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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Spear of Destiny - Ivory Blacks 27/11/10 (Glasgow)

Glasgow is busy tonight. Madness, Biffy Clyro, nomeansno, Saw Doctors and Frankie Boyle are all filling the larger and more well known venues, while every pub and club also appears to have something to offer.
For me there is only one attraction though, and that's Kirk Brandons Spear of Destiny who have slipped in a late show in Ivory Blacks to promote the new album and give us a run through of some classic tracks.
Unfortunately while Glasgow is busy Ivory Blacks is not.
Similar to the last Spear of Destiny show in the ABC2 attendance is rather uninspiring and it is something that is starting to piss me off because I know why it is happening.
It's all down to lack of local promotion. That's it in a nutshell.
Instead of putting some posters up and distributing flyers there seems to be a reliance on word of mouth amongst fans to pass on that the band are playing, and to be frank the SOD grapevine isn't working.
My fear is that if this lack of promotional work continues then an artist fronting a band that I admire, and enjoy watching play live, will think that there is little point in returning.
How crap will that be?
So before I move onto the actual review I'm going to paraphrase Kennedy and ask Kirk Brandon fans to think not what Kirk can do for them and instead what they can do for Kirk.
The next time he, or his band are up north, I want to see facebook, twitter and myspace ablaze with the news.
Don't be content with picking a ticket up for yourself, but instead ask some mates along for a night out.
Remind people how good Spear of Destiny are by posting up youtube videos online with a link to the date they are playing.
Just get involved because anyone who was at the Ivory Blacks show knows that he, and the band, deserve to be playing in front of larger and more enthusiastic crowds.
Right. Rant over and onto the gig.

New album “Omega Point” is being touted as a real return to form, but I would take issue with that as a return to form hints that a band had lost their mojo and that's not an accusation that could be levelled at Kirk Brandon and his Spear of Destiny.
Proof of this is prevalent throughout any live show that anyone is lucky to attend.
New and old material sit shoulder to shoulder in solidarity showing that they are a band who have never lost their form.
As the opening chords, keyboard flourishes and pounding drums confidently charge out of the starting gate Kirks voice soars and takes charge.
This is why over the years I keep coming back to see Kirk Brandon.
He doesn't do lacklustre gigs. He puts vein popping effort into every single show.
The man can raise the hair on the back of your neck with his powerhouse vocals and the current line up of SOD are the tightest band that I have ever seen playing with him. I was impressed last time they played, but even more so this time.
It's down to the balance.
While I stand there stage front I don't get a nudge towards the past, but instead find myself watching a band who don't do nostalgia, but instead weave old and new together and create a moment that is immersed in the present.
It's simply fantastic.
If I was offered the chance to see anyone else who was playing in Glasgow this night I would have politely told them no thanks.
By the time they are midway through Kalashnikov I'm blown away.
If I had my way then this gig would have been in the Barrowlands in front of a sold out crowd, but as it's not my call I guess I will just have to live with Kirk playing more intimate shows.
Last song of the set Young Men was a sublime effort in maintaining control on the edge of losing it, while for the encore they ran through a rousing Liberator that had a few bodies who should know better thrashing about a bit.
It was the perfecting ending to pretty much a perfect night.
If I was to be picky I could say that the set wasn't long enough, but to be honest Spear could play for a few hours solid and I would still say that.

I suppose it's here that I should practice what I was preaching earlier and tell everyone reading that Kirk will be back in February to do a solo acoustic show in Kilmarnock.
Tickets will be on sale in the next week or so. Here's a wee flyer for it if you want to punt it about this internet webby thing.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The riot that wasn't a riot.

My heart swelled with pride yesterday when I watched the students march on Whitehall.
Why shouldn't it?
According to the coalition trolls who were frantically out in force across social networking sites - most mirroring the behaviour of the foul mouthed and less than intelligent guests of the Jeremy Kyle show that they loathe - I should be loudly condemning the violence, the disorder and the civil disobedience.
Without any sense of humour involved the very same trolls are happy to advocate the "cracking of student oiks heads" by the police though.
There is also a partially hypocritical statement from Camerons spokesman who appears to have a rather one sided view of any violence and intimidation displayed on the day.
Well I'm sorry, but I don't condemn their actions at all.
I will not condemn anyone for exercising their right to protest.
Especially when their reasons for doing so are altruistic.
One point the media, and those who support the coalition, are happy not to raise is that those young men and women who were out protesting are actually doing so for those who will follow them into further education.
It's not all about them.

They also don't want anyone to consider that this was simply the cause and effect reaction to the ideologically driven, and draconian, policies that their coalition are attempting to bully through parliament.
Without them there wouldn't be anyone protesting on the streets at all.

So while they wilfully point the finger at anyone who doesn't agree with them, they should maybe be taking a step back and considering what the real catalyst for this action was.
That they refuse to do so hints that they want nothing more than a deferential society.
One that is willing to accept the widening gap between those who have and those who have not, and guess what side of the fence they will be on?
Let us not lose sight of what is actually happening here though. This is not about a police van being vandalized*, a bus shelter being trashed or some windows being smashed.
This is people publicly opposing the dismantling of the welfare state, the moving of education out of reach of a whole segment of society, the draconian cuts to the public sector, the attack on the NHS, the tax avoidance of the wealthy and the bail outs of the banks (while the bankers continue business as usual) to name just the tip of an iceberg that is floating in public view.
History is littered with similar actions and they all have a common thread, and that thread is that any government who fails to listen to the people will regret stepping down that totalitarian path.
In fact above every door of every building that houses politicians they should carve the words “Without the support of the people we are nothing.”
It would be nice if they didn't need to be reminded of that, but are we in any doubt that they do?

We have had decades of acting like apathetic turkeys voting for x-mas and now due to this government relentlessly pushing us all into a corner, over what feels like a very long six month period, we have started to push back.
Make no mistake. This is the start and I applaud it.
We have still to see the disabled, the unemployed, the carers and more taking to the streets.
Unless this government start listening then their actions will do nothing more that swell the ranks of the dissenters, and there is no evidence that they will listen. So bring it on.
As it is Clegg and his Lib Dem cronies don't appear to be able to differentiate between a pledge and a promise. Say one thing and do another is their mantra it would seem. Yesterday he even stated for the record that regardless of the amount of protest and dissent that Cameron and himself would not be considering any changes to the tuition fees policies.
A rough translation could be “Say what you want because we don't care.”
Hopefully this attitude that they are displaying is starting to sink in with the general public and they will receive the reaction that they deserve.

*eye witness report from Whitehall.

Heiko Khoo – Police planted an old police van in Whitehall in the middle of 4000 demonstrators, we asked the police to remove it, they refused. Police only 20 yards from the van refused to protect it. They wanted it to be attacked. The 'attack' on the van was an excuse to kettle 4000 people for 8 hours, some 11 years old. We had no water or toilets for 5 hours.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Wedding Bell (ends)

Doff your cap and have a tug on your forelock you dirty prole for we be about to have a royal wedding.
Well that's the advice that Simon Heffer – he of the Telegraph – appears to be dishing out.
Apart from the offensively lofty attitude he has on display it is also a rather outdated mindset isn't it?
If you were wanting to find a common consensus with his views then I suspect that HG Wells would have to lend you his time machine.
Either that or visit your local Conservative party offices on a Friday afternoon after they have had a liquid working lunch.
(That's when they let their hair down and drunkenly advocate that fox hunting doesn't go far enough, and instead it should be used as a population control measure on council housing estates - allegedly)
Old Simon very nearly avoids addressing the fact that as we are picking up the tab for this wedding that it just might be a justifiable reason for some of us daring to express a view, but he covers this by holding the opinion that similar to Victorian children we should be seen and not heard.
I mean how dare we even consider that we should have an opinion on the matter, never mind voice a concern about its costs.
That we are going to pay for it isn't an irrelevance.
Its simply our duty it would seem.
I suspect if he had his way then those of us who are working would be forced to do an extra shift a week and the unemployed would be taking a cut in their benefits to pay for it.
The whole tone of his article harkens back to the days of pomp and circumstance, god save the queen and an unquestioning attitude to those that we should consider to be our betters.
The class divide is everything.
The elite will decide the path we walk on and those of us who have nothing will carry the load down it for them.
What a crock.
It's 2010. Not 1910.
This isn't the great rock and roll swindle. We have our very own “not so great royal wedding swindle” going on and people like this oaf are blatantly telling us that we should be basking in the reflective glory of a couple of toffs getting hitched at our expense.
Did this fool not expect that there would be a backlash.
Against a backdrop of “we are all in this together, we all need to economise and tighten our belts, we can only guide this country through a recession by cutting public services, we will all have to pay more and expect less, and cuts, cuts and more cuts” headlines, the “oooh lets have a royal party and you can pay” from those who have bags of cash themselves was never going to fly past unopposed.
Next they will be telling us that while they said that there was no money in the national pot they have just found a few billion down the back of the couch that they are going to lend to a mate - who might not ever be able to pay us back - rather than use it to pay the bills that they keep telling us need to be paid.
Nah. That would be just one step too far though. I'm being silly.
They couldn't cut front line public services and then do something like that could they?
WHAT? They are?
No way.
The mind boggles.
I'd doff my cap at the audacity of that if I hadn't sold it on ebay along with my forelock.

