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Tuesday 22 September 2015

And they all blew down.

While we all still snigger away like schoolchildren about the allegations of Cameron face fucking the severed head of a pig in a bizarre initiation ceremony it’s interesting to read some of the reactions.

One that has surprised me is the amount of people offering a free pass on it.

‘We have all done things we were ashamed of when we were young’ is so popular that it could be edging into trending status.
Strange really, because when I was younger I did a million things that I can shamefully look back on, but rattling the cold dead tonsils of a severed pigs head with the tip of my tadger while friends cheered me on wasn't one of them.
In fact I'm hard pushed to think of a singular moment that I was in a situation when it looked like this was about to happen.
Those claiming that we were all young once must have walked down a very different path that I, or my peers, ever did.

I can just imagine the old Etonian asking what the fuss is all about as we all did it, didn’t we?
I mean didn’t we?
I mean only those without sin can cast the first stone.
Can’t they?

Bizarrely if the sin is - yes you guessed it - fucking the head of a dead pig then I’m guessing that there are quite a few people that will fit the remit for casting that first stone.

Then again maybe I'm wrong and just led a sheltered life.

Neither did I burn fifty pound notes in front of homeless people; I never trashed restaurants or burned down a neighbours garage like Clegg did either.

Damn. I was never as debauched as these guys.
Nor wanted to be.

Then there are those who desperately want to point at another of the revelations from the forthcoming book from Ashcroft.

Who cares about the pig, what about Ashcrofts nondom tax status?

They really want to claim that the sexual congress with the severed pigs head is just a distraction from that, but is it, or should it be?

Aren't they both just examples of rich bastards considering they are exempt from the laws and morals that the rest of us are supposed to adhere to?
And if we accept that they are both really the same thing then out of the two what has the most entertainment value.
Is it the boring old tax dodging angle on it, or the FUCKIN’ A PIGS HEAD bit?

Admit it. We all know the answer and the proof is all around us.

In a decades time if this all led to his stepping down, or being ousted, and it hinged on the tax issue then how many would remember the details, but if it’s about the pig then who would forget?
Even if it isn't true I am going to go out on a limb and say that he still deserves to go as they've been buggering kids and covering it up for long enough anyway.

And that takes us to another angle on all of this.

Who out there can hand on heart claim that these people are fit for office?

They are the end result us getting what we deserve.

We allowed the establishment to shaft us so often that they think it is their birthright, and then when others step up from our ranks it is rarely for altruistic reasons, but often because they want to hang onto the gravy train of cash and privilege with the added bonus of the get out of jail free card that they all seem to get issued with along with their silver spoons.
Even when they mouth all the correct altruistic statements they are secretly open to looking into the abyss and letting the abyss gaze on their soul.

The current state of politics is that it has alienated so many that those left to throw their hats in the ring to represent us are often the least able to do so.

It’s not everyone of course, but so often it is a case of those so desperately wanting to lead being the worst possible people to do so.

The sort that would go to a party to get off their tits and skull fuck a severed pigs head if they thought it would benefit them.

And with that we are back to the start.

So will some altruistic person with a level head please get involved in all this, because if they don’t then it is just going to be an ugly catch 22 scenario forever and ever. 

Monday 27 July 2015

Wickerman 2015 - Part One

Festivals by their nature are hit and miss with the entertainment provided.
Not because they are apt to look to scrape the bottom of the barrel, but simply because a crowd of thousands of people with different tastes can’t be kept happy all the time.
For every stage that is visited that provides the hit there will always be one that delivers a personal miss.
It’s expected, and it doesn't mean the miss isn't entertaining, but rather that it fails to be to the individuals liking.
It’s nothing more or less than that, and when you stumble across that act that doesn’t work for you then the search continues for something that does, and a well balanced festival will provide it.

This however wasn't my experience of Wickerman 2015 though.
Instead it was a whirlwind of quality that often left me reeling.
Acts after act defied the odds and resolutely failed to disappoint.
Musically I didn't experience a singular downside at all.
When asked to name a favourite moment I can’t.
It’s not possible.
Each time I thought I had witnessed the jewel in the performance crown another act would mirror the experience.
From Hector Bizerk to The Sonics the Scooter tent relentlessly hit the spot.
From Julian Cope to The Waterboys the main stage was firing on all cylinders.
If there was any criticism to be levelled at the organizers then it would be that I didn’t have time to check out the other tents and stages with the exception of a hit and run on the acoustic tent to catch Little Fire.

One thing that was highlighted by Esperanza, Halfrican and Hector Bizerk was that we are not short of home grown talent.
It would be entirely possible to have not just a stage, but a festival, dedicated to Scottish acts and it would be a shock and awe assault on those who claim that we fall short of delivering acts ready to take on the world

Garage rockers Halfrican – who were in the Scooter tent - on vinyl sound like a collaboration between The Ramones and Jesus and Mary Chain looking to deliver a grungy surf rock release, but live it’s cleaner, clearer, less lo-fi and more power pop in the delivery.
I'm not even sure what I prefer between the two.
The dirt, or the sheen?
Both are equally attractive propositions, but the latter was probably more suited to the festival environment where they had the opportunity to attract people in with a bit of aural honey rather than a more abrasive set that would have left some on the ropes wondering what had hit them.

Then there was Hector Bezerk who initially raised some concerns among the punk rock aficionados as they were seen to be an odd fit for the stage, but their set was probably the most punk rock of all as they pushed at the boundaries of hip hop.
The journey from frontman Louie when solo spitting out Glaswegian accented rhymes to the initial sound of Hector Bizerk to the current one is a fast paced delight.
Here is an act that are not only redefining hip hop, but are now at the point of their evolution that they would not appear out of place if they took to the pyramid stage at Glastonbury to fill a prime time spot.
What we are seeing is evolution in action speeded up.
As they expand ever further into dabbling in other genres they are laying down the foundations to be a very important band.
If there is one act that it would be said that you must catch now if you want to be ahead of the curve then this is that act.

