard as I walked through the gates as the first thing I saw was a fun-fair – with dodgems, a crappy roller-coaster and various other rides. Not good. As it turned out, it was a zoo of two halves – one was a small dog menagerie (definitely a shit zoo), bored animals in concrete pits, poor maintenance and poor lay-out. The good parts included the Lemur Trail, the big cat collection – with breeding Lynx (the cubs playing with the mother brought a smile to my face), Snow Leopards and Sumatran Tigers – all looking healthy and their cages well landscaped. Usually I can spend all day wandering around a zoo, taking in all the enclosures a number of times, but today I was really disappointed and left after only a couple or three hours. Back into town in time to watch the footie in The Railway Bar and renew acquaintances with the cute barmaid from back on the March Tour.

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Late flight back to Belfast completed another Strangler trip – eventually reaching home at 23:30 hrs. Tired, knackered but happy. Thanks to everyone for making this another memorable jolly – great company, great time and great friends…….
One more to go in 2015 – and it’s gonna be a messy one!!

Mully.

Over…

Words: Graeme Mullan.
Photos: Karen Parfitt.

Bonus Animation:

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Guest Review – The Stranglers – Holmfirth Picturedrome and Blackburn King Georges Hall – July 2015

Guest Review: Stranglers Mini Tour July 15 – Holmfirth and Blackburn according to Mully…

LAST OF THE BUMMER WHINE

Holmfirth Picturedrome and Blackburn King Georges Hall – July 2015

An uneventful flight from Belfast to Liverpool early Wednesday morning found me awaiting the arrival of my lift and gig buddy for another two Strangler gigs on that wee island off the coast of Ulster. Sat waiting, I contemplated e-mailing Mr Roget (he of the Thesaurus fame) to propose an addendum to his published tome – the insertion of Kevin Nacey under “kind-hearted, generous, princely, etc…” For the second year in a row, Kev has picked me up from the airport, driven to two gigs and ferried me back for the return flight – what a star. All that and having to put up with me as well!! But before I could compose such an e-mail, the man himself pulled up in his black BMW and after man-hugs and other catch-up greetings, my baggage was secured in the boot and we were off.

Anyway, we are soon on the road to Holmfirth – a very pleasant drive up hill and down dale, the not too hot sun shining, taking our time and enjoying the scenery through some beautiful picturesque villages. Eventually we arrive at our destination – The White Horse Hotel/B&B – a quaint family run hostelry nestled in the Yorkshire countryside on the banks of a babbling stream. Booked in, bags deposited in our rooms we await the arrival of the missing third of our tour triumvirate – the legend in Strangler gig-dom – Elaine Smith.

All too soon the Big Three, the Crucial Three, the Three Little Gigs-goers (or more likely The Three Stooges) are once again re-united as a taxi pulls up and emerging from the back seat, a hand clutching a giant Strangler poster from last night’s venue is followed by the lady herself. In the hotel bar, after a couple of pints and after getting changed into gig-gear, Elaine organises a taxi to take us into town – which felt like a trip with Postman Pat, as the taxi wended its way through the narrow streets of the Holmfirth metropolis. I wouldn’t say it was all hills, but I think I saw Ranulph Fiennes and a couple of Nepalese Gurkhas setting up a base camp by the side of the road.

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Deposited at the venue, we cross the road and make our way to The Bridge Inn to meet up with any like-minded people for the pre-gig social. Dandering along towards the bridge to The Bridge (no doubt hence the name), my first encounter (of many) that day was none other than young Elliot – standing out from the crowd, smiling from ear to ear. I had met this young man back in our hotel after the Preston gig last year with his Mum Lindsay and Dad Martin (and I didn’t even see them standing there too) until after Elliot and I had caught up again. I have known a few ‘Strangler Kids’ going to gigs with their parents – but this boy is different gravy. He possesses an near encycolpedic knowledge of the band and you can tell when talking to him it isn’t just cos his Dad is a fan – you can talk Stranglers with Elliot and not feel condescending or patronising. Early on in the day and this catch up had me buzzing with excitement already.