Friday, 19 November 2010

No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones

Well you can drop Elvis out and add in The Who and the Kinks instead and lets start a discusssion.
Mr Kenny Helwig, he of the days of our youth blog, started the ball rolling on this through a facebook post and I've picked it up.

So here's what Kenny posted.

Okay, here is the question

The Who
The Beatles
The Kinks
...The Rolling Stones

Who is your fave????????????

Me? The Beatles, followed closely by The Rolling Stones

and my response.

In order of preference.
The Rolling Stones
The Kinks
The Who
The Beatles.
The Stones grabbed me as a kid and never let go. There was something wild and subversive about them that in hindsight probably geared me up to delve into punk.
Of course as I got older and immersed myself further into music and its history I could see their influences and even took on board that much of their bad boy image was a media invention, but none the less they had the biggest impact on me.
The Kinks are sublime. Rays lyrics are beyond reproach and are what drew me in. Take there biggest tune Lola as an example. An international hit whose subject matter is shagging a tranny.
Get in there. Subvert, subvert, subvert. Fantastic.
The Who are simply the template for a rock and roll band brought to life. They balanced between sanity and insanity and delivered classics while doing so.
That I haven't placed them higher is just down to personal taste.
Listen to Live at Leeds and be blown away. I love them because I feel that they walked the walk rather than just talked the talk.
The Beatles. Love them to, but in my mind - probably because I live in the UK and grew up listening to them - I can't help but see them as a mainstream band.
They were a hit making machine and regardless of their counter culture credentials that came later I just can't see them in any other way than being chartbusters.
Similar to the Stones their media image stuck with me.
Maybe that's not fair, but it's just the way it is.
They were too white bread for me in so many ways.
I can sit back and look at the depth of their career and appreciate that in a short length of time they set the benchmark for excellence.
How can anyone really argue against that
I do in fact like them, appreciate them and will sing along when I have a Beatles day, but purely down to personal choice the other guys come in before them.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Borland by John Grant

Local fiddle player - or should that be alt-fiddle player as he has always lived both in the past, present and future when it comes to playing his instrument of choice - John Grant has recently added author to his list of accomplishments with the release of his début "Borland".
I got a sneak preview of it before it went to press and was suitably impressed.
We on the west coast of Scotland much prefer to keep praise to a minimum when it comes to friends and are loathe to admit that anything they have been involved in is any good.
To be frank telling someone that their efforts aren't completely shit is about the highest compliment a man could receive.
So in the spirit of that I have to say that "Borland" isn't completely shit at all.

Here's the selling blurb and if you wish to purchase a hard copy or even an online one then the contacts are at the bottom of the page.

"A personal account of growing up in late twentieth century Kilmarnock, Scotland. Love, life and honouring friendship through traditional music.

At the age of nineteen, Scottish traditional fiddler John Grant embarked on a journey to immortalise all who inspire him in life through traditional music. This book describes the journey - sometimes hilarious, sometimes painfully sad, never dull or predictable.

Taking the reader on a journey as diverse as the "Save Johnnie Walker" campaign through to touring Europe with psychobilly band The Termites, this is a must read for everyone interested in traditional music and Scottish life with 51 pieces of sheet music enclosed within the book"

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds - Soundhaus (26/11/09)

My name is Kid….and I am from Mars……

It sometimes felt that this was the gig that was never to be.
It’s a tale of double bookings, incompetent local promoters and a hero who rode in to snatch victory from the jaws of ineptitude.
It all started as these things often do as a random run of events.
I slipped on Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds latest platter and midway through giving it a spin thought ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if the band were to play Glasgow’.
That thought rattled about inside my head for a while. An itch that I couldn‘t scratch.
So I let my fingers do the walking across the keyboard only to find serendipitously that the band were indeed playing.
Coincidence? Kismet? Does it really matter?
Then when I read on my initial excitement was cruelly dashed.
Kid Congo was explaining that due to a double booking at the Captains Rest the band were without a venue for the gig and the show was in the lap of the gods.
I rushed off a message to the band throwing a Glasgow promoters name forward in the hope that a last minute salvage job could be worked out.
CJ of ’The Tragic City Thieves’ jumped aboard and frantically called around looking for a venue to host the band. Unfortunately, just like Joseph and Mary in the lead up to little baby Jesus being born, there were no doors open to him and he came up empty.
It wasn’t looking good.
Then out of the blue a bulletin appeared on myspace. A new venue was secured and it was happening.
Details were sketchy.
All I knew was that the show was going ahead in the Soundhaus and the doors would open at 10pm.
That was enough. The bare bones is all you need. Everything else is just meat.
On arriving KelC and myself were the first in the door and my paranoid self jumped forward laughing and whispering that no one was going to turn up and the gig would be cancelled.
Then the hero of the hour stepped forward, a guy name Alan, and introduced himself.
This was the fella who sorted everything out last minute. Not a promoter, or a chancer looking to make a quick buck, but a simple fan.
The whole night was his baby from start to finish and everyone who was there owes this guy a drink. Fuck it. I’d buy him two simply for reaffirming my faith in the goodness of people.
There is a small feeder bar/chill out room adjacent to where the bands play and it is in here we are ushered for a pre gig DJ set.
The sounds hit the spot.
From classic 60s R and B to the some proto punk rock with a bit of Bo Diddley telling us he’s a gunslinger, it was all good, and as the time drew closer to Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds playing we were treated to a plundering of tracks from ’Songs the Cramps taught us’.
By now my negative outlook on the attendance figures was slipping away as people started to crowd the bar.
Two acquaintances arrived from my home town. Christ knows how Gav and Billy found out about it, but including ourselves that was four brave souls from deepest darkest Ayrshire that had made it.
Not bad for a place that thinks jungle drums are at the cutting edge of communication technology.
The crowd swelled some more and this was a testament to Kid Congos pulling powers as there was barely any time to promote this show. A good portion must have been there through word of mouth alone.
We finish our drinks and head in for showtime.
It’s only a couple of minutes before The Pink Monkey Birds wander through the crowd and take to the stage resplendent in their mariachi suits. A sense of anticipation ripples through the crowd and Kid Congo joins them.
I had a preconceived idea that as a front man he may have been workmanlike, possibly even a tad uncomfortable assuming the role of focal point for a band, but I was so wrong.
Kid Congo controls the stage. Up front is where he should be. He has the mojo going on.
Psychedelic garage is pumped out and we are lapping it up.
By the time they reach ‘I found a Peanut’ from ‘Dracula Boots’ everyone is singing along.
The band are weaving magic up there on the stage and the audience are spellbound. Events become blurred. Kid Congo tells us that they already have a new album finished.
It’s coming out early next year and we should watch out for it being released as five seven inch singles. They give us a taster by playing a song that may or may not have been called ’When I was a punk’. A track that is blisteringly good.
As would be expected there was a strong contingent of Cramps fans in the audience and they were in a lather when Kid dedicated ’I’m Cramped' to the memory of Lux before following that on with the Gun Clubs ‘For the love of Ivy’.
Someone leaned in and said that it doesn’t get any better than this. I think he was being specific, but when I agreed I was meaning the gig in its totality. The covers, or audience pleasers if you want to call them that didn’t overshadow the bands own material at all. The quality of the show started on a high and refused to dip throughout regardless of where the songs played came from.
For me this year has been one of the best ever for gigs and this one has just rocketed into the top five.
The cover of Ronnie Cook and the Gaylads Goo Goo Muck finished me off.
In hindsight the Captains Rest couldn’t have handled this and the larger Soundhaus was a far better option.
I’m tired now. I’m emotional. I’ve waited a long time to see this guy and his band and my high expectations were more than matched.
There are more UK dates and then they are crawling through mainland Europe. So don’t be square daddio and make it your mission in life to catch one of the gigs. You will not be disappointed.

