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Friday 30 March 2012

AQNI Mini Music Fest - Brown Bear and the Bandits/Randolph's Leap/Michael Cassidy/Fole - Stereo (28/3/12)

It's been a while since I've been in Stereo.
Truth be told there's not been a great deal going on in the venue that has piqued my interest since Michael of Wrecking Pit Promotions upped sticks and fled the country for pastures new.
However with Brown Bear and the Bandits launching their debut EP there it would have been worth laying a bet that I would be darkening their doorway sooner rather than later.
Among others, I've been championing their corner since I first heard them do an acoustic set in Ayr's Su Casa.
So I wasn't going to miss out on the night that would be the culmination of all their hard work to date.
For those who don't know, Brown Bear and the Bandits have been paying their dues on just about every stage, and every corner of every pub going for the last twelve months now, and right at this moment in time it would appear that they are on the cusp of reaping the rewards for doing so.
You can tell that everything is going according to plan as it would be fair to say that for a Wednesday night in Glasgow that Stereo is pretty busy.
Pretty damn busy in fact.
Far busier than most would expect when the headlining act has not been spawned from the dear green place.
That in itself is an achievement, but when the band themselves are met with a resounding cheer when they take to the stage you can just tell that something special is happening.
It's the sort of response that is usually reserved for the darlings of the NME and their peers.
The here today and gone tomorrow acts that are thrown forth to the music machine as the latest great white hopes.
Cannon fodder to the indie loving kids.
This is different though.
There's no media manipulation at play.
No deep pockets of a record label to be dipped into for promotion.
This is just the old fashioned, and more laudable, results of building up a solid grass roots following and making a real connection with an audience through the pure unadulterated performance of the music itself.
When Matt, Stuart and Kay tear into the first song of the set you can immediately feel that they are hitting the ground running and enjoying the experience as much as those in the audience are.
For all the times that I have previously seen them play this is the first that I've had the pleasure of seeing Kay behind a drum kit as opposed to playing the Cajon.
The difference is night and day to the sound.
Everything opens up and the music sounds that much bigger, louder and muscularly more urgent.
Meanwhile as she provides the driving beat out front Stuart is tossing his hair about and laying down solid bass lines while Matt holds it all together with a very wide grin on his face.
As the night continues there isn't a dip in the quality as all the songs from the EP get an airing along with older favourites.
In a conversation I had with a random guy we were talking about how sometimes when people say a band are good what they really mean is that they are good for a band who are playing a pub or club, and not necessarily a band that could be considered good if playing the biggest stages in the world...........but that's not the case here.
Brown Bear and the Bandits have the ability to cross over to a much larger audience without really breaking much of a sweat.
So remember. You read it here first, or if not then second or third or whatever.
I'm just glad that I'm experiencing this band early doors.
Prior to Brown Bear and the Bandits we all got to see Randolph's Leap.
They're a sixteen legged groove machine. Eight members strong and featuring a small horn and strings section.
There's no point trying to hang your hat on a reference point musically.
It's a sprawling mess of fantastic musical influences that probably shouldn't work, but does.
At points it's a tad whimsical and at others more serious, but while the material is well rooted in telling a story in the folk tradition, there's very little folky about what the band do.
If there was ever a band that lent themselves to people saying 'you had to be there' then it's Randolph's Leap.
Any band that can get me tapping a foot and cracking a smile out is all right in my book and I hope our paths cross again in the near future.
Maybe next time I'll be able to wrap my head around them and mention something more cohesive for people to get their teeth into.
Meanwhile I'd recommend you check them out.
Before Randolph's Leap it was another performer that I'd heard a great deal about, but up until this point hadn't actually seen, called Michael Cassidy.
Once he started it was no surprise to me that others have been throwing his name in my direction as a young man to lend an ear to.
His vocals are firmly Scottish sounding without pandering to the current angle that many others are going for.
Instead of it coming across as if he is pushing it with an affected turn of phrase I would say he has a far more natural sound as he performs his eloquently crafted lightly folk influenced songs.
As a song writer he has the admirable ability to make a real connection with those he is performing to.
I could imagine that in more intimate setting the impact of his performance would have been magnified and provided those watching with some really special memories to take home with them.
Opening act of the night was Ayrshire based Fole who similar to Brown Bear and the Bandits I've become a firm fan of.
Each time I've had the pleasure of seeing them I have noticed an incremental improvement in their performances.
There's no great leaps forward, but instead a steady and solid step in the right direction that bodes well for their future.
On this outing the three piece had swelled to a four piece with the addition of a female vocalist called Louise and this is the evidence of how they are gradually getting better and better.
It wouldn't have immediately sprung to my mind that the music required an additional singer, but there was no doubting that it's a move that has worked.
It doesn't matter that I hadn't considered it as they had and it shows that they know what they are doing.
It's not that the material has been drastically changed, but more so that it's been complimented by the addition of her voice.
An analogy would be that she was the missing piece of the jigsaw that no one noticed was actually missing.
It's a short set they play, but it's a compact one that shows off their skills as a band.
Two of the songs, Randoms and Shakespeare Says, work as gateway songs that will bring you in and allow you to get comfortable before moving on and discovering what other treasures they have tucked away.
Give it another year and I wouldn't be surprised if I was back in Stereo reviewing a Fole album launch and virtually saying the same about them deserving the success they have garnered due to the hard work and talent that they so obviously display.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Devilish Presley play Pivo Pivo in Glasgow

There's been a few staff changes in Pivo Pivo in Glasgow, but I am very pleased to say that today I have had the Devilish Presley gig reconfirmed and it is now all systems go for the 20th of April.
Apart from the Mighty Devilish Presley there's some fantastic supports.

In no particular order as they are all great we have The Coffins, a band who are very quickly getting the reputation as being THEE must see act in Glasgow right now.
Consider Nick Cave mixing it up with Alex Harvey in a garage band and you are only partially going to get the idea.
So if you like your rock and roll played with anger, intelligence and with a hint of darkness then you are going to be in for a treat.

In addition to the Coffins we also have Homesick Aldo is travelling all the way from deepest darkest Fife with his harmonica in hand a heart full of the blues.
If there is anyone who is unaware of the genius of this blues-man then be prepared to be blown away.
Uniquely entertaining it really is a case of words falling short of conveying what to expect.

and if that wasn't enough we also are very pleased to bring Melisa Kelly and the Harmless Thieves to Glasgow.
I'm personally excited about this as I genuinely believe that in the future Melisa and her band are going to be a band that will break through to bigger and better things.

So there you go. Four bands for a fiver, and while most gigs seem to be top heavy with undoubtedly talented Glasgow bands here's a Friday night that's offering something a bit different.

Who fancies a walk on the wild side then?

Bob and Rory Love Music

Just a wee update for the vinyl fans out there.
Love Music – who used to be Avalanche Records – in Glasgow have a few treats in store for Record Store Day.