Heading bar-ward (I mean it was getting on half an hour since our last pint) and I bump into Jim Mac having a quiet pint outside the bar. Had a quick chat with him and got the inside track on Coventry’s support act, Table Scraps – sounding good and friends of Jim’s – must make the effort to catch them. As we were joined by Rikki and after more (Versace) smiles and catch ups, I eventually make it into the bar. Liquid refreshment in hand, Kev, Elaine and myself make our way to the tables outside There we are joined at various stages and via various rounds of cider and beer by Billy Barr, Mark T, Pete G, Julie, Eileen, The Munro’s, Matt & Karlos. Sitting in the sun, downing alcohol – the craic was ninety – stories told and re-told, jokes and japes – highlight being Mark bringing out the bar’s ‘Ring For Attention’ notice for poor Billy (who will never live the Belfast Bell(e) experience down). If I thought meeting up with Elliot was a pleasant surprise – when I bump into John & Tracy (another Preston meet) today’s social rocketed into stratospheric heights.

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Kev and I depart for greasy chip shop fare as others order food from the cuisine on offer at The Bridge. Once fed and (re)watered, the hardcore infantry maneuver to take up their offensive positions on the barrier whilst the cavalry decide to decamp to The Nook where other ‘family’ have congregated. Rounding the corner of the narrow alley leading down to an enclosed courtyard, there larger than life – Dave Colton, with Phil, Mandy and Elizabeth – amongst others. Dave was surprised to see me – and with Phil there, it was another Big Three – a third of The Pavillion Nine. Who was it sang ‘Three Is The Magic Number’? – I think they might have been onto something there !! More imbibing and hilarity (even a tickin’ sandwich) takes place until it is time to ride into action and charge into the breach.

Holmfirth Picturedrome is a class venue – tight, double balcony all-round the rectangular room, with a sloping floor to give everyone a good view of the stage and a slightly raised rear platform with a bar and where the merch had set up. Without too much effort even after missing the support act, I was able to make my way up to the front just behind Kev, Elaine et al and met a few others who I hadn’t seen earlier.

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The lights dim, the intro music blasts out and the crowd cheering heralds the start of the concert. Even now, after years of attending Strangler gigs, there seems to be a tangible excitement fizzing in the air as ‘Waltzinblack’ is played and the band walk onstage. Kicking off as they did in Belfast with ‘Toiler..’ the instant rumbling, thunderous bass intro gets the crowd moving and as JJ rocks back and forth to the rhythm, the rest of the band join in. The first three songs (there’s that number again) – ‘Toiler..’, ‘Straighten Out’ and ‘Grip’ blow everyone away. The energy levels are kept topped up with ‘I’ve Been Wild’, but just as I’m readying myself for ‘Four Horsies’ – a personal highlight of the March On Tour – the band play ‘Curfew’ instead. By the time ‘Golden Brown’ starts with a drumbeat similar to a Parades Commission ruling back home, I depart the front for the obligatory smoke break. Very few smokers in Holmfirth – there is just me and one other guy, but as any other nicotine addicted leper will tell you, we always spark up conversations and this guy regaled tales of all the bands he had seen over the years here and was amazed I’d came over from Belfast tonight to see The Stranglers.

Back in just in time for ‘Five Minutes’, but rather than returning to the front, I mooch towards mid-centre and through to a more sedate position and watch the remainder of the show from there. ‘Time To Die’ with its sing-along “der-ner ner-ner-ner” guitar section always gets me. At one stage Baz commented on giving a prize for the best haircut – usually awarded to a middle-aged baldy bloke, but tonight he highlighted Eileen’s purple dyed coiffure, but cheekily added a purple rinse/parma violet joke. He was beckoned over and as he bent down to hear what she had to say, was forcibly thrust betwixt her bosom – much to his surprise and obvious delight. Tonight’s other highlights include ‘TWOOMS’ – really digging this one and following that , Baz’s extended guitar improv into ‘Lost Control’ (is it me, or does that vary each night?) allows the rest of the band some breathing space and a chance to catch their breath. ‘Duchess’ and ‘Hanging Around’ raise the energy levels just at the peak – the crowd singing and dancing and pogo-ing to the climax of the set. Thank you’s and goodnight – but we all know there is still the encores to come. Still too much bonhomie for me, but I do understand the showbiz side needs attending to and then ‘Walk On By’ goes off into it’s psychedelic overdrive, Warwick on acid, glorified best. As JJ steps up to thump his Shuker and sonically reduce the crowds internal organs to mush, we know it will be the last song as ‘Heroes’ starts – the bass intro acting like a fuel injected carburettor – as the crowd erupt into a bouncing throng. The ending leaves everyone on a high – it’s just the bows, the thank you’s and offstage.