Green Day/Prima Donna - Glasgow SECC

The SECC is predominately awash with children.
I would love to be able to claim altruistically that I’m pleased that so many young people are excited about live music, but the reality is that if the tweenie in front of me makes one more squeaky assertion about one more band that she has gleaned the name of from Kerrang then I might wring her scrawny little neck.
According to the font of all tweenie knowledge Prima Donna are shit, although she glibly admits she hasn’t seen, nor heard them.
I mean c’mon. Aaaaaaaaaaargh.
This sort of inane chatter that’s grounded in bullshit is all around me.
Twenty minutes standing in the line behind her is enough for me to entertain fantasies of the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang arriving and decimating the crowd in one fell swoop.
maybe he could lure about 60% of them away with the offer of meeting Billie Joe Armstrong and then lock the little fuckers up in cages for everyone over twenty five to throw bananas at.
Thankfully Prima Donna provide an excellent distraction form the prepubescent throng. .
Neatly sidestepping the glam sleaze cock rock hair metal LA scene of the eighties they prefer to root themselves in the classic stomping glam of the seventies, while giving a cocky wink to the early NY scene of the Dolls and Ramones.
It’s a heady mix that completely by passes the majority of the Green Day acolytes who appear to be mainly unaware that a band are actually playing before their gods arrive.
The lack of appreciation from the majority there doesn’t phase me in the slightest though.
Fuck them.
It’s their loss.
If they can’t hear and see that this band are special, regardless of the fact that they’re not neatly keying into the modern day demographic of what they should be listening to, then I reiterate, fuck them.
This band have actually existed in my head since I was a kid.
They're my dream band.
f I imagined a look, a sound and an attitude and then conjured a band into existence for my own entertainment then this is that band.
They've made my fantasy a reality.
There’s the swagger of the Dolls, there’s some T-Rex, the sax reminds me of Hanoi Rocks and then there's more and more and more.
Live they sound like a melting pot of all the very best albums that I own.
Opening with Soul Stripper they hit the stage with high octane glee and keep the pace up throughout a short, but very urgent, set.
Chinese Rocks is sublimely ripped from the past and transported to the here and now.
When played right this is a tune that still sends shivers up and down my spine, and tonight the fire is there.
Shit. I wish this was in a small sweaty club as this is how Prima Donna should be seen.
A bit of Gary Glitter is thrown in, but I doubt anyone under thirty even notices.
It’s only about three quarters of the way through their show and I had to slip off to the merch stall and grab a t-shirt and CD.
There’s a pile of CDs there and no one seems too interested, but I’ll happily step out of time to the drumbeat everyone else is marching to.
The t-shirt's an impulse buy, but if in some small way the buying of it extends the life of this band to another album, tour, or whatever, then its worth every penny.
When I get back into the auditorium I catch the end of the show, and just in time to hear them promise that they will return to Scotland soon.
I hope that’s not a glib promise as I’m setting aside the cash for a ticket right now.
What a gig.
Time to go home.
Oh wait. There’s still Green Day to go.
What can I say.
Green Day are like tectonic plates now.
They have moved on so slowly from American Idiot that you can barely see the change.
There’s a new stage show and a few new songs but apart from that this is the American Idiot show all over again.
The audience participation angle is starting to wear thin due to over exposure and their lauded two and a half hour set could be whittled down to an hour and a half without it.
Of course they'ree pretty much faultless in the execution of the gig, but personally I’m thinking that the rock behemoth stadium show takes from the performance as much as it gives.
The balance is off.
For every highlight there’s equally a point where it drags.
The splitting of the crowd for some call and response shenanigans can be fun, but by the second and third time its failing to impress and I'm stifling a yawn.
I’ve seen Green Day on virtually every UK tour and the romance seems to be over.
Have they outgrown me, or is it the other way around?
I don’t know, maybe we just want different things now.
No matter. Unless they can re-engage with something less superficial then I can’t see me coming back.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society - Glasgow Stereo 10/8/09

The World/Inferno Friendship Society’s Glasgow gig was most definitely in American football parlance a game four quarters.
Dave Hughes and his band were a monumental disappointment. I thought that a bit of familiarity with his material would have notched up my enjoyment a bit, but after starting on a high with their opening song it was all downhill after that. Dave has a weak voice and his band are shambolic.
Take it from me. I’m being kind here.
Talented individuals they may be, but apart from the guy playing the mandolin they may have well all been playing in different bands. Highlight of the set was when Dave snapped a string as it allowed for a couple of minutes respite for me.
It wasn’t really an auspicious start to the night but The Dirty Demographic rode in next to provide a standard of quality that had so far been sadly lacking. How can you describe them though. Remember a band called Do me bad things? They were a fantastic live band that threw everything into the mix. A bit of a rock, a bit of soul, a bit of disco and anything else that came to hand. I personally think it was a bit too much for most people. A case of aural overload that people couldn’t wrap their heads around.
Well the Dirty Demographic are a bit like that. Quirky keyboard pop, dual vocals, with a bit of jazz, some horns, some rap and although it shouldn’t work, it does. Imagine the kids from fame as disillusioned adults having a mid life crisis and getting back together to play in a garage band. That’s the Dirty Demographic.
If an audience can just accept the fact that this band will not be neatly pigeon holed then they could actually be your next favourite band.
I would definitely go and see them again, and maybe even again and again and again. So should you.
After having my spirits raised by the Dirty Demographic Joey Terrifying came on and my enjoyment of the night plummeted to the depths of despair.
The deal in bland shouty testosterone heavy punk that I have seen a million times before. The bassist was the best bit about them. He had it locked down. Great bass runs through every song and when he took to the mike he showed himself to be a better singer than the front man. It still wasn’t enough to salvage the set though. This sort of thing appeals to a certain demographic of punk fan and I’m quite happy not being one of them. I’d have the band taped off in a corner and encourage security to usher people along saying ‘move on, nothing original to see here.’
Nothing to do with their performance, but after their set it looked like they all fucked off and left the guitarist to manhandle all his equipment off the stage. So much for punk rock unity. Poor guy looked like he was cultivating a hernia.
Nah. I’ll be remembering their name, but only to give them a miss in the future.
Last band on was of course the World/Inferno Friendship Society.
I’ve been waiting a while to see these guys, and my expectations were pretty high, but truth be told it wouldn’t have mattered how high my expectations were as they would still have surpassed them.
The cabaret punk tag gets bandied about often enough, but it’s apt. So who am I to swim against the tide. A performance is just that, a PERFORMANCE. Equally as theatrical as they are punk rock they know how to engage with an audience. What they do goes beyond just playing a gig, hosting a party, or putting on a show. It’s a communal experience where everyone get’s to participate if they so wish.
Someone once said that punk grew out of white kids being unable to dance. What a crock. If they had been at this gig then they would have seen how far off the mark they are. I, and a good chunk of the small crowd danced from start to finish. Not just jumped up and down, but really danced. We gyrated, twisted, shook our thangs and even waltzed throughout the show. At points I would have to stop to catch my breath and try and drag some oxygen in from the overheated air, but regardless of occasionally seeing spots in front of my eyes I would jump back in there to join in again.
Bodies over forty aren’t really equipped for this sort of exertion, but no one appears to have informed TWIFS and they are hell-bent on whipping everyone up into a frenzy regardless of age or gender.
The politics are kept to a bare minimum with anarchism only being mentioned a couple of times and a bit of a ‘Do they owe us a living (of course they fucking do)’ is wheeled out. The band don’t deal in pushing a political agenda. They want to sing, dance, stretch their imagination and dream of a better place for us all and if you want to come along for the ride then you are more than welcome.
I actually wish that they played here at least once a month as it is just the sort of pick me up that I could do with on a regular basis. This was one of the top gigs of the year.