They will be getting in limited numbers of these records.......and more

Rory Gallagher TEN INCH Vinyl EP for Record Store Day: 
• Special Record Store Day 10inch release
• Limited edition of 1000 numbered copies
A1 It Takes Time A2 Gypsy Woman A3 Hoodoo Man (live)
B1 What In The World (live) B2 Stompin' Ground B3 Treat Her Right
A very special Music On Vinyl compilation containing six tracks that were never released on vinyl. These bonus tracks were previously only available on the following 2012 CD remasters: ‘Rory Gallagher’ (“It Takes Time”, “Gypsy Woman”), ‘Blueprint(“Treat Her Right”, “Stompin’ Ground”) and ‘Live! In Europe’ (“What In The World”, “Hoodoo Man”)

4 X 7inch Vinyl Box Set|
• Special Record Store Day 7inch boxset release
• Limited edition of 1000 numbered copies
• Including a sticker

DISC 1 A1 Subterranean Homesick Blues (2010 mono version) B1 She Belongs To Me (2010 mono version)
DISC 2 A1 Like A Rolling Stone (2011 Master for 7" Box) B1 Gates Of Eden (2010 mono version)
DISC 3 A1 Positively 4th Street (2011 Master for 7" Box) B1 From A Buick 6 (2010 mono version)
ISC 4 A1 Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window B1 Highway '61 Revisited (2010 mono version)

A very special 4 x 7” box set with full colour sleeves, a sticker released in a numbered lift-off box.

You can pop in and register an interest in these at 34 Dundas Street, G1 2AQ Glasgow, United Kingdom
or facebook them at, or even email them at

If you pop in then have a browse. It's the best independent record store in Glasgow.

If however you are in Ayrshire, then drop in on Dave at Valhalla Records in Irvine to see what goodies they're getting in.
Both are highly recommended and people will be sorry if they weren't around.
So support them.

Friday 23 March 2012

Alan Frew, Andy Bargh, Grant Coffield, Kate Cassidy and Ari Ira Pournaras IV - Su Casa - 22/03/12

In Ayr, hiding at the end of an alley of small shops collectively known as the Lorne Arcade, sits a coffee shop called Su Casa.
By day it provides weary shoppers with organic coffees, hot chocolates and a selection of cakes that taste as good as they look.
It's small oasis of relaxed calm in a hurly burly world.
While Costa Coffee and Starbucks efficiently attempt to take over the high streets, and provide the illusion of providing a momentary respite from the trials and tribulations of life, it is Su Casa that provides the real deal.
Yet this is only one string to the establishments bow, as every Thursday evening they also open their doors to the public to showcase the talents of musicians from near and far.
There's no age restrictions, kids are made very welcome, you can bring your own bottle as it's not licensed to sell alcohol, and during breaks of the performances the owner Lucas - an always gracious, smiling and welcoming host – even provides natchos or pizza.
All of this, plus anything from four to eight acts performing, is provided for a recession busting five pounds.
It's the sort of deal that is commonly referred to as a sweet one.
Imagine Dylan in the sixties in a New York city coffee shop.
He's sitting in the corner with his guitar in his hand and the patrons are sitting on the floor, on chairs and settled into couches all around him.
That's the sort of scene that Su Casa sets, but by no means could you claim that Su Casa is a throw back to another era, as instead of a diet of folk musicians warbling away week after week they are on the cutting edge of what is happening.
It's entirely possible that you could witness some rousing Spanish Gypsy Flamenco Swing being played, some traditional blues updated to the twenty first century, some jazzy rock and roll or even a rock band trying out their material unplugged.
As Mr Gump's Mama used to say 'Su Casa is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get'
Okay. She didn't say that, but if she wasn't a fictional character, and was aware of Su Casa, she would have.
Especially if she had been here this week, as the artists on offer were co-host to the weekly entertainment Alan Frew, who was flying solo as master of ceremonies while Little Fire aka Jamie McGeechan is entertaining music lovers in Australia, Andy Bargh, Grand Coffield, Kate Cassidy and Ari Ira Pournaras IV who is also more commonly known as the front man for rising stars Rose Parade.
The evening starts strong with Alan Frew playing a selection of songs from his album 'Go Easy'.
His guitar playing appears effortless, but that's because he possesses a great deal of skill as a musician.
His finger picking is a real joy to behold.
He makes the complex seem easily attainable and there's a bit of magic in being able to do that.
His material sounds rather timeless, but also evokes the spirit of the seventies.
Not the overblown rock of the era, but the more contemplative, blues, country and folk work of those who straddled the sixties and seventies.
There's the English folk of Nick Drake. Some strong Americana and maybe even some tex-mex flavouring the material.
You could pitch Alan between then and what someone like Bonnie Prince Billy (Will Oldham) is doing now.
It's a good position to be in.
Neither old sounding, nor new, just that it is what it is.
Currently he's working on a new album with Mark Rafferty and the fruits of their labour is something that I'm keenly anticipating.
Both are top drawer entertainers and together I fully expect to hear something rather special, and on the subject of music that is rather special Alan then finished his set with a cover of Taj Mahal's Fishing Blues.
Finely executed it confirmed that Alan is indeed a man of many musical talents.
After a short interlude the young Andy Bargh, an eighteen year old solo artists from Troon, introduced himself and kicked off with a song called Atmosphere.
Musically what he does isn't far from what the Goo Goo Dolls do, but that band may not be an influence as here in the UK, as apart from their song Iris they don't really have that much of a high profile.
Especially among those of Andy's tender years.
So instead of the band influencing his work it's more probable that it is simple a happy coincidence.
There's a few little mistakes as he continues with his material, but with a shrug Andy takes them all in his stride, and as Su Casa is a supportive environment for young artists to cut their teeth the audience are happy to focus on the many positives of his performance rather than pick at the very minor slips.
Highlight of what was an impressive introductory set wasn't one of his own songs, but an up-tempo acoustic take on Marvin Gaye's 'Let's get it on'.
For such an iconic song Andy managed to take it down a different route and stamped his own personality all over it.
As he finished there's little doubt that he had won the room over, and I'm pretty sure few will forget his name.
Following Andy Bargh was Grant Coffield.
Friends have waxed lyrically about his talents and a few weeks previously I had seen him play and thoroughly enjoyed his performance, but that one didn't prepare me for just how good this one was to be.
It could be described as my road to Damascus moment in regards to his talent clicking in.
The main draw for me was the combination of his poetic lyricism and his voice.
There's an aspect to what he does that looks like he is lost in the recounting of memories. It can even feel slightly voyeuristic with his performance appearing to be one that is in no need of any sort of audience participation, but that's not to say that it doesn't connect.
Instead it is as if we are on the outside looking through the glass at something rather warm and beautiful.
There so much shading in his vocals that it is difficult to express it. It's as strong as it needs to be and comfortably drops to it being as soft as required dependent on what the songs requirements are.
Jeff Buckley keeps pushing in on my thoughts when I think of Grant, but not the loud screaming Jeff, but instead the softer toned one who could beguile the ear of the listener.
Midway through his performance he was joined by a young French woman who added some sublime harmonies to one of his songs.
The interplay between their voices perfectly dovetailed and it was an eloquent example of how to take something that already seems rather perfect and then improve on it.
To say I was impressed would be to downplay my enthusiast enjoyment of the performance.
It also highlights an issue with Su Casa. Just as you think that it can't get doesn't.
It cant. Instead it just goes off on a tangent and takes you down another musical path.
In this way it's not that Grant Coffield is better than Kate Cassidy who followed him.
It's more that both are at the top of their game in the genre they feel comfortable in.
In Kate's case this is belting out bluesy rockers with a voice that shouldn't be able to fit within the body of a woman with such a tiny stature.
It's like a welcomed splash of ice cold water in the face when she fires fearlessly into her first song of the night.
Everyone sits up a little straighter and I think Kate herself was a bit surprised at the rapturous applause she deservedly got.
With each song she captivated the room. Most women who go down this route have a rasp to their voice, but Kate's rings out true and strong.
A few times she mentioned that the material was all about a decade old.
Some songs she found in her guitar case, but they don't sound as if they are.
They sound fresh, vibrant and if she had said they had been written that morning and this was there first outing live I would have believed here.
Take an album from ten years ago and listen to it and see if it has dated.
There's a good chance that it has, but Kate's material hasn't.
In a very short conversation later on she commented that she had a few years off and is now looking to reintroduce herself to audiences.
On the basis of this performance that isn't going to be hard to do.
Once seen, never forgotten, and a very nice touch was how she mingled in the room after her set and thanked people for attending.
All things considered she was my favourite act of the evening.
Not because she was better than anyone else, but because she ticked more of the boxes when it comes down to what I personally like.
Closing act of the evening was Ari Ira Pournaras IV who was doing a solo acoustic run through of his band Rose Parades songs.
Along with most of the Grace EP he showcased a few songs from their forthcoming album and played a stripped down version of their current single 'The Sea of Lights'.
It's a rather wonderful experience to see Ari play as it provides fans of the band with the opportunity to hear the bones of the material before they are fleshed out with glockenspiel, banjo, electric guitar and whatever else they add to the mix.
There's an aspect to the music that is very engaging, even in its most minimalistic form.
The song writing is of a very high standard and throughout his performance it is very easy to understand why Ari and his band are drawing plaudits wherever they play, and along with a few other bands and acts like Brown Bear and the Bandits, Mechanical Smile, Little Fire, Matt Scott, Tragic O'Hara, Colin Hunter, Fole, Trusty and the Foe and The Imagineers, who have also all played in Su Casa, it is entirely possible that one or more will break through and garner some national attention in 2012.
Similar to all the acts of the evening Ari has a solid connection with those who have made the effort to seek out something a bit different from the majority who were probably catching up on soap operas or reality television shows.
There's no hint of a barrier between the audience and performer at all, and instead there's a communal spirit of kinship that is probably the very thing that has people coming back to Su Casa week after week regardless of who is playing.
Once again an exceptional night of entertainment.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Silly competition time.