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Elliot manages to purlion Jim’s drumsticks (promised from before) and Baz’s sweaty towel (rather you than me pal), as the set-lists are distributed to the grabbing hands of fans. The family gather to debrief, meet-up, get some photos taken and then we debunk into the arena’s other bar area for liquid replenishments and the post-gig comedown. New friends were introduced to old and even more alcohol consumed. As the group steadily dwindled, the three last one’s standing ordered ourselves a taxi back to The White Horse and bed. That is of course after Elaine did her best Nora Batty impression getting into her room.

Another day, another morning and another gig. Post breakfast, whilst awaiting Kev to get out of his kip, I asked our landlady where I could grab a packet of cigarettes – “About half a mile up the road” she replied. Setting off I started up the hill – half way up altitude sickness started kicking in and Mr Fiennes waved hello from his tent. Twenty cigs successfully purchased and a bottle of Lucozade downed, I made the reverse journey back down – only this time I think it was the bends that kicked in as I descended too quickly. Thinking about it now, it may just have been my hangover that was affecting me!!

By my return, both Kev and Elaine were ready to rock and roll and as we packed our bags into the car Mark T & Pete drove up, stopping for a quick chat. Then we were off again, destination Blackburn and the Grand Hall for yet more Strangling and socialising with like-minded people. A reasonably short trek had us arriving a bit early for check-in, so we passed the time next door in the pub for another early start on the pints – but I was on my holidays – so all was forgiven. Fed, watered and after a forty-winks in our rooms, we re-entered the bar and once again the pre-social meet’n’greet began as more and more Strangler T-shirts started to fill the pub. Julie had arrived and introduced us to Paul and Simon. Barry Spooner and fellow Nottingham punk associate arrived – it is always good to ruminate over all things punk and Strangler related with Barry – the merit of bootleg recordings and green vinyl records were discussed in great depth – and allowing me respite from the idiot indoors. John rang to see where we were meeting up and the general consensus was The Jubilee pub, just opposite the venue (despite the review it was given by the cab driver).

We were almost the first fans in this pub – only another couple playing pool had beat us – but soon the numbers increased and it wasn’t long before John, Tracy, Mark and Mike had joined the company – also met up with John H for the first time. I thought I hadn’t packed the SLF soapbox, but it wasn’t long before it made its appearance – just because I am from Belfast does not automatically mean I am a fan and it didn’t take long before I was rhyming off the long list as to why this K-Tel brand of Punk was not for me. I do understand why other people do like The Stiffs, I really do, but that’s their choice. Now RUDI on the other hand….. Anyway, the message came forth that doors would be closing in 15 minutes and once they were closed no-one was getting in. Obviously the barrier crew had already ventured over early, so we hurriedly made our way across and in through the Grand Hall’s grand doors, down the stairs and into the room for tonight’s gig. However, just before I go through I bump into Les – I’d forgot this gentlemaninblack was coming down from Bonnie Scotland – and he had young Paddy Vex in tow as well.

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A bit harder to wend my way forward tonight but manage to get up close enough. Same set as last night to start – but the crowd were more tightly packed, more eager for the mosh and the heat generated was rapidly rising. Disappointingly, once again ‘Four Horsemen’ was omitted, but the first section flew past in the blink of an eye and the heat was still rising. ‘Golden Brown’ allowed me some respite as I departed for a well-earned smoke break. Exiting the hall, I look for the smoking area and eventually asked one of the security men where it was situated – “T’aint any”. So we go outside the front then? “No, doors are shut” WTF? No smoking area!! Jeez. I make my way back inside, but there is little chance of making it back to my original position – I find a sweet spot, good view of the stage and a gentle draught coming from the bar area. I remain here for the rest of the show, chewing gum like a speed freak.

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There is a lot of banter tonight between the crowd and Baz. Someone shouted out “Geordie c**t” and I’m not sure which part of that comment offended him the most as he retorted he was neither. We also heard how allegedly a young JJ asked his parents for a Blackburn Rovers strip, to which the crowd responded with chants of “Shearer, Shearer” and Baz dryly quipped “Now he is a Geordie c**t”. The rest of the set careered towards the close – the heat was truly stifling, but the audience remained in overdrive. Overall I preferred Holmfirth but it was a close call. Probably due to either the heat, the ‘pit-stops to catch breath and the amount of banter – or a combination of all three, but only one encore was played tonight as ‘Walk On By’ is dropped, leaving only the climax of ‘Heroes’ to sate the baying crowd.