Bruce Springsteen - Glasgow

The bus journey was pretty much uneventful.
We got the bus instead of the train as there had been a fatality on the line and Christ knew when the next one would have been.
More money, a longer journey and a more uncomfortable one.
We arrived in Glasgow mid afternoon and had a look in Fopp where we got a few bargains and then KelC got here tragus pierced in Forevermore Tattoos. Basically we were just wandering about a bit killing time before heading out to Hampden.
Throughout the afternoon the rain was sporadically making an appearance and it done little more than provide a drab backdrop to the day.
There was no carnival atmosphere like there was on the day of AC/DC. No hordes of Springsteen fans. No strains of Bruce coming from the shops at all.
It could have been any Tuesday afternoon in Glasgow.
You could have been forgiven in thinking that you had arrived on the wrong day for the gig.
After exhausting the options of ‘things we wanted to do’ we jumped on the train to Mount Florida and the sense of anticlimax began to really kick in.
Prior to AC/DC the train was packed to bursting point with fans in an exuberant mood and ready to party. This one was full of commuters heading home from work with probably nothing much more on their mind than settling down for a night in front of the television ahead of them.
Outside Hampden we met up with friends who had been in line since early morning to get access to the ‘golden circle.’
They felt the day had passed quite fast, but that might have had more to do with the alcohol they’d consumed and the camaraderie of the hardcore Springsteen fans that they were ensconced with.
We only spoke to them for a little while before the gates opened to let the anointed Springsteen acolytes in. ( I think they got to see the sound check, but forgot to ask later). Then we then went and bought a couple of t-shirts and joined the swelling lines of the great unwashed, of which we were but two of, that didn’t have the magic marker number daubed on them that gave access to the stadium early.
We stood, and we stood and we stood and we stood.
Then the rain came on, then the rain went of, then it came on again, then it slowed to a trickle, then it did an impression of a monsoon and finally the gates opened.
Inside we noticed that the golden circle was huge so KelC and myself headed straight for it. I felt a bit sorry for the people who had queued up since last night for access to this area while the vast majority of us just streamed in and jostled them out of the way.
They must have been royally pissed off.
Then we stood and stood and stood and stood until it felt like my feet were chewing on my ankles.
Finally, after the roadies did their thing for what seemed like an eternity, Nils Lofgren of the E Street Band walked on stage with an accordion and started playing ‘O Flower of Scotland’ and at the moment everything changed.
All the hours of waiting in a downpour suddenly became worthwhile. The rest of the E Street Band and Bruce Springsteen were welcomed on stage by the world famous Hampden roar that’s usually reserved for international football matches.
For a couple of seconds it was deafening.
One minute there was zero atmosphere and then it was a if someone had run a charge of electricity through the whole stadium.
Bruce Springsteen knows how to play a crowd and that’s apparent from the moment he appears.
It’s classic Bruce. He passionate, he’s funny, he’s personal and he throws his guitar about like a hammer.
He’s on the lip of the stage more times than you can count. Virtually in the crowd every five minutes.
He collects banners and uses them to introduce songs. He gives his harmonicas away after each song and the lucky members of the audience who are chosen to receive one look as if they will pass out on the large screens on each side of the stage.
At one point the has a little girl of about six sing along with him and without doubt you can see that this will live with her forever. Christ she has just sang with an icon of rock in front of tens of thousands of people.
This is how Bruce connects with people. He blurs the lines. It’s not an audience watching a show. It an event where the people are encouraged to participate. The crowd put as much energy into this as the band do. It’s not them and us. Just us.
I’ve tailed off from his more recent material over the last few years and the unfamiliarity of some of it allowed me to disengage to an extent and take in the crowd instead.
All around me people are transfixed. It’s rare to see such adulation and the crowd ranged from kids to pensioners. It would appear that Springsteen is everything for everyone.
I don’t think that there was much passing trade at this show. The vast majority must have been hardcore Bruce fans and could sing along to every word of every song. Even the new tune ’Outlaw Pete’ that was played at Glastonbury for the first time had everyone singing along.
The E Street Band are accomplished musicians and you can tell that wherever Bruce leads they can effortlessly follow. No change of pace throws them off course. It’s a very fluid performance.
Some of the songs from Born in the USA sound like they have been turbocharged. Cover Me is a guitar driven blast of noise that only has a passing resemblance to its studio cousin. While Working on the Highway sounds like a party in full swing. Even Dancing in the Dark, that I’ve always thought was a bit cheesy, took on a whole new life.
The highlights for me where the older tracks though.
Born to Run, The River and Thunder Road are three that I would pick out as being that bit extra special.
The last quarter of the show flew by.
It was as if the band were going for it as hard as they could. They knew there was an 11pm curfew and they were determined to squeeze in as much as the could. There wasn’t a moment to pause for breath.
When they ripped into Twist and Shout there was no doubt that they had managed to impress everyone in the stadium at one point or another. They really do cover all the bases.
Although these events are getting rather pricey I don’t think that anyone could honestly say that they were short changed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Supersuckers/Nashville Pussy - Glasgow ABC

Who picks the support bands for the ABC? Come the revolution they’re first up against the wall. I’m not kidding. I’m issuing a fatwa on their arses.
Someone will probably claim that bands send in demos and the better ones get paired up with a suitable headlining act.
After witnessing the performance tonight I’ll wager that a member of the band is either related to someone in the ABC, or one of them has a picture of the manager of the venue sucking donkey dick and has therefore secured an unheralded run of support slots for the foreseeable future for himself and his mates.
I’m not sure what they were called but the singer bellowed in a distorted mumble something like ’Hello. We are Rancid Fanny Pish Flaps’ and then proceeded to scream and grunt over everything.
I got the impression that they want to be a screamo Turbonegro if you can wrap your head around such a misguided concept.
After I got over how truly fuckin' horrendous the singer was I began to realize that the rest of the band were pretty good. In fact very good.
It was a classic case of four guys slogging their guts out and no one noticing because their front man commands all the attention, but not in a good way.
Every once in a while the singer would engage with the audience and say something inane and embarrassing. Even worse was a little dance he did while snapping his fingers. If he was attempting to do the moves that your old uncle does at a family wedding then he succeeded. If it was anything other than that then he failed miserably.
Something that speaks volumes about the performance was that I seen a guy head stage front when the band started up, then do a u-turn and head back to his seat when the singer opened his mouth.
Strangely enough there was a middle section of a song when the front man stopped screaming and revealed himself to have a voice not a million miles away from Alex Harvey. It was a very brief respite and just enough to make you think that their might be more to them. Then it all went tits up again.
Laugh out loud moment was when the singer dropped to his knees while the guitarist straddled him in a Bowie, Ronson style. The homoerotic thing only works when the two guys are good looking. It really doesn’t have the same impact when the guitarist looks like one of the Macc Lads whose just returned from a year long stay at a hippy commune.
Thank Christ Nashville Pussy were up next.
When they came on it was the proverbial chalk and cheese moment.
Seasoned veterans of stages all over the world they know exactly how to play a crowd and are well aware that it has little to do with theatrics and it’s more about playing a basic rock and roll show that will tear the roof off.
It’s a wrecking ball approach that works extremely well.
The cowpunk tag gets bandied about a lot when people talk about them, but that’s muddying the water a bit. It’s an attempt by people to add a cooler descriptive term because saying they’re simply a southern rock band isn’t fashionable enough for some.
A more honest assessment shows them to have far more in common with Lynyrd Skynyrd than any punk outfit, even if they do peddle that southern boogie with the urgency of punk.
This isn’t the type of rock show that appeals to young men struggling through puberty and wanking off to KISS though. Neither has it got anything to do with the long haired, bang your head, patrons of the new wave of british heavy metal sound either.
It’s simply balls to the wall party time. It’s about working hard, drinking hard, taking drugs, getting fucked up, partying and then doing it all again. Bit timeless the message really.
By the time they hit the cover of Nutbush City Limits I’m well into it and it’s starting to look like the band are going to have to be pulled off the stage. They give the impression that that unless you are giving it your all then there’s no point to it. Other bands should take note. It’s everything or nothing. No half measures will do. If you don’t feel it then it’s not working.
Guitarist Ruyter Suys is stunning. A rock goddess incarnate. If you plugged her into the national grid they could run a fair sized city of the energy she has. She struts about the stage like the yin to Angus Youngs yang, or like Angus Young with tits as I said.
The show is a pure adrenalin rush. Just as you think they have peaked they take it to the next level.
As it ends Ruyter literally tears the last few notes out of her guitar and as the feedback wails she takes a large swallow of whiskey and sprays it over………..well me an KelC. Lucky for KelC she had just turned and lent in for a cuddle so she got her hair liberally coated while I on the other hand was left with a face full of what tasted like a single malt.
The Supersuckers didn’t waste any time coming on next and as with any headliner who have just witnessed a support band rip up the stage they know that they have to pull it out of the bag or they are going down. So there was little banter from Eddie Spaghetti and for the first few songs as it’s all about turning the heat up. Due to the time restraints it is obvious that they are hell bent on squeezing in as many songs as they can. It’s loud. It’s aggressive and it’s relentless. One track after another from their whole career are thrown out before Eddie finally relaxes a bit and starts in with his ’We’re the greatest rock and roll band in the world’ shtick.
It’s probably taken him to reach the quarter way stage before he is comfortable enough to say it, as to be honest it’s still neck and neck with Nashville Pussy.
Turning it down a bit may seem like the last thing that a band should do at this point, but that’s just what they do and start into some of their country material. This has been toured in the states before, but this is the first time that we in the UK have seen it, and even though it’s not the full shebang it has been worth waiting for. Having it as an interlude from the raucous rock and roll works well.
My only complaint would be that I would have been happy to experience more of it, but it’s straight back into hardcore rockin’ for the band.
Although they joke about being the greatest rock and roll band in the world with a degree of swaggering machismo they actually could very well be the real deal. Similar to their support they don’t need a gimmick and are happy to just set up and let the music do the talking.
As they power into born with a tail the crowd are starting to go nuts.
It’s at moments like this that I realize why I love live music so much. This is as far removed from the humdrum bullshit of everyday life as you could imagine.
I guess the Stones said it best. ’I know it’s only rock and roll but I love it, love it, yes I do.

