Gig Review – Ruts DC, Evil Blizzard, The Duel…

Ruts DC, Evil Blizzard, The Duel – The Garage Islington – 25th October 2014.

Another Space/Time anomaly type thingy caused SiB and Myself to randomly appear in North London on a Saturday afternoon (Islington to be precise). We bumped into Straightenout who along with Leigh from The Ruts was searching for a place to eat. A little later we saw Segs and Ruffy perambulating along Essex Road taking in the restorative scenery and air. And I could’ve sworn we saw Jet from UK Subs leaving the Garage.

Ravenette and FdN apparently took a right turn and found India to be closed for refurbishment. Eventually we congregated in Wetherspoons for Chips and drinks while the rift in time healed itself. Fed and watered we made our way to The Garage early so as not to miss any of the acts tonight…

Occasionally you attend a gig that becomes a moment crystallised in time. A classic! Well tonight was one of those occasions; a moment that will become firmly embedded in the Amber of Rock History! A bold statement? Maybe! But I’ll tell you something. Nights like this don’t come along too often!

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The Duel benefitted from the decent (new) sound system in the Garage tonight. The sound was clear with a good balance giving all elements of their finely crafted Punky Pop a decent representation.

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This was all nicely knitted together by some nifty drum work. The band were buoyant and Tara worked the stage well, keeping the audience engaged. Great stuff!

Next up… Evil Blizzard, wow!

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The bastard child of Hawkwind and early Devo! Freaky masked lunatics, it was said that all that was missing were the chainsaws… Scratch that! This lot don’t need chainsaws. They look like a bad dream consisting of Slasher Movie/70’s Dr Who Baddies (think animated mannequins meet Jason, for a rough idea). So they’ve got the image thing in spades…

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But that’s not to detract from the sound. I’m as fond of the low frequencies as the next music lover, including dual bass sound but quadruple shouldn’t work, should it? With EB it does and how…

The sound is layered slowly building to a hypnotic compelling groove. Each bass having a slightly different tonal texture which somehow helps distinguish it in the mix. With the lead bassist (I’ll call him that even though they were sharing taking lead occasionally) clearly having lighter strings on the top to give a credible lead style cut with the applied wah/phase/delay type effects! Not forgetting (equally importantly!) the Drummer/Lead vocalist.

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What can you say, four Bassists and a singing drummer, then a guest musician at the end being another Bassist making for a grand total of five, inspired! Then there was The Mop Guy! Surreal! It’s a freak show! It’s pure genius! It’s theatre! Very entertaining!

This band don’t hand out sweets at the end of the set they hand out basses. One came my way but the chap standing behind me insisted that it was his… who am I to argue?…

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Subsequently (after, literally coming down from the ceiling) the lead bassist then handed me his instrument which was hooked up to a plethora of psychedelic effects and before I knew it there I was playing the closing solo with said bassist back on stage operating the pedals. Surreal! And EiTC’s only appearance of the year so far (not including The Meditation Sessions, Weddings and other social functions!)… Blink (or go for a pee break) and you would’ve missed it (although I’m sure someone has captured it on video)!

In a flash we were at the Main Event – Enter stage Left – Ruts DC.

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Kicking off with Mighty Soldier sounding crisp and clear. Naturally, it goes without saying that the band are on form but tonight it seems like they’ve taken things up a gear.

Leigh is in the zone from the off (and well he should be, surely it’s to be expected given he’s playing with the rock solid/super tight Rhythm Section provided by Segs and Ruffy – who, in my book, are the Sly and Robbie of Punk). After a blistering Solo in Mirror Smashed from the Animal Now album, Segs jokes to Leigh about him being careful not to peak too soon! No chance, he’s on it all night!

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Up next Backbiter, followed by It Was Cold; all top stuff, sounding great even if the bass is  a tiny bit low in the mix.

Back to Animal Now for No Time To Kill, then disaster strikes on the opening bars of Sus when Segs loses output from his bass…

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The irony of following a band with 5 basses was not lost on them…

But like the consummate pro’s they are, it was all water off a ducks back as they just got on with it and improvised (including what, according to Ruffy was the bands first drum solo!) until the bass was back. And boy was the bass back. It sounded great before it melted down but now it was stonking at least a 7 on the Richter scale!

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This is a band deserving of all the clichés I can throw their way – Firing on all cylinders, a well-oiled machine. Etc etc EiTC…

Another from AN up next the superb Dangerous Minds as relevant now as it was 30 years ago, the pace is a little slower on this one tonight which really suits the song allowing the dynamics and atmosphere to really come across.