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And that was that. I didn’t hang around too long to say my goodbyes as I needed a smoke – however, there was plenty of time to gather and mingle outside as everyone needed cooling down too. After catching up with a few old friends, most crossed back into The Jubilee to quench our thirst and still there was time to make new acquaintances as Danny and I were chatting before realising we were friends on Facebook – always good to put a face to the name you ‘virtually’ conversed with via the interweb. So that was another trip coming to a close and after a bit of a diversion to escort Sarah part-way to her hotel, we meet up with some other gig-goers at a pub in town. It was here we managed to get a taxi back to our hotel and the sanctity of our beds.

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Leaving early the next day, Kev drops the girls at Blackburn train station and me in Liverpool town centre. I had some time to kill until my flight home to Belfast, but knowing Liverpool and having been given some directions to interesting record and collector shops in town, I managed to fill the time well enough. In fact I spent so much time in town, I had to get a taxi up to the airport to ensure I made my flight!!

My seventh and eighth gigs of the calendar year were completed. Different from the March On Tour – the sound was better, the band were tight as a gnat’s chuff, but the set lists in March were much more challenging for the audience and with that more entertaining. That said, I wouldn’t have missed the last two days – the great company, great camaraderie and great craic – the three C’s. Thank you one and all – probably missed loads out, but I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at how many brain-cells were drunk away over the two days and nights. It was only a shame some of the other ‘regulars’ were not in attendance – but I still have a further two gigs this year to catch up with them again.

Laters crocodiles – keep it greasy.

One love

Mully

Over…

Words: Mully.

Photos: Theantro/EiTC.

 

Guest Review – Hugh Cornwell – Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto Canada 28th June 2015

Gig Review – Hugh Cornwell – Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto Canada 28th June 2015

Maria Meli brings us this report:-

The Return of Hugh Cornwell

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Hugh Cornwell has dabbled in biochemistry, acting, writing and dated various women, but his main and longest-term love is music. He returned to Toronto on June 28th to share that love. It was the second time in 18 months he was here, this time performing at The Horseshoe Tavern, where he also played when he was in The Stranglers. (The Horseshoe is a live music institution. First christened for performances at the end of 1947, the venue has hosted both Canadian and international acts over this time such as, Willie Nelson, Stompin’ Tom Connors, The Tragically Hip, The Blues Brothers, Talking Heads, Ramones, Danko Jones and The Rolling Stones.) On both tours, he would start with a song from his 2012 CD Totem and Taboo and move to a Stranglers’ song and alternate T&T with Stranglers tunes.

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He took the stage at 10:00 pm with Steve Fishman, his North American regular touring bassist since 2009, along with Seve Sheldon, the drummer from indie band, The Wild Ones, amidst cheers from the crowd. They kick-started the night with “Totem and Taboo” the title track and first song from his latest CD. It was a good choice as it has an interesting rhythmic arrangement and a punch that gets one’s attention. Cornwell was on fine form and in excellent spirits as he rotated between old and new songs. Among the new, he included, “Stuck in Daily Mail Land,” “God Guns and Gays,” “I Want One of Those,” and “A Street Called Carroll,” the last three songs influenced by his stays in the USA. Carroll Street actually exists in Los Angeles and Americans still worship at the feet of great and powerful Consumerism. The American way of life is rife with religious fundamentalism, the right to bear arms versus the violence caused by guns, and gay rights. Cornwell was in the moment as he closed his eyes and at times enunciated dramatically as he almost forced the words out of his mouth. He also played his ode to the other half of humanity, “God is a Woman.” Missing from his set was “Love Me Slender,” another pervasive ideal from across the Atlantic about the infatuation with being thin.

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In keeping with his buoyant mood, he delighted the audience with several upbeat Stranglers’ earworms, such as, “Skin Deep,” “Grip,” and “Straighten Out.” He may have been nostalgic, since he included songs about his ex-girlfriends – “Duchess,” “Strange Little Girl,” and debatably, “Golden Brown,” on which he handled the guitar solo quite well. He did have requests fired at him, and at one point, he asked calmly, “Do you mind?”

Cornwell was in a playful mood. Early on, before beginning a Stranglers’ song, he teased the crowd by telling them the next song was “No More Heroes,” then he and the band launched into “Dagenham Dave” instead. He bantered with audience members. After about four songs in, he asked people seated at the back of the club, if they were comfortable and whether he should order any food for them. He shared the tidbit that people in Scotland call him Shug (a diminutive for Hugh). A couple of songs later, he commented on the cold and rain the city was experiencing and how lately, it always seems to rain in Toronto during the Pride celebrations. Kayvon, a British ex-patriot, called out that he had brought the bad weather. Cornwell replied, “I brought it? I just came from Califor-nae-ay. It’s 100 degrees there and sunny.”

