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Wednesday 28 December 2016

Where there is fire there's smoke.

Moral outrage!

You have got to love it.

All it takes is one jerk in a crowd that possesses a knee and the torches are lit and the mob takes form.

The latest spark that has become a hardy flame surrounds the alleged incident of a homeless person having his belongings soaked by a security guard employed by Debenhams.

Facts are a bit bare at the moment of writing, but if this assault, - as that is what it is - happened then I would suspect that the store would instigate an investigation and then act on their findings.

Anything less would be a pr disaster for them.

And yet for so many that is not enough.

A boycott is required.
Not just the threat of one, but a call to withdraw custom from now. RIGHT NOW!

Obviously the abuse of a homeless person is a serious allegation, and if true then I have literally no shred of sympathy for the abuser.

If they lose their job then that is appropriate.

If there were others that were aware of this within the stores hierarchy, and they condoned this behaviour, then I don’t have anything to say to defend them.

They can all reap what they have sown.

There are some things to consider though.

The first being did it happen?

Another being that as it is alleged to have happened on Boxing Day then the time frame of a complaint to a resolution - at this busy time of year - has to be factored in.
From the tone of some it would appear that they would have been happier if this had been addressed on Christmas day, even though it was alleged to have happened on Boxing Day.

It also has to be asked was there an official complaint lodged, and is it true that no one has acted on it.

For all we know Debenhams already have the wheels in motion on an investigation and the threats of a boycott are unnecessary.
When news such as this catches the public eye then it is right and proper that there is a reaction.

The first of those being that the validity of the allegation is confirmed.

Then a letter of complaint should be sent.

Once that has been done then it is only right that the company has time to respond.

If they do address the complaint in a satisfactory manner than we have our internal social warriors stand down.

If they do accept that the incident happened, and do nothing, then a boycott is an appropriate response from the public.

Anytime prior to that then all it is doing is endangering the profitability of the company with that then impacting on the job security of their employees.

Think about that for a second.

The woman on the till who knows nothing about what has happened is at your mercy.
The man who is loading the van in the early hours of the morning and works for a company subcontracted by the store is at your mercy.

Does the power feel good?

If you have signed any petition calling for a boycott now, rather than later when more information is in the public domain then you are a willing participant of the mob.

I think that I will now go and stand outside a store with a placard complaining about an incident that will allegedly happen tomorrow, and they better have it all sorted out by yesterday.

'Have patience with all things, but, first of all with yourself.
Never be in a hurry: do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.
Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Reaction - Accelerator

The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented, and neither does punk rock.
It just needs some fresh tires on it, and a foot put down hard on the accelerator so that it can leave a stretch of burning rubber in its rear view mirror as it peels away from the kerb.
And Reaction, from Airdrie - a breeding ground for disenfranchisement in all its shades of grey - fundamentally understand this premise, and on their debut album – after only being together for thirty odd years – deliver a fresh amphetamine fuelled history lesson to anyone that cares to jump on board for the ride.
The sign post that says UK82 is thankfully ignored as they speed down the highway, and the stops they do make to refuel on the road are more Stooges friendly, Dead Boys loving, and Ramones adoring, than any band from the back of beyond have any right to be welcomed in, but welcomed they are as the quality needle never dips below ‘make my day punk.’
Accelerator is not just the band delivering their homage to the sounds of the US punk explosion in the early seventies though.
Clash fans are going to bask in the shadow of some of the flavouring, and of course with the Damned ploughing the same source material so many years ago that same Anglo angle on it is there too.
Of course it would be very easy to continue listing the influential sounds that float to the surface on each and every song, but that would detract from the taking a step back and letting the whole damn album wash over you and letting it sweep you away with its passion for waiving the punk rock flag.
Okay. ‘Can’t help falling in love with you’, the sole cover and live favourite may have been a better b side on a single than an album track, or maybe it should have just been left for gigs, but who knows, maybe it is the unskippable track on the album for someone else.
It’s all subjective after all, and it’s inclusion doesn’t have them swerving off the road into a ditch they can’t get out of so who cares?
Not me.
I’m happy to take a dab of this and try and keep up with them.
Out now on Tarbeach Records (

There’s also a split single with Heavy Drapes on the label too punk rock fact fans.

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Is sorry the hardest word?

No one is right all of the time.
As the poet Alexander Pope eloquently stated 'to err is human'.
We all make mistakes, most of us make them daily.
They range from the large to the small, and they can be inconsequential mistakes to life shattering errors of judgement.
Mistakes are simply part of life.
We live with them.
Every single minute of any given day we decide on a course of action, and then once committed to, and acted on, we live with the consequences.

Unfortunately certain mistakes require others to live with the consequences too, and this is where it all gets a little more complicated.