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Then it’s down a notch in a Rub-a-dub Style, with the poignant Love In Vain followed up by Jah Wars. Faultless! Superb!

A surprise airing of Different View sounds fresh and fantastic and goes down well. Let’s face it; Animal Now was a great album which despite coming at a difficult time for the band, still managed to harness their abundant creative potential.

Back up a notch and we are treated to the classics; Staring At The Rude Boys, West One and Babylon’s Burning (complete with extended faux intro a ’la improv reggae jam/New Rose).

In keeping with the earlier sighting – Jet from the Subs joined the band on stage for an extended/inspired In a Rut. Brilliant!

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The awesome Something That I Said and the superb Society get another well-deserved airing and then it’s all over.

What?

The earlier temporal anomaly gave one last twitch culminating in an extra hour’s kip which was most welcome after such a great gig! Thanks to Ruts DC and everyone involved for a top night of entertainment.

Over.

 

Cauldronated/The Cesarians – Shacklewell Arms – 19th Oct 2014 – Gig Review.

Cauldronated/The Cesarians – Shacklewell Arms – 19th Oct 2014 – Gig Review.

Today!

Now!

Well actually it was last Sunday!

That’s the funny thing about Time Travel… It’s not long before temporal alignment disruption kicks in, leaving one impervious to the perception of lateral temporal echoes… and whatever that means!

Which brings us (less than neatly) back to last Sunday…

Leaving rather late to make journey across the great South/North divide of our fair Capital. And Public Transport being what it is. Arrival was much sooner than originally anticipated. Which afforded this traveller some time to explore charmed Hamlet of Dalston, before the anticipated arrival of gig-companion KiB.

Hunger necessitated a diversion in the way of what passed for nutritional intake in this locale. Suitably revived we beat a path to the back hall of The Shacklewell Arms Public House (Which, one imagines, has all the qualities of a hollow in the ground which had formed naturally by the weathering of rock). We had arrived in time to hear the closing bars of opening band Heman Sheman and thus lack sufficient information to impart their story herein.

Before long, Cauldronated took to the stage and entertained us with their Dark Punky Drum Led Techno. Having been fortunate enough to hear their latest EP beforehand, one had an idea of what was to come. But there was more. Clearly the studio process (as is often the case) had not fully captured the energy that can be conveyed by Cauldronated in a Live situation.

The Drums!… The Drums!… And then some! This is like – The Drummers Revenge!

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With the advent of modern music technology the first musician to be replaced by machine was the Drummer and others would soon follow… However Cauldronated have turned the tables they are drummers who have replaced the rest of the band with triggered multitrack layers of fat Analog synth sounds. Very effectively! The synths sounded great coming through the PA tonight; putting images in mind of early synth pioneers while still retaining a modern edge.

Married to this are Frontwoman Eva’s sloganistic poetic chanting and edgy stage presence. Eva is clearly an accomplished drummer with her sharply timed rhythms complimenting the sound most effectively. Eva is joined on stage by Master Drummer – Dave Barbarossa who still displays his mastery of Tribal Rhythms alongside clever and subtle Dance/Trance/Techno ‘Drum-lickery’.

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Tonight their recorded songs had an extra edge and rawness in this live setting. Great stuff!

Before we knew it, time had caught up with us once more and we were checking times of last trains but KiB calculated that we may just have time to catch a few numbers of headline act The Cesarians.

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Glad we did Too! As they presented richly sharp/shifting sonic textures afforded by their superb line-up of multi-instrumentalists. Echoes of Tom Waits, The Fall and Leonard Cohen among many others. A mental note being made to definitely follow this lot up. They serenaded us with the superb ‘Just Fuck Off!’ And then we had to!

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Over.

Dalston Today

No pineapples were harmed in the making…

Straighten Out – A Tribute to The Stranglers – Gig Review

Straighten Out – A Tribute to The Stranglers – Gig Review –

Hope & Anchor Islington – 26th September 2014.

Once more it seems like time may have gotten the better of us… I put it down to the Dog cocking it’s leg on the hyperdrive of the Time and Inter-dimensional Travelling Spaceship (TITS) and fusing the Antler Stabilising Sprocket with the Temporal Offset Sugar-tong Housing, causing all manner of chaos (not least of which the perceived delay of this transmission)!

