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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Ranting with The Rotten Hill Gang (Big Audio Dynamite - Glasgow)

Part way through the Rotten Hill Gang's set and it's obvious that very few people are interested.
The talent that they display, and the patronage of Mick Jones, has no relevance to the majority of gig goers who have a season ticket for the nostalgia train.
Most are probably bemoaning the fact that they mistimed leaving the local bar and are having to shout over the noise of some ruffians on stage to chat with their mates.
If they had their way then the support would either be a less talented, but familiar to them, band from the era that Big Audio Dynamite enjoyed their initial success, or if not that, then no one at all.
It's a problem as old as time itself and it pisses me off for a number of reasons.
One being that for all those who consider themselves missing in - bar room – action know, they could be passing on the best band they are ever likely to see for a pint of watered down lager.
Every single act that goes on to either success, or critical acclaim, has to start somewhere, and this is where it is.
All of them, without exception, will at some point slog up and down the country in a support slot playing to disinterested music fans.
The disinterest being purely down to the band not having made a name for themselves at that point in time and no reflection on their talents.
Some people seem to need an act or artist to have a seal of approval before they will lend them an ear.
A mainstream magazine cover story will do, or a Jools Holland appearance at a push, but if the band haven't ticked those boxes then they will float under most peoples radar.
It doesn't make any real sense does it?
It also defies logic.
I've actually had a woman question why I go and see bands in clubs, sometimes bands that I've never heard before, because to quote her “I just wait until they are famous”.
My response was that she was lucky that others, like myself, do go and see bands and artists prior to the stadiums beckoning them.
As without us they would have never reached the level of popularity that she keys into.
Although her tastes tend to lean towards the chart toppers that I certainly didn't assist on the road to stardom.
I could actually realistically presume that she considers bands form on a Monday, release a single on the Tuesday, an album on the Wednesday, and then play two nights in the local shed to a sold out and ecstatic group of fans before heading back into the studio on the weekend to record the latest six songs that have been written for them.........and the obligatory four covers.
That's her thing.
Snowball and hell comes to mind when I pair this woman with The Rotten Hill Gang.
It's just never going to happen, but enough about her.

Another thing is the level of disrespect shown by not giving the band at the very least five minutes to try and impress.
A band like the Rotten Hill Gang didn't just magic their songs up out of the ether.
They crafted them.
Formed melodies, jammed with each other, added vocals, went back and tinkered with what they had come up with and then maybe added a bit here and took a bit out there.
This process doesn't happen the once either, but for each song they write.
Then there's the cost to what they do.
Rehearsal rooms, upkeep of instruments, getting to and from gigs. Arranging things around shitty jobs. All of this has a cost. Financially and emotionally.
There will be more to it than that, but that's a sort of overview, and what do they get in return?
Very fuckin' little at this point it would seem.
Mainly they want to entertain you, so does no one consider that based on a little respect for the process that they should maybe go and actually see them?
Well of course some people do, as behind me there was a few woman whooping it up as the Rotten Hill Gang do their hip hop thing.
If they were a street gang then these ladies would be called “the small mercies”.
The band themselves have a real melting pot of styles being stirred.
A heady brew of funk, soul, hip hop and street poetry drawn together with a punk attitude.
The guitar is sharp, funky, and I'm not even sure if it works all the time juxtaposed with what the rest of the band are doing, but that's not to say that it sounds wrong.
Just that maybe it's still a bit different sounding to my virgin ears and I'll have to wrap my head around it at my leisure.
The soulful backing vocals from the two ladies, who also lend their individually unique voices in taking the lead are impressive, and work well weaving in and out between the rhymes that Red is laying down.
I'm not going to say that I was swept away with what the band were playing, but the lack of response from the crowd is taking a good bit away from their performance.
There's a whole different vibe shared with a room full of people that are into what a band are doing and a quarter empty hall of people that could care less.
The band have very little to feed off of and regardless of how much effort they are putting into the performance, or how professional they are in providing the best level of entertainment they can, it's without a doubt an uphill struggle for them.
They remind me of “Do me bad things”. Not so much in the sound of the band or direction they are taking, but in the ability to tear up preconceived ideas of what should be brought to the table for people to hear.
It's got a superficial degree of familiarity to it all, but lurking somewhere underneath is a more challenging and interesting concept.
To sum it up it would be fair to say that the Rotten Hill gang didn't let Glasgow down, but Glasgow certainly let them down.
I hope in the future I can see them in a time and place that is more appreciative of what they are doing.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Kylie Minogue - SECC - Glasgow (29/3/11)

Life is is an uncharted map that rolls out before us. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. We have minimal control over what will be given to us and what will be taken away.
Take my week for instance.
On Saturday I was looking forward to seeing the Jim Jones Revue and The Bellrays playing in King Tuts on the Tuesday evening, but after one solitary call from my employer and a shift change later I discovered that instead of sampling the delights of rock'n'roll, I would instead be joining the glittering hairdressers of the world and enjoying the antipodean disco diva that is Kylie Minogue in the cavernous barn known as the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
Definitely not an environment that could be considered as my usual musical stomping ground.
Without sugar coating it, the facts are that Kylie is basically background music to me. I have no affinity to what she does at all.
I hear her on the radio, in lifts and shops. Sometimes I see her warbling away on television and that's about it.
I do actually own a CD that she is featured on. It's the Nick Cave track from the Murder Ballads album, but that's my extent of involvement with Kylie until now.
Not a bad track record really in my opinion.
Some people may consider that you can't have too much Kylie, but I'm of the opinion that if I had one more song other than the one I have then I quite possibly would have too much Kylie.
I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not a fan.
I'll even freely admit that prior to the show I harboured some preconceived ideas and fully expected to see a great deal of lip syncing, extravagant dance routines, glittery lights and gay men waving glow stick about.
The thing is I wasn't wrong at all, but regardless of that I was pleasantly surprised to find that sitting through a Kylie show wasn't the punishment for misdeeds in a past life that I thought it would be.
Truth be told it was the exact opposite.
In all my gig going life I have never seen such an extravagant show.
Forget Kylie and her mainstream pop pap. This stage show is pure escapist fun.
A big surreal middle fingered salute to the reality of the outside world.
Once you enter the world of Minogue it's like a Midsummer Nights Dream to a disco soundtrack takes over.
Mundane reality is suspended for a few hours and instead you are participating in a mad whirlwind of decadence to a bass beat that just never stops.
That it is aimed in the main to a gay crowd is very obvious from the very beginning.
The stage itself is made up of huge Grecian pillars with images beamed onto the background that could be straight out of a home made homo-erotic porn movie that would have made Caligula blush.
There is more beefcake and crotch thrusting in the opening five minutes than the movie 300 managed to deliver in a couple of hours.
This is actually a recurring theme.
Mythology, or possibly more MytholORGY would be more apt to describe it.
Halfway through the first song I was thinking that if Freddie Mercury had a Clash of the Titans themed party then this is what it would look like. All that was missing was the midgets in togas carrying trays of cocaine.
Although I suppose I should mention that half the crowd looked like they had already hoovered up half of Columbia prior to gaining entry judging by their wild eyed and sweaty dance moves.
The smell of Amyl Nitrate in the air could have given an elephant a migraine to.
It was so rife that the odd few kids I seen there must have been asking their mothers why they felt like their head was expanding like a balloon.
What an introduction to narcotics for their young impressionable minds.
None of this debauched behaviour was much of a distraction from the show though, and I don't mean Kylies performance.
I am specifically meaning the stage show.
Kylie herself can carry a tune, but is never going to be a diva with a voice to match.
She isn't even much of a dancer, but to give her credit she does surround herself with very talented people and by doing so provides more than just a show that is about her meagre talents.
Everyone else knows exactly what they are doing and elevates the performance to something that is a bit more than the usual stadium gig.
Within the time frame of the first couple of songs we are witnessing acrobatic work that would shame the Circ Du Soleil.
Men and women rise from pools into the air while lights catch the rivulets of water running off them as the gracefully twist and turn in hoops and on wires above us.
It's not long before we are back to plundering the costume department of 300 though.
Kylie bizarrely, or not as the case may be, appears on a chariot with oiled down muscular dancers pulling her out onto a walkway deep into the crowd.
From their sandals to the Persian styled - via Hollywood - gimp masks this could be a scene from the movie re-enacted in Studio 54.
It's more camp than a boy scouts jamboree and hilarious with it.
I'm not sure what else I can say, and there is no way at all that anyone could honestly review the show without banging on about the homosexual content of it.
Every male dancer very obviously wanted to out mince Louie Spence as they gyrated and thrust themselves across the stage. Pineapple dance studios must have a conveyor belt production line going on that churns these men out.
There's a large part of the show devoted to La Cage Aux Folie costume wise, although Weimar era Cabaret is shoe horned into this section to.
It's all a bit mixed up, but the intent seemed to be to squeeze as much of historical gay entertainment into the show as possible to meet the needs of the majority of her fans, and they were lapping it up. Loving it, loving it, loving it.
All that was missing was the bus from Priscilla Princess of the Desert.
I kept thinking that with one set piece being trumped by the next that the show would have to peak before the finale, but I was wrong.
At one point there was an angel flying past with Kylie sitting on his back.
When I say angel I obviously mean a well buffed and chiselled ebony warrior angel that has been oiled up backstage before being thrown to the crowd as visual foreplay for those who are that way inclined.
Now how can you beat flying around on the back of an angel though?
Well the answer is by turning into Esther Williams and doing some dance routines that involve a great deal of water, fountains that reach to the roof and a tip of the swim capped head to the wonders of synchronized swimming.
The SECC has probably never seen anything like this.
Or if they have then they have kept it a secret.
Saying that it was mental doesn't come close to describing the night.
This has nothing to do with the music playing at all.
That's merely and accompaniment to the circus that was playing out before everyone.
A soundtrack to an evening that was possibly conjured up from the fevered imagination of Julian Clary after he had participated in an over indulgent weekend where anything went.
As a pretty secure in my sexuality heterosexual male I found it to be hugely entertaining.
Not in a laughing at the gay community way, but more a laughing, joking, and smiling with the gay community.
They really know how to throw a party those guys.
A fantastic nights entertainment.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Mongrel - The new breed of old school