Esperanza are in many ways the polar opposite to Hector Bizerk as they are not looking to reinvent the wheel.
Instead they are honing the ska sound to sharp perfection.
They are becoming the lean mean skanking machine that others aim for but often fall short of having the stamina to nail as soundly as they do.
The turn out in the tent was an unsigned bands dream come true and the capacity crowd were taken through their paces exhaustively.
Again there is no reason at all why the band is not gracing larger stages.
Even with a Commonwealth games appearance tucked under their collective belts there is far more on offer than that one hit and run moment into the wider publics consciousness.
If there was another wave of 2-tone/ska to rise then Esperanza would be on the crest of it.
Undoubtedly if anyone is looking for a band that can guarantee to get a festival crowd on their feet to dance then they needn’t look any further.
If they aren’t on the main stage in 2016 then someone will have dropped the ball.
I would have had them signing a contract when they were seconds off the stage and still on a high from the performance and well deserved reception.

Moving on from the Scottish acts it’s fair to say that others on the bill at Wickerman were out to ensure that they weren’t left in the shade.
I’ve been a long time admirer of TV Smith and consider him as an unsung hero.
That being the case I was looking forward to his set and again it was a sublime experience.
Passionately eloquent he is the punk rock Dylan.
Bob, not Thomas.
From the start of his set to the end he relentlessly powered through a solid half hour of his back catalogue and kept the older fans happy by giving some focus to The Adverts period with his acoustic renditions of the 1977 double header of Gary Gilmours Eyes and Bored Teenagers drawing attention to how flaccidly bland the mainstream music scene currently is.
It’s not that there’s a dearth of talent.
It’s that there’s a dearth of investment in it.
In an ideal world TV Smith would be the elder statesman of rock.
A man with a message that is relevant to us all, and the ability to put it across with no quarter given.
What’s not to like?

The Ramonas are becoming a Wickerman mainstay.
While the festival isn't known for gravitating towards promoting tribute bands they are the exception to the rule.
Maybe there’s a throwback to the days that Claire of AntiProduct played as The Ramonas was originally her baby.
Who knows, but with the timeless sound of onetwofrefo bursting out it’s a call to arms for some aging punks to recommit to the gabba-gabba-hey.
I would have been in my element, but Julian Cope was on the main stage and over previous years our stars have failed to align on the solstice and our paths had not crossed so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to get to grips with the shamanistic madness on offer
Okay, it’s true that there were more bemused looks on the faces of those facing the main stage than rapt adulation, but this was Julian Cope, a man whose dalliance with hallucinogenics is well recorded.
If you play knock knock on the door of perception it’s Julian that will answer and as I had no expectations other than his set was going to be an ‘experience’ there was no preconceived idea of what was required for it to tick all the boxes.
It turns out that all that is required to enjoy Saint Julian is an ability to let go.
Just to allow yourself to live in the moment and if you can do that then it all makes sense.
Maybe not in hindsight, but within the moment it all works.
Every quip, every random verbal segue, every song approached can scream on paper that it shouldn't work, but it does.
His whole appearance at Wickerman on the main stage begs the question of who thought this was a good idea, but thankfully someone did.
While some may thank the gods that there is only one Julian Cope there are those of us who are very pleased that there is actually one as who needs tow anyway?
Here we have a unique artist, one who is willing to explore the fringes and come back bearing gifts from lands were angels fear to tread.

Insanity never tasted so good. 

Sunday 26 July 2015

The veteran curmudgeon guide to festivals.

(A light hearted consideration of what has went wrong)

1) Gazebo glampers aka Your land is our land.

Half an hour after putting the tent up
and this monstrosity appears.
That, the blue one, a small one, a gazebo out of sight and more
space sectioned off for three adults and two kids.
Begone roughing it.
The modern festival goer requires a home from home apparently.
Or a bigger home from home.
No longer will a single sleeping bag and tent suffice.
Downsizing and embracing minimalism has went out of fashion.
This is the era of land occupation.
Today Glastonbury, T in the Park, Wickerman and tomorrow we annex Poland.
Modern day festival goers are now the lord's and ladies of all they see as first arrivals stake a claim and section off space to meet their requirements using marquee sized dome tents with multiple compartments, a gazebo, another tent for storage, yet another one for the kids, a second gazebo, strategically placed windbreakers and enough crime scene tape to stretch to the moon and back.
Why take an inch when a mile is on offer is the motto.
The bare minimum for two adults and one child works out at about an acre per person.

It's rumoured that they found Lady Haversham in an unused wing of an abandoned cavernous tent at the Bestival site.
The poor woman hadn't been seen by anyone in two years and was surviving on dust motes.

With the tiny house movement gaining traction globally and a family of five imaginatively managing to live in a shoebox it seems it's left to festival attendees to buck the trend and supersize their accommodation as much as possible.
Gone are the days of one sleeping bag and a two man tent shared between six drunken students.
Unless you have a reading room, a conservatory and guest room in your tent then you aren't doing it right.

We (old folk) used to look at tents laid out in front of us as we crested the hill and considered that a thousand laid out before us would approximately mean three thousand people in the camp site.
Now it's the opposite with a thousand tents being occupied by a hundred.

All well and good as who doesn't like some room to swing their cat?
Unless of course you aren't arriving within the first hour and are left arguing over a postage stamp sized plot of land in the outskirts of shanty town.
Then it's pish.

2) Babyshambles

Kids at festivals enjoying new experiences with their parents are great.
Lord of the flies packs roaming around are not.
Tarquin is not being impish when he and Annabelle play steal the tent pegs.
Eight year old Lucinda wandering around the campsite looking for mummy at 3am is not cute.
A festival is not a Club 4-10 holiday and there is no prize for how many - no questions asked - single Wellington boots can be collected over the weekend.
A festival is not a giant al fresco crèche for parents who think it's character building to abandon their little darlings for twenty hours out of twenty four, and no the dance tent doesn't have a place to leave your pram you sad excuse for an adult.

3) You had to - sort of - be there.

Non festival attendees attending festivals.
Hundreds spent on tickets, hundreds spent on tents and camping equipment, thousands spent on booze, hundreds spent on food.
Festival entertainment participated in?