After replacing the parts and a quick retune and calibration procedure on the Carpet-beater Random Access Particulator and Pickled Egg Regenerator it was on to business…

Met up with SiB at a pre-arranged destination in India. Where we partook of stale Papadums and slightly fresher Starters whilst awaiting (… and awaiting for ’em!) the eventual arrival of Domestos, Guildford Lil and FdN. Suitably fed and watered we wound our way up Downer Street or was that down Upper Street… En Route G’Lil and Domestos dragged me off down a side Street and demanded guidance and demonstration in the execution of some ancient Yogic rituals which I tried unsuccessfully to defer… Serious calamity narrowly avoided, we caught up with Sib and FdN and arrived at the Hope & Anchor to a warm greeting from the gathered Family in Black. Again we partook of refreshment, largely without anomalous incident (Disappearing/Reappearing Pineapple aside).

Before long Shaggy shepherded us down to the cellar for the evening’s entertainment. A ripple of excitement ran through the crowd as Waltzinblack burst from the PA and the band kicked off with a blistering 1-2 of Burning Up Time and Ugly. No punches were pulled tonight as there was barely a Rizzla’s width between the opening numbers. Continuing with a superb selection of MK1 classics the set-list tonight was absolutely stunning!

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Straighten Out are a band firing on all cylinders and tonight was no exception with a tightly executed super-sharp sound. Close your eyes and it could’ve been 77, 78, 79 or 80. The crowd were (rightly) lapping it up and I couldn’t resist getting down to the front for a bit of a boogie. Sir Burn was seen getting his groove on to a masterful Goodbye Toulouse (but not Walk on By, which, apparently, was not part of the set).

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Shaggy and Phil had a good bit of banter with the crowd and were both in fine voice. Shaggy’s bass (neither Fender P nor Shuker) had exceptional growl tonight, awesome! Similarly Phil’s Tele and rig provided the necessary guitar bite. Drummer Micky P pounded most powerfully and also was the recipient of some Jet Black style appreciation in the form of a chant. While Keyboard wizard Mick was on form both instrumentally and vocally.

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Phil did a string on one of his Tele’s but his spare had a broken nut forcing him to change a string on the fly. I took this opportunity to nip upstairs to the bar then came back down to find the band improvising Peasant in The Big Shitty whilst Phil readied his Axe. Huge Bonus (meaning we got 3 Dave songs in tonight’s set with that, plus the equally superb Dead Ringer and Genetix)!

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We heard seldom played classics such as Ice and the brilliant Shah Shah A Go Go. It’d be great if The Stranglers themselves could include numbers such as these in their shows occasionally.

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People travelled far and wide to make it to the gig tonight which is a reflection of; the dedication of the FiB, the quality of Straighten Out and the historical importance of The Hope & Anchor to The Stranglers story.

The band finished with an encore of London Lady and Tank. Then Shaggy announced that they would be back with a Matinee performance to coincide with The Stranglers London (Roundhouse) appearance on 6th March. Definitely one for the diaries!

Conclusion: Top Notch!

Over….

Gig Review – The Stranglers – Manchester Academy – 29th March 2014.

Gig Review – The Stranglers – Manchester Academy – 29th March 2014.
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All Roads Lead to Manchester…

…the night before… Bag  packed – check. Tickets – check.
Sleeptime… It all becomes Black and white…
Le Reve…  We’re at the Lyceum Theatre, we get in early and get to the front but I need to go for a Pee… It’s all very surreal!!!
4 AM two hours before the alarm clock, tinkle! Whoosh!…
6 AM Beep beep etc… F*ck! I’m tired! Snooze…
6:40 AM better get up, have to leave by eight at the latest!…

8:35 AM Finally! Here we go out the front door…
8:42 AM Train station…
8:46 AM Board to London Victoria… Clickety clack clickety clack the sun is shining on Battersea…
08:56 AM Victoria going underground…
09:01 AM Victoria Line to Oxford Circus…
09:07 AM After a maze of tunnels take The Central Line to Perivale…
… Through the dark underbelly of the Metropolis; the beautiful world of Bond Street… 12 stops…
..the distorted reflection in the carriage window takes me back to dreamland…
09:25 AM A slight delay at White City and clickety clack… back on track…
09:35 AM Harry Bell station (actually it was Perivale but that’s speech recognition for you!) only five minutes late that’s bang on time in EiTC land…
Meet up with Antro and Sibling in Black …

10:00 AM Set sail on the old Black River…
Antro at the Tiller and SiB/EiTC sharing Crows Nest and FiB comms duties including planning a rendezvous with the top chap that is boshkins!  (Forgot to warn him about EiTC time!) …
12 midday Toll road services pee break and packed lunch
1:20 PM Pappa Antro has a photo call with Ravenette and Bag Lady at Stafford services…
1:35 PM M6…Sat Nav Vs Elv Nav…
After a long protracted battle Elv Nav wins out – we’re not doing a f**in’ U turn!…
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Proximity to a temporal Anomaly in the vicinity of Ravenette’s Sugar Tongs caused time to melt down and from there on we were winging it…