A conversations about cover/tribute bands elsewhere has moved on to making names up for non-existent ones.
Here's some I thought of.

Frankie goes to Hollyrood (Scottish tribute band to the Liverpudlian legends)
The Red Stripes (Jamaican garage punk duo)
Fear of Hysterectomy (The all girl Spear of Destiny tribute act)
The Newport Dolls (Glam folk band)
BJs-R-Us (Female Supersuckers tribute band)
Marc Nolan (T-Rex hits covered by The Nolans)
Big Cuntry ( X-Rated parodies of Big Country hits)
Sisters of Percy (Goth covers of Led Zeppelin)
Iced Tea (Upper class rap for garden parties)
Tom Waits for no man (A pensioners tribute that tours the nursing homes)
Ian Jury Duty and the Cellblock Heads (Ex cons rehabilitation scheme)
Master of Muppets (Educational metal for kids)
Give 'em enough Pope (Choirboys doing Clash songs)
Couldn't it be rice (Vegetarian Beach Boys cover band)
AsBo Diddley (Young offender doing the blues, but he has to be in by 9pm and can't leave the scheme he lives in)

Anyone else want to join in? Best one will get a prize.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Demented are Go – Welcome back to Insanity Hall

I've always liked rock and roll, rockabilly and it's bastard offspring Psychobilly.
As a teenager the mix of punk and rock and roll suited me fine.
I wasn't one to knock about with the quiff or the bleached jeans. I was a long haired rebel with a penchant for music in all its forms.
Sometimes the wilder the better.
That being the case Demented are Go was one of the bands that I was drawn to.
Tongue in cheek, politically incorrect and offensively fun was the order of the day.
Now it's 2012 and here they are with their eighth studio album and quite possibly their best.
When Hellbilly Storm came out in 2005 it looked like it might just be a spectacular swan song for them, but no.
Anyone who thought that was going to be the end of the story failed to consider that this band has risen from the ashes more times than Christopher Lee's Dracula in a Hammer horror.
What followed that album was the usual drama, some sporadic touring that was dogged with the usual controversy as Sparky was disallowed entry to the US and then he did his usual dance with health issues that have been well documented elsewhere.
Now all sounds fine in the DAG camp. In fact they sound more than fine.
For all the rockers who have heard the band then think of them as the same, but stripped down, then rebuilt with some sonic turbo charge added and a hell of a lot of gleaming chrome.
This is the bigger, better, sleeker and faster DAG.
For those who haven't heard them then you are in for a treat.
Imagine Lemmy and Eddie Cochran standing at the crossroads and selling their souls to the devil.
The deal is that for their eternal souls they can sound like the meanest rockingest motherfuckers on the planet.
There's only one problem though says the Devil. We already have DAG.
Yes. That IS how good this album is.
It's just a shame that the psychobilly scene is such a small one as more people really need to give this a listen.

Eddy and the T-Bolts - Medium Rare

Eddy and the T-Bolts have been hanging around the Glasgow punk scene like a dirty smell for what feels like an eternity.
You pick a venue and they've played it, you mention a band and they've played with them.
While the world moves on around them they have remained rooted to the spot and stubbornly refused to die.
Outliving venues, trends and other bands they kept their heads down, turned the amps up to eleven and relentlessly rolled out the rock, and the roll.
Now here they are with a debut full length album that's delivered on all their unspoken promises.
It's the Ramones, it's Kiss, its the Grease soundtrack, it's a middle fingered salute to the doubters and it rocks like a motherfucker.
It's punk, it's rock, it's silly, its fun and it's damn good.
Virtually every song has a singalong chorus that will turn any gig into a party.
I fully expected it to be good, but they've easily outstripped my expectations.
Now that this is out it's time for them to take it on the road.
Get out there and spread the gospel according to the T-Birds.
I'm sure there are people everywhere living drab monochrome lives that need this album and this band to lift them up out of the mundane and give them a fix of joyous let it all hang out not give a fuckery.
Change your day for a fiver. Go on punk. Make their day.