If we revisit Pope we find that the latter part of the 'to err is human' quote is 'to forgive, divine' and we, in all our glory, are simply beautifully flawed humans and not divine.

So forgiveness is not often easy.

Especially when those who instigated what is, or could be construed as, a mistake, are fundamentally unable to accept their participation in the outcome.

An example would be in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

We currently have many of those who voted to exit the European Union advocating that everyone should now be working together to realize the bright future for the UK that they claim is on the horizon if we close our borders and renegotiate trade deals with the world.

There is some worth in this urge for a positive communal approach, but it would be easier to get on board with it if those who did vote for an exit were able to put their hands up and accept that their vote ushered in not just financial uncertainty in the present, but also that it opened the door to the far right feeling emboldened enough to go forth and deliver misery on every minority residing in this country.

That is not to say that all exit supporters were aware of this outcome, but rather that it would be easier to work with them if there was an acceptance of it now as a fact.
Some contrition shown, rather than the strong sense of denial that emanates from them, would pave the way to forgiveness, and open positive avenues of communication up, but until others can do that we, as the aforementioned flawed humans, will find it difficult to move on.

And that is understandable as the refusal to acknowledge what the vote set in motion gives the impression of an unwillingness to embrace responsibility, and if that fundamentally cannot be done then it does not lay the foundations of trust in each other that is required.

The cry to 'accept and move on' will continue to fall on deaf ears as it sounds like an arrogant refusal to accept the reality of the negatives that their actions delivered.

So if you are an advocate of leaving the EU, and your reasons are not rooted in low browed media instilled fear of migrants, and you really do want everyone, including those who voted to remain, to work together on building a solid foundation that the UK can rest on, then just for one moment can you stand up and say that you are sorry about the misery that is a by product of your vote, and then, but only then, maybe we can move on.

Simply shouting at eu supporters to shut up and get on with life is actually offensive, and only encourages more division.

So it's time to reflect, accept that the vote has delivered a less than positive reality that others have to live with, acknowledge your part in that publicly as a verbal act of contrition, and then hopefully we can all look to navigate through this mess together.

Or maybe sorry truly is the hardest word to utter, and in failing to say it things will only continue to slide towards further misery for us all.

Thursday 26 May 2016

KISS Rocks Vegas, 25/05/16 Kilmarnock Odeon

For one night only, in cinemas globally, you wanted the best, and you got the best.

KISS have carved themselves a legendary reputation in the world of rock, and when they pull out all the stops it is easy to see why.
Their bombastic larger than life theatrics coupled with bona fide classics of the genre set them up as gods of a self made reality.

Simply put, no one does it like KISS.

Some would claim that Alice Cooper does it better, but Alice, while equally larger than life, is more theatre in the true sense, a story teller of dark twisted tales, while KISS are the undisputed heavyweight champions of circus rock and roll.
They deal in unsubtle spectacle.
Scratch the surface and there isn't another layer that can be peeled back to reveal yet another.
It's just KISS, KISS, and more KISS.

And if you can't get to a show then the big screen, as opposed to a DVD/blueray release, is the next best thing.
What the band deal in effortlessly lends itself to the cinema.
It's big, it's loud and if it was in 3D Gene could lick they sweat from your brow.
In fact I think he tried, and nearly succeeded, even within the 2D format.

Paul Stanley has been on the receiving end of some criticism of his voice recently, with even hard-core fans mouthing concerns that he just can't hit the notes anymore, but he powers through the set in Vegas, and it's doubtful anyone will be complaining about his performance this time out.

As a more old school fan of the band Detroit Rock City, Love Gun and Tears are Falling impressed, but the segue into The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again' in the middle of Lick it Up brought a smile to my lips, and the Led Zeppelin vocal outro turned that into a grin.

Elsewhere Eric Singer does a sterling job on Black Diamond, and Tommy Thayer carries the lead guitar sound throughout with enough style that rumours of a return of Ace Frehley should probably just be put to bed, as while he will always be the original Spaceman it is doubtful he could really give Tommy a run for his money.

Over all, as a one off event, this will most certainly do the business for KISS fans, and undoubtedly serve to fill their tanks to tide them over until the band revisit these shores, and if you missed it, well KISS never miss a money making trick and a release will probably see the light of day in one form or another, but unless you have a home cinema the size of a traditional one it really isn't going to be the same experience.

And yet I suspect it still won't disappoint.

A different night of rock and roll, but still satisfying.

This review will also be featured on the New Hellfire Clubs site.

Sunday 15 May 2016

Fireball – Fuelling the fire tour. Featuring Less than Jake, The Skints, Mariachi El Bronx (Glasgow Academy)

It is hard to believe that Less than Jake are creeping up on being twenty five years old.