Arrived at Hyde and booked into our hotel where the lovely receptionist informed us that Golden Brown was indeed a Cliff Richard song!…  After a nice cup of tea, a freshen up and a bout of Gladiators we’re gig ready and set out for the city centre…

SiB at the Tiller, Antro on Lens duties… Elv Nav vs Sat Nav, Sat Nav wins! Hands down!…

We arrive and head for The Jemmy to meet up with boshkins, sparta7, big al and quite a few others… Nice place, good grub/drinks, Great company… Then it’s off to the Oxford for a packed in Black catch up with lots more lovely people… Straighten Out, TBC, APOLLO79, Burn e77, Kathinboots and Pigeon to name a few… In the blink of an eye it’s time to get over to the venue for the main event…

We arrive as Nine Below Zero are Cranking out Woolly Bully and the whole place seems to be having a boogie… We weave our way closer to the front and before too long the lights dim… And they’re off!
It’s a great entrance combining the effect of the screens with the Punch of London Lady… JJ is sporting a fake moustache I wonder if it’s some kind of Gallic reference but SiB (more sensibly) thinks it was a tribute to Birthday Boy Dave and his classic 70’s fuzz!

Once the crowd start moving I find myself propelled forward where I stay for a while singing Karaoke style with a delightful lady named Samantha, who eventually has to exit toward the back as her fella Paul seems to be worse for wear with the heat. I stay for a while but get fed up with all the squabbling for squatting rights and to move forward (at one point a group of girls break into fisticuffs but it soon dies down), so I make my way back to the centre of the mosh pit where I find Antro busy papping the nights proceedings and the attitude and camaraderie far more civilised!

The crush is getting more intense – it’s hot and jam-packed in here tonight… The crowd are up for it and generally having a ball… Very briefly I see Alexinblack before we’re swept away with it all. Ditto Freddie Laker! The sound is great tonight and the band are clearly enjoying themselves… Dave dons a birthday hat and we all sing happy birthday. Jet joins in for a few numbers and is looking in far better shape than at Birmingham the week before. Baz is on form with his musical duties and attitude. JJ looks very happy and sounds great. While drummer Jim goes from strength to strength.
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The slower part of the set is most welcome tonight giving the crowd a chance to cool off!
As much as the set does contain some more obscure numbers, it’s heartening to hear a fair number sing along for the whole two hours. Blimey two hours in a sweat box!

Before we know it we’re at Tank and tonight we get the double drum assault!

Highlights for me tonight are Peasant, Genetix and Dave’s Keys which sound great. Top gig. Easily the best of the three I managed this time around.
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The crowd is very slow to move out and there’s a real party atmosphere as everyone gathers together for group photos and chinwags… Antro even manages to convince some of the house staff to get into the frame…

The party atmosphere continued, we rambled eventually to the delightful Big Hands Pub where the cool young crowd made the FiB most welcome even spinning some MiB for us and getting us all pogoing again… Time slipped into the future then it was the wee small hours and time for bed after a curry of course!

Finally it was EiTC at the Tiller (what were they thinking? Are they mad!) back to the hotel…
And all too briefly back to dreamland…
Before the return leg to Harry Bell!

Filmed in Antro-vision. Based on real life events….

The Stranglers Ruby Anniversary Tour – Birmingham O2

The Stranglers Ruby Anniversary Tour – Birmingham O2 – 23rd March 2014

Crackle fizz pop buzz…

Hello!…

Crackle fizz hum…

Hello…

Click clack

If anyone can hear this transmission please pay attention…

Hum…

We came in search of The Oracle…

Hum fizz pop…

We ventured to Middle West of this un-enchanted island following information that we would encounter The Oracle there…

Buzz buzz…

We came upon the magical city of Birmingham in the heart of the Black Country but we encountered neither Oracle, Unicorn nor Cucumber…

Road weary, one of our number became most anxious as to the whereabouts of The Oracle…

We entered the heart of a Black Mass gathered at a local Inn known as The Crown… There we received a warm welcome and the reassurance that The Oracle was soon to be among our number…

Crackle hum fizz pop buzz…

I followed in the footsteps of the advanced party and made my way to the festivities at the Emporium known as The O2…

Inside this black dungeon the numbers quickly swelled to capacity.

After a fine performance from Nine Below Zero with their melodic old school R&B (and highly effective it is too!), it was time for the main event.