The Stranglers - Giants

Prior to hearing 'Giants' I was surprised to see a great deal of lacklustre reviews proliferate among the mainstream music magazines and the world of online fanzines and blogs.
If I was to take these less than praiseworthy reviews at face value then it would be expected that the current album was obviously a major stumble after the excellent 'Norfolk Coast' and 'Suite XVI'.
Yet here I am with it playing in the background and gleefully marching out of step with what seems to be the common consensus.
To my ears there's not much wrong with it at all.
It opens with some string stretching, a fat bass sound kicks in and then with some picking that sounds like the intro to a sixties spy movie The Stranglers are out of the gate and hitting the ground running with an instrumental of epic proportions.
By the second track we are in familiar Stranglers territory as the bass rumbles on and the keyboards come to the fore.
All I can think is what's not to like?
This is The Stranglers doing what they do best.
The punk tag is a distant memory and they're now in the enviable position of having a sound that is identifiably their own.
I mean c'mon. Who sounds like The Stranglers?
Even when they stretch out in different musical directions they are still unmistakeably The Stranglers.
There's also been some comments bandied about that the musicianship is a bit clunky and unimaginative.
Once again I'm not getting that at all.
As each song revealed itself I just became increasingly happy with it.
It's a rock solid album with nary a hint of filler.
Everything sounds very well executed and the lyrics are still a cut above what most bands who dragged themselves out of the primordial punk pool could manage.
The addition of Baz taking over on vocal duties over the last three albums has rejuvenated the band and I don't see any evidence to support that they are treading water on this at all
How many other bands who formed in 1974 are still going strong and releasing albums of this quality while stylishly avoiding the pitfalls of rehashing the past?
What's that? You can't think of any just now.
Thought so.
This is simply the third in a run of truly excellent releases that will no doubt bring more people to the fold.
They've still got it and recent live outings support that to.
In fact a quick look at chart positions shows that Suite XVI hit higher than Norfolk Coast and similarly Giants has charted higher that Suite XVI.
This is in no way a band on a downward slide
The Stranglers are doing fine and the people who are presently measuring them up for their coffins have arrived a tad to early for the wake.
What was it Mark Twain said about them.
'Reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated'
(For the record the Mark Twain that said that should not be confused with the American novelist. This Mark Twain lives two doors down and is well known for paraphrasing others)
So what else can be said?
Well ignore the reviews. Even this one, and go out and buy Giants and make your own mind up.

Wasted Life - It means nuthin' when you're dead.

On first listen Wasted Life gave the impression of being a bit stereotypically run of the mill.
A band who would sit comfortably under the street punk umbrella sheltering from modern influences come hell or high water.
That was on first listen though.
On the second listen a bit more revealed itself.
The sharp guitar work became a little more apparent, the backing vocals came to the fore and the pace of the songs start to take the lead.
By the third listen I was hooked.
Wasted Life do cover all the ground that the punk police insist on, but they also manage to tick a few more boxes that would impress the casual listener by managing to stretch the template a bit.
There's plenty of straight talking social commentary, plenty of very impressive guitar work and a solid mix that isn't too over produced that it impacts on the power and ferocity.
It's everything that I have come to expect from the STP label.
Honest melodic punk rock played with passion and wearing its heart on on their collective sleeves for all to see.
Wasted Life obviously operate in a bullshit free zone.
'It means nuthin' when you're dead' may just have reignited my love of street punk.
Less UK82 and more UK2012. Bring it on.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Little Fire/Matt Scott - Claire's House gig - 9/3/12

Third gig in three days and it's something a little different.
A house gig.
Not a party with some entertainment, but a real gig in a friends house.
Claire booked Jamie (Little Fire) McGeechan to perform and Matt Scott kindly played for us all and made the evening all the more special.
Between them they've supported some big names and appeared on stages from King Tuts to the Royal Concert Hall and now it was the turn of Claires front room.
For some it may seem a strange premise, but there is far more plus points to it than negative ones.
For one the musicians are playing in front of an appreciative audience and not having to compete to be heard over uninterested patrons of a bar.
They also don't have to haggle to get their expenses covered.
Instead there's a prearranged price and everyone chips in and covers it.
Another plus point is that while the night isn't exclusive the people participating are all looking forward to a relaxed evening of hassle free entertainment and no one has to deal with the downside of socializing in a pub.
None of the women are hit on by leery strangers and none of the men feel the need to play macho games designed to massage egos.
People can feel free to drink what they want, or not, eat what the want, or not, and no one has to queue for the bathroom.
I could go on as in its totality it simply works on so many levels.
When Little Fire sat down to entertain us it was all unknown territory for everyone involved.
Here we all were about to step out into the unknown, about to try something different.
In the spirit of this he had brought along a large song book and instead of focussing on his own material edged into doing a set mainly made up of covers.
Up until this I had never seen him sing the material of others and it was a pleasurable surprise.
Nothing sounds like the original and all have a Little Fire twist to them.
The familiarity of the songs worked wonders as no one came to the experience completely unfamiliar.
Time flew past.
Literally just slipped away.
I lost count of the songs played and then it was time for Jamie (Little Fire) to have a break.
So while he wound down from his first set of the evening Matt Scott took over.
He played a good mix of his own self penned material and covers such as Springsteen's Thunder Road.
We were even privileged to get the first live outing of a new song that in different surrounding we may not have.
It was that sort of night.
One that was conducive to trying out new things.
Once Matt was finished Jamie took over again and the amount of ground covered was expanded upon.
From Neil Young to Slade and more, all got the Little Fire treatment.
Between both Jamie and Matt most musical genres were covered in their own inimitable style.
The entertainments didn't end between sets either as everyone got on like a house on fire.
Plenty of chat and nonsense was effortlessly spun out to fill the gaps.
Prior to this evening not everyone actually knew each other, but once again it was all so relaxed there was nothing uncomfortable about it and at the end of the night people swapped contact info and since have kept in touch.
It was around 2am when Kelly and myself left and Jamie was just starting to sing some more.
It was nearer 4am by the time Matt left and he ended the evening performing to a room full of 15 year olds on a sleepover.
Is this the future for live music?
Well if it is then the future looks bright.
All ages, no barrier to gender, no pressure to conform.
Definitely a gig that could stand shoulder to shoulder with any other in a so called purpose built environment.
Many thanks to Claire for hosting this.
It was a pleasure to be part of it and I'm looking forward to a repeat performance.
(Photographs were not taken on the night)

The Imagineers, Colin Hunter, Mike Nisbet, Anna MacDonald, Rosie Bans, Alan Frew - Su Casa - 08/03/12 (Ayr)