Rise Against. AntiFlag. Flobots. Glasgow ABC 1/3/09

Two reviews here. One from myself and the other from my girlfriend KelC.

It’s the usual dreacht Scottish evening.
The rain is being driven in sheets across the windscreen and once again it’s dark far too early.
You would think we would get used to it because this sort of weather is pretty much the norm for most of the year.
I guess in the past I’ve just accepted it and subscribed to the Billy Connolly school of thought that there is no such thing as bad weather.
Just the wrong clothes.
Recently I’ve become tired of the monotonous grey days seeping into dark wet nights though.
Maybe it’s an age thing, but it honestly feels like it’s been a very long time since I felt the heat of the sun soaking into my bones and I could do with some.
For months now I leave home, and then return in the dark and it’s crap.
I may as well live within a stones throw of the north pole.

So because of this it can sometimes be difficult to grab onto a frisson of excitement when you are heading for a night out on the town.
The company is good, the bands should be good, and based on that I should be on a high, but my attitude is actually reflecting the weather.
I’m drawn to the negative and I can’t shake it.
I don’t feel anything about the forthcoming show at all.
When we get into the ABC it’s already very busy.
It’s a sold out show tonight and a very young crowd is in attendance.
I can’t help but think that we are about to see three of the most politically charged bands doing the rounds at the moment and their audience is mainly made up of middle class kids on the cusp of adulthood who think activist is a brand of t-shirt.
The sort who are supported financially by their parents, and the hardest decision the make daily is whether to go for the converse and skinny jeans look or the cargo pants hanging around their arse with vans ensemble.
Obviously there will be some politically sussed young people there who are passionate in their views, but they will be the minority.
A very small minority.

Am I being too hard? Well all I can say is that you had to be there.
There is the argument that it has always been this way and I accept this as a simple truth.
On the one hand we have the minority who steer society ever closer to the rocks while they horde the cash ready to jump ship and leave everyone else sinking, and on the other we have the minority who oppose them.
Meanwhile the vast majority remain silent and distracted by the latest shiny baubles.
It’s the kids that want the shiny baubles that make up the majority of the crowd in my view.
Then again it’s very possible that I’m just old and jaded, and these young people are simply bearing the brunt of my impotent rage at societies ills.
My opinion of the crowd is bolstered in my mind by the price of the merchandise.
The downtrodden poor can’t afford shit shirts at twenty quid a pop, but naïve kids with surplus cash mined from their parents pockets can.
The mark up for a plain tee-shirt with a one colour print would make a CEO of a multinational blush with envy.
Four Past Midnight can sell them at fiver, but Rise Against and AntiFlag who will be demanding a far bigger and therefore cheaper run of prints can’t do it for less than twenty. Go figure.
You expect this from greedy bastards like the big mainstream acts, but not from the self proclaimed bands of the people.
Suffice to say our hands remained in our pockets and no merch was purchased.
I was going to buy a split single for LAMF’s son that is only available on the tour, but it turned out that it wasn’t for sale and you got it for free when you bought a tee shirt.
So no tee shirt meant no single.
Okay. I’m pissed off and the bands haven’t even hit the stage yet.

The Flobots come on and play punky hip hop with a woman on violin to broaden the sound out.
It works well enough, but mid set I’m taken back to the early nineties and reminded of bands that I’ve seen at Glastonbury.
The sort that were always on in wee tents at 2.30 am somewhere.
There’s a bit of a middle of the road rage against the machine sound in there somewhere and it’s all rather agit light for my tastes.
I’d given them a fair crack of the whip prior to seeing them and the songs I’d listened to just didn’t grab me, but I was expecting the live experience to open me up to something that I was missing.
It didn’t.
They’re not a bad band, but they’re not a great band either.
I don’t reckon I’d bother seeing them again.

AntiFlag followed them and it might be about eight years ago or more that I seen them last.
Then they were on fire.
Ready to carry the torch passed on from the Clash, or more exactly Joe Strummer.
I don’t doubt that they are still as genuinely passionate in their views, but unfortunately they come across as more glib and slick now.
I suspect that this is more about the repetition of the message that they are trying to get across.
I’m not sure it’s possible to keep the rhetoric fresh when it getting rolled out on a nightly basis.
I wasn’t impressed with the request from the band for the kids to form a circle pit either.
They promote independent thought, and then fall into the bollocks of getting the crowd to act like sheeple.
Try a shrieking ’I wanna see you motherfuckers form a circle pit maaaaaan’ in an american accent and it could be anyone from Metallica to Bon Jovi on stage.
They were still tight, still entertaining and had a fistfull of excellent tunes to plunder though.
That's the upside, but I'm not sure if it balanced out the corporate rockstar side.
I guess It's saying something when the highlight of the set was their cover of I fought the law.
By this point in their career they should be able to drive the crowd to adulation with something of their own and it says a lot that they have to use a Clash cover to elicit the strongest response of the night.
It was really a game of two halves. The music was good, they performed well and the energy levels was high, but at the same time they engaged with the crowd on a very superficial level and it took a bit of the shine off them.
I’d still go and see them again, but that’s more to do with the AntiFlag of old that I remember rather than the polished version on show here.

Rise Against are cut from the same agit punk cloth as AntiFlag, but steer closer to Bad Religion styled melodic hardcore.
To say I was impressed with their performance would be an understatement. Where AntiFlag appeared glib Rise Against seemed heartfelt. That was the difference. They really attacked it and pushed the levels from the word go.
It was very obvious that this was the band that the crowd were really there to see and they appeared to be out to prove that they deserved the loyalty shown.
Once again I could reference bands like Bad Religion and Pennywise, but most of the crowd wouldn’t have a clue who I meant.
This band are this generations Bad Religion and they do it well.
You might be short changed at the merch stall, but Rise Against covered the cost of the ticket with an outstanding performance.
I’ve got a few of their releases, but never really keyed into them. I’m going to have to revisit them soon and see what I missed out on.
I have to say that I was really glad that they turned it around and delivered an excellent performance, or the whole night would have been a bit of a bust for me.