When said out loud he next words on the lips as a response is usually something about where has all the time gone?

It slipped away when we weren’t looking is the answer.

They will be moving out and getting their own place soon as we tearfully wave goodbye and then joke that they will be back with their laundry to be done next week.

Pop punk and ska punk has most definitely come of age.

But while the summer sun, the skateboards, the flipback caps and three quarter length board shorts may be a distant memory for most - and currently the stuff of fashion house irony reboots - the music of the ska-punk bands such as Less than Jake is evergreen.

Slip the needle in the groove, hit play and let the laser pick up the tracks on the CD, or listen to them on your branded mp3 player, and a smile will creep onto your face.

Tired muscles that haven’t had a work out for a while will twitch into action and for a moment you will feel the heat of that sun warming you as the songs start to trigger memories.

Half a song in and the twitching muscles will have reached your legs and the foot tapping, if left unchecked, can lead to a little go at some skanking, but only if no one is looking as the dance like no one is watching meme that proliferates on social media usually results in random strangers laughing at you as the best case scenario, and being sectioned as the worst.

Fear not though.

Instead of making a fool of yourself skanking out of Central Station in Glasgow oblivious to the masses laughing at you there is another option available.
If you can just hold that urge down for a little longer then you can visit the Academy on Oct 9th where you can dance your legs off with the aerobic work out of a lifetime as the guys hit our glorious city as part of the Fireball – Fuelling the fire tour.

Even better news is that it’s not just a smorgasbord of ska punk that is on the bill, but playing alongside them are The Skints, and a personal favourite of mine, the side project of The Bronx, that are the magnificent Mariachi El Bronx.

What more could anyone want?

An austerity busting ticket price would be nice I suppose.

And guess what?

It bloody well is too.

With the tickets set at the price of ten pounds it’s difficult not to lay a bet on this being a sold out event.

Someone, somewhere, has lost the plot when deciding on how much to charge, but best not to focus on that and instead just get the word out and turn the venue into a heaving mass of a celebration of some great strands of punk rock in all its glory.


Busted - Glasgow Hydro - 14/05/16

I've been to the year two thousand and sixteen.
Not much has changed but we look a little older.

And in some ways it’s true, but in others that’s not the case at all.

Busted are back, and while it would be easy to cast a jaundiced eye over the reformation to fit with the stereotype of the older -, but still trying to be hip - curmudgeon music fan looking down my nose at the teenybopper icons, I just can’t find it in my heart to do so.


Well to put it in very simple terms there’s not a lot that anyone could comfortably hang a critique on.

A claim of not liking what they are doing is the airing of a subjective view, but to say they aren’t cutting it musically, or in the delivery of their material, would be a downright lie.

From the Blade Runner styled reboot of the Pink Floyd pig balloon floating past, to the darker dystopian angle on the animal farm pig masks that nudged the playful ‘pigs can fly’ tour title out of the frame, the band have stepped up and coloured their brand with much darker adult tones that eases visually towards Roger Waters territory.

The new music doesn’t reflect that, but it is far more introspective and mature as it veers into the adult orientated niche that the Goo Goo Dolls have such a firm grip on.

That tiny step musically does however make sense, as to go away as Busted, the teen dream scream of yesteryear, and come back reflecting all the ugliness of adult life without a slicker veneer would be career suicide.
So instead the visuals are a little ahead and the music is still transitioning, while the over all impression given is that they know exactly what they are doing.

Listen to new single ‘I’m Coming Home*’ next to ‘Crashed the Wedding’ and there’s nothing to link them, but with a careful eye on the running order of the hits and newbies the band avoid any jarring clashes, and there is arguable not even a hint of a dip in the crowds reaction as they lap up everything thrown at them.

Busted literally have this nailed down.

The crowd is of course still largely made up of young women.
The preteens and teens of over a decade ago, - yes over a decade ago – and they are still enthralled by Matt, James and Charlie, but the hyper response that they keyed into has now been tempered by their own maturity and they are ready to be taken by the hand and guided towards the reality that will be Busted 2.0.

This changing gears career wise from a band that’s core audience is largely young and female into something that has a wider demographic appeal has proven to be far too difficult a stumbling block for so many others, and only time will tell if Busted can do it, but all the pieces are most certainly in place and if they fail to secure a second bite of the apple then there can be no blame laid at their feet as it will be more a case of wrong place and wrong time rather than a reflection on their efforts.

On leaving the cavernous Hydro there was only one thought that reared up in my head, and that was ‘well that just kicked the awful taste of McBusted doing that truly fuckin offensively pop punk by numbers abortion of a track ‘Air Guitar’ out of everyone’s mouth.’

Not a bad thing really.

*On listening to the electronica version from the studio it fails to come close to the guitar driven live rendition.