Up until this evening I've heard a great deal about Rosie Bans. All positive and nothing negative.
So why was I left completely cold with the performance.
The jazzy piano work and the vocals are of a high standard. There's no doubt she can play and sing, but I can't warm to her.
The swearing between songs doesn't sound natural and the delivery of the songs are all over the place.
I'm bored by the second song and fervently wishing for the night to fast forward to the next act by the third.
Others are far more appreciative, but when a friend said that she though it sounded like Victoria Wood suffering from PMT I had to agree.
Although at other times it sounded like the noises coming from a maternity ward put to music.
Some swearing, squealing and I fully expected to hear her scream 'get this fuckin out of me' and 'you are never touching me again'.
Music is such a subjective subject that I can understand that for some this would have been entertaining, but not for me.
Mike Nisbet was more to my liking.
Kelly reviewed his last Su Casa appearance and commented that she thought he sounded a bit like Springsteen.
I didn't really get that from the performance, but I was impressed with the lilt to his voice and his guitar work.
As an introduction to him I found his set to be finely paced and I wouldn't mind another opportunity to catch him doing a longer performance to get a better feel for what he's doing.
There's so many talented singer-songwriters around at the moment that it must be quite difficult to make an impact, but Mike did.
Alan Frew did a minimal set and while I've seen him a few times now I was well acquainted with the material, but it was to be short and sweet and personally I would have liked to have heard a few more from him.
However Anna McDonald who replaced him at the microphone was a very welcome addition to the bill.
Traditional folk songs may not have been a natural fit to the flow of the evenings music, but taken as a singular performance it was a highlight.
A very lovely highlight..
Her voice is as so clear and perfectly pitched that the material comes alive.
Beauty is in the ear of the beholder, and my ears were beguiled.
For me it was a case of the power of the music and its delivery transcending what is, and isn't, popular.
Anna should be classed as a national treasure.
Colin Hunter was the surprise attraction of the night.
Not that it was a surprise that he was appearing, or that he was good, but a surprise as he very nearly stole the show.
Each time I see him he seems to be exploring different directions and this time was no different with more of a modern folk angle on his music coming to the fore.
It's not just the music that he excels in, but also how he connects with an audience.
He's funny, he's warm and there's something very comfortable in how he communicates with us all.
His performance is a random story accompanied by some very fine music.
I've seen Colin loads over the last few years and even booked him for a few performances, but this was the best I have seen by far.
In fact Colin managed to fill the room with the spirit of what Su Casa is trying to get across.
A sort of communal love of music freely expressed and inclusively shared.
The Imagineers as headliners of the night really had a strong support to follow, but they managed it, and proved yet again that the faith people are putting in them to make a bigger splash in the UK music scene is not misplaced.
Mix some 50's rock and roll influence with some merseybeat, add the cinematic flair of Morricone and filter it threw the romanticized dreams of four Glaswegians and you get The Imagineers.
It's as eclectic as it sounds, and equally as entertaining.
It's a rousing end to the evening and even when they play acoustically the band don't lose any of their power.
Each time I see them I get a strong feeling that I'm witnessing the beginning of something.
I sincerely hope this is true.
Some bands deserve to take that step up to a broader global audience, and the Imagineers are one of them.

The Answer/The Union - Glasgow Garage - 7/3/12

Feels like ages since I did anything for the blog, and that's probably because it is.
Now here I am trying to dredge something up to say about the The Answer/The Union gig I was at.
So don't expect anything special.
In fact never expect anything special from the blog and it will avoid future disappointments.
Right. Buckle in as I dip my toe back in.

As far as I recall it was the usually drink heavy affair as expected when out with Hickey and Bolland.
Socializing with them should have a government health warning attached.
We managed to sink a few before we caught the train and then another in King Tuts where I scored some Alabama Shakes tickets before finally entering the Garage just in time to catch The Union taking to the stage.
Between them the bands had pulled a very respectable sized audience and the place was heaving with middle aged rock fans.
The Union delivered on all counts with Luke Morley leaving his Thunder days in the dust.
While Thunder had their many fans it's with The Union that he seems more at home.
You get the feeling that music has been allowed to breath more freely.
Much of the credit for this must go to the counter play between Lukes guitar and vocal talents of Peter Shoulder who manages to evoke the spirit of the classic rock front-man.
You can tick off all the boxes.
He has that swaggering soulful blues that UK rockers have always excelled in.
There's some Paul Rodgers in parts, and some recognisable David Coverdale from his early Whitesnake days rather than the era when the US and their poodle perms drew him to the dark side.
All good stuff to my ears.
He talks the talk and walks the walk and while The Union aren't really a band that I would often find myself drawn to I was freely impressed with them.
Shame about the crowd though.
Making a trip to the toilets was a nightmare as it would seem that quite a few people obviously considered that their ticket was for a specific square foot and no one, and I mean no one, would be allowed to budge them for it.
I've never been at a gig where people were so territorial about their space.
My polite requests to 'excuse me' fell on deaf ears and when I tried to squeeze past then sharp elbows were used to impede my progress.
As I tried to circumnavigate one large woman, who had a face that looked as if it had been left too near the fire, and a fake tan the colour of hangover piss, I barely brushed against the huge bag she had with her and was met with a growled 'oh for fucks sake'.
Her partner looked as if he wanted to kill me, but refrained from doing so as he would have had to relinquish his space to swing a punch.
I thought it was just me, but on my return to the Hickey and Bolland they both expressed similar opinions.
Very strange.
Anyway The Answer were next and I was sort of on the fence about them prior to seeing them live.
They were one of those bands that gets filed away as pretty good, but don't really grab your attention.
However the live version of the band is a a whole different story.
If there's one band who can fly the flag for modern rock music without all the grunge whistles and bells or the nu-metal angle then it is these guys.
It's no frills rock and roll delivered with passion and energy.
Pretty much a timeless sound that when done right doesn't go out of fashion.
If I was wearing a hat then I would doff it to them.
So all in some great music, some great company and a crowd that I didn't really feel any connection with.
Two out of three aint bad I suppose.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Brown Bear and the Bandits Su Casa EP Launch