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He was sporting a new drummer, who he said had come on with short notice (due to the untimely passing of Darius Minwalla). He asked the gathering whether Seve Sheldon reminded them of Animal from the Muppets. (He actually bears more than a passing resemblance to the frenetic drummer from the Muppet band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.) Sheldon, along with his wiry-haired, enthusiastic head banging and constant smile while keeping time, has talent. He learned a catalogue of songs in a short time, played them well and with gusto, and memorized the order, as there were no set lists taped to the floor.

Further evidence that the Cornwell of yore has resurged was his trademark lyric altering, which he did with “Peaches.” He asked, “Is she trying to get out of Toronto?” and he could think of worse places to be, like Mississauga, a nod to a boring city, almost a suburb on the western edge of Toronto.

The set lasted an hour and at 11:01 they left the stage.   The crowd wasn’t having that. They cheered and clapped for more, so Cornwell, Fishman and Sheldon retook the stage. As Cornwell adjusted the strap for his guitar, various requests were volleyed at him, such as, “Nice ‘N Sleazy” and “I want another one of those.” Cornwell, ever the deadpan artist, scoffed.

First up was indeed “Nice ‘N Sleazy” about the Amsterdam Hell’s Angels. This was very well received. From there, they moved to “No More Heroes” in earnest, however, without JJ Burnel’s familiar bass pounding and digit dextrous intro, it seemed a little lacking. As the strains died down, Cornwell said they were going to move to a slower song next, and they did. “In the Dead of Night,” a nice little number that ends Totem and Taboo, ended the evening.

After an enjoyable performance Cornwell came out and interacted with the fans. He easily chatted with people, signed CDs and graciously posed for pictures with them. He seemed genuine and to be enjoying himself. Not all artists will interact with fans like this and it creates stronger loyalty on the part of the fans. Just two weeks before, a tour bus pulled up in the middle of the road in front of the venue where Paul Weller had played, fifteen minutes after the concert and he made a dash for it from a locked side entrance, before fans realized what happened. A few minutes later, his band was escorted by security as they too made a run for the bus. Some contrast. Fair play Mr Cornwell.

Over…

Words, Images and Video: Maria Meli.

Gig Reviews The Membranes – London – 22nd May 2015.

Gig Reviews – The Membranes…

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Blimey! Once again reviews not unlike London buses, after waiting for what seems like an age, eventually come along two at a time, safety in numbers or what!

The Membranes have recorded an awesome new album Dark Matter/Dark Energy. On 22nd May they held an album pre-launch gig at The Lexington in London’s Islington. Serial gig goers, roving reporters and hobbyist time travellers Baglady and EiTC were there.

Baglady saw it thusly…

The Membranes – Pre-Album Launch at The Lexington/Islington 22nd May 2015.

In need of a night out away from my cherubs, Mr IntheClouds suggested that I make a trip to Islington.

Thus, after many calculations and celestial manoeuvrings, I found myself sugar tonging back to relaxation (helped in no small part by reading Haruki Murakami on a train, a man who would surely understand and appreciate the sugar tong time travel concept).

Eventually I arrived at Angel and transferred to The Angel to be greeted by a guardian angel and an angelic beverage. Despite taking the usual detour via India we eventually arrived at a location new to me, The Lexington.

Packed and with music already floating down from the heavens. We waited on the stairway for the feisty looking You The Living band members to descend, their set having already been completed. After ascending we found we had made a jump from all matters light into the dark. Not a sinister leap but into the dark that provides invisible bonds.

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Faerground Accidents were commanding the stage with a tightly packed audience. They were definitely a strong force drawing people in, strange and charming in every direction.

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The Wolfhounds followed. Like Canis Major pursuing Lepus the hare they chased down some solid tunes.

Then we made our way to the front for one of the coolest gigs I’ve been to, in both senses of the word. Bringing us a selection of tracks from their soon to be released album Dark Matter/Dark Energy, The Membranes commanded the stage. With tracks like The Universe Explodes, Do the Supernova, 21st Century Man and Money is Dust, you knew they had the singularity of life covered.

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It was Life, Death, the Universe and everything between bonded by high energy drums and guitars and, of course, the gravitational pull of those strong vocals. Towards the end of the set the energetic John Robb launched himself into the audience, a rocket aiming to prove he still had fuel to burn.

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This crowd was an eclectic set of bosons and leptons, movers, shakers and statics together creating an atmosphere all its own. It could have gone on ad infinitum but curfew was upon us.