It's strange world I tell thee.
I review one Warrior Soul show and suddenly my in-box is full of bands called Demons Claw and the like. All of them gluttons for punishment it would seem.
Each and every one of them is looking for a review of their latest opus and if I work on the premise of “if I have nothing good to say then it's best I don't say anything at all” then I suppose you would be lucky if I managed to pass comment on about 2% of the bands.
Listening to them is like wiping your arse (Ass for our yank readers) with sandpaper.
There's a great deal of screaming involved and it's doubtful you would want to repeat the experience.
Although that said there are some gems to be found.
Mongrel are a band that certainly fall into that category. A little diamond in the rough.
Descriptively the title of their ep is spot on. I could have been lazy and just said that it does what it says on the tin, but there is far more to it than that.
This re-recording of tracks from an album they released called “Fear, Lies and Propaganda” are as finely balanced as I've heard.
It has to be said that the magpie tendency to pick at the bands who could be described as the precious stones from the crown of rock and breathe new life into the sound is very cleverly done.
You get some hints of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax, Plasmatics and a whole fistful more, but none of the tracks sounds like they are stuck in an eighties or even a nineties rut.
They do actually come across as the new breed of the old school. Another link in a very long chain.
If rock music of this ilk was to make a resurgence and enjoy the mass popularity that it did back when it swept the world - and every teenage kid from here to there was into it - then I would suspect that Mongrel would do very well out of the renewed interest.
You can get a free download of the bands ep here http://mongrel.bandcamp.com/ and they're on myspace to. http://www.myspace.com/mongrel
I'm sure they will provide a nice surprise to anyone who thought that metal styled rock had went the way of the dinosaur.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Rot in hell Littledick!

I've thought hard about posting this.
On one hand I don't want to promote this hateful, low life, piece of shits work, but on the other I expect it to be pulled from the Daily Mail where it came from, and then those who didn't see it can go on pretending that the paper and its writers aren't as loathsome as some would claim.
How anyone can write such dissaproving tosh about an outpouring of global grief is simply beyond me, but then again this is from the paper that regularly distorts the news and basically just preaches to those already perverted, oops I mean converted, to their way of thinking.
So with a heavy heart here it is.


It is wrong to visit the sins of previous generations on their modern descendants, although that doesn’t prevent the British Left constantly trying to make us feel guilty for centuries-old grievances, from the slave trade to the Irish potato famine.

Yet many surviving members of the Burma Star Association still harbour deep animosity to everyone and all things Japanese, 65 years after VJ Day.

They won’t want to be associated with the expressions of sympathy over the earthquake and tsunami. And who can blame them?

Like thousands of other British servicemen who were tortured in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps, my wife’s late grandfather, Harold Tuck, would never have joined a minute’s silence for Japan.

Until the day he died, Harold would refuse to remove his shirt, not even on the beach on the hottest day of the year. The scars inflicted by his sadistic Japanese captors were too horrible to be exposed to the harsh light of day.

Were he alive today, he would have remained doggedly in his seat if requested to stand in silent tribute to the dead of Japan.

I often wonder what our fathers and grandfathers would have made of modern Britain’s ghastly cult of sentimentality and vicarious grief.

Ever since the hysteria surrounding the death of Lady Di, when half of the nation seemed to take leave of its senses, a section of the population seizes any excuse for a sobfest.

Showing ‘respect’ has become institutionalised. Before every one of the weekend’s Premier League football matches, for instance, fans were forced to stand and observe a minute’s silence for Japan. Why?

I have no objection to honouring the dead in public, if the occasion or sense of loss warrants it. At White Hart Lane we’ve recently said goodbye to some of the stars of Spurs’ double-winning side from the Sixties. There was genuine sadness over the loss of men many in the crowd had known personally.

But how many of the hundreds of thousands of supporters corralled into grieving for Japan could even point to that country on a map?

Like most monsters, the Premier League has a sickening streak of sentimentality. Barely a week passes without yet another minute’s silence before kick-off. Soon every club will have to employ professional mourners in black tailcoats and top hats to lead the teams out onto the pitch. Replica shirts will come complete with black arm bands.

There is nothing more meaningless than seeing highly-paid, precocious superstars linking arms and standing in silent tribute to victims of an earthquake on the other side of the world.

The spectacle of a giant furry mascot dressed as a chicken bowing his head in mourning is beyond preposterous. It is football’s equivalent of those teddy bears you see tied to railings at the scene of every road accident.

Of course, there is a commercial incentive here for the Premier League. No doubt the Japanese TV rights are up for renegotiation soon.

But why Japan and not, say, those massacred in Rwanda or starved to death by Mugabe in Zimbabwe? I don’t remember a minute’s silence for Haiti, although I may be mistaken. I’m sure we didn’t have a minute’s silence for our earthquake-hit Commonwealth cousins in Christchurch, New Zealand, before the Milan game. Maybe we did.

These days we’d have a minute’s silence if Harry Redknapp’s dog got run over.

I abhor the modern tendency to co-opt every tragedy in the world as an excuse for a self-indulgent display of cost-free compassion.

Sam Kirkpatrick, a reader from Stanwick, Northamptonshire, saw a woman taking part in a road race this weekend wearing a T-shirt imploring spectators to: ‘Pray for the Japanese people.’

The implication being: not just that she was advertising the fact that she is a caring soul, but if you don’t pray for Japan you must be a heartless bastard.

By all means pray for Japan, if you are so inclined, but do it privately.

Do you think the Japanese held a silent tribute for the victims of the London Transport bombings in 2005? Me neither. Meanwhile, they are getting on with the business of mourning their own dead and beginning the process of reconstruction. In Tokyo, life goes on pretty much normally.

Caroline Graham reported from the Japanese capital in the Mail on Sunday. A businessman told her that reports of panic and chaos were greatly exaggerated.

‘Here in Japan we are more like the British with their stiff upper lip.’

It only goes to show that the Japanese know as little about modern Britain as we know about them.



Just as an afterthought I should add that the article was illustrated with a picture of an emaciated victim of the Japanese concentration camps from the second world war. A nice touch that the propaganda machine of the Third Reich would have been proud of.