The Stranglers hit the stage for the Birmingham leg of their Ruby Anniversary Tour and it’s Bam Boom Bang … They’re on fire; London Lady and No More Heroes the opening 1-2 quickly followed by the swift Upper Cut of Coup De Grace. All of this gets the capacity crowds juices flowing and we’re set for the relentless two hour onslaught lapping up every note.

The choice of some of the bands more obscure material for the current set seems to go down well with the Birmingham crowd and the pace of the set, which slows down somewhat in the middle before picking up again for the final flourish, works perfectly well too!

Founding Father Jet Black joins the festivities for Golden Brown, Always the Sun and the masterpiece that is Genetix. JJ’s Bass really shines on this one tonight.

The mood of the band seems upbeat and they are tour tight. Drummer Jim is really doing a fine job of filling in for Jet. Baz is in the zone throughout as is Dave. Peasant being a highlight again for me plus Dave’s solo in Walk on By comes through loud and clear. Other highlights for me being Freedom is Insane and Norfolk Coast. A top show with a lively crowd. Alas no Jet on the encore for Tank but it was a great bonus to see him there at all to be fair… He did appear to be a little breathless truth be told. Then all too soon it was over…

As the numbers began to dwindle we did spy on the horizon The Oracle and paid her our respects… The Crown was once more visited before venturing out to the depths of India at The Royal Bengal….

The Oracle had these words of Wisdom to pass on…

Fizz Crackle Buzz…

…Red Button…

Pop Hum…

…Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wilko at Koko – Gig Review

Wilko Johnson Live at Koko Camden Sun 13th Oct 2013.

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So we finally got the time machine back up and running using the starting crank from a Morris Minor 1000. Having set the controls for the 1970s, we experienced some sub-space interference which led us to an alternate present day/1970s mix-up.

Landing in North London, we headed to the Music Machine in Camden High Street in search of musical enlightenment. Once there we discovered a venue by the name of Koko. Undeterred we ventured inside. My companion for this evening was Mr C (a friend of old), we had not seen each other for these last two decades, despite the advent of time travel. So it was interesting to hear from Mr C’s perspective that: ‘when I used to go to these gigs in my 20s the audience were all in their 20s! Now I’m in my 50s and the audience are all in their 50s!’ (Speak for yourself, I thought, although….). A fair observation!

Unfortunately, thanks to the sub-space interference, we missed the first act ‘The 45s’. Who by all reports were very good! We did, however, arrive in time for the second support act ‘Eight Rounds Rapid’ who were very entertaining, their guitar player appearing to be a remarkable evolution of Wilko himself, in terms of playing style/technique and stage presence. They treated us to a decent set with their modern interpretation of hard-edged R&B.

In no time at all, Wilko arrived on stage to a rapturous reception (The venue was packed out). Kicking off with an energetic ‘All Through The City’, Wilko, Norman and Dylan were completely on top of their game and up for it. We had a good vantage point at the front in the centre. From where we had a good ol’ boogie along with a select section of the audience, including the Japanese fan club. Although, it should be noted that many other were stood still like statues… most odd… maybe something to do with the sub-space!

The set was rocking, including ‘She does It Right’, ‘Sneaking Suspicion’, ‘Don’t Let Your Daddy Know’, and ‘Roxette’ to name a few. The sound was pretty decent for most of the set, although at times the bass was getting lost a little (quite common at live shows but you really don’t want this happening with a player like Norman Watt-Roy… You really need to savour his every note!) And the bass drum was strangely overpowering at times. Mr C commented that Wilkos guitar could’ve been a nudge higher in the mix. But really these points are being relayed just to convey the facts rather than being a criticism, because it was full on rockin’ awesome in there last night! Fucking Brilliant, in fact!

Sometimes you forget it’s a 3 piece making this glorious sound. Wilko was full of energy and using all of his stage moves from shuffle to machine gun to duck-walk and back again, superb! The dynamics between the band were superb with lots of light and shade. In the quieter passages the sound was excellent showcasing the virtuoso talents of the whole trio.

Wilko had the whole stage covered with his signature psychotic style, making love to the guitar and even playing it behind his head. Drummer Dylan was cool and rock-solid throughout. While Norman was in the zone (where, it must be said, he appears to permanently reside!).

In a trice, we were at the end and they kicked in to ‘Bye Bye Johnny’ with all that that implies! Emotive stuff! Wilko conducted the audience for a full sing-along of the chorus. Then they took it down a notch allowing Norman to stretch his legs, amazing! A super drum solo from Dylan and another couple of strong choruses and they were gone…

They treated us to two encores before turning us back out into the night… Bittersweet!