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Friday 30 July 2010

PiL ABC Glasgow (26/7/10)

Johnny Rotten and John Lydon are the two sides of the one coin. A modern day Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. One of them (Rotten) is cartoon like in his sneeringly pre-emptive scatter gun approach to communicating and appears to have a chip on his shoulder that Atlas would shy away from carrying.
In short he can come across as a bit of a dick.
The other (Lydon) is verbose, articulate, confident and manages to do a damn good job of keeping his natural acerbic nature under wraps.
In short. Not a dick.
Thankfully it is Lydon that I was there to see, not Rotten, and as Lydon he didn't disappoint.

Everything and everyone was waiting in anticipation and readiness for the night to begin.
The backdrop with the iconic Public Image Limited logo hungs behind the drum like a badge of honour, but apart from that, the bands instruments and PA equipment, the stage was bare. It was all business on the night. No room for theatrics, just a pure and unadulterated performance from an iconic band.
With no supports bands to contend with and no introduction required the band walked on stage without any fanfare and slipped into the groove of “this is not a love song” and in an instant everything clicked into place.
Communication was initially none existent as Lydon rolled out his patented thousand yard stare that cuts through the audience like a laser.
The sound was literally stunning.
The venue had invested in some unique quadrophonic sound system that seemed tailor made to assist a band like PiL in getting their sound across.
It didn't dip and dive depending on where you were standing. It didn't ebb and flow above your head, but instead it was solidly smooth across the whole venue.
The other benefit of it was that the quality allowed it to be powerful without any reliance on dancing on the edge of distortion levels of volume.
It strikes me that this is how PiL should be heard. That the technology has finally caught up with the band and this probably surpasses anything they could have done the first time around.
As someone who dips into PiL occasionally rather than diving headlong into their back catalogue I found that the live arena is where this music is made for.
Poptones, a song that never struck me as being that special, took on a whole new persona and extended out and filled the room with its rhythmic beat well to the fore.
The band individually showed themselves to be up to tackling anything that was thrown at them. Their fluidity was a joy to behold.
Lu Edmonds in particular appeared to immerse himself in the music using all sorts of stringed instruments to weave a glorious aural tapestry for us all.
Apart from his guitars he also played a banjo, but unlike anyone I have ever seen playing one before. Eschewing finger picking he instead attacks it like a lead guitar, the same could be said for some sort of mandolin/lute instrument that he had.
None of them sounded like they traditionally should and it is a wonder in itself that he can take them and use then in the post punk rock context that he did.
A few songs in and Lydon decided to communicate with the crowd a bit. It was no real surprise that his first utterances would be a gripe about something.
This time the monitors.
I have a suspicion that he just needs to do this before he completely relaxes. It's an inbuilt reflex, a compulsion, his default setting.
Get a verbal jab in before anyone else does.
Proof of this may be in his retraction a little later when he admitted they were fine and assumed responsibility of maybe not hearing them as he should.
A little later he commented on the Glasgow crowd being a bit strange although he didn't expand on that.
Without a doubt they/we were in comparison to a Pistols crowd, but the odd rag tag mismatch of eclectic people there to see PiL seem to have been exactly what the music deserved.
If you can't pigeon hole PiL, then should you be able to neatly slip their audience into a box?
There was of course some uber-punks hanging around who could have fallen off the cover of an Exploited album, but by mid set many seemed restless and unsure of what they were doing there.
On stage isn't the uncle Johnny that they know and love. Unsurprisingly in the Lydon persona he is neatly side stepping their preconcieved ideas just as he always has done.
It just seems to be taking decades for the penny to drop for some.

By the time they eased out of Chant and into Religion as the show closer they were into that zone that all bands strive to reach.
Perfection had been sought and found it seemed. Musical nirvana.
Religion itself is the song that I had been waiting for all evening and every expectation I had were met and then surpassed.
Words would fail to do justice to how tight the band and how on top of everything John Lydon was at this point.
For me it was the crowning glory of an already magnificent set. Unfortunately as it reached it's end I was at the door and fleeing the building to catch a train.
The lucky people left behind had another few songs to enjoy as part of the encore, but unlike the crowd at Winterland I didn't feel like I had been cheated at all.
Another excellent show that rounded of July very nicely indeed.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Spear of Destiny

I've had a bit of an extended break from blogging as I've been very, very busy with other stuff.
Anyway. No shackshakers review as I can't be arsed, well maybe I will. I'll see how it pans out.
By next week I'll have interviewed Strawberry Blondes and The Undertones. So keep an eye out for them, but in the interim here's Kirk Brandons Spear of Destiny from the other night.