Stats obsessive rehab

Aaaaaargh. For a day there the stats function froze and I'm gutted. I'd become obsessed with checking it so maybe it was a good thing.
The last update flat lined with no one looking at it at all.
My ego was less bruised and more rag dolled about the room.
A bit of a surprise to me as I didn't think I cared that much.
Even although I knew that I was getting heavy hits due to people responding on FB, sharing it and even emailing comments to me I was still focussed on that big fat zero that was on the stats page.
Saddo that I am.
It's not a healthy attitude and now I wish I could go back to the days when in my ignorance I thought maybe two or three people were checking the blog a week.
It seems to be working again, but I reckon a once a months check will suffice or I really will end up in Stats Rehab.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Fact or fiction. The UK's news service

Yesterday over half a million people marched in London in protest against the governments cuts.
Although if a very small minority hadn't went down the route of direct action you could have been forgiven for thinking not much was going on in our capital.
It's no great surprise to me that the media has been pretty quiet about it all though.
There is a huge gulf between what is going on and what is being reported as going on.
I accept that some people will ask “what do you mean? It was on the news all day”, but this was a huge moment in the UK's political history.
So let's not pretend otherwise.
Here was a very large amount of individuals taking to the streets to raise their voices in unison to decry this governments ideological cuts, while even more where at home doing so in cyberspace.
Add everyone all together. Those on the streets, those hammering feverishly on keyboards and even the armchair malcontent who were sitting quietly at home seething, and we are talking about a very sizeable chunk of this countries citizens feeling rather pissed off about how we are collectively carrying the can for the global mismanagement of financial resources.
In hindsight this moment in time could be considered the catalyst that kick started a new political awakening within our society.
So when taken in that context I would strongly say that the media has in fact been quiet.
Very quiet.
Of course the BBC are being beaten with the recession stick just as hard as anyone else, and it would seem that they are currently running a little scared of those in government who hold the purse strings.
They're locked into survival mode and appear to have decided that being part of the problem is more agreeable than being part of a solution.
It's sort of understandable isn't it? Dishonourable and immoral, but understandable. They're scared to provide impartial reportage as the backlash could be catastrophic for them.
Although on saying that it also seems to smack of one of those scenes in a movie where the hero puts his gun down to save the life of his partner and then the psychopath/bad guy/coalition party kills the partner anyway.
If they keep capitulating in the face of the governments ongoing digs at them then the end result will probably be the same as telling them to fuck off.
Maybe they should think about that.
Although if I was to take the silver screen analogy a little further I could say it currently looks like the coalition are making the BBC squeal like a pig and they are mistakenly doing so in the misguided hope that the abuse will stop.
I think that most of us are aware that this approach to bullies has never worked.
So meanwhile, while we wait for the BBC to grow a pair, the alternative that is Sky news continues unchallenged in reporting skewed reports in an attempt to paint the world in an image that will benefit their tyrannical leader Mr Burns.
Sorry that was a Freudian slip.
I mean Rupert Murdoch. The media mogul and all round megalomaniac and not the nuclear power plant owner, and all round megalomaniac of The Simpsons.
How my mind could have jumped to that comparison is a mystery, although I'm sure I can be forgiven for the little faux pas.
Of course there was some lip service paid to the vast majorities peaceful demonstration, but as usual the press preferred to focus on a minority, a very small minorities, attempts at direct action.
It seems obvious to me that this is a game they are playing. A dangerous game.
It's called misdirection, and it's working.
Illusionists use it all the time. Draw a persons focus to one hand while the other is doing the business.
It's a very old trick.
It's also called psychological manipulation, but that sounds a tad too insidious doesn't it?
Too Big Bother? Too conspiracy theory nut job like maybe?
Yet what is going on?
In all honesty I don't consider myself to be any more intelligent than my fellow man, but as it seems to be as plain on the nose on my face that they manipulate what they tell us I can't really wrap my head around why others are either oblivious to it, or worse, don't actually mind much.
Daily I see inane comments from people that I personally consider rather clued up and I have to ask them what the score is.
Is it really just blind faith in what we are told? Is it that simple?
Or is it a sort of wilful head in the sand attitude that is on display?
Pastor Niemoller must be spinning in his grave.
“First they came for the truth, but I said nowt as I don't have much to do with the truth” could be the updated version.

Here's a small example of what I mean about media manipulation just in case some people really don't get it.
Early on in the day the BBC news described the protest as attracting tens of thousands while Sky news offered a figure of a quarter of a million.
I wouldn't care to argue about the specific veracity of the figures at that point in the day, but think about how the information has been given to us.
Does tens of thousands sound as much as a quarter of a million?
I would say no.
That a quarter of a million is made up of tens of thousands is true, but using one instead of the other plays with peoples perceptions.
I could just as easily say that a crowd of ten million was a crowd of tens of thousands.
That would also be true, but in your mind would you consider for a second the sheer magnitude of ten million if I described it as such? Do you see what I mean?
That's actually a far more subtle use of language than some other reports I seen.
Here's another angle for your consideration.
Mid afternoon it was reported on news channels that a number of police officers had been injured.
It's a fact.
They were, and I'm not even going to dispute it.
As the day progressed more would be injured to.
The problem lies in mentioning this and then failing to report on the protesters who had been injured.
I don't believe for a second that at that point no one else apart from police officers had required medical attention, but by failing to draw attention to them the news has once again beamed information into our homes that would promote a less than balanced impression of the situation.
Why? Can anyone tell me why?
Similar happened in the past regarding Israel and Palestine.
Israel had a policy of seeking retribution for every life they lost from a Palestinian attack on their citizens.
Now regardless of whether you agree with this eye for an eye attitude it is fair to say that we in the west heard of the roadside suicide attacks and the death toll when it happens to Israelis, but it was rare to hear about the Palestinian loss of life in retaliation.
I don't recall that ever being a leading news story.
Once again it plays with the information and beds in a perception of what is going on.
A false perception.
Okay it would be easy to jump forward and claim that the Israeli, Palestinian issue is a huge leap from what is going on in how news is reported about a march in London, but I could just as easily argue that it's the same issues, just separated by scale.
Deaths for deaths, Injuries for injuries.
Is it worth commenting on the mantra of the recession being Labours fault.
It probably is as I see it mentioned enough by others.
How blatant is that for manipulation?
Say something often enough and it will stick actually works.
Lets all forget that it is a global recession.
Neatly avoid talking about the financial meltdown of the sub prime market.
Dismiss any finger pointing at the banks or businesses who legally exploit tax loopholes while the rest of us pick up the tab.
Instead lets just blame the previous government, who while being complicit to an extent can't really shoulder all the blame.
In fact weren't they just one cog in a large capitalist machine? The same machine that the coalition will happily continue to be a cog in.
On a daily basis I'm genuinely surprised that people accept this bollocks without question.
For fuck sake. Please start questioning what's going on and challenge what they are saying to us as it's either complete and utter bollocks or at the least a glimpse of reality while they keep what is really going on out of the headlines.
The reason we need to oppose this sort of information manipulation is because historically we have seen where it has led.
We need a free an unbiased media in this country. One that we can rely on to provide us with the facts that we can then use to form decisions on.
At the moment we don't have it and unless we kick up a fuss we aint going to get it.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Warrior Soul - Ivory Blacks - 25/3/11 (Glasgow)