Reluctantly spiralling back out into the reaches of the known universe via The Angel, Angel and the reality inducing Waterloo station I made my way back to mission control.

Not too long now until the release of Dark Matter/Dark Energy. It’s true, it’s out there!

While EiTC thought it was more…

Gig Review The Membranes at The Lexington Islington 22nd May 2015.

Breaking with tradition…
Your rights are all that is left and they left a long time ago…
It’s definitely turning into a left turn kind of evening…

Turning left out of Elvis Towers then left again and a general bearing to the left found me On A Bus! From there it was only a matter of short inevitability before more left turns afforded me the status update of On A Train! More left turn shenanigans found me turning left out of Angel Tube to rendezvous with Baglady at a local Wetherspoons. From where, we wound our way leftwards, narrowly avoiding a cop-foiled heist on a Fried Chicken Outlet, until we found our way (left) to India and partook of a feast of veggie delights in honour of Ravenette.

Time spent in India and a curiously slow entrance procedure meant that we missed the first band – You The Living completely. And, after finally making it in, saying hello to Mr Robb who was meeting and greeting by the Merch Stall at the entrance, we also almost missed the whole set of Faerground Accidents. Almost but not quite, fortunately we made it in time for their final one and a half songs. Very impressive they were too. A fact borne out by the eager punters crammed down at the front duly showing their rapturous appreciation.

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Shortly thereafter The Wolfhounds arrived and proceeded to deliver a set of finely crafted poppy punky indie rock with a healthy hint of dissonance providing a nice edge. Definitely a worth a look!

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A traveller approached in a Black and White T-Shirt it was Membranes skin basher Rob Haynes who turning left, stopped to say hi on his way to the stage.

And then it was time…

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The Membranes took to the stage captivating the gathered mass with their fusion of heavy abstract sound and frenetic energy. There’s contrast here, the slower paced (but no less heavy) set opener The Universe Explodes giving way to the more up-tempo Do The Supernova with its tribal drums and musical jaggedness (one for the money).

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The mainstay of tonight’s set was material from the new album Dark Matter/Dark Energy. Indeed Human Dynamo, frontman and bassist John Robb announced part way through that they were only playing new material tonight. Although truth be told they threw in a stonking Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder and a manic Myths and Legends.

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The Membranes offer the listener an infectiously deranged sonic experience. Rob’s solid Drums and John’s Bass combine to provide a platform for the contrasting guitar walls of Nick Brown and Peter Byrchmore. Peter also triggered sounds from an iPad loaded with virtual synths, adding an atmospheric dimension to the sound.

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Also in tonight’s set: In The Graveyard, 21st Century Man (during which JR elicited some audience participation, this was repeated for the encore), Space Junk (not the Devo Song) and Money and Dust.

The Membranes ingest all of Rock and Roll and regurgitate it in their own unique form to the chirping chicklets eagerly waiting beaks agape in awe.

Verdict: Manically, marvellously, compulsively compelling! Check out the new album!

Over…

1st review Words: Baglady.

2nd review Words: EiTC.

Photos: EiTC.

Guest Review by Rebus Bloggs – The Monochrome Set – 16th May 2015

The Monochrome Set
The Islington
Saturday 16th May 2015

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We set off from home, heading for the bright lights of London town. The Weather is fine and dry with no sign of rain. After a swift visit into the local convenience store to obtain a couple of Gin & Tonics for the arduous train journey, Lou and I meet up with our good friend Andrea and board the train.

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Arriving at Finsbury Park and we obtain suitable comestibles, including fags for the girls and board the number 4 bus towards Waterloo. Which passes Highbury and heads down Upper Street passed Union Chapel and the legendary Hope & Anchor. We get off the bus at The Angel and head into the local Wetherspoon’s for a couple of beers, and meet up with another good friend Mick, who has been with me to see the band before. Mick has to make a swift exit to get to the venue as he does not have a ticket and the reports are that it has sold out.

A short five minute walk to the venue and we find Mick with the lucky sixteen people in the queue to get the last tickets. Another couple of beers later we are sitting outside enjoying the North London ambience when we are joined by the usual suspects that are; Matt, Phil, Domestos and Guildlford Lil. Some more beer is consumed before we are joined by the world champion Pinot consumer himself Lord London and his fellow musician and friend Nigel.

The band take to the stage and we attempt to enter the room through a large curtained door – inside it is rammed, a small room that is full to bursting. I move forward and try to squeeze my sylphlike frame further into the crowd.