A weekend of sitting on a folding chair in a gazebo getting pissed and playing shit music at full volume while 'avin it large' is the goal and they've unlocked every master level at doing it.
If they leave the campsite they will lose all credibility with their mates.
Everything they need for a good time is right there.
A crate of Buckfast, the complete set of 'bonkers' downloaded onto the iPod, top quality speakers purchased in poundland and some Lambrini and glow sticks for the kids.
And if you are camped anywhere close enough to hear them then the drunken debate at 3am about how Clarkson leaving Top Gear is a sign of the decline of Western civilization will no doubt be enlightening.

They could get six months all inclusive in Greece for what they shell out for their non participation, but the Greeks have suffered enough so don't tell them.

4) Captive audience capitalism.

Once you enter a festival site the law of supply and demand is all that matters.
Those disposable ponchos at five for a quid you seen last week and didn't bother with will be a fiver for one at the hint of a single raindrop.
A bank of clouds on the horizon can start the prices rising.
A bacon roll can cost the same as a three course meal in a cafe.
You want a coffee?
You can't afford a coffee.
It's something to aspire to.
If one-upmanship is your thing then lounging around with a stall bought coffee will draw admiring glances from other festival punters.
Buy a Grande and they will think you are the headliner.
Grown men have been known to weep at the cost of a pint of Carlsberg.
The phrase 'crying into your beer' was coined at a festival.
You can buy a festival cash converter app for mobile phones now.
You type in what you want to buy, how much it normally costs and then choose the festival you are at and it will supply you with the approximate 500% mark up final figure.

Whoever thought of putting cash machines in festival arenas is a genius too.
It’s funny how they are usually sitting between the on-site bars and the token kiosks that the cashless on-site bars take.
That’s purely coincidental obviously.
And as the tokens are a quid each everything has to be rounded up doesn't it?
Bloody genius and I truly do wish I was on a cut of the profits.
Even though the system boils my blood.
The sign saying drink responsibly next to the other stating the tokens are non refundable is a bit of an oxymoron, but the latter is in a smaller font and most people fail to notice it.
Post festival the paper tokens are only usually good for one thing, and that's breaking the washing machine when you forget to take them out of the pocket of your muddied forty quid Tibetan lounge pants you bought and will never wear again.

5) It's all about the music maaaaaaan.

It's not.

If there are no jugglers, clowns, people dressed as penguins, theatre, art installations that boggle the mind, comedians, poets, dancers, cinema and eccentrics on and off stages and it's just music then it's a gig outside and not really a festival.
How to tell if you have been to a real festival is to ask yourself if you seen something, or experienced something, that you never even knew existed and it in some way enriched your life and if the answer is yes then you get the badge.
If all that happened was that you seen some bands then you aren't trying hard enough, or it's not a real festival.
A hundred bands over three days in a field is not a festival.
Stop fuckin' calling them that.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Last night the World/Inferno Friendship Society saved my live.

Have you ever had one of those days?
The sort that starts off with standing barefoot in cat puke and then rapidly goes downhill from that point onwards?
The sort where it feels like some immature malevolent god has decided that for their own perverse amusement they are going to use their omnipresent powers to ensure that everything that can go wrong will in fact go wrong?
Not just garden variety minor inconvenience wrong, but spectacular apocalyptic movie plot wrong?
One of those patience snapping and misanthropy inducing days that grinds you down so completely that by a certain point you feel physically and mentally beaten?

Well yesterday was my turn for that sort of day.

Quite literally it started off with cat puke between the toes and then there was a twelve hour shift that replicated a journey through the circles of Dantes hell.
All that was missing was a rectal probe from a pineapple.

By the time I was finished I was teetering on the edge of mentally and physically throwing the towel in.
I had reached the point of just wanting to curl up into a ball on the ground and remaining there until I'd turned to dust and the wind carried me away.

But instead I went out to see the World/Inferno Friendship Society and they saved my life.

Not literally.

There was no mouth to mouth or pads on my chest being applied with members of the band shouting 'its alive' as I twitched a finger in response to the surge of electricity that had jerked through me, but instead they figuratively saved it by offering some much needed respite from the daily grind.
A respite that allowed me to recalibrate and open myself up to accepting that the fight ain't over until some misogynist points out that a lady they consider to be outside social norms in the weight department is singing.

And for that I would have to extend my gratitude.

I am truly thankful as here they were residing in their own unique fantasy world inviting us in once again to partake in momentarily stepping away from one reality and giving us some time to frantically engage with one of their own making, and by doing so they provided the perfect antidote to fractious days and abrasive weeks.
Again mucho gracious.

For those who live in a town called ignorance let me enlighten you as to who they are, they are a travelling midsummer night's punk rock circus rolling into town that deal in sonic anarchy that's not for the faint of heart.
It's flamenco jams, off the cuff country and western meanderings, jazz, tribal beats and so much more filtered through a twisted take on cabaret and it all works.
It magnificently works.
It's a smorgasbord of aural madness that sweeps you away on the crest of its own wave.

So if that's your thing, and why wouldn't it be, or it even sounds slightly tempting then consider this as your invite for the next time they hit these shores.
You really don't want to miss them.

However to get the best from what they do those attending should take some advice.
Call it the World/Inferno Friendship Society 101 class.
Here's what the script is. 
You just need to let yourself go.
It won't hurt if you give yourself over to them.
Like the ol' time revivals it's easier to just allow the spirits to take over when they start.
Sing in tongues and dance, dance some more, and when you think your legs can't take any more then offer a prayer to St Vitus and keep dancing.
That's all you have to do.
The band will cover the rest.
And the will cover it in fine style.

If by the end of the show you aren't drenched in sweat, your heart isn't hammering fit to burst and your face isn't sore from smiling then obviously you haven't given yourself over to them and will not have received the full benefits of what they are offering.
That is your fault.
Live with it.
The band can't take any responsibility for your failure to get it.
They will have delivered on their side of the bargain.