Heavy metal fans are a strange breed. Through all the good times and band times they hang in there. It's like a marriage.
For better or for worse they are in it for the long haul.
You can see this evidenced in bars like the Solid Rock.
While the recession bites and people sit at home with a six pack, the denim and leather clad hordes are still standing six deep at the bar.
Come the apocalypse they will still be there ordering a pint as the world collapses around their ears.
It's a similar story in Ivory Blacks.
While other genres of music are struggling to pull a crowd Warrior Soul and their supports are less so bucking the trend and more so kicking the trends clean in the teeth.
It's a strange state of affairs as I wouldn't even class Warrior Soul as a metal band. They're punk rock through and through.
They're guys who can play heavy riffs, extended solos, have long hair and aren't afraid to give the counter culture ghost of blue collar Detroit rock and soul a good going over, but at heart they are still a punk band.
None of that seems to matter though as the metal crowd still love them.
Unfortunately they seem to love the opening act as well.
I've deliberately tucked their name away deep in the recesses of my mind where only a tip top bit of regressive hypnosis will manage to dredge it up from.
It's a coping mechanism so I don't have to revisit the horror of having to stand through their set again.
There is however two things about this band that refuses to stay buried. The first is that front men should try not to engage their mates in banter between songs.
It just feels wrong. Akin to listening in to a private conversation that someone else is having. If there was a rule book on how to interact with a crowd that would be in it as a big no-no.
Secondly they sang a song called Space Dragon. It's about a dragon in space unsurprisingly enough and I now have it on good authority that no matter what you do you can't run from it.
I'm still not sure if you can't run from it as maybe Space Dragons have an uncanny ability to lock onto your position like a heat seeking missile, or it's more just that common problem of not being able to run in a vacuum.
Regardless of why you can't run the Space Dragon is going to get you though.
They did seem very firm on this point.
Apart from that they just didn't look right on stage as they had zero presence. Shit songs, shit attitude and unlike the Clash these guys maybe should have stayed in the garage and left the motor running.
I'll now be forever grateful to Forever Void who road in to save me from terminal boredom just as I thought I was going to flatline.
This band were the polar opposite from the opening one.
First off they refused to put the Dungeons and Dragons rule book to to music and for me that's always a good thing.
The main difference however was that the band know that it's 2011. They cover all the bases that rock fans want now and not yesterday.
It's maybe not my cup of tea, but I can appreciate talent and these guys have it.
The main draw is the attitude on display. It's this that separates the good bands from those who can make that leap to a degree of wider popularity.
I've seen more than my fair share of great musicians over the years, but more often than not the musos bore the arse of me.
I want to see someone that can't just play like a demon, but act on stage like one to.
Just as the night was picking up he penultimate band arrived to drag me back down to the point where counting your fingers seems to be a novel approach to killing time.
They were a car crash. Three guys playing rawk and a singer who wants to be in a post punk band. The terms singer and post punk are being used in their loosest manner here. Keep that in mind.
Sometimes bands can work a bit of magic and bring two styles together seamlessly to create a new sound that on paper doesn't look like it would work, but actually does when forced into reality.
This band aren't one of them though.
Awful. Just bloody awful.
I suppose I should mention that I'm in a minority saying this as the crowd in Ivory Blacks seems to lap up anything that had some fret masturbation involved. Different horses for different courses I suppose.
It's testament to the talents of Warrior Soul that they can then wipe the floor with the supports even though they are all two sheets to the wind. Well maybe more like ten sheets to the wind.
Drunkenly, shambolically magnificent..........and loud.
This is what a band sounds like when they are driving towards the cliffs edge and the break cable has been cut.
It's madness writ large and I love it.
Kory is a hurricane in motion, but there's no eye of the storm. No break to gather your thoughts or catch a breath. If this is a whirlwind in action then we are all off to Oz on a one way ticket.
The crowd instantly go from vocally supporting the bands to getting physically involved in the night.
They surge forward and backward like waves crashing on the security barrier. Kory leans in Kanute like and is swamped by the human wave time and again, but always emerges wild eyed and ready to do battle again.
The whole band are working on the limits, pushing at the boundaries of what a gig can provide to an audience.
They bring a punk with a set of bagpipes on to play an intro to a song. This is a guy they met an hour before they were due to play. The rule book has been shredded and no two gigs on this tour will be the same. So welcome to the motherfuckin' circus.
There's a bit of a deal going on with Kory and Glasgow. It's his spiritual home from home.
A couple of years ago he told me that it reminded him of Detroit and as cities go how it's preferable to staying in London. If that isn't proof of a degree of madness then I don't know what is.
He can have his pick. London, Paris, New York, Milan and he picks Glasgow.
In honour of his love of our “no mean city” he even penned a song called “She's Glaswegian”. A no holds barred ode to the warm, crazy and dangerous ladies of the city and when they play it the crowd goes nuts.
I mean literally nuts. The asylum doors have been kicked down and no amount of anti-psychotic drugs are going to make a dent on this party. In fact the more drugs the better. It's just going to enhance the experience.
Kory's on the floor rolling around in spilt beer, sweat and spit. He looks like Robert Plant possessed by the spirit of Iggy Pop.
This is a force of nature.
They don't finish by winding down. One minute we are being tossed around, buffeted by the force of their performance and then we are left spent and blinking as the lights come up.
This is fuckin' rock and roll. It's only when you see bands pulling out all the stops like this that you can appreciate how little effort others put into it.
Every gig is artistically a live or die experience for them. An adrenaline surge hammered straight into the collective chests of the audience.
If you don't feel it surging through you then you may as well just lie down and accept that life has already taken too much of a toll on you.
Warrior Soul came to town and the town will never be the same again........until next time.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Zoe Lewis - Nameless

While most young woman are contemplating a night on the town Zoe Lewis was recording her second album in her bedroom with the help of her multi talented father.
Some may consider that as a bit of a waste of time for a young woman, but when the alternative is to plaster on the slap, pass around a bottle of Lambrini between mates, and then end the night tearfully picking at laddered tights from the gutter while proclaiming in a howl that no one loves you, then it begins to sound like a much better option than what currently passes for a good night out locally.
The results are really what matters though and this certainly does not sound like a DIY bedroom effort.
Instead it sounds as accomplished as anything that you would hear coming from a major recording studio.
The original material covers a light punk/rock chick angle with some country tinges. In other words a bit more than most of the current chanteuse would consider tackling.
The attitude is probably best summed up on the only cover song on the album. A very nuanced take on Toyahs “It's a Mystery” that by-passes all the clichéd histrionics of the original and delivers a track that is far more subtle and ultimately more rewarding.
It's however not the highlight of the album.
In fact it doesn't come close to it as there's a whole swath of tracks that are better.
There's a song called Nothing to Lose that stands out as the glittering prize for the listener. It's a track that features a guitar lead that wouldn't sound out of place on a classics of rock album and a vocal that ranges from the powerful to the subtle dependent on what emotion is being channelled.
It a very worthy return to the fray after her début and here's hoping it's not the last we hear from her.

SIN-ATRA - A sort of heavy metal tribute to Frank.

I feel discombobulated and it has nothing to do with the alcohol consumption last night.
The blame for my current state lies firmly with Chris Rockson of Soundcheck Webzine who sent me a copy of Sin-Atra, a heavy metal tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes.
I thought we got on fine, but he must hate me. That can be the only explanation for giving me this.
Although Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad must hate me to. It's the only reason I can think of for him covering New York New York. It was to piss me off and ruin my day. No one else's day, just mine.
The usually fine sounding Glen Hughes either shows a great deal of tongue in cheek humour on his take of I've Got You Under My Skin or he recorded it on the way to rehab after a mild sort of rock star breakdown.
Queensryche's Geoff Tate sounds as magnificent as you would expect with the guitars and orchestration powerfully carrying Summerwind along, but it's a piss take isn't it. They can't be serious. This is the sort of thing you would expect to hear on an episode of the Simpsons. A post ironic dig at the whole heavy metal sub culture.
This is the main problem with the whole album. While all the vocals and musicianship is spot on you just can't help thinking what the fuck were they thinking.
“Dee Snider, Yeah you Dee. Listen up. You want to stop that mate because I may die from laughing.
I know it was a very good year. It was around when I Wanna Rock came out wasn't it? The Bond styled orchestra work is as cool as fuck buddy, but it's still four fifths Spinal Tap.”
Oh my giddy aunt. Here's that Judas Priest tribute guy that ended up singing with his heroes. Or was that a Twilight Zone I watched?
Basically this guy needs to set Witchcraft down and step away from it.
Now if anyone could save this from being the novelty album of the year it would be Cheap Trick's Robin Zanders, but no. His version of Fly Me To The Moon aspires to the lofty heights of being described as shit, but it just aint that good. It's an F- effort all round.
I remember seeing Mr Big playing in Edinburgh once. I was only there to see The Throbs who were supporting them and to say I was underwhelmed by Mr Big would be an understatement.
Never liked them and Eric Martin has done nothing here to make me change my mind with his eighties sounding, bubblegum perm take on Lady Is A Tramp.
It sounds like something that Dave Lee Roth considered too ridiculous to release, and we all know that man has had a ridiculous bypass and barely understands the concept.
Joey Belladonna deserves a medal for his contribution. A big huge gold medal that says WORST VOCAL PERFORMANCE EVER.
High Hopes isn't actually too bad. It's the guy from Scars on Broadway. The blink and you'll miss them side project of the weird looking guy and the one no one remembers from System of a Down.
Even while I say it isn't too bad I am judging it as a novelty b-side to a single or something that surfaced after a studio fuck about for a laugh.
Remember Kings X? Are they even still going? Or does Dug Pinnick just come out of the woodwork to appear on this sort of thing. A Christmas Heavy Metal tribute to Satans dyslexic brother Santa. That sort of thing.
I've decided I want a medal. One as big as Joey Belladonnas. I deserve it after sitting through this ear carnage.
I mean who the fuck is Elias Soriano who is singing Love and Marriage?
I could look it up I suppose, but to be honest I don't actually care any more.
Things could have been worse though. Like someone from Warrant could have been included.
Oh. Speak of the Devil and it aint Ozzy. Here's Jani Lane doing a Dave Lee Roth impression on That's Life.
He's also got Ritchie Kotzen playing along. If memory serves me right his main claim to fame was being thrown out of Poison for shagging another members bird.
This album actually dances on that line where the really bad can verge on being good.
In future when I have a party and want the guests to leave at the end of the night this is the CD that will be going on.
It could clear a room in minutes.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Devilish Presley/Filthy Little Secret/Billy Liar/The Paraffins - Dirty Martinis - 19/3/11 (Kilmarnock)

Draft copy that still needs a bit of a going over. Hopefully some pics to follow to.

