January wouldn’t be the same without the trip to Skeggy, and this year was no different. As usual, a late withdrawal from the line-up… Slack Alice. (Slight but short disappointment from Her Ladyship). So, a review…
Friday. On the Introducing Stage, we caught a bit of Sugarman Sam and the Voodoo Men. A 4-piece, their first number was a bit Foxy Lady-ish. A good sound, as always, from the crew and system. ‘Fall to Pieces’ was slower, ‘Viginia ‘ was pacier. We got a bit of a ‘Need your love so bad’ clone, and one that was very like ‘Feel like making Love’. But their own stuff, and a decent start to the weekend. The Blue Horizon. The singer asked if any Rory Gallagher fans in. Does the Pope sh*t in the woods, are bears Catholic? Heavy blues riffs, we got ‘Boom Boom’ to finish. Her Ladyship got chatting to a couple of Duck and Drake customers who admired her ‘Duck Side of the Moon’ t-shirt. Into Reds stage to watch House of X. saw them at Cambridge Rock Festival, under X_UFO. Some one-time UFO members, led by Danny Peyronel. Starting out with UFO’s ‘Let it roll’, we also got their ‘Shoot, Shoot’, ‘Rock Bottom’ , ‘Lights Out’ and of course ‘Doctor Doctor’. Their own ‘No more Tequila’ was reminiscent of Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’, but held its own against more familiar UFO songs. I am not a UFO fanatic, but their renditions sounded fine to me. BUT, Danny, cut down on the gesturing and posturing mate!! Steve Tyler can get away with it, but … You have a decent enough voice anyway. FM. They were one of the few highlights at a recent Cambridge Rock Festival , and they were on good form tonight. ‘I belong to the Night’ started things. We also got ‘Don’t Stop’ and the title track from ‘Tough it out’. ‘That Girl’ always goes down well (must dig out my 12 ” single from the cellar). ‘Closer to Heaven’ featured too. Steve Overland always had a good voice, one of many this weekend who would show their fondness for the voice of Paul Rodgers. How about reviving your version of ‘I’ll be Creepin’ lads? . CD stall inside had cds by the ‘wrong’ FM on display (Canadian group FM, which is why the UK version adds ‘UK’). Bernie Torme. 3-piece line-up, he started out with 1983’s ‘Wild West’, then ‘Turn out the Lights’ from 1982. I had a ‘Bob Dylan meets the Beastie Boys’ moment , and a slow number seemed to be the signal for a few to retire for the night. Gillan’s ‘No easy way’ started up, and we decided to have a quick visit to Jaks. The venue is very popular, we caught a bit of Gerry Jablonski who was pleasant if unremarkable. Time for bed.
Saturday. Jeff Rich and the Triple J Band. ‘Lookin’ Back’ started things, followed by ‘The joke is on you’ and a rocky ‘I’m a King Bee’. ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ continued the heavier vein, and their original songs were decent. Nipped out to the shop, and they were into Hendrix mode again when I got back. Thoroughly fine for that early slot. And Mr Rich didn’t rely on his Status Quo catalogue. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. One -time Bad Company vocalist Robert Hart is on vocals…and excellent he is too. Mick Rogers is still on guitar, he gets a vocal spot, and it shows how good Mr Hart is when Mick isn’t the regular lead singer. Things got a bit noodly occasionally, but the punchier ‘Blinded by the Light’, ‘Davy’s on the road again’ and the encore ‘Mighty Quinn’ were excellent (apart from the inevitable ‘let me hear you sing’ section’). OK, so a certain Mr Manfred Sepse Lubowitz threw a bit of an early tantrum, but I hope I look as fit as he does at 75! Her Ladyship thought ‘Best so far’, she wasn’t alone. Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Wonderfully and spectacularly bonkers. We had a Flamenco dancer on early doors, gyrating to Mr B’s version of ‘Kites’. The event is very much ‘multi-media’ to say the least. But then again, the official population of Arthur Brown’s cranium is two baboons and one yo-yo, so what do you expect. ‘Fire’ finished things off . of course, and off for tea. Lost Minute. Winners of poll from a previous Introductory Stage slot, they are given a main stage chance. It always makes me nervous when I read about ‘catchy melodic hooks’, ‘intensely personal songs’ etc. But they deserve a chance. They start up, with the three guitarists’ eyes all firmly studying their fretboards. The girl had a decent voice and I suspect they were all a touch nervous. For me, maybe their type of music was not quite for this audience (The description ‘Rock and Blues’ for the event gives us a clue). I reckon they were the youngest people in the venue, but they got a respectable reception. At the risk of sounding a bit harsh, may I make a small observation? The young lady has a good voice, but her angst and emotion (no doubt genuine) ends up looking like a stroppy teenager throwing a tantrum and stamping on the floor. Before you start getting upset with me , watch a video of yourself singing without a mic stand, then try the same song with mic in the socket while you sing. If you disagree, fine, we have to beg to differ. Hawkwind. They were great here last time, and we get ‘Utopia’ and ‘Prometheus’ as we did last time. ‘Motorway City’ comes along and ‘Hashish’ also gets an airing, with some appropriate vegetation featuring on the screen. No ‘Silver Machine’ or strange additional personnel on stage this time though. Still very entertaining. Decided to nip over the Centre Stage for the first time, for Nine Below Zero. Set has been pretty predictable for a while now. Tore Down/Homework/Can’t help myself/Hoochie Coochie Coo/Twenty Yards Behind/ Mojo/ L and N/Stop your nagging/On the road again/Rockin Robin/Three times and that’s enough/…The crowd are all bopping (yours truly excepted, of course) and they are tearing the place up , when they give us a slow ‘It’s never too late’. An attempted singalong completely dies on its a**e. Drum solo too! They follow it with Mark’s OGWT harmonica bit with a snatch of ’11 plus 