Cutting it fine as usual.
I just made it up to ElDs for 5.30. For a change I wasn't driving as our friend Mark was.
He’d just as arrived at El Ds house as I drove up so it was a quick pit stop and then we were off to Glasgow to see yet another three bands that were new to me.
When we arrived at Glasgow we parked the car and then the first stop of the night was the Wetherspoons just down the road from the ABC.
ElD was the only one out of the three of us that was drinking alcohol (lucky bugger). Most of the talk before the gig was about work related as the three of us work for the same company.
Two of us, ElD and myself, haven’t been in for a while so there was a lot of catching up to do. None of it was very complimentary. It was more like a bitching session.
As usual time flies in these circumstances and it wasn’t long before we finished off our drinks and headed to the ABC.

It was a pretty small queue out side as I think most of the crowd were already inside. They were giving everyone wristbands to get into some aftershow part that AntiFlag were DJing at. Not that we would be going as we all had other commitments for the morning.
Once inside we made our way over to the merchandise table and had a look at the t-shirts. Then when we seen the prices we each said the same thing 'no chance'.
For bands that sing and go on about political stuff I don’t understand how they could sell there merch at £20 for the t-shirts and £35 for sweatshirts. I liked a couple of them but there was no chance that I was going to pay that for them.
One t-shirt equals a good percentage of my electricity bill for the month. That’s real life.
On to the bands.
First up were the Flobots. When ElD told me who the supporting bands were I had said that I’d never heard of them, but when the Flobots started I actually had heard them before.
I thought they were alright. The rapping was a bit like Linkin Park at some parts, but that’s not to say that the band sounded like them as a whole. El D said he thought they sounded like a bunch of others but I’ll let him tell you about it.
When they were playing they had a fair amount of support from the crowd with about half of them waving their arms in the air.
As I said, they were alright, but they didn’t blow me away like some bands I’ve seen.
Next were Anti Flag.
As soon as they started the crowd went wild.
There was the usual crowd surfing, bouncing about and general mayhem.
As it was the first time I had seen them I thought they were great. They were a man down and playing as a three piece as the guitarist had to return to the states for personal reasons. But you couldn‘t tell that they were lacking in the guitars. Sounded great to me.
I was expecting them to let the music do the talking, but there was a lot of political points put across between the songs and then they got the crowd to join in for a circle pit.
It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like that. Especially on that scale. Hundreds of people running in a circle and falling all over the place.
In front of me was a wee guy trying to trip people up. That was a bit out of order and I mentioned it to ElD. He started watching him and later said that if he had seen him doing it he would have dragged him over to the security as at the speed people were going at that a pile up would have seen some people being seriously injured.
I then seen the guy jumping into it and he got swept away by the force.
I ended up hiding behind El D as the guy standing in front of me had a pint in his hand and I didn’t want to end up wearing it.
Then it was time for Rise Against to hit the stage.
In my own opinion I think they were brilliant. As soon as they hit the first note the crowed erupted again, but this time there were more people going nuts and I was one of them. Jumping about, singing, basically getting into the music, and when looked behind me so were El D and Mark.
Rise Against really know how to work a crowd. Lifting and carrying them along with the music. Taking it down a bit and then getting them going again.
Similar to Anti Flag they didn't just belt out song after song after song, but interacted with the crowd, urging them to support PETA, take an anti racist and sexist stance.
There was a real sense of community and the dedications from Rise Against to the other bands on the bill added to that.
As an encore the singer and guitarist did a couple of acoustic songs before being joined by the rest of the band to fire through another two.
Then it was all over and time to go home with my ears still buzzing.
All I can say now is that it was another great night. Great bands, great music and great company. What more could you ask for?

Buzzcocks/Lurkers - Glasgow ABC 2009

KelC was tired. Two twelve hour shifts back to back, a sleep on my couch, and then it was time for the train. Like Pulp said 'This is Hardcore'.
It was freezing outside, dark and felt like snow was threatening.
Oh how I long for the summer. I can't remember the last gig I went to that I didn't leave home and return in the dark.
Once we got to Glasgow we went for a quick bite to eat in a Subway. Nothing fancy, but it hit the spot.
The Subway is straight across the street from the venue and as it crept closer to seven I could see a queue starting to build up outside, but not a big line.
It didn't look that busy and I had a sinking feeling that it might be over reaching for the band to think they could fill the ABC1.
They did on the last tour, but that was akin to a reintroduction and the curious were out to see if they could still cut it.
The first time the NY Dolls played there it was filled to bursting to, but a little over a year later they struggled to fill a venue half the size.
This was what worried me. Had Shelley and Diggle burst the Buzzcocks bubble in Glasgow?
I was less concerned when we joined the line as there was a tout there looking to buy and sell tickets.
They never turn up at shows that have struggled to get bums on seats so his appearance was reassuring.
Inside it was warm and welcoming. The ABC is my favourite venue in Glasgow. It's a converted cinema with two places for bands. The ABC1 that the Buzzcocks are playing in is pretty big. As big as the legendary Barrowlands ballroom I suppose.
A wee tip for anyone attending is instead of standing at the main bar six deep and stretching over people just go into the small bar next to the cloakroom. It's got plush seats, it's rarely busy and has a large screen that you can watch the support band on if that takes your fancy.
The ABC2 is a club sized venue. Between the two they really have it covered.
Prior to the gig starting they were playing some ska tunes while the crowd slowly started to fill up the venue.
The majority of it was from the two tone label and had plenty of the Buzzers crowd smiling into their pints. It's all part of that whole nostalgia trip.
I checked out the merchandise and we got a couple of Buzzcocks t-shirts after going through a twenty question session about sizes.
It was all 'Have you got that in a medium?'
'No, but we have it in small and large'
'Do you have that one in a skinny fit size?'
'No, but we have it in a small mens'
KelC got one advertising this tour and I ended up with an Orgasm Addict one.
On hindsight I shouldn't have bothered as it's the last thing I need really, and it wasn't the one that I wanted.
If bands now live off of merch sales then Shelley, Diggle and co need to up their game a bit.
The lack of stock and limited options must be having an impact.
After that we wandered over to the Lurkers merch table.
It was night and day. Loads of t-shirts, albums, CDs, badges of loads of bands and a box of CDs with everything from Paul Weller to the Macc Lads in it. Now that's the way to do it.
Didn't buy anything, but had a chat with the guy running it. Nice fella.
He was saying that he road manages The Cute Lepers and had been trying to get the Buzzcocks support for them to no avail, and then coincidentally he got a call to do the Lurkers merch.
They have however got the Spanish dates with them so he wasn't complaining, just passing a comment.
(The Cute Lepers are going to be doing a tour after Rebellion and will be looking for promoters and venues. So I gave him the details of a guy in Glasgow that should be able to accommodate him.)
After that I bumped into Gerry Attrick, who was his usual enthusiastic self.
I'm sure he always forgets who I am even though we have ran into each other loads of times over the years.
It was just a quick hello, how ya doin'? though as it was around this point that The Lurkers came on.
They must be doing all right after back to back UK tours. First with Rancid and now with the Buzzcocks. Both draw completely different audiences so it's been good exposure for Arturo.
I didn't expect it, but the crowd were pleased enough to see them. A bit reticent to get jumping about though, but it didn't phase Arturo who maintained his bid for the 'nicest guy in punk' crown with some bantering between songs. Reminiscing about playing the Silver Thread Hotel in Paisley and dedicating a song to Gerry (Fire Exit) and the like.
It's the sort of thing that warms people to the band.
I don't think Arturo himself considers that they are doing anything groundbreaking, but on an entertainment level he scores high.
All in it was a pretty cohesive set covering old and new Lurkers material.
Their take on The New York Dolls classic 'Pills' was impressive, although the high point may have been the new song 'Come and reminisce'
It's nothing special as a studio track, but live it's a jaunty singalongapunk anthem in the making.
Well I thought so anyway.
It was funny when he introduced the guitarist and mentioned that he used to play for Penetration and Chelsea. It was meant as a compliment, but all I thought was 'there's a guy dropping down the rankings. What's next agadoo in a wedding band'
The Lurkers were over all too soon. I could have bopped about to them for another half hour at least. A short and sweet set that I'm sure rallied a few old fans back to the fold.
It was however the Buzzcocks night.
As soon as the Lurkers left the stage and the ska tunes were pumped back into the hall the crowd visibly swelled and when I looked around me I was surprised at just how busy it had got.
Befitting the age of the crowd it was all rather civilized, but there was still a current of excitement coursing through the hall.
Pent up middle aged angst anyone?
When they came on stage it was all business. Very little talk, just track after track being beaten into submission.
Earlier on in the evening I looked at the time and thought that we would be lucky to see the whole set of both albums, but as it progressed it was obvious that this wasn't going to be the case.
They were ripping their way through them. It wasn't overkill, or a hundred miles another. Just solidly relentless in pushing the songs out there.
I'm always surprised at how much like the Who they sound like. Not that I'm complaining. It's just that I seem to forget, and then when I slip on a CD, or see them live, then at some point during a portion of a song Daltrey and co will jump into my head.
In a live setting it's even more obvious with Diggle windmilling away like Townsend.
Similar to the last time I seen them, Diggle was the star. I love the guy.
Shelley holds it all together centrally, but Diggle is the rocker who is always turned up to eleven on the amps. His enthusiasm is infectious.
Often enough Shelley picks up the kudos whenever the band are discussed, but I just can't imagine them without Diggle. He's a huge part of who the band are.
KelC was suitably impressed, and there was no reason not to be.
She was bouncing about loving it. Another convert to the 'buzzers style of sharp pop punk.
I'd go as far as to say that this was the definitive Buzzcocks show. Two classic albums and a storming finale of classic tracks.
I could wrack my brains, but I can't think of one negative point really.
Its only January, but the benchmark has been set for 2009 and although I'm confident that I'll see plenty of other great performances it's going to be hard for many of them to beat this.
There. I've written that off the cuff while I sit her pre breakfast when all I was going to say was 'feckin' brilliant' and that would have done.