Billy Samson is The Paraffins.
Not so much a one man band, but more a full band featuring one man. Confused? You will be.
Ask ten people to provide the name of an artist that others can draw comparisons to and you will get ten different artists.
Two songs into a Paraffins set and ask the same ten people and they will change their minds and mention another ten artists.
If The Paraffins was an exercise in trying to pin the tail on a picture of a donkey then you might manage to pin it on the lower cusp of Ecuador on the global map on the other side of the room, and then say that's about right.
It doesn't make much sense on paper, but it does when you hear it.
Avant garde is a term most used, but often enough anything that gravitates towards that increasingly loses a broader sense of accessibility. Not in this case though. The strange and the wonderful hangs on with a firm grip to a pop sensibility that is all rather enticing.
When I look about I see people smiling in confusion. They don't know why they like it, and like myself would find it hard to put it into words, but who cares if you can't express it when you are primordially feeling entertained.
Billy Liar is next and he's the chalk to The Paraffins cheese, or vice versa.
What Billy does is tread the path that Guthrie and then Dylan did before Strummer.
If you stripped punk back to its political roots then this is what it sounds like. It's social commentary from a personal perspective. The world according to Billy Liar.
The most admirable attribute is that he steadfastly refuses to stick to the regimented punk attitude that came in as we spun into the eighties.
All the little boxes on the form that need to be ticked if you want to claim to be a fully paid up member of the punk elite are left abandoned, and in failing to tick them he has found the real beating heart of a punk attitude.
Raw and impassioned will be the terms that will spring to the lips of anyone who is commenting on Billy Liar.
In his set he roars into the mic with veins stridently stretched across his throat, and by focussing into the middle distance with a paint stripping stare he gives the impression that he isn't performing to you, but is instead issuing street poetry into the night where it can be seen writ large on the air itself. The energy in his performance is so tightly sprung that the kinetic energy is palpable in the room.
This is what people are missing when the slip a disc on, when they download an mp3.
This is why live music is so important because no one has ever been able to bottle this lighting.
It's not possible. You have to be there. Have to feel it, and not just hear it, to understand where it is all coming from.
Filthy Little Secret were supposed to follow Billy, but instead swapped their slot with Devilish Presley so that their fans who had travelled through from Glasgow could catch last trains home without missing their set.
It's a nice touch and one that shows a distinct lack of ego from both parties.
Devilish Presley themselves are another band that defy being easily tagged.
You can call them goths, punks, glam rockers or a fist-full of other descriptive names designed to neatly package bands, but they wont sit comfortably in any of those boxes.
They are what they are.
A four legged rock and roll machine who have an affinity for the darkside.
B-movie horror, ouija boards and the Twilight Zone filtered through Chuck Berry, Marc Bolan and The Ramones.
Jacqui Vixen has laid down her bass and picked up a guitar and alongside her growling vocals it has added a new dimension to how the band sounds. Johnny Navarro leads for the front with his guitar licks, but the sound is bolstered with exactly what you would expect from a bassist playing guitar.
For a while there the band had been a three piece, but the two of them playing together has a natural quality to it and I've never ever seen them play when an extra member has been required.
Devilish Presley have always sounded like a five piece band anyway. How they do it is beyond me, but close your eyes and you would never know it is just two people and a drum machine that is playing.
The set itself is a great mix of the best of all their albums and a smattering of tunes from the forthcoming fifth album “The Dark Triad”. I've got the previous material to draw comparison to and I can say hand on heart that things are sounding very good, but for anyone there who hadn't seen them before then I doubt that they could have picked out the new from the old as it's all seamlessly great material.
This band are so good that people gravitate towards them, but only after seeing them live it seems. In the audience I can see umpteen people who have been before and will come back again.
It's a word of mouth phenomenon that is based in hard work, hard touring work. If Devilish Presley had the money that is required to promote a band on a global scale then they would be a huge act.
I honestly believe that. The reason being is that they have the songs, the attitude and the talent that are the main ingredients that are required. It's all there.
The reason that they aren't is down to them having to convert people to the cause one gig at a time.
This takes a mammoth effort on their part and it's to be lauded.
What I want to see is everyone who has ever raved about them even once going out and buying their “The Dark Triad”, but not only doing that, but to then become proactive and start hassling the radio stations to play it, the magazines to feature them and promoters to book them.
It's time not to ask what the band can do for you, but what you can do for the band.
Finishing the night of us was Filthy Little Secret who once again played what in football parlance is called “a belter”. There's the souther blues influence filtered through a hurricane blasting out from the stage. It's all heads down ramalama that could take the roof off any venue you could care to mention.
This band are just one of a few who are spearheading a real underground scene that jumps from venue to venue in Glasgow on any giving week. It's a loose grouping of bands who all sound different from each other, but share a degree of “in yer face” passion for what they do.
There's Tragic City Thieves, The Retrofrets, The Bucky Rage, Eddy and the T-Bolts and more.
All of them are on fire just now and although a wider circle of people haven't as yet picked up on it they are doing something rather special that should have an impact on the music loving consciousness of Glasgow and further just yet, it is just a matter of time.
So do yourself a favour and get in there early and avoid having to lie in the future about being there when it all kicked off.



Apple and the tree

Bit incidental this post, but I had a fairly good day up in Glasgow with my kids yesterday and thought I'd share it.
Mainly because it revolved around our mutual love of music.
Well my son and me anyway.
To our shame my daughter came home with a Justin Beiber CD. The less said about that the better I suppose. Anyway, there's time yet for her to develop a keener sense of taste.......we hope.

We were actually all there to renew my 16 year old sons passport before he shoots off to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks to see Roger Waters perform The Wall with my brother.
Not that Roger Waters is performing his master-work with my brother. I mean my brother and son are going to see him perform it.
Very poor grammar that.

Anyway that comes later though as the first port of call for any music lover exiting the train station in Glasgow is of course FOPP.
There's boxes of t-shirts there for three quid. Not the usual end of line stock either. Madness, Jefferson Aeroplane, Santana and The Beatles are all there next to the obligatory Nirvana and Machinehead ones that you always seem to find.
My son bought a "Hello, Goodbye" Beatles one.
A nice bargain and an indicator of how they day was going to go.
Next I introduced him to the basement of Missing Records and their treasure trove of vinyl.
He's always had a little vinyl.
Cast off's from myself, doubles of stuff, but more recently he came into a little money and bought his own turntable, and now the real addiction has kicked in.
It seems like on a daily basis he's on ebay.
Hovering like a vulture over the keys waiting to swoop down and tear a bargain from the grasp of someone else who has been watching a limited first edition for over a week.
Just waiting for them to foolishly glance away for a minute in the closing seconds of a bloodless bidding war so that he can nail it.
This is what he has become. A no quarter given, zero compassion automaton locked into securing what he wants with a complete and utter disregard for anyone else.
In other words a typical sixteen year old.
I'm pleased to say that this is only when he is on ebay and not an attitude he carries into the real world.
Missing records was like an Alladins cave for him. I don't think he was aware that there are still a few of these places tucked away in the big cities.
He's been in upstairs where the CDs are, but was never aware of the little door that leads you downstairs and opens up to some greater wonders.
There was a strange sense of deja vu for me as I watched him finger picking his way through the racks.
It was as if the telescope of time had been spun around and I was looking down it into the past.
There I was thirty years ago, concentration etched into my face as I feverishly trawled the rows and rows of music, taking one album and tucking it under my arm before putting it back because money was limited and I had to get the most value for money I could. Rejoicing at the finding of a classic, mourning the finding of another and being a quid short of buying it.
While I kept glanced at him from the corner of my eye I found myself an original copy of the original London cast of The Rocky Horror Show on First Night records and then Live Stiffs. Not the original on Stiff records, but the quick to follow reissue on MFP.
Not bad for a few pounds all in I thought.
Meanwhile he had tucked a Byrds and Small Faces compilation away, A Rolling Stones 12", and the original Band On The Run by Wings including the poster that came with it. While John and Yokos Double Fantasy was also jumped on.
Although I reckon that like myself he will find it a bit hit and miss like everything Lennon did that featured Yoko Ono.
I could tell that if I left him there he would have quite happily just handed his bank card over to the guy behind the counter and kept ploughing into the racks.
I've done it myself. Well not really because we didn't have bank cards when I was his age, but I do remember going to Glasgow when I was about seventeen to buy a much needed pair of shoes and coming home instead with three albums and then having to cut cardboard insoles out for my decrepit trainers in an attempt to keep a barrier between my foot and the pavement.
Ahhhhh. Good times.
The passport office was next. A quick and painless trip.
In and out in ten minutes and that's him ready for the 'Dam and loosening up his throat to belt out "is there anybody out there".