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The Monochrome set have started with the title track from their last album Super Plastic City, followed by the superb classic Jet Set Junta. The whole set was well played and the highlight for me were Waiting for Alberto and Cowboy Country (the intro to which I blatantly nicked for a recording many years ago). I think they finished with “He’s Frank” but by then I had made my way down to the front in search of the mosh and I could be mistaken as to what they played for an encore as they were so good (The Monochrome Set may have been in there somewhere – EiTC).

Back out in the main bar we assembled to compare notes from the MS virgins and those like me who had seen them many times. The band were milling about and our congratulations were given for a superb gig. The DJ was playing some very good tunes from back in the dim and distant past. The assembled choir sung their hearts out to such classics as; “Guildford Lil”, “Guildford Lil” and the old favourite “Guildford Lil” A word was had and the DJ duly responded with “Toiler on the Sea” which we all had a leap around to.

A great evening was had by all, but it had to come to an end and we all made our ways to our homes. We got a bus (number unknown) to Finsbury Park where we managed to obtain one of the world’s best ever Kebabs before taking the very slow train back to the north.

Rebus Bloggs (AKA Turkey Troter)

Thanks to Kevin Shepherd for the set list picture.
Band picture Courtesy of Mrs Bloggs.

Roll up! Stranglers Gig Reviews – Two for the price of one – Glasgow . . .

As you may or may not be aware, The Stranglers partook of a sellout tour across the UK during March of 2015 winding up in Glasgow for the finale on 28th March.

Here for your delectaton, entertainment and delight is a brace of reviews . . .

First up – Maria Meli gives her account of the tour closer . . .

Strangled Weegie Night Out

Rituals give people stability and comfort and can be cleansing. They also offer a sense of community. Such was the case with March On, The Stranglers’ 2015 UK tour. The band tours the United Kingdom each March, this year culminating in Glasgow, home to lively audiences. The initiated flocked to partake of the final rite, and as with all pilgrimages, many of the faithful came from other cities.

The preamble was delivered by The Rezillos and it was a full body assault. Two mountains of speakers dominated each side of the stage, like sound canons that blasted waves into the audience. This was not for the faint of ear drum. The Rezillos kicked off with “Destination Venus” with an escape velocity to match. Singers, Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds, along with guitarist, Jim Brady, provided visual interest as they danced, scaled the amps and interacted with each other. Brady, in his cobalt helmet, was particularly animated in his guitar wielding, lifting and multi-positioning. He is a rubber action figure! They played old and new songs like “(Take Me to the) Groovy Room,” ”Nearly Human” and the classic “Top of the Pops.”

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During their penultimate number, “River Deep, Mountain High” the stage was invaded by some background singers and dancers – The Stranglers in drag – all in mini-dresses, garish lipstick and blonde wigs to the amusement of the audience. Fay tried to pull guitarist, Baz Warne, to sing with her, but he slipped away and she was more successful at nabbing bassist, JJ Burnel, who was relishing his alter ego. Keyboardist, Dave Greenfield, had the biggest grin (obviously enjoying himself), and drummer, Jim Macaulay, tried to hide his shapely legs in the background.

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The Stranglers were soon on, all cleaned up and dressed as their MeninBlack personas, while sporting a new light show with a shimmering, almost serpentine screen behind them. The audience greeted them joyfully as they took the stage to the strains of the now familiar March On version of “WaltzinBlack.”

The crowd was wild, but now gone dead.
They wait to hear what comes instead.
The lights are up, the notes they tread,
unseen through fingers that pound, pluck, shred.

They unleashed a string of older and newer songs – a mix of upbeat, anvil-pounding and slower-paced tunes. The Stranglers’ sound is unmistakeable, yet it’s still as hard to define today as it was when Greenfield’s keyboard flourishes and Burnel’s bass growl made them stand out from punk and new wave’s more lumpen efforts.

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“Four Horsemen” was dusted off and played much more compellingly than the original recording. During “Baroque Bordello,” a song Burnel considers a masterpiece, among the layerings and ripples, he lifted his heels and tapped them on the stage to punctuate the beat and pivoted on them as he slinked with his bass. A good segue into “Golden Brown”’ with Greenfield’s baroque accents, in which Warne sang, played his guitar solo, and then pulled back and crossed his arms as he made faces while the others played – his mark on the band’s hugely popular ode to heroin and possibly, a golden-skinned girlfriend. “Freedom is Insane” saw Burnel belt out the chorus like a battle cry. It’s his mantra on how Western democracy doesn’t gel with older, tribal societies. Warne smilingly announced that it was time for a pop song that went “something like this” as they launched into the cheerful strains of “Nice in Nice” about a pampered rich girl in the South of France.