Basically they don't want passivity from you.
They want to engage you in symbiotic madness.
To strip away the outer shell and pull a primal scream from you as they wear their hearts on their sleeves.
With these guys in your corner you can proudly proclaim fuck cardio step classes and fuck new age answers to the world's ills.
because here they are with the a fully positive distraction that will recharge your batteries and set you up for going out to fight the good fight.
And let's be brutally honest about this.
Who doesn't need that?

If they were offering this every day then I would be beating a path to their door.
Big pharma would see their profits freefall towards oblivion as people realized that to make the world a better place all they need is a daily dose of The World/Inferno Friendship Society live rather than mood altering chemicals that they have cornered the market on.*

Maybe we need to crowd source the cash to clone these beautiful fuckers so we can have them performing every single day in every single town and city.

Yeah, I've decided that the world I want to live in starts with a healthy injection of World/Inferno Friendship Society on a daily basis.
It's not obligatory that anyone else agrees, but I'm right and anyone who does disagree is wrong.

I'm sorry. You cant argue with facts.

In support were The Spencer's.
A band that sound as if they have been locked in a garage and whose only stimulation was a Kubrick directed Breaking Glass that was edited by Leigh Bowery played on a continual loop.
Not a bad thing in my book.
Equally worthy of checking out.

* Unless of course they are clinically required.
Don't stop meds without professional advice and replace them with TWIFS on my word. ;)

The World/Inferno Friendship Society.

Thursday 9 July 2015

Static Rock/Beltur/Magic Trik – HRC Glasgow – 08/07/15

Static Rock/Beltur/Magic Trik – HRC Glasgow – 08/07/15

With a  tour of some cities down south already arranged - and their debut single and video Straw Dog newly released - the very young Glaswegian band Magic Trik are undoubtedly looking to hit the ground running and shake things up a little.
Admirably avoiding skipping down the indie hipster route to success, and equally making it very clear that faux Scots accented folk meanderings are not their cup of tea, they are instead looking to go full tilt ahead and reintroduce rock and roll to the masses.
Taking the rock blues of the mighty Led Zeppelin as a starting point they've liberally sprinkled it with some glam fairy dust and concocted a heady brew that should get some blood rushing through the veins of those who so readily proclaim that rock is dead.
It’s overdue that we get another band that can walk the walk rather than taking the talk so it’s pleasantly exciting to see a band doing just that.

Give it a year and there’s a very good chance that they will be opening some quality shows for larger touring acts and giving the headliners something to worry about.

Beltur on the other hand are a few steps ahead of Magic Trik.

With an eye on writing and performing songs that would be comfortable residing in stadiums they have sown their wild oats musically and are now looking to settle down into delivering anthems.
Anthems such as the current single Breath, a song that has radio hit written all over it and has the potential to become an earworm given half a chance.
It’s not the only song with that potential that they have tucked away though.
One after another they work through a set of emotionally mature rockers that lightly touch on the post grunge era when the punk malcontents moved away from their love affair with riff heavy Sabbath homage’s and began to shade their output more carefully and subtly.
It’s easy to proclaim ‘what’s not to like’ when watching and listening to Beltur.

Static Rock have been paying their dues for a while now, and have quite probably played on every single stage in Glasgow with the exceptions of the SECC and Hydro.
As a result their material is well honed and solidly performed.
So now seems to be the perfect time for them to take things to the next level.
If they were to add some new songs to the set and followed them with a new release then it must surely be within their grasp to secure their position as one of the bands that will feature on all the ‘ones to watch’ lists. .
The guys must be able to smell it.
It’s that close.
Time for them to grab at it with both hands.

Monday 22 June 2015

Only a couple.

Someone in a garden nearby is tuned into a radio station and the sound drifts easily on the air.
It crosses my mind that I don’t remember the last time I heard this.
I had forgotten about the existence of the radio disc jockey.
In the car we play music randomly.
The shuffle option is our friend.
And in work we have music that is piped in with no interruptions and often it just merges with the background noise and barely registers.
Now as I sit here and listen to the voice chattering between the songs it sounds like an echo from the past.
It’s a welcoming reminder that there was a time when life was less stressful.
A time when sitting in the garden and letting the heat of the sun warm my face wasn't a moment that I could snatch, but instead something that could be stretched to fill hours.

It’s nice.

As nice as the glass of wine that I have just finished.
I could have another, but there’s work in the morning and two might just lead to three and then there would be the morning ritual of asking myself why did I bother as drinking never really solves any of lives problems.

A muscle has a short spasm in my back as I stand up and reach for the glass.
It draws a groan from my lips and if anyone had heard me I would have followed it on by saying that old age doesn't come by itself.
It would be embarrassing to be honest and say that it is a result of an injury that required a visit to accident and emergency.
If I said that it would open the door to questions after question.
None of which I really care to answer.
Thankfully no one is within ear shot and no explanations are needed for the grimace that crosses my face.

With the glass rinsed out and resting next to the sink I scan the room to see if anything else needs done before heading to bed.
There’s nothing.
Or nothing that I can see that could be the catalyst for a one sided argument.
Not that anything really has to be out of place if an argument is going to be the culmination of another night out with colleagues.

It’s already over an hour later than the time casually dropped in as a rough estimate for when the couple of drinks was going to end.

There was a time that I would sit up and wait, but that seemed to inflame the situation and there would be accusations of a lack of trust regardless of my trying to say that it was only because I was worried.

Over time I've learnt all the little avoidance tricks.
The things that need to be done that will minimise the chances of a meltdown.
Don’t leave anything out that can catch the eye.
The slippers not tucked away correctly that could be tripped over.
The singular plate left unwashed in the sink.
Anything can really be the catalyst for a drunken tirade.
Little molehills all have the ability to become mountains in the heat of the moment.
A storm can literally rage from a teacup left in view.

Experience has led me to accept that it’s best to just retire for the night and on their return maybe pretend to be asleep and hope that my faux unconsciousness is enough to avoid all the trigger points.

Tonight my stomach is in knots though.