11′, and they have given a perfect example of how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Sunday. Reds venue again , for the brilliant Babajack. Becky and Trevor start out as a duo, with ‘Hammer and Tongs’ and ‘Death Letter’. Their newish rhythm section joins them for ‘The money’s all gone’ and ‘Love comes tumbling’. Becky has got her performance down to a fine art, and every one of those middle-aged men down at the front really thinks the ‘beautiful eyes’ she mentions are his! (Not me , of course!) ‘Her Ladyship especially likes ‘Running Man’ and was sporting her customised t-shirt. Newer songs ‘Sunday Afternoon ‘ and ‘Back Door’ precede the very much older ‘Gallows Pole, a real crowd favourite. ‘Skin and Bone’ and ‘Black Betty’ finish off a cracking set, and it was good to be able to hear Trevor’s gravelly vocals which are often ‘lost’. Half a point deducted for another crowd singalong request, but it seems omnipresent. Tygers of Pan Tang. Survivors from the NWOBHM (look it up if you are not sure), they take the stage but the vocal sound is AWFUL! Drums bloody loud too. Singalong request comes early. The guitarist had a camera fitted to his guitar and proceeded to give us a 200mph lead break…I assume he was sending the footage to his mother? It just looked naff. Things were getting very close to Spinal Tap, for me. Tone it down a bit, lads, take a look on Youtube. They seemed to be on for a very long time. Animals and Friends. Same starting number ‘Baby let me take you home’ as always, their set consists of nearly all of their hit singles, comments from drummer John Steel, some R&B standards which also featured in their 60s repertoire , with an occasional change. Exactly what the audience want, and get. Danny has become more reassured since stepping into Pete Barton’s role as lead vocalist and frontman. Martin Turner plays the music of Wishbone Ash. May sound long-winded, fans of Wishbone Ash will know why! Bravely starting out with a couple of new numbers from their award-winning new LP (much cheering!), it isn’t long before we are back into the 70s. ‘Warrior’ is spot on, both instrumentally and vocally. ‘Throw down the sword’and ‘The Pilgrim’ precede another newie ‘Mystify Me’. ‘Blowin’ Free’ , ‘Living Proof’ and ‘Jailbait’ are stonewall classics and it is a bloody long time since Her Ladyship and I have heard them played and sung so well. (The last time was by a group called Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash). ‘The king will come’ was the encore, and Mr T came out to chat and sign stuff afterwards. The sound was very reminiscent of the Wishbone Ash Mk 2 line -up. Great stuff. (The DJ mentioned ‘Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash’! Hope he has a good lawyer!). Wille and the Bandits. Saw them some time ago at the Acoustic Festival, attracted by the (ridiculous) comparison to Cream. ‘In the vein of Cream’, seemingly. Because there are 3 of them? I can’t see any other likeness. Wasn’t greatly impressed, probably expecting too much, thought I would give them another go. Unusual 3 piece line-up, they are certainly a bit ‘different’. They cover ‘Black Magic Woman’, but although ‘different’, the novelty started to wear off. Maybe it had just been a very long weekend. Time for bed.
And it was over. Comments?
1.Line-up was pretty reasonable, we thought. Babajack, Martin Turner PTMOWA are both favourites of ours. Manfed Mann’s Earth Band were a surprise bonus. Seemingly some people weren’t too happy with the line-up.
2.The programmes. Are times that hard that they are now the size of a mobile phone! You needed a bloody electron microscope to read the schedule in the middle! And a miner’s lamp!
3.Food. Perfectly fine as has been for some time
4. Rooms. I didn’t think to pack a tape measure, but I can’t remember a room so small. If anyone sees a cat walking round Skeggy with loads of bumps on its head, it’s the one I was swinging around in the room.
5. Booking details. We did ours by phone, asked for a room close to the ‘venues’, and it was. Seems others were less lucky. It seems as though maybe the better option is to actually phone rather than book online.
6.T-shirts. Good value for a tenner. Interestingly, Rory Gallagher gave way to Pink Floyd as the most popular T-shirt worn ( not counting acts that were appearing).
7. Prices. Beer about 50p a pint more than our local. Could do worse.
8 .Queues. Annual pointless queues at the bar, but not too often. Usual queues outside venues, worst being Centre Stage. Main reason why we frequented Reds.
9. Sound. Nearly always very good.
10. Staff. No complaints at all.
11. Jazz! I contacted Butlins last year when Courtney Pine was announced. WHY!? I was told that some jazz sessions would be on ‘the smaller venues’ …Butlins words. Did I believe that someone of Courtney Pine’s stature was going to accept that? And did he? The comment ‘to cater for those who want to hear some jazz’ is boll*x! What will jazz fans say when it is announced that Metallica are going to be on at their jazz festival, for the heavy metal fans?! Or Bad Manners for ska fans!? The fest is ‘Rock and Blues’, why change it? As Her Ladyship says, I wonder if there are any folkies out there who are happy to have some ‘jazz’ at the Rock and Blues weekend. . Is it ok to have Sham 69 on at the Skeggy Folk Fest , ‘for those who might want to listen to some punk’, then? *
12. DJs.Good. ‘Proper’ djs in each venue, rather than years ago, when some dolly bird simply churned out requests such as All Right Now and Summer of 69. Sometimes just the same list of tracks on a loop. However, Mr Reds dj had an annoying habit of cutting short tracks. Three on the trot once! (I’m a Man, Kashmir and LA Woman)
All in all, a great weekend. Met some good friends and heard some good music. But I would add…if you have any complaints, get on to Butlins! Don’t let things slip by unattended.
* Back one day, the new poster is up for 2017. Proudly displaying JAZZ STAGE. You were warned!