Ronnie Spector

Latest in my trip down memory lane. Just clearing out some stuff and finding bits here and there that I think I should post.

In the cavern like intimacy of the Glasgow Arches I was privileged to see the last ever UK performance by the legendary Ronnie Spector.
To say she was phenomenal would be to downplay just how good this gig was.
After a long intro from the band she arrived on stage, lifted the microphone to her lips and from that moment on held the audience in the palm of her hand.
As she closed her first song a lone male voice shouted out for Be my baby. In response Ronnie chuckled throatily and said "It's coming later on", then after a pause of a few seconds she looked out into the crowd and said "but I could be your baby".
At that moment I think every man in the crowd felt a little tug in their chest, and with those six little words she had us.
Ronnie herself was in fine voice and looked stunning. She's still slim, still has the big hair and still has those very, very beautiful eyes. On some tracks her voice soared and she transported us back to the sixties and seventies. On others she sounded a tad rawer and far more intimate for it.
So young is a good example of this. No longer is it the voice of a young girl longing to grow up, but rather it's the voice of an older woman singing from a reflective perspective, and that gave it far more resonance. A true classic in every sense of the word.
It would be unfair to single that song out as a highlight though, as every song was a highlight enhanced by Ronnie adding to the intimacy of the evening by interacting with the crowd between each one. Sometimes it would be a simple response to shouts from the crowd, while prior to others it would be a little intro.
There was no dips in the set at all. Her cover of the Amy Winehouse track Back to Black showed us that although Amy has a fine voice she aint no Ronnie Spector. While her and guitarist Daniel Rey's take on the Johnny Thunders song You can't put your arms around a memory was the sort that raises the hair on your neck.
All the hits were played and more. Each song was met with and ended on rapturous applause, and deservedly so.
I really do feel privileged that I was there. In decades of witnessing bands and artists play all over the UK this is the one that I will forever be revisiting in my head. It was that good.
That it was the last of her dates here and she will not be touring the UK again holds it's own bittersweet taste, but at least I am one of the literally hundreds that can say that I was there on the last night.
Thankfully I was there. There is only one Ronnie Spector, and there will never be another.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Mott the Hoople

Part one

KelC twitches and repositions herself under a watchful unblinking moon. Riding high in the sky it maintains its position to my right. Occasionally it’s blanketed in cloud cover but in the main its there glowing. It’s been tracking us and the red eye express since we left Glasgow.
It catches the eye no matter where I look.
It’s in my periphery, the reflection of the glass on my left. It’s everywhere. I can’t break eye contact with it and there isn’t a hope in hell that it will blink first.
It’s a contributing factor to me not sleeping, although I never can when travelling.
There’s something about moving and sleeping that just doesn’t fit together. I might be static but the countryside around me isn’t. It’s unnatural.
No one else seems bothered. Maybe I’m just a mixed up kidult. (sic)
Another factor to my insomnia is that I can feel London tugging at me.
There’s a gravitational pull at work.
It’s not the city itself, but the gig that’s pulling at me.
It’s Mott.
The band I never thought I would see.
My dreams are encroaching on reality it seems. They are taking shape……..forming……..becoming solid.
KelC sits straighter, opens her eyes and surveys the somnambulant scene, closes them and settles. I doubt she would even remember.
It’s reality encroaching on her dreams for a couple of seconds. Nothing more.

Part two

The sun is out and we’re Thames side. An elephant on stilts stands behind me. Time could be elastic, but we don’t dilly Dali as there is more to see. Too much to see. Too little time.
The whistle stop tour commences. I slip on the guise of the tour guide and show KelC the sites that I have never seen myself. The London eye, some Cathedrals, Buckingham Palace. The London of the postcards.
We slip under the streets and travel in subterranean tunnels to where the real London reveals itself in the form of Fulham Broadway.
Libations commence as we kill time and local characters come to the fore as we people watch.
A cross dressing woman passes and in an age when male attire has been co-opted by women everywhere this is a mean feet to pull off. It was all in the trousers. Or not pedantically speaking.
Sleep deprivation and the small amount of alcohol consumed gives the hotel bed opiate like properties and I slip deep into its embrace.

Part three

A Floridian exudes the aura of the stranger in a strange land. He shares an expression with those who have woken only to find themselves lying in a tub sans kidney.
Hammersmith will do that to a septic tank.
He has tickets for three of the gigs and still hasn’t accepted that it is real.
It’s not what he says.
It’s in his expression.
It’s in his eyes and the tremble in his hand when he shakes mine.
He’s in the Apollo foyer with its delusions of granduer and he’s buying into it. I bet he didn’t even see the flyover.
Fuck it though. Its his dream. The red MOTT THE HOOPLE lettering over the door is everything. Nothing else matters.
He’s here. It’s happening and he is here. He has made it. HE IS HERE.

Part four

Joe Gideon and the Shark are Hunter S Thompson picking up a guitar, striking chords and ejaculating acid laced clarity as prose.
They have the answer for a question you didn’t ask.
Hardly anyone gets it.
I don’t care. It’s got me.
The name of Mott is raised to elicit a cheer.
Look up the sleeve as the laugh is still there. The glint in the eye gives it away.
You know the story of you had to be there?
That’s the story they told us.
Bemusement is the key word for the audience.
Somewhere along the line the ability to remain open to something different got lost. Reiteration of the past is the name of the game.
Confirmation of cemented ideas is all that is required post fifty. Don’t rock the boat daddio is the key.
No one told Joe though.

Part five.