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At the end of the song, came a launch from female fans in the centre front, of women’s panties, followed by an answering catapult of men’s extra-large Y-front shorts. Warne and Burnel examined the offerings and read out the message written on the men’s shorts: From all the FatArsesinBlack – AKA HareminBlack. This was the answering volley’s reference to the lyrics in “Peaches” about “fat arses,” but also a reality check that middle-aged or older women are throwing panties (young groupie behaviour) that are much smaller sizes than they actually wear. It was basically, a “Who do you think you’re fooling?” statement.

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After that comedic interlude, The Stranglers shot into “Norfolk Coast” for which Warne crooned, snarled and shred his guitar while a smiling Burnel karate kicked his way through the song. “I Feel Like a Wog” followed it continuing the sound onslaught, in the course of which Burnel executed two mid-air jumps! The regular set was capped off with “Lost Control,” “Curfew,” and the seven-minute “Down in the Sewer” about the cesspool that was London in the 1970s. “Sewer” won a fan poll last year as the most popular song out of forty Stranglers tunes they had to choose and rank for the Ruby anniversary. Amidst these songs, Burnel executed his lithe feline moves, Warne was spread-eagled, anchored and rocking, or doing his stamping walk. They got down for “Down in the Sewer” doing a crouching dual guitar advance, like brothers in arms. During “Curfew” they seemed to do a box step in tandem, and many times, they punctuated final notes on their instruments in the same up or down swing of their arms, like the string section in an orchestra. The two seem to exist on the same wavelength, unconsciously moving in synch – not the case with the two previous frontmen.

The cherry topping the performance was four encores including, “Go Buddy Go” a 1950s-inspired ditty Burnel wrote in his teens. Both the band and audience were sweating even before the end of the concert; a sure sign of a fun evening. As always, the band was prepared and well-rehearsed, conscientious of giving a good performance. Warne bantered with the audience and both he and Burnel bestowed smiles and nods to various audience members they recognized, giving them an extra thrill. Greenfield seemed surprisingly dry, focusing on his keyboards and saving his dexterity for arpeggios than brandy. Macaulay pounded all night with a precision and intensity that may explain his slimmer physique. Either that, or he needs to fit into a suit for his impending nuptials in September. The evening was a rousing success, full of sound and fury, signifying the gold standard for concert experience.

* * *

Elvis was there too, he had this to say . . .

Gig Review – The Stranglers – Glasgow O2 Academy 28th March 2015.

The City Slumbers . . .
Up before the dawn chorus . . .
A cab ride from South to North offers a timely reminder of her beauty.

Gliding across Waterloo Bridge,
The myriad lights from the various bridges and assorted buildings
Contrast with the still dark of the dying night and reflections from the cold, cold Thames
Providing a real treat for senses still coming to terms with being up at this ungodly hour . . .

Arriving at Euston Station in a blink,
Meeting a fellow traveller and then aboard the early train to another bejewelled city –
Glasgow, the destination for the finale of The Stranglers March On tour.

Off to a smooth start until . . .
Delays at Wigan allowing for a little more shut eye . . .
And, before not too long, crossing The Clyde into Glasgow Central Station.

Settling into a room with a view to shake off the journey
Then heading out as hunger makes its presence felt.

Sustenance in the form of Deep Fried Potatoes
Accompany the short ramble to the Thirteenth Note
To take in a pre-gig from local band The Vex.
Many familiar (in Black) faces, dotted here and there, some far from home . . .
A warm welcome, a convivial atmosphere and a fine performance.

Back to the Crystal Palace,
More friendly faces and the excitement is building,
Becoming almost tangible in anticipation of the main event!

Dusk gives way to night’s darkness . . .

Gliding across the Clyde Bridge,
The lights, while not as busy as those witnessed this morning,
Are equal in their beauty and effect.

On to the O2 Academy,
Inside where a capacity crowd buzz in anticipation of the Men in Black!
Anticipation becomes realisation;

The masses collide as one,
In a sweaty, writhing ball of worshipful adoration.
Cheering they leap,
Word-perfect they sing,
In awe of The Stranglers,
Who once more deliver the goods,
With unerring precision.

Perfect!

Over . . .

First Review: Words, images and video – Courtesy of Maria Meli.

Second Review: EiTC.