Here I am back in the driving seat with another review. I'll be taking over the blog soon.
This time I managed to get along to Su Casa for the Brown Bear and the Bandits EP launch and listening party without Mainy as he was working.
I had been night shift before this myself so it was straight out of my bed and into the car to go and pick up Claire before we took the road to Ayr.
Once in Su Casa we did our usual and grabbed some large mugs of hot chocolate and then jumped upstairs to get some good seats.
I'm glad we arrived early as with every pasing minute the room started to fill until it had got to bursting point.
I'm not sure I've ever seen it that busy before.
First to get up and entertain us was Little Fire.
You would think that seeing him play nearly every Thursday would start to wear a bit thin, but that's not the case.
I love listening to him sing and I can't see a time when I will get tired of watching him perform.
His talent shines through.
His songwriting skills, voice and guitar playing all fit nicely together and you get the idea that this is the full package.
Wonderful again.
Next to entertain us was Paul McGranaghan who initially regaled us solo with some very well written songs.
Similar to Little Fire he manages to make everything fit together.
That not to say that they sound alike, but instead that both are performing to a very high standard.
Midway through his set a friend joined him, and while I had been very impressed with Paul playing himself this additional guitarist took it all to another level.
He has an album coming out soon and I'll definitely be buying it.
Until that comes out I'll have to make do with the EP that he had with him.
On it are three tracks that go a long way to confirming to me that we have something rather special in Paul.
(A review of the ep will follow)
Through both sets I kept wondering where Jamie and Matt (Brown Bear) find all this talent from.
So far it had been exceptional.
On the down side the curse of the chatter was back.
It's something that I've been becoming increasingly aware of.
There's a bit of balance that maybe needs to be reached.
I don't expect people to sit in reverential silence, but neither do I want them to raise their voices and compete with the act who are performing.
Throughout Little Fire, and then Paul McGranaghans sets, there was a few people at both ends of the spectrum.
Some appeared disinterested and were speaking loudly and maybe they could have been a bit more respectful and took their conversation downstairs, while one woman was loudly shushing people and in doing so making more noise than the people she was directing her shush at.
I don't mean to come across like the gig police and push strict guidelines on gig etiquette, but possibly just make people aware of how their behaviour can have an impact on other peoples enjoyment.
Anyway. That's me had a very small apologetic rant.
The band of the night, and the band it seemed everyone was there to see, were next, and by this time I was at the back of the room and there was no chance of me getting back to my seat at the front.
I ended up standing next to Laura and her friends and even managed to take a guys seat when he wasn't looking.
So much for gig etiquette eh?
When Brown Bear and the Bandits began it was very obvious why they are SAMA winners and a band whose name is on lips of everyone.
They were stunningly good from start to finish.
Their cover of the Talking Heads classic 'Phsyco Killer' was as unexpected as it was brilliant.
On the way home it was still filling my head.
The material from their forthcoming release was rolled out for everyone and it sounded like every single new song has hit stamped on it.
It was a great atmosphere from the start, and midway through their set it seemed like everyone in the room was up dancing and singing along.
As they finished everyone started chanting 'two more songs' and with big grins all round they gave in and played another couple.
I've seen them a few times now and always enjoyed myself, but this time it was a whole new experience.
You can tell that all the pieces are starting to fall into place for them and it was a pleasure to participate in their launch night.
A couple of t-shirts bought later and I hit the road to Kilmarnock with my ears ringing, Psycho Killer roaming about in my head and a smile that wouldn't go away.
Another great night. Roll on the next.
Kelly Conway

Saturday 3 March 2012

Richie Blitz

I was once asked how I seem to be able to keep finding new music and very often I shrug and say that I don't know.
Maybe in some cases it's osmosis, or it's possible that I'm a music magnet and it is drawn to me.
The truth is that I trawl about and make connections from one thing to another.
I get a recommendation from one person and I check the band out and find that they are playing nearby so I go and see them, pick up a CD of the support band, go and see them again and catch their support band, pick up a CD and.....well you get it don't you.
Or maybe I hear a band on a compilation and then go and grab everything else they have done.
In all honesty there are a million and one ways to find new music, but only if you make the effort.
Basically I just leave myself open to everything, and due to that I seem to manage to pick up on a great deal of great - in my opinion - music.
In the case of Richie Blitz I seen a comment he made about apolitical punk bands that had a link to his blog where he expanded on his thoughts.
At that point I didn't even know he was a singer/songwriter, but when I was looking through his blog it became apparent and there was the option to download his album and a more recent EP for free.
As we share similar political opinions I thought I'd give them a listen and there you go.
That's how I found Richie.
It's that curiosity factor that takes you from a to b to c and so forth.
I'm glad I do have that natural curiosity though.
If I didn't then I wouldn't be currently playing Richie's album and tapping my toe to it and entertaining thoughts that as long as we have people like him singing protest songs then maybe the world can be pulled back from going to hell in a handcart.
It's now obligatory to name-check Woody Guthrie when you mention protest songs, and that's probably down to there being so many one man and a guitar acts howling their frustrations out.
From Billy Bragg to Billy Liar you can hear the echo of Woody, but I doubt I'll get bored with it.
Now here we are in a different time and a different place and Richie is picking up the baton and running with it.
Anti-fascist, pro-equality, anti-racist, pro-freedom.
When said like that it seems simple, but why does it need to be more complicated?
Richie isn't preaching fundamentalist opposition in his music. He's simply making a stand based on a moralistic understanding of the world around him.
He's drawing attention to what is right and wrong on a very basic level that doesn't need additional frills.
Honesty never does.
You can check Richie out here, and find the links up at the top of the page.
Maybe sometime this year we can get Richie to make the trip to Scotland and entertain us.
Plenty of comments and shares would possibly edge him towards making the effort.
So you know what to to. Go to it troops.
You can listen to some tracks here.

The Banana Sessions Revisited - Kilmarnock (25/02/12)

As promised here's yet another review of the Banana Sessions gig from Kilmarnock.
Similarities and differences abound. Enjoy.
Many thanks to Alana Anthoney for supplying it. Mucho gracios.

Dirty Martini's review - 25-02-12 (spelling and grammer might be ridiculous, I am a hopeless dyslexic)

What a weekend to be in Ayrshire, or anywhere near the Ayrshire music scene for that matter.
Matt Scott playing Tuts, a frankly majestic line-up at Su Casa in Ayr featuring Mark & The Mystics, Little Fire, Julie Doogan & my personal favourites of the Shire, Melisa Kelly & The Harmless Thieves.
But even those were not enough to keep me away from Dirty Martini’s for The Banana Sessions, the band I have been slightly obsessed with over the past 3 months. But we’ll get to them shortly.

It was a very different night in Dirty’s from any other I’ve seen in Killie in a very long time; probably from the days of The Sanctuary, if anyone remembers those good old days? Tonight is very varied in style from what Killie and indeed Dirty’s is used to.

Fife’s Homesick Aldo oozes cool from the second he walks into the building. Looking like a cross between 80’s Bon Jovi and 90’s Alexis Arquette (What about a young John Cooper Clarke Alana?) he turns Kilmarnock into New Orleans for an all too short yet gripping set, harmonica in hand and, presuming by his gruffly blues vocals, cigarettes in pocket. Nothing around sounds quite like this.
If we’re going to call it blues, then it’s vibrant blues, bursting with energy and colour.

It got very Hip Hop for a while and the downstairs bar was a-flutter with talk about Hector Bizerk. Popular amongst their peers in Glasgow where the duo hail from, many people are excited about this male rapper and female drummer combo. It’s an interesting concept for a local band and an idea that could go one of 2 ways; luckily for this pair, Killie are digging their style and it’s not long before the majority of the crowd are getting really into the set. “Man Up” is a big crowd pleaser which spits lyrics about local and worldwide political let downs, which is almost unexpectedly observed by this seemingly “non-educated delinquent” looking word-gun.

Loki, another Glaswegian rapper, unfortunately doesn’t kick and punch quite as effectively as Hector. I notice that a few of the crowd seem to have lost interest in the Hip Hop and have either floated off for a fag or are enjoying casual conversation amongst themselves whilst Loki spits derogatory lyrics about prostitutes with fag burns on their skin… lovely. It’s not that Loki is bad; I’ve seen him wow crowds in Pivo Pivo many times, however tonight I get the feeling that Kilmarnock are just not used to this. There is a fantastic and frankly fascinating underground Hip Hop scene in Glasgow with plenty of dedicated followers, a few of which can be heard in the crowd tonight, but mainly the crowd seem a little under appreciative of the bad boy political poet before them.