We split up for a little while after that. He headed to HMV. Maybe to imprint it on his memory before it slips off to the record store graveyard for good. While I took my daughter for a walk around the stores that she wanted to see.
Nothing much going on in Build A Bear, but we did see a nice little fake kitten that rolled around the floor in a rather freakishly real life way in a Bazaar.
If I had the cash I would have bought it if only to provide our own cat with some issues, and maybe to let it serve as a reminder that she can be replaced easily with a fake one that doesn't need fed or a litter tray to be cleaned out.
When we met up with my son again he has bought a couple of Primal Scream CDs including Screamadelica and the dreaded Justin Beiber CD for his sister.
We walked around to Avalanche Records from there.
Another little mine of treasures that he was unaware of.
This was where he made his biggest score of the day. An original Beggars Banquet for a tenner that he has since found out goes for over a hundred quid.
The value isn't of that much importance to him as the music, but the getting a bargain is the icing on the cake.
To know that he has managed to get something that should normally be well out of his price range gives him a real self satisfied glow.
We revisited Fopp after that and I got Kelly an MCR t-shirt and he bought the Hard Days Night DVD
I think that in total he spent about forty quid, but managed to bag himself quite a haul.
His sister and myself are happy with what we got, but he's over the moon.
It's nice to see the genuine excitement and enthusiasm he has for this. Not because it carbon copies my outlook on music, but more so because of the real sense of enjoyment he gets from it.
A good day. Definitely a good day.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Thrust Magazine




This is really just a link to a US magazine that has used my Rock City Angels interview, and I'm very pleased to say actually used it as their cover story.

Glen Matlock & The Philistines - Dirty Martinis - 19/3/11 (Kilmarnock)

Blaggers. You've got to love them.
Billy Liar who we had booked to play with Devilish Presley on the Saturday night arrives a day early and asks if he can crash at my flat before demanding we let him play on the Glen Matlock bill. The sheer up front hunger for it was deserving of being accommodated, so as a special addition to the line up Billy with guitar in hand thrashed his way through some of his material to the handful of lucky people who arrived early enough to catch him.
For a young man he's got it sussed. There's power and passion in equal measure in the performance and lyrically he strips away a great deal of the bullshit that others get bogged down in to really deliver a raw take on life as he sees it.
It's the perfect start to the evening. Real honest to goodness punk rock that acknowledges the past without pandering to it.
Zoe Lewis is the local talent on the bill and strangely enough this is the first time I have seen her perform live. It's one of those never in the right place at the right time situations.
Within a couple of songs it becomes very obvious that the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree here as she displayed all the talent that her father, a local musician, has.
The vocals are spot on, the guitar work fluidly compelling and the material from her two self released albums could genuinely compete with and other so called rock chicks doing the rounds. In fact it would also be fair to say that the material is far more mature than any of her contemporaries can manage, even with their armies of songwriters to bolster their meagre talents.
She can belt them out, or bring it down to a more intimate delivery with ease and it would be a great shame if talent like this was to be overlooked.
Filthy Little Secret then demolished any lingering romanticised ideas that the night may be anything more than a rock and roll bloodbath of excess.
They have two settings. Loud and Heavy.
It's a yowling and yelping primal scream that sounds like Lux Interior having a brawl with the Kings of Leon and who is effortlessly painting the walls with them.
Fuck knows where the sound comes from, but if you close your eyes there's an image of southern hill-billies wired on hooch playing behind chicken wire to a crowd that are hell bent on breaking the record for the longest bar room brawl ever recorded.
Scarily exhilarating.
If people were wanting a break after that then they were kidding themselves on as Tragic City Thieves hot off their first UK tour took the baton from Filthy Little Secret and kept running with it.
The new material that is yet to be released makes some of the songs from their début sound a bit shabby, and that's saying something as there is nothing shabby about that album.
It's just that the new material is a quantum leap forward again.
If you take all the reference points that have been mentioned before. New York Dolls, Turbonegro and such, and then imagine that they have just turned it all up a notch then it will give you a small hint of where they are at. Everything is tighter, faster and more impassioned now.
As performances go these are the guys who walk it like they talk it. They deliver every single time. They simply don't do bad gigs. They plough through their set and convert another few people to the cause of the Theivon.
It's probably pertinent to mention here that a guy came across to me and said “this is like a real gig”.
At first I didn't know what he meant, but he went on to say that he goes and sees bands playing locally and most of the time they could be described as good at what they do, but it's obvious why they are still just playing bars and small clubs. Whereas in comparison this was like a real big show with bands who have all paid their dues.
While I would say that Ayrshire is currently awash with talent the guy did have a point, and Glen Matlock and his Philistines where still to play.
His head was likely to explode.
For those who had missed this then what can I say. You had the chance of one bite at the apple and missed it.
When Glen Matlock and the Philistines did come on the magic was in the room. Kicking off with Born Running they didn't slow down at all. I reckon they played about twenty songs in quick succession. The people who were there sang until they were hoarse and a lot of swaying and cheering was the order of the night.
Timebomb sounded great and all in I've got to say that the sound guys were real stars of the night.
Everything sounded awesome. None of this support bands getting the shitty end of the stick and the head-liner managing to sound crystal clear. From start to finish the sound was great.
I suppose everyone will want to know what he sang that wasn't from his Philistines career.
Well Burning Sounds got a good going over, as did Stepping Stone and God Save the Queen, but to claim that they were highlights would be unfair become they were just some fantastic songs in amongst more fantastic songs.
It was that good that I just abandoned my place on the door and had a jump about and sang along with everyone else.
If success was measured by the amount of enjoyment people had and not the numbers through the doors then this was a magnificent success.
Thanks to all the people involved from Dirty Martinis, and more so each and every single person who made the effort to attend.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

My girlfriends crying in the shower stall

Well this is where I should be waxing lyrically about the success of our weekend of playing at being part time promoters.
Instead I'm going to review the gigs separately from the events that surrounded the Friday evening so that I don't taint the exceptional performances with the loathing I'm feeling.
How honest does anyone want this?
Here's the deal.
Kelly and myself book a legend to perform for us.
Glen Matlock played a pivotal role in the Sex Pistols, a band that people to this day claim to have had a seismic effect on modern music as we know it.
He has also played with everyone from Iggy Pop to Primal Scream and more recently The Faces.
A sure fire draw for a venue that only holds 100 people and is situated in the arse end of feckin nowheresville.
People should be biting our arms off to get to see this gig.

In support we had Tragic City Thieves, Filthy Little Secret, Zoe Lewis and a special appearance of Billy Liar.
If anyone cared to check them out then I'm sure that they would be impressed.

However we didn't consider that if we mentioned Glens name then people would magically come along.
Instead we worked our socks off to promote the show.
Posters were designed and printed off and then put up everywhere, the local press ran a bit on page three that was eye catching, and I think people who know me on the social networking sites must have been sick of my continued updates and reminders of the show.
All the bands involved pulled their weight in promoting it to. All of them are beyond criticism.
The venue itself pulled all the stops out. Beefing up their PA and getting in an outstanding young guy on the sound desk was the least of their efforts.
This was text book promotion work.
No angle was missed and everyone involved went above and beyond the call of duty.

Then on the night hardly anyone turned up and left Kelly and myself out of pocket to the tune of £700.
£700 that we don't have.
As the night itself went from bad to worse attendance wise, and then ultimately financially went down like the Titanic I felt physically sick.
There was a hollow sensation in the pit of my stomach that I have never felt before.
I looked over at my girlfriend and when she asked how bad it was and I told her she went white.
Stress lines are now probably permanently marked on her lovely wee face.

This was as bad as it gets.
We scrambled about, rushed out and cleared our bank accounts, and I mean literally cleaned them out leaving us with nothing, friends rallied around and provided loans, and the venue itself stumped up cash to to cover the costs so that we could honour our financial agreement with the band.
That's what you do. There were no contracts, but they had my word and sometimes in life that is all you have. Your word.