All the signs of the darkness were already in place as they left.
Barely anything said, hardly any eye contact, grunts used rather than words and then of course the sunshine comes out and the smile and easy laugh appears when their workmates arrive to pick them up.
The face is put on for the public and not one of them would guess at what it looks like in private after a couple of drinks too many.
The contorted rage that tightens it, the spittle flecked lips as they curse, the blankness in the eyes as they ultimately lash out.

Everything leading up to them all clambering into the back of a taxi ticks of the red boxes that scream danger to me, and yet here I am going to my bed and crossing my fingers in the hope that a pretence can avoid it all.


It’s dark outside and headlights have just swept across the bedroom wall.
The clock flashes that it’s after three so the couple of drinks have either led to a visit to a club or another quick one in the house of a friend.

The doors of a taxi open and laughter spills out and voices a little too loud for the time bid farewell and mix in with exchanges of promises to do it all again soon.

I close my eyes and try and relax into a believable sleep position.

The door opens downstairs and there’s some stumbling in the hallway, a muttered curse and the sound of keys being stabbed at the lock.
Every step taken is amplified in the house as there is barely any other sounds that are in competition with them.
The fridge door opens and closes.
There’s the sound of a bottle being taken out.
One more for the road about an hour too late I think.

And then there are the footsteps on the stairs.
The door opens and the light switch is slapped at.

When the light goes on there’s no point in pretending to be asleep so I blink bleary eyes and ask how the night was.

Swaying in the doorway they mutter something unintelligible.

It sounds like ‘I fuckin’ hate you’, but I pretend that I don’t hear it, or the ‘you make me sick’ that follows it, and try and calmly say ‘come to bed.’

There’s a slight stagger to the right and they rest against the door frame and then the bottle of beer is thrown at me.

There’s no warning, no slow build up.

My reactions are slow and it shatters off the metal bedpost.
Inches on either side and it wouldn't have broken, but it has and I can see the glass and beer explode on contact.

And then there is the pain.

On one side of my face there’s searing pain and I reach up to touch it and my palm pushes a shard of glass further into my eye and I scream.


This is what I tell the police officer who is sympathetically questioning me about ten minutes after a doctor in accident and emergency has explained to me that the damage is too severe and there is no realistic chance of saving my eye.

He blinks a few times and looks at what he has written.

When he looks up again he asks how many times this occurs and I tell him that I have lost count over the years.

I know he wants to ask me why I didn't leave, but I don’t have an answer for that.

A nurse arrives and tells me that procedure means that I have to be in a wheelchair to be taken to a ward.

I'm taken out and left in the corridor for a few minutes and I can see the police officer talking to the doctor and glancing back at me.

I feel ashamed.

When an orderly comes and gets me we pass the waiting area and I see my wife sitting there looking lost and terrified as the officer walks towards her.

She doesn't see me and I'm glad.

I just want to sleep.


This was written as over the last few weeks I've seen a few discussions about domestic abuse that have focussed on women as if it only really happens to them.
Of course figures show that in the main they are by and large the main victims, but I don’t feel that this means that male victims should be marginalised.
After all a victim of abuse is a victim of abuse.

Sadly - and I do understand why - when the subject is broached the women who have suffered are very reluctant to acknowledge any views offered by a male. 
We are the enemy.
There is a blanket condemnation of our gender regardless of how much empathy we have and how much we support any action that will oppose domestic violence.
On an emotional level this is, as said, understandable and all women who have been abused have the right to feel whatever way that they wish about it.
The anger, the resentment.
All of it is natural.

However to truly bring about an end to domestic violence I do believe that we should all stand together and oppose it. 
Creating factions slows the process down.
Closing the door on those who would wish to stand up and say this is all so wrong is counter productive.

So this fictional story is just to highlight that regardless of the gender abuse is wrong.
After all when tumbling down the stairs does it matter if it was a male or female hand that did the pushing?

None of the above is to claim that we do not have an issue with male dominance and how a patriarchal society addresses violence towards women as of course we do.
It's just to promote a view I hold that working together can bring change to the world faster.
A thousand voices in opposition cry louder than a solitary one.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey - Holy Holy play The Man Who Sold The World

Music is the air that I breathe.
It has been my constant companion for as long as I can recall.
In fact some of my earliest memories are linked to certain songs.
Pre school age I can clearly remember sitting with what seemed like giant headphones on and listening to everything from The Rolling Stones to Elvis Presley.
Credit for that has to go to my uncle though.
When visiting him with my parents he would provide a steady stream of albums for my listening pleasure and I am genuinely forever grateful to him for providing me with an introduction to so many wonderful acts and giving me such a broad foundation to build on.

It’s also actually factually accurate to say that in many ways my appreciation of music has enhanced my life in more ways than I could count.

I have made long lasting friendships, been educated by it, travelled, formed romantic relationships, spent quality time with my children at gigs, and as said so very much more with it all being positive.

However one man who deserves a tip of the hat for providing so many personal golden moments on my journey through life is the producer Tony Visconti.

While the majority fawn over full bands, and especially those with the golden tonsils there is sometimes an appreciation blind spot operating were the people exist who were the conduit for the hits and albums to keep rolling.

While the names of Bowie to Presley roll off the lips it is left to the critics and the more infatuated with music to proclaim the greatness of the producers who worked with the legends.

And if we want to talk about real legends then Visconti is your guy.

Consider this.
Eight albums with Bolan, from the early incarnation as Tyrannosaurus Rex through the T-Rex years, of which included the mighty ‘Electric Warrior’ album.
With that on a CV most people could retire and bask in the reflected glory till they shook off their mortal coil, but not Visconti.
So you can add Bowie to the artists he didn’t only produce, but play with to.
The Man Who Sold The World, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Low, Heroes, Lodger, Scary Monsters, Heathen, Reality and the come back of The Next Day.
Again you would think that would be enough, but it doesn't even come close to how many acts he has worked with and sprinkled his magic in the studio over.
Paul McCartney and Wings, Manic Street Preachers, The Seahorses, Hazel O’Connors Breaking Glass, Thin Lizzy, Iggy Pop.
I’m reeling these off by memory.
Then there are The Stranglers, Adam Ant, Anti-Flag, Strawbs, Ralph McTell and Morrissey.
If I was to go online and check the list of the acts he has been involved in and mention each and every one I would end up with a repetitive strain injury from typing.