Next up are the glorious Girobabies who bounce on with as much enthusiasm as always. Mingling styles of indie,
Brit pop & sometimes hip hop, Giros are at their best in front of a crowd like this, glowing with energy that we have come to expect. They are tight tonight, maybe it’s because, as lead singer Mark points out before they start, all of the people in tonight’s line up have actually met and played together before!
Mark is the quintessential local front man, giving a good bit of banter and some audience interaction. He is joined on stage for a short time by Nicolette who I’ve seen perform on the same bill as the Giro’s, doing cute parodies of modern pop song, but singing them about jobbies. But tonight, the shit is off the table & her sweet vocals are a great juxtaposition with Mark’s gruff Glaswegian slur. It’s defiantly stuff to get the feet tapping, but not even this could have possibly prepared Kilmarnock for was about to hit them; The Banana Sessions!

I became aware of The Banana Sessions only around 4/5 months ago when a friend Facebooked me a YouTube link to The Drunken Dormouse. Since then I’ve been strangely addicted to the Edinburgh 5 piece, who have been popular on the UK festival scene (including Wickerman & Glastonbury) for the past 3 years or so.
When I told my 8 year old brother I was going to see The Banana’s tonight he was actually crying to come to the pub with me. Literally EVERYONE loves these guys.

When lead singer, Roberta Pia kindly, before the band have played a note, asks the crowd to move over a tad to create a dance space anyone not familiar with the band’s sound might find it a bit arrogant, but whenever the band start with the sweet yet infectious “Pot Noodle” it’s clear that we’re all in for an unpredictable treat and that Roberta’s request was probably for the best… The Banana’s don’t waste any time at all getting into the mood & effortlessly take the crowd with them.

It’s not often you see a happy band any more. From my recent experiences in the local music scene there are a lot of boys and girls on acoustic guitars, churning out lyrics they wrote whilst crying into their pint in the Union. But not these guys! They are much more mature than that, but at the same time, listening to a song like “My Favorite Song”, if you close your eyes you might imagine it’s the cast of Sesame Street on stage when you open up again.
It’s THAT much fun!

There are so many styles of music within the one distinctive sound that the Banana Sessions emit. There’s a clear jazz feel, some skiffle, a bit of a reggae beat every now and again and maybe the sound of a nursery rhymes album about them as well. All of this is bound together with charm and charisma and a delightful non-attempt at hiding that Edinburgh twang, everyone is the room is falling a little bit in love with them it would seem.

I’ve been to plenty of gigs in Dirty’s over the years and I’ve felt the floor and the foundations shake, and I’ve seen things fall off of the walls and the ceiling caused by excessive dancing/moshing, but I’m told that tonight is worse (or maybe better) than ever before.
I was almost surprised when Roberta comments on the bouncy floor as I hadn’t noticed at all. Then I realized it was because my feet had barely been on the floor long enough to feel it!

A couple of covers never go a miss & The Banana’s have some classics. Their Prodigy Medley has become a favorite on their YouTube channel with almost 225,000 views, mixing together a number of 90’s Prodigy classics including Breathe, Smack My Bitch Up & Out Of Space with their signature, fruity sound. It goes down a storm, but no-one was expecting 2Unlimited’s No Limits to slip into the set list. But who knows what to expect any more from these guys? It’s awe inducing.

Finishing off (or so they think) is Jukebox, a song which has recently been complimented with a Jazzy & stylish music video & it’s clear to see why The Banana Sessions are causing such a buzz everywhere they go. The band look to be having as good a time as the crowd as Miss Pia smiles cheekily, armed with just her tambourine & makes everyone in the room fall in love with her.
Although there is a flute, a melodic and even a tuba player on stage, it’s hard to take your eyes off of her.

I look to the heavens & pray that the lights done come back on just yet. And my prayers are answered as the crowd chant for one more tune. And we receive it in the form of the aforementioned The Drunken Dormouse. G-ing the crowd up firstly by teaching them the “rum-bum-bum-bum” part of the song in some sort of call & response style, Roberta gets everyone bouncing and singing along, in a shameless frenzy. It’s the perfect way to end a marvellous gig.

Trust me; if you get a chance to see these guys perform do anything in your power to be there!

A wee rundown of the set list too in case you’re interested:
Pot Noodle
Picture Yourself
My Favourite Song
Mexican Standoff
Pesky Rabbit
The Prodigy Medley
No Limit
Bally Dancer
2 Seasons
The Drunken Dormouse

The official website:
The YouTube channel: 

Alana Anthoney

Apologies extended to 'A Band Called Cadence' as in one review they get a partial mention and in this none as the reviewer missed their set.
On the upside if anyone wants to submit a review and photographs of their set then there's no problem in putting it up.
It doesn't even have to be a review from the Killie show.

Friday 2 March 2012

Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls

There's little doubt that I'll not be the only person mentioning Janis Joplin during her Holding Company days in an Alabama Shakes review.
There's just no getting away from it.
The ghost of Janis looms large through the sound-alike vocals of Brittany Howard, but while the same rawness in the delivery is there, it also has a great deal of sweet soul in it that's wholly Brittany's own, and it's that southern soul that gives the band their own persona.
It's little wonder that the music industry is in a lather about this band.
It's not based on pr stunts, or the deep pockets of a backer, but instead the excitement is rooted in the awareness that this band can write a mean song, and with that ability paired with a vocal delivery that could either raise the hair on the back of your neck. or strip the paint from a wall at hundred paces is something that they will see as a sure fire money spinner.
Similar to how the world fell in love with The White Stripes, and then latterly The Kings of Leon, with both bands bucking the mainstream trend, I could see Alabama Shake doing the same.
Once the album is out in April then watch for a Jools Holland appearance and a single nestling between a couple of mindless empty pop ditties in the charts.
It just seems so inevitable.
Global success must be on the horizon.
If it doesn't happen then I think we should spearhead a revolution that will allow us to put in power people who will ensure that bands like Alabama Shakes get the credit they deserve.
So am I saying that this band are actually worth turning the world upside down for?
Well I suppose I am.
Pre-order it now and be forever happy.

The SAMA's - The Results.

Well that's the SAMA's been and gone for another year.
It would appear that everyone had a ball - as expected - and the list of winners is now out.
Congratulations to all nominated, and equally to Richy and everyone involved in making these awards a reality.
In my opinion there were no losers. Just winners.
The amount of talent displayed across the breadth of the nominations was quite frankly mind blowing.
However as is required there must be winners and they are.

Best Live Act, sponsored by Messer Schmitt : We Were Promised Jetpacks

There wont be many complaints as We Were Promised Jetpacks nabbed best live act. Hard work and talent has allowed them to reap the rewards.

Best Rock/Alternative, sponsored by Ignite Records : Fatherson

Ayrshire lads deservedly cement their reputation as thee band to watch out for.