What it comes down to is that Glen Matlock and his band honoured their side of the agreement, and maybe even more with a set that no one is likely to forget.
So we had to honour our side. No question about it.
The thing is that while I appreciate all the the people who did attend, and fully understand the reasons why others couldn't. I still feel a great sense of loathing for all the pricks who bleat and moan that nothing ever happens here, and then don't get off their arses to go when there is entertainment of this quality is laid on for them.
This is the bit that I'm struggling to keep bottled up.
Where were all the Pistols fans, music fans, etc?
All the so called punks that I see on a weekly basis strutting up and down the town?
The people who did have the time and money to support the gig.
I've lost count of the times that individually people have approached me since Friday to say that people get the music scene that they deserve.
So I guess Kilmarnock can go back to rock covers bands for free in the corner of a pub, or the obligatory acoustic warbler on an open mic night.
Maybe we don't even deserve that and karaoke will be the highlight for us all.
That's if we can actually manage to pull ourselves away from Britains got the x factor on ice in ballgowns.

My loathing doesn't just extend to these people though.
The apathetic complainers who talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk.
I'm also pissed off with all the young punky guys and gals who hang about on a Saturday in the town centre.
They can manage to shell out £40 odd quid for the latest Kerrang cover star playing in a shed like arena.
Dig deep and cover their travelling costs, even buy some drink and then spend £60 on merch.
They will also wear Sex Pistols t-shirts and have Pistols bags to carry whatever they carry in them, but they can't go and see one play.
In fact they can't go to fuck all unless a mainstream magazine has given the band a sort of seal of approval first.
Fuckin sheeple. Every single one of them.
In fact the can't even manage to drag they skinny black denim encased arses to see four band playing for a fiver in a venue that is within spitting distance of where they pose....I mean congregate.
Am I angry. Of course I fuckin' am.
Angry, embarrassed and skint.
I had to sit across a table from Glen Matlock and apologize that no one seemed to give enough of a fuck to see him after saying earlier that I expected to sell the small venue out.
I have to look into the hollow eyes of my girlfriend and assume some responsibility for this debacle.
I also have to borrow money from my son to survive until pay day.
How does anyone think that makes me feel? I'm borrowing cash to survive from someone who should be dependent on me to look after him.
This was as monumental a fuck up as they come and the finger of blame can only be pointed at those who wallow in their own apathy.
All you armchair fans are a bunch of cunts. Keep moaning, but we aint listening to you.
It's true. If you aint part of the solution you're part of the problem.

One last thing as food for thought. My girlfriend and myself did these gigs as a non profit making venture, a sort of hobby.
We wanted to bring the best talent to our town for people to enjoy and weren't even looking for a slice of the pie.
Everyone who failed to turn up due to no genuine reason at all may as well have just lined up and spat in our faces.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Flowers of Flesh and Blood - War Poetry

Hardcore punk isn't my thing. Let's get that out of the way first.
All that grunting, unintelligible shouting and the macho posturing in white wife beater vests is a bit of a turn off.
It normally sounds like two gay Hells Angels having a domestic in the flat next door, and I'm never sure what's worse. The arguments or the making up.
So when the début from “Flowers of Flesh and Blood” arrived for review I inwardly cringed while thinking here we go again, more aural rape for my ears. I seem to be a magnet for that sort of shit.
However there are always exceptions and FoFaB are definitely one of them.
It's probably down to them taking nearly a decade to settle into a line up.
While honing themselves on the live circuit supporting everyone from Asian Dub Foundation to Fun Loving Criminals wont have hurt either.
Whatever it is it must be said that they have done themselves proud as “War Poetry” is a brutally majestic release.
A genuine quantum leap ahead of what their peers are churning out, and far more imaginative than expected. The use of spoken word samples added as intros to the tracks, while nothing new, works very well in the context of the songs, and the vocal range casually disregards the genres template of death grunts and little more.
If anyone was to entice me into dipping my toe into the hardcore scene then it would be these guys.
While this is a DIY release on their own “Tuneless Records” I hope that they manage to get enough copies out there to make enough of an impact to allow them to swiftly follow it with the already written difficult second album.
If, like me, you consider that the hardcore scene is littered with worthless and unimaginative soundalikes and have maybe even considered it to be a spent force then think again.
Contact them at www.myspace.com/flowersoffleshandblood for a copy.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Spanish Archer - Build A Rocket Boys!

When Elbow broke through with the multiple award winning “The Seldom Seen Kid” quite a few people who were previously unaware of them swooned in admiration at the scope of what they had created.
Here was a band with a cinematic quality who were the antithesis of what the mainstream was providing at the time and people seemed to be getting it even if they were falling short of articulating why.
Maybe part of it was the refreshingly laissez-faire attitude that I felt imbued the album. It sounded like they had made it for themselves and if you got on board with it then that was great, but if not then no worries.
It just seemed not to crave your attention and for me that gave it an attractive sense of its own worth.
There's little doubt that with the Mercury Music award the dominoes all started to fall one after another and the band made a huge leap forward in the popularity stakes, but that sort of patronage can be a tad misleading.
Award winning albums by being award winning attract big sales, but whether they are bought through genuine appreciation or simply as the must have album of the year that will remain in its shrink wrapped jacket is anyone's guess.
The proof of whether the band have really made an impact is when they follow that album.
Will they be the forgotten lads of yesteryear? Will they have their heads turned by the adulation and try to release a carbon copy of the album that brought them fame and fortune? Will they keep it together and maintain their own musical persona and win hearts and minds all over again.
Thankfully with “Build A Rocket Boys!” it would appear to be the latter.
Impressively unencumbered with the weight of “The Seldom Seen Kid” Elbow have simply rolled up their sleeves, tucked their heads down and done exactly what they wanted to do oblivious of the expectations that could have hampered their progress.
It would seem very likely that the creation of what they do is everything and once again they aren't chasing anyone to “get it”. It just is. It's out there and you can take it or leave it.
There's a sense of sparseness on it that's deluding. Even when there's a lot going on sonically it feels like there's ample room for everything, room to breathe, room to stretch.
Guy Garvey sounds like he is intimately sharing experiences with us all and there's a depth of warm honesty that permeates the album while his vocals weave in and out of the music.
I'm not sure how this would translate over to the size of venues that their success has led them to play, but if anyone can do it then it is very possibly this band.
Intimacy for the masses could be the new stadium rock.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Future gigs

Occasionally people will get in contact with me and ask if my girlfriend (Kel) and myself want to put their band on.
More often than not we would love to, but there is a hitch to this. We are a non profit making deal.
It makes no business sense at all, we know that, but from a successful gig we only take our promotional costs back. The outlay.
Anything above that goes to the bands. The guarantee for the headliner is honoured and the supports get whatever is left split between them.
This all sounds like a good deal for the bands, but what it really means is that if a gig doesn't cover the costs then Kel and me have to dip into our pockets and cover the shortfall.
We are both single parents and when that happens it can be disastrous. We had a run of gigs a couple of years ago that had us both saying “never again”.
They were enjoyable shows and we loved the bands, but one of them had 13 people attend for four bands. One a national touring one, another a foreign band doing a one off show and a couple of local acts. It was only £4 for it all as well.
We really took a bath on that one.
The thing is success breeds success. If we have a well attended show we can do it again and again and again. So we really need peoples support for what we do.
This Friday is Glen Matlock and the Philistines, plus three supports and a couple of surprises. It's £13.50 on the door and I would love to see it full to the rafters. If I went by how many people said they were going then it would be sold out twice over, but saying and doing are two different things.
On saturday we have Devilish Presley all the way from London. There's keen interest and at a fiver for another four bands it's a steal.
The point of this update though is to say that the opportunity to separately book TV Smith, Viv Albertine and The Strawberry Blondes to play gigs is available to us, but what sort of interest is there? Would enough people commit to attending to make it worthwhile for these acts to travel all the way up here to play?
This is aimed at people from the west coast of Scotland as all the gigs would be in Dirty Martinis in Kilmarnock.
I would love to hear some feed back to get an idea of whether we should go for it.