Even with what is listed it is very obvious that this is a man that has been at the top of his game for decades.
While artist come and go he has been a constant, and for that reason alone Tony Visconti should be a household name.

In addition to his production and engineering work he has also as mentioned played with the greats and more recently been touring with Woody Woodmansey (Bowie drummer) as Holy Holy performing alongside Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17) and Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet) and breathing new life into The Man Who Sold the World to great acclaim from fans and critics alike, and so successful was the mini tour that he is currently back on the road with it to impress all over again.

Undoubtedly this is a bucket list gig and it’s just waiting there to be ticked off.

In fact check out who else is in the band.

James Stevenson (Generation X, The Cult, Scott Walker), guitar
Paul Cuddeford (Ian Hunter, Bob Geldof), guitar
Terry Edwards (Gallon Drunk, PJ Harvey, The Blockheads, Yoko Ono), saxophones, 12-string guitar, percussion
Rod Melvin (Brian Eno, Ian Dury), piano
Berenice Scott (Heaven 17), synthesiser
Hannah Berridge Ronson (Colin Lloyd Tucker), keyboard, recorder, backing vocals
Lisa Ronson (The Secret History), vocals

On Thurday the 25th of June he is back in the ABC in Glasgow.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

The Sux Pastels - General Chaos EP.

When punk rock first reared its ugly head in the late seventies its flag bearers instinctively knew that the short sharp message had to maintain some appeal.
Go back and listen to them and there are hooks a plenty.
Crudely formed some of the material may be, but that was part of the attraction, and as long as the pioneers kept sight of the structure of the song being listenable then all was fine and dandy.
That is until the eighties started to bite in and the shouty shouty brigade took the baton and ran down a cul-de-sac with it screaming anarchy at no one in particular.

Unfortunately their influence cast a shadow over what most perceived punk rock to be and when the name is uttered in the present day a sizeable amount of people paint a picture in their heads of Mohican sporting cider swilling dog on a string individuals acting antisocially.

And while that stereotype certainly does exist it’s only a small part painted into a corner of a very large canvas.
A small part that very often has little to do with majority of musicians who shelter under the punk umbrella.
Bands like The Sux Pastels who originate from East Kilbride in Scotland.
With a credible amount of years under their belts, and participation in more projects than they would probably care to admit to, the four piece have banded together to share their cumulative experiences and see what they can rustle up, and what they managed to rustled up is a rather grand overview of punk rock and roll in its entirety.
With nods to SLF, Buzzcocks and many others who carved a trail the guys have created a solid skeleton to flesh out with their own talents.

From the opening chords to the last guitar string being plucked the whole ep is punk rock ear candy.

The cover of Adam Antz Christian D’Or is supremely well delivered, but it is to the bands credit that this well established, and much loved, fan favourite doesn't manage to overshadow their self penned material.

Instead it’s more the icing on an already impressive slice of punk rock and roll.

The EP is due for release within the next few weeks and pre-orders can be taken on their facebook page.
It will be a limited run for physical copies so consider the pre-order tip your chance to secure a copy. 

Tuesday 16 June 2015

The Godfathers - 30th Anniversary tour - Glasgow

Anniversary tours are coming around with alarming regularity at the moment.
Most are unwelcome reminders that our own drunken teenage glory days are no longer lurking in close proximity, but rather slowly becoming lost in the mists of time and if we want to revisit them then we have to buy a ticket for the nostalgia train.

For myself I will readily admit that each time I see a poster dubbed with the word anniversary I hear a clock ticking somewhere and ask myself where all the time has went.
And I’m assured that I am not alone in thinking that.

So is life really just birth, school, work, death?

See what I did there?

That’s right ‘The Godfathers’ are doing their thirtieth anniversary tour, and with a revamped line up and a freshly released single to promote there’s a welcome refusal on their part to turn the hands on the clock back, or even hold them still.
Instead it’s a celebration of what lies behind them, what is happening in the here and now, and an invitation to join the party for future tomorrows.

So if you want to wallow in nostalgia then expect to have some of your needs met, but don’t for one second think that the band are going to look to pander to your every halcyon memory.

They will leave that to the other acts that are looking to grab fumes from what is left in the tank.

The current positive state of play within the Godfathers camp is actually all the more impressive as it was only a year ago when founding members of Peter and Chris Coyne were thrown into the deep end and had to sink or swim when both Del Bartle and Grant Nicholas walked without much notice.
That they struck out for the side of the pool and recamped the band on dry land in such a short space of time, and with the forward momentum of the band and the quality maintained, is something that fans should applaud and applaud loudly.

Lesser acts would have crashed and burned, but the brothers instead knuckled down and kept going while barely missing a step.

Now with a tour already drawing critical praise from fans and journalists alike it would seem that in hindsight the shake up was the catalyst for them to ensure that they didn’t simply start treading water.
Rather they took it as a very short watershed moment in their careers and regrouped and set out to win hearts and minds again.

The proof of how successful they have been in doing that will be on display this Saturday in Glasgow as they bring their own brand of punky R&B to the ABC.

Old and new fans are not going to be disappointed.

Monday 8 June 2015

You talkin' to me.

Sometimes there's a rant building up and there's no real point in keeping it locked inside.
It's just going to fester there and take on a power of its own.
It will poison you from the inside out.
It's often better to just lance that boil and let it all out isn't it?.

So will all due respect I've got to say that I have been thinking about things and come to the conclusion  that everything is your fault.
Some of it is my fault as well, but mainly it’s yours.
It’s more your fault than mine because in many ways I try to make an effort while I don’t see any being made by you.
I often fall short of being a paragon of morality and there's no point lying about it, but at least I am out of the starting gate and speaking out while you are still in the stalls with your lips sewn shut.