Best Electronic, sponsored by Bar Bloc : Fridge Magnets

Claimed to be Scotlands hottest electro act by STV they just keep going on and grabbing plaudits wherever they manage to land.

Best Newcomer, sponsored by Cathouse Glasgow : Bwani Junction

Another well deserved feather in Bwani Junction's cap. They arrived on the scene with fully formed infectious indie pop tunes and are effortlessly managing to get their name on the lips of everyone.

Best Metal, sponsored by Departed Apparel : Ten Tonne Dozer

No need for any BS here. I've never heard of them, but I sincerely doubt that they are undeserving. 'mon the metal.

Best Hip Hop, sponsored by Young Scot : Madhat McGore

As Scottish Hip Hop makes waves in the underground offering something fresh and edgy to those who want to walk on the Wildside it's Madhat McGore who can act as your guide.

Best Acoustic, sponsored by JamHut Studios : Brown Bear & The Bandits

A personal shout out from itsaxxxxthing to Brown Bear and the Bandits.
Says it all.

For more information, images and video clips visit:

Thursday 1 March 2012

Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball

When Bruce Springsteen gets angry on 'Wrecking Ball' he sounds like a tightly coiled force of nature.
There's no lashing out in blind rage at the perceived injustices that have been visited upon the people of the US - and the rest of the world - from the businesses, bankers and political parties, just an incisive passionate and laser sharp denouncement of them.
However 'Wrecking Ball' isn't actually all about rage as some broadsheets have claimed.
Instead, writ large throughout, is an appeal for people to think and insist that we take a more humane direction when we reach the looming fork in the road.
It's not even a message that's being pushed down throats, although it is impassioned from start to finish, but instead a finger being pointed at the writing on the wall, and a request to just think about it........and then speak out, but mainly to think about the world around us and how we got to this stage of economic failure, and how the light of hope is being extinguished for so many.
It's a plea for us all to pull back from the brink.
When he sings on the opening track 'we take care of our own' it sounds completely heartfelt and without any sort of artifice.
It sucks you straight in and holds you close to its breast.
There's blood pumping through its veins and you can feel the truth in his words.
You can hear it roaring in your ears.
Not just hear the truth. But feel it.
This is the magic that Springsteen weaves and it's all on display on the very first strong.
His cards are on the table
Straight out of the gate and he has you.
He's the worlds blue collar every-man making a solid connection.
A chronicler of a wide and inclusive journey through life.
Equally at home singing about the bitter-sweet loss of a first love as he his tipping at the windmills and issuing a challenge to corporations to accept responsibility for the welfare of those they employ.
Now in 2012, and who would have thought it, but here he is with 'Wrecking Ball' an album that doesn't stumble once.
This is his album where he delivers everything that his fans have ever wished for.
There's elements of Darkness on the Edge of Town mixed with his Seeger Sessions. Some Born to Run and Nebraska. Even hints of Born in the USA paired with Working on a Dream.
Regardless of what era of 'The Boss' punches your buttons you will find it represented here, and none of it sounds as if it has been shoehorned in to entertain the masses.
It's simply just a hugely sprawling, and organic sounding, work of genius.
The point in his career when the cumulative experiences of a lifetime entertaining people around the world has allowed him to create an album that will strike a chord with people from all walks of life.
Just as others, who some would consider Springsteen's peers, are running out of ideas and falling short of being relevant to modern audiences he has taken it all to yet another level.
Vive le Boss.

Time to speak out and set the record straight.

The future of the NHS is very obviously the hot button topic right now in the UK.
On the one hand we have the coalition government doing it's utmost to privatize it (let's just call a spade a spade here), and on the other we have a minority trying to raise the alarm, while the majority sleep walk into a future where the effects of a private health care system will no doubt be met with an incredulous 'how the fuck did that happen'.
There is however a different angle to all this, and that is how our NHS is perceived abroad.
I've seen a whole raft of misguided comments about it.
How can you expect a quality service for free is one, but who said it was free? We all pay for it and we all reap the rewards.
People die while waiting for treatment was another.
Well of course they do. Show me a country where no one dies while waiting for treatment and we can all move there.
Physical ailments do not respect time.
People die everyday. It's part of the circle of life.
Of course timely intervention can help, but it's all very haphazard. I could equally say that people die after treatment to.
We file it away as shit happens and move on.
Not everyone will be saved, nor will they have a positive experience of the care they receive.
It's not a perfect system.
Life is not a perfect system. Deal with it.
Add onto those two the claims that of filthy hospitals where it would appear that we have to climb over mountains of soiled bedding and avoid dirty needles while fending off leprous nurses and I'm starting to wonder where people get this sort of impression from.
There are many more of these examples to.
So many that on occasions I've thought that maybe in some insidiously manipulative way that we have been slowly getting primed for this.
For at least a decade the idea of, private health care system good, socialist health care system bad, has been promoted relentlessly.
The only problem is that I don't see it.
While accepting that the NHS is not a utopian dream come true I consider that it's not far off it.
I actually think our nurses are, in the main, angels who work long and hard for a pay that doesn't really reflect their worth.
The doctors, from GPs to surgeons, provide us all with a breadth of expertise that boggles the mind.
Together all our health care professionals are the mechanics of our country who keep the engine running.
I firmly believe this.
I always have done, and whenever I have required treatment they have proved me right time after time.
Just a little over a week ago I was at work and felt a pain in my chest.
It was like a clamp squeezing the breath out of me, a huge weight that was settling on my chest.
The pain radiated down my right arm and my fingertips felt as if there was a small electrical charge running through them.
Once the pain reseeded I came out in a feverish sweat and thought I was going to throw up.
Basically I had displayed all the symptoms of a heart attack, except it was my right arm instead of the left.
So I left work and went to my doctors surgery.
Within a very short space of time I was seen by a doctor who diagnosed a chest infection and a possible pulled muscle in my chest.
Both together mirroring virtually all the symptoms of a heart attack.
Throughout my examination the doctor was calmly supportive and at no point did I feel that he was being inconvenienced by my emergency appointment.
From my limited experience – as I very rarely avail myself of the NHS – I didn't expect anything less.
All in, from the initial pain to a diagnosis, and including the offer of treatment and the uplifting of the medication itself, it took about two hours.
I can't see anything to complain about there.
Then this morning I found that I needed to contact my surgery again for another matter entirely.
I called at 8.30am and was told that a doctor would call me back within the hour.
It was actually about twenty minutes later when the phone rung out and within minutes a course of treatment was advised.
Once again I felt that this doctor - a different one from over a week ago – delivered a service second to none.
Compassionate, empathic and on the ball.
So I want everyone to do me a favour.
Can you all speak up on behalf of our NHS.
Lets not focus on the one or two issues that we have had, and there are issues and sometimes very upsetting ones, but instead let's focus on the lifetime of treatment we have had and how over all it is simply fantastic.
I don't want us all to start appreciating something once it is gone.
Speak up now and let's keep our NHS as the benchmark that everyone else across the world needs to reach for.