Anticipation tastes like blood.
The sharks are bound to be circling.
For everyone who wants a fairy tale ending there’s those looking for a fall, a stumble, an opportunity to claim the band are mutton dressed as lamb, an old whore turning old tricks who claims class, like a toothless blowjob, never goes out of fashion.
The detractors are fucked though.
Rock and roll is evergreen. The proof is before us.
The stage, the Apollo, Hammersmith and London belong to Mott the Hoople tonight.
Hymn for the Dudes provides the naysayers with a cup of shut the fuck up, Rock and roll queen cranks it up a notch just to show that there‘s life in the old dog yet, the ramalama of Motts take on Sweet Jane hit’s the spot effortlessly. It’s a mere three songs in and we KNOW this IS special.
The muscular swagger of One of the Boys gives the Rolling Stones a run for their money before Hunter unleashes Sucker on us. If there is another song that holds the undiluted essence of rock like Sucker does then I want to hear it
The Moon Upstairs maintains the momentum and with each song played the band have raised the stakes, building on the power of the performance and lifting us higher and higher.
The pace can’t go on like this forever though. So keeping in mind that too much too soon is never a good thing the old dogs dip into their bag of tricks and change the pace a bit with the original mixed up kid being ushered out.
The live version of I wish I was your mother manages to sidestep much of the Faces covering Dylan accusations and assumes a welcomed harder edge.
The detractors must be weeping now.
Mick Ralphs career out with Mott deserves a nod, and gets one when the spotlight picks him out and Ready for love gets an airing. It’s not all the Ian Hunter, Mick Ralph show though as Overend Watts steps up to get us back on track with some more Mott material and rips through Born in 58.
The Ballad of Mott the Hoople serves as a bitter sweet reminder that being in the band wasn’t always riding high and touching the stars. These guys have experienced every high and low of the music business and lived to tell the tale.
It’s that sort of been there, done that life that gives Sweet Angeline a certain something that young guys couldn’t bring to it.
Walkin’ with a mountain sees Hunter play his Iron Cross guitar. The only hint of their glam past. There’s no stack heals or flairs on show tonight. Tonight’s show is about the music. The spectacle of the band playing together makes the over the top theatre of the seventies surplus to requirements.
Dylan’s like a Rolling stone is slipped on like an old coat. It’s maybe threadbare in a few places but its comfortable and no one is going to complain. It fits and isn’t that all that matters?
The piano intro to the Golden age of rock and roll acts as a shot of adrenaline to some of the flagging audience. Mott aint flagging, but some of the crowd are exerting more energy in a few hours tonight than they have in over a decade. It could be touch and go if some of them make it to the end.
Honaloochie Boogie features original singer Stan Tippins on backing vocals. A real blast from the past.
Mick Ralphs guitar work on All the way from Memphis howls and plays tag with Hunters vocals and Verden Allen’s sweeping keyboards.
In years to come when technology gives us dictionaries with moving visual aids to words then footage of this will be used to explain what sublime means.
…..and that’s your lot as Hunter says.
Although it isn’t as no one wants to go home. So roll away the stone gets punted forward before the mega hit All the young Dudes is finally unveiled.
The pace is starting to take its toll on the band. You keep on knockin’ struggles to get out of the starting gates and is the first point in the night when there is a stumble, but show closer Saturday gigs manages to reel it back in and finish on a high note.
The Mott fire may be dampened due to their collective ages, but its far from extinguished.
They brought it on home and proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that experience is an able replacement for the balls out hunger of youth.
Would I do it again? Spend the cash, the hours travelling for this?
I would have done it every night for the rest of the dates is the answer.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Kirk Brandon

100% confirmed.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

A few gigs arranged and sort of arranged.

Due to the communication breakdown between Dave Sharps tour booking guy and myself, and the lack of a 100% confirmation of the date arranged the gig had to be pulled, but the upside is that I spoke to Dave personally yesterday and everything is back on track for January.
He is enthusiastically up for creating a real communal atmosphere and has asked that the supports reflect what he is wanting to achieve.
A nice touch is that he wants them to join him at the end of the set to run through a Woody Guthrie track or two.
While the music he is currently working on is a large departure from his material with the Alarm it is very obvious that the passion is still there and his forthcoming album should serve to cement his reputation as an alt-folk artist that we in the UK can all be proud of.
So watch out for the date to be confirmed.Still waiting for a specific date to be nailed down for Kirk Brandon to play a solo acoustic set, but fingers crossed that this will follow soon enough.
Everything is agreed upon apart from the date as the tour manager is still looking at the logistics of it all.
100% confirmed though is a date for the fantastic Devilish Presley who will be playing with the mighty Tragic City Thieves.
Both bands are firm personal favourites and I doubt that there are many bands treadng the boards just now who could match them in providing good honest value for money rock and fuckin' roll.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Bowie failed

I woke up this morning, started on breakfast for the kids and flicked on the television to catch up with what has been going on in the world.
Apparently the lead story is about a young boy in the US who went to a Halloween party dressed as Daphne from Scooby Doo.
I mean seriously is this news. It's 2010 and people are talking about a kid wearing a dress to a party.
Is he gay? Is it a transgender issue? Is it right? What age is cross dressing appropriate?
Why does anyone care is the question that I'm waiting for to be asked, but I've decided not to hold my breath in anticipation of it being aired anywhere.
Here's the thing. It's dress up. It means nothing.
It probably hasn't even got any bearing on the lads sexuality, but even if it did then I still fail to see the problem.
If a boy wants to wear a dress then I don't have an issue with it. Why would I?
Same with a girl wanting to wear tousers and sport a crewcut.
Funnily enough she would just be called a tomboy, but a lad wearing clothes traditionally worn by a girl is obviously a line that must not be crossed.
What a sad and pathetic world we live in.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Cheap Trick - ABC (Glasgow) 7/11/10

How long is it appropriate to wait for a band to appear on stage?
Half an hour seems fine, an hour might be pushing it though, while an hour and a half must be at the outer limits for most peoples patience I would think.
This is probably why the hour mark was the trigger point for the rumblings of discontent from the crowd to start, and then by the hour and a half stage why they began to take on a more mutinous tone.

If Cheap Trick had waited another ten minutes then the balance may have tipped and they would have been playing to a rather less than impressed crowd.

Fortunately they took to the stage just in time, and as the first chords rang out and Robin Zander leaned into the microphone all was forgiven.
I mean c'mon. This is Cheap Trick after all.
Once they started who was honestly going to hold a grudge.
Robin Zander was in fine voice of course.
They might be getting on a bit, with the exception of Ricks son on drums, but the material is evergreen and still sounds every bit as good as it ever has.
In fact songs like Southern Girls sound better.
Faster, rawer, louder and just.......well just better.
Cheap Trick may not have enjoyed the success here in the UK as they have in the states and elsewhere, but there is no accounting for taste and I've always considered that the majority of people here may as well have their ears painted on for all they know about music any way.
The sold out crowd are suitably impressed, but due to the average age are showing their enthusiasm by nodding their heads and tapping their feet to the beat rather than anything more exuberant like actually dancing.
Meanwhile I'm singing myself hoarse.
A couple of times I thought Robin Zander was looking over in my direction, but as my girlfriend and I were about the only ones bopping about it was probably just the movement catching his attention from the periphery of his vision.
Rick Nielsen tells us that he is feeling a bit under the weather with a flu bug, but it isn't slowing him down any. He gurning at the crowd, posing from atop his two toe chequered box and throwing plectrums into the crowd like alms to the poor.
Tom Petersson as usual looks as cool as fuck. In fact he is the elder statesmen of cool.
He is like the matinee idol of rock stars who is ageing gracefully and taking it all in his stride.
He stalks his side of the stage with his 12 string bass and looks every inch the rock star. Midway through the set and Robin slips on his Dream Police hat rock and roll nirvana is reached as everything clicks into place.
The audience should be made up of young bands with pads in their hands taking notes.
This is how it is done.
Rick has his gimmicks, but that's just a nod at the theatrics that are expected because they are largely irrelevant as the music does all the talking.

My enthusiasm for live shows have taken a bit of a dip over the last month or so. It's not been a reflection on the talent that is out there, but more so down to a degree of exhaustion, but Cheap Trick have served to knock me clean out of that fug.
There's another three dates on the UK tour and one with Alice Cooper, although that could be one of the dates.
If you get the chance I would advice anyone who has a passing interest to make the effort to go and see them.
(Click on the pictures for a larger image)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Cheap Trick / Foxy Shazam

Busy evening tonight. First we have Cheap Trick on the opening night of their UK tour. Just checked and it's billed as "An evening with Cheap Trick" and there is no support.
That's fine by me as recent support bands in the ABC have been ill advised choices that have little in common with the headliners.
I'm all for eclecticism, but when I go and see someone like Gang of 4 I don't want to see five guys in shellsuits doing a shit tribute to Oasis in support.
The added bonus of there being no support is that the gig will end early enough to allow Kel and me to shoot around to King Tuts Wah Wah Hut to grab a funky slice of Foxy Shazam.
Review will follow, and maybe even some pics.

Meanwhile bow down to the glam terrorist madness of Foxy Shazam.