It feels to me that too often I am horrified by the way someone has treated another and I try and do something about it.
I try and highlight the injustices I see, and the list of the companies that I will literally have nothing to do with just gets longer and longer by the day.
It’s not just companies either.
It’s also people to.

So what I guess I am openly saying is that I'm bloody trying. and you’re not.
Yeah, you.
I'm tired of you. 

Sorry to break it to you in such an abrupt manner.

Well maybe not you specifically as there are loads of good people out there, but even if it isn’t you I bet you know plenty of people that this fits like a glove.

If so then send them this.

Do it passively aggressively if you want.
Is they ask if it is about them just say you meant to send it to someone else and then mutter ‘but if the cap fits fucker’ and then make something up if they partially hear it and ask you to repeat yourself.

Anyway the bottom line is that as I've gotten older I have become increasingly more intolerant of shit, and at the same time others – and that’s maybe you – have become more tolerant of it all.
So tolerant of it that you have allowed it to build up so deep that we are all wading through rivers of it and I bloody resent that.
I really do.
I could scream ‘up your fuckin’ game’ out of the window right now.

Just a general lambaste at anyone walking by as the odds are pretty good that of them all this will be true of a good chunk of them.

Too many people are simply not giving enough of a shit about anything that important.
It’s all superficial crap.

For example when someone acts badly and hurts another for no other reason than they simply can, and they want to, then maybe I will extend a few chances as there may be some underlying issue, but if they aren't trying to incrementally change and curb that negative crap then I’m finished with them.
So there you go.
I'm doing something about it.

My withdrawing from them is highlighting that I disagree with their actions, and if they blatantly ask me why I'm not talking to them then I will happily tell them.
Maybe that will be the catalyst they need to change as not saying anything isn’t helping.
But you – well maybe not you, but I covered that – will give them a free pass wont you?
It’s too much hassle to say anything; it doesn’t impact on your life, it’s nothing to do with you really.
I've heard it all before.

Has it got nothing to do with you though?

There’s an old guy falling to the ground clutching his chest.
It must be a heart attack, quick…………………….look the other way.

The thing is that the free pass is really just tacit approval.
The silence is taken as permission to carry on.

So while there are a minority lining up to abuse us from dodgy political leaders to the dodgy promoter looking to exploit your kid as they’re wet behind the ears* the fault really lies with us as we are allowing this to go on unchecked.

Or more so you, as again I'm ranting about it and you’re not.

The guy kicking the dog at the bottom of the street, the woman, or man, whimpering through the wall as their partner has just took a belt to them, the company that just laid off one hundred people as they are looking to boost profits by cutting their wage bill, the lobbyist lining the pockets of a politician to ensure their paymaster gets a contract, the twat blaming immigrants for his piles as everyone knows that immigrants are at the root of fuckin everything that’s wrong with this country.

That’s your fault.
All of it.

It really is.

I probably don’t do enough to oppose it all either.
I'm not going to deny that.
I am aware of my own failings, very aware of them, but I am also not going to shoulder all the responsibility because while I have many friends who are equally raging at the ugliness of the world around them there are too many doing nothing about it.
My not saying anything to you about any of this would really be as bad as all the things you say nothing about to anyone ever.

We really do get the society we deserve.
I've said it before and I fully expect to say it again.

So look around us and ask yourself if this what we want?


Is this it?


There’s something good on the television tonight, I fancy a new car, I’ve just booked a holiday, and I've got a new mobile phone.
What’s the point of getting annoyed anyway?
No one ever really changes anything do they?
All this palaver only increases the blood pressure and with all the fast food burgers I eat that’s not a good idea.

I wonder what it’s like to not really bother about anything, or to suppress it all so deeply that it appears that nothing matters.

Jello said it best with Give me convenience or give me death.

Time for a song I suppose.

PS - No apologies for the language used.
If you can expend the energy to get upset about a few curse words, but can't to oppose injustices around the world then you are part of the problem and not the solution.

*It’s a pet issue. 

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Black and White Boy – The Avenue

Carefully looking to strike a balance between making music recognisably your own and not falling into a repetitive rut must be the curse of the musician, but Andrew Nicol - aka Black and White Boy - is still on that high wire and moving incrementally forward.
With his talents as a songwriter it could very well be an easy transition from doing what he wants to, to doing what the public apparently wants, but it’s to his credit that he refuses to write material by numbers and instead remains true to his melancholic heart.

On this outing there are still the strains of his Finn Brothers influences serving as a foundation, but with the addition of some Springsteen-esque flourishes the songs, while still not moving into party anthem territory, have a certain shading to them that brings in some lighter moments that contrasts well with the lyrical content.

It’s very mature fare and written to appeal to a more contemplative audience.

That being the case there is the possibility that some may miss out on the magic that lies therein if they are looking for a quick hit as it’s not a body of material that is looking to grab at the listener, but instead it’s more about forming a relationship with them.
Easing in and taking root and ultimately settling in for the long haul is probably how it could best be described.

It’s certainly difficult to commit to saying whether this is a brave or foolish approach in an era that seems keen to simply be guided towards a more consumerist take on music.
Undoubtedly much of what is on offer in the mainstream is largely deliberately disposable, but I for one will tip my hat to anyone who considers tilting at windmills as a worthy pursuit.

In short some things are really worth the effort of taking the time to explore and in this instance I would recommend that you set aside the time to get your head wrapped around ‘The Avenue.’

The Eden Festival - The Bucket List

With the countdown to Eden 2015 well and truly started it is time to give you the itsaxxxxthing/NHC Music top ten of acts to catch.

So in time honoured tradition it gives me great pleasure to announce in no particular order.

With a new material on the cards, and a groundswell of support growing rapidly, it seems very obvious that the band is on the cusp of greater things.
With a recent successful outing at Liverpool Sound City festival - and then the headlining of an event to support the reopening of the Clutha in Glasgow - the band has deservedly secured a place on the lips of everyone from garden variety music loving punters to the industry movers and shakers.

And with all the plaudits flying in their direction fuelling their desires it seems safe to say that right now is going to be the optimum moment to catch them.