Mainy and Kel

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Levellers - Glasgow Barrowlands (11/3/11)

Opening the show with footage and images that cover the protest movement and key historical moments perfectly sums up the intent of the Levellers.
It also highlights how nothing much changes. The rich still pull the strings and governments still manipulate and abuse the people who vote them in.
Thatcher gets a bit of a boo when her picture is beamed onto the backdrop, but Blair gets a louder one.
The boos for the iron lady were expected. In a concert that is focussed on an album that came out twenty years ago, and addressed issues of the time, it should be keying into a fan base that are well aware of the damage that hideous crone did to our country.
However the louder boos for war criminal Blair showed that most people were still either politically sussed in non partisan politics, or had a politically awakening during his reign of moving the left to the right.
The loudest response was quite rightly reserved for the ideological bastard son of Thatcher, David Cameron.
A man who I suspect is the result of an experiment where they tried to clone a mix of Thatcher and Reagan as they wouldn't consummate their evil union due to him being a dickless wank - an oxymoron that leans heavily on moron - and her being a dried up old cunt.
Nick Clegg was obviously the first failed attempt.
The footage of the Beanfield abuses of power and those more recently where students were assaulted could really only be differentiated by the quality of the filming and the changes in the police headgear.
Like I said, nothing much changes, but in a strange way this is perfect for The Levellers and Levelling the Land.
We have come full circle and the themes explored on that album are just as relevant now, and maybe more so than twenty years ago. This is the timeless sound of protest.
In fact while the Levellers have always been accused of preaching, I have always thought that they simply held up a mirror and commented in an honest every-man style about society as they seen it.
There was no heavy political diatribe promoted. Just comments made that were designed to act as a catalyst for thought.
They never told you what to do. Just said what they thought and due to the time they expressed themselves in it had an impact on many.
I was there in Glastonbury and seen them before I knew who they were. I was there doing reels in King Tuts when they came to Glasgow. I was part of the crowd that witnessed them storm the Pyramid stage and since then I have seen them more times that I could care to mention.
The common thread throughout is that they have never failed to entertain me or speak to me with their social commentary.
Tonight would be no different.
Or maybe it was, because I can't recall the last time that everything fell into place like this and they were so fervently received by an audience.
There's probably a few reasons for this.
One being that the focussing on Levelling the Land has drawn people out who haven't seen the band in a number of years, the other being that the songs within the set are speaking to a whole new generation.
Who could argue that the world reflected then doesn't equally resonate with the world we live in now.
Current affairs have elevated this far beyond what could be described as a nostalgia trip.
This album is speaking to people across the generations because it is immersed in basic morality. Right and wrong.
The Levellers themselves must be aware of this rejuvenated interest as when they appear it's a no holds barred performance.
While the material has been acoustically explored recently this full on electric mix of folk-punk is its natural form.
Beginning with One Way sets the tone. It's an anthem for those who fervently wish for personal freedom and the crowd roar their approval. It speaks to us all.
The Game is frenetically pushed as hard as it can be and the floor is bouncing. You can feel it in the small of your back unless you are bouncing along to it as about three quarters of the sold out crowd appear to be doing. While Fifteen Years cements their reputation as being one of the best live bands that this country have ever produced. A song that highlights how the band can take something like the problems of drink fuelled violence and trace how it can have an effect on all the parties involved with a degree of insightful maturity that is rarely offered.
These songs in quick succession seem to say it all. The manifesto of the band. Here we are stripped bare for you and then when we look closely all we see is ourselves reflected back.
The universal themes that the majority of us know deep down are what we should aspire to.
How war is wrong, how we should exist in a world where our differences are celebrated, a world where freedom of expression and speech is encouraged. This world feels tangible and within reach when the Levellers perform.
The crowd are lost. A sense of us all being in this together is all around. No one is simply a spectator. We all have our parts to play and we do so with gusto. Every song is met with approval, the end with rapturous applause.
When they cover The Devil Went Down to Georgia it is time for the reeling to kick off. The space next to the bar resembles an anarchic ceilidh in progress. The sort that of madness that Tam O'Shanter would have witnessed in the Burns poem.
This is as far removed from the wedding styled dancing that most are used to. Drinks spill, people slip in the puddles and are pulled back to their feet. Others windmill past and snatch an elbow to hook and spin from. Wild fearless abandon abounds and those who are dancing surpass what could be described as simply enjoying a bit of audience participation.
As the refrain of do I belong to some ancient race of Sell Out is sung I'm there. I've always personally felt connected to the song. I look about and see a world that is disjointed. Too much attention paid on shiny and glittery toys while the most important things like family, friends and love are demoted to being something less important. Aspiration is the word on all the politicians lips, but aspire to what? Personal gain, being better than your fellow man? Aspire to having a bigger house? Fuck that. If we aspire to anything it should be about reaching for balance. Creating a world where we all see the worth in each other, where respect and love go hand in hand.
None of that is possibly what is specifically being said in the song, but it's my interpretation of the ancient race. A mythological utopean time that didn't exist, but should have.
The way we exist certainly isn't standing the test of time.
When Another man's cause begins - the heartfelt expression of how young men and women are sacrificed on the alter by little grey men who wander the corridors of power weaving their Machiavellian webs with scant regard to the human cost that others have to live with - it quietens the crowd.
The change in pace isn't something that jars, but instead provides a moments reflection that aids the catching of a breath. It's an eye of the storm moment. Perfect timing.
Once finished the dancing and singing resume and songs flow past until The Battle of the Beanfield fills the Barrowland. It's a rallying call. A song that punches you in the chest. A wake up call to how apathy allows abuse to proliferate. A reminder that we are on the cusp of other breaches of our rights in the here and now.
On the 26th of this month (March 2011) trade unions, charities, political and protest groups and individuals are going to descend on London to air their collective grievances against this coalition government and I fervently hope that this is not going to be this generations beanfield.
A sound system should be hired and transported into the midst of the protesters with this song, and other Levellers tracks, being played out to remind everyone how far those in power will go to remain holding onto their exalted positions.
I get a lump in my throat every time I hear it.
The injustice described in the song is something that needs to be promoted. In fact without this song how many people would remember the abusive acts carried out in the Beanfield against defenceless and harmless men, women and children by those we normally entrust our safety to?
The encores of the night, Hope Street, Beautiful Day etc act as the perfect accompaniment to the Levelling the Land album.
As the lights go up I know that my voice will be gone in the morning and my body will ache from dancing, but it was worth it.
The thought provoking social commentary that they are famous for continues to be an undiluted force to be reckoned with.
An outstanding night.
If every gig was as good as this no one would be sitting at home on a Friday night. Everyone would instead be in pubs, clubs and venues all over the country partaking of the magic.

The Wonderstuff - Glasgow Barrowlands (11/3/11)

The Wonderstuff are midway through Red Berry Joy Town and I swear that the years are dropping away.
If I closed my eyes I could imagine aged skin shedding and pooling around my feet. The beat of the music and the rapturous response from the crowd are aiding and abetting the transformation that is taking me back to a less stressful time and place. A more carefree existence.
One year drops away, then another five gone in the blink of an eye, ten years peel away and take the stress lines with them. Twenty years of paying bills, meeting the mortgage, having kids and raising them turns to dust in my minds eye.
If this is nostalgia then bring it on.
Miles Hunt from a distance doesn't even appear to have changed.
The slick short haired look that he has been sporting is gone and the curls are whipping about like it's the end of the eighties and not 2011. It's a visual reminder of the era that bolsters the music and helps with the out of time experience that is being had by all.
The band themselves look and sound great to.
Everything is clicking into place. It's a well oiled groove machine playing on the stage.
All around me people are beaming hundred watt smiles and shouting out the words that are imprinted in their memories.
The Wonderstuff always had a knack for writing witty pop classics that had a bit of a bite, and live is where they came into their own.
Every word, chord and bow stroke of the violin is a celebration of the moment and we're all being swept along on a wave of communal enjoyment with a glint in our eyes.
Legs that haven't danced in a decade are finding the beat to stomp along to. Voices that are probably more used to being raised in anger are joining in with choruses and everyone is lost in the moment.
This is what live music is about. Taking people and swaying emotions. It doesn't matter if it makes an individual happy or sad. The power is in making a connection with an audience and The Wonderstuff are connected.
Glittering pop gems in a crown of excellence come hard and fast. Breathlessly fast. One song storms into the next and no one is flagging. Second winds are found and exploited as we all roar out our satisfaction.
To my shame I have to say that in the last few years I've opted to go and see other bands when The Wonderstuff have rolled into town.
Never again though.
If they are playing I'm there. I want more of this. In fact give give give, me more more more perfectly sums it up, and I don't want to wait until the next world to get it.
I think most people will agree with me. A resounding success of a show. Sheer unadulterated magnificence.
In an age where it seems more common for people to write about music as if they are once removed from the enjoyment of it I've got to say fuck that.
If they can write about this show dispassionately then they are letting themselves and the reader down.
As a gig this was beyond criticism.
A fantastic nights entertainment from a band that I had forgotten were so good.