Kirk Brandon's Spear of Destiny/The Red Eyes/The Rudiments - Glasgow ABC2 19/7/10

Opening act for Kirk Brandon's Spear of Destiny is a bit of a strange choice. They're called The Rudiments, who with their authentic Merseybeat/R&B sound are the proverbial fish out of water on the bill. Shut your eyes and you could have been in the Cavern Club circa 1962.
Not sure if I would bother to go out of my way to see them as headliners in their own right, but as a support band they impressively manage to get a few heads nodding from an audience who are probably averse to giving anything pre 1976 a go. So fair play to them.
Highlight of their set was a rousing cover of "Shakin' all over" that had the meagre crowd stirring in minor appreciation. On another night and in front of a different audience it would probably be a different story though. So if the retro sixties scene is your bag then these guys would float your boat for definite, but as I was looking for a fix of punk rock it was down to the main support act, perennial Glaswegian punk rockers, The Red Eyes to provide it.
Each time I've seen them I've had to ask myself why they have never garnered more success. While lesser bands go from strength to strength The Red Eyes keep at it writing great songs and giving 100% on stage to an audience of the already converted.
They seem to have opened for ever single established UK punk rock band going, but just failed to make that leap to the next stage. Don't ask me why though.
I suppose it will be the old chestnut that they've just never been in the right place at the right time. It's a crying shame really as they perfectly meld the sound of all the great punk bands like SLF, Buzzcocks and the Jam together to make fantastic sing-a-long anthems that are shockingly listenable.
Maybe their fortunes would finally change if a band like The Damned took them on the road and let them have a stab at turning the heads of a different audience night after night rather than playing to the same old faces. Who knows.
What I do know though is that the set that heavily plunders their latest album release "From the outside in" hits all the right buttons.
Other bands can be a bit hit and miss, failing to keep an eye on the quality control levels, but not The Red Eyes, who maintain a rock solid approach to providing the best material that they can.
People don't have to take my word for it though. Contact the guys at and shell out the bargain basement price of £3 for their latest album and the proof of what I'm saying is within the thirteen tracks therein. It's maybe only just past the half way mark of 2010, but this might actually be the best release by a band playing what some would call "the classic punk sound" this year. Only time will tell.
The night was however always going to belong to Kirk Brandon's Spear Of Destiny. There was a bit of a shaky start, not so much in a musical sense, but more of it taking a couple of songs for the band to settle into a groove. Even Kirk himself looked a bit out of sorts and maybe a tad wary initially.
I could hazard a guess that this may have had something to do with the poor turnout and it's possible that this had knocked his confidence a bit.
If this was the case then I hope that someone has a word in his ear about the lack of promotion for the gig. Where were the posters, flyers etc?
Very few people I spoke to in the days prior to it knew that the band were playing at all. Realistically the turn out could have been doubled with a bit more effort from the promoters to do their job and actually promote the show.
Regardless of the faltering start when they did get into their stride they were nothing less than magnificent. Song by song the confidence grew and by the quarter way mark they were well into it with Kirk and the band becoming an unstoppable machine. Even the inclusion of a new song "Undertow" couldn't derail the momentum that they had built up.
A personal favorite "Rainmaker" had the hair standing on the back of my neck.
You could see Kirk visibly relaxing and moving from performing to immersing himself into the music and there lies the magic. Once he loses himself in the moment everything clicks into place and Spear of Destiny make complete and utter sense.
At that point everything they do sounds organically fluid. Nothing sounds manufactured. It just flows naturally through them. They become a conduit for a higher power.
The cliched "tour de force" comment could easily be applied to the band when they play like this, but in all honesty they are deserving of it.
By the time that the main set had finished and they returned for an encore Kirk was flying. Mickey bled into Liberator and the night finished with him standing alone centre stage lapping up the adulation that was being freely given
I've said it before, but it's these types of performances that keep the flame alive in the jaded hearts of those of us who attend shows regularly.
We see band after band and enjoy ourselves immensely, but every once in a while you catch a show and say to yourself "this is why I do it", and Spear of Destiny provided one of those.
Within the next seven days I'll have seen The Undertones, Buzzcocks and PIL amongst others, but each of them will have to pull something pretty special out of the bag to catch Spear of Destiny in full flow.

Monday 12 July 2010

Links in the chain

Here's the story. I was shooting the breeze about the dearth of bands playing locally and what it came down to was a case of people doing little more than talking. I was guilty enough of it myself.
Like DOA say though talk - action = 0
So I had a look about and seen that Mike Peters was playing in Glasgow and I contacted the people at and punted the idea of him playing in my hometown the night before the Glasgow date.
Within a few hours the green light was given and it was all systems go.
The word went out and prior to one advert going up three quarters of the tickets were gone on presales. A few days later and it was sold out and I still had to actually contact anyone about printing the tickets off.
Off the back of that I am pleased to say that Dave Sharp's manager then contacted me and asked if I was in a position to promote an acoustic gig for him.
Why not I thought. A couple of phone calls and emails later and it was just a case of a waiting game to see if the venue was available.
It was.