Sometimes some of us can be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and in hindsight say ‘I was there’.
This is your opportunity to be that bar room bore lording it over lesser mortals whose only claim to fame was serving a failed x-factor wannabe star a burger as they went through the drive-through on their way to the bar mitzvah they are booked to play.
Don’t miss it.

I've said it time and time again, but if a mad scientist stitched together the perfect festival band then the end result would be Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5.

Terms like pioneer, legend, and icon don’t sit comfortably on the shoulders of many, but some people seem to have no problem at all in carrying the weight of them around.
Joseph Saddler aka Grandmaster Flash is one such person.
Just think about this for a moment.
When you wake up in the morning you’re not Grandmaster Flash and never will be, but he is and always will be.
A pretty depressing thought for everyone except him.
I'm not going to hold it against him though.

With a stomping foot and a harmonica he will change your life.
Or at the very least make you wonder why music channels on the television prefer to play wall to wall equivalents of acts modelled on the Stepford Wives rather than explore the fringes where genius wrestles with madness.

There was a period of time when I don’t think a month went past that I didn't see The Skints.
They could have been on tour with The King Blues, or belting out their skanking tunes in a basement club, but looking back I don’t recall ever losing the buzz through familiarity.
With every set the blasted through I left exhilarated and looking to spread the love.
It’s been a while, but their participation in the Eden line up is still something that sends a thrill running down my spine to my feet and lordy there go my feet to tapping.

5 - Mickey 9s
Along with Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 they are another of the many Yellow Movement bands who promote worshiping at the alter of the gods of Good Times.
You want the funk then they are bringing the funk.
Best bit is that they aren't looking to rip off the bands of yesteryear, but instead are striking forth to bring the funk into uncharted territories.
Once seen, never forgotten.

My one and only introduction to Papa Shandy was when I ventured out on my own to a rally in George Square and found myself feeling a tad discombobulated as they ran through a celtic tinged homage to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
I was the proverbial porker in the excrement.
Lost on the moment I swore that I would make it my mission in life to dance drunkenly with rum in hand at a festival they were appearing at.
My time has come.

Friends raved and I didn't listen.
They raved again and I partially listened.
When they raved for a third time I bought their ep and listened.
Then I raved about them and no one listened.
Then I raved about them again and some people listened.
Now I am raving about them and you better listen.
Even better was when I caught them playing two sets in the one day.
The first was an acoustic session, and then the second a full on electric experience.
Since then their CD has never been far from my stereo tray.

Scottish bands have never been reticent about getting down and dirty with the blues, and strangely enough can very often give their US counterparts a solid run for their money.
It must be something in the whisky.
Or maybe that’s just what Black Cat Bone would say.
None the less you couldn't argue that they aren't doing it in fine style.
Expect to hear more about them as the year progresses.

Say the name slowly.
Think about what it conjures up in your mind.
You got it.
The name encapsulates exactly what they are all about.
Drunken sea shanties, drunken dancing, drunken singalongs, drunken……..okay, you get the picture.

Rising phoenix like from the ashes of the manc brit pop sound Feet of Clay make you feel unashamed at owning an Oasis album as you grudgingly have to accept if it wasn't for the mono-browed plagiarists of the mop top four this magnificent band wouldn't have had a springboard to jump off from.

The lazy buggers don't have a video, but like the rest click on the name and check out their facebook page. 

The above ten acts are on 'my' Eden bucket list for this year, but they are not the only ones.
While going through the line up I was like a magpie snatching at the glittering diamonds of talent that are littered throughout.
It was hard enough whittling the list down to ten and if I was to start afresh I am sure that some would be dropped only to be replaced by other equally talented buggers that deserve a mention.

Alas my self imposed ten will have to stay as it is, but do feel free to drop in recommendations in the comments of what your top ten list currently is.

Monday 25 May 2015

Hello Creepy Spider, San Fran (Minus the Sisco’s) & Damien Johansson The Vale bar, Glasgow 15th May 2015

Another night, another review to add to my list.
This time I had the privilege to meet and review four lovely gentlemen with a passion for music and a love for friendly banter on and off the stage.

The setting: The Vale Bar.
An intimate venue situated in Glasgow that can accommodate up to 60 people.

In all honesty even with the limited capacity the turn out for the gig was on the poor side, but this was no reflection on those performing and everything to do with Glasgow being over loaded with venues and acts playing every single night of the week.

I can say that while I was disappointed in the turn out for the bands I have to add that along with the rest of the small audience we were were not disappointed by the performances.

To open the show we had the musical talents of San Fran, who normally has his Siscos with him doing a solo outing.

What a set he played. He has mastered the art of bringing personal experiences to his writing style that will evoke feelings we are all familiar with (some more than others). He brings the grittiness of his hometown to the fore front of his music and his style is complimented by a smooth, soulful voice which makes his music an easy listening experience that still carries and artistic punch.

If you haven’t had a chance to catch either San Fran solo or with his band backing him at a gig I suggest you do so as you will not be disappointed.

Next on the bill was the equally good musical styling of Damien Johansson with the lovely Chrissy on Bass.
Playing some new tracks entice the crowd. The response was lacking enthusiasm, which was disappointing.

Although Damien’s music is not to my liking, he is still a talented musician and his songs are written with passion ads emotion making for some entertaining music.

As for the finale, Hello Creepy Spider. I was really looking forward to seeing the band after listening to their album.
They have a fast paced, rough and ready punk style with a simple song structure which is refreshing to watch and will have you rocking out all night.
Playing a mix of their own songs and some classics like ‘Staying Alive’ and ‘Paranoid’ you can see the passion and energy they breathe into every note/chord they play.

I definitely recommend seeing the guys in action, they will blow you away. Find out more about the bands on facebook @: 

You can also purchase the San Fran & the Siscos AND Hello Creepy Spider @: and click on shop now or visit the New Hellfire Club at 1103 Hidden Lane, Argyle street, Glasgow.

By Lisa Naylor

Photos by